Interview with Author Jessica Scott + Giveaway

Today I’d like to welcome back Jessica Scott, who recently published Back to You (reviewed here). If you enjoy military romance, or simply love contemporary romance with marvelous characters, Jessica’s Coming Home series is absolutely awesome. 


Marlene: Welcome back, Jessica! Can you please tell us a bit about what you’ve been up to since we last talked (in October 2012)?

Jessica: Wow, so much has changed since then. Let’s see, I’ve finished my first year of grad school and am still sane. We’re settled now in North Carolina for another year. I’m working on new books in the Coming Home series as well as getting ready to start an new series and I’m still working on my master’s thesis. So I guess a lot has changed and then again, not much has?

Marlene: Which came first, the fiction or the non-fiction? And why both?

Jessica: Fiction came first and the non fiction rose out of my journey both to Iraq as well as to become a published author.

Marlene: Of all the books in the series, which couple has generated the most fan comments? Were you surprised?

back to you by jessica scottJessica: I think Back to You has generated the most chatter. It took so long for me to find the right way to tell Laura & Trent’s story, I think a lot of people had expectations. For the most part, the folks who have contacted me have loved the way we managed to get their story beaten into shape, lol!

Marlene: And who is your personal favorite?

Jessica: It’s a toss up between Carponti (I’ll Be Home For Christmas) and Reza (All For You). Carponti is just instant stress relief but there really is something about Reza that touches something for me.

Will there be more books in Coming Home series? What is next on your schedule?

Jessica: So far, I’ve got two more books in the Coming Home series written and I’m hard at work on a third new one. There will be more news coming closer to the end of the year (hint hint: my newsletter will be the first to hear so go on ahead and sign up!)

Marlene: As busy as you are, what is your favorite thing about the writing experience and why?

Jessica: You know there are two things I really love: falling into the page as Stephen King would say and just losing yourself in the story. The other thing (and I may get kicked off the writer’s island for this one) is revisions. I absolutely love getting notes from my editor and diving in to make the changes because there’s little better than seeing the rough draft you’ve just pounded out take form into something that will really resonate with readers. My editor is critical to helping make my books better.

Marlene: What words of advice would you give to aspiring authors?

Jessica: Learn what right feels like for you. If someone gives you feedback that doesn’t resonate, figure out why and stick to your guns. At the same time, you need to learn how to hear what people think about your story and learn to listen to honest feedback that’s trying to help you improve.

Marlene: What is the book you most want to read again for the first time?

Dragonflight by Ann McAffreyJessica: Anne McCaffrey’s Dragonflight. I first discovered her books almost twenty-five years ago and I didn’t realize when I first read it how much those books would influence my life as a writer. She had a truly special gift and I was deeply saddened when she passed a couple of years ago.

Marlene: Tell me something about yourself that I wouldn’t know to ask.

Jessica: Hmmm, let’s see. I’m addicted to ice cream much to my pant’s chagrin. I was just in Maine and one of the awesome things about being at home is that there are ice cream shops everywhere. Course this means I may not fit into my RITA dress this week, lol!

Marlene: Are you a morning person or a night owl?

Jessica: Lately I’m more of a night owl. There’s just something about being awake after the whole house is asleep. I manage to get a lot done between about 10 pm and 2 am-ish.

Jessica ScottAbout Jessica Scott

USA Today bestselling author Jessica Scott is a career army officer; mother of two daughters, She’s written for the New York Times At War Blog, PBS Point of View: Regarding War Blog, and Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America. She deployed to Iraq in 2009 as part of Operation Iraqi Freedom/New Dawn and has served as a company commander at Fort Hood, Texas. She’s pursuing a PhD in Sociology in her spare time and most recently, she’s been featured as one of Esquire Magazine’s Americans of the Year for 2012.To learn more about Jessica, visit her website or follow her on Goodreads, Twitter, or Facebook.


Jessica is giving away copies of Back to You (U.S. and Canada only)! For a chance to win, use the Rafflecopter below:

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Interview with Author Jael Wye + Giveaway

ladder to the red star by jael wyeAfter finally reading Ice Red for last week’s review (it was so much fun, what on Earth or Mars was I waiting for?) I was very glad to get the chance to ask Jael a few questions about her marvelous combinations of science fiction and fairy tales.  After the interview, check out her take on Jack and the Beanstalk (I found a bit of Pinocchio too!) in today’s featured review, Ladder to the Red Star.

1. Hello, Jael! Can you please tell us a bit about yourself?

Hi, thanks for having me today. A little about myself? Well, I grew up on the American Great Plains, went to school in the Midwest, and now live in beautiful New England with my family and my enormous collection of houseplants.

2. Describe a typical day of writing? Are you a planner or pantser?

I am definitely a plotter. My books are all based on classic fairy tales, and so I have a plot laid out for me before I begin writing. My task each day is to figure out how my specific, individual characters are driven to enact this plot. For example, my new release Ladder to the Red Star is based on the tale of Jack and the beanstalk. Jacques, the hero, must ascend the space elevator cable to the space station floating high above the Earth in order to steal a valuable item from his greatest enemy. But what drives him to do such a thing? My challenge each day is to write my characters in a way that makes them real people as well as archetypes.

3. In your guest post last week, you talked about why you love science fiction romance. But what inspired you to combine Snow White and Mars for Ice Red?

I decided to combine fairy tales and science fiction because I wanted to use these mythic stories to explore what the powerful technology we humans have invented might mean for us culturally and as individuals. Arthur C. Clarke once said that advanced science is not much different from magic. Enchanted mirrors become video screens, golden eggs become valuable data spheres, but the human drama surrounding these artifacts remains the same. I began my Once Upon a Red World series with a retelling of Snow White because that was the first fairy tale I ever read, the one that dug deepest into my mind. With Book II, Ladder to the Red Star, I went with the tale of Jack and the beanstalk, a classic hero’s journey. With each new fairy tale I reinvent, I try to delve into what these stories have to tell us about our basic humanity, no matter how much science may change us.

4. Will there be more books in this series? What is next on your schedule?

There are many more fairy tales to be retold in my Once Upon a Red World series. Next up is the story of Devi and Bianca’s father and his estranged lover Sita. This book, based on the tale of Patient Griselda, will look further into the Aurora project, the corrupt plot endangering the Solar system. Stay tuned.

5. Play the casting game; if one of your books were made into a movie, who would you want to play the characters?

This is a difficult challenge for me, because I try to write my characters to be so specific in looks and personality that it’s hard to picture them as any one else. But…I’d have to go with Chris Evans as Jacques, and the beautiful, blue-eyed Indian actress Aishwarya Rai as Devi.

6. And what’s your favorite scene in Ladder to the Red Star?

My favorite scene varies, but right now it is the scene in Devi’s flat when Jacques is recovering from an intensive medical treatment. He’s so wounded and yet so adorable, and Devi is striving so heroically not to pounce on him. I just love the tension between and within my hero and heroine in this passage.

7. Who first introduced you to the love of reading?

I loved reading from very early on, but the first author who really made an impression on me was C. S. Lewis. To this day I remember hanging out in my closet for hours, trying to get into Narnia.

8. What is your favorite thing about the writing experience and why?

Seeing my books on the bookstore sites like Amazon and iBooks. It gives me a shiver every time I see it.

9. Book you most want to read again for the first time:

I think maybe Agnes and the Hitman by Jennifer Crusie and Bob Mayer. That book took me for a ride that was just so much fun.

10. Book you’ve faked reading:

Les Miserables. I got through three chapters before giving up and just watching the musical.

The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova11. Book you’ve bought for the cover:

The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova. That creepy half-face staring out at me sideways gave me the most delicious nightmares for months.

12. Tell me something about yourself that I wouldn’t know to ask.

Due to my martial arts classes, I can break a wooden board in half with my fist, elbow, heel, and forehead. If ever a wooden board attacks me in a dark alley, I’ll be prepared.

13. Morning person or night owl?

Night owl. I function best at two in the morning, enveloped in silence and vibrating with caffeine.

14. Coffee or tea? (because I couldn’t leave it at 13 questions!)

Coffee. It is the nectar of life, the font of creativity, and the reason I get up in the morning. However, all my Martian characters drink tea. Humph. Martians.

jael wyeJael Wye grew up on the American Great Plains, went to school in the Midwest, and now lives in beautiful New England with her family and her enormous collection of houseplants. For more of Jael’s unique blend of futurism and fairy tale, don’t miss her ongoing series Once Upon A Red World.

To learn more about Jael, please visit her website. You can also find her on Facebook and Twitter.



ice red by jael wyeJael will be awarding an eCopy of Ice Red to a randomly drawn commenter during the tour.

The more you comment, the better your chances of winning. So check out the rest of the tour at Goddess Fish Promotions!

Interview with Author Sharon Lynn Fisher + Giveaway

Today I would like to welcome my fellow Seattle-ite, Sharon Lynn Fisher, who recently published the Ophelia Prophecy (reviewed here). It’s an absolute terrific science fiction romance, sort of Frankenstein meets Romeo and Juliet. Only an SF writer could make that combination work, and it so does!

Marlene: Welcome Sharon! Can you please tell us a bit about yourself?

ophelia prophecy by sharon lynn fisherSharon: Thank you for having me!

Okay, you left that one wide open, so let me see …

Besides being an author, I’m senior editor for SilkWords, a “pick your own path” romance short story site. I’m also mom to a sassy seven-year-old. I live in Seattle. Like any good Seattleite I enjoy doing outside things (hiking, rock climbing, biking). But it rains for nine months of the year so also I love to read and watch movies and good TV. I’m an INFJ, and an Aries. I like cupcakes and shoes. I have a freaky orange cat.

Marlene: Describe a typical day of writing? Are you a planner or pantser?

Sharon: Being a half-time single mom and also having another job, there’s really no such thing as a typical day in my life. When I’m writing something new, even less so. Some days I may not write more than a few paragraphs, and others I may write 10 or 15 pages. But I do find I need some dedicated headspace for writing. I need to say to myself, “I’m writing,” and cut off from social media and other unrelated tasks.

I’m a reformed pantser. After having to completely rewrite my first novel from page 1, I realized that fully pantsing things is a form of self torture (at least for me). It leads to writer’s block and panic attacks. I still completely pants my first chapter, but after that I write a one- or two-page synopsis and work from that. Nothing too detailed or it takes all the fun out of the writing.

Marlene: What can we expect of The Ophelia Prophecy?

Sharon: It’s a post-apocalyptic Romeo and Juliet story with exotic locations and lots of action. The romance between the hero and heroine — a human woman who’s lost her memory and a member of a human/insect transgenic race — is a slow burn that boils over suddenly once the substantial obstacles are overcome. I know what you’re thinking: “Insects, ew.” It’s not like that. Trust me.

Marlene: If The Ophelia Prophecy was turned into a movie who would you want to direct it?

Sharon: Hmm, I’ve never thought about that one! Christopher Nolan seems to be the go-to guy for sci-fi these days. Actually, who directed Orphan Black? I LOVE that show. I want that guy. I want that actress, too.

Marlene: What made you choose science fiction as your genre? Especially science fiction with a romantic bent?

Ghost Planet by Sharon Lynn FisherSharon: I always answer this question with “it chose me.” And it’s true. I had mainly written fantasy romance up to the point I wrote my debut novel, Ghost Planet. While I did make a conscious decision to try my hand at sci-fi, I did not know it would mark a long-term shift in my writing. I enjoy the research so much, and it really opened up a whole new world for me. I’d been struggling to come up with what I felt like were original ideas for fantasy.

As for blending sci-fi with romance, I don’t think I’ve ever written a story without romance. It may be that I never will!

Marlene: What do you hope to say to people with your writing?

Sharon: Considering some of the social issues I raise in my stories, oddly, nothing. I want my readers to escape to another world. I want them to keep turning pages because they can’t stop. I love this quote from a recent review: “Her books, so far, are the exact kind of high-quality popcorn that I’m looking for when I need a mental vacation.” My work is done here.

Marlene: What projects do you have planned for the future?

Sharon: I have a third Tor book coming out early next year, Echo 8. On my blog I describe it (unofficially) like this: Parallel-universe romantic suspense that explores possible connections between quantum physics and psi (also a Bermuda Love Triangle between a parapsychologist, an FBI agent, and an energy vampire).

I plan to write a sequel to Ophelia based on the other couple, Iris and Carrick, who are set up in this first book. I also have another stand-alone in the works. I don’t want to say too much about that one, but it’ll be my trademark blend of sci-fi, fantasy, and romance, set in modern-day Portland.

Marlene: Because I’m a librarian, I love to ask this question: Who first introduced you to the love of reading?

Sharon: Because I’m an author, I’m embarrassed to say: I don’t know! Ack. Maybe my father? My mother says I learned to read by pointing at words in the newspaper and asking him what they were. I’ve had a passion for reading for as long as I can remember. It could very well be that I introduced myself to the love of reading.

Marlene: What’s the book that you most want to read again for the first time?

Sharon: I think I’d have to say the Lord of the Rings trilogy.

Marlene: Tell me something about yourself that I wouldn’t know to ask!

Sharon: I sometimes have dreams about things that actually happen. Kinda stupid things. Nothing like winning lottery numbers. One time I dreamed I was walking down the street with a friend and glanced over and saw an alligator walking next to us. The next day I went to a restaurant I’d never been to before — a little bistro that had opened in an old house. I went to use the restroom, and when I flipped on the light, I saw they’d put a large plastic alligator on a pile of rocks in the bathtub. I wrote this rather useless talent into one of the characters in Echo 8.

Marlene: Morning person or night owl?

Sharon: I have an appreciation for mornings. They feel fresh and creative. But they are easily wrecked by other people speaking to me or expecting me to do things. I think I’d better go with night owl. (Especially considering my clock says it’s 10:01 PM as I finish this.)

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Sharon Lynn Fisher Author PhotoAbout Sharon Lynn Fisher

A Romance Writers of America RITA Award finalist and a three-time RWA Golden Heart Award finalist, Sharon Lynn Fisher lives in the Pacific Northwest. She writes books for the geeky at heart—sci-fi flavored stories full of adventure and romance—and battles writerly angst with baked goods, Irish tea, and champagne. Her works include Ghost Planet (2012), The Ophelia Prophecy (2014), and Echo 8 (2014).To learn more about Sharon, visit her website or follow her on Twitter.


Sharon is kindly giving away three copies of The Ophelia Prophecy, one each to three lucky winners! For a chance to win, use the Rafflecopter below:

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Interview with Author Allison Pataki + Giveaway

Allison PatakiMy guest today is Allison Pataki, the author of The Traitor’s Wife, today featured review. The book does an amazing job retelling a story that we all think we’re familiar with from a completely new perspective. I would recommend The Traitor’s Wife to anyone who enjoys historical fiction.

Before we hear from Allison telling us a bit about herself and how she came up with the idea for the story, check out this gorgeous book trailer for The Traitor’s Wife.



Marlene: Welcome Allison! Can you please tell us a bit about yourself?

Allison: Sure thing! I am an author in the process of publishing my first novel, The Traitor’s Wife. It is a historical fiction because, well, the only thing I love as much as reading and writing is studying history. That’s the work side of things.

On the other side of things, well, I am a wife to my college sweetheart. I am a daughter and a sister, the third kid in a family of four. I am a mother to a sweet little mutt that my husband and I adopted. I am a friend, a volunteer, an in-law, an upstate New Yorker living in Chicago. I love to cook, travel, do yoga, and, of course, read and write!

Marlene: Describe a typical day of writing? Are you a planner or pantser?

Allison: I would definitely say I am a planner – though the descriptor of “pantser” sounds way more fun. I’ve never heard that one before!

A typical day of writing begins pretty early. My dog and I begin the day by taking a walk along the river. This is a great time to think, shake off any sleepiness (the cold weather helps with that!), and get focused on whatever project in which I am currently involved.

After breakfast (and coffee!) I sit down to write. I generally work from home, so I have the liberty of dictating the background noise and, for me, that is always music. I will make a playlist or a Pandora station that seems to complement whatever topic about which I’m writing.

If time and life allow, I can sit there and work all day. Obviously I take breaks for lunch, another walk with the dog, etc. But, usually, I work up until dinner.

Often times, at some point, I will need to take a break to read up on something or do a little more research or digging. But, a really great day, in my book (pun intended) is one that I can devote entirely to writing. It doesn’t always work out like that, obviously!

Marlene: Why did you choose historical fiction as your genre?

Allison: It is without a doubt my favorite genre to read. To be honest, I never really thought about writing any other type of book. It is just what inspires me.

In college, I loved studying English and literature, but I also loved studying history. I decided to major in English and then take as many history classes as possible.

A genre that combines the two, as both a reader and a writer, is a win-win.

Marlene: Is the research part of the fun, or is it something that you have to get through in order to get to the fun parts?

traitors wife by alison patakiAllison: It’s absolutely part of the fun! I usually begin the research with little more than an idea. The person by whom I’ve been inspired, or the time period. As I uncover and digest the facts, pieces of the story or ideas for a character begin to take shape in my head. The research is undoubtedly what facilitates the development of the novel.

And research is not something that is “gotten through.” It’s ongoing. I am going back and reading and re-reading the research as I’m writing. Even now, when The Traitor’s Wife is just weeks away from publication, I’m still learning about the Revolutionary War time period and the people involved. If only I could keep adding details and throwing in these fun facts!

Marlene: The Benedict Arnold story is one that we all think we know. What drew you to re-tell a story that everyone feels like they are already familiar with?

Allison: Benedict Arnold’s story is what most people know. But not Peggy Arnold’s story. In fact, I would venture to guess that many people don’t even know Benedict Arnold had a wife, let alone one as powerful, intriguing and interesting as Peggy. That is precisely why I wanted to tell this story with Peggy as the subject.

As I researched for The Traitor’s Wife, I kept asking myself: “how come I’ve never heard this before?” I hope readers will feel the same way.

Marlene: Although the title of the book is The Traitor’s Wife, the point-of-view character is the traitor’s wife’s maid. What led you to choose the below-stairs perspective to tell the story?

Allison: At first, I thought about writing The Traitor’s Wife from the perspective of Peggy Shippen Arnold. She is, as you pointed out, the traitor’s wife, and the novel’s inspiration.

But as I researched the history, I realized that I really wanted to tell this story through the eyes of an observer. I wanted a narrator, a fictional character, who would meet Peggy Shippen Arnold and get to know her as the reader is doing so. A narrator who could watch the events unfolding, but at a little bit of a distance.

The novel would have been entirely different had I written it from Peggy’s perspective – both for the reader, and also for me, as the writer. I think introducing Clara’s perspective allowed it to be a more well-rounded story.

Writing from Clara’s perspective allowed me to interject feelings like hope, optimism, insecurity, and idealism into the novel. All of the feelings that one might have felt as he/she witnessed a new nation’s fight for independence.

Marlene: You are from a political family. How did your background help you in understanding the motivations of the characters?

Allison: I can’t say that it was too applicable in this case, simply because it is two entirely different times. The political landscape back then was not really like what it is today. George Washington didn’t even want our nation to have political parties.

What I did think about, however, was how Arnold’s personality, ego, and insecurities made him very ill suited for the public role he assumed. And, as a result, why he became such a bitter man.

If you are going to be a leader, you are going to be a target, and you must accept that. In politics – then and now – one must be able to work with others, to allow insults to roll off the chest, and to put one’s own personal woes to the side to work for the greater good. Arnold seemed to struggle with that.

Benedict Arnold was a skilled general and heroic patriot, yes, but he was not skilled in negotiating human relationships. That got him into trouble. He made enemies both in the army and in the Continental Congress.

Marlene: What is your favorite scene from the book and why did you pick that scene?

Allison: Probably the opening scene, when George Washington’s rider approaches the Arnold house. Washington is on his way! Further down the Hudson River, the treason is being uncovered, and yet, Peggy and Benedict Arnold are convinced that they have succeeded in their plot.

That is, until the second rider approaches. From this messenger, the Arnolds learn that their plan has been unearthed. And yet, Washington is still on his way! Chaos ensues.

I like that the novel begins with immediate tension and disaster. The rest of the novel then goes back and works up until this very moment, this fateful and disastrous morning.

Marlene: Title of a book that you’ve faked reading:

Allison: Les Miserables by Victor Hugo. I always just thought – because I had seen the musical, the movie, and listened to the CD over a hundred times – that I had as good as read the book. I knew the plot, right?

Wrong! This past year I decided to go back and actually read it, all 1,000+ pages of reading it. And boy is it a masterpiece. Totally worth the long slog.

Marlene: Title of a book that you’ve bought for the cover:

forgotten garden by kate mortonAllison: The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton. All of her covers have a similar look, and I think they are beautiful and whimsical and intriguing. I saw The Forgotten Garden in airport bookstores for months and always picked it up to admire the cover.

I’m glad I did so, because I loved it, and am now a huge fan of hers!

Marlene: Book that you most want to read again for the first time:

Allison: Gone With the Wind.

I haven’t read it in years. Scarlett O’Hara is perhaps my favorite female character in literature.

Marlene: As a debut author yourself, what words of advice would you give to aspiring authors?

Allison: Be forgiving. The first stuff you write is not going to be great. It might not even be good. Mine certainly wasn’t. But keep at it. Seek the input and advice of people you trust, and people who want to support you and help you grow as a writer.

If you feel impassioned to write and you have a story that you are consumed by, then write it. Write it, and edit it, and rewrite it, and edit it some more. Stick with it.

Marlene: What projects do you have planned for the future?

Allison: More historical fiction. I thought, while writing The Traitor’s Wife, that I would never love another book I worked on as much, ever again. But I was surprised. I found another topic that, to me, is equally fascinating and fun.

Marlene: Morning person or night owl?

Allison: Morning person. I mentioned coffee above, right? 🙂



Allison and Kismet Book Tours are giving away a Kindle Paperwhite to one lucky commenter on this tour. This giveaway is open to anyone living in a place where Amazon ships. Wow!

And for more chances to enter the giveaway, visit the other stops on this tour.

To enter, just fill out the Rafflecopter below:
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Interview with Author C.C. Humphreys + Giveaway

Today I’d like to welcome C.C. Humphreys, author of the totally enthralling Jack Absolute historical fiction series, including his recent title The Blooding of Jack Absolute (reviewed here).

Marlene: Holding up a new mirror to the American Revolution: by bringing Jack Absolute to new readers in the U.S., you’re also showing us a perspective on the war we don’t usually read about. What might U.S. readers learn?

The Blooding of Jack Absolute by C.C. HumphreysChris: Well, we all think we know the history of a war, or a revolution, until we start to delve a little deeper. I think Jack can be our guide in that. He’s not really anti-rebel. In The Blooding he fights beside the men that later in the series he fights against and finds that hard. He also has a revolutionary spirit, inherited from his mother, an Irish rebel. He prizes individual freedom. Thus he’s quite conflicted. So perhaps we can see through him the sort of choices people were forced to make. He has other loyalties: to the uniform he’s worn with pride, the Redcoat. To his commander, John Burgoyne. To his comrades. But he also believes – and this begins with The Blooding – that his adopted people, the Iroquois, are not going to gain from an American triumph, that they are better off under the Crown. It’s a big driver for him and he argues their cause passionately.

Marlene: As a fencer and fight choreographer (among other things), you know a thing or two about swashbuckling. What books/movies/TV shows best depict that fine “tradition”?

Chris: Ah, swashbuckling! I just wrote a novel, ‘Shakespeare’s Rebel’ about the Bard’s fight choreographer which will be published in the US in 2015. In it, my hero does a true ‘swash buckle’: he beats (swashes) his small steel shield (his buckler) with the flat of his sword to provoke a fight. He’s a real swashbuckler!

princess bride imdbI became an actor so I could leap around with bladed weaponry and I think I became an author to write the same – nearly all my novels have duels and swordplay. My inspirations? Well, Dumas and his Musketeer books certainly – the 70’s movie with Michael York and Oliver Reed was the best. I loved Flynn’s Robin Hood, (“You speak treason.” “Fluently!”) and Tyrone Power’s Zorro. Scaramouche was good in print and on the screen. But one of my favourites has to be The Princess Bride: great fights, terrific acting. Coupled with a real sense of honour. Honour’s important and the dishonourable deserve their come-uppance!

CC Humphreys as Jack AbsoluteAbout C.C. HumphreysChris (C.C.) Humphreys was born in Toronto and grew up in the UK. He has acted all over the world and appeared on stages ranging from London’s West End to Hollywood’s Twentieth Century Fox. Favorite roles have included Hamlet, Caleb the Gladiator in NBC’s Biblical-Roman epic mini-series, ‘AD – Anno Domini’, Clive Parnell in ‘Coronation Street’, and Jack Absolute in Sheridan’s ‘The Rivals’.
His new adult novel ‘Shakespeare’s Rebel’, about William Shakespeare’s fight choreographer at the time of ‘Hamlet’, was released in the UK in March 2013 and in Canada August 2011.

He has recently signed to write two books for Century in the UK and Doubleday in Canada. Plague and Fire are tales of religious fundamentalist serial killers set against the wild events of 1665 to 1666, London. They will be published in 2014 and 2015.

Chris lives on Salt Spring Island, BC, Canada, with his wife and young son.

To learn more about Chris, visit his website or follow him on Twitter.


Chris is kindly giving away a copy of The Blooding of Jack Absolute to one lucky winner! (US/Canada). To enter, use the Rafflecopter below:

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Interview with Author Seleste deLaney + Giveaway

Gaming for Keeps Blog Tour

Today I’d like to welcome Seleste deLaney, the author of the tremendously fun contemporary romance Gaming for Keeps (read my review here).

Marlene: Welcome Seleste! Can you please tell us a bit about yourself?

Seleste: Hi! Let’s see… I’m a former lab rat turned high school science teacher turned stay-at-home-mom turned author. It’s quite the pedigree, but I assure you there’s a marginally logical progression from one career to the next. I’m in the process of moving to the Detroit metro area with my two crazy kids and two very loyal attention hounds (er…my dogs. The kids are attention hounds too but in a different way.)

Marlene: Describe a typical day of writing? Are you a planner or pantser?

Seleste: I’m a…a…an in-betweener? I call what I do road-mapping. I know where I start and where I’m going to end and I plot a couple sights to see along the way, but I wing how I get from one to the next and sometimes what order they happen. Every once in a while I veer completely off the map too. Luckily that happens less now since my editors like me to stick to the synopses I give them.

A typical day? (We’ll go with pre-summer-vacay since typical is about to fly out the window.) Mornings are generally for taking the kids to school, working out, running errands and doing business-y stuff like emails and whatnot. Afternoons I either do blog posts/interviews or try to get some words in. Once I pick up the kids, it’s a wash as to whether or not I get work done until their bedtime. Generally my most productive writing hours are after the two of them are in bed and quiet. I like to turn off most of the lights and disappear into my laptop.

Firefly IMDBMarlene: Gaming for Keeps has a lot of marvelous geeky, nerdy in-jokes. What’s your favorite science-fiction universe?

Seleste: Firefly. Whedon is my god and if I could afford to make another movie happen, I’d hand him the multi-million dollar check personally.

Marlene: Are you a gamer? What do you play?

Seleste: I played EverQuest and EQ2 for quite a few years. It became like a drug for me though and I had to quit. I heard about a game (Bioshock Infinite) at a convention (Up in the Aether) recently though that makes me want to start playing again. I’m just terrified that it will eat into my writing time. 🙁

Marlene: ConDamned reminded me of a lot of cons I’ve been to. Was it modeled on any particular experience of yours?

Seleste: Not really. One of the things I didn’t want to do was make it a specific con (that I hadn’t ever attended) and end up getting things wrong. So it’s bits and pieces of my experiences at ConFusion, FanExpo (in Canada), and even RT (the Romantic Times Booklovers Convention). I mushed it all up, shook it like a martini, poured and hoped for the best.

Marlene: Would you like to introduce us to your hero and heroine in Gaming for Keeps?

Seleste: Penelope (Megara) is almost a quintessential geek girl. She’s a computer guru who works at a college library, a book lover, and a gamer. Her luck with men has been shoddy at best and her last boyfriend has been screwing up her gaming life since they split. She’s gunshy to say the least.

Cal (Lohonas) is geek, but he’s also an incredibly sexy spy for an organization called TRAIT (they take all the “rejects” from the FBI, CIA, etc). He’s a gamer (which is how they first “meet”) and also heavily into cosplay since he likes to “disappear” at cons.

Marlene: And what’s your favorite scene from the book? And why?

Seleste: There is a shower scene that was added in edits that I love. The exchange between the characters is so fun, and the situation so real that I giggled every time I worked on it. It’s the drama, sexy, and silly all rolled up into one scene.

Marlene: Will there be more books in this series? What is next on your schedule?

Clockwork Mafia by Seleste deLaneySeleste: I have more for the people of TRAIT in the works and will share news as soon as I can! As far as other books, the second in my steampunk series (Clockwork Mafia) just came out at the end of April. And I have a new book in Entangled’s Brazen line (Seducing the Enemy) as well as the next book in my urban fantasy series (Kiss of Life) coming before the end of the year for sure.

Marlene: What was the first book that made you love reading?

Seleste: The very first book I remember devouring over and over again (my parents had to buy me a new, hardcover, copy as a kid because I ruined the previous one) was The Velveteen Rabbit. To this day, it’s a favorite of mine and I’ll occasionally snuggle up with it. I think it was the combination of tragic beauty and magic that drew me in and kept me coming back for more.

Leviathan by Scott WesterfeldMarlene: Please name a book that you’ve bought just for the cover.

Seleste: Oh wow. This is a tough one. Scott Westerfeld’s Leviathan is one that was sort of like that, but I’d read The Uglies and enjoyed it, so that’s not a horribly fair answer. I will say that the cover for Eclipse always snagged my attention and made me pick it up, but I ended up buying the Twilight books more to see what all the fuss was about and never actually ended up reading Eclipse.

Marlene: Tell me something about yourself that I wouldn’t know to ask.

Seleste: I actually had to go to Twitter for this, so I’m going to answer all the questions they presented.

  • What color panties are you wearing? White with tiny black leopard prints.
  • What is directly to your left? A wall. After rearranging my office to sell the house, a blank wall is all I’ve got 🙁
  • Dream cosplay? If I could get a group together for it, I’d love to do steampunk versions of all the bad girls from Batman. I know it’s been done, but I love it every time I see it.
  • If someone wrote a fanfic with your characters, what characters do you think the author would pair up? Not from this series, but I’m pretty sure there’s probably Remy fanfic out there somewhere, and if he’s not with EVERYONE in it, I’d be horribly disappointed 😉
  • Can I have a video of you singing “Gitchee Gitchee Goo” on Youtube? No. In fact, hell no. Unless someone clandestinely films that while I’m at a con and being silly. Then I might have to kill them.
  • Can you swallow an entire…bottle of water without putting it down? 😉 I see what you did there. And the answer is yes. Apparently there will now be a test of this at RT next year.
  • Something about corsets…? Okay, I have mad love for corsets, but my normal daily uniform is jeans and a t-shirt, preferably with some sort of character on it. (Today, it’s an Avengers one.)

Marlene: Are you a morning person or a night owl?

Seleste: Definitely night owl. I prefer people don’t talk to me or even look at me funny in the morning. I was at that convention I mentioned earlier and had a 10:30 panel on Saturday. I had…imbibed late into the night on Friday. One of the girls I’d been hanging out with (who had imbibed less) saw me on my way to the panel in the morning and basically said hi. I had to check myself otherwise I might have snarled at her. From now on, I’m putting in a “no panels before noon” request when I sign up for cons.

Seleste deLaneyAbout Seleste deLaney

Seleste started on her career path as a young child. Stories of talking animals soon gave way to a love of superheroes and science fiction. Her first foray into the world of romance came at age twelve when she envisioned a sweeping epic love story of two people thrust together and torn apart again and again by fate. As she recalls, the plan was for them to admit their love on his deathbed. But, as is often the case with pre-teen girls, a story of that depth gave way to other pursuits, and sadly it is completely lost other than vague memories.After that, she occupied herself with short stories for a while, and then poetry until after she had earned a degree in chemistry, spent time as a high school teacher, and became a mother of two. Then she delved into writing fiction once more.

She never lost her love of the fantastic, and her stories now always reach into other realms. The worlds and people she creates occupy as much of her time as the real world, and she is most fortunate to have a family that understands her idiosyncrasies and loves her anyway.

To learn more about Seleste, visit her website and blog or follow her on Twitter and Facebook.


Gaming for Keeps by Seleste deLaneyOne ebook copy of Seleste deLaney’s Gaming for Keeps will be given away to a lucky winner. To enter, use the Rafflecopter below:

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Interview with Author Robin Covington + Giveaway

My special guest today is Robin Covington, celebrating the recent release of the delicious His Southern Temptation (read my review here). She’s also the author of the quite yummy A Night of Southern Comfort (reviewed at Book Lovers Inc.) Robin’s books do read just like steamy Southern nights!

Take it away, Robin…

Marlene: Robin can you please tell us a bit about yourself?

His Southern Temptation by Robin CovingtonRobin: Hi Marlene! I’m so incredibly average it isn’t even funny. I’m 44 years old, married for 19 years and the mother of two (10 and 8). I’m a lawyer for the Navy by day and I write romance at night and in my spare moments. (What are those?) And, I sing in a band. When I’m not writing I love to watch movies (comedies and action movies) and I’m a comic book geek.

Marlene: Describe a typical day of writing? Are you a planner or pantser?

Robin: My day usually begins very early. I’ve been getting up at 5 am to get in an hour of writing before the kids get up but I’m re-starting P90-X workouts and that will take over the sunrise slot. I take my laptop to work and I write at lunch and then I usually hit my office around 9 pm to write for a few hours before bed.

I’m a plantser. 🙂 I do have a very loose outline that I follow but I write free-flow and I take turns and changes as they come. I have to have some sort of outline because I’m too Type-A to just see what happens.

Marlene: What was your inspiration for The Boys are Back In Town series?

A Night of Southern Comfort by Robin CovingtonRobin: I grew up in the South in a town like Elliott, VA, and the Boys are all based on my cousins and the boys I grew up with. They loved to hunt, fish, drive fast cars, watch football and they were so tight. They had each others back. Many of the crazy things that happen or are mentioned about the Boys in my books are based on real-life events but I changed the names so that I can go home for Christmas!

Marlene: Did you have any particular “boys” in mind when you envisioned Jackson, Lucky, Teague and Beck? Was there a cast list in your head?

Robin: Oh yes – I looooove to dreamcast my people. I have a Pinterest account where I have a board for each book so readers can stop by and check it out.

For me, Jackson is Joe Manganiello, and Lucky is Alex O’Loughlin. Teague is Jensen Ackles and Beck is Jason Behre. They grow them hot and lickable in Elliott.

Marlene: Tell us a little bit about the rest of the series? And what comes next on your schedule?

Robin: Book Three, Slow Southern Burn, is about Teague and his unexpected romance. The woman and the situation they find themselves in is completely unexpected. Book Four is about Beck and he is confronted by a woman from his past that he didn’t treat so well when he was young and well… young. The books are currently slated for October and December release.

I have a June release from Brazen coming up called Playing the Part – the hero is a fun, sexy movie star and the heroine is a romance novelist.

After that I am trying something brand new – a paranormal. It will be a fun, flirty contemporary set in Washington, DC. 2014 will also see a book in a wedding trilogy with two other Entangled authors and a book about assassins in love. After that…

Marlene: What is your favorite scene from the book and why?

Robin: My favorite scene is one on the staircase in Elliott House between Lucky and Taylor. I don’t want to give too much away but that scene is full of sexy anger and angst. Love. It.

Readers keep telling me that the scene makes them cry and my reaction is – “YES!”

Marlene: Now can you tell us 3 reasons why people should read your books?

Secret Santa Baby by Robin CovingtonRobin:

  1. They are about real, fun, people you want to hang out with.
  2. They are full of humor and just enough emotion to keep you turning the pages.
  3. They are sooooo sexy. Warning: I am not responsible for any 9 month party favors that result from reading my books! 😉

Marlene: What is your favorite thing about the writing experience and why?

Robin: It is so freeing. I get go anywhere and be anybody and do anything. And then I get to share it with awesome readers… that is the good stuff.

Marlene: Tell me something about yourself that I wouldn’t know to ask.

Robin: Dave Matthews and one of his bandmates slept on my floor in college. We booked them for a mixer before they became so huge and they needed a place to crash. I’m sure that whenever he writes a song about a kickass, gorgeous chick – he means me.

Marlene: What was the first book that made you love books?

Robin: Anne of Green Gables. I must have re-read that entire series a million times. I still love it and I cannot wait to read them with my daughter. Anne and Gilbert were my very first romance. Sigh.

Marlene: Name a book that you’ve faked reading.

Robin: The Iliad. I took Latin in high school and I totally read the Cliff’s Notes instead of reading it in Latin. Snore. I just couldn’t do it.

The Perfect Play by Jaci BurtonMarlene: And a book you’ve bought for the cover?

Robin: The Perfect Play by Jaci Burton. I mean…seriously… that cover almost made me pregnant just looking at it. I know my ovaries exploded at the very least. But is also a great book!

Marlene: And one book you most want to read again for the first time?

Robin: Psycop by Jordan Castillo Price. That book just blew me away–the premise, the characters and the mystery just made my brain sizzle. I still inhale the whole series at least once a year.

Marlene: Morning person or night owl?

Robin: Night Owl. I get a second wind at 10 pm and I’m up until 2 am easily. I think I think I’m being naughty…

Thanks so much for having me!

Robin CovingtonAbout Robin CovingtonRobin Covington, who NYT Best Selling authors, Robyn Carr and Carly Phillips, said was their new “auto-buy author”, writes sizzling hot contemporary and paranormal romance.A Night of Southern Comfort, her best-selling debut novel earned 4.5 stars and was touted by RT Book Reviews as bringing a “fresh, modern feel to the genre while still sticking to the things that get our adrenaline pumping — sex and danger”. When she’s not exploring the theme of fooling around and falling in love, she’s collecting tasty man candy, indulging in a little comic book geek love, and stalking Joe Mangianello.Robin is a member of the Romance Writers of America, the Washington Romance Writers, a faculty member at Romance University, a member of the Waterworld Mermaids, and a contributor to the Happy Ever After blog at USA Today.

Robin lives in Maryland with her hilarious husband, brilliant children, and ginormous puppy.

You can find Robin on her website, Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter.


Robin is kindly giving away one ebook copy of His Southern Temptation to one lucky commenter. To enter, please use the Rafflecopter:

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Interview with Author John Marco + Giveaway

The Forever Knight by John MarcoToday I’d like to welcome author John Marco, who recently published the latest book in his Bronze Knight series, The Forever Knight. John also has the best online ID ever, “happynerdjohn” and he’s probably pretty happy right now, since Kirkus Reviews chose The Forever Knight as a TOP PICK for April. I’d have to agree (read my review here).

Marlene: John, can you please tell us a bit about yourself?

John: Marlene, I’d like to start by thanking you for doing this interview with me and for agreeing to take part in my blog tour. I say this all the time, but I’ve met so many helpful book bloggers over the years who’ve been willing to take a chance and review my books even though they’ve never heard of me. The book blogging community has been wonderful, and I appreciate it.

It always feels a bit strange to talk about myself, but I’ll start by saying that I’m a writer, a husband, and a proud father of a great nine year-old boy. I pretty much always wanted to be a writer, and a fantasy writer in particular, because that’s what I grew up reading and loving. I spent more than enough time as a technical writer in various jobs, and now I am writing fiction full time again. Overall I think of myself as a very average guy who just happens to write stories.

Marlene: Who influenced your decision to become a writer?

John: I’ve had friends along the way who have been very encouraging. Once you actually make the decision to become a writer and get published (or try to get published), it’s good to have people who believe in what you’re doing and support you. There’s always negative people around as well, but you have to ignore them. Those are usually the people who’ve never really accomplished anything in life anyway, so why listen to them? Once you decide to be a writer, you’ll have enough of your own doubts anyway.

Marlene: What is your favorite thing about the writing experience and why?

John: This is a difficult question to answer. I think most writers would say they have a number of “favorite” things about writing, and find it tough to select just one. I love creating worlds and characters, and I’ve always had a need to tell stories. I’m not sure why that is. It just feels like something I was born to do.

Besides that, I love the intimacy of writing. I’m a real introvert, which means that I like to be alone with my own thoughts and I’m comfortable in my own head. Writing gives me the chance to embrace that part of me, to be by myself and be in control. I like being my own boss, in a sense.

Marlene: In The Forever Knight, you changed from third-person narrative to first-person. In general, do you try to experiment with writing style intentionally, or do you find that it just evolves over time?

John: Both. Yes, definitely both. I have always wanted to do different things, to grow and stretch and test myself as a writer. For one thing, I’m very easily bored. I find it surprising that so many writers are able to write in the same world with the same characters over and over and not try something different in between books. That’s never been for me. So trying to write a first person story was always in the cards for me.

On the other hand, there are changes in writing style that come without warning and aren’t by design. I have definitely felt myself “evolving” over the years. For one thing, I’m not as descriptive as I used to be. I used to write really long passages describing things like architecture and culture and dress, and now I do less of that. I just figure that a little goes a long way when it comes to that stuff, but when in my earlier books I really piled it on.

Marlene: Do your characters ever want to take over the story?

John: They do, yes. Sometimes it’s a good thing, and sometimes it’s frustrating. I make a fairly detailed outlined each time I start a book, so I have a pretty good idea of what’s supposed to happen. But very often characters come to the forefront of the story in a way that’s unexpected. Sometimes they’re just stronger characters, and instead of taking a minor role they wind up with a much larger one. And sometimes there are characters in the books that aren’t even in the outline at all. That’s happened to me twice so far with fairly major characters.

Marlene: Will there be more books in this series? What is next on your schedule?

John: Yes, there will definitely be more books in the Bronze Knight series. I am contracted for two more at the moment, and have some ideas for the next one. Before I get to that, however, I will finish up the book I am writing right now. It’s called The Bloody Chorus, and it’s an epic fantasy novel, the first in a new series. I’m also slated to contribute a short story to an upcoming anthology of military fantasy stories. I’m particularly excited about that, because I love writing short stories and don’t get the chance to write them as often as I’d like.

Marlene: What have you learned about writing and publishing since you first started?

John: Oh, so much. Publishing has changed a lot since I first started, and I’ve changed too. The first thing I learned was that publishing a book is only the beginning. I had thought that once I got my foot in the door it would be easy, but that’s really not the case at all. Some books do well, others not so well, and you have got to be ready and willing to weather the storms, because they always come eventually. And then there’s the technical aspects of writing that I’ve gotten better at over time. Again, when I first started I used to say that I was always willing to learn, but it was mostly lip service. I suppose I meant it, but I hadn’t really internalized that idea. It was just something that I would say, kind of like a cliché. Now, however, I’m eager to learn and grow as a writer. I see things that other writers do, and they don’t scare me anymore. I want to be as good as I can be, but I realize that the whole thing involves constant striving.

Marlene: What book would you most want to read again for the first time?

Demon by John VarleyJohn: That’s a real book lovers question! A tough one to answer to be sure. I’ll say Demon by John Varley. It’s one of the first serious science fiction novels that I ever read, and it filled me with an almost indescribable sense of wonder. Not a lot of books do that for me any more. Maybe it’s because I’m so much older now, and wonder is such a rare thing when you’re older. I’d love to experience that feeling again.

Marlene: Tell me something about yourself that I wouldn’t know to ask.

John: I wish I knew how to draw or paint. I wish I was an artist. If there was any other “art” form that I could participate in besides writing, that would be it. It was fantasy art that first drew me into the genre in the first place.

Marlene: Coffee or Tea?

John: I’ll have to say tea, because I don’t drink coffee at all and never have. It’s just one of those things that I never grew into. And to be honest I’m not nuts for tea either, unless it’s iced tea. I don’t even drink alchohol. Really, I drink like a big kid—soda, fruit drinks, Snapple, that sort of stuff.

John MarcoAbout John MarcoJohn Marco is the author of several novels of epic fantasy, many of which have been translated into various languages throughout the world. His first book, The Jackal of Nar, was published in 1999 and won the Barnes and Noble Maiden Voyage Award for best first fantasy novel. John writes full time from his home in Kings Park, NY, a north shore Long Island suburb, where he lives with his wife Deborah and his young son Jack. Though most of his days are consumed with writing, John enjoys spending free time biking, visiting the beach, flying, and of course, reading good books.

To learn more about John, check out his blog or follow him on Twitter or Facebook.


John is kindly giving away a signed hardcover edition of The Forever Knight to one lucky winner! To enter, please use the Rafflecopter below (shipment to U.S. or Canadian addresses only).

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This post is part of a TLC book tour. Click on the logo for more reviews.

Interview with Author Suzanne Johnson

River Road and Royal Street Tour

Today I’d very much like to welcome Suzanne Johnson, author of the totally awesome Sentinels of New Orleans series (check out my reviews of Royal Street and River Road).

Marlene: Suzanne can you please tell us a bit about yourself?

Royal Street by Suzanne JohnsonSuzanne: I’m a seventh-generation Alabamian but consider New Orleans and Houston more my “hometowns” because I lived and worked in both of those cities for a long time, especially New Orleans. At the time of Hurricane Katrina in 2005, I’d been living in New Orleans for twelve years, working as a magazine editor at Tulane University. I stayed and helped with rebuilding for a few years after the hurricane but then moved back to Alabama for family reasons. My Katrina experiences are what drove me to start writing fiction after a career in journalism and longform feature writing. Royal Street, the first in the Sentinels of New Orleans series, came directly from my own Katrina experiences. By the time I finished that book, I was hooked on fiction! Now I can’t imagine not writing it.

Marlene: Do you also write as Susannah Sandlin? What do you see as the difference between your two “identities”?

Suzanne: Yes, that’s me! The books written under the Susannah Sandlin name are darker paranormal romance. They’re written in multiple points of view, each book in my dystopian vampire series features a different hero and heroine, and they have a strong thriller element—a lot of action. The urban fantasy books are more playful, they follow a single heroine and her cast of followers, and while there are romantic elements, the characters’ romantic journeys are not the main reason for the book. I love writing both genres. They have a lot in common from a reader perspective, but they’re very different to write.

Marlene: Describe a typical day of writing. Are you a planner or pantser?

Suzanne: I have a full-time job in addition to writing from three to four novels a year, so I have to stay organized…which means I’m definitely a planner. I spend a good bit of time working on the story before I ever begin writing. I don’t plot it down to the nanosecond, because I want to be able to let my characters take over the story and surprise me, but I need that structure to keep the story moving ahead. A typical day? Man, this sounds boring. On weekdays, I work my day job, then come home and write three or four hours after dinner. On Saturdays and Sundays, I usually put in from eight to twelve hours of writing per day. That’s when I get the most done.

Marlene: You’ve made New Orleans as much of a character in the Sentinels series as any of the humans or preternaturals. How much of real life in New Orleans is in the story?

River Road by Suzanne JohnsonSuzanne: The New Orleans in the Sentinels books is VERY real. I’ve been gratified by the number of New Orleanians who’ve emailed to tell me how right I got not only the post-Katrina city but life in the city in general. It’s a beautiful, frustrating, fascinating place to live, and I wanted this series to pay homage to that because I love the city so much. Living in New Orleans is SO different than what visitors experience when they come and only see the French Quarter. Bourbon Street really is not New Orleans; it’s like a New Orleans-on-steroid theme park for visitors. So in the books is life as a resident. Most of the places the characters go are real places, and the settings and situations are real…well, except for the preternatural part!

Marlene: Do you see the Sentinels of New Orleans series as Drusilla’s journey?

Suzanne: Definitely. When I had the idea for Royal Street, I had been thinking a lot about the lessons Katrina taught me and a lot of my friends. That your whole life can be ripped apart in a matter of seconds. That a lot of the things you value in life are just so much stuff and when it’s taken away, you survive. That you have to let people help you, hard as that is. And that people respond to stress in different ways, and you have to respect that. Some people cry. Some make jokes. Some lead. Some fall apart.

So I created DJ as a young woman who’s just beginning to find her place in the world when the hurricane hits. Her journey is that of a woman (okay, a wizard) who has to learn who she is and what she can do without being able to rely on the things—parents, mentors, social networks—that most of us rely on to help us define ourselves. Wow, that’s too deep. It really is a fun series, with a lot of humor!

Marlene: Will there be more books in this series? What is next on your schedule?

Suzanne: The third book in the series, Elysian Fields, will be out on August 13 and readers will really start to see the brewing conflict as the different preternatural groups—especially the elves and wizards—begin to figure out who are allies and who are enemies.

Marlene: Now can you tell us 3 reasons why people should read your books?

Elysian Fields by Suzanne JohnsonSuzanne: Well, despite my nerdy answer above, first and foremost, they really are a fun read, especially as they begin to move away from the Katrina tragedy. Two, they differ from a lot of urban fantasy in that they really make use of the South Louisiana setting (my merfolk in River Road, for example, are aquatic Cajun shapeshifters). Three, they have wizards and undead French pirates and sneaky elves—seriously, how can you resist that?

Marlene: What made you choose to start writing urban fantasy? Or what genre do you think that the Sentinels series falls into?

Suzanne: Urban fantasy has been one of my favorite genres for a long time—back to when Anita Blake was about the only urban fantasy game in town. I’d definitely classify the Sentinels series as urban fantasy. There are romantic elements in the books, but they aren’t the dominant storyline. That story is what happens in New Orleans and in the preternatural world when Hurricane Katrina tears down the borders between our world and the world beyond. And DJ’s journey of growing up and growing into her skills, and part of her journey is learning to love and accept love in return.

Marlene: What is your favorite thing about the writing experience and why?

Suzanne: I love the creative rush—that point where the characters kind of take over and spin the story in a way you hadn’t expected. It’s mysterious and cool, and I have no idea how it happens…but it does.

Marlene: Tell me something about yourself that I wouldn’t know to ask.

Suzanne: Where I get a lot of my character names—LOL. Drusilla was a great-grandmother. Another great-grandmother had the surname Jaco. Eugenie’s mysterious boyfriend, Rand, is named after my great-grandfather Rand Sandlin….and yes, Susannah Sandlin was my great-great grandmother. So I steal family names shamelessly.

Marlene: What’s a book you’ve faked reading?

Suzanne: Probably the most shamelessly, Moby Dick. And I made an A on the exam because it was essay questions and I’m good at b-s. I still haven’t read it.

Marlene: What’s a book you’ve bought for the cover?

Suzanne: I really can’t think of one. I tend to buy online and that kind of cover-browsing that’s possible in a physical bookstore doesn’t work online. I’ll buy for the blurb, or because I read the first few pages and liked the voice. Or because I know the author’s other work.

Marlene: What book would you most want to read again for the first time?

Suzanne: The Harry Potter series. What fun! It’s good on the re-read, but the discovery was amazing.

Marlene: Morning person or night owl?

Suzanne: Despite having to do most of my writing at night, I am definitely a morning person. I zone out about 3 p.m. and don’t re-energize until about 8.

Thanks for having me here!

Suzanne JohnsonAbout Suzanne JohnsonSuzanne Johnson writes urban fantasy and paranormal romance from Auburn, Alabama, after a career in educational publishing that has spanned five states and six universities.  She grew up halfway between the Bear Bryant Museum and Elvis’ birthplace and lived in New Orleans for fifteen years, so she has a highly refined sense of the absurd and an ingrained love of SEC football and fried gator on a stick.To learn more about Suzanne, visit her website and blog or follow her on Twitter, Facebook, or Goodreads.

River Road and Royal Street Tour

Interview with Jeanette Grey + Giveaway

[Picture of author Jeanette Grey]

I’m thrilled to welcome Jeanette Grey back to Reading Reality! When Jeanette was here back in 2011, she was talking about her version of the future and her fantastic science fiction romance Unacceptable Risk. This time, she’s all about the present with her hot (very, see my review) new book, Take What You Want.

Marlene: Jeanette can you please tell us a bit about yourself?

Jeanette: Sure! I’m a thirty-something stay-at-home writer. In the past, I’ve worked as a science teacher, a web designer, a technical support specialist, and an administrative assistant in an advertising agency. When I quit my most recent gig to give writing my all, my husband shook his head at me, and said, “Well, at least you have plenty of experiences to draw from.”

Marlene: Describe a typical day of writing? Are you a planner or pantser?

Jeanette: Well, this is kind of a spoiler for question 14, but I get up around noon, have a cup of coffee and read for a bit—either writing blogs, industry news, or whatever book I’m currently engrossed in. Then I spend my afternoon working on all the non-writing stuff I have to do. I look through my critique partners’ pages, write blog posts, edit my own stuff, keep up on my social networking, run errands, etc. Four to ten is family time. Then at ten, hubby goes to bed, and I write until four in the morning. It’s great—no one bothers me, and there are minimal distractions from Twitter or any of the other typical time-sucks.

I refer to myself as a modified pantser. I come up with a vague plan for a book—usually a half-page or so worth of ideas scribbled out long-hand. Working within that framework (modifying it as needed), I make things up as I go along.

Marlene: Do all of your stories have writing soundtracks? If so, what was your soundtrack for Take What You Want?

Jeanette: I always listen to music while writing, and that music varies depending on the character and the scene. While writing my heroine, Ellen, I listened to a lot of folksy chick music: The Weepies, Ingrid Michaelson, Dar Williams, Ellery. Meanwhile, writing Josh, I had a lot more indie/alt-rock going—stuff like Nirvana and R.E.M., with a little bit of newer acts like The National and Mumford and Sons mixed in.

I have a whole other playlist for the, ahem, steamier scenes. It includes Shy by Ani DiFranco, Come On Get Higher by Matt Nathanson, and Crush by Dave Matthews, among others.

Marlene: What was the story that required the gif of Chris Evans without his shirt on for “inspiration” and which hero did he inspire?

Jeanette: Mmmm shirtless Chris Evans…

I’m sorry, I got distracted for a second. What were we talking about? Oh, right. Books.

Chris Evans is a new infatuation of mine. I don’t always have actors in mind when I’m writing, but he is currently starring as a stunt double in two manuscripts I’m working on—neither of which is finished yet, sadly. In one, he plays an ex-army guy who wants nothing more than to love and protect a woman who refuses to be saved by anyone. In another, he’s a young man just getting out on his own for the first time and finds himself in an interesting situation with his new roommate, and his girlfriend.

Ahem. He’s shirtless a lot in both of these scenarios.

Take What You Want by Jeanette GreyMarlene: What’s the difference in the creative process for you between writing a short story and writing a longer work like Take What You Want or Unacceptable Risk?

Jeanette: The biggest difference is in deciding how much of a story I want to tell. A short is going to be comprised of just a couple of scenes, and it’ll be centered around one or two moments of profound change for a character.

A longer piece will have a much more complex arc for the characters, with more details about how their lives were beforehand, and more insight into the kind of growth they’re experiencing. I’ll probably have two or three different plot arcs in addition to the personal growth. There’s just a lot more room to really explore.

Marlene: What can we expect of Take What You Want?

Jeanette: A sexy, emotional read about two characters who are trying decide what they want from life, from their careers and from each other. It’s a red-hot college romance with plenty of spice, but also with an intense and growing connection between two people who are just figuring out who they are and who they want to be.

Marlene: On your blog, you say “Erotic and Science Fiction Romance.” Why those two? (Not that they aren’t awesome choices)

Jeanette: There are certain kinds of stories that show up in my head. The first is sexy contemporary romances about love (aka, erotic), and the second is adventure-fueled romances set in near-futuristic imaginary worlds (aka, science fiction). I don’t know why those are the kinds of stories that beg to be told in my head. They just are. 🙂

Marlene: Can you tell us a little bit about your upcoming projects? What is next on your schedule?

Jeanette: The next immediate thing on my docket is another short contemporary which I’ve just contracted with Samhain. It’s a best-friends-to-lovers story crossed with a road trip story, and it all takes place leading up to New Year’s Eve. It has a tentative release date in early December, and I’m very excited about it.

Marlene: Now can you tell us 3 reasons why people should read your books?


1) They’re real stories about real people.
2) They’re told with intense emotionality that’ll suck you in.
3) When I say they’re red-hot, I mean it!

Marlene: What is your favorite thing about the writing experience and why?

Jeanette: I love getting to tell the stories of people who are, at least on some level, flawed and alone, and guiding them to a place where they can find acceptance and love. I get to meet these incredible people, even if they spring from my own imagination. They become my friends. And I get to send them off into their happily ever after. It’s the best job I can imagine.

Marlene: Tell me something about yourself that I wouldn’t know to ask

Jeanette: I have a weird and inexplicable affection for frogs and turtles. I don’t know why I love them. I just do. They’re green and adorable and I love them.

Marlene: Tell us the title of a book you’re an evangelist for.

[Middlex by Jeffrey Eugenides]Jeanette: It’s not in my genre, but Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides is one of those books that changed my perspective on story-telling. I fell in love with the language Eugenides uses, and the mixing of family history, mythology, personal discovery, and even just a touch of emerging sexuality and romance inspired me. It also had such an open view on gender identity. Everyone should read it.

Marlene: What’s the book you most want to read again for the first time?

Jeanette: I’d say the entire Demonica series by Larissa Ione. Great universe, compelling characters, kick-ass heroines, and men that made me drool. Complex, interesting plots. Oh, and they were so, so hot.

Marlene: Are you a morning person or a night owl?

Jeanette: Night owl. Oh my God, such a night owl. The only sunrises I’ve seen in the last three years have been ones I’ve still be up for. I love being the only one awake in a silent world. I don’t know why, but for some reason, that’s just how I’ve always been.

jgreyAbout Jeanette GreyJeanette Grey started out with degrees in physics and painting, which she dutifully applied to stunted careers in teaching, technical support, and advertising. When none of that panned out, she started writing. Her stories include futuristic romances and erotic contemporaries, and almost all of them include hints of either science or art.

When she isn’t writing, Jeanette enjoys making pottery, playing board games, and spending time with her husband and her pet frog. She lives, loves, and writes in upstate New York.

You can learn more about Jeanette at her website, Twitter, or Facebook. She is also one of the bloggers at Bad Girlz Write.


Jeanette is kindly giving away one copy of Take What You Want!

a Rafflecopter giveaway