Archive for February, 2008

20
Feb
08

6 Questions with Ann Aguirre

1. On a scale of one to ten, rank your current level of insanity–where ten is belongs-in-lunatic-asylum insane–and tell us why.

I’d have to say five. Why so low, you ask? Well, for one thing, I’m too freakin’ tired to be crazy at the moment. Going nuts takes energy — and I just got back from a family vacation. I’ve visited something like six airports in the last seven days, been scanned so often, it’s a wonder I’m not radioactive. And things are clicking along well. I finish up one project, either writing or edits, take a short break, and then move right along to the next thing. I’m terrible at planning, but this has worked out delightfully well without any conscious effort from me.

Plus, I have a great agent, and my editor is a joy to work with. I can also rest easy, knowing my publicist is shouldering part of the load. Those factors are all great for reducing stress. So far, I’ve turned in all my work at least a month before deadline, and sometimes as much as two. I don’t see any reason why this can’t continue. The pace is just about right for me, but then again, I’ve been accused of being inhumanly fast at what I do.

2. You have previously published one other book as Ann Aguirre, The Stone Maiden. I have read it, and it’s very different from what I expect of Grimspace. I mean, you defined an Ann Aguirre title as “darker themes, less explicit sex, and lots of ass-kicking action” on my blog. I’d say that TSM has darker themes, but not sure about the last. Care to share the story of your evolution to Grimspace?

I wrote STONE MAIDEN before I had clear ideas about how I wanted to brand myself. It’s sort of an interesting story (or maybe not).

Around 2002, I got serious about my writing, and I enrolled in the Online SFF Writing Workshop. As it happened, Del Rey partnered with them that year. I won the Editor’s Choice contest and wound up with a publishing contract with Del Rey Digital. That was my first experience writing on a deadline, and I am proud of STONE MAIDEN. It’s just not representative of my body of work because it pre-dates that post you reference.

Anyway, my editor loved me, and I expected a long and fruitful relationship. Then she left the company. Being orphaned is tough on an author, as others know. I found myself back at square one.

But I didn’t give up. I decided to give contemporary romance a try. I finished Guide in September of 2005. I once again began to query, but this time I was determined to find an agent. No more peddling my own stuff.

The search went slowly, and it nearly drove me mad, but in May ’06, I signed with an agent, who felt I needed two separate brands, if I was going to write straight romance, and do cross-genre books as well. So I had two websites designed and tried to do my part to get ready for my big break. Well, I received some lovely rejections, including “send me your next book!” but they were rejections just the same. This wasn’t the one for NY.

I was very frustrated by this point. I can write, can’t I? I’m getting better every time. Why aren’t I selling?
Some of the joy went out of writing too. I started to feel like, “What’s the point? Nobody but me will ever read this.”
To counteract that feeling of futility, I went with it. I said to myself, “Okay, if nobody but me will ever read it, then I’ll write something for ME.” I sat down at the keyboard with an utterly blank mind, no plot, no idea, no characters, and just began to WRITE. It was…magical. I wrote and wrote and wrote.

The end result was GRIMSPACE, the book Ace bought. I had to switch agents to make that happen, but Laura Bradford is my lobster.* See, when I finished GRIMSPACE, I knew it was “the book” for me. I just had to find an agent who knew it too. That’s the moral of this story. Believe in yourself. Then find someone else who believes in you. And you can do this.

*Geeky Friends reference

3. And of course, there’s Annie Dean, your erotic romance pseudonym, and an Annie Dean title has “quirky romance and smoking hot sex.” Do you think your writing as Ann Aguirre and Annie Dean will diverge, or converge, as time goes on?

I did find that my latest (and possibly last for the foreseeable future) Annie Dean title has darker themes and less comedy than the other two, however. So you could call that convergence of a sort. MY VALENTINE is an erotic title, but it’s different in that it’s an interracial erotic paranormal / reincarnation story. And I think it’s pretty wonderful. My editor said it was so intense, passionate, and edged with Gothic overtones that she actually shivered a few times, reading it.

4. You’ve recently sold your first series that has Mexico, where you live now, as one of the settings. Do you think it helped with your research? It’s not so completely familiar because it’s not where you lived all your life, but at the same time, you’d probably know enough to get a start on the research, right?

It absolutely helped with my research. And the cool thing is, most of what I’ve included has a basis in fact. I can’t say more without revealing key plot points, but yeah, it made a big difference. It lends the book a certain verisimilitude, I think.

5. Living in Mexico, do you think it’s made it more important to have a publicist? Or do you think it would be the same even if you lived in the US?

It’s definitely important. But publicity and promotion is important to any author, regardless of locale. It’s not enough to write the books. We have to do our part so that readers actually hear about them, just not in an obnoxious or over-eager way. Nobody likes the tool who can’t hold a conversation about anything but her sale.*

*See this post for more information on the Diva

If I lived in the US, I could visit bookstores to do stock signings more readily. I’d have a hometown bookstore that would be tickled to host signings for me. Authors in the US have more recourse, I think. J.A. Konrath, for instance, often does road trips, but I don’t have that option. A trip to the States for me always involves an airport. So I need someone there to help generate excitement over my releases.

6. You don’t eat raw cookie dough any more. Why not? Raw cookie dough makes people happy, and therefore the world becomes a better place.

Heh, you’d be surprised how often I get asked about this. The answer is kind of gross, but hey, you did ask. I got food poisoning from some improperly cooked chicken. Once you’ve spent a night hurling up your guts and wishing for death, you get more careful about what you eat. Raw eggs can have the same effect, so I stopped eating anything that contains them, which includes cake batter and cookie dough. Never riding the salmonella express again.

Ann Aguirre‘s current release is Grimspace, to be followed in September by Wanderlust.

She’s giving away a signed copy of Grimspace, and maybe other surprises! Comment, tell us what you think when you think “Grimspace,” and win!

05
Feb
08

Meljean Brook: Demon Night

Charlie Newcomb worked hard to get her life back together. But all that is shaken when she’s set upon by three vampires desperate to transform her beauty into something evil. Because Charlie is the vital link to something they want—and need. It’s Charlie’s flesh and blood sister, a medical scientist whose knowledge could be invaluable to the predators.

But to get to her, they must first get to Charlie, now under the intimate protection of Ethan McCabe. As her Guardian, Ethan is attracted to her vulnerabilities—as well as her strengths. The closer he gets, the more protecting her becomes not just his duty, but his desire. But will it be enough to save Charlie when the demon night falls?

Lovely, I think, would be the word to describe Demon Night. And sweet too—though not that way, Meljean never fails us on the hot sex part. ;)

I have raved about the worldbuilding in this series before, but I think that the pieces really come together in this book. Maybe it’s because I’ve read the previous books too, or maybe it’s because we’re probably about five, six hundred thousand words into the series, it’s just been that much easier to fall into Demon Night for me.

Ethan…I’ve described Colin as delicious, and Hugh as interesting, but Ethan…there goes a hero who is just too damn easy to fall in love with.

Like Ethan, Charlie has a past that she is not entirely proud of. I think the most significant imbalance of the book is here, that we got to see more of Ethan’s past than Charlie’s. An example: her singing, or its loss, isn’t touched on here.
In Demon Night, we have a demon who can and appears to have fallen in love. Which is one of the things I appreciate about this series, that it’s not all black and white, and makes it one of the few series to have passed my Three Book Test in the past year–IOW, the likelihood of me not sticking it through with the series has fallen pretty close to nil.

Demon Night rates 4 out of 5.





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