Category: Author Interview

Author interview – Tracey Livesay’s Love Will Always Remember

Today sees the release of Love Will Always Remember by Tracey Livesay, and I’m really excited about it as I’ve loved the series so far. (See reviews for Love on my Mind and Along Came Love.)

LWAR

So, to celebrate this new release, I tracked down Ms Livesay to ask her a few questions…and she kindly answered!

Me: What made you start writing?

TLI’ve always written stories and like many romance writers, once I found romance books, I eventually tried to write my own. I still have that first story (I was 11 yrs old) and I take it out every now and then to read it… and I laugh! It’s so bad!! But that urge to write never went away. Over the years, I became an attorney, entered the work force, got married, had kids, decided to stay home with those kids… and during my infrequent quiet moments, I’d revisit the idea of writing, but I never followed through. By the time my youngest started kindergarten, I was ready. Instead of going back into the law, I followed my heart and I’ve never regretted that decision! 
 
Me: Your books are often categorised as  ‘interracial’ rather than simply contemporary romance – how do you feel about that? Are you ok with it or is it a bit reductive for authors?
TL: This question is so timely because I recently made the decision to drop the ‘interracial’ from my description, but not because I’m ashamed of it or am running away from it. In the beginning, I wanted to emphasize that aspect of my stories because major publishers were shying away them and I knew there was an audience for it. Hello! It was me. It was my life! But now it feels like that descriptor has turned into a genre. It’s not a genre; it’s one keyword to describe my stories. Whether or not an author chooses to describe their work as ‘interracial’ or ‘multicultural’ is a personal decision and I’m not passing judgement on it. Far from it. But I write contemporary romances where the heroes and heroines are different races. Their being different races is not the main concept or theme of my stories. 
Me: Any nuggets you’d like to share about the characters in Love Will Always Remember – inspiration, what you like most about them etc?
TL: It’s interesting to write a series, especially when you introduce characters in earlier books. I had to have an idea about Jonathan’s character when I wrote the first book, LOVE ON MY MIND. I knew I had to make him fun and easygoing because Adam and Mike are both so intense. There had to be someone in the group to balance them out or they’d be too broody. And I wasn’t interested in writing a book where all the men sat around seeing who could out-brood one another. LOL I had the idea about what Jonathan’s story would be while I was writing the second book, ALONG CAME LOVE. That’s why I introduced Leighton in that book, but only in one scene. Of course, that didn’t leave me much wiggle room when it came to this book, especially because there was something I really wanted to happen. (I have to be cryptic because it’s a surprise.) 
 
I love Jonathan and Leighton together. I like that they are both alphas, but in their own spheres. I’ve always wanted to write about a chef. I watch The Food Network and Top Chef and good-looking men who can cook are my kryptonite! Leighton is who I want to be when I grow up. She’s kicking ass & taking names and I wish I could be that bold and in charge!
Me: What, if anything can you tell us about your new projects once the Shades of Love series is complete?
TL: I’m currently writing the third book in my “IN LOVE WITH A TYCOON” series with Entangled Publishing.  I’m also prepping a book that would start another new series, but I can’t talk about that yet. 🙂
Me: Where do you look for your inspiration for your heroes and heroines who are always gorgeous, intelligent and complex?
TL: Thank you! LOL Hmm… Well, I work on my characters quite a bit in the beginning. I like to write character arcs, which means my characters have to start in one place and end in a totally different and better place. So its important to me to figure out the personal journeys the characters will go on, in addition to the love story. 
 
Physically, I cast my books before I write. I’ll “cruise” Google images and Pinterest to find people who match the description I have in my head. Once I have my couple, I’m able to start writing.
Thanks so much to Tracey for the interview during what must have been a busy promotional period. Love Will Always Remember is available from most retailers now.

 

About the author

Author Tracey Livesay-hiresA former criminal defense attorney, Tracey finds crafting believable happily ever afters slightly more challenging than protecting our constitutional rights, but she’s never regretted following her heart instead of her law degree. She writes sexy and emotional contemporary interracial romances where strong, successful heroines find love with powerful, passionate heroes. She lives in Virginia with her husband—who she met on the very first day of law school–and their three children. She runs marathons and loves purses and TV (the shows on them, not the actual appliance). If you want to chat with her about them you can find her on social media.

Connections
Website |Facebook |Twitter |Pinterest |Instagram

Something in the Way by Jessica Hawkins – Author Q & A and review

Hi!

jessicaIf you follow this blog, you’ll know how much I like and admire Jessica Hawkins. She’s awesome. So when she announced that she was releasing a new book (kind of surreptitiously actually – she never wants to make a big fuss) I was super excited. She’s done the odd standalone, but she really is a serial kind of woman.

Something in the Way will be a trilogy (trilogies I can handle – 5-parters and I start to tire!) and I was quite curious about this series so decided to ask a few questions (and basically be a bit nosey).

Me: Jess, hi. It’s been a while since we’ve spoken – you’ve been busy and written 3 books since I saw you in June! I have a few questions…

1. When you had the idea for Manning and Lake did you know it was going to span 3 books?

Jess: I knew instantly, yes. The story grew so large and so fast in my head that there was no way it would ever fit in one book. Book 1 was the tip of the iceberg as far as I’m concerned…

2. What kind of timescale will this trilogy cover?

Jess: I don’t want to give too much away, but it will happen over a long period. Many of my other books span weeks or months — that won’t be the case with Something in the Way. It’ll be years…

[Ooh – interesting…]

3. Did you have any qualms about the age difference of your main characters?

Jess: No qualms. I love a good forbidden story, and I’ve always been interested in exploring the teenage girl’s “crush” mentality. I always thought it would be a teacher-student story, to be honest. I worked very hard with my editor to make sure Manning and Lake’s relationship was right for the story. In terms of their physical relationship, I quickly learned that I didn’t need or want to cross a single line to tell this because the story was so much better without it.

4. Was Lake’s dad based on anyone real? – because… he’s kind of an asshole!

Jess: Maybe! Definitely not my dad, who is extremely supportive and who, in fact, patiently talked me through the various legal scenarios toward the ending. However, my brother went to USC and 3/4 of my family is cultish about it (me being the 1/4 who isn’t). 🙂

Review

sitwBook: Something in the Way book #1

Release date: 28 February 2017

Main characters: Manning Sutter, building contractor and seemingly without a family. Lake Kaplan, obedient daughter about to embark on a  future that’s already been mapped out.

Blurb: It was a hot summer day when I met him on the construction site next to my parents’ house. Under the sweat and dirt, Manning Sutter was as handsome as the sun was bright. He was older, darker, experienced. I wore a smiley-face t-shirt and had never even been kissed. Yet we saw something in each other that would link us in ways that couldn’t be broken…no matter how hard we tried.

I loved Manning before I knew the meaning of the word. I was too young, he said. I would wait. Through all the carefully-chosen words hiding what we knew to be true, through his struggle to keep me innocent, and through infinitely-starry nights—I would wait. But I’d learn that life isn’t always fair. That no matter how much you achieve, none of it matters if you suffer the heartbreak that comes with falling for someone you can never have. Because even though I saw Manning first, that didn’t matter. My older sister saw him next.

Why you should read it: The writing in this story is beautiful. The dialogue, the evocative sense of a certain period in time was spot on. The writing flowed and it accurately depicted both the mindset of a teen girl and a young man. It set the scene for the series and also gave a good sense of the characters. Lake is quite immature by today’s standards – but it’s part and parcel of her sheltered upbringing. Her parents have clearly overcompensated with Lake, since their ‘failures’ with her older sister, Tiffany. This series is going to be a nail-biter and heavy on the angst, but if it’s done as well as in this book, I don’t think it will be too much.

What you might not like: As I said before, we’re dealing with first love and a main character who, although intelligent, is severely lacking in any street-smarts. She’s sensible for the most part, but inevitably, the moment she decides to cut loose and do something a little out of character, all hell breaks loose! This provides much of the drama, and I guess we’ll have to see how the story unfolds.

Rating: 4/5 for a promising start to a series that will cover a significant amount of time! It does end on a cliffhanger of sorts, so note that book 2, Somebody Else’s Sky isn’t out until May 2017.

Author spotlight – Alice Raine

Today we’re joined by Alice Raine. Bestselling author of the Untwisted series and now writing another trilogy, The Revealed series will be with us shortly – book one (Unmasked) will be out tomorrow (21st November).

So, having read and enjoyed The Untwisted series, I wanted to know what the new series had in store…
all 4 books

 

Onni: Alice – thanks so much for joining us today. Let me start by saying how much I enjoyed the adventures of Nathan and Nicholas in The Untwisted books. What can we expect from the new series – characters, locations etc?

Alice: There are some secrets and twists discovered in the first book, so unfortunately I can’t say too much without giving them away…but the settings are something I can discuss. I like to set my books in places I have actually been, so that I can try and convey the sights, sounds and experiences as thoroughly as possible, and this is no different in the Revealed series, as we visit both the UK and the US. More specifically, Buxton in the Peak district, and Los Angeles in the United States. 

The genre is erotic romance again, and in general, the themes are love, romance, and the development of hope and trust. As always though, I mix in some darker, edgier themes to add to the characters back stories. I enjoy the challenge of adding these trickier elements, and the great side-effect is that they help me create tension, passion and drama, and let’s face it, that’s what we all want when we sit down to read a book.

I think (hope) that in this new Revealed series I’ve become better at individualising my characters to make them more ‘real’. You’ll meet Sean, Allie, Jack and Cait, but I’m going to keep quiet about how those four are related – you’ll have to read to find out!

Onni: What made you want to jump into another trilogy – did you know as soon as you had the idea for Unmasked that it would be a trilogy?

Alice: Squeezing details, plots and character development into a single book can be tricky, so I like the concept of writing a series because I can really get my teeth into the stories and characters and use the longer length to expand the ideas. Plus, I tend to like to include 4 main characters, so by using a series I can spread the relationship developments across all the books to maintain the interest for the readers.

The Untwisted series actually started off as one book featuring Nicholas and Rebecca, but then, when test readers expressed an interest in Nicholas’s brother Nathan (who was mentioned as a minor part in the first book), I began to extend the stories and created the story of Nathan and Stella. I’m actually really thrilled with the way the series developed, and am particularly fond of the seasonal short stories that I have written to link with the series.

Onni: Do you know at the beginning of writing a trilogy what you want to happen in each book, or are you character-led?

Alice: A little of both. In the very initial planning stages I use a huge sketch pad and try to plot out the rough series of events that I see happening. Of course as I write, this adapts and flexes as new ideas occur to me. Then of course there are the characters, as they develop in my mind and within the manuscripts I do often end up diverting my storylines to include new developments within their backstories.

Onni: Does the writing process for you get easier?

Alice: Perhaps not easier, as such, but certainly clearer – I feel that I’m much better at the planning stages now, which definitely helps with the flow of the actual writing process and reduces overall stress!

Onni: Who is your ideal leading man?

Alice: Gosh, that’s a really difficult question! I think it would have to be a blend: Mr Darcy (Pride and Prejudice) for his elegance and gentlemanly ways, Jesse Ward (This Man Trilogy) for his obsessive desire, Nathaniel Jackson (Untwisted series) for his intense passion and creativity in the bedroom and Tom Hardy (the actor) just because he’s gorgeous!

Onni: Pinterest or Tumblr for your inspiration?!

Alice: Pinterest. (At the risk of making myself sound really old, I don’t even use Tumblr!) I absolutely love the concept of Pinterest though, it’s like having my walls covered in countless pin boards of my favourite images, people and quotes, but without making my house cluttered! As well as using it for inspiration, it also features heavily in my planning, because I like to create boards in the initial planning stages for every book I write.

Many thanks to Alice for that peek into her head – I’ll certainly be delving into Unmasked once it’s out. If that’s whetted your appetite, here’s a snippet!

I was midway through my mammoth vacuuming session and singing along with Mika when the hoover suddenly cut off. Assuming I had pulled the cable from the wall in my exuberance I spun around to remedy it before letting out an ear-piercing shriek and leaping backwards, clutching at my chest as my heart suddenly beat frantically against my ribs.

The hoover hadn’t pulled itself from the wall. No, as I followed the trail of the cable it led me instead to the hand of a very large man, his arms folded and an incredibly angry expression on his face. Swallowing loudly, I briefly scrunched my eyes closed to make sure I wasn’t imagining him, but he was still there when I opened them again. And from the deep frown on his brow, he was still angry. Even through the shock of his sudden appearance, this man was undeniably handsome; a shock of dark hair sat in a ruffled mess on his head, his jaw was defined and lightly stubbled, his lips were drawn into a tight line of disapproval, but were infinitely tempting, and his dark eyes, although irate, seemed to somehow draw me in to the point where I felt the urge to step closer. Thankfully, I didn’t, instead forcefully making my legs stay still.

On top of all of that, it suddenly permeated my consciousness that he was only semi-clothed. Jesus. My eyes flicked over his body and I think my heart stopped for a few seconds before taking off again at such a rate that it was now booming in my chest like some badly played bongo drums. He was wearing nothing but a pair of navy pyjama bottoms.

Crikey, what a sight – so good in fact, that it really should be illegal. His legs were long, the thin cotton clinging to muscles hidden beneath, and the waistband hanging deliciously low on his hips, so it exposed a ‘v’ of muscles that led to goodness knows what splendidness below. Everything looked narrow and tight and… well, inspiring all sorts of delicious thrusting naughtiness to spring to mind.

He was, quite simply, glorious.

My mouth suddenly felt as parched as a dry river bed. Licking my lips, my eyes lingered on his well-muscled abdomen for far longer than necessary, but I couldn’t seem to pull my gaze away as I gulped desperately and absently reached to tug my earbuds out. I didn’t even know him, but the urge to step forwards and run my tongue up the centre of his chest was almost overpowering.

His appearance had definitely sent me into an instant tail spin, there was no doubt about that…

Connect with Alice:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AliceRaineAuthor

Twitter: @AliceRaine1

Website: www.aliceraineauthor.com

Pre-order links for Unmasked: Amazon UK Amazon.com

About Alice…
IMG_6337 view contrastWhere to start? I’m really a lot more boring and normal than my books might suggest. It may disappoint some to know that I’ve never had an illicit affair with a domineering pianist, nor have I ever met or dated a man who frequented certain seedy clubs in London. I have however always had an overactive imagination, which may in part explain where my stories come from!
I was born and raised in London, and as such it holds a special place in my heart and is often used as a setting within my books. Some of my best times have been spent with friends wandering the markets of Camden or sipping beers in Covent Garden.
When I was eighteen I moved to Manchester to study, where I ended up living for over ten years. Originally I qualified as an archaeologist, but I soon realised that jobs in that sector were minimal and decided to put my enthusiasm to use by becoming a teacher. I taught for over seven years, but now I mostly spend my days engaging my wildly over active imagination by writing. I’ve lived in Manchester, Muscat (Oman) and briefly in France, but currently I’m in the process of moving back to London, a very exciting prospect for me. Where ever I find myself I live with my ever suffering, but hugely supportive husband, and our rescued street dog Ralph.

Spotlight on Annabeth Albert


This mini-interview with one of our contributors is brought to you in support of
Queer Romance Month.

QRM runs throughout October, celebrating love stories in all shades of the rainbow in all shades of romance. Join us, and over a hundred LGBTQ+ authors and allies, for essays, flash-fiction and much, much more.

 

AAnnabeth Albertnnabeth Albert

 

  1. Your favourite queer romance?

The Coda series by Marie Sexton is something I re-read a lot, along with Dirty Laundry by Heidi Cullinan, Moving in Rhythm by Dev Bentham, and Cost of Repairs by A.M. Arthur, and many others.

 

  1. A queer romance you’d recommend to a newcomer:

I started with Promises, by Marie Sexton, and I still feel it’s a great introduction to the genre. Other great ‘first’ choices: Understatement of the Year by Sarina Bowens, Off Campus by Amy Jo Cousins, No Such Thing by A.M. Arthur, Hot Head by Damon Suede

 

  1. Recommend a book you love, but feel is under appreciated

Driving Into the Sun by Dev Bentham – I just re-read this for the third or fourth time. I’m not sure why more folks haven’t discovered Dev’s wonderful lyrical prose.

 

  1. Tell us about your book(s)

I’m really excited about STATUS UPDATE, my gamer geek romance coming December 7th from Carina Press. Fans who liked my quirky Portland Heat heroes should enjoy this new series starring a group of friends who all work for the same video game developer. I had a lot of fun creating the fake online role-playing game that the heroes work for and in immersing myself in the gamer geek. In STATUS UPDATE, a hipster video game designer is stranded in a tiny RV with an archaeology professor. Sparks fly as the snow falls!

 

  1. What do you think is the future of queer romance?

I think we’re going to see a lot more diversity. More f/f pairings, more trans characters, more ‘mixed’ series with m/m, f/f, and m/f in the same series, more characters of different backgrounds and from different backgrounds.

Annabeth’s contribution to Queer Romance Month – Dear Auto-Buy Authors – will be published on 16th October.

 

Thank you for struggling even when it feels like no one sees – thank you for persevering even when sales are low or reviews are mixed.”

-Annabeth Albert

 

About Annabeth

Annabeth Albert grew up sneaking romance novels under the bed covers. Now, she devours all sub-genres of romance out in the open – no flashlights required! When she’s not adding to her keeper shelf, she’s a multi-published Pacific Northwest romance writer.

Emotionally complex, sexy, and funny stories are her favorites both to read and to write. Annabeth loves finding happy endings for a variety of pairings and is a passionate gay rights supporter.  In between searching out dark heroes to redeem, she works a rewarding day job and wrangles two toddlers.

WebsiteFacebook • Twitter

 

Curious about Treble Maker?

On Perfect Harmony, the ambitious competitors heat things up on stage and off…

Cody Rivers is determined to be a rock star, but couch-surfing between bar shows gets old fast. Joining an a cappella group for a new singing competition show could be his last chance at real fame – unless the college boy from the heart of the country messes it up for him. Lucas Norwood is everything gothy, glittery Cody is not – conservative, clean-cut, and virginal. But when a twist in the show forces them together, even the sweetest songs get steamy as the attraction between them lights up the stage. Lucas wants to take it slow, but Cody’s singing a different tune—and this time it may be a love song…

 

New Serial Teaser: Every Part of You by Megan Hart

every part of youToday we’re so lucky to welcome Megan Hart to the blog – she’s launched a five-part series and part one Every Part of You: Tempts Me came out February 2nd. See below for the scheduled releases of the parts 2-5.

Every Part of You: Resists Me, available 2/18/14

Every Part of You: Taunts Me, available 3/4/14

Every Part of You: Denies Me, available 3/18/14

Every Part of You: Takes Me, available 4/1/14

One question I’m always asking my favourite authors is where does the inspiration come from? Here’s what Megan had to say…

It’s no secret to anyone who knows me that I can’t write without music. I feature playlists for many of my books, and share my favorite artists and songs all over the place. I love music! And, since Every Part of You’s title came directly from the Halestorm song In Your Room, it’s no wonder this five part serial had a lot of musical inspiration while I was writing it.

In Your Room by Halestorm. This bittersweet ballad by the hard rocking band never fails to make me cry. The singer beseeches her lover to “let me in your room” – maybe literally, but certainly metaphorically. And, just as Simone tries to get Elliott to open up to her, the song reminds the object of it that it doesn’t matter what secrets or bad things he might have, she’ll take every part of him.

Use Somebody – Kings of Leon. Wow. What can I say about this song, other than no matter whether or not Elliott would admit it, he’s desperate to find love. He tries to deny his attraction to Simone, forcing himself to pretend he doesn’t need to “use” anybody, but the truth his, she flips his switch in a way nobody else ever has. She’s the one for him, and he can’t get away from her.

Hot and Cold by Katy Perry is also a tongue in cheek tribute to Elliott’s waffling. While Simone has no compunctions about making her desires clear, Elliott not only tries to act like he doesn’t get turned on by giving her the pain she craves, he denies liking it altogether.

Trouble – Cat Stevens. This classic folk song might seem a little out of character for the punk rock Simone or the quiet, staid Elliott, but if you listen to the lyrics, which talk about the singer wanting his lover to set him free, you can see how it fits both characters who are fighting to keep themselves from getting hurt yet aren’t able to let go.

Rev 22-20 by Puscifer is simply one of the best sex songs I know. That’s it. It’s a song made for sexy times. And hair pulling. And hand tying. And pinching. And…you get the picture.

The Fall by Bo Bruce is a song Simone probably wouldn’t like, but it would make her cry. Just like it makes me cry whenever I hear it. If you’ve ever loved someone who simply won’t give you what you want and need…then you understand Simone’s pain. This song perfectly sums it up.

Head Like A Hole, Nine Inch Nails. Well…this is one of those songs that’s not about the lyrics meaning something for the characters. It’s just an awesome song that Simone would totally rock out to while she danced around her apartment in her underwear while Elliott tried to pretend he wasn’t getting turned on. Or that he didn’t like this song, which he really did.

A Thousand Years by Christina Perri.  Love song. The sort of song you dance to with the person who’s stolen your heart and you cry because you’re so happy. That sort of song. When it comes on the radio, Simone has to change the channel because it makes her think of Elliott, that jerk, who won’t admit he’s in love with her! *weeps *

 If you’re reading Every Part of You, take a listen to these songs!

unnamedBlurb for Every Part of You: Resists Me (#2)

 The dance has begun. Simone’s ready to follow all her desires, but reluctant Elliott isn’t ready to take the lead.

After teasing Elliott into going dancing with her, Simone seduces him. She knows what she wants and isn’t afraid of asking for it, and Elliott appears to be as eager as she is to see where their passion takes them. The sex is electric, but Elliott is taken aback by his response to her, and when Simone reveals her kink for pain to him, he’s unable to accept it and tells her he doesn’t want to see her again.

 And then they’re both invited to the same party.

Excerpt for Every Part of You: Resists Me (#3)unnamed

 “I like to make you feel good.”

“You did, honey.” The endearment slipped out of her. “Really good. I told you, I like . . .”

“I know what you said.”

“Elliott. Do you think I’m the sort of girl who’d tell you I like something when I don’t?”

“No. I guess not.”

“You’re not used to women who tell you the truth, huh?”

He paused. “It’s not that. I don’t usually ask, that’s all. I don’t see them more than once or twice, remember?”

So he did have a sense of humor. Dry and self-deprecating, but there was nothing wrong with that. In fact, she liked it. A lot.

“I like you,” she told him suddenly. She wanted to tell him she’d liked him for awhile, but as with the scones and everything else, that would mean she’d have to own up to her Peeping Tina tendencies. She waited, but he didn’t say anything. Simone sighed. “Now would be the perfect time to tell me that you like me, too.”

He sighed into the phone with enough force that he’d have ruffled her hair if they’d been together in person rather than talking on the phone. Simone rolled her eyes, trying not to let it hurt her feelings. Reminding herself that he’d called her, and there had to be a reason, if only she could be patient enough to let him get to it.

“I don’t think we should see each other again. That’s all.”

Simone had never been a patient sort of girl. “You woke me up on a Sunday morning to tell me that you don’t think we should see each other again?”

“I wanted to let you know.”

“So you wouldn’t be rude?”

“Yes. That’s part of it,” Elliott said.

Simone chewed the inside of her cheek for a moment. “What’s the other part?”

“I don’t want you coming to my office again.”

Everything inside her went cold. Then hot. Then cold again.

“I see.”

“It’s not you,” Elliott said finally.

“No. It’s you. Definitely you.”

There came a long silence in which she was certain he would disconnect the call. Simone sat with the phone pressed to her ear until he did, without even a good-bye, trying to pretend this didn’t matter. Trying to tell herself it was better to know, no matter how hard it had been to hear.

It was always better to know.

Readers – how important is knowing a story’s soundtrack to you? Comment here to win a copy of Every Part of You: Tempts Me (#1)! (It’s digital only, which means you must be able to get your prize from Amazon.com, BN.com, Kobo.com or iBookstore in the USA) If you already have #1, you’ll be able to choose #2!

Author Interview: Jessica Hawkins and Come Undone Giveaway!

Hey everyone, I’m feeling very lucky today as I get to ask one of my favourite breakout authors of 2013 a few questions! Jessica Hawkins is with me to talk about her new bookCome Alive Cover Come Alive, which is Book #2 in the Cityscape Series.

Onni: Jessica welcome!

JHawk: Thanks for having me.

Onni: So I’m just going to jump right in – I read your bio at the end of Come Undone, and you’ve pretty much given up your day job to work on writing full-time. What pushed you to do this? Weren’t you scared?

JHawk: Well, I have this ’30 under 30′ list that I started in college, but it only has two things on it: write a book and swim with sharks. After school, I moved to Costa Rica for almost two years, where I picked up surfing. Well – picked up isn’t right – more like fought and flailed and struggled until I finally got the hang of it. When it was time for me to move from the white-water to the line-up, I was scared out of mind. And that was why I knew I had to do it.

Onni: And writing a book?

JHawk: This was sort of the same thing. Quitting my job was, and still is, scary. Writing this book was scary. Putting it out into the world… well, it was worse than making the leap to the line-up. But every time I hopped on my board and rode a wave, it was worth every minute. And if there are people who connect with my story, who really get it, then it’s worth it too. I have one year left to swim with sharks. (I sincerely hope I never unknowingly surfed with sharks!)

Onni: I re-read Come Undone to refresh my memory for this interview and I didn’t think it would be possible to like it more, but I did! Olivia is a complex character, but a sympathetic one. Can you give any insights into the journey she’ll face in the next book(s)?

JHawk: Thank you, what a compliment! Olivia is definitely complex, and she becomes even more so as the story continues. Her journey won’t be easy… trust me, I wanted to baby her, but I couldn’t. Come Alive is dark and emotional. Olivia’s already come undone, but before she can come out the other side, she has to come apart – and some difficult questions will be raised.

Onni: Olivia has a ‘difficult’ (to put it mildly) relationship with her mother that was touched on in Come Undone – will we meet her in the Come Alive?

JHawk: Yes and no. Neither of her parents actually appears in the second book, but the reader will learn more about Olivia’s relationship with her mom and where she comes from. But as we know, Olivia isn’t one to give it up easily – so their issues will be covered further in the third book.

Onni: What prompted you to write a story about deception, passion and love? Adultery is a topic that authors these days generally steer clear of, yet some of the best love stories (e.g. The English Patient and the End of the Affair) have included forbidden, star-crossed lovers. How did you go about making them sympathetic and not simply the ‘bad guys’ doing bad things?

JHawk: That’s a great question. I’ve done research and I know adultery is a tough topic. I think it scares people, so I find it utterly fascinating. Cheating is one of the worst crimes a person can commit, so I had to know – why do it? What’s the rationale? In love, nothing is black and white. Adulterers are branded with a scarlet “A”, but things aren’t always what they seem. I wanted to show another side to it. I wanted to tell a real story, not something with sugar on top.

Which leads me to the next part of your question – it was very tempting to make things easier on myself by having Bill & Olivia be engaged or dating rather than married, or by turning Bill into an unsympathetic jerk. That would’ve been the easy way out, though. I continually refer back to a Tolstoy quote that goes something like, “The best stories don’t come from ‘good vs. bad,’ but from ‘good vs. good.’”

Onni: So what does romance mean to you?

JHawk: I’ve always thought one of the most romantic things is knowing that out of everyone, somebody chose you. To them, you’re not just anyone. The first scene of the book, Olivia and David have this moment where, in a crowded room, they are inexplicably drawn to each other. But Olivia is jarred back to reality by her husband. So what happens when there’s someone else in the picture? That’s where things get complicated. Do you honor this commitment no matter what? And if not, how can you know if what you feel is only passion or something more? This concept will take a front seat in Come Alive. I hope readers will ask themselves what they’d do in Olivia’s position. There are no right or wrong answers, but I hope it gets people thinking.

Onni: How are you hoping to develop both Olivia and David’s characters in the coming books?

JHawk: I want to put Olivia through the ringer. Then I want the reader to transform with her. It’s important to me that every character develops naturally and realistically. Each will be faced with hardship, and so we’ll get to see their true selves emerge in the process. They’ll break rules, do immoral things. Does that make them bad people?

Bill (Olivia’s husband) becomes more of a person in the second book. He has to, in order for the reader to understand what’s happening in Olivia’s mind. And David has his own past to face. He can’t get away so easily with the reputation he has. What does he actually want from Olivia? He’s got to go through the ringer a bit too.

Onni: Moving on to you now – who are your favourite authors and why?

JHawk: I like authors that aren’t afraid to push boundaries, to “go there.” I tend to jump around, so I don’t necessarily have favorites, but I do have favorite books. Gone with the Wind: I didn’t know the story and hadn’t seen the movie when I read it a couple years ago, so I was going crazy up until the last sentence. I consumed that book. I also love Anna Karenina. It wasn’t necessarily my inspiration for this story, but I really connected with that book and so there are some similar themes between them.

Onni: And lastly: any plans beyond the Cityscape Series you’d like to share?

JHawk: I have been so totally immersed in Cityscape that no, not really. I do keep a file of ideas when they come up, so I definitely have some thoughts, but nothing concrete. One book I have in my mind would more likely veer toward contemporary fiction, rather than romance and even more likely, it would deal with a very controversial topic – even more so than adultery.

Onni: Well, I can’t wait for Come Alive and anything else you turn your hand to. Thank you so much for chatting to me today – it’s been great!

Come Alive will release on May 30th, but you can win a copy of Come Undone here.

Author Interview: Jade Hart

Hi, Onnica here. I’ve recently been blown away by the writing of Jade Hart. Last year, she wrote Ocean Kills, which told the story of a young and deadly teleporting assassin, Ocean Breeze. (Yes, that’s really her name and she’s not a fan of it either!) This year, there’s plenty more from Jade to look forward to.Jade Hart

We recently reviewed Coffee and Cockpits, which is the story of flight attendant Nina Poppins and what happens to her when faced with a life and death situation. It’s a complete departure from Ocean Kills and after reading it, I really wanted to ask Jade some questions. She kindly agreed…

Onni: Jade, thanks so much for taking the time to answer some questions – especially as we’re on VERY different time zones!

JH: My pleasure.

Onni: When I finished Coffee and Cockpits, I read through your bio and you mentioned that you draw quite heavily on your own experiences for aspects of your writing. Can you tell me how much of “you” is in your characters?

JH: Oh, tricky question. I suppose I put quite a lot of myself into the characters I write. Ocean Breeze is darker, more broken than I could ever be, but some of her thoughts are my own – against the sickness in the world, and things that shouldn’t go on. With regards to Nina Poppins, there is a lot of my past in her (dancing, flying, being an air-hostess) but I don’t share her personality. I’m not as ‘fluffy’!

Onni: Yes, you were a flight attendant in the past – and could’ve written your typical, garden-variety contemporary romance in that setting but didn’t. What made you take it in a different, more fantastical direction?

JH: Well, funny enough – and this no one else knows, but it started as a sexy romance dealing purely with the love triangle. Nina can’t chose between Liam and Nikolai and she ends up *cough cough* having both of them. Unfortunately, as much as I liked the heat, the storyline didn’t work as I got to know the characters. So the direction changed and the story evolved into what it is. I didn’t sit down and say “I’m going to do that” – the story arched that way and I went along for the ride. I knew when I did it that some people would love it, and some wouldn’t. I was willing to take that risk.

Onni: It certainly arched in a way I didn’t expect – I didn’t see it coming at all! I love when that happens. So, I know this is a bit like asking who your favourite child is, but which of your characters holds a special place in your heart?

JH: Umm, that is a tough question. (Laughs.) I’d probably have to twist your question and give you two answers. Ocean Breeze holds a special place in my heart. I love her, and love the growth she’s undergoing in Ocean Slays (sequel to Ocean Kills) However, I hold a very soft spot for Callan. I love him. He may be a part of my imagination, but I just feel sorry for him with what Ocean did, and love to watch him grow into his temper and become a fiery match for her.

Onni: I was gobsmacked by what Ocean did to Callan and she’s definitely going to have to do a lot to redeem herself. And to the readers who have no idea what we mean – read Ocean Kills!

As you’ve already mentioned Callan Bliss, hero extraordinaire, that leads me to my next question: writing stories from a male point of view must be one of the hardest aspects for a female writer. How did you approach Callan and Liam’s characters? Did finding their ‘voices’ come easily?

JH: That is true – writing from a male pov is hard, and I don’t know if a woman can ever get it exactly right. But Callan is more ”alpha” whereas Liam was more ”in tune with his sweet side.” I love both of them, but I’m writing a dark (as in dark-dark) contemporary romance currently called Octopus Lotto and the main guy in that – Dashiel Rossen is a hard one to write. He’ll be the hardest one with his demons, attitude and past.

Onni: Which brings us nicely to your future plans. What’s next for you? More fantasy, or contemporary romance?

JH: Yes, I’ve got quite a lot happening! In May 2013, Mirror Amour will be coming out – an erotica novella based around the threesome I had to delete from Coffee and Cockpits. As I already mentioned, there’s Octopus Lotto, a dark, contemporary romance which will be a personal fave of mine. Loka, which is based on Hindu mythology and Jets and Joysticks, which is a companion piece to C&C. It’s Joslyn and Nikolai’s story.

Onni: And of course there’s Ocean Slays…

JH: And there’s Ocean Slays! I think that’s it for now (laughing).

Onni: So when you’re not writing, who do you like to read?

JH: I have a fairly large reading library. I LOVE Liani Taylor’s writing in Daughter of Smoke and Bone. I love George R R Martin’s storytelling in Game of Thrones. I loved Jean M Auel’s Clan of the Cave Bear for it’s indepthness, and also enjoy the romance in Crosstitch series by Diana Gabaldon. Quite different books. I also really enjoy all the NA stuff that has been released recently.

Onni: Wow – that is pretty eclectic! So, now is the moment for the big reveal. You’ve offered us a sneak peak into the first chapter of Ocean Slays – which had me doing a pretty undignified happy-dance (it was horrible, really, thank God I was alone). Thank you for this as I know NOBODY else has seen it yet! So here’s an exclusive:

Chapter One: Ocean

You left him to rot, you little bitch.

I clutched my hair, tugging against the vile voices inside my head. Adrian Mathieu: My rapist, family’s murderer, and overall black stain on my soul taunted me.

His voice dropped to a whisper-whiplash. You think you’re better than me. You’re not. You’re filth. Blood leaks from everything you touch. You left someone to take your punishment. If that doesn’t show how fucked up you are, then I don’t know what will. In fact, little bitch, you’re worse than me.

Yes, worse than all of us. Atsu Bazeer’s Afrikaans accent threaded with Adrian’s Australian twang.

You’re the scum. Kill yourself. Go on. Do it.

I ripped a handful of hair out, screaming soundlessly. My lungs strained to evict all the darkness writhing inside.

Blessedly, the taunts stopped, and I blinked through tear-fogged eyes, panting, trying to calm my galloping heart.

I’m fine. It was over. For now.

The oozing, pressuring guilt at leaving Callan, settled over me with the weight of a hundred elephants. No matter how evil the men who lurked inside me were, they were right.

I was scum.

The burn of hope since Maurice noticed a black splodge missing on my spine, cindered under the weight of hatred for myself. Who cared if Maurice thought I might not be damned? That I might find freedom from the malevolent murmurings of psychopaths?

It didn’t matter.

I wasn’t worthy of the gift my body unwrapped for me. A good person wouldn’t have left an innocent to suffer the consequences. I kidded myself if I thought I was worthy of Callan’s love and adoration. At the first test, I ran, leaving him with a corpse.

My nerves jigged and jagged at the thought of what Callan suffered. Where was he? What happened? I should go back. Now.

Yes. Go. You need to redeem yourself. Then kill him. Atsu Bazeer sneered.

I hung my head in my hands, my scalp smarting from ripping out a handful. What if I ported to rescue Callan, only to find he’d gone? Or show myself to others like the security guard who’d arrived the split second before I disappeared? What if Callan looked at me with hatred and scorn?

I gulped. What if I went to help him, but the voices inside over-powered me and I ended up hurting him, instead?

My heart quashed against my ribs. I rubbed my chest, trying to dispel the agony of knowing how much I fucked everything up. Callan would never forgive me.

My eyes bounced around my room, almost as if I could summon him from empty air. The harsh glow from the laptop screen heralded my eyes. I stared at the email left open.

Tariq Hunter.

Who the flying fits was Tariq Hunter?

(Disclaimer Unedited. Copyright JadeHart2013)

A massive thanks to Jade – I’ll keep you posted on when Ocean Slays is released.

March 6 is Ruthie Knox day!

Hi everyone – Onnica here.

I’m an unabashed fangirl of Ruthie Knox and when she said that she’d stop by Romantic Fiction for part of her blog tour, Judith and I were pretty excited! Ruthie has very kindly given us an exclusive excerpt of her new book, Along Came Trouble and I for one cannot wait to read it (hint, hint). It will be out on March 11, 2013 and is Book #2 in the Camelot series. If you haven’t yet read Book #1 How to Misbehave then start there (and sit on the naughty step too, as I told you to read it weeks ago!)

But enough of me – here’s Ruthie!

RuthieHi there, lovers of romantic fiction! You are my people.

I’m here today to talk about Along Came Trouble, my latest novel (and longest so far). Out next week from Loveswept (Random House), it’s the second story in my Camelot series. Since darling Onnica gave the first story in the series, How To Misbehave, a 5/5 rating, I feel as though I am in good company. Of course, this probably means she’ll hate Along Came Trouble. Because sometimes life is that way! Moving along . . .

So Along Came Trouble is, in a sense, a bodyguard book. But I think of it as a book that’s really about what happens when a woman meets the right man at the wrong time and has to decide how much of herself to give him when she doesn’t feel like she’s got any self to spare. And most of all it’s about how hard it is to find a balance between dependence, independence, and interdependence—and how love can lift our burdens and help us become better versions of ourselves, if we are brave enough to let it.

In this little snippet, the hero, Caleb, is attempting to sweet-talk the heroine, Ellen, into letting him come into her house so he can talk to her about security. She’s just fired him, and she’s not feeling too receptive. Carly, the neighbor who is mentioned, is an old friend of Caleb’s. She’s also the reason for the paparazzi—she’s been dating Ellen’s brother, who’s a pop star.

I swear, it’s not as confusing as it sounds.

He threw her his best smile, keeping his hands in his pockets and his tone light and easy. “Any chance I could come in for a glass of water while we talk about this? Driving off bad guys is hard work.”

“We don’t have anything to talk about. I already told you, I don’t need a bodyguard. Now if you’ll excuse me, I—”

“I’m not a bodyguard. I’m a security specialist. A thirsty one.”

He smiled again, and Ellen gave a minute shake of her head. Her arms crossed over her breasts and the challenging lift to her chin said, No way.

He’d pushed her too fast.

It was a shame no one had thought to give him a heads-up about Ellen. Caleb expected a hassle from Carly—Carly lived to be a pain in his ass—but he’d figured Jamie Callahan’s sister would be used to security. She’d seemed happy enough when he gave her a hand with the paparazzo.

His mistake.

“You were going over to Carly’s,” she said. “She can give you something to drink.”

“Carly’s pregnant. She doesn’t have any beer.”

“I thought you wanted water.”

“I wasn’t going to push my luck until I got inside your place.”

Her lips pursed, then flattened back out. She had such a wide, expressive mouth. Not that he was supposed to be noticing, but it was the kind of mouth a guy noticed. The rest of her, too—soft, curvy. Lush. You’d think, looking at her, that she’d be all warm welcome, but then her eyes said, Piss off, I can take care of myself.

“You know Carly, then?” she asked.

“Sure, we go way back. Went to school together and everything. She’s thrilled to have my protection from the Huns.”

Ellen looked around. “I don’t see any Huns.”

“You never know when they might turn up.”

“If they do, I’ll call the police. You can stick with Carly. She actually needs some protection.”

Damn. Charm wasn’t working.

A massive thank you to Ruthie for that excerpt – if that hasn’t whetted your appetite then maybe the cover below will. The words ‘bodyguard story’ are still hanging in the air like a cartoon speech bubble over my head…

Happy reading!

Onnica and Judith.

Along Came TroubleAlong Came Trouble by Ruthie Knox

Camelot series, Book 2

Releases March 11, 2013

Ruthie Knox’s Camelot series continues in this sizzling eBook original novel, featuring two headstrong souls who bump heads—and bodies—as temptation and lust bring nothing but delicious trouble.

An accomplished lawyer and driven single mother, Ellen Callahan isn’t looking for any help. She’s doing just fine on her own. So Ellen’s more than a little peeved when her brother, an international pop star, hires a security guard to protect her from a prying press that will stop at nothing to dig up dirt on him. But when the tanned and toned Caleb Clark shows up at her door, Ellen might just have to plead the fifth.

Back home after a deployment in Iraq and looking for work as a civilian, Caleb signs on as Ellen’s bodyguard. After combat in the hot desert sun, this job should be a breeze. But guarding the willful beauty is harder than he imagined—and Caleb can’t resist the temptation to mix business with pleasure. With their desires growing more undeniable by the day, Ellen and Caleb give in to an evening of steamy passion. But will they ever be able to share more than just a one-night stand?

An Interview with Laura Lee, author of Angel

Hi all! Judith here. Let me set the stage for you. June 2012. Ellen and I were at Book Expo America in NYC for one day only and we had spent the morning stumbling down aisle after aisle of publishers and their wares. All the books were free. That’s right, FREE. My eyes were the size of saucers as I took in all the books and I made grabby hands at everything.