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Q&A: Author of vampire series on strong women, kinky things, time travel May 28, 2009

Posted by Diana McCabe in Authors.
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If you like strong heroines, flawed (but sexy) men and settings that take you not just to fascinating cities but through time, you’ve got to check out Susan Squires. Her vampire novels are dark, dangerous but always anchored in a great love story. The latest in her Companion timeforeternityseries (CLICK HERE FOR ORDER TO READ THEM IN) is TIME FOR ETERNITY, due out in September. I asked Susan to talk about her vampires, and why her male vamps sometimes get a little abused. (Look for part 2 of her great writing tips in the next week!!!)

Q. What is it about vampires that fascinate you? Do you believe in them? Or think they existed at one time?

A. I don’t believe vampires are real, now, or historically. The reason they’re fascinating is that they are a metaphor for the dangerous unknown. A theme in many of my books is that you must embrace what you fear most in order to be whole. That’s because I’ve seen so many people let their world be slowly circumscribed by their fears. So, what better than to make the leap to loving a vampire (or becoming one?)

Susan Squires

Susan Squires

Q. In many vampire novels, there’s a line when the vampire says “I have a disease,” and as a reader we snicker because we know it’s not true. But in your series, it’s true. You link vampirism to a disease. Where did you get that idea?

A. This was actually a bit of one of those bolts from the blue — an idea that strikes you so strongly you can’t resist it. It was at the height of the fear of AIDS, when many people were blaming the victim for having the disease. (Remember the “AIDS is a judgment of God on gay people” phase?). There was so much fear and loathing in the air. I couldn’t help but think — what if we were afraid of vampires and thought them evil for something they couldn’t help? Of course, that gives you lots of possibility for tortured heroes, big decisions, and misunderstandings.

Q. Your vampire world is filled with very tough women. Why is that? And the rules for the world are very clear. Did you plan this before you wrote the series or did it unfold as you were writing?

A. I like tough women. Many of my women have had difficulties. They may be scarred, or orphans, or not exactly what their parents wanted in some way, or caught between sacramenttwo cultures, or have difficult special powers. I like to write about coming back from adversity, and in one way or another, you have to have an inner core of strength in order to do that. In many instances, my heroines have to discover that they are stronger than they thought. We all like to hear that’s possible, right? As far as the world, it was mainly set up in SACRAMENT, (the first book I ever wrote, actually), but it also evolved over time. It’s a trick to make it all fit together logically over time and not violate the principles.

Q. And the men in your books — they might be vampires, but they certainly take a lot of mental and physical abuse. Why?

A. Oh, I love tortured heroes. And I love the chance to give women an opportunity to be both strong and nurturing. I will tell you that when I wrote THE COMPANION (first in the series) for my editor at St. Martin’s Press, it was pretty tough on the hero and a little kinky. I never intended to do that again. But when I asked her whether she thought readers would be disappointed if the next one wasn’t kinky, she said, “why of course it will be kinky. You do that so well.” So, more kinkiness ensued, though less in later books. In my new time travel series, I have managed to get away from that. Not that it was bad — I’d just done it to death.

Q. Any favorite characters? (I like Donnatella for her time-travel adventure to find her long-lost love)

shadowsA. I liked Donnatella so much in ONE WITH THE SHADOWS that she got her own story in DARKNESS. I liked Ian and Beth in THE COMPANION. I liked Ann Van Helsing in THE BURNING. I loved Jergan in ONE WITH THE DARKNESS. Oh, heck, I like them all or I couldn’t spend nine months with them. (That’s how long it takes me to write a book.)

Q. What is it that you like about time travel? (Which you return to in your next release TIME FOR ETERNITY)

A. I love being able to explore different time periods. I like the complexity of figuring out how my characters fit into that time’s events, changing them, but ensuring that the outcome we describe in our modern history books remains the same. For the author they are like a kind of puzzle. For the readers, I hope they are just a little surprising. In other words, they’re fun to write, and that keeps me interested and engaged! Why else write.

Check back here for part 2 on her great writing tips next week.

Talk to author of ‘Evermore’ and 5 other YA novelists at O.C. bookstore May 26, 2009

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Alyson Noel, author of  EVERMORE,  joins 5 other YA authors, including Marlene Perez (DEAD IS THE NEW evermoreBLACK) and Mary E. Pearson (THE ADORATION OF JENNA FOX), Sunday — May 31 — at Laguna Beach Books from 1-2:30 p.m. to talk about their novels and sign books. (For directions and more info on the panel, CLICK HERE for the bookstore’s Web site.)

Noel’s EVERMORE (see her YouTube video on the book HERE) has been at the top of The New York Times Best Sellers List for Children’s Paperbacks for 15 weeks (10 of those in the No. 1 spot.) The second book in her Immortal series, BLUE MOON, comes out in July. Go to her blog HERE to read the first few chapters that she’s posted.

I’ll be doing a Q&A with Alyson shortly so if you have any questions for her, let me know. Just post in comments.

Why do vampires still fascinate? May 24, 2009

Posted by Diana McCabe in News.
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In books, TV series and movies, vampires have been around forever — no pun intended! (Who remembers “Dark Shadows”??!!) Writer Eric Lewis with Canada’s Times & Transcript asked  Mount Allison University associate professor of English Deborah Wills, a cultural studies scholar and horror fan,  why the bloodsuckers are so popular.

"The Vampire" by Edvard Munch

"The Vampire" by Edvard Munch

For teens, she says the current stories — such as the TWILIGHT series, may in some ways mimic their emotional lives:

“In many ways, there is a literalization of teenage concerns that shows up in the vampire story, The emotional intensity of the relationship with the vampire matches the intensity of how it feels to have your first real love affair. Your first real love, it really feels like life and death.” (To read the entire article CLICK HERE.)

Of course, for those of us not suffering from teen angst, the stories are just plain fun, sexy , scary and magical. The latest release in the Southern Vampire series by Charlaine Harris, DEAD AND GONE, is No. 3 on The New York Times Best Sellers List of hardcover fiction. (The  HBO series, “True Blood,” based on her vampire novels, kicks off season 2 on June 14.)

And — for more insights into vampires, look for my interview this week with Susan Squires, whose next book, TIME FOR ETERNITY, is due out in September.

CLICK HERE for Publishers Weekly’s take on the genre (paranormal vs urban fantasy etc).

Previews of Emma Holly’s erotic paranomal “Kissing Midnight” online May 18, 2009

Posted by Diana McCabe in Releases.
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Yeah, yeah, yeah — you either love Emma Holly’s erotic paranormals or you don’t. I happen to love ’em and right now there are a few good excerpts out on the Web for her next release KISSING MIDNIGHT. The book is due out in June but if you just can’t KissingMidnightwait, CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD an excerpt. (This is from Emma’s site)

Here’s what she says in her last post on her Web site about the new trilogy:

“As you might have guessed from the length of time it’s been since my last newsletter, I’ve had my nose buried in my own books. I’m happy to say I officially turned in SAVING MIDNIGHT, the last book for my tightly connected 1930’s vampire trilogy, now called The Fitz Clare Chronicles. I can hardly believe that after 18 months of working on a single project, I’m done. It feels good, especially since I think it came out well. The titles for the trilogy are KISSING MIDNIGHT, BREAKING MIDNIGHT, and SAVING MIDNIGHT, and they’re scheduled for release June, July and August of 2009.”

Other info:

  • Read a review at SCOOPER SPEAKS. (Check out Scooper’s fave line in the novel)
  • Check out Emma’s own site for more info HERE.

Karen Marie Moning’s ‘Dreamfever’ longest book of series! May 17, 2009

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Fans of Karen Marie Moning’s fae series are gonna love this.  The next book — DREAMFEVER — is done and is more than 450 pages long!!! (Hummmm — does that mean we can all get it read in one day??!!!) dreamfever

Here’s what she said in her latest fan email:

“I’m finally able to pull my head out of writing for a breather. DREAMFEVER is done, and is the longest book of the series so far. FAEFEVER came in around 350 manuscript pages. DREAMFEVER is over 450.

I can’t wait to hear what you think of it. My editor thinks it’s the best yet!  I loved every minute of writing it, and hope the passion I feel for Mac, Barrons, V’lane, Dani, Christian, Rowena and the sidhe-seers, Jack and Rainey Lane, and the memory of Alina leaps off the pages and into your hearts.  I think it might be the most emotional book I’ve written.”

The book comes out in August. Until then, check out her online store full of cool T-shirts, hats, etc. (I want one of those “Barrons’ Books & Baubles” hats in hot pink. I also like her “Stay to the Lights” items. Not sure I want V’Lane — the death by sex fae — but she’s got an image of him at her online store. (I personally would like Jericho Barrons delivered to my doorstep but since we don’t know exactly who or what he is ….. will have to wait. No images of him on this site.)

Also, check out her main site HERE for links to her podcasts (you can download and listen to the first books in the series HERE) and also on her Sidhe-Seers, Inc. site, you can play Mac vs the shades.

POLL: What’s your fave paranormal romance? May 13, 2009

Posted by Diana McCabe in Authors.
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For a list and links to the book covers and info on the finalists CLICK HERE.

Writing tips: ‘Alpha Wolf’ author on e-books and creating plot May 12, 2009

Posted by Diana McCabe in Authors.
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How do you craft a sexy paranormal story where the town is a character? What’s it like to write an e-book? I asked  Linda O. Johnston, whose latest novel ALPHA WOLF is a mix of shapeshifter lore, Military macho, romance and whodunit! She’s also written e-books for download to the Kindle. Her next release: BACK TO LIFE, due out in June. (Is that a hot cover or what?!!) backtolife

Q. In ALPHA WOLF (check out a review here), you do a great job about writing about place. A rural town in Maryland called Mary Glen. Was it based on a town you’d visited? Why did you pick that setting?

A. I wanted a setting that was remote, a fictional area that might not have a huge population. My husband and I own some property south of Baltimore and I’ve visited the Eastern Shore, so that naturally came to mind when I was considering a place.

Q. The town itself becomes a character. How hard was it to balance that aspect of the story with the love story and the mission of Alpha unit without the book becoming overly long?

A. I’m glad to hear Mary Glen feels like a character, since that was my intent. I love placing stories in locations that fit well, whether fictional or real. And as with all “characters,” Mary Glen and its quirks and inhabitants had to be interwoven with the rest of the people and plot.

Q. Talk about plot. So many writers get stuck there. How do you convert a tiny speck into plot? How do you know your plot doesn’t stink?

A. Before I actually start writing, I first will describe the story by stream-of-consciousness on the computer, then flesh it out into my own version of screenplay plotting on a form I developed for myself that I call a “plot skeleton.” That’s seemed to work best for me. I also run the concept by friends who are critiquers and help me brainstorm anything that appears not to work.

Q. You switch between mystery/romance and paranormal. How do you make that switch? (Unless you can just flip a button in your brain and on it goes!)

A. I’ve prided myself for years on being able to easily switch from one kind of writing style to another. I started out in advertising and public relations, and wrote articles for a small newspaper as I tried writing my first fiction. Then I became a transactional lawyer, and have enjoyed for years writing contracts on the same day I write novels. I don’t know if there’s a button in my brain, but switching from dark, sexy paranormal stuff to light cozy mysteries is fun, yet not as much of a challenge as switching from drafting a contract to writing fiction. Or maybe that’s not as much of a switch as it should be!

Q. When you’re writing about romance, how do you choose the words to use in the love scenes? We can all go through the various lists, but if you’re just starting out — any advice??

A. I’m a great believer in pointing one’s subconscious in a direction and then letting it spew out a scene. That also helps in writing love scenes that are comfortable for the writer. Of course I edit. And the genre or subgenre I’m writing in also makes a difference as to how graphic to be. My advice would be to let your imagination go wild–as wild as you’re comfortable with, and as wild as the genre you’re writing in will allow.

Q. I see that Nella’s story (CLAWS OF THE LYNX) is available as an e-book and you can also download it on Kindle. Why an e-book and how is it doing? claws

A. Nocturne Bites are shorter stories, around novella length. Like other e-books, CLAWS OF THE LYNX is available for now only as a download onto readers like Kindle, or onto computers, too. CLAWS OF THE LYNX will be available in print form later this year in an anthology along with other Bites–Awakening the Beast. And I believe LYNX is doing well online.

Q. Is there anything different about writing an e-book?

A. I’ve written short stories and novellas as well as full-length novels. Each format presents challenges. In the shorter stories, you don’t have as much time to introduce characters and plots, but it’s fun to figure out how to write them.

Q. How did you get your first book manuscript published?

A. I’d already published mystery short stories, including one that won the Robert L. Fish Memorial Award for best first mystery short story of the year. I became one of those authors with a dozen manuscripts under the bed, though. My last novel manuscript before I sold was a time travel romance in which the hero developed a scientific way for traveling in time. In those days, having too many genres included in one book was the kiss of death. I kept getting “good” rejections for that one–editors and agents who loved the story and my writing, but told me that a contemporary, historical, sci-fi, romantic suspense story couldn’t be sold. That’s when I discovered the genuine subgenre of time travel romance and wrote A GLIMPSE OF FOREVER, in which the heroine just touches fossils to travel in time–nothing scientific about it. It sold! And I’m glad that, today, those kinds of artificial genre restrictions don’t seem to apply any longer.

Q. How does a typical writing day unfold?

A. I’m still working on that one at the moment. Years ago, when I had a young family and full-time law job, I’d get up an hour earlier than anyone else and use that time for my writing. Then my sons grew up and I became a part-time lawyer instead, and I felt I had to get my law projects out of the way first before concentrating on my writing each afternoon. These days, I’m looking for more law projects but am currently a full-time writer, and I’m not as organized about it as I’d like. If I don’t have a deadline looming, I generally will work on several projects on the same day. If I do have an impending deadline, I concentrate on that story.

Q. You have kept your full name — Linda O. Johnston — for all of your books? No second pen name? (And what does the “O” stand for?)

A. I want to brand myself as a versatile writer, so I use my real name for everything so far, but that doesn’t mean I wouldn’t use a pseudonym if it appeared practical–for example, a real change in what I’m writing. I once had a reviewer say “O” stands for “outstanding”… but it’s actually the abbreviation of my maiden name. I use it to distinguish myself from all the other Johnsons and Johnstons who are out there selling books. Besides, it’s fun to be Linda O! for some stories and Linda O? for mysteries!

Q. Any other advice to writers?

A. Write, learn your craft, don’t be afraid of critiques, and join writers groups like Romance Writers of America to network with others who are interested in the genre you’re pursuing. alpha

Check out part 1 of Linda’s interview (Q&A: Her Alpha Wolves Practice Safe Sex) and more about ALPHA WOLF here.

Wanna talk about latest Sookie Stackhouse book? May 10, 2009

Posted by Diana McCabe in Releases.
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deadandgoneCheck the cool Web site/podcast  on all things Sookie HERE. The three women who host this podcast — Last Bite Podcast — and who run the Web site know their stuff  and are getting ready to discuss “DEAD AND GONE,” the 9th novel in the Southern Vampire series by (Look for the podcast this week. You can also subscribe to it on iTunes.) If you’ve already read the book, they have a nice poll on the Web site you can take. For fans of the HBO series “TRUE BLOOD,” you can get the latest news/gossip here, as well. This is one of my fave news podcasts/sites for info on Sookie books and the HBO series.

Read the book? Love it? Hate it? Trying to figure out book No. 10 already? Let me know!

Harlequin posts 1st quarter gains May 8, 2009

Posted by Diana McCabe in News.
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Romance is alive and well — even during this recession. Parent company Torstar Corp. said its Harlequin division showed 60thgrowth — while their newspaper business didn’t fare as well. (Its businesses include the Star Media Group led by the Toronto Star, Canada’s largest daily newspaper.) Book Publishing revenue was $124.5 million (Canadian) in the first quarter of 2009, up $14.8 million from $109.7 million in the first quarter of 2008

Here’s what their CEO said:

“The first quarter was a tale of two solitudes: Harlequin delivered an excellent quarter of growth while our newspaper businesses confronted lower advertising revenues as a result of the recession,” said Robert Prichard, President and CEO of Torstar Corporation. “Harlequin has made a strong start and is on course for another solid year. Despite the global recession, Harlequin’s overall performance remains strong with digital revenue growth offsetting some print declines in Japan and the U.K. Revenue in the newspapers and digital segment was down 11 percent as the recession has hurt numerous advertising categories led by employment, real estate and automotive. While aggressive cost management across our newspaper businesses mitigated the impact of the revenue reduction, it has been insufficient to prevent a sharp drop in profitability. The newspapers also faced higher pension costs and newsprint pricing in the quarter which accentuated the reduction in profitability.”
To read the entire release CLICK HERE.

Coming up: Look for more author interviews and news this weekend.

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