Interview with Christa Paige
Hey all you Paranormal Romantics readers, please join me in welcoming the fabulous author Christa Paige to our realm today. Thank you for taking the time to be with us!!
I am so very thrilled to be here with fellow paranormal romance lovers.
So, I have to start out and ask the obvious question. Tell me about the Blood-Vine. How did the idea come to you and (please) will there be more of them? Did you do any research for the ritual or was this entirely out of your imagination? It is so impressive.
The very first word I ever wrote for the Blood-Vine was “death”. Not very romantic, I know. I continued on though and thirty pages later I found myself in a quandary, I needed back-story. A lot of it. So, what began as a stand-alone paranormal romance turned into a series. After I accepted the inevitable, needing to go back in time some and establish this community of people, I sat down, determined to write-something. Nothing came to mind. I started looking into longevity mythos, hoping for a unique angle within the paranormal genre. When I stumbled upon an actual village in the country of Georgia, where people reportedly lived long, healthy lives, I was ecstatic. As I researched, I put pieces together in my mind, using the things that worked perfectly and discarding some of the irrelevant information. With the basis of my vampire history formed, I turned to the first problem I had to fix. I needed a reason for the bad guy to turn evil and settled on the premise of a jilted suitor.
Around the same time that I decided on the event that pushes the villain over the edge, I saw snippets of a ritual unfolding in my mind’s eye. During our annual vacation to Lake Havasu, I shared the story issues with my mother. While we floated on loungers in the cool lake water, we discussed all the plot holes, back-story information and talked about how the people became vampires. By the end of the vacation, the first story had been fleshed out, in my thoughts at least, and I had a foundation. My people would have altered DNA due to ingesting a now extinct berry. Once home, laundry going and pizza ordered, I opened up my laptop eager to dive right into my new paranormal world.
My first attempt with the bonding rites had a humorous tone to it. Anna, the heroine, approached the three golden goblets which contained the blood of her fated mate. While she stood before the altar, ready to choose one, she had an amusing discussion with herself as she imagined the cups were bachelors on the Dating Game. It went something like this:
She bent her head and inhaled. One of the samples smelled different from the others. It drew her attention. Cocking up an eyebrow, she queried it in her mind.
So bachelor number two, you have a unique scent. Part musky, part wild. What type of lover are you?
When no answer came she ‘tsked’ under her breath and tried really hard to hide her internal discourse in case someone should sense where her mind had wandered and think she had completely lost her sanity.
It took a little while for me to realize that the humor had to go. I decided the mood needed to be serious. After all, this ritual could kill Anna. One slip up, by choosing the wrong goblet, and death might follow.
When I completed the first draft of Bound By Deception, I sent it to a few members of my critique group. They suggested expanding on the ritual, really making it a focal point of the story. So, more brainstorming occurred. One of my fellow critiquers really liked the whole bound for life idea and christened it “forced monogamy.” A scary thought, for sure, but one an author can enjoy twisting around for each consecutive installment.
So, to answer your question regarding how I came up with the Blood-Vine, it really evolved over time, either through gentle prodding of my imagination, suggestions of readers and an integration of the longevity mythos of the Abkhazian people. All-in-all, I made it up.
I am excited to share that Liquid Silver Books has contracted the second in the series, Bound By Rebellion. In that story, I got to take the blood-mate issue and show how a couple can temporarily get around it. Look for Luke and Katiya’s story due out early winter 2010.
Right now, I am working on the third story featuring Traian. He is the brother of Anna and is featured in Bound By Deception. From early on, I had a soft spot for Tray. He is just so callous and stoic, but he is also deadly. Writing his story has been an absolute adventure. In the second book, readers are given a tiny glimpse of Mikhail, Anna’s youngest brother. In Tray’s novel, he and Mikhail spend much time together. It is an absolute joy writing them. Where Tray is irreverent and calculating, Mikhail is a smart ass. I can’t wait for readers to see those two in the third installment. Two utterly sexy vampires with seduction on their brains!
Originally, the Blood-Vine series was going to be five stories all tied into one family. A few months ago, my mind was bombarded by a hero not in Anna’s immediate family. He is her cousin. That story is going to be a much longer novel. The hero is Sevastian and tragedy rocks his family to the core. In the middle of it all, hangs the fate of a young female and Vastian learns he might be the only one to save her. It means sacrificing everything to do it. He is not sure that he is cut out for hero material but he is Thalia’s only hope at survival. This story features the Burial Ritual of my people. Let me tell you, it is a doozy.
As you can see, I have plans for the Blood-Vine to continue on. I hope that readers will find the people of the Blood-Vine as intriguing as I do. I always enjoy it when someone tells me which male vampire they love the most. Traian seems to win a lot. He is such a bad boy!
Can we have an excerpt?
Sure, here is an excerpt of Traian’s novel:
The room was empty. A prim, stultifying assistant had shuttled him into the office to “await the doctor, who would be along in a few moments”. He didn’t mind the wait. It gave him time to examine the chamber, to look for things that could help him deduce what occurred in the past. Yet, when he scanned the walls, the file cabinet and even the bookcases, there was nothing of any personal value. No pictures, no mementos, not even a whimsical figurine to give the space a womanly touch. Instead, the white walls held diplomas and licenses with a few award certificates to make the display complete. The shelves on the bookcase were immaculately dusted and the reference books all arranged in alphabetical order. Atop her desk, sat a plain blotter and the squares of the calendar had neatly written entries. A Mont Bloc pen stood perfectly straight, in an efficient looking contraption, which held paper clips and other office supplies. A flat screen monitor faced away from him and he wondered if perhaps, there, she had some small part of her waiting for discovery.
Cocking his head to the side, he concentrated on all the sounds in the general reception area. He heard the secretary on the phone scheduling appointments, papers turning as clients read celebrity rags and the low hum of the television set to a talk show. No one walked this direction. In a quick move, he turned the monitor to face him. The screen saver bumped around and he watched in awe as a picture of two smiling girls zipped from corner to corner. The littlest had missing teeth on the top and the older one had pig tails tied off in pink bows. They wore matching outfits and it didn’t take a genius to figure out the two were sisters. God, were those her daughters?
Was she married?
For a moment, he ceased to breathe. A killing jealous rage kindled in his gut as he thought about the man who had married her, fathered her children. God damn the man who had touched her, who had made love to her, who had taken her from him.
He nearly knocked the monitor over when he shoved it back into place. He couldn’t stand to look at that picture. It reminded him of the past, of losing Bethany. Again.
Soft footfalls drew his notice. Settling back in his chair, he tried to tamp down the aggression simmering in his blood. He just needed a minute to see her. To make sure she was happy. Then, he would get the hell out of there and continue on with his miserable, lonely life.
The door opened and he couldn’t help his automatic response. The instant she walked through the threshold, he turned his head and watched her stride into the chamber. Oh Christ, she had grown up and the infatuation he had felt those many years ago shattered into a million bits. It was replaced by a desire so great, so intense, that miraculously he didn’t bolt out of his chair, back her to the wall, claiming her, irrevocably, as his.
Making a fist, he clenched every muscle in his body, forcing himself to remain seated. But it was a hard task to endure. She brushed past him and walked behind her desk. A mixture of expensive perfume and natural femininity tickled his nose, teasing his senses. He tracked her every step, watching the way she moved. Beautiful did not even begin to describe the woman now standing in front of him. Though, it was immediately apparent that she tried to stifle her looks by hiding them with nondescript clothes. But that hardly mattered. The way her plain black, A-line skirt hugged her hips and tight ass did something to his pulse. It kicked up, pumping double time as he imagined running his hands over those curves, gripping tightly and pulling her against him. Then they would be thigh to thigh, chest to breast with no space separating them.
But she is a mother, married, not available for your torrid needs, he admonished himself. However, he had no power to rip his stare away. It settled at those lovely swells, gently hugged by a silky pin-striped blouse. He could make out the line of her bra. It was plain white with a front clasp. Perfect for easy removal.
Hell! Shaking his head, he battened down the lustful images flitting through his mind and steeled himself for the moment when their eyes would meet. Would she recognize him? Damn, but he wanted her to remember him. It would make things a little easier. Perhaps, it would soothe the beast inside which he struggled to keep caged behind an aloof mask.
A sliver of a second ticked by and he tipped his head back just enough to see her face. The instant he saw her mouth, the line of her lips pursed together, he wanted to soften them with his kiss. He longed to nip, suckling until they were swollen and bee stung. As if somehow his thoughts reached her, the tip of her tongue slid out and moistened the bottom lip. His pulse jacked up and his body hardened an instinctual reaction to such an evocative sight. She had pale skin, tinged with a natural blush which highlighted her cheekbones. That pink flush stood out a little too much for his liking. It wasn’t age causing them to draw his notice. Instead, he realized, belatedly, that her entire body lacked healthy curves. Thin didn’t adequately describe it. Undernourished, did.
What the hell had happened to all those luscious curves?
Forcing his gaze up, he finally met her penetrating stare. Beth’s eyes had always drawn him in and this happened once again. Wide and elegant, the almond shape gave her an air of innocence. The light brown had little flecks of gold dotted throughout the darker color. Most people would not be able to make out the different shades of amber but his preternatural eyesight allowed a deeper inspection. She met his look, lifted one finely arched eyebrow at his perusal.
“Are you finished?”
Her voice washed over him. Soft and yet concise, she knew that he had been checking her out. He grinned, “Not yet.” Taking his time, he deliberately continued his inspection allowing his stare to linger as he took in the fall of her long hair. His palms tingled wanting to touch and grip the thick tendrils as he brought her close, guiding her up to his hungry kiss.
God! And he was hungry. Starving even. It took all his power to keep his fangs right where they were, retracted within his gums. No way in hell, would he allow his base needs free rein. Not at his age. He did not pant and salivate like a randy youth! After all, he was the scary one of the family, cold and calculating. Deadly. Beth looked like the type who should have a man that cuddled and doted upon her. The kind of affection he gave would probably leave bruises.
The instant he thought of that, he found his stare fixed at her throat. He could almost see two neat puncture wounds, left from his claiming. An overwhelming desire to bite her there, marking her as his, hit him like a fiery hot bolt of lust. Shifting in his seat, he gritted his teeth and willed his demons into submission. Not today. Not ever!
“Ok,” he said his tone a tad deeper than normal. Luckily no other of his kind was around to hear that telltale edge in his voice.
“Ok, what?” she asked him with a business-like efficiency.
“I am done,” he almost laughed but only smirked.
“Very well then,” Beth retorted before sitting down into her big, leather chair. She leaned over and retrieved a file folder. Opening it, she set it on top of the blotter. Reaching for the pen, she looked directly at him, smiled, and asked, “What brings you here today, Mr. Komar?”
He drew in a lungful of air, waited and exhaled. Finally, he said, “You, Beth.”
I’ve been to your website, http://www.christapaige.com/blog/ and I noticed that you keep a playlist on it. How important is music to your writing and how do you use it to inspire you?
I have to listen to background music when I write. For some reason, it keeps me going. The moods of various songs help me with particular scenes and I do rely heavily on playlists that I have created for each story. I think I started out using the music to drown out the Disney channel babble from the television set. Then a close author friend of mine suggested a few artists I might find inspiring. They were Evanescence and Enya. She was right. I did like them. So now, I compile a playlist for the different parts of each story. I told my massage therapist that I loved a song he had playing in the background for ambience. After that, he took it up as his personal assistance to my writing career. So now, when I go in for my appointments, he has a whole slew of song choices I can listen to. Just this week, he gave me an old Cure album. He said there was a perfect song on there for Tray’s dilemma. He was spot on. The song is called, Trust from the album Wish. The lyrics that stick out for me in this beautiful musical arrangement are so poignant. The hardest part for you is to put your trust in me. I love you more than I can say. Why won't you just believe?
Tray has so much to overcome in his story and I always welcome song suggestions. Like I indicated on my website, if anyone has a great, emotive song they think will work for my playlists, please feel free to email me at email@example.com. Put “playlist song” in the subject line and if I use it I will acknowledge that on my playlist page.
What do you know now about publishing that you didn’t when you started and wish you had?
I had observed from the sidelines as two of my close friends traversed the uphill battle of the publishing industry. They shared the steps with me, sometimes while they needed to vent and others when they needed congratulating. So, when I jumped in to the publishing pool, I thought I had a fairly decent grasp of what was going to happen. The only thing I wasn’t prepared for was the social networking and promotion aspect. I never really thought beyond submissions and contracts. The week after I signed for Bound By Deception, I sat there thinking how in the world would people even know about me, or want to read my particular story. Sometimes I still worry about this. I have been so fortunate to be a part of Liquid Silver Books. The authors there are so friendly, open, and accepting. Through them, I have been involved in promotional type things. But, I am still getting acclimated to the whole getting out and being seen networking thing. I think being more prepared for the time it takes to keep up twitter and blogging would have benefitted me greatly. I had never really blogged before and twitter is a whole other thing. When my close friend, an aspiring author, realized how much work it takes outside of the actual book writing part of being a novelist, she calmly told me she would prefer writing as a hobby.
There is a ton of work involved behind the scenes of publishing. I am so fortunate to be there, sharing my paranormal world with readers.
A lot of our readers seem to be fellow writers, who do you read? Who inspires you to write better?
My “to be read list” is pretty long right now. I read a variety of genres spanning from romance to FBI thriller and toss in a scorching contemporary here and there. I am a Lora Leigh junkie and any of her Breed books will have me in a mad rush to the bookstore on release days. I am an unequivocal Alpha Male fan, the more dominant and possessive he is, the better. My first love was Regency Romance. I adore an autocratic duke with the requisite supercilious eyebrow quirking. The breeches and hessians are a bonus. I admire the painstaking perfection of Laura Kinsale and Pamela Clare, their historical books are simply amazing.
One of the neat things about being involved in e-publishing is that there are so many books available at the simple click of a mouse. There are such talented authors in the e-fic world. I am constantly adding to my “must get” book shopping list. All the paranormal authors at LSB have caught my interest. I can’t wait to delve into more of their worlds.
I am always impressed with how the e-fic authors are able to juggle their personal lives and writing. It seems as if they have huge backlists and are continually offering more for the readers. That publishing rate inspires me to keep going with my own WIPS.
What is the process you use to write a really fantastic love scene? Do you find it hard?
Does banging my head on the desk, gritting my teeth, and sometimes swearing count as a writing process? The love scenes are so hard to execute. Sometimes, I make myself blush and when I read something I just typed out, I can’t believe that those lines came from my imagination. I find it utterly difficult to write a love scene. If I am not obsessing on how many times I wrote the word “thrust”, I am panicking that I forgot to put someone’s leg in the right position. Once, I forgot to undress my heroine and no one noticed after three edits. Thankfully, I found it before I sent it to my publisher. So far, I have not been able to write a slow, passion-filled seduction. All my heroes are simply too demanding. They want their internal demons unchained so they can claim what belongs to them. I am going to triumph, though. One day, there will be a sweet, slow loving in one of my stories.
Tell me about your muse, what is she like?
Currently my muse is one loud mouthy, smart ass vampire named Mikhail. While brainstorming Traian’s novel with some of my family members, Thanksgiving night, Mikhail was front and center in my mind. Every time someone suggested an idea for the scene, he would provide a running monologue with all his trademark quips. I think he wants me to write his romance, oh wait, I hear nothing now. It’s all crickets. He must have run away the moment I gave him a peek at his heroine.
My muse usually comes in the form of the character I am working on. They all love to pop into my thoughts while I am busy doing something other than writing. Usually, I will have some irreverent dialogue, or a naughty image plaguing me until I find time to write it down. Whether on a napkin, a receipt or the kid’s homework. Yes, I did do that once- I am a beholden to their demands.
How do you combat writers block?
I don’t try to force it. I found a few days of watching television, flipping through magazines, and reading for pleasure often allows my mind the time it needs to recuperate. If one story is difficult to write, then I will open up another one and see if those characters are willing to come out and play. If I can’t come up with any prose, well there is always WordMoJo.
What are you working on now?
I have four stories I am working on right now. As I said earlier, Traian’s story is taking up much of my writing time. Also, I have Sevastian’s novel open. That story takes a lot out of me, so I write in long sessions and then leave it for a while. I am beginning the sequel to my holiday story Irish Kiss. That series is contemporary romance with sexy Detectives from the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Dept. and I had such fun with the first one. There are many law enforcement people in my family and being able to use the things I know about was a total blast. Finally, for some time now, I have been writing a Regency Paranormal historical romance. It is based on the Roman Pantheon and the hero is Mercury. That story was the first book I ever thought about actually trying to have published. I hope someday to have my wish to see it completed and published come true.
Please tell our readers how they can learn more about you.
I have a website at www.christapaige.com and I am on Twitter as well: http://twitter.com/ChristaPaige. My blog is at my website and I always love it when someone leaves me a comment. Also, if anyone has any questions for me, I am happy to receive email and try to answer it in a timely fashion. firstname.lastname@example.org
I am often posting at Liquid Silver’s forum and at their Silver Expressions Blog.
I have author interviews at places like Coffee Time Romance, who are currently running a contest for me, the Romance Studio, and Night Owl Romance.
Thanks for being here Christa. I can’t wait for more!
Thanks so much, Rebecca, I had a blast and am honored to be a part of Paranormal Romantics today.