Hope you’re having a good week! I’m still a little stuffed up but hey, it’s weekend so things are looking up. Not to mention, I have the lovely Raissa Phoenix dropping by for a chat and to tell us all about her new release, Owned.
Thanks so much for being here, Raissa. So, let’s start with you telling us a bit about yourself.
<Insert something interesting here. Please. No? Okay, okay. Fine. Fair warning: as Brandon Sanderson says, “This is going to take a while. I’m a fantasy author. We have trouble with the concept of brevity.” I may not write straight-up fantasy, but brevity is not my thing…which makes total sense considering how much I favor writing short works. Go figure.>
My world imploded late last year, and I traded my cushy (read: mind-numbingly boring) job to stay at home. Somewhere along the way, I decided it would be a fantastic idea to not only be a stay-at-home mother and housewife, keeper of the apocalypse garden and duck-herder extraordinaire, but to also return to school full time in a completely new area and publish books.
I never said I was sane, and I never said I’m good at all of those things, but it’s the thought that counts…right? I keep what little bit of sanity I have left by chatting with different people online and reading when I can steal the time.
I think Cristina Scabbia of Lacuna Coil is a goddess incarnate, I got dragged kicking and screaming into the Whovian conversion chamber a few years back, and I have a bit of a hard-on (so to speak) for words and their meanings.
Lol, brevity is rather over-rated and, hey, welcome to the Whoniverse 🙂 Was there a specific moment where you first knew that you wanted to be a writer?
In fifth grade, a teacher named Cynthia Hargrove encouraged me to write. The fact that I can remember her name is a testament to how amazing she was, because I couldn’t tell you the names of most of my other teachers. She read The Witches by Roald Dahl to us and convinced us she was wearing a wig, and she introduced me to A Wrinkle in Time.
I have a filing cabinet next to my desk filled with stories I’ve written since then, and I have notebooks stacked in the closet from when I wrote every single day. (The manila envelopes are ominously marked DO NOT READ. Yup. Most people want their browser history deleted upon death. I want this stuff gone, too!) Yes, I was every bit as fucked up then as I am now. I blame a serious lack of interesting children’s and young adult books in my library–and V.C. Andrews. To this day, I’m not sure how I managed to get through school without my writing getting me in trouble…
Yep! I was just a wee little lass, and I wanted to share all of my disturbing stories with the world. Then life disillusioned me, and it wasn’t until recently that I decided to go after it.
I had a similar story, loved writing as a kid and then you get older and it seems so much scarier to share your random imaginings with the world! Still, we got here in the end 🙂 Speaking of which, do you have a particular writing routing, or any special rituals?
I try to write on a schedule, but my muse is too much of a prima donna to adhere to anything so common. Instead, I get insanity-inducing glimmers of ideas at the most inconvenient times. It usually starts with a sentence or a phrase, a character or a thought, and then I just write. I’ve started trying to write at specific times, but my muse and I are still negotiating terms.
Hehe, yup those ideas do seem to come at the most interesting times sometimes! Tell us about the genre you write in, and what drew you to it.
In a general sense, I write M/M Paranormal Dark… things. (Yes, I’m sure you’re convinced I have quite the way with words as an author.) I stubbornly insist that Recoil, Ravel and Owned are Dark (Erotic) Romance, and I concede that Bought is Dark Erotica. I’m not a visual thinker, so my sex scenes tend to be more about the effects the actions have on the participants rather than the actions themselves. And that, of course, is a side ramble.
At some point, I started to wonder why supernatural creatures hid–and if they stopped hiding, why on earth would they be content to live as second-class citizens? Sure, humans have the advantage of numbers, but as wars have shown us over the centuries, numbers aren’t everything. The “Ripples in the Status Quo” (RISQ, because I’m lazy) universe explores a world where “supes” got tired of hiding in the shadows and decided to claim it for their own. It’s been in my head for years, but it took me a while to get up the nerve to do anything with it.
Ooh, interesting concept. Are there any particular authors or books that have really inspired you?
There are four in particular that I’ve settled on at this point, and I’ll ramble a little bit about each one: Jim Butcher, Brandon Sanderson, Mercedes Lackey, and Tiffany Reisz. (And give quotes. I love quotes.)
Jim Butcher, author of the Dresden Files, Codex Alera, and Cinder Spires, astounds me. He manages to combine snarky humor with serious moments, and I’ve literally cried during his books. I’ve laughed many more times (Ramirez, I’m looking at you and Lara Raith), but his range is spectacular–and he gets better with every book. The quote that resonates most within me regarding writing, especially concerning the RISQ world, is from Ghost Story:
“Oh,” the girl said, shaking her head. “Don’t be so simple. People adore monsters. They fill their songs and stories with them. They define themselves in relation to them. You know what a monster is, young shade? Power. Power and choice. Monsters make choices. Monsters shape the world. Monsters force us to become stronger, smarter, better. They sift the weak from the strong and provide a forge for the steeling of souls. Even as we curse monsters, we admire them. Seek to become them, in some ways.” Her eyes became distant. “There are far, far worse things to be than a monster.”
There aren’t words to describe Brandon Sanderson. If anyone ever sold their soul to the devil for artistic talent, it was him. He writes a lot and he writes often, and his world-building is like nothing I’ve ever seen before. I think I have more quotes saved from him than anyone else. His unique magic systems are like nothing I’ve read. He has as many profound quotes as he does humorous ones, but here’s a funny one to lighten the mood a little after the last:
“It is a writer’s greatest pleasure to hear that someone was kept up until the unholy hours of the morning reading one of his books. It goes back to authors being terrible people who delight in the suffering of others. Plus, we get a kickback from the caffeine industry…”
The first erotic novel (with a plot) I ever read was The Siren by Tiffany Reisz, and it’s shaped the way I see the genre. She taught me that there’s so much potential, and damn, the woman can write. (I’d love to see Nora Sutherlin in the same room as Harry Dresden…) My idea of romance and erotica seem to be most in line with sentiments expressed in Tiffany Reisz’s Original Sinners series. In The Siren, Nora notes:
“I know people think erotica is just a romance novel with rougher sex. It’s not. If it’s a subgenre of anything, it’s horror. Romance is sex plus love. Erotica is sex plus fear.”
She also says:
“A love story is not the same as a romance novel. A romance novel is the story of two people falling in love against their will. This is a story of two people who leave each other against their will. It starts to end the minute they meet.”
Then we get to Mercedes Lackey. I have a very contradictory view of happily ever afters. I want to see the trials and tribulations; I want to see the struggles that lead up to them. I want to know there’s a chance it could all go to hell, which is why I tend to avoid books that tell me outright they’re HEAs. Her early works are extremely dark, and her characters didn’t necessarily find their happily ever afters. (Though I got annoyed with the later Valdemar ones, because I knew how they’d end.) The Last Herald-Mage series was the first set of books I read with gay male characters. And this was 1989, folks. (Oh, Vanyel.) To keep with the theme, let’s drop a quote from those books, too…
“This I think I have learned: where there is love, the form does not matter, and the gods are pleased. This I have observed: what occurs in nature, comes by the hand of nature, and if the gods did not approve, it would not be there.”
Some fantastic quotes there. I’m a big Jim Butcher fan and I keep being told I’ll love Brandon Sanderson but haven’t got round to his books yet. Speaking of books 😉 What five things could you never do without?
Being able to ramble. No, seriously.
My computer. An Internet connection. Dashes. Ellipses. Books (Do I have to be specific? If I could only choose one book to ever be able to read again, it would be Brandon Sanderson’s Words of Radiance. It’s just spectacular.)
Hehe, well I was right on the books but I don’t think we’ve ever had someone choose specific grammar points as well 🙂 Tell us a bit about your new release.
Owned is a story set in the RISQ universe that picks up approximately three weeks after Bought and immediately after Recoil. (As a side note, Bought and Recoil can be read in any order, and Owned can be read without reading Ravel.)
I have a hard time writing short summaries–I know you’re shocked, if you’ve managed to read this far–but essentially, it’s about how far people are willing to go for even the chance for love. It’s a dark work, and it’s not a pretty story, but at the core of it, we see characters who are willing to sacrifice everything for something every bit as vital as food and breath. (For us mere mortals, anyway. Vampires are assholes.)
Sounds interesting, I do like the slightly darker works. Where did your inspiration for it come from?
The intent with the RISQ books was to start out with stand alone works with various characters, slowly expanding the scope of the world and seeing them come together. Owned is my first attempt at bringing characters from earlier stories together. Ironically, I wrote Bought with the intention of it being a free one-shot sample of my work; as a new author, I’m just as willing as Khaz to sell myself to get readers–not as literally, though.
But despite how fucked up Jace and Elias were, they were the pairing people seemed to like the most. I wanted to continue Recoil (and I still maintain that it wasn’t a cliffhanger. What happened happened!) and the idea of being able to draw these four together was intriguing.
I wanted to play more in my sandbox, write something longer, and start letting my darlings play with each other. (*snerk* I’m mature. Really.)
Lol, aren’t we all 😉 Sounds like it was fun being able to tie all your characters together though. What did you find most enjoyable about writing it?
Finding out what happened to these characters. Seriously. I’m a pantser, not a plotter, and while I have basic ideas going into a book, my characters tend to see a shiny and go running off after it. I had no idea what was going to happen when I started it, and it was just as much fun for me to see the story unfold as I hope it is for people who read it.
Yup, I am the exact same way! Those pesky characters never seem to do what you think they’re going to. What was the hardest part about writing it?
Not being redundant–and coordination. Sex scenes can be fun to write, but man, I don’t want to write octopuses (why isn’t octopi a word, anyway?) or have things seem repetitive. I also know I have a habit of falling to introspection and losing action and dialogue, so I had to be mindful of it.
Also, there was the part where I decided to break yet another cardinal rule of the writing world and beg a friend to beta read for me. She is no longer listed as beta reader. She edited it. My poor ego died a slow, painful death. I’m surprised y’all couldn’t hear it screaming. (Then again, I’m pretty proud of the final draft, so there’s that.)
Hehe I think we all need to leave our egos at the door when the edits come back. I’ve sadly learned to accept that red is my colour 😉 Where would we be without our editors though? Who’s your favourite character in it? (I know, I know, favouritism!)
This question is cruel and unusual punishment.
Elias. I’ve deliberately avoided writing anything from his point of view, and I intend to keep doing that for a while yet. But I’ll give you a hint: one of my favorite things to do is to see if I can make even the most irredeemable-seeming villain sympathetic. Yes, he’s a manipulative, sadistic, arrogant megalomaniac.
But as Sanderson writes, “every man is a hero of his own story.”
Plus, it’s fun to see just how far I can push with him.
Hehe, I’m sensing we have a lot in common. I have a bad habit of starting to sympathise with my villains, to the extent that half the time they end up wanting their own story. They’re just misunderstood really, right? *shifty eyes* Anyway, just in case we’re not convinced already, why should we run out and buy it right now? 🙂
Because somehow you’ve managed to read through all of this rambling, and you’re still awake–so there might be something you’ll find interesting! I’m extremely proud of Owned, and I hope it will appeal to those who like dark and gritty M/M stories with a paranormal twist.
So with that being said, there are some fucked-up scenes in these books. If you’re offended easily, you might enjoy Ravel and even Recoil, but Bought and Owned are probably not for you.
Though you can read Owned without having read Bought or Recoil, they’re both relatively short works, and I hope you’ll give them a chance. Bought (~9k words) is free, and Recoil (~19k words) is on sale for 99c for a limited time.
Also, I give really good puppy eyes.
If you’ve actually read all of this, thank you. I had fun writing it. I like to think I’m pretty approachable, and I’m usually up for a good ramble. I’m Raissa Phoenix on Facebook, and as socially awkward as I am, I do enjoy chatting with random people.
Thanks so much, Raissa, and I think the puppy dog eyes are definitely working! Here’s the book details:
Elias Ivers was promised a slave recently captured from the Rebellion, and it would have only been a matter of time before the witch broke a mere human to be his pet as a beautiful match to his already enslaved werewolf. However, when Malkhaz takes what should have rightfully been his, he’s determined to make the vampire pay; no one denies Elias what he wants–especially not someone who’s little more than dirt beneath his expensive shoes. Malkhaz had never imagine one hasty decision would both change his life and put him in over his head.