with Serena Polheber

Fallen Angel Reviews




Serena:  Thank you for taking time out of your day/night to answer our questions! 

PS:  You’re very welcome.


Serena:  Could you tell us a bit about yourself?

PS: Above all, I would say I’m an ambidextrous person, both in hand and mind. I love all the creative arts, but I also love to write computer code. (I guess that’s creative, too, in a way, but it’s not something most people would expect me to love!) I’m a quiet person who likes DIY projects, walking my dog, and being on, in, or near the ocean. I also love to play music, and when I retire, I expect to take up painting again. My college degree is in art, and I once had dreams of being a portrait painter.


Serena:  How do you write?  Outlines and post-its, or sitting and typing?

PS:  I’m a plotter. Bigtime. I use character interviews, a plotting paradigm, and a very detailed synopsis (usually 20 pages!). I know how the story is going to end before I begin the first chapter. I also do a lot of scene prewriting in my head when I’m walking my retreagle, Berkeley.


Serena:  Could you tell us if you have a secret ritual you do before writing?  We won't tell, promise.

PS:  If getting into a bathtub would be considered a secret ritual—then yes! I write nearly every weekday for at least an hour while sitting in my bathtub. I find it keeps me focused. Once I get in front of a computer, I can get easily distracted by email. Or I will stop and do a bit of research on the web, and break out of writer mode for the day. Staying away from technology and using a pen to write has taken me back to my love of the written word.


Serena:  Do you listen to music while you write?  Is there a certain type?  Does it vary from book to book?

PS:  Absolutely. I love evocative soundtracks from movies. I can’t write if there are English words in the music. For The Dark Lord, I listened to The Gladiator. I also use the music from The Patriot, Braveheart, Bram Stocker’s Dracula, or anything by Hans Zimmer. When I want to get in the mood to write a love scene, I invariably get out George Benson’s album “While the City Sleeps.” That man’s style does it for me!  I also have a secret penchant for Hawaiian music (especially Hapa) but don’t tell anyone…


Serena:  What got you started writing?

PS:  When I was growing up, we lived in a small town in Montana. Anywhere we went involved vast distances. Just to buy a decent pair of shoes, we had to drive 3-1/2 hours one way. No radio stations were in range, and there were no such things as car stereo systems. So in the silence, I would stare out the car window and wonder what would happen if we came upon an accident and my secret crush just happened to be involved. Or what if, I looked up at the dark sky on the way back home and saw an alien spacecraft? Or what if I somehow got lost in the wilderness with only my Swiss Army knife? Could I survive? By the time I was 12 years old, I started writing some of my stories down and entertaining my sister by reading the current WIP each night before we went to bed. (We were allowed only two TV programs a week and had unfashionably early bedtimes—which I see now as one of the reasons I developed into a writer. I had to do something to pass the time!) Another huge influence in my young life was the British Hammer Production horror movies. I loved Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing. Still do.


Serena:  Are there any authors in particular that inspired you?  Also, are there any authors you unwind with?

PS:  For inspiration, Anne Rice, hands down. And Pat Conroy. He’s my hero. Ondantje, Sabatini, Fitzgerald and Lawrence also influenced me. I am so busy that most of my reading is confined to nonfiction research material, and I don’t get to do much recreational reading. But I did just finish an Anita Shreve during a plane trip. I sometimes pick up an Amanda Quick. And I used to be a rabid Tom Robbins fan.


Serena:  I noticed that there has been a bit of time between your last book and now.  May I ask why? 

PS:  Just as my publishing career was taking off, my first marriage was ending. After a few years of writing two books a year, working nearly full time and raising two teenage daughters on my own, it just got to be too much hard work for not enough financial return. After eleven books, I chose to focus on my daytime job, which had become highly creative and exciting to me because of the birth of the web. I could make a lot more money—dependably. So I put publishing aside for awhile, wrote a screenplay, and worked on some nongenre ideas in my spare time. Now that my children are out of the house and I’ve married a wonderful Scotsman who cooks dinner for me and doesn’t expect me to “wash his socks,” I’ve found the old writer bug has nudged me back into the fray. I can’t NOT write. That’s why I know it’s something I will be doing for a lifetime.


Serena:  Your book, The Dark Lord, just came out and is the first in the Forbidden Tarot Series, for those who haven't read it, could you give us a synopsis?

PS:  The Dark Lord is about a woman who finds a deck of cards in a golden box in Egypt. And when she opens them up, she releases the devil into her world. But this book is more than just a battle with Beelzebub—although that should be enough! It’s really the introduction to my take on Egyptian history and the female role in human development, much like Dan Brown’s The DaVinci Code presents his take on Christian history.


Serena:  I noticed on your website that there are 3 titles listed forThe Forbidden Tarot Series: The Dark Lord (out now), The Dark Horse (in production), and The Oracle of Avaris (no info available).  Could you tell us how many you are thinking of for the series and perhaps a hint for the other 2 titles?

PS:  I just submitted the completed manuscript for The Dark Horse. This story is set around a magical fountain and features a shape-shifting cowboy who guides two scientists into the wilderness of Lake Tahoe. I think my readers are going to absolutely fall in love with this guy. In the second book, readers will get snippets of Egyptian history as seen from the villain’s point of view, and will meet a heroine who will show up again in the third book. In the final novel of the series, The Oracle of Avaris, readers will discover what I have planned for the end of the world as we know it—when a plague begins to wipe out the entire male race.


Serena:  Is there anything else you'd like to add?

PS: It’s a crazy world being a writer. I always tell people that writing is a form of mental illness! But I don’t think I’ll ever want to stop putting ideas on paper or having readers tell me how I made them laugh and cry. There is nothing more rewarding than knowing you have touched someone’s heart.


Serena:  Thanks so much again for your time.  Remember, The Dark Lord is out now in most major bookstores!