And in keeping with the romantic theme of this auspicious day, I have a romance writer visiting, well, actually, an erotic romance author!
She been here before, please welcome back to my blog Red Sage author, Maree Anderson (and she has a very special give-away - keep reading on after the interview!)
Maree, for those who haven't met you before, can you tell us a little about yourself?
My name is Maree – with 2-ees because my mum thought it’d be easier for people to spell that way.
I live in Auckland, New Zealand, and I’m married to a real-life hero who has championed me every step of the way in my dream to become an author. He’s also a website designer extraordinaire, and even better, he works for hugs and kisses.
I have two amazing kids who are somehow able to decipher my vague and often incomprehensible answers to their questions when Ms Muse is hollering in my ear, urging me to keep typing. And one day, I hope to be as famous as my cat. (She’s had a book written about her, and her photo even featured on the cover!)
When did you start to write and how long did it take you to be published?
I started writing about nine months before my youngest started school because I figured it would be my last shot to have a go at writing a book before I had to look for a job.
I finished the manuscript within my self-imposed deadline and was immensely proud of myself. But yanno what? Getting a part-time job didn’t stop me from ‘having’ to straight away write another manuscript – funny that! And when I decided to take the next step and enter a writing contest, that first manuscript was a finalist in the 2004 RWNZ Clendon Award, and the second one was highly commended. Meaning I figured, gosh, I might not actually suck too badly at this writing business! And I was hooked big-time. Hunky bare-chested men astride wild horses with wings couldn’t drag me away from my keyboard after that.
My first publishing contract was in 2008, a novella that I’d entered in the Red Sage Alpha Male Novella Contest. That novella, EVEN DEMONS GET THE BLUES was published by Red Sage in 2009.
What's been happening in your world since the 2010 RWNZ Auckland Rydges conference?
It’s been a whirlwind of revisions, deadlines, filling out screeds of forms with synopses and blurbs and the like for my publisher, line edits, and promo. Followed by increasingly frantic efforts to coax my capricious muse into settling down to work on one particular project – kinda the complete opposite problem to suffering from writer’s block!
What sparks your creativity?
Books, magazine articles, song lyrics, quotes, TV, movies.... I can tell you what sparked the idea of every single manuscript I’ve ever written, but that would take up a blog post all of its own.
Come to think about it, I’ve already devoted an entire blog post to the subject of inspiration for stories. A fellow RWNZer, Helen Kirkman, and I were asked to present a workshop on “inspiration” to our Auckland chapter back in 2009. We called our workshop Sources of Inspiration: or, how the heck did you come up with THAT idea? The transcript for that workshop is up on my website.
Can you tell us about your new release?
I thought you’d never ask! *g* SCENT OF A MAN is my second novel-length release – yay, the first one wasn’t just a fluke! – it was released on 1st February.
I love historicals and I was toying with the idea of challenging myself by writing one, so I’d just bought Georgette Heyer’s Regency World by Jennifer Kloester as a reference guide. I also had an idea for a paranormal story – I just can’t seem to help myself that way *sigh* – so I decided to combine the two ideas and write a paranormal with a historical flavour.
Except that, me being me, I just couldn’t resist twisting it a little more and creating a fanatically religious society where wealthy titled men dress like Regency dandies, but force their womenfolk to dress like Quakers and forbid them from wearing fripperies such as ribbons, cosmetics and perfume. I also wanted to play with role-reversal. My hero, Joseph, is the inexperienced virgin, and my heroine, Liliana, is the seasoned woman-of-the-world – and a foreign agent who’s trained in hand-to-hand combat to boot! Poor Joseph has no idea how to handle her, LOL.
SCENT OF A MAN:
The one woman who can resist him is the only woman he’s ever wanted....
Joseph is a highborn Anglian noble living in a harshly religious society where the Council and their clerics enforce chastity, and women are oppressed and treated like chattels. Overnight, Joseph undergoes a rare transformation and becomes a Scentinel, a man who exudes powerful sexual pheromones that make him irresistible to females. His people believe he is evil and will execute him on sight. He’s on the run, starving and desperate. He has nothing more to lose–or so he believes.
Liliana is a “morally corrupt” Europan woman with an agenda. She’s a creature even rarer than Joseph, a Null who can neutralize Scentinel pheromones. Her mission is to do whatever it takes to bring Joseph safely to Europan shores. There, he’ll join Empress Vashti’s elite band of Scentinel spies – provided he survives his training with his sanity intact, and learns how to suppress his pheromones at will.
And falling in love with the man she must ultimately betray was never part of Liliana’s plan.
To read an excerpt, click here.
Or visit Maree’s Red Sage author page.
What is it about your characters that made you want to tell their stories?
Um, they haunt my dreams and turn me into a grumpy, practically incoherent insomniac, until I give in and write their darn story?
What was the easiest and hardest parts about writing this book?
Easiest? Well, that was the first draft! At that time, because I was writing solely for myself and not with any specific market in mind, I didn’t much care that SCENT OF A MAN was an action-oriented paranormal/fantasy romance with a historical flavour and a rather erotic-sounding premise that was never fully realized. I just wrote the damn book. I didn’t consider important things like how it might be categorized or marketed. Doh! Little wonder it was practically un-publishable, despite having placed in various contests.
The hardest part? Well, you could be forgiven for thinking it would be cutting the word count from around 95,000 to 75,000, and excising three or four chapters written in two pivotal characters’ points of view, and then drastically scaling back those two characters, all with a contract deadline thrown in to make things interesting, right?
Hah! Boy was I in for a shock. The story was contracted “as-is”, before it was rewritten as an e-rom, and I was terrified that my editor had too much faith in me and I wouldn’t be able to pull it off. Aside from that, the hardest part was weaving the intense sensuality and sexual awareness required of an erotic romance into an already defined story structure, plot, and set of character motivations. It probably would have been easier to scrap the entire manuscript and start again, to be quite honest.
During the revisions process I would often spend days re-working a section, trying to make a new scene fit seamlessly into the original plot, only to realize that it wasn’t the new scene that was the problem: it was the original story. Large chunks that my editor and I loved from the original story had to be scrapped during the re-writes. Sometimes it took me far too long to work up the courage to let those scenes go and more forward. It was gut-wrenching and very very character-building.
Are there any particular settings or sorts of characters you'd like to use in a future book?
I’d like to write another Demons novella and revisit the hugely fun world I created for EVEN DEMONS GET THE BLUES and LET SLEEPING DEMONS LIE. Asmodeus, my sarcastic, amoral, and devilishly handsome Demon King, seems to be a reader favourite and his fans are asking when I’m going to write his story. I also have a few ideas for another futuristic based around a character who featured in FROM THE ASHES, so who knows?
What's next for you? What are you working on?
What’s next? I’m gearing up for the June 2011 release of my first ever print story in the Red Sage Secrets Volume 30 anthology. My contribution to the anthology is a light paranormal novella called Kat On A Hot Tin Roof and when my editor read it, she paid me the highest compliment I’ve ever had about my writing. She described it as “howlingly funny, deliciously tender, and super-hot”. But what I treasure the most was when she told me that reading my story got her through a really bad day.
What I’m working on? I have an idea for a YA churning round in my head. But at this stage, I’m not entirely sure what’s next writing-wise. I have some hard decisions to make, so all I can say right now is “it depends’.
Do you have any advice/handy tips/craft skills you'd like to share with unpublished authors?
Do your research.
Never give up.
Thanks for hosting me, Kylie. As always, it’s been a pleasure!
It's always a hoot having you, Maree! Thanks for visiting.
And I’d like to offer one of your readers an electronic copy of SCENT OF A MAN. So because I’m insatiably curious, to be in with a chance to win, please leave a comment and answer this quesion...
Tell me who your favourite fictional historical figure is – hero or heroine, book, movie or TV series.
Looking forward to your responses!
Thanks, Maree. How cool! A Valentine's give-away to one lucky person who answers her question.
You have until midnight, Feb.19th and the winner will be announced shortly thereafter.
To find out more out Maree check out her website for her other books and latest news, or her Writers Gone Wild Blog, Facebook page or Twitter link.
Maree's other books, available from Red Sage: