Georgia, what made you decide to try and be a published author?
I’ve always wanted to be published. I think the dream really solidified for me when I won a regional writing contest for high school students. I entered the contest only because my English teacher insisted all her students had to enter. But when she called me up to tell me I had won, and that I was the first student from my school to have ever done so, I knew. I didn’t, couldn’t, keep my stories to myself. I needed to share them. Still, making the leap from short stories to full length books was difficult. Once I became pregnant and got married, taking care of my family and working a full time job to support them took up all of my time. I shelved my dream, rarely wrote at all, at least on paper, and yet I wished.
Then I went back to school to get my Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration. At the time, I had just lost my mother, and I was thinking more along the lines of furthering myself in the banking world. But while on the surface I believed this, I realized one day I had never really considered my job in banking as a step in a career. Yes, I was a supervisor, yes I did my job well enough that my boss was impressed and wanted me to advance. But the more I thought about it, the more I just could not see myself as a member of senior management. (I still got my degree, by the way. I am a firm believer in being practical and keeping my options open. After all, I could be the only person who thinks I can write. And I haven’t quit my day job.)
When the financial crisis hit, and food and gas prices continued to rise, I found myself faced with the very real fact that my salary alone wasn’t going to cut it for much longer. I knew I would need another source of income. Having just completed college, I now had the discipline to write. So I sat down one day and started An Unlikely Place, and before I even finished, I was sending queries out. I landed a publishing contract and I haven’t looked back. That is not to say it hasn’t been difficult. Because I am so new to the scene, I’m a virtual unknown and that has been very challenging.
(Starla) It takes time to become “known” to readers today and a lot of promotion. Writing is something you have to like to do or feel compelled to do. Most of us can’t focus on being the next bestselling author, but we write because we choose to do so and, hopefully, eventually can make money from our efforts.
Can you share something that might surprise your readers?
I am not that well read in my genres. I imagine that surprises a lot of people. But I’m not. Oh, that is not to say I don’t read, but I used to be very picky about what I preferred. If I didn’t like the author’s style, if the story was not just exactly what I was looking for, I would overlook it. Then for a long period of time, I rarely spent money on new books. When the reading bug bit, I simply re-read what I already owned. Then the Kindle burst on the scene and since then I’ve tried to be more broad minded, but I get asked if I’ve read this romance author or that fantasy book, and I often have to regretfully shake my head in denial. It’s something I’m making a sincere effort to change.
I imagine that people believe a romance author is perfectly comfortable with their sexuality. Especially if that author writes erotic scenes. But intimacy is something I have long struggled with. Being raised in a Catholic environment, and constantly hearing my friends and co-workers and family talk about how gross oral sex is, and that decent women don’t do those sorts of things, I’ve often been inhibited. It took me a long time to get past the guilt I would experience when I read or watched an erotic romance scene and responded to it. Even when my husband and I experimented, I could not always throw myself freely into the moment and that has caused problems in my marriage. (To be completely honest, I struggled for quite awhile even revealing this aspect of myself here.)
I think a lot of women struggle with this. I believe it is one of the reasons romances are so popular. Having the chance to explore that aspect of ourselves and to delve into the forbidden can be very intoxicating. Especially when we are unable to do so otherwise. Granted, people are a lot more open now than they used to be, and we’ve all heard the debate as to whether that is a good thing or not. But I believe it is. For far too long, we have faced a double standard in our society, where men are praised for their sexual prowess and women are condemned. Being comfortable with our sexuality is important to having a healthy emotional relationship. And that is as true for men as it is for women.
(Starla) I’ve been writing very sensual romance for a number of years and have finally stepped even further into erotic romance. Each of us has a different comfort zone concerning all the many facets of intimacy. And learning to write erotic romance is like any other sub-genre, it takes digging deep into yourself and research.
What do you love about writing? Hate about it?
I love the act of creation, of imagining a new world, with new characters, and the infinite possibilities they face. And no genre is as versatile as romance. No matter what genre you delve into, be it mysteries, or horror, or fantasy, or science fiction, the romance is there. The possibility for it exists. For me, fantasy and science fiction are untapped potential for the exploration and expansion of romantic fiction. With the sudden and unprecedented popularity of stories like Twilight, I know that the next generation of readers are looking for something fresh, something new, something never seen before. Fantasy, paranormal, and science fiction can give them that.
What do I hate about writing? What comes next. Not in the sense of what comes next in the story. No, it is facing the daunting task of getting heard. Getting people to look at the story, and then be tempted to pick it up. I hate what comes after the story is finished and I actually have to get it sold. I want, I need, to write. But I am overwhelmed with the enormity of self-promotion. Because I don’t just want to be a writer, or a published writer. I want to be a successful published writer.
However, if I dislike what comes after a story is finished, I see it as a challenge I must overcome. I will continue to write. I will continue to attend readings and hold signings, and I will blog and tweet and mention my book to anyone who shows the slightest interest. It will take time and I will succeed. If I believe anything else, I will fail.
(Starla) Determination, perseverance…the driving forces of a published author.
Where do you find inspiration for your stories?
I recently gave an interview on a local radio station here, promoting Roswell’s UFO Festival, which I am participating in as an author. This very question was asked, and taken by surprise, I stumbled over my answer. Having had plenty of time to reconsider it, this is how I get my inspiration.
First from life, from news stories and science programs, from personal experiences and from the people I meet. I also get my inspiration from books and movies and articles. I gain inspiration from looking up at the stars on a clear, cloudless night, and from sitting outside on warm day. I gain inspiration from places I’ve been and places I’ve only heard about. And I get inspired by the music I listen to.
Finally, I became inspired to write a science fiction romance from the growth of one simple desire. I love to read fantasy. I love to read science fiction. And I love to read romance. But I wanted more romance in my science fiction and fantasy. And since I couldn’t find it anywhere else, I decided I would write it myself.
When do you get your best story ideas?
In the morning after I wake up from a really good dream. (wink, wink) Right before I go to sleep, which can be frustrating because I don’t always remember them when I wake up. Unless of course the story idea evolves into a really good dream. And driving in my car on the way to work. I face a twenty minute commute, not a horrendous thing by any means, but it does give me some time that is disconnected from anything else I am doing.
What do you come up with first in starting a story: Title? Characters? Plot? Setting? Conflict?
That depends entirely on the story itself. Most often however, a story often begins with the imagining of a scene, with at least one of my main characters. The scene may never make it into the story, but it is what lets me begin. So I would have to say that I first create my characters, and then my setting, and then the story flows from there.
(Starla) It is always interesting to read the various ways authors write. I’m basically a panster (see a previous blog post from Laurie Sanders). I create my title first, weird, huh? Then my characters start appearing in my head and after that the basic storyline.
How do you promote your books and yourself as an author?
Ah, the hundred, million dollar question. How do I promote myself and my work? This has been the single most challenging aspect of becoming a published author. I have two blogs, a twitter account, and a Facebook fan page. And yet, very few seem to see it. I have expanded out to Goodreads and joined forums such Romance Divas, and then I have begun guest blogging. Starla has been very kind to allow me a chance to come on her blog to promote myself and I hope to return that favor hundreds of times over. And I have started to hold readings and signings, the UFO Festival being the first and biggest. But it is so hard.
So if anyone reading this interview has any advice to give, I will gladly take it. I can use all the help I can get. Believe me, sales haven’t been good. (Or maybe only I think I can write, ha ha!)
(Starla) I think most authors understand the amount of serious work it takes to promote our books. In truth, I think the promotion part of being a writer is far harder than actually writing a book. Hang in there and keep playing the promotion game. Eventually it does pay off.
Now let’s talk about your book An Unlikely Place…
Length: Novel, 300 pages
Publisher: Strategic Book Publishing
Buy Link: Amazon
Released: March 29, 2011
What do you consider unique about this book?
This is a love story. It is a romance between an alien and a human. But unlike other romances featuring aliens and humans, it really explores the differences between the two species. Ekoshens and Oshairans might look human on the surface, but when they choose their mates, they imbue their chosen with a chemical that alters the DNA of the other, so that they are compatible, physically. And they link their minds together, sharing everything. For Tamryn, my very human heroine, the process is frightening and painful and nearly kills her. And while she is hopelessly in love with Tal, my very Ekoshen hero, Tamryn must overcome her fears, her fear of sharing and possibly loosing herself to it, and she must overcome her irrational belief that Tal cannot love her because she is human. And this story touches on the prejudices that cause people to view anything different as evil and tainted. When I wrote an Unlikely Place, I really wanted to give the reader a sense of the truth of how we, as a species, would probably react if we were faced with alien/human relationships.
(Starla) The story sounds intriguing and I grew up reading science fiction, so I will be buying this book. The reviews quoted on your website show that quite a few people are excited about the book.
Do you have a favorite character in this book?
That’s a hard question to answer. I have a fondness for all my characters, even the bad ones. But in all honesty, I would have to say Tal. He is beautiful and strong, curious and smart, and very considerate. But he is also passionate and fierce, and will fight for those he loves with a single-minded intensity. He is sensual and gentle and proud. I would have to say that I’m just a little bit in love Tal myself.
Do you have a favorite scene?
Again, I have many favorites. But I would have to say the scene I like the most is the Ekoshen marriage rite, where Tamryn is fully bonded to Tal. This is the scene where she first touches his mind fully, and describes the resulting tumultuous responses she has. And I love the romance of it. Tamryn is waiting for Tal and then he walks into the room and all she can see is him. Their eyes meet and he takes her breath away. And then he breaks the intensity of the moment with humor. You have to love him. And you can see why Tamryn does. This scene is very intense and fast paced and almost over too soon.
Will there be any sequels to this book?
At the time I wrote it, I wasn’t really considering a sequel. And that will be evident in the ending. However, from the amount of feedback I’ve been getting from those who have read the book, there seems to be a lot of interest in seeing the story continued. And I certainly wouldn’t mind taking another journey with my Tal. So there will be a sequel. It is very early in the planning stages and so I don’t yet have anything to offer in terms of what it will be about. But rest assured, Tal and Tamryn, Lyeria and Aleria, and even Becca will be in it, along with a whole new bunch of bad guys. Cause you gotta have a bad guy…
In a galaxy where human life is dear and youth is valued over age, Tamryn finds herself alone, an exile on a dying world. She mourns her lost husband and child and watches her fellow exiles rail uselessly against those who cast them away. But when Tal-Malye, an Oshairan/Ekoshen half breed, wanders across her path, she senses a change to her future. When his Oshairan sister gives the human exiles hope, Tamryn begins to believe in life again.
Tamryn is drawn to Tal, attracted to his beauty and the strangeness of his nature. But she does not believe he returns her desire. She cannot shake her yearning for him, and when passion unexpectedly flares, they have no choice but to complete an Oshairan/Ekoshen marriage rite. While Tamryn struggles with her decision, knowing Tal will never love her, she discovers passion with an alien is far more dangerous than she ever imagined…
Join Tamryn as she journeys into the unknown, facing the violence of dangerous fanatics and the power of Ekoshen desire. Experience the wonder of voyaging across lands both bleak and beautiful, as Tamryn explores the depths of what it means to belong to Tal and finds love in An Unlikely Place… his heart.
I was lured slowly from formless and terrifying dreams, where I was left in darkness. I was screaming for someone to hear me, find me, and take me away. But no one came. The terror faded as I became aware of a voiceless song echoing through the shadows around me. It was hauntingly familiar and I tried to follow as it moved through the darkness. I awakened further, but I still hovered on the edges of sleep, too peaceful to move.
I concentrated on the singing and after awhile I followed it to my redwood tree, which shone softly. I saw Tal sitting at its base, his back against the hard, unyielding bark with a strange, gleaming flute in his hands. He held it to his mouth and blew, and more of the beautiful, soundless notes surrounded me. I’m dreaming, I thought and moved closer to him. His eyes smiled at me with amusement and admiration as he sent wild, mesmerizing notes into the air. Longing stole my breath and made my heart beat out of my chest. The desire to touch his hard body, to press my lips against his, and to straddle his legs to sink onto his hard, throbbing shaft overwhelmed me. If this is a dream…
I moved forward, hitching the edges of a thin, silky dress up my thighs as I walked. Tal watched without moving, still playing the flute. The melody changed into a resonance that scorched my blood and skin. I walked straight towards him, doing just as I imagined doing a dozen different times. I bestrode him and sank onto his lap, so that my knees pressed against his waist. He lowered the flute and I bent over, grabbing his beautiful face with my hands and pressing my lips to his. They yielded to the questing force of my passion, and I ran my tongue along his mouth. His wild and tangy scent slipped inside my senses. He stiffened slightly and then suddenly relaxed, while the tree grew warm and bright behind him. Then he was kissing me back, his tongue reaching out to touch mine. It scalded my lips and slid between my teeth like sweet wine. I pressed closer my hands on either side of his face. My breath rushed loudly, echoing his.
Suddenly he had his hands on my shoulders. His long fingers splayed across my bare skin where the straps of the dress fell aside to reveal the column of my neck and collarbone. He pressed me backwards towards the damp, yielding grass. I submitted, still kissing him wildly, passionately. I felt cool earth and smelled the dank odor of decaying leaves. Overpowering it all was the wild musk of Tal’s scent. My dress hitched higher and Tal’s hand was on the warm skin of my thigh, burning me. I finally broke the kiss, my head falling back to reveal my white throat to his exploring mouth and tongue. His hand wreaked havoc on my senses as it roamed ever higher and so slowly. It was sweet torture, what he was doing, and he seemed to sense my growing passion and my yearning. He raised his head, his eyes a mix of bright, golden honey and impossible darkness. His hair was mussed, falling in haphazard waves across his brow. His expression was unsmiling and serious; his eyes burned into mine.
Are you sure?
I answered him, reaching again to grab his head and press his mouth to mine. Passion, white hot and burning, washed over me. I felt alien desire and longing that overwhelmed my pale emotions. I shuddered in its fury, pressing him closer, and felt his hand touch my burning, wet center. A finger slipped inside. I gasped, moaning into his ear and arching up against his palm. He slipped another finger inside, stretching me, and I thrashed my head back and forth on the ground. He thrust gently, pushing me back and a wave of pleasure shot from my groin to my throat, stealing away my voice.
I opened my eyes and looked at him, biting my lower lip as he thrust gently, curling his long fingers against my sensitive nub. I shuddered as another wave of pleasure burst over me, and distantly I felt an echo, as if in another mind. A slow, throbbing ache spread between my legs, nothing like the burning emptiness I felt before. It was deep, torturous yearnings to have Tal slide his throbbing shaft into me and fill me completely. But he continued to thrust with his hand, pushing and rubbing against me, building my pleasure to impossible heights. Through the bond, I felt him joining me. Just when I believed I could bear no more, my release burst upon me, shattering me in waves of pleasure that slowly subsided. Tal’s hand slipped from inside me, as a rich, throaty chuckle echoed in my ear.
”I enjoyed that. A beautiful way to welcome the morning,” his voice whispered.
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