Thursday, November 17, 2011

Thursday's Interview -- Susanne Rock

1. What's your genre or do you write in more than one?

I write mostly paranormal erotic romance. I have my first contemporary erotic romance (a ménage) coming out in January 2012 and have just finished my first mainstream romantic suspense that I’m shopping around.

2. Did you choose your genre or did it choose you?

Erotic romance chose me. I tried for over a year to write category and mainstream paranormal, but nothing sold. Then at the urging of a friend I tried my first erotic romance, an urban fantasy type of shifter story with sci fi elements. That story, Spyder’s Web, sold to Loose Id and was released in June 2009.

3. Is there any genre you'd like to try? Or is there one you wouldn't?

I’d love to write mainstream romantic suspense. I have so many ideas! I wrote one and am shopping it around. Thrillers and paranormal are my two favorite sub-genres of romance.

4. What fiction do you read for pleasure?

I tend to go in spurts. I read a lot of paranormal and thrillers, since they are my favorite. I’ll also read historicals for a while, or steampunk. I love mysteries and fantasy as well. Any type of commercial fiction, really.

5. Tell me a bit about yourself and how long you've been writing,

I wrote a lot as a kid, but my parents pushed told me that I needed to choose something else for a career because I’d never make any money as a writer. The writer’s life was too hard, they said. (They were right!!) So I put the keyboard away and became a scientist. Fast forward 15 years. During this time I focused on my writing career, but the writing bug never left me. I’d write technical reports and memos and such that other people didn’t want to write. Then I had my second child and I realized that life was very short. I was getting older and if I didn’t at least try to become a published writer, then I was going to regret it.

I started writing in December 2007, right after my daughter was born. I became part of the eharlequin community, honed my craft and submitted to the harlequin category lines. No bites. Then in the fall of 2008, I met Juliana Stone and Lauren Hawkeye, who both changed my life. They were also members of the eharlequin boards and liked a few things that I had written for the community there. They asked me to become their critique partner. It was Lauren Hawkeye who introduced me to Megan Hart’s books, and Megan introduced me to the world of erotic romance.

After reading a few of Megan’s works, I wanted to try it for myself, and soon discovered that I had found my niche. I contracted my first book, Spyder’s Web, in December 2008, almost one year after I had begun writing. Soon after that I started the Kyron Pack series, also for Loose Id, then the Immortal Realm series for Red Sage. Then, a few months ago, an Ellora’s Cave editor contacted me about writing for them. Unholy Pursuits, the first book in my Unholy Series, is the result of that correspondence.

6. Which of your characters is your favorite?

Whichever character is in my work-in-progress, lol. I feel special attachment to all of them.

I love how Tony in Down on the Boardwalk feels compelled to take care of his younger brother Nico, and how his world shatters when he realizes his brother doesn’t need him anymore.

I love how strong Aleta is in Cria, and how she is willing to fight for her freedom.

I love how Darien struggles with his inner darkness and tries to keep from hurting Arianne both emotionally and physically. Deep down, he’s really got a heart of gold.

I love how Rose confronts and overcomes her fears in Whispers (coming out Nov 22nd).

I love how Chloe gets the courage to stand up to her father in Up on the Housetop.

I love how Spyder’s Curse causes Spyder’ to question her views of right and wrong in Spyder’s Web.

The list can go on and on. The characters are like my children. I love them all, although for different reasons.

7. Are there villains in your books and how were they created?

In some of my books, yes, there are villains. In Unholy Pursuits, the demon lord, Bathin, is what drives the external conflict. In his pursuit to take over earth, he forged a stone with great power to cross from hell to earth. This dark power taints anyone who touches it. The first book is about finding the stone and destroying it to save Earth from destruction.

8. What are you working on now?

I’m working on the sequel to Unholy Pursuits. The twins who are part of Darien’s FBI team will be the heroes in this ménage story. I’m torn between calling it Unholy Embrace or Unholy Cravings. Does anyone have a preference? *grins*

9. What's your latest release and how did the idea arrive?

My latest release is Unholy Pursuits. This is the first book in the Unholy series. In this series, the portal between earth and hell are guarded by an ancient, mystical race, called the Iatros. These fairy-like creatures protect humans from the creatures of the underworld by preventing their passage to Earth. For years they have worked in secret, until a demon lord finds a way to neutralize their powers and strengthen his own. He uses this new-found magic to form a relic called the demon stone and uses it to gain access to Earth.

The Iatros are unable to fight the strengthening demons on their own, and in desperation recruit the paranormal investigation unit of the FBI to help. This unit, lead by the sexy and egotistical Darien Lange, belittle the Iatros‘ powers and believe that they can defeat the demons on their own.

In the first story, Unholy Pursuit, Darien charms one of the guardians of the portal, a young Iatros named Arianne, and gains access into hell. There things don’t go as planned and the team is captured. After months of captivity some of them escape, but the demon taint is on their soul, and as a result they have an increasing need for sex and violence. Only becoming an Iatros spirit mate can stop their slow transformation into creatures of the underworld, but doing so would admit that they need help, and then they would become bound to one of the mystical creatures forever. How the team manages to escape hell, remove the taint, and combat the demons is the basis for this series.

The idea for this story started with the Lord of the Rings movies.  When I watched them, I thought of the elves and how they were tied to the land and how they were great healers. I looked up the word “healer” in many different languages. In Greek, the word is Iatros (pronounced ee-at-ros). The word literally means “physician” and is written like this: ἰατρός . I envisioned a race of people who were tied to the land and who used their magic to heal the earth and creatures that lived there. This Greek word seemed like the perfect fit.

These creatures wouldn’t have been very good protectors if all they could do was heal, right? They need to be strong and skillful warriors to guard the portal and not let any demons pass. Since demons could only be killed by decapitation, the Iatros needed to be proficient with magically-enhanced swords, knives, daggers, etc. Instead of being bound to the land, I made them bound to the fabric between earth and hell, so they could sense where the wall was weakening and go strengthen it.

Once I had the Iatros creature worked out, I created an anti-creature, everything that the Iatros was not. These dark creatures, called deamhans, are in constant battle with the Iatros for power. After that, the story kind of wrote itself. ;)

10. Tell me about your latest book and how it came about. Enclose the opening of the book around 400 words.

My latest story is Unholy Pursuits. I first wrote this as a novella back in 2009. I wrote up my novella and submitted to every epublisher I could think of -- including Ellora's Cave. It was rejected by each and every single one. Frustrated, I buried it deep on my hard drive, determined that it would never see the light of day again.

Fast forward two years later. I had six books under my belt, all with different publishers, but the characters of this story, remained in the back of my mind. Darien in particular wanted me to give him a second chance. When I had a break in between novels, I decided to pull out my old, dusty novella to see if I couldn’t breathe new life into the story.

I didn't realize just how bad it was. My quick polish became extensive rewriting, including adding depth to the characters and plot. After many cups of coffee and even more late nights, Unholy Pursuits was resubmitted to Elloras Cave. This time there was a new editor and well, after all of that rewriting, a new story. She loved it. The rest, as they say, is history.

Here’s the beginning:

They were coming. Arianne King couldn’t see the team of FBI agents, but she felt their presence as surely as she felt the chilly winter air on her skin. She could hear their footsteps crunching on the snow; smell the scent of masculine sweat in the air. Those agents had walked long and hard, pushing through most of the night. Soon they’d reach the clearing, and when they did, she needed to be ready.

Arianne hid behind the bushes and waited. It had snowed hard during the night and lingering flakes still dotted the air and landed on her nose. She brushed them away with her gloved hand. It was early dawn, a time when most sane creatures would still be asleep.

Not her, though. She hadn’t had a nice, normal sleep pattern since she had taken on this assignment over a year ago. What she wouldn’t give to be wrapped up in her warm bed right now instead of hovering on the edge of a clearing on the middle of nowhere…

She reminded herself that this was the life that she chose, not one that was forced upon her. Her sister, the queen, would only be too happy to have her sit beside the throne under protective guard. Arianne was never one to sit idly by, however, especially when her people were suffering.

No, she had defied her royal destiny and trained her entire life for this moment, an opportunity to make a difference, a chance to protect her people. She liked being useful and thrived on the adventure being a royal guard brought to her life.
Where were those agents? Had they stopped to rest? It would be unlike Darien Lange to give them such a luxury. The hot-headed FBI leader was more likely to charge into a situation he knew nothing about than take his time and plan. Stupid male.

Ever since she had started watching his team a year ago, she had been forced to watch his arrogance. He handled his men with the same bravado that brought scores of women into his bed. He was slick, polished. Arianne could see that it was all a façade, why couldn’t others? The man was so handsome, so charming, that everyone seemed to hang on his every word. It was disgusting. This time his hotheadedness was going to get himself and his whole team killed.

Arianne pulled her maroon cloak around her and glanced at the large portal only a few short steps away from where she hid. The enormous gaping hole hovered in the air and swirled with the colors of the rainbow. It called to her, like it always did, for the portal was born from Mother Earth and was the source of her power. She was linked to the gateway. If it was ever destroyed, then she’d be destroyed as well.
Icicles hung down from the surrounding trees, acting like prisms to the light the portal generated. The beams cast the clearing in a soft glow that would have been impressive if the sky was black as midnight and not the soft gray of early morning snow had just started to fall, adding to the untouched white landscape. Everything was calm, peaceful. A sharp contrast to the true danger the portal brought into this world.

Her people, the Iatros, had been guarding it for centuries. Each generation had been successful in keeping the foul creatures of the netherworld from spilling over into Earth and spreading their filth. Now it was her mission to prevent anyone from passing through the portal and to protect it at all costs. She had failed her people once and Bathin had caused great destruction. She couldn’t fail them again.

How Bathin, lord of the deamhans, had managed to focus his power and pass through the portal was nothing short of a miracle. Thankfully, he had only been able to bring one or two of his minions through with him at a time. Heaven help them all if he managed to cross over into Earth with an entire army.

The sharp snap of branches echoed off to her left. Finally, those FBI idiots had arrived.

1 comment:

M. S. Spencer said...

I'm a little late commenting, sorry! Fascinating interview, Susanne--the heroine of 1 of my books is named Rose too--a lovely name except when you're trying to reword "Rose rose from her bed..."
Unholy Cravings. And submit it to my publisher (they're actively looking!) Secret Cravings Publishing--it can't miss! M. S. Spencer