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Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Welcome Author Madeleine Drake...(Giveaway today)

*Ms. Drake is giving away a copy of her book Faery's Bargain today. Please comment to enter the drawing.*


Hi, Brynna and You Gotta Read fans!  Thanks for the opportunity to stop by and chat with you today.

Where do you hail from? What do you love most about your hometown?

I grew up in northern California, in what is now wine country.  Back then, though, it was more apples than grapes.  I love the gentle, rolling hills, something that you don't get in the part of Texas where I'm living now.

How has your environment/upbringing colored your writing?

When I was four, my parents decided to buy a house out in the boonies.  My Dad grew up on a small farm in Idaho, and although he'd worked hard to become a pilot, he still loved that rural lifestyle.  We had no neighbors in walking distance with kids for me to play with -- it was just my two brothers and me.  Cable wasn't available in the area, and our TV reception was so bad that we only got three channels when the weather was good.  We would get flooded in and lose electricity every winter, which meant doing homework by kerosene lamp and eating whatever mom could cook on the top of our cast-iron stove. 

But our back yard was part of a redwood forest and our front yard was a small apple orchard, and because my Dad was an avid reader, we had a house full of books.  I spent about half of my childhood reading stories, and the other half tromping around in the woods, making up stories and telling them to our dog, who was a very good listener.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up? How has that childhood dream affected your current career?

President, an astronaut, and a writer.  I'm a little behind schedule on "President" and "astronaut" -- "writer" has taken a bit more work than I'd envisioned at the age of six.  But one out of three's not bad, eh? 

What do you do for fun?

Go for walks with my husband, garden, and read about things that happened anywhere between the extinction of the Neanderthals and the fall of Rome.

Tell us about your latest book.  Do you have anything new in the works and can you tell us a bit about it?

My latest release is Faery's Bargain, a short story about a young witch, Tara, who needs a magic herb to save her nephew’s life.  Sidhe warrior Kane has what Tara needs, but he requires her help casting a spell to banish a demon. The catch--as a follower of the Morrigan, Kane can only perform sex magic and death magic.  It's erotic urban fantasy, and it's the first in a series that draws heavily on Irish myth.

I've just started working on the sequel to Blood Hero, in which Cuno will be lured into trouble by an attractive young woman who will discover his closely-guarded secret.  Blood Hero 2: Hound in Chains will also include a trip to Ishtar's temple in Babylon and a touch of bondage.

How did you come up with the title for your book(s)?

For Faery's Bargain, I made a list of elements in the story:  faery, witch, sex magic, ley line, bargain, warrior, portal, etc.  I also tried to come up with every synonym I could think of for these elements.

Once I had that list, I started brainstorming titles based on each story element.  I had about forty titles by the time I was done with that, and I sent the half-dozen I liked best to my critique partners, to see how they responded to each one.

Have you ever used contemporary events or stories “ripped from the headlines” in your work?

Not directly.  Everything that I read about is potential inspiration for a story, but by the time I've developed that inspiration into a plot, it doesn't bear much resemblance to that initial idea or situation that sparked it.

How much of your work is real? How much is fantasy?

Since I'm writing paranormal romance, most of the story itself is fantasy, but I try to make the characters and their emotions as real as possible. 

Is there anything you find particularly challenging about writing?

I have more stories than I have time to write.  :)  I wish I could delegate sleeping to someone else so I could have a second workday.

What advice would you give to writers just starting out?

Write a lot.  Study craft.  Revise, based on all the great new things you learned about craft.  Send your revised work out and write some more.  Repeat this cycle until you're ready to retire from writing.  :) 

Do you ever suffer from writer's block? If so, what do you do about it?

For me, writer's block usually turns out to be a euphemism for "I didn't think the story through before I started writing."  When I get stuck, I always go back to my notes and my brainstorming questions, to clarify what the story is about, what the characters want and why I wanted to write it in the first place.  When I have the underpinnings of the story clear in my mind, the words flow.  When I'm vague on the point of the story, the words disappear.

Who is your favorite author and why? What books have most influenced your life?

Such a hard question, asking me to pick one author!  C.J. Cherryh, for her amazingly elegant prose and her well-built worlds.  Lilith Saintcrow, for her ability to tear me up emotionally and her use of myth and occult lore.  Jim Butcher, for being an amazing storyteller who continues to top himself with every new Dresden book. 

Books that have influenced my life, that's even harder to choose.  I read a lot of Asimov and Heinlein when I first discovered science fiction, and both authors pushed me to re-examine my understanding of human nature.
 
Reading Plato's dialogues in junior high motivated me to study critical thinking and symbolic logic in high school and college--seeing Socrates point out other characters' fallacies and mistaken conclusions made me wonder what snarls there might be in my own thinking. 

Mercedes Lackey's Children of the Night was the first urban fantasy novel that I read--well, the first one that had the noir atmosphere and all the other elements we now associate with this genre.  It completely turned me on to stories where magic is integrated into a contemporary setting. 

How did you deal with rejection letters?

First, I eat a square of dark chocolate. 

Second, I share whatever feedback I received with my critique partners, because they often have a better (less devastated) perspective on that feedback than I do.  They help me decide if the story needs revision, and what to revise.
 
Third, I send the revised story out again.  And again.  And again.  Until it gets accepted.

I also keep a file of comments that I've received in rejection letters--the comments that identify craft issues I need to work on.  When I see someone offering a class that focuses on one of those issues, I take it.

What tools do you feel are must-haves for writers?

1.  Dictionary
2.  Thesaurus
3.  Computer with internet connection (for submitting and promoting completed stories)
4.  The willpower to ignore the internet when it's time to write

Everything else depends on your process.  I switch between laptop and pen/paper all the time.  I write at home and I write in cafes and at the library.  I write on my cell phone, if inspiration strikes and that's all I have on me.  Sometimes I listen to music on my MP3 player and sometimes I need silence to get the words out.  Sometimes I have to eat a high-protein meal before I can be productive and other days I forget to eat breakfast and lunch because I'm on a roll and I don't want to stop writing yet. 
The only way to find out what you personally need is to try different things and see how they work--and depending on your circumstances, what you need can change from day to day.

Where do you as an author draw the line on gory descriptions and/or erotic content?

I look at gore and erotic content in terms of how they drive the story forward, same as I look at any other story element.  Would the characters focus on the gore?  Would the characters be thinking about sex (or having it) in their current situation?  If you know what kind of story you're trying to tell and you know who your characters are, you can use that as a guide for how much gore or sex to put in.

I also try to remember that a little sex and death can go a long way.  Often, you make a bigger impression emotionally on the reader with one vivid detail or metaphor than with a page of in-depth description. 

Do you ever research real events, legends, or myths to get ideas?

Most of my ideas come from reading about history and mythology.  I usually start with a legend or an era that interests me, and I read until I find a supernatural element I want to write about.  The characters and the story all arise out of that research.

Which is your favorite of the books you have written?

I like different things about each of them.  Kane and Tara (Faery's Bargain) have an intense sexual chemistry, but each of them has difficulty giving up control to another person.  Rihat and Iltani (Blood Hero) respect each other as individuals, but they've also got cultural prejudices that they have to overcome before they'll be able to admit they love each other.  Joe and Kalli (First Date) are a perfect match, but neither of them thinks they're good enough for the other one.

What's the weirdest thing you've ever done in the name of research?

I read someone's thesis on adjectives and adverbs used to describe the Sumerian netherworld for an urban fantasy novel (currently in revision).  I don't know if that's weird, but one of my critique partners thought it was nuts.  :)

Where can we find you on the net?


Where can we find out more about your books?

I have a newsletter, and I keep up with fans through Facebook, Myspace, and Twitter.  (Newsletter signup and other contact links can be found at www.madeleinedrake.com.)  Please stop by and say hi!

You can also find my books through the publishers' websites:

Blood Hero, available from Excessica:  http://tinyurl.com/237ktf7
Faery's Bargain, available from Cobblestone Press:  http://tinyurl.com/23rnpt6
First Date, available from All Romance Ebooks (in Just One Bite, vol. 3):  http://tinyurl.com/22wqcva

Leave a comment and be entered to win a copy of Faery's Bargain, first book in the Tribes of Danu series by Madeleine Drake.

Madeleine Drake writes feisty, fast-paced paranormal romance and erotica that spans the space-time continuum.  Raised by a pride of cats, a friendly mutt, and the Sonoma County library system, she loves to read about ancient history and mythology, anthropology, gender roles, and sexual archetypes.  Her current releases include Blood Hero (Excessica, 7/9/10) and Faery's Bargain (Cobblestone Press, 10/8/10), and her short story First Date appears in the Just One Bite, Vol. 3 anthology (All Romance Ebooks, 11/25/10). 

Her homeworld is located out past the constellation Orion, but she currently resides in Texas.  You can find her online at www.madeleinedrake.com.

Faery's Bargain

A witch gets more than she bargains for
when she lends her magic to a sexy Fae warrior

Tara's witchcraft has failed to save her naga-bitten nephew: the only cure is a rare Faery herb, impossible for a human to obtain.

Kane, a warrior of the Morrigan tribe, is bound to a baigh-duil.  He needs a witch to help him send the soul-devouring monster back to its own realm, and he's willing to bargain.

It seems like a fair trade -- the herb for help with a single spell.  But what will Tara do when she realizes Kane can only perform sex magic and death magic?

Excerpt:

First time in a thousand years the oracle's been wrong, and it's my question she blows.  Kane glowered at the occult shop across the street -- a refurbished Victorian painted lemon-drop yellow and trimmed in white, with all the hand-carved flourishes picked out in gilt.  Its windows swarmed with faceted crystals that sparkled like drunken pixies in the San Francisco sunlight.

It was too damned cheerful for a woman reputed to have faced down a naga in its own lair.

He stomped down his frustration, focusing on the cool air against his face and the scents of the ocean and car exhaust.  The witch inside that candy house might not be the one he sought, but Kane had to admit she was skilled for a human.  He could feel the thick, electric buzz of her wards even from across the street.  She'd layered the shielding into the walls and powered it with the ley line that ran right beneath the building.  Clever, but also dangerous.  Tapping straight into the line for spell-work was like drinking from a fire hose.  It required excruciating precision to siphon off just the amount you needed without drowning and heroic strength of will to resist the temptation to drink too deep.  Kane had seen a mage lose control of a ley line in mid-spell once.  The mage had suffered an agonizing death, and the damage wreaked by the botched spell had taken weeks to clean up.

Pain seared through him.  The amulet tucked under his shirt flared hot against his skin, its fiery glow visible through the fabric.  He hissed out a cantrip, repeating the chant until the pain dulled and the amulet cooled.  I won't be able to maintain the binding much longer.

If the witch in the lemon-drop house couldn't help him, he was dead.

* * * * *

Time-yellowed pages slithered against each other as Tara folded the grimoire closed, letting her fingers explore the arcane symbols embossed on the cracked leather cover.  Another ancient tome, another chunk out of her rapidly dwindling savings, another dead end.  Meanwhile, Jimi continued to weaken under the care of his confused doctors.  She didn't blame them, of course. Even if she could make them believe her, what could they do?  My nephew was bitten by a half-man, half-snake monster straight out of Hindu mythology.  What do you mean you don't have the right anti-venin?

Even more frustrating, she'd found a cure for the naga's poison -- crith-siol, a plant rumored to be cultivated by the Tribes of the Fae -- but it had proven impossible to get.  For the last three months, she'd scoured book after book, hoping to find a substitute for the faery herb.  As she searched, Jimi grew weaker.  Tara had snatched the boy out of the naga's coils before the monster could eat him, but she hadn't saved him.  She'd merely postponed the inevitable, and now she could do nothing but watch her nephew deteriorate, his body shutting down one system at a time.  The last doctor had given Jimi a couple of months more, at best.

I wish Gran was alive. Gran would have found a cure by now. Or she'd have found a way to get the crith-siol, no matter what it cost.

Gran wouldn't have let Jimi get caught by the naga in the first place.

The brassy jangle of bells signaled the arrival of a customer.  The jangle was cut short by a loud thump and a metallic crash -- the front door slamming shut.  An impatient customer.  Tara sighed, caught between irritation at the interruption and guilty relief for the distraction.  She stepped into the front room of her shop.

The man in the black leather duster frowned at a rack of hand-crafted candles as if he found the colorful cylinders of beeswax offensive.  He was tall, dark, and too beautiful to be called handsome.  His long black hair was pulled back into a sleek braid, the severity of the hairstyle contrasting with the sensual planes of his face -- sloping cheekbones, amber-brown eyes under upswept brows, and a wide, full-lipped mouth over a strong chin.  He was the sexiest man she'd met in ages, and if the humming in her head was any indication, a powerful mage.  That delicious hum reverberated down her spine, lighting up her nerves as it went.

He looked up, and his frown evaporated in the flash-fire of another emotion -- something so intense it made Tara want to squirm.

Can I help you? she meant to ask.  But when she opened her mouth, what came out was, "Mine."

Horrified, she barely managed to stop herself from clapping her hand over her mouth.  Mine?  Where did that come from?  It had been a long time since she'd dated, but was she so lonely that the mere presence of an attractive man was enough to scramble her brains?

Apparently so.

The corner of his mouth twitched as if he were fighting the urge to laugh.

Tara flushed.  "I mean, I make them.  The candles."

He licked his lips, a deliberate, sensual motion, and Tara found herself mirroring the action before she could stop herself.  What's wrong with me?

"Um."  She cleared her throat and tried again.  "Can I help you?"

The stranger smiled.  "I believe you can, Bandraoi."

* * * * *

The oracle had been right after all.  The witch's aura had responded to him at once, flaring in intoxicating reds and purples the moment she'd emerged from the back room.  Her eyes widened with surprise, and the power he sensed sleeping within her stirred, brushing against his aura like a curious cat.  He fisted his hands against the near-overwhelming urge to reach out and pet her.  She had a touch of the Tribes in her.  His body's reaction to it was sharper than a knife to the heart and hotter than a Beltane bonfire.  It was like his first fight and his first orgasm squeezed into one frenzied moment.

His witch was short and curvy, and she'd wrapped her luscious figure in a clingy black dress that emphasized her hourglass shape.  When she pursed her lips, his cock expanded as his imagination burst open, spilling one wicked fantasy after another into his brain.  He pictured her moss-green eyes half-shut with delight, sweat gleaming on her skin, while her wavy gold hair clung to her bare shoulders.  He imagined all that power crackling through him as she trembled in the throes of it, her silken voice raw with ardor.

She'd sensed the rousing of her Fae nature; he could tell by the slight quiver of her shoulders, the heat that bled over her cheeks, the pink tip of her tongue wetting her bottom lip.  She was perfect -- except for the wariness that glimmered across her face when he'd addressed her by her proper title. Surely she knew Bandraoi was a term of respect among the Tribes?  Or hadn't she recognized him for what he was yet?

* * * * *

Available from Cobblestone Press: 

26 comments:

stacey said...

sounds like a Great Read.I would love to read it and Get to know your books.looks like it could be a Very hot story.
sasluvbooks(at)yahoo.com

Madeleine Drake said...

Thanks for stopping by to check it out, Stacey! Faery's Bargain is erotic urban fantasy, so it's very hot. :)

Stephanie said...

Terrific Interview Ladies! Thanks for sharing :D

Karin said...

Interesting interview. I loved your comments about dealing with rejection. The excerpt is great and has me wanting more.

Marissa MacFae said...

Hi Madeleine,

Nice interview. Looks like this is gonna a fantastic read, can't wait to see more...I just love reading and writing about the Fae. :)

~Blessings, Mari
(Melissa M. w/a Marissa MacFae)
celticdreamerfaery@hotmail.com

Moonsanity said...

Thank you so much for such informatative answers. After writing nonfiction for 20 years I'm finding out it's an entirely different process writing fiction and it helps to hear how other writers approach things. I grew up on an 80 acres farm, in a very small town. I read everything I could just like you did, and took long walks that seemed like hikes. LOL I still love reading and would rather read a good book than watch television.

Madeleine said...

Thanks for stopping by, Stephanie. :)

Madeleine said...

Thanks, Karin! If only there was a way to not care when those form letters come back...what's your favorite way to deal with rejection?

Madeleine said...

Hi, Marissa! What's your favorite Fae book? I just started reading Justina Robson's "Keeping It Real," a futuristic in which the Fae are inhabitants of another dimension (as are demons, elves, etc) that's recently been connected to Earth thanks to an accident with a supercollider.

Madeleine said...

Moonsanity, it sounds like we had similar childhoods. :) I also was a technical writer for 15+ years before I started writing fiction seriously, and I also found it difficult to make the jump. Back then I had a four-hour round trip commute 5 days a week, and I would bring a craft book with me to read on the bus in the morning. In the evening, as I rode home, I'd work on my current story. Boy, was I pooped by the time I finally made it home! But I needed to put in the effort to get a handle on the techniques of fiction. What genre are you writing in?

Moonsanity said...

I'm writing paranormal romance, and I have two paranormal YA WIPs too. I work at home-- have for 17 years now. I owned a website for over 10 years, sold it, and I've been freelancing home and garden articles while working on the fiction. It's exciting, but very different. I love taking the stories in my head and putting them on paper:)

Kaualoku said...

Aloha Madeleine! Great seeing you again! Loved the Interview and the preview into your book, can't wait to read it!

total3itch@yahoo.com or popoki.livsey@gmail/com

Mahalo!

Alan said...

Madeleine - anyone raised by a pack of cats must be a great author! 8^) Your story looks very intriguing.

darkreader said...

This book sounds like a great read!! Witches & Fae oh my!
Great interview!

Madeleine said...

Wow, Moonsanity, you have my admiration. Making a living by freelancing articles is a lot of work. Best wishes on your paranormal WIPs!

Madeleine said...

Hey, Kaualoku! How are you doing? And what is the Christmas weather like there? I'm in TX, and yesterday it was so warm and muggy that you'd have thought it was spring.

Madeleine said...

Hi, Alan! Yes, I always do what the kitties tell me, and it always works out for the best. :)

Madeleine said...

Thanks, Darkreader! What's your favorite witch story? I'm particularly fond of Kimberly Frost's Southern Witch series...Tammy Jo is a hoot, and Bryn is to-die-for sexy. ;)

hotcha12 said...

HI MADDY, AM I TOO LATE? THE EXCERPT WAS AWESOME NOW I GOTTA READ IT!

lindarb49@hotmail.com

Madeleine Drake said...

Hi, Linda! I'm glad you liked the excerpt, and no, it's not too late. :) Thanks for stopping by!

SiNn said...

ive been wanting to read this forever now count me in I loveee that cover great post the excerpt rocked


mortalsinn@yahoo.com

Vipver, VoV MC said...

Great interview. Book looks interesting, have never read this type before. Will have to give it a try. Merry Christmas

Madeleine Drake said...

SiNn, I'm glad you enjoyed the excerpt; hope you enjoy the rest of it. :)

Madeleine Drake said...

Hi, Vipver! Merry Christmas to you too, and thanks for stopping by to take a peek!

Madeleine Drake said...

With the help of random.org, I drew Karin's name as the winner of Faery's Bargain! Karin, please email me at maddydrake AT gmail DOT com.

Thank you, everyone, for stopping by to chat with me. It was great to hear from all of you. Wishing you a happy holiday and a wonderful year in 2011!

-Maddy

Karin said...

Thanks, Maddy! I hope everyone had a good holiday!