My guest today is one of my favorite SFR authors. And, he’s also the husband of one of my favorite authors. So I was especially pleased when Entangled Publishing gave me the opportunity to interview Nico Rosso as part of the tour for their superhero romance anthology, Holding Out for a Hero. I did love Nico’s story (see my review for details), but I also adore the concept, so I hope we get lots more.
True confession, Nico and his wife Zoë Archer’s shared steampunk romance series, The Ether Chronicles was one of my 2012 favorites at Library Journal this year. Interviewing him was an absolute treat. So without further ado…
Marlene: Welcome Nico! Can you please tell us a bit about yourself?
Nico: -I’m a romance writer, married to a romance writer (Zoë Archer), and I’m trying to find some simplicity in life. I think that’s why the romance genre is so appealing. No matter what external threats you throw at the characters, or how damaged they’ve been in the past, it always comes down to the two of them finding themselves and each other at just the right time.
Marlene: Describe a typical day of writing? Are you a planner or pantser?
Nico: -I’m definitely a planner, so I like to have my outline in pretty good shape before I start in on pages. Once the piece is humming, I’ll get up early (maybe around 6:30am) to take advantage of the morning calm. From there I’ll break for meals. If I’m lucky, I’ll get my day’s work done before lunch, but there are usually more words that need putting down in the afternoon.
Marlene: What’s the story behind your switch from Hollywood to romance writer? Would it make a good romance novel? Or maybe a screenplay?
Nico: -It’s not a very dramatic story. Through years of grinding, trying to make inroads, I discovered that the kinds of movies that inspired me in the first place weren’t being made anymore. I decided that rather than trying to fight my way into something I no longer really liked, I had to find a place where new voices and ideas were welcome. Through Zoë, I learned that romance was just that place.
Nico: -It’s fantastic working on the Ether Chronicles with Zoë. Because there’s such a range in the stories, we can be researching Scottish moors one minute, then figuring out how an ether rifle works the next. We’re always discussing our projects with each other, anyway, so this was just a natural evolution.
Marlene: And how did you work out the writing territory in The Ether Chronicles? Pins in a dartboard? Knives at 20 paces?
Nico: -We knew early on that I’d be writing the Westerns and she’d handle everywhere else. It suited our interests and kept things defined so there’d be no thumb wrestling over who got to tell which story. The only time we take out the rubber knives is when we have to choreograph fight scenes (seriously, we do this).
Nico: -I really wanted Ironheart to take me back to my early days of reading comic books in the ‘80s, so you’ll find a lot of gritty action and tough talking heroes. But there’s also a very human story at the core. Despite all their powers, both Vince “The Anvil” and Kara “SnapDragon” are vulnerable where their hearts are concerned, and it’s a difficult struggle for them to learn to trust again.
Marlene: Will there be more books in the Heroes Guild?
Nico: -I’d love to explore more stories in the Heroes Guild. It all depends on demand. If the reader’s devour Ironheart and still want more (wink), I’ll deliver.
Marlene: All your writing is on the “way out there” side of the romance equation: steampunk, science fiction romance (YES!) and now superheroes. What drew you to that spark of the genre in particular?
Nico: -I think because I didn’t come to romance as a reader first, but as a writer, I found inspiration in other genres from my past, then drew them into the romance writing.
Marlene: Name one book that you’ve bought just because of the cover.
Nico: -I bought a 1957 edition of H. Rider Haggard’s She & King Solomon’s Mines because the cover was so simple and classic for these adventure stories. A green hardcover cloth binding with a black rectangle telling you the author and titles. It’s small, so it fits in the hand beautifully. The kind of book you keep with you for train rides and rainy cafes.
Marlene: What is the one book that you most want to read again for the first time?
Nico: -Because I read them in high school and didn’t bring as much life experience to the works as they deserve, I’d like to rediscover Flannery O’Connor’s short stories. Her use of overt and subtle imagery is amazing.
Marlene: You mentioned something in your blog about a new project. Have anything you want to share? Or can you tell us something about your not-so-secret upcoming projects?
Nico: -I’d love to share all the details, but unfortunately it’s just too early. I can say that this new project isn’t like anything I’ve written in romance before. Expect more of my actual voice in the piece. It’s still a romance, but it’s definitely raw and raunchy.
Marlene: Tell me something about yourself that I wouldn’t know to ask.
Nico: -I love to cook, and one of the greatest pleasures is to have time in the kitchen to bake bread. It’s such a simple process, but not always easy. Like a meditation, where you have to maintain focus. And at the end, you have warm food to eat, uncomplicated and made from your own hands.
Marlene: Coffee or Tea?
Nico: -Coffee for when I want to break down walls. Green tea for when I want to walk through them.