Ancient Women of Power from Collaborating Authors Natalie G. Owens and Zee Monodee

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Please welcome my friends Natalie G. Owens and Zee Monodee. They’re here to talk about their paranormal romance — INESCAPABLE. The fact that they collaborate is as intriguing as the novel, since Zee lives on the island of Mauritius, in the southern Indian Ocean, and Natalie lives on the Mediterranean island of Malta.

1 – What inspired you to write paranormal romance novels?

Nat: I think it was a combination of things. First, there were my favorite shows on TV, most of which involved at least elements of the paranormal, if not having this as the main focus. Second, I always nurtured a love of history, mysteries and everything gothic. It all came to a head when thinking up plot ideas which always seemed to steer me toward writing about magical and supernatural realms.

Zee: I’ve always loved the paranormal. I mean, magic and all that? Magical creatures that can do things that are out of this world? I’ve always had a very active imagination and it’s no surprise that this took me down the ‘magical what if’ route. My forte is characters in a family/relationship setting; Natalie’s is the gothic and horror-style world building. We worked with our strengths and PNR sounded like the perfect bet.

2-  What paranormal movies/shows/books do you like?

Nat: As far as books are concerned, I love the classics, as well as thrillers, mysteries, and romance, sometimes but not always with hints of paranormal. Some favorite writers: Jon Trace, Elizabeth Kostova (The Historian), Amanda Quick (Arcane Society series), Bram Stoker (Dracula), Edgar Allan Poe. TV: I used to be a huge—and I mean huge—fan of the Highlander movies and series when they first came out (kinda tells you how old I am, lol). Today, there’s much fodder for the imagination coming from the small screen—shows like The Dead Zone, Fringe, Charmed, Persons of Interest; these are just a few of my absolute favorites. Movies: Eagle Eye, Wanted, Carrie, Jumper, The Devil’s Advocate, The Shining, Dracula, The Sixth Sense, The Others, Constantine, Sleepy Hollow, From Hell, The Woman in Black, Flatliners…shall I go on? I could… :-).

Zee: LOL. Don’t get me started on Supernatural! I have watched every episode of that show, can quote you lines from every season. We got Season 1 quite late on TV here, so I got addicted rather recently. Then we cancelled satellite and I was left reeling. But a couple years later, my cousin sent me DVDs of the remaining seasons. I watched Seasons 2-6 in 2 weeks. No kidding. I just couldn’t get enough! There’s not just the eye candy in there (Jensen Ackles and my TV husband, Jared Padalecki) but the myths and arcs are absolutely riveting. Natalie and I are going for that same kind of series premise and arc for Eternelles. I was also a die-hard fan of Charmed; I cried during the series finale. A few people who have read Inescapable so far say there’s a huge family/relationship-oriented vibe exactly like in Charmed in the series, combined with the strong female protagonists and the mysterious and yummy heroes. In movies, I love myth-type storylines like Constantine, Legion, The Covenant (pure eye candy there, I’ll admit, lol). But I’m not one for horror, not the haunted house/ghost/evil spirits kind.

And books, there’s Christopher Pike, that I loved as a teen. Grown-up books – I absolutely love Janni Nell’s Allegra Fairweather, Paranormal Investigator series. Sam Cheever’s Tweener series, about a half angel, half demon heroine. Christine Feehan’s Ghostwalker series. I have Nalini Singh, Karen Marie Moning, and Kim Harrison on my TBR pile.

3- Where/when does you novel take place?

Nat: Although our main characters have lived a very long time, the story takes place in present day in the fictional town of Shadow Bridge—totally our fabrication. Or is it?

Zee: Yes, the time period is present day, and the setting is Shadow Bridge. We tried to base the town on an existing locale, but I’d say what came out became our very own, unique world. Imagine any small town America locale in a rural-type county with lots of prairies and open areas. Not cowboy land, though, so not the Midwest. We placed Shadow Bridge on the US East coast, halfway between New York and Washington, DC. Now, like every small town, you have a community there. People who live in apparent harmony, but small tensions lie beneath the surface, nevertheless. Shadow Bridge is all that, and more. It’s a microcosm of the supernatural world, with very few, if any, humans living there. Most of the action takes place in this town, though we have branched to New York in Inescapable, and the next books in the series will travel to the Middle East and Old Europe towns like Budapest and Prague.

4- Tell us a little about the characters and story.

Nat: My character is Sera Dionysios, who is roughly 125 years old.  At least, that’s how long she’s been under Adri’s care—ever since the day she dropped into the older woman’s arms as a baby wrapped in flames. Neither of them burned or came out with a scratch from that experience. Sera’s origins remain mysterious, but it has been deduced she has both phoenix and gypsy blood. Thanks to Rafe Harcourt, she is also part vampyre, or, as she sees herself, part monster.

Sera’s “love” (and “hate”) interest is Rafe Harcourt, a vampyre overlord who is half French and half Saracen. Born in the twelfth century to a mother who’s been shamed among her people, he has a very difficult childhood, until he is taken in and practically raised by an enigmatic Italian man called Virgilio Manera. Eventually, Rafe is turned by Manera. In the early 20th century, Rafe sees Sera and, despite the fact that she’s engaged to another man, his obsession with her grows until he sees no other option but to possess her.…

Zee: Mine are Adrasteia ‘Adri’ Dionysos, and Desmond ‘Des’ Roxburgh.

Adri was born 2,900 years ago in Ancient Greece. She’s the unlikely daughter a human maenad bore for Greek god of wine and revelry, Dionysos. Dionysos would’ve sacrificed her on the altar of his greatness right after her birth, but Zeus stepped in to save her, and raised her as his own on Olympus. But 100 years later, they had a falling out after a pesky family quarrel that involved Ares, Zeus son and Adri’s foster brother. Surviving more than anything as courtesan over the centuries on Earth, she gains new purpose the day a flaming bundle appears in her arms in the stables of her French chateau in 1887. The baby girl becomes her reason to live, and Adri takes this motherhood job a tad too seriously at times…

Des Roxburgh is her love interest. Des is a mysterious creature; the only one of his kind, he admits, though no one knows what that ‘kind’ would be. Adri has suspicions he could be part demon… It turns out he is older than her, even, because he admits to have been there to witness the closing of the portal that sealed Evil behind its doors a long, very long time ago. Why is Des here now, and what does he want? This is what Adri needs to find out, before her treacherous heart surrenders everything she is to him.

In the middle of all this – and Rafe stepping in to ‘claim’ Sera as his – a prophecy is uncovered, and it puts Sera at the heart of a plot to unlock the portal that should never be breached. A race against time starts to keep Evil from winning after being confined for millennia behind that closed door.

5- Needless to say, I’m no stranger to writing with a partner. Tell us about yourselves and your collaboration.

Nat: Zee and I have been friends for a long time, way back when my almost 4-year-old son wasn’t even an idea and her son, who is now 10, was fresh out of diapers. We’ve been through some challenges together, and connected on so many levels. Despite being from different countries and cultures, life as a woman, mother, wife and author was the same for us. Eventually, the suggestion that we should write something together came naturally. I knew Zee’s talent and also, her incredible work ethic. To me, it was a no-brainer. So, one day, we started toying with the idea that became “Eternelles”. It took us about 10 months to create the series bible, character profiles, and the outline of the first “season”, meaning the first three books in the series.

Zee: It does feel like ages, innit? Wow… Yes, the years have passed before we knew it, and every day that came saw our friendship and the sisterly bond between us deepening. It was unbelievable how much we think alike and conceive of a ‘successful’ future in the same terms.

I’ve always loved Natalie’s voice. She has a unique way of writing that brings such beautiful imagery to mind… I’ll shamelessly admit I wanted that kind of strength in one of my works, but poetic voice is not my strength at all. I’m more action and emotions. Then it struck me how the best of both worlds would be to combine our strengths, by co-writing something. At the time, both of us were looking at ambiguous futures with publishers, and Natalie had decided to take the plunge into self-publishing. I wanted that kind of freedom, too. So it was a no-brainer to join forces and self pub our story.

And it was so amazing how much we thought alike – for example, whenever we brainstormed our respective plots, one of us would make a suggestion and the other would find that idea as an extension of her own mind. We just had to exploit such a connection!

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Find INESCAPABLE at:

Amazon US: http://amzn.to/13UwYCw

Amazon UK: http://amzn.to/10yRjt7

Barnes and Noble: http://bit.ly/16JmZV6

Smashwords: http://bit.ly/17zvEHx

Kobo: http://bit.ly/18nTRBV

iBookstore: http://bit.ly/ZMs7nB

Authors Give Back Blog Hop

KindlePaperWhiteThe WG2E Street Team Authors are proud to be a part of Bestselling author Brenda Novak’s Annual Online Auction for Diabetes Research. It’s been going on all month and winds down May 31. Throughout the event they hold special one-day auctions, and the WG2E Street Team Authors donation auction is today, May 28!

Up for grabs is a Kindle Paperwhite ($119. value) that comes pre-loaded with over 40 e-books by WG2E Street Team authors covering a wide range of genres, from suspense, romance, and young adult to fantasy, science fiction, paranormal and horror. Tossed into the package is a cool wall charger. (Total value $259)

This was masterminded by Rhonda Hopkins, whose wonderful Authors Give Back series is something you should definitely check out. She and Greg Carrico decided we ought to make it more fun for our readers with an added Blog Hop and Giveaway of Amazon gift cards and some free e-books. You can check that out here and here.

WG2E Street Team authors involved:  E.C. AdamsMeredith BondFabio BuenoGregory CarricoRhonda Hopkins,  C.C. MacKenzieNana MaloneFaith MoritmerStacey Joy NetzelNatalie OwensD.D. ScottSheila SeabrookLily SilverChristina Teatreault, Kiru Taye,  Tamara Ward  — and of course Alicia & Roy Street 🙂

 

The Gatsby Game—A Real Hollywood Mystery (with a Real Jazz Soundtrack)

To celebrate the new film of The Great Gatsby, and the fact that the F. Scott Fitzgerald classic has claimed the #1 spot on the Amazon Bestseller list (thanks in part to the Stephen Colbert Book Club), my friend Anne R. Allen is hitting the blog trail talking about The Gatsby Game, her super fabulous mystery based not only on Fitzgerald’s book, but on a real-life Gatsby figure from her past.

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Take it away, Anne . . .

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We’ve been hearing about the upcoming Leo DiCaprio film of The Great Gatsby for what seems like forever, but finally it’s making its debut this month.

http://abcnews.go.com/GMA/video/great-gatsby-sneak-peek-trailer-gma-exclusive-18875523

I’m definitely going to see it when it makes its way to the Central Coast of California, since the book inspired my own novel The Gatsby Game. But I’m not sure I’m going to love it. I can’t figure out why the producers decided to make the greatest novel of the Jazz Age into a film with…no jazz.

Apparently it’s going to have a hip-hop soundtrack produced by Jay-Z.  All props to Mr. Z, but I’m afraid his music isn’t likely to convey the elegant sophistication of Gatsby’s era.

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When I wrote my own book about my Gatsby-obsessed anti-hero, Alistair Milbourne, I often listened to big band jazz to brainstorm plot ideas.

Alistair is a charming, self-destructive loser who tries to live as if he’s a character in an F. Scott Fitzgerald novel. Although the story is set in the 1970s, Alistair inhabits his own private, imaginary Jazz Age.

Alistair was inspired by David Whiting, a man I knew in college—who died mysteriously on the set of the Burt Reynolds movie, the Man Who Loved Cat Dancing. It sparked an international scandal that’s been called one of the “10 Most Notorious Sex Scandals in Hollywood History.”

http://www.nerve.com/entertainment/2009/10/12/top-10-most-notorious-sex-scandals-in-hollywood-history?page=3

The mystery of David’s death has never been solved, but I’ve always had a theory of how it might have happened.

The only thing I have from David is a note he left in my college dorm room. It says, “While you were out, you had a visitor…wearing spats, and a straw boater, perhaps, and humming a Cole Porter tune…maybe the ghost of Jay Gatsby?” That note plays an important part in the book’s plot.

I ran across it when I was cleaning out papers a couple of years ago. It brought a vivid memory of David. He was always humming those tunes—so completely anachronistic in the days of psychedelic rock and roll. As I read it, David’s image came to me in perfect clarity—with all his theatrical charm, narcissism, and the tragic pain that always showed just under the surface.

That was when I knew I had to write his story—and listening to Cole Porter helped me keep in touch with the memories—especially the iconic Ella Fitzgerald recording of the Cole Porter songbook from 1956.

The music itself appears in several scenes in my book. When the narrator, Nicky Conway (yeah, a little homage to Fitzgerald’s Nick Carroway there) first meets Alistair, she finds him charming but evasive. He’s constantly bursting into song to avoid conversation. As he drives her away from her Bryn Mawr dorm to who-knows-where, he responds to each of her questions by singing another line from You’re the Top—appearing to compliment her while he’s bullying her into silence.

Later, when she introduces him to her über-wealthy relatives, she finds Alistair romancing her (very married) aunt to the tune of Begin the Beguine. Throughout the story, Nicky is never quite sure how much Beguining Alistair gets up to with her aunt—and/or if some Beguining is going on with her uncle as well.

Alistair often retreats into silliness, using clever puns and wordplay to avoid real communication. I imagine him as one of the “silly gigolos” Cole Porter talks about in Anything Goes. I could also imagine Alistair responding to Nicky’s pleas for more intimacy with the line from It’s Too Darn Hot:  “Mr. Pants, for romance, with his cutie pie, is not.”

As I played that 1950s recording, I realized it might have been a favorite of Alistair’s mother, whom I imagined as a kind of high-class hooker. Alistair’s primary relationship is always his love/hate enmeshment with his mother—whom he calls “the Gorgon.”

She made him into her surrogate partner whenever she was between “employers,” which is why he dresses and behaves like a member of her generation instead of his own. The rest of the time, she abandoned him in expensive boarding schools where he rubbed elbows with the children of the glittering ultra-rich that Fitzgerald and Cole Porter wrote about—perhaps triggering Alistair’s compulsive social climbing.

In the end, the Gorgon doesn’t even pay for Alistair’s funeral—as David’s mother did not—and he becomes a tragic figure in spite of the whimsical persona he invented for himself.

The honest, direct perfection of Ella Fitzgerald’s voice combined with Cole Porter’s lyrics convey to me that same tragicomic reality.

Somehow I don’t think songs like Jay Z-‘s “I love girls, girls, girls” will express that same subtle ambiguity.

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I totally agree, Anne! I can’t imagine The Great Gatsby without the wonderful music of that era. I have the collection of Ella singing Cole, too, and it’s one of my favorite CDs.

The Gatsby Game is available in ebook from Amazon US or Amazon UK on Barnes and Noble for NOOK, and Kobo and in paper in the US and the UK.

Until the end of May, it will be on sale for 99c for Nook and Kindle!

Anne R. Allen is the author of six comic mysteries and a nonfiction guide for authors co-written with Catherine Ryan Hyde. Anne blogs with NYT bestselling author, Ruth Harris at http://annerallen.blogspot.com. Their blog was named one of Writers Digest’s Best 101 Websites for Writers for 2012.