AUTHOR SPOTLIGHT: ANNE MARSH
Author Anne Marsh has agreed to sit with us bunnies and chat about her books (though I wish I knew ahead of time she could teach me to swear in multiple languages)…
What is your most current work out?
My newest release is His Dark Bond, a sexy and dark paranormal about fallen angels. It’s a Kensington Brava release that hits bookshelves on 1.31.2012.
Tell us a little about His Dark Bond
His Dark Bond is a gritty, dark, sexy paranormal set in Moscow in the near-future. Although it’s the second book in the series, it’s absolutely intended to be read as a stand-alone book (I switched publishers after the first book came out, following my original editor when she left Dorchester for Kensington).
HE HUNGERS FOR HER BODY . . .
Zer is no angel—well, not anymore. He’s explored every flavor of sin imaginable, drinking in the pleasures of humanity. But now he must find the woman who carries his salvation in her very blood…a woman like Nessa St. James.
AND HER SOUL
Nessa has considered the bargain the Fallen offer. Anything she wants in exchange for accepting Zer’s bond? No way. Not her. Not when she finds out about the mind-blowing ritual involved, and the marks of surrender that will ink her skin. But with a serial killer to stop and centuries of experience on his side, this is one job Zer’s going to nail.
What inspired you to write HIS DARK BOND?
I had a contract? Honestly, there’s nothing like a legally binding contract to get your butt in the chair and the words flowing. The inspiration for the series as a whole was interesting, for me, however. I’d entered an RWA chapter contest with a paranormal about a fallen angel/Goblin. The setting was an alternative fantasy world—very Lynn Kurland. I won the contest and then Hilary Sares at Kensington sat and sat and sat on the full. Eventually, she said that she loved the book, but had no idea what to do with it—she advised me to make my hero more alpha. There was no such thing as too alpha, she promised. So I took this lyrical fantasy and turned it into a clubbing, high-octane, dark paranormal and that was Bond with Me, the first book in the Fallen series. Kensington is publishing His Dark Bond, the second book in the series, so ironically everything has come full circle.
When you start writing, do you already have the story plotted out or do you let the characters dictate what will happen?
My first book, The Hunt, I’d never heard of plotting in advance. Okay, maybe I’d heard of it—but then I’d promptly jammed my fingers in my ears and starting humming. Loudly. The characters dictated and that meant that the revision letter I got from my editor was more like a small novel in and of itself. Ever since then, I’ve plotted. Extensively.
What inspired you to write in your genre? Is this the genre you started writing in or have you morphed to this one?
I always thought I’d write historicals set in Russia—I had the handy-dandy PhD and hey… I could even read the source materials in the original! I got one paragraph in and no further. I believe my hero still has his boots propped up on his desk as he kicks back in his study with his vodka, waiting for his heroine to put in an appearance. He’s going to have a long wait. Somehow, paranormals just called my name. I love making it all up, just letting my imagination rip. I’m also getting my feet wet in contemporaries now, so there is some morphing going on. I’m blessed to have an agent who is very supportive of my exploring different genres.
Do you have a favorite character you have written?
I tend to fall in love with characters making minor appearances. They enter a scene, drop a few lines, and then I start imagining what kinds of stories they could have. Vkhin, for example, is one of my Fallen warriors. He’s big and tough and disciplined—not too many words coming out of him. But… I had to wonder what kind of woman would be right for him, could make him open up. I’ve written his story as a novella that will come out Summer 2012 and, in the middle of writing that, started wondering about another character in that story… so it’s a vicious cycle. That, or I’m really, really fickle.
Who was the toughest character for you to “get right” that you have written so far?
The archangel Michael. He’s walking the line between good guy and bad guy and I honestly don’t know which side of the line he’ll end up on.
Do you draw inspiration for your characters from real life? Any fun stories you could share?
Absolutely not. Sometimes, I see body language on the train that I borrow, but, otherwise, there’s a “no real people” rule around here. Apparently, all my friends and family are deathly afraid they’ll wake up someday and find themselves immortalized on the pages of a Brava book. It’s fairly good blackmail material, though. I was actually secretly horrified, when we moved this summer, to realize that one of our new neighbors is a fire fighter—he’s absolutely gorgeous and all I could think of was: Wow, this is going to be hard to explain when my fire fighter contemporary releases in October! Obviously, the book had been written long before we moved, but still…
What do you find the hardest part of writing?
The middle of the book. I love beginning books. I love ending them. It’s the part in the middle that always poses a challenge. My agent calls it the “sagging middle syndrome”—I was just crushed to learn that, in addition to the sagging middle turning forty gifted me with, I had to worry about it in my books, too.
Name one thing that your readers would be surprised to know about you.
Some of those stereotypes about romance novelists? Are so, so true. I’m an introvert. I’ve been married for eighteen years (we take our happily-ever-afters seriously!). I have five cats, plus all the neighborhood cats that adopted me. There is absolutely no room in my house that does not contain at least one stack of books (except possibly the laundry room, now that I think about it, but that’s clearly an oversight on my part).
Do you have a guilty pleasure?
Too many… flower bulbs and gardening catalogs are a huge weakness of mine. I dig way too many holes in our yard.
What do you need before you start writing? Anything that is just a must have or the creative juice don’t flow?
Coffee. Lots and lots of coffee. Other than that, my laptop. I can brainstorm—sort of—on paper, but I can’t write the books longhand. No computer means no books.
Does music influence your writing? If so, do any of your stories have a theme song?
I love to write to music. For the Fallen, I listened mostly to club music; for contemporary, I love modern country.
If your story was optioned for a movie, who would play your characters?
I’m awful. If it’s not an animated kids’ movie or Johnny Depp, I don’t know the first thing about movies. I used to work for Pixar and they’d have all these celebrities running around the studio and I’d be like the only person there who had absolutely no idea who they were. Pixar was fun, though—one day, we had a whole bunch of sheiks and their bodyguards in the main atrium… my inner romance novelist was absolutely thrilled and gawked shamelessly from the walkway overhead.
Where were you when you got your first contract? Who did you tell first?
Apparently, I was on the train—and the train was under the San Francisco Bay, so my agent couldn’t reach me by phone and had to settle for email instead. Her email was the first thing I saw when I reached my office and booted my laptop. I’d just started a new day job and the only people in the place were me—and my new boss. So that meant that there was no one to tell! I literally bounced up and down the hall a few times, but then I had to put on my Professional Face and discuss Eclipse development environments when all I really wanted to do was squeal and go: “I’m going to be publishedpublishedpublished!”
How old were you when you read your first romance book?
Probably middle school. I know I was reading avidly by high school—mostly Harlequin category romances, then I discovered Mary Balogh and there was no stopping me. I read my first paranormal completely by accident. I’d read a Gothic by Christine Feehan and went all fan girl over it—actually cut out the coupon to mail order books and sent in a check (apparently, going to the bookstore didn’t occur to me) and, lo and behold, when the books came…. They were vampire books. Since I couldn’t figure out how to return them, I read them. And fell in love.
What author causes you to “go fan girl”/ squeal over/anticipate upcoming books?
Story. And hot alphas. But mostly it’s the story… there are just some stories I can’t get enough of.
If you still have one of those pesky non writing jobs what is it?
I do! I actually write for a living, though—I’m a technical writer for an educational software company. I write online help, user manuals, federal grant applications, UI messages… I love it. The two kinds of writing actually balance each other out and picking apart software to explain how it works is lots of fun. Getting paid to do it is, of course, even more fun.
What are you currently working on, and what else is in the wings?
There will be at least one novella set in the world of the Fallen; Savage Bond will be a Summer 2012 release (June 1st! I have an absolutely lovely cover from the amazing Anne Caine). This is Vkhin’s story. I also have my first contemporary release on 10.30.2012—Burning Up focuses on some very sexy smoke jumpers who parachute out of planes into the heart of wildland fires to save the day.
If you could co-write with another author who would it be?
I’ve never thought about co-writing, to be honest, but now you’ve got my imagination all fired up! Someone like Sarah McCarty comes to mind. Her Shadow Wranglers books are just amazing, both from the point of view of the world-building and the depth of emotion her characters experience. Plus, she writes smoking hot shifters like nobody’s business. Writing with her would be fun. Karin Tabke is another that comes to mind. I just finished Blood Law and, again, smoking hot alphas and a sexy, sexy world.
How do you pick your characters names?
I visit baby name sites. I think that’s caused my husband more than one scare. He thought we were expecting quintuplets, but I was just naming a small army of Fallen angels.
Do you prefer the love at first sight approach or a steady growth throughout?
For books or real life? I’m open to either, but I do believe that, even if there is that instant zing and oh-wow-this-IS-the-one when two people meet, there needs to be steady growth. That’s what it takes to make a marriage or any long-term partnership work as far as I’m concerned.
What is your reaction to people who say one of the following…”Oh you write romance, I thought you were a real writer”, “Romance isn’t a real writing career” or the ever popular “Oh, one of those books”.
I do get those comments. My October 2012 release was featured in Time Magazine in December 2011 (they were doing an article on romance novel covers and heroes) and that also really helps to shut the doubters up. If it was good enough for Time, it’s good enough. Plus, this is one of those rare occasions where having a PhD in Slavic Languages and Literatures actually turns out to be useful. I wave my dissertation in front of them and they’re so very, very glad that they don’t have to read that that the romance suddenly seems palatable. Honestly, other than some MFA folks, most people are really just more intrigued that I can
a) string together 90,000 words and
b) convince someone to pay me to do it.
Where can readers find you?
Yes! Please come say hello—it can get very lonely out there in social media land! I love chatting with folks on Twitter and am just getting my feet wet with Facebook.
And for the silly side – What is your favorite type of chocolate?
I have to pick just one? That’s cruel! I discovered chocolate covered cherries this Christmas…. Otherwise, anything orange or with chili in it.