Bio: Tiffany Apan is a singer/songwriter/actress/author of dark fiction and award winning producer/writer from Pennsylvania in the United States.
She grew up among the thick forests of the Appalachian Mountains in Northeastern Pennsylvania. It was there she began honing artistic abilities and received much of her creative inspiration. Having been exposed to music since she was a child, she learned the guitar, violin, and accordian from her musician grandparents before taking up classical piano at age 9.
A misfit among her peers (she was the only one in her fifth grade writing class obsessed enough with Vikings and Norwegian mythology to write poems about them), Tiffany was highly active in the artistic community in Wilkes-Barre, PA, involving herself in all music, theater, visual arts, and writing. She began formal classical vocal training at age 12 and appeared in numerous musical theater and operatic productions. Eventually, she settled quite comfortably into a role as “that artsy kid in black” who sits in a coffee shop, drinking endless amounts of coffee and tea while writing furiously in a journal or sketchpad.
After graduating high school, she left the Northeastern PA ghosts for the Southeastern PA zombies (Pittsburgh). Upon the move, Tiffany became involved with the indie film scene, landing supporting roles in a couple films. Her real turning point as a vocalist, however, was being given the opportunity to portray the role of a Free Style Jazz Singer in the world premiere of Marta Effinger’s “Whispers Want to Holler." During rehearsals, she was coached by Billy Harper who wrote the musical score for the production. Projects such as this also gave way to the release of her music with partner in crime, Jason English. Since then, she has gone on to act in several films and theater productions with starring and supporting roles, release music to critical acclaim, and receive accolades for her writing and producing.
Her 2008 debut album, Poet, is an eclectic blend of rock music (combining classical, folk, world, gothic, metal, and touches of pop). It received enthusiastic responses from music fans and also garnered some critical acclaim. Music from the album was featured on several compilation albums and in 2009, she was an American Finalist in The Best New Song in the World Contest with her acapella song, “Lost Little Girl." Her songs have also been featured in films, and the music video for the adaptation of "Scarborough Fair" won in the Open Music Video Category at the 2010 International Indie Gathering Film Festival. In 2012, her screenplay, "Driving Nowhere" also won for Best Horror Short Script at the same festival.
While Tiffany enjoys the Pittsburgh area, Northeastern Pennsylvania is the place she considers “home”, and frequently travels up there for inspiration. The Appalachian Mountains serve as a backdrop for many of her stories, including "The Cemetery by the Lake" and "The Birthrite Series."
Among other projects, she is currently working on her follow up to Poet. It will be released one song at a time and titled The Antiquity Project.
AWARDS AND NOMINATIONS:
-American Finalist in the Best New Song in the World Competition for song, "Lost Little Girl"
- 2010 International Indie Gathering Award for Best Music Video in the Open Category for Tiffany Apan's "Scarborough Fair" Music Video
- 2012 International Indie Gathering Award for Best Horror Short Script for Screenplay, "Driving Nowhere"
- Currently Nominated for a 2015 Shorty Award in the Blogger Category
You're a woman who wears many hats, how do you feel about having so many ways to express your creativity? Any projects that speak the most to you?
Well first, thank you for having me here!
Now to answer your question, I will begin by saying that I have always had a pretty active imagination and it never truly went away. My brain seems to constantly be active, which I do consider to be a good thing (better to have an overactive mind then one that gets absolutely no use, right?). I also consider myself to be a great learner, especially of history, other times and places. And when I learn something new, I automatically want to integrate it into an art form of some kind, be it writing, music, filming, or all of the above. So in that sense, I do love having so many creative outlets. :) However, I will also say that sometimes having so many options can be overwhelming. Therefore it is sometimes necessary to reign it in a little and maybe - for a time being - just put a focus on one outlet. But as time continues, I learn of different fun and cool ways to integrate it all together.
As for the project that speaks to me the most, I am not sure if there is only one project, because every project - in its own way - speaks. But as far as outlets are concerned, I would say writing is my preference. Why? Because to me, writing can easily encompass more than one art form, including music and film. Writing and plotting a story - be it for a novel, a song, a poem, or a screenplay - is at the root of many creations and therefore crucial in bringing a story to life.
Tell us a bit about your songwriting and work as a musician. Do you feel that it goes hand in hand with your written work? How are they different?
Most of my songwriting as been done for my own musical projects (my albums, EPs, singles), but I have also contributed to film soundtracks. In fact, I am currently writing one with my partner in crime for a Ghost Walk Films documentary. Regarding my musical style, I tend to write within the gothic/folk/world genres with just the right amount of rock for good measure.
I do feel that my songwriting and written work definitely work hand in hand, because a lot of what inspires my stories also inspires the music I write. In fact, all the historical research I've been doing for my book series, The Birthrite, very influenced the direction I'm taking my second full length album in.
Of course there are differences in the way a song is written and constructed, versus how a short story or novel is constructed. But both seek to tell a story. They just tell the story in different fashions. :)
Tell us a bit about The Birthrite Series. What makes it unique and who do you think will be most interested in reading it?
Certainly. The Birthrite Series is a five book novel series that also has a couple spin-off novelettes, novellas, and short stories. It is quite an epic tale, far more than I originally tended for it to be (but I'm sure you know how stories do tend to take on a life of their own once you get them started). It is a paranormal story set in (for the most part) a historical backdrop. I would categorize it as Gothic Romantic/Dark Fantasy/Historical.
Now for what makes it unique. I think that some potential readers tend to look at the ages of the characters (many of the main characters are between 18 and 21) and think that it is another 'teen angst paranormal series.' And it isn't that at all. Yes, many of the main characters are younger and do go through their growing pains, but I took care to write them with rather complex histories and layers. And there are also some 40+-year-olds that I would also consider main characters. So it's far from being about angsty teen vampires and werewolves.
I think all my characters are quite unique in their own way. To me, these are living, breathing people and at times I do wonder if these people I write of actually existed or do exist in another time and place. And I'm simply telling a version of their stories. I also feel that the historical events mentioned in the series - as well as some historical figures - are ones that for one reason or another, hardly ever get mentioned, if they ever do at all. For instance, my research into the Romani race also unturned many stones, as their history and culture is far different than what I refer to as "Hollywood Gypsies." So I also hope that in reading my series, readers might be inspired to maybe research those events or individuals further.
I believe that anyone who enjoys being taken on a journey into another world with many twists and turns and delving deep into the unknown will enjoy reading it. I have had a few readers tell me of how they liked how unpredictable it is (there were actually some things that surprised even me as I wrote it!). And as far as the darker elements of the books are concerned (yes the books do contain some violent scenes and sexual content), I often tell people that if they can handle Stephen King, then they can very likely handle The Birthrite Series.
For those interested, here is the blurb/synopsis:
Visions of infant twin boys, clouds, a young woman taking her own life, and a collision of space, time, and realms...
On the eve of Summer Solstice in 1844, four men in different areas of the world share an experience that impacts not only their own lives, but those of the future generations. The first is Nicolae Ganoush, a young Romany fugitive from a slave village in Wallachia. The second is Jonathan Blake, an eighteen-year-old Irishman in the American Midwest who finds himself falling in love with a young woman from a nearby Sioux village. The third is James Livingston, a prominent figure in Colonial America. The fourth is Hector de Fuentes, a sixteen-year-old from Tuxpan, Mexico with special gifts and visions enhanced by a mysterious and wondrous cave. Each man carries his own inner battle, unbelievable ancient truths deep within their lineages, and demons that are much closer to home than any of them would like.
Later in 1931, seventeen-year-old Dorothy Blake, a descendant of Jonathan and his Sioux wife, is living in Plains, New York, the town founded by James Livingston. The notorious Fleming Orphanage has long fallen into disuse but kept by the town as a landmark. The buildings loom high on a hill, overlooking the town, taunting the townsfolk with its lore. On Halloween night, Dorothy ventures up with friends, and the group of six expects nothing more than a good time along with a few laughs. But they fall into a dark, brutal evil; one that extends beyond the orphanage and town of Plains, far back into history. Their descent is only the beginning…
The Birthrite Series is an epic journey into the vast unknown, plunging deep into the dark crevices of the mind, begging the question of what sanity really is and if the insane truly are. Are we really shown the whole truth of what surrounds us or is it an illusion? It also tells of deep-rooted love, planted centuries ago and a story of family, forgiveness, and redemption.
I will also add that from now and until November 5, I am giving away a signed paperback copy of Descent over at my blog:
Descent has some strong gothic overtones, tell us where you came up with the first book in the series and a bit about the main characters affected by the prophetic dream in it.
Back in late 2011/early 2012, I had a rather vivid dream that stayed with me long after. The dream entailed me in deep conversation with a person that would go on to become a key character in The Birthrite Series (not going to say who just yet). As I said earlier, the story pretty much took on a life of its own, eventually. What was originally supposed to be a more fun and adventerous time travel romance under the working title Through Time, ended up morphing in to something that was a far cry from a whimsical romance. In fact, none of the main characters from the first book in the series even appeared in the original draft and concept. But as I wrote Through Time, something was off. It just didn't feel right. Yes, the general idea was there but something was definitely missing.
At the time, I was also reading Stephen King's On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft. In one passage, he compares writing a story to discovering a small fossil, and then continuing to dig until you uncover the entire dinosaur. And sometimes it will seem as though you are shoveling nothing but crap. But eventually you will make the great discovery that will uncover the entire dinosaur. And that is exactly how writing The Birthrite was!
As time went on, more characters seemed to literally just "walk on," and characters I thought were just going to have minor roles ended up becoming major key characters. The story seemed to build upon itself as I did more research and created the world in which the people of the story inhabit. Thus, the story goes from being a fun adventurous romance one to one that was still fun, adventurous and romantic, but darker and having a lot more mystery to it. Add to that my passion for history, reasearch, and delving into the unknown.
Of course, the working title had to change due to the story's new direction. Bloodlines was the new working title (which I knew would eventually be changed since there already are so many projects out there with that very title).
Then in early 2013 as I was fleshing out what would be the official first draft of Descent, I started posting chapters and excerpts of my unedited work onto what is now my official blog in order to gain a perspective of how much interest there might be in the story. Well, the interest seemed to be there, so in the midst of that little experiment, I started revising it for an official release.
Finally in I believe that in early 2014 (or late 2013), I settled on the official series title, The Birthrite and decided to call book one Descent. Then I decided to also release a spin off novelette titled Sacred Atonement: A Novelette (The Birthrite Series, #1.5). As of December 2014, the beginning of the series has been officially available both in digital and paperback form. More installments are set for release in 2016.
As far as the prophetic dream at the beginning of the book is concerned (and the book begins in the year 1844), the four characters that are immediately affected by it are Nicolae Ganoush, a young Romany slave in Wallachia, Jonathan Blake, a young Irish immigrant who came over to America with his family when he was just a small child and eventually settled with them near the border of Illinois and what - at the time - was known as the Iowa Territory. He is eighteen at the time the story opens and he is seeking out a young woman from a nearby Sioux village that he has fallen for.
The other two are James Livingston and Hector de Fuentes. While James Livingston himself is a fictional character, the family he descends from - the Livingston clan - was among the first in American aristocracy. He is, however, a bit of a rebel in his own right. Hector is a sixteen-year-old young man who is drawn to a mysterious cave at the shores of Tuxpan, Mexico. A cave that is far more than what it seems to be and one that Hector can only seem to find.
As different as each of these individuals are, they are also deeply connected to one another. And you have to read the book to find out how. ;)
As a side note, I also do work for the Depreciation Lands Museum. It is a historical museum dedicated to bringing the 18th century to life. With all the intense research I did for Descent and Sacred Atonement, working for this museum has given me even more access to sources that allow for deeper research. Those running the museum also take care to immerse the workers in all things 18th century, including offering training in period tasks such as cooking over a campfire and hearth oven to spinning on the spinning wheel. Since The Birthrite Series delves deeper into history as the series continues (half of the first book, Descent, takes place in the mid 1800s and the latter half in the year 1931), I feel this will add new layers to the story and my writing in general.
The more I research and uncover new information, the more I am fascinated with how distorted many events and eras have become over time. Combine that with my love for Tolkien, Stephen King, Edgar Allen Poe, H.P. Lovecraft, the Brontes, and romantic stories, and you pretty much have my inspiration for the series.
Sacred Atonement is a novella set between Descent and Kindred and Saturn Sun is a novella set after Kindred. Tell us a bit about why you chose to write these side tales and how they affect the overall outlook of the series for readers.
I decided to write Sacred Atonement when it turned out that two of the characters featured in the said novelette had a part of their story that needed told before the rest of the story could continue. However, trying to fit in that story into the end of Descent (or even at the beginning of Kindred) would have made the book rather clunky and frankly, just wouldn't have worked. But I also don't believe in confining a story, especially when certain characters have a story that does tie in with future events in the series. I feel that in doing these spinoff tales, readers can not only be given new insight to certain characters, but in making them their own books, I can tell the story properly instead of trying to just 'squeeze it in somewhere' within the novels.
Kindred is due out in January, tell us a bit about it and what we can expect to find in it versus Descent. What is the significance of the date of release in relation to the series?
I've decided that the best way to describe Kindred is to call it the "growing pains" book of the series. Descent, and even Sacred Atonement: A Novelette and Made In Heaven: A Birthrite Series Short, set the foundation for the story and now it's time to start growing up. Therefore plot definitely thickens and the characters experience a melange of joys and sorrows as they continue their journies. Also, characters that had more of a cameo appearance in Descent take center stage more in Kindred.
The synopsis is as follows:
It is the summer of 1933 and nearly two years since that fateful Halloween night in Plains, New York.
Born and raised in Dayton, Ohio, eighteen-year-old Cletus Blake spends his days working to help his family through the massive economic recession spreading throughout the United States and many other areas of the world. As society struggles to accept that the economic surge of the 1920s are long gone, Cletus also clings to the memory of his last phone conversation with his cousin Dorothy. Having formed and maintained a relationship with two of her close friends - the recently married Reginald and Gail Carr Johnson - the three find solace in regular communication with one another.
Like Dorothy, Cletus possesses supernatural abilities inherited through his bloodline. His vivid dreams and visions - including ones of a beautiful young Romani woman and twin baby boys - continue to increase in strength. Meanwhile, Reginald and Gail begin falling prey to dark adversaries that have been lying in wait.
Evil surrounds at every turn, old friends race to help, and ancient evil re-emerges. A war between worlds brews beneath the surface, threatening to rip the protective seams that keep the portals sealed.
Then in the midst of it all, Cletus happens upon a caravan traveling through his Ohio town. The very familiar Romanichal family's history ties not only to his own past, but to all the kin of the four men that experienced worlds outside of their own on that summer solstice in 1844. All are linked to a future that will reunite the Blakes and the Livingstons, two families that at one time, shared a very unlikely friendship.
Kindred is the second full-length novel in The Birthrite Series. Picking up from where Descent and Sacred Atonement: A Novelette left off, the story continues to challenge all that is known about light and dark, good and evil. Passion, intrigue, and secrets abound as history unravels. Revelations uncovered in previous installments are given new perspectives, taking the reader on a thrilling ride into a world where nothing is ever what it appears to be.
And as for the significance of the January 1 release date, that is the day on which two individuals that will go on to be key characters are born. And they are born toward the end of Kindred.
The Birthrite series isn't your only written work, tell us a bit about some of your other work. Which of these are your favorites and why?
My other works include my short story series, called Stories from Colony Drive. The series is named after the street I grew up on. The tales range from dark and rather macabre to romantic to humerous, though all have rather gothic undertones. The stories are influenced by my childhood love for The Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark Trilogy, but the Colony Drive stories are geared toward adults. What I love about the Scary Stories trilogy was that most of the stories do not end happily, which I think is an important life lesson to learn pretty early on. And that is exactly how I approach my writing. I don't write with the intent of having all my characters 'likeable' or having a happy ending everytime. Because that isn't how life is. But I do write with an attempt to understand the human behavior.
With that said, the Colony Drive series is currently on a hiatus, though I plan to continue with it in the new year once I get the newer installments in The Birthrite Series out.
My work also includes involvement in the One Emma Way short series with four other authors.
As for my favorite, I would say that The Cemetery by the Lake is, because it was the first story I release to the public and then for which I received positive response from the reading public. Plus I like the story and the characters!
You also have some experience as a producer and actress, tell us a bit about your film projects and your part in their production.
My more recent projects include a film called The Downfall of Mr. Difford which is soon to be released to DVD. I like to call it a cross between Silence of the Lambs, Dexter, and just a hint of American Psycho. I play the character Jane and that's all I will say for now. ;)
I'm also involved with acting in Midnight Massacre which is currently in production.
As for being a producer, I did produce the music video of my adaptation of "Scarborough Fair" which was on my debut album, Poet. The video won first place in the Open Music Video category at the 2010 International Indie Gathering Film Festival in Cleveland, OH.
Then in 2012 at the same festival, my screenplay, Driving Nowhere won for Best Horror Short Script. I am also currently producing, directing, and acting in the screen adaptation of the film through my production company, Poets Labyrinth Productions. I don't have release date for it yet, though check in soon. :)
What other things can we expect to see from you in the next few years? What do you hope to be completing by this time next year?
There is much coming up! Look for three more installments in The Birthrite Series and more from Stories from Colony Drive. I have a few more films I'm involved with being released and my second full length album, Antiquity is also being worked on. And of course, I will continuing my work with the Depreciation Lands Museum.
If you would like to check out my work, you may do so at the following links:
Official Website (where you can also sign up for my free monthly newsletter): http://tiffanyapan.com
Official Blog (where I also have the giveaway for Descent taking place and an interview with the lovely Amanda Lyons today): http://tiffanyapanwritingproject.blogspot.com
My new online magazine dedicated to all things historical and paranormal: http://partingofveilswebzine.blogspot.com
Learn more about my work at the Depreciation Lands Museum: http://depreciationlandsmuseum.org
Facebook Artist Page: http://facebook.com/tiffanyapanfanpage
Authorgraph (where I give digital autographs!): http://www.authorgraph.com/authors/TIFFANYAPAN
As for my books, you can get them at the following retailers:
Jump and hop from blog to blog with some awesome authors…with this Halloween Blog Hop.