Sunday, November 30, 2008
Interview with Denise Rossetti
A hearty welcome to Denise Rossetti who has taken time off from her busy schedule to answer a few questions for us at Love Romances and More Reviews.
Thanks for having me. *beams*
Please tell us a bit about yourself and describe your journey to publication.
About me? Hmm… I love stories, reading them and writing them and hearing them, always have, always will. As for the rest, I’m small and noisy and I wave my hands around a lot, which can be unfortunate if the tale I’m telling has explosions in it. I adore red shoes, the higher the heel the better! There’s something so frivolous and tarty about them. Oh, and I’m an Aussie.
I started writing seven years ago because I was miserable and it helped take my mind off my troubles. (I’m not unhappy any more, by the way!) Now I write for Ellora's Cave, Avon Red and I'm currently working on a hot fantasy series for Berkley. The first is THE FLAME AND THE SHADOW, released a couple of weeks ago. You can read the first chapter here - http://www.deniserossetti.com/flame.html
And if that wasn’t enough, on 2nd December, the UNLACED anthology will hit the shelves! Four sizzling hot stories, with the connecting theme of corsets, written by Jaci Burton, Jasmine Haynes, Joey W. Hill and myself. I’m so excited! You can find out more here - http://www.deniserossetti.com/unlaced.html
You know the ancient Chinese curse? “May you live in interesting times.” Life’s rather like that at the moment. *happy smile*
Describe what happened when you got “the Call.”
I’ve actually had “the Call” twice. Lucky me, huh? The first time was with Ellora’s Cave editor, the wonderful Suz Gower. I was at work, so I left the office and went outside. My knees were so shaky it’s a miracle I didn’t fall down the stairs! Suz was delightful, but she didn’t say she actually wanted my book, just chatted on and on about changing the title. In the end, I took my courage in both hands and blurted. “Yes, but do you really want it?” She laughed and said yes. Whew!
The second time was when Wendy McCurdy, Senior Editor from Berkley, rang me early in the morning (Australian time) with an offer. I’m sure editors must chuckle the moment they hang up after a call like that. Wendy was so lovely and patient with me, because all I could say was, “Are you sure? Are you really sure?” In a beautiful coincidence, it was my wedding anniversary and also a public holiday, so My Beloved and I went out for lunch by the water. I no longer even remember exactly which restaurant. I spent the whole day in a daze!
Your books truly are grounded in the relationships between characters. We have seen this from your blisteringly erotic first book GIFT OF THE GODDESS in your Phoenix Rising series to your fantasy story THE FLAME AND THE SHADOW book 1 in the Four-Sided Pentacle series, which just hit the shelves. What do you feel must go into the making of a convincing romance?
Oh, thank you! I’m going to take that as a compliment and bask in it, because it’s characterization that pulls me into a story and keeps me turning the pages. Who cares what happens to cardboard people?
For a convincing romance, I need to believe the characters have a good chance of making a meaningful life together after the last page. Yeah, yeah, they’re in love – we know that, this is romance, it’s a given. So is the intense physical attraction and therefore the hawt sex!
But when I read a love story, I’m taking a journey with the hero and heroine, making an emotional investment in them and their future relationship. Unless they genuinely like and respect each other, they don’t have a hope of surviving after the book is closed. There must be a true connection between them on every fundamental level – mind, spirit and body. Oh, and they must be able to laugh at the same things!
By the way, if you think that’s hard to do with two people, try writing a ménage! *grin*
What drew you to write erotic romance?
I love the beauty of language and I love sex sensually and lavishly described — especially if it’s hot and sweaty! The sexual act can be used as a lens to focus on raw emotion. The reader sees the characters naked and not only physically. All the masks are stripped away and the soul is bared, whether the character knows it or not. It’s enormously powerful and it absolutely fascinates me.
Don’t they say the most important erogenous zone is the one between the ears? Page after page of docking procedure leaves me cold. That’s not erotic romance, it’s just gratuitous sex.
You are the creator of interesting fantasy worlds and delightfully complex characters for your tales. How much actual research do you do for your books and what are some of the most interesting bits of information you have come across?
Um, would you believe I do almost no research? Which is weird, because I’m actually trained to do it and I have a lot of experience. I’m too impatient to get to the good bit, the story. It’s one of the reasons I write fantasy – as long as I’m consistent, I can build a whole universe with nothing but my imagination and a keyboard.
That said, I have found some fascinating facts in my research. For example, did you know that in order for a human being to be able to use wings to fly, his or her chest would have to be six feet thick with muscle? It’s plain physics, but when I wrote TAILSPIN, I simply ignored that inconvenient fact and created two drop-dead gorgeous heroes with magnificent wings and wicked feathery tails. Gotta love fantasy! You can meet them here -http://www.deniserossetti.com/tailspin.html
I’ve also done some reading about Near Death Experiences (NDEs) for THE FLAME AND THE SHADOW and the rest of THE FOUR-SIDED PENTACLE series. What’s fascinating is the consistency of the reports – the sensation of hovering near the ceiling, the bright tunnel, the presence of another loving Being. I also keep one of those “work out your best colours” books handy, so I can dress my characters in the right colours. I only know what suits me!
Overall, my resources are pretty simple. People are good. I’ll ask anyone almost anything. Information books written for kids are excellent because they have simple explanations and clear illustrations. I’m a great believer in libraries. And, of course, the Internet.
What were some of the inspirations behind the creatures and characters which inhabit these places?
Like most authors, I’ve been asked numerous times where I get the inspiration for characters. Are they based on real people, especially the heroes? *smile* I wish!
If I did know any beautiful men with magnificent wings and tails, a sex shaman with a dragon tattoo on his ass, or a handsome sorcerer with a sexy shadow, I’d be too busy to write these answers! (Or in Intensive Care.) What I am is shameless – shameless about “borrowing” bits of people – a smile here, a personality trait there, a gesture or two, a pair of beautiful eyes. But it’s always bits, because human beings are so complicated it’s almost impossible to portray them accurately in print. It’s too damn hard. And anyway, there are laws about that sort of thing.
I love villains too. *wicked grin* I’m particularly fond of the disgusting Hssrda –huge, hideous crocodile men - from the PHOENIX RISING series.
Of all of your books, is there one character that stands out as the most fun you have had to write?
I had great fun with Shad, from THE FLAME AND THE SHADOW. He was a real challenge to write – a funny, vulgar, boyish, uninhibited shadow – the deeply buried, instinctive part of Grayson, Duke of Ombra. We all know we have a “shadow” side, the voice that speaks in our heads, but because Gray is a true sorcerer of shadows, the dark entity he calls Shad has an independent, physical life of its own. He and Shad are fighting for control of his sanity and his soul. By the time Gray meets Cenda, a fire witch struggling with a crushing burden of grief, he will do anything to win the battle - anything at all.
Apart from Shad, I loved writing Miriliel the Burnished (Mirry) from TAILSPIN. He’s absolutely, stunningly beautiful, but so scholarly and brilliant that he doesn’t notice his impact on others. And because he tends to blind himself with logic, he has to learn about love the hard way. It was an awful lot of fun watching Fledge and Jan tease and teach him!
Do you plot or do you tend to allow your characters to take you where they will? Have they ever surprised you?
I'm what other writers call a “pantser”, as in “flying by the seat of your pants”. For me, writing is a completely organic, instinctive process. I don't plan much, or write character interviews or plot outlines and I purely loathe synopses. That sort of stuff can kill it for me if I'm not careful, but now I work with editors and they like to see what they're getting, dammit. So I do enough to reassure them they haven’t bought actual rubbish and still try to leave myself enough wriggle-room so I don't get bored. I love the thrill of watching the story unfold under my fingers. I'll write until I hit the edge of the "mist" and then I...wait...and wait... Eventually, the fog clears and I can "see" what happens next.
I wouldn’t say the characters run the show though. Because I do always know how it begins and what happens in the end. It's the bit in between that's um, interesting.
Though all these people do take up residence in my head without so much as a by your leave, and talk and fight and uh...do all sorts of wicked things. Heh heh. It happens when I'm driving, or in the shower, or dropping off to sleep or out walking with My Beloved and the dog. Every now and then, he'll grin and ask, "Where are you now?"
To which my response is generally, "Huh?" Because I sure ain't in Kansas, Dorothy. It's like having a movie screening just behind your eyes and it's terrific because now I'm never bored. Have to wait at the doctor's? In an endless staff meeting? No problem. *smile*
Do you have ways to set yourself in the mood for your writing and what are they?
Oh, how I wish! *sigh* The problem with my entire life is that I have next to no routine. And it would help so much if I did. I'm the Queen of Procrastination ruling over the Land of Clutter. I'm catastrophically untidy, to the point of losing things I really do need. As far as I'm concerned, putting something "in a safe place" is a recipe for disaster!
I’ve given up trying to tidy my desk before I begin. I’d never get anything written.
I burn essential oils, soothing floral ones like lavender or bergamot with a few drops of something sharp like lemongrass, to stimulate creativity. That's the theory, anyway. I don't like heavy, musky scents. And I drink a lot of tea. No coffee.
The music depends on the mood required. I have a number of playlists - an upbeat, rock `n' country one for when I need energy, a lush operatic one for over-the-top emotion, a Celtic or a baroque, liturgical one for soothing background. I'm currently obsessed with Rufus Wainwright. I've always been obsessed by Leonard Cohen.
Are there any genres or subgenres that you have not tried your hand at but would like to give a go?
So far, I’ve tried fantasy (the FOUR-SIDED PENTACLE series for Berkley and the PHOENIX RISING series for Ellora’s Cave) and urban paranormals (the KAMINISKI FAMILY stories for Ellora’s Cave and Avon Red). My dream would be to live somewhere exotic for a few months and write a story set there, a romantic suspense, a real nail-biter. I went to the USA and Canada for the first time only recently and I loved San Francisco and Vancouver and the Rockies. On the other hand, Tuscany sounds appealing…
I also enjoy my attempts at humour and I wouldn’t mind trying a romantic comedy. In fact, I write a very naughty, very silly, monthly serial for my Yahoo newsgroup. It’s my light relief. And readers get choose what happens next! Rather like a Choose Your Own Adventure with a wickedly sexy twist.
My newsgroup family is very special to me There are free gifts on joining, exclusive sneak peeks at new work, contests and prizes. http://groups.yahoo.com/subscribe/deniserossetti
The current story is RACKETY KATE AND THE PIRATES. The previous one was THE AMOROUS ADVENTURES OF ALICE. Older chapters are available free on my website - http://www.deniserossetti.com/stories.html
What are you working on now? Can you share anything regarding it?
I’m currently writing THIEF OF LIGHT, the second in the Four-Sided Pentacle series. It’s set for release late next year. I’m having so much fun with Erik and Prue – the sparks are flying!
And after that, I’ll be working on my contribution to a second UNLACED anthology, together with Jaci Burton, Jasmine Haynes and Joey W. Hill. I have my hero, now I’m waiting for the woman who’s strong enough to love him. If I squint, I can almost make her out…
Here’s the blurb for THIEF OF LIGHT:
Some desires are impossible to resist…
In the elegant, subtropical city of Caracole, Erik the Golden is widely known as irresistible; his Voice an instrument of incredible pleasure, the stroke of velvet on bare skin. But the Voice is a curse as much as a blessing, for once Erik used it to steal a soul, and now he must pay.
Pruella Takimori McGuire is the business manager for the beautiful courtesans of the Garden of Nocturnal Delights. She deals in numbers, not Magick, and when Erik turns his charms in her direction, she sees only vanity, not a golden gift. If Erik cannot use his power to win Prue's heart, how can he truly possess her? How is it she can resist what others can't? She's either a torment devised by the gods to drive him mad—or Erik's last hope of salvation.
And all the while, a far darker power corrupts the foundations of Caracole—the Necromancer, who feasts on souls. When the Necromancer's hired assassin kidnaps Prue, Erik must harness his air Magick to recover the woman he has come to love more than life itself…
Please describe a typical day in your life.
When I have a writing day, I fluff around until lunchtime at least, doing emails, surfing and stuff. Heck, I don't even know what it is that I do, except waste time. *sigh* I usually start writing after lunch. I have a study and from the desk I look straight out the window in the canopy of a big old tree, but I often take the laptop into the bedroom. I sit on the bed with one of those tray table things over my legs. The dog lies on the floor and the cat lies on me. Everyone's happy.
Funnily enough, despite the fact that I'm so careless with physical objects, I'm a very slow, very deliberate writer. I don't often get carried away and have words simply flow out of my fingers. I have to dig for every single one, which means I need to concentrate. I have a timer on the computer and I turn it for 45 minutes. When it goes off, I'm allowed to check my email. (Did I say I need a 12 step program?) It's amazing how little I can write in that time. Around 5pm I have this incredible desire to doze off, but the cat comes and head-butts me until I fix his dinner. The dog just grumbles. So I yawn and go on. By 8pm, I'm firing on all cylinders and if I'm on a roll, sometimes I go 'til after midnight.
On work days, I get up and go to work. I work and then I come home again. Not very interesting. My Beloved cooks the evening meal. I do the clean-up. And no, he’s mine.
How do you most enjoy spending your free time?
Reading something wonderful, with puss asleep on my lap. Alternatively, reading in the bath, but without the cat.
Authors are readers, too. What are five books on your keeper shelf? What are five books in your to-be-read pile?
Menage Emma Holly
Natural Law Joey W. Hill
Son of the Morning Linda Howard
These Old Shades or The Grand Sophy Georgette Heyer (Sorry, can’t choose between them!)
Lord of Scoundrels Loretta Chase
Slave to Sensation Nalini Singh
The Happiness Trap Russ Harris (Non-fiction)
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society Mary Ann Shaffer
The Black Dagger Brotherhood: An Insider's Guide J.R. Ward
Many Bloody Returns: Tales of Birthdays with Bite edited by Charlaine Harris and Toni L. P. Kelcher
Please share something that would surprise readers to know about you.
In the weeks before my GARDEN wedding, it rained cats and dogs every single day. The result was a flood of such major proportions that the city ground to a halt. I still remember my lovely mother-in-law-to-be sobbing to my Mum on the phone that there was twenty feet of water between her family and the GARDEN wedding. My Mum cried too. When I stood next to My Beloved in front of the minister (INDOORS), I looked up at him (My Beloved, not the reverend) with so much love in my heart, thinking, well at least I have my darling. His beautiful blond hair was in wet rats’ tails and a big drop fell off the end of his nose. *sigh*
Because the airport was closed, we spent our wedding night in his little flat - full of bachelor housekeeping - musty towels, old newspapers etc and a squillion slugs who were so wet they'd crawled in under the door looking for a dry spot. I cried so hard, he let me choose the hotel for the next night. The one I picked got flooded. I waded out of the hotel foyer in my bikini and the water came up to my armpits. It was cold. And dirty. Blech.
What is a question that you wish an interviewer would ask and what would your reply be?
Interviewer: Did you know you’re on the New York Times bestseller list – ahead of Nora Roberts?
Me: Aiyeeeee! THUD! *faints dead away*
Any final thoughts, motto, favored recipe or other information you would like to share with our readers?
I’m a hopeless cook, so I’ll just say one thing and I want you to listen very carefully. It’s you readers that make it all worthwhile. Got that?
Writing is such a solitary activity, but it’s the nearest thing to real magic I know, a kind of astonishing telepathy between author and reader. Think about every book that’s ever moved you, regardless of genre. The characters are only paper people. How does that happen?
Here’s Fledge from TAILSPIN, storywitch of the Ten Nations Fair, speaking for me. “Stories have a power, a magic all their own. Consider the fact that the actions, thoughts and feelings of people who have no existence in reality can make you laugh, make you weep. That's the art and that's the magic.”
Isn’t that wonderful?
My website: http://www.deniserossetti.com/
My books: http://www.deniserossetti.com/books.html
The Four-Sided Pentacle series (Berkley):
1. The Flame and the Shadow
2. Thief of Light (late 2009)
Also set in the Pentacles universe (Berkley):
Rubies and Black Velvet (in Unlaced), (2nd Dec 2009)
The Phoenix Rising series (Ellora’s Cave):
1. Gift of the Goddess
The Kaminski Family stories:
1. Come Howling (in Ellora’s Cavemen: Seasons of Seduction 1, Ellora’s Cave)
2. Coming on Strong (in A Red Hot New Year, Avon Red)
My blog: http://www.deniserossetti.com/blog/
I'd love you to drop in and say hello!
My newsgroup: http://groups.yahoo.com/subscribe/deniserossetti
It has been fun to learn more about you and your writing, Denise. Thank-you, for being with us.
Reviews of Ms. Rossetti's books:
The Flame and the Shadow
Gift of the Goddess
Seasons of Seduction