Interview: Jessica Lemmon & Giveaway

JESSICA-LEMMON-PHOTOI’m really excited to welcome Jessica Lemmon today to Literary, etc! Her book, Tempting the Billionaire is already available. If you’re a fan of contemporary romance then this a MUST read for you. Walk…no make that run to your nearest book retailer and purchase it. I can’t stress enough how much I LOVED this book. I reviewed it here.

Giveaway details are located at the end of the interview along with a synopsis of Tempting the Billionaire. Good luck!


Q. Tell me a little bit about Jessica Lemmon, other than the standard bio on your website.
I love violent TV shows! I never miss an episode of Sons of Anarchy, True Blood, Dexter, or The Walking Dead.

Q. Why did you decide to write a contemporary romance? What was it about the genre that appealed to you?
The happy-ever-after ending! There’s nothing better than watching two broken people repair each other.

Q. What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I can’t write in public. I love the idea of going to a bookstore or coffee shop to write, but the truth is, I’m far too distracted by the people around me to concentrate.

Q. What has been the toughest criticism given to you as an author? What has been the best compliment?
Hmm… I had to think about that! I don’t tend to dwell on the negative. I’m going to have to be honest and say the first critical review I received. It was an attack (an attack, I tell you!) on my sweet, kind-hearted heroine. What a blow! Now, I focus on the positive and ignore the rest. Those kinds of reviews are rarely constructive.

My favorite compliment is when people tell me they can’t wait to read Aiden’s story (Love in the Balance series book #2: Hard to Handle). That’s the highest compliment!

Q. Tempting the Billionaire is your debut novel. What was your journey like from reader to aspiring author to published writer?
In 2009, I read the Twilight saga in 5 days. After, I decided I wouldn’t spend another minute not pursuing my dream of becoming an author. I wrote constantly, joined the RWA, sent my work to critique partners, and read a gazillion romance novels. In 2012, I landed my agent, the fabulous Nicole Resciniti of The Seymour Agency. Tempting the Billionaire sold within weeks of her shopping it around, and was given a very quick release: January 2013.

Q. While writing Tempting the Billionaire, what was the single most difficult challenge to overcome?
Shane! I spent countless hours digging into who he was and what made him do the things he did. I struggled to connect with what, exactly, kept him from allowing himself to love Crickitt. When I landed on the plane scene, I had a Eureka! moment. I’d finally found his motivation.

Q. If you could describe Tempting the Billionaire in 3 words what would they be?
Fun, fast, flirty!

Q. Very wealthy men in romance novels are nothing new. What attracted you to write about a billionaire? In your opinion, what sets Tempting apart from the rest in the genre?
I made Shane wealthy for one simple reason: I’d written a lot of blue collar, struggling heroes in my previous books. I didn’t want money to be a factor, so I gave him a lot of it.

Tempting is different because of Shane. He loves his family, he bakes, he’s unafraid to be kind to others. I’ve never read a hero like him.

Q. What’s your favorite thing about Shane? What makes him sexy to you?
I love that Shane has an undeniable kindness he can’t help but show. No matter how hard he tries to distance himself from people, he still finds himself giving to others, whether it’s a job to Crickitt, or a really big “tip” to a waitress. And, of course, he’s tall, dark, and handsome. That’s not hurting anyone’s feelings, is it? 😉

Q. Shane’s a baker and although baking is a trend growing among men, some refuse to admit to baking. What inspired you to give Shane this characteristic feature?
Those cookies came from me! The summer I wrote Tempting, I tackled a dessert cookbook called Babycakes by Erin McKenna. In it, is the recipe for the most AMAZING chocolate chip cookies I’d ever eaten. Baking was a fun, unexpected hobby to give Shane, and it gave him a special bond to his mother.

Q. Shane’s family and his relationship with his cousins stands out in Tempting. Was this your way of giving him a support system after the death of his mother?
Inadvertently, yes. He needed a buddy, and I tossed Aiden into the mix. The rest of the family sprouted out of the ground like weeds. I’m close to my first cousins, so that kind of relationship wasn’t hard to imagine.

Q. Ronald, Crickitt’s ex-husband, plays a minor role and sort of stays in the background. How difficult was it to keep him at arm’s length? Ultimately, what’s his reaction to finding out about Shane?
Not difficult at all! My editor suggested I write out the phone call; in my original manuscript, I’d left it out. (She was right! It needed written.) I imagine Ronald would convince himself that Crickitt left him for a rich guy, and then would proceed to tell that sob story to any of the (unfortunate) women he dated.

Q. One of my favorite scenes was Shane meeting Crickitt’s family for the first time in his office. Do you have a particular favorite chapter or scene?
Thank you! I love that scene, too! 🙂 I really like the first kiss. I won’t ruin the surprise here, but as my best friend-slash-beta reader said, “Crickitt’s reaction is so…human.”

Q. What character have readers asked you the most about? Which left an impression on them and did it surprise you?
Aiden! It was surprising that readers grew to love him in Tempting as a secondary character. Sometimes I’m a little sad for Shane? I’m like, “He’s sexy too, right?” LOL. But, hey, I get it. I love Aiden to pieces. I can’t wait for everyone to read his and Sadie’s journey.

Q. Finally, Hard to Handle comes out in August, any spoilers you want to give us?
*makes zipping motion over lips*

Epilogue

1. Tie & jacket or bowtie & sweater?
Tie and jacket.

2. Favorite horror film?
Scream

3. Favorite musical?
Chicago

4. Favorite actor?
Johnny Depp

5. Favorite season?
Fall

6. Favorite drink (alcohol counts)?
Dogfish Head 90 minute IPA

7. Sunrise or Sunset?
Sunset


giveaway
temptingSynopsis: Crickitt Day needs a job . . . any job. After her husband walks out on her, she’s determined to re-build her life and establish a new career. When swoon-worthy billionaire Shane August hires her as his assistant, she jumps at the chance to prove herself. Despite her growing attraction to her boss, she vows to keep things strictly professional. No flirting. No kissing. Definitely no falling in love…

Shane August is all business, all the time. He’s a self-made man who’s poured his heart and soul into his company, and he’d never allow himself to get involved with an employee. Then he hires sweet, sexy Crickitt-and he can’t keep his mind or his hands off her. But no matter how much he wants Crickitt, Shane fears that painful secrets from his past will always come between them. With fate working against them, can these two lonely hearts learn that sometimes mixing business with pleasure is the perfect merger?


Woo-hoo! Jessica has offered 2 paperback copies of Tempting the Billionaire. That means, two lucky winners get to bring paperback Shane home. To enter simply answer the question: What’s your favorite baked good? It can either be something you bake or love to eat.

Giveaway rules: USA only and no POBs. Winners will be chosen by random.org. Giveaway runs until April 24th and ends at 8 pm EST. Good luck!

Interview: Arthur Gonzalez

ajgI’m really happy to welcome Arthur Gonzales today to Literary, etc! His book, The Photo Traveler is already available. If you’re a fan of YA or science fiction / time travel, this is a book you’ll enjoy reading. I reviewed it here.


Q. Tell me a little bit about Arthur Gonzalez, other than the standard bio on your website.
I’m someone who wants to make people feel good about themselves. At the core of it all, I am a lover. I live to laugh. I like to be silly and goofy, and tell cheesy jokes. I obsess over those moments where you laugh so hard you feel you may actually die of laughter.

My father passed away, by surprise, of a heart attack, at the age of 48. Ever since, I’ve been on this journey of wanting to leave behind something meaningful. Hypothetically, (and I think of this way too often), if I was destined to leave this Earth at such a ripe age as well, I want to leave behind the memory of someone who inspired. Someone who motivated with love and strength.

I also like to volunteer. The best volunteer experiences I’ve had were helping out in Haiti right after the earthquake, and playing with terminally ill children for weeks at a time in a Paul Newman, called Camp Boggy Creek.

Q. Have you always had an interest in time travel and science fiction?
Science Fiction, yes…but time travel, not so much. I’ve always been intrigued by the idea of time travel, but no more than the next person. But after the idea came to me, I was all too inspired. I couldn’t stop thinking of the possibilities.

Q. As a first-time author, how many projects and stories did you discard along the way to The Photo Traveler?
I have files upon files upon files of stories I have started on, and are either midway complete or just needs to be edited. I was initially going to release my children’s book, Monty and the Monsters, first, but my editor and I both felt the timing was right for The Photo Traveler. So I refocused all of my energy into getting it out there.

Q. What type of research did you conduct while preparing to write The Photo Traveler?
I explored countless websites and books on the historical pieces/adventures of The Photo Traveler. I not only wanted to the readers to vividly imagine this past world, but I hope I’d be able to teach them something they didn’t know before. You know, a mix of something educational masked by the entertainment.

Q. You’ve stated in several interviews the inspiration for The Photo Traveler was a friend grieving for his grandmother. Has he read the book and how did he react to the concept?
Absolutely. He’s been someone who I’ve (forced) asked repeatedly to read the manuscript. The idea was inspired by a major loss, and in some intangible way, he feels his grandmother lives on through it. He loves the concept and has the bragging rights to say he inspired the story!

Q. Gavin is attracted to photography. Why did you choose this profession, and how did you prepare to write about it?
It felt like the perfect match. Time traveling through photos- what better way to propel this story, than to make the main character a photography nut. It was a way to link Gavin’s personal passion to his newfound ability. It felt like the right match for a person who’s always felt alone and not in control of their life. It was a way for him to hold on to moments that were otherwise, always taken from him.

Q. History plays an important role in The Photo Traveler. Why did you pick the time periods that you feature (Salem Witch Trials, the Great Depression)?
Before I began scribbling ideas down, I asked myself, “What periods would I personally like to travel to?” The Salem Witch Trials and The Great Depression immediately came to mind. Then I thought- “How can I tie this into a story and make it meaningful and keep the plot moving forward.

Q. The crystal vials associated with Machu Picchu in The Photo Traveler reminded me of the crystal skulls associated with pre-Columbian Mesoamerica. What attracted you to use Machu Picchu as the source of creation for the photo travelers?
Sometimes (or most often, really) I’ll live vicariously through my writing. I’ve dreamt of going to Machu Picchu for a very long time. Integrating it as part of my story was a way to discover it, to deepen my understanding of it. In doing so, I was able to create this alternate reality that revolved around a destination I would love to visit.

There will be a lot more of Machu Picchu and its history to how it relates to Gavin’s ability in book 2, The Peace Hunter. Hopefully, I will be able to visit- ahem- for “research”, of course.

Q. Photo travelers are distinctive because their eyes change to purple. Why did you decide on this trait and where did the idea come from?
When I began outlining the story, I was trying to think of something that would symbolize the story. Something that someone would see and immediately think of The Photo Traveler. Then one night I woke up in the middle of a dream where I had imagined Gavin with these stellar purple/violet eyes. There was no going back from that. I just felt it was perfect.

Q. I’ve always imagined time travel to be hard on the body and maybe painful. Most time travel plots feature a bit of pain for the protagonists. Why did you stay away from this aspect? In your opinion, if time travel was possible, do you do think it would painful?
I wanted to steer away from a lot of the common ideas that had been used already. I tried to completely erase my mind of anything I had ever read about, and push my creativity for something that was different. Time travel (so far) is not physically possible; so who knows if it would hurt.

As for my own person opinion, I think time traveling – if it were possible – would give me a perpetual massive migraine. I would probably be addicted to Excedrine or something. 🙂

Q. Gavin in many ways is sheltered when compared to those in his peer group. Was there a particular reason to keep him innocent? By innocent I mean, Gavin not having set foot in a museum before.
There are several factors that contributed to his innocence. The two major ones being: 1) the abuse from his adoptive family and 2) his own personal guilt. I wanted his experience when venturing across the county to be an eye opening and liberating experience full of new opportunities. I was sending a message to youth, that no matter how horrible things may be at some point in their life, that something greater awaits them if they dare seek it. I wanted to inspire those who feel alone; that they should never, ever, ever give up.

Q. Meesha is an interesting character and one who helps Gavin when he needs it. Why do you think she looks out for him? Will we see more of her character in book 2?
Meesha is by far one of my favorite characters. I wish she were real so I can have a drink with her and laugh. She will most definitely be in book 2, The Peace Hunter. I think Meesha has taken this maternal approach towards Gavin because she understands, or senses, what he’s been through. She can sense that at his core, he is a boy that wants nothing more than to be loved and accepted. Maybe something happened in Meesha’s life- something we have yet to learn- that Gavin reminds her of.

Q. Let’s talk for a moment without giving spoilers about Gavin falling in love with Alanna. Some readers won’t be able to associate with it and the consequences of an encounter with her. What was your initial reaction to Gavin falling for a girl who only exists in the past and would the initial plot for book 2 still be possible without the implication of what Gavin did?
There will always be a consequence for the decisions Gavin makes in the past; the extent, however, will always vary.

I really wanted Gavin to experience the emotion of that first love, but also realize that everything has its consequences. It was a means to the dramatic impact I wanted for him to experience.
I wanted readers to think, “Wow. What would I do in this situation?”

Q. Given the opportunity, which time period would you travel to and why?
Like Gavin, I would (hands down) time travel to the prehistoric era. I need me some dinosaurs in my life!

Q. You’re writing a children’s novel, how difficult is it to write for children versus a young adult?
It’s different. The content is different, but I think the message is always there. You can ice a chocolate cake with vanilla or strawberry frosting, but it’ll always be chocolate cake. At the end of the day, it’s about understanding who you are writing for and knowing what is and is not appropriate for that demographic.

Q. Finally, what can we anticipate for book 2, The Peace Hunter?
I am crossing my fingers to have it done by the end of this year/early 2014! I’m about a third of the way done. Lets just say….Gavin will be visiting a lot more than the past, through pictures. (Hint: Peru, Paris, Future, Flinstones) 😉

Epilogue

1. Favorite museum?
Natural Museum of National History (D.C.)

2. Beach or Mountain?
Beach (I’m from Miami- come on, now!) 😉

3. Favorite Song?
Amber- 311; Hotel California- Eagles; Come What May- Moulin Rouge version; Doo Wop (That Thing)- Lauryn Hill

4. Mister Rogers or Sesame Street?
Mister Rogers

5. Favorite Sport?
Not a huge sports buff, but I’d go with basketball.

6. Favorite City?
Paris is my love.

7. Favorite Superhero?
Ice Man or Gambit

Interview: Alan Cupp

Alan Cupp 2I’m really happy to welcome Alan Cupp today to Literary, etc! His book, Malicious Masquerade is released tomorrow. If you’ve never read a mystery or are thinking of trying a new genre, do look into Malicious Masquerade. I reviewed it here.


Q. Tell me something about Alan Cupp other than the standard bio on your website.
I have a Bachelor’s degree in Physical Education and Heath.

Q. When writing, do you create a detailed plot outline and write from that, or do you allow the story to play out as you write?
I don’t do outlines. Typically, I get a concept for a story and usually have a rough idea of how I want it to start and how I want it to end. Then it’s a matter of connecting the two points.

Q. What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I don’t know if I have one.

Q. What sort of books do you enjoy as a reader? Are those any different from the books you enjoy as an author?
I like books that don’t bog me down with extreme details unrelated to the story. Also, I prefer shorter chapters. If I read fifty pages divided up into four or five chapters as opposed to two chapters, I have a greater sense of accomplishment. Plus I’m more likely to start another chapter if I know it’s short. I guess I have a short attention span. I try to write the same way.

Q. You wrote the children’s short, Hatter’s Creek Rescue. How difficult was it to put yourself in JT’s shoes?
I didn’t find it difficult at all. Having two boys of my own and typically spending a lot of time around kids in general, I really never thought about putting myself in JT’s shoes as a challenge.

Q. What compelled you to write crime fiction in the first place?
Usually, a story idea comes to mind and I start writing. I really don’t think about the genre until after I’m well into writing it.

Q. If you could describe Malicious Masquerade in 3 words, what would they be?
Struggle for truth

Q. Carter Mays is an ex-police officer turned private investigator. Why did you choose this profession, and how did you prepare to write about it?
I needed someone qualified to help put the pieces together. As an ex-policeman, Carter had the necessary training. Yet, I wanted someone who wasn’t quite as tied to policies and procedures of law enforcement. He could bend the rules a little if needed. As far as preparing, I went by my own perceptions of private investigators formed from other books, TV shows, and movies.

Q. There’s a lot of money to be made in real estate. Without spoilers, let’s talk about Jasper’s side business. Was it inspired by a real event? Or is it completely fictional?
It was completely fictional.

Q. Darlene is probably the most miserable character in Malicious Masquerade. Is it fair to criticize her actions towards Cindy or is there more to her that we don’t know about?
I think it’s fair to criticize her. Regardless of circumstances, she makes her own choices.

Q. As I read, I found myself wondering how could Cindy be blind to Jasper’s hired “help.” Does that go hand in hand with the initial description we’re given of “dumb blonde,” or is it one of those moments where we’re blind to a person’s true character and motives?
I think it’s a combination of being self-absorbed and naïve. Her focus has mostly been on herself, and outside of that, she didn’t really care or even notice until if affected her directly.

Q. Do you have a favorite line Malicious Masquerade? If so, what is it?
That’s a tough question. I can’t narrow it down to one line and a lot of the lines I like the most might be spoilers for those who haven’t read it yet.

Q. If Malicious Masquerade were made into a movie, who do you picture playing each characters part?
Carter – Ryan Reynolds
Cindy – Maggie Grace
Jasper – Jeff Bridges
Darlene – Joan Allen
Tyler – Joseph Gordon-Levitt
Tate – Joe Pantoliano

Q. What’s next for Carter? Will we see him in another book?
As of right now, I don’t have anything in mind for Carter. But I like him as a character and wouldn’t rule out another book, provided I thought it was a good story idea.

Q. What fears are you facing with the upcoming release of Malicious Masquerade?
I’m really not much of a fearful person. My biggest concern is keeping track of the promotional schedule.

Q. Did you learn anything about yourself while writing Malicious Masquerade?
During the editing process I learned that I use the word “just” too much. Had to cut a bunch of them out. Just saying. 🙂

Q. Finally, are you working on anything on new?
Yes, I am. Well, at least I should be. I’m over halfway through a story right now, but I hit a creative wall and have kind of slacked off lately. Plus, I’ve been pretty busy getting ready for Malicious Masquerade to release.

Epilogue

01. Superpower you wish you had?
Teleporting

02. E-book or print book?
Print

03. Favorite city?
Lahaina, Maui

04. Favorite sport to watch?
UFC

05. Cookies or muffins?
Cookies

06. Beach or Mountain?
Beach

07. Favorite TV show?
The Walking Dead

Interview: Rebecca Reid

1a79fe3c65a8e25761ded8bb3df28ed6I’m really excited for you to meet Rebecca Reid! She wrote the psychological thriller, The Coop, and it is hands down one of the BEST books I read in 2012. If you’ve never read a thriller or are thinking of trying a new genre, do look into The Coop. I reviewed it here.


Q. Many of our readers are not familiar with you and your work, so tell us a bit about yourself.
I am a wife, a mum, and a writer. Wife, some of the time. Mum, all of the time and writer for twelve hours a week. Not to mention, housemaid, chef and dog walker.

Q. What’s your writing process? Some authors like to write dialogue first then go back to stage it, while others do a combination of both.
My process is simple; I get an idea or a vision, let it brood a little until the urge to write hits me and then I sit down and see what happens. I know very little of the story before the words hit the page.

Q. What part of the writing process is the hardest for you, whether it’s first draft, rewriting, or editing?
Oh it has to be rewriting. I am not sure if all authors are the same, but I seem to find it impossible to throw any bits away or even change them. Once they’re written, they are part of something bigger and I think they need to stay there. I can be quite stubborn when I want to be.

Q. Initially, The Coop was conceived as one book. What made you decide to make into a trilogy?
I felt there was more. I could feel it as The Coop progressed. It became very clear to me that the character greeting you at the beginning of every chapter, whom I refer to as ‘the girl in the room’, had a story that needed to be told.

Q. Where did you get the inspiration for The Coop? What was it like writing it?
I always find that a difficult question. To me, any inspiration was entirely subconscious, it just grew, became alive as the words appeared on the page. I had a feeling inside that I projected onto paper, as it was captured, it became The Coop and of course the rest of the Thickets Wood Trilogy.

Writing it was utterly fantastic, frustrating, scary, emotional. I think it hit every nerve and sense as it churned itself into a manuscript. It can be difficult though. I think the hardest part of being a writer and also a parent is dealing with the explosions in my head, I could be knee deep in nappies and whole paragraphs or chapters would just pop into my mind. I would find myself scrawling on anything I could get my hands on, although I am yet to make notes on my baby’s bare bottom.

Q. Can you tell us a little about book 2? When can we expect its release?
Book 2 is ‘Thickets Wood’. I must say, I get very excited talking about it, I can’t say why of course but I can tell you this…….
There are two parallel storylines; one follows ’the girl in the room’ as she works through her past, while the other sees Howard and Lilly take you deeper into Thatchbury village. Is it true what they say about Thickets Wood? Tommy Tinkit is about to find out……..

I am hoping to release it around March/April 2013, I think it is important to have them staggered, give The Coop some time to gain a little interest

Q. A tree stands out in Thicket’s Wood and it’s what I call the life/death tree because a lot of what happens in the lives of the villagers is commemorated there. What inspired you to include such a tree?
I wanted there to be something symbolic in the village, something that the villagers used to visually project their emotions onto. It seemed beautiful to me, the concept of such outward expression. Beautiful and sad.

Q. Which character in the first book has been the most challenging to write and why? Did it change for the remaining two books?
Probably ‘the girl in the room’, because the more I wrote her the more of her personality and past I saw, however I had to fight the temptation to put any of it on paper. She had to remain hidden. Almost mute. It was difficult to not let her develop. This was entirely different of course for Book 2, it was as though I had been suffocated and could finally breath; she simply exploded onto the page.

Q. Was it difficult to write two running POVs in The Coop? We have the girl in the room (which later we find out who she is) and then we have the POV of Thatchbury villagers. Were you worried it may confuse some readers?
I didn’t find it difficult at all because during the process of writing, you become your characters, so in writing the openings, I was in one character and in writing the rest I became them; therefore I slipped in and out quite easily. From a readers perspective I didn’t worry at all, not at first. At first it just felt right – I think it is difficult to judge anything during a moment of creation, I simply went with what I felt I had to do. It was later when I went back for a re-read that it occurred to me it may be difficult to adjust to. But as I said, I can be stubborn and I thought it was an important part of the novel to have two very differing perspectives and atmospheres.

Q. Howard becomes a character that will resonate with readers because he’s there for Jodie and helps save her. Can you tell us a little more about him? What are his strengths and weaknesses? Will we see more of him in the remaining two books?
You will certainly see more of him in book 2. Howard, for me, symbolizes all the qualities a woman would want from a male in her life. He is protective, yet caring. He is considerate yet entirely realistic. For most women there is something familiar and loving about a man of few words. Although his tendency to portray his emotions through actions rather than voice them can be somewhat irritating at times. At this point, I do not see his weaknesses; he is a good man.

Q. What can you can tell us about Lilly? Can you tell us more about her without giving spoilers?
Like all of us, she has her strengths and weaknesses, some brought on by past, some by present. She utilizes these in ways she herself does not realize. She is everything you want her to be and more.

Q. Let’s talk for a moment about the ending and what a cliffhanger you gave us! I, myself, reread that chapter a few times. While writing did you anticipate the ending? Especially after you decided to make it into a trilogy?
About half way through the writing process, I knew what the ending had to be. There was a point when I had to make a serious decision about what I could and could not portray to the readers; it was then that it really hit home where the story was leading me. However it wasn’t until I reached that final point myself that it all unraveled. It was with writing those very final passages that I knew the story had to progress, that I truly decided on book 2.

Q. Is there a message in your novels that you want readers to walk away with? If so, what is it?
Nothing is ever quite as it seems.

Q. I know the elements of weather / land can be quite spooky and yet breathtaking especially in Northern Ireland. How much did the elements influence The Coop?
Oh, massively. It is strange you ask that, because I find I write much better in the autumn, winter months and I know that is entirely due to the weather. The colder, wetter, windier it is, the deeper I go.

Q. Village life is very important and central to Thatchbury. Did you base Thatchbury on a real place?
No, not particularly. I simply thought of village/country life and drew on what I felt.

Q. You write using such vivid imagery. When Mattie was being emotionally abused by his grandparents, I could feel it, Jodie’s withdrawal I felt deep inside myself. Was it difficult writing particular scenes? At any moment did you have distance yourself from some of the emotional elements?
Yes, very much. There are some scenes that even now, I myself get goose bumps when I read over them, like the chase in the woods but perhaps the hardest part for me to both write and read is that of Jodie. I think as a mother it hits very hard.

Q. If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in The Coop?
Is it terrible if I say no? No.

Q. Do you have a favorite chapter or part in The Coop?
That is such a difficult question. If I really had to pick? One of the chapters with Mathew. He was such a beautiful character to form.

Q. Is there a question you’d love someone to ask you, but they haven’t? If so, what is it, and how would you answer it?
After this interview, I would have to say no. You have done a fantastic job of reaching into the heart of The Coop (without giving anything away, which is difficult.)

Q. You mentioned you tried going the traditional route, but publishers weren’t willing to take a chance on an unknown when the publishing market was changing. What’s been the most challenging aspect of going in the indie route? What’s been the most rewarding?
I think perhaps the hardest aspect of self-publishing is the promotional side of things. You are constantly fighting against a tidal wave of other authors and publishers to get your book noticed. I really had no idea just how difficult or time consuming it would be.

The most rewarding thing has to be the one on one interaction with your readers. It is so fantastic to speak to people who have read you novel and adored it. To get their feedback, their opinions and theories. Nothing could replace that.

Epilogue

1. Late night or early morning?
Early morning.

2. Favorite TV show?
The Wonder Years.

3. Favorite Superhero?
It has to be Batman.

4. Book or movie?
I have to say movie because it is a welcome inspiration.

5. Favorite drink (alcohol counts)?
A southside – a must have every Saturday night.

6. Favorite season and why?
Autumn because of the beautiful colours and the promise of winter ahead.

7. Superpower you wish you had?
Mind reading.

Guest Post: Gillian Flynn Chicago Discussion of Gone Girl

I’m excited to welcome the lovely Rachelle B as today’s guest blogger! She was kind enough to attend Gillian Flynn’s discussion and book signing in Chicago. If you’re wondering, I’m the friend who sent the book.


Credit: Rachelle B

Photo Credit: Rachelle B

On 2/13/13 I had the opportunity to hear Gillian Flynn speak at the Harold Washington Library. I had never read anything by this author, but a friend of mine in New Mexico is a huge fan, so I figured I’d check her out. My friend ended up sending me a copy of Flynn’s newest book, Gone Girl, so I definitely had to go now.

I’m so glad I did. Flynn is an entertaining and inspirational person. When asked when her interest in writing ‘darker’ books began, she told us that her very first short story was about a girl who ultimately gets eaten by wolves—she was in the 3rd grade.

What I found particularly interesting is that she worked for Entertainment Weekly magazine for ten years before becoming a published novelist. As someone who used to churn creative fiction/short stories out without issue, the research writing that grad school demanded of me took that creativity. In her case, it seemed to be the opposite. She was able to transition from journalism to fiction with ease. She said that it takes her about two years to write a novel and that by the end of the book her office flutters with post-it notes (her main way of taking notes and staying organized).

She is very personable, friendly, and outgoing. I am definitely going to check out her books, and the movie adaptations when those come out (She talked very little about the movies, as they are very much in the planning stage. She did confirm that she will be writing the screenplays and that Hollywood doesn’t want her to make any major changes to the plot.). —Rachelle B

The Society of Midland Authors & the Chicago Public Library recorded the event and you can listen to Gillian Flynn’s discussion and Q&A:

Interview: Melissa R. Smith

n1145721593_312755_246975I’m really excited for everyone to know a little more about Melissa R. Smith and her Sanguine series. If you’re a fan of the paranormal genre, I recommend her books. If you’re just starting to dip your toes into the genre, I think she’d be a good author to begin with.


Q. Can you tell us a little bit about yourself other than the standard bio on your website?
A. One of my favorite places in the world is at the beach and would spend all my summer there, if I could. I also enjoy learning about European history. Not just reading dates and places, but the culture itself is fascinating, anything to do with clothing, etiquette, the class system.

Q. What drew you to write about the paranormal?
A. I can’t say there was one, particular defining moment which drew me to write paranormal fiction, it just seems that I’ve always had an interest in it, particularly in the area of vampires. I’ve written in different genres before and just found that I’m the most comfortable writing paranormal.

Q. Some authors use the term paranormal, while others use supernatural. Which term do you prefer and why?
A. I prefer the term paranormal, as supernatural tends to make me think more of ghosts and hauntings. Though I do believe that both terms do cross the boundaries sometimes. It’s certainly up to each individual author to decide which word suits them best.

Q. Legacy was turned down by an independent publisher; are you still interested in pursuing the traditional route?
A. I greatly enjoy what I’m doing right now, but being published traditionally is always a possibility. I believe that if it’s meant to happen, it will. So, until then, I will concentrate on writing the best novels I can for those who enjoy reading them.

Q. Tell us about the Sanguine series and what inspired it.
A: I was never into the ultra-violent vampires that you read about in many adult-centered novels; still I wasn’t ready to write about vampires in the young adult genre. When I began writing about them, I simply tried to picture our world with Sanguines in it – the undead in its simplest form. No magical powers or hidden agenda, just a group of beings who have always been in between the living and the dead and how the Unveiling in 1903 forced them to interact with their only means of survival, humans. The Sanguine Series has the romance that most readers enjoy, mixed with elements of our everyday lives. I think it makes the series more believable and an easier read.

Q. Sanguine Historian, Derick Upton, wrote an entry on Sanguine myths. How much is based in tradition, and how much is made up?
A. I think almost all of it is based on some sort of tradition, the typical legends of vampires throughout history. Derick is very thorough and did his research, which is why he hates the term vampire so much. Sanguines get a bad reputation because of these earlier myths that, for centuries, no one ever tried to dispute. Derick felt it was time to set things straight.

Q. In Six Hours to Sunrise (book 1), Laney asks for the Midnight Special. How did you come up with the idea for Sanguine clubs? Do all the clubs have the Midnight Special or does it vary on what it’s called?
A. In the world of Sanguines, I felt clubs were essential because otherwise, how would Sanguines be able to find blood short of advertising on Craig’s list or Ebay? Donations to collection drives that make bagged blood for Sanguines are fine for some, but not nearly enough for those who need certain blood types that are more compatible. For them, clubs were created to bring those Sanguines together with live donors of all blood types, but especially those that too rare to trust to the Depositories. As for the Midnight Special, the Dutch Club in North Carolina is the only club that offers that special treat…at least so far.

Q. Touch of Silver is the eagerly awaited sequel to Legacy and the 3rd book in the Sanguine series. What are you most pleased about with this book?
A. I think that it allows Devani to finally stand up for what she needs without hurting anyone else. She grows a little, in her realization that no matter how well-meaning her intentions were, she couldn’t stay away from Roman. In the end, the risk was well worth the reward.

Q. Do you write your characters’ backgrounds before writing or do you already know it? How far back do you go? How does a character’s past affect the story?
A. When I begin writing, I sit down and list what characters are needed for the book, such as ‘female – 35 years old’, then I take each character, name him/her and begin to give them some life and as much history as possible, even if some of that history doesn’t make it to the finished book. If I get to know them before I start writing, then they find their voice and their words makes it to the screen much easier. I think all of my main characters have a past that affects their present and future. In fact, my favorite theme to write about is the two main characters meeting in the past and becoming separated due to forces beyond their control. Bringing them back together is a great challenge as well as a great joy.

Q. What was your favorite chapter (or part) to write and why?
A. I love writing those first two or three paragraphs because they are so pivotal to the story and determine if the reader will be interested enough to continue. Actually, those seem to be the easiest for me to do, probably because I know how I want my story to begin before I ever start writing.

Q. What’s next for the Sanguine series? Are there certain characters you would like to go back to, or is there a theme or idea you’d love to work with?
A. There are many areas I could explore with the Sanguines, but I’m getting a great deal of requests for fleshing out Derick Upton’s story. He has a small, but important role in Six Hours to Sunrise and since he is an older Sanguine, he has an extensive history and many stories to tell.

Q. Why do you think vampires remain popular in modern culture?
A. That’s a tricky question to answer. I think it goes back to the original sensuality and allure of vampires. They bit women on the neck, drank their blood and were considered unholy and forbidden. I think deep down inside, we’re all attracted to things that are more than a little taboo.

Q. Who’s your favorite fictional vampire character and why?
A. Frank Langella’s portrayal of Dracula in the 1979 movie was what got me started on my interest in vampires, but it was Mick St. John (played by Alex O’Loughlin) in the TV series, Moonlight, that renewed my love and ambition to write about them. Mick and his friends, while still unknown to the world, were trying to live among humans to the best of their ability. Yet, Mick had fallen for Beth, a girl he knew from his past. He was torn between keeping the secret and revealing his true self, thinking she would find him to be a monster. It was a great series and a shame it was canceled so soon. The great ideas that came from there inspired me.

Q. You also wrote The Color of Night, which features the Panthera, Quinn. Will there be a second book featuring his cousin or any other Panthera?
A. Yes, there will definitely be a second book to Color of Night and it will feature a more in-depth look into the world of the Panthera. Katrine, Quinn’s cousin, has a past that begs to be explored and resolved.

Q. Finally, Touch of Silver comes out in March, any spoilers you want to give us?
A. Those who have read my books know how much I love happy endings. That’s as much as I can say right now.

Epilogue

01. Favorite Old Hollywood Movie?
Singin’ in the Rain.

02. Favorite drink (alcohol counts)?
Raspberry limeade.

03. E-book or print book?
Print book.

04. Shopping weakness?
Easy. Vera Bradley handbags.

05. Favorite season?
Fall or early Spring.

06. Chocolate or vanilla?
Vanilla!

07. Favorite song?
Before the Rain by Duran Duran is a new favorite of mine. It’s haunting and beautiful, especially the live version.

Interview: Tom Barry

tomSyndicated interview with Tom Barry, author of When the Siren Calls.

Q: After a long career at the top of your profession, what prompted you to write a novel?
My original plan was to write a business book that distilled down everything I’d learnt about selling over 20 years in the corporate world. But when the opportunity came, I decided that, if I were to be a writer, I’d rather entertain my readers than lecture them! Much more fascinating, it seemed to me, to embody everything I knew about persuasion in a fictional character, in a master persuader.

Q: So, your business career was key to being able to write this story?
Yes. People tell me I’m a salesman by nature and I’ve spent 20 years in management consultancy, or what I prefer to call the persuasion game. My only tool was my pen, so what I was really selling was hope, hope to corporations looking for salvation. And that is what the master persuader appeals to in my story; to people’s hopes and to their dreams.

Q: You’ve set your story in a fictional luxury tourist development in Tuscany. Where did that idea come from?
Once I had the idea of a character – a master persuader who would use his skills for business and pleasure – I thought about context and setting. I’ve lived and worked abroad much of my life, and I have bought property in Italy and Spain, amongst other places. I know a lot about the siren call of living in the sun, having answered that call myself, and I’ve learnt the hard way about the perils and pitfalls of overseas property investment. So I set my story against the background of a dream holiday condominium for expats. It could be anywhere you find Brits in the sun, but I chose Tuscany because I love visiting there, and I knew stereotypical hot-blooded and hot-headed Italians would add plenty of spice to my story.

Q: The master persuader is not your protagonist. What made you give the story a female lead?
I wanted the book to be about the characters and what happens to them, not a case study in selling or in living the expat life. When the Siren calls is the story of two people, Isobel and Jay, but the more the characters came to life as I wrote the story, the more I fell in love with Isobel, and the more I wanted it to be at least as much her story as Jay’s.

Q: What is that story?
Isobel is quintessentially English: a modern day Lady Chatterley. When she meets Jay, she imagines a life of excitement outside her stagnant marriage, free of her workaholic husband. When the Siren Calls tells what happens next.

Q: What makes your story different to other romance/thriller novels out there?
Several things. First, I’ve written cross-genre. My book is a romantic suspense and business thriller brought together around three common threads: seduction, deception and betrayal. Second, it’s written from multiple points of view; we don’t see the story just through Isobel’s eyes and every character is the hero of his own story.

The result is a story with twists and turns that keep you guessing. But more importantly it is fresh and original because it does not follow the formulaic approach that all publishers now demand before they will even consider a manuscript from a debut author. The reader sees characters’ actions through the characters’ point of view, and the point of view of their adversaries, and it is for the reader to decide who the good guys are.

Q: Does that mean different readers will view characters differently?
Exactly, take Isobel for example. I hope every reader will find her an empathetic character and I think most will be rooting for her. But not everyone will agree with how she behaves.

Q: How difficult was it to put yourself inside the head of a female protagonist?
People seem to readily accept that you don’t need to be a vampire to write a vampire novel. And D.H Lawrence was able to put himself inside the head of Lady Chatterley, just as a middle-aged woman was able to put herself inside the head of an eleven-year wizard.

Q: Are you confident that women readers will identify with Isobel?
I know they will because I have fans who have read the Prequel to the novel saying they are going crazy waiting for the full release. And it’s not just women. Isobel’s situation is universal, and everyone over the age of fifteen will relate to it. We all, at some point, find ourselves in a place, a job or a relationship that is not fulfilling. Isobel’s problem is that she lacks the courage to live a life true to herself rather than the one other people expect. Whether she will find the courage she needs remains the issue right to the end of the story.

Q: WTSC is the first book in a trilogy. When can we expect book two?
The second book, Saving Jay, is already written. The timing on the release is something I discuss with my agent regularly. We haven’t set a date yet, but hopefully you will see Saving Jay in bookshops late spring 2013.

Permission granted by Tom Barry to repost this interview. For more information please visit his website.