Sharon, thank you for being with us today and for your recent interview with Terra. :) Your novel sounds fantastic and I'm adding it to my wishlist!
Sharon: Holly, my witch-for-hire heroine, is reluctant to use more complex and draining magic because she was injured as a child. It causes her a lot of pain to use that much power, so she sticks to the easier jobs even though they don’t pay as well. When she finally has to use big M spells, it takes a lot of courage.
In other words, it’s fairly simple why she hesitates. Our basic survival instinct says: if something hurts, don’t do it--unless, of course, one is referring to to-die-for shoes, aerobics, and watching some episodes of American Idol.
Terra: Holly’s grandmother seems to be a real hoot, she’s more than gifted with her art of witchcraft so why keep her hidden away as she is instead of her having more to do with Holly’s development in the magical arts? It’s almost as if Holly is reluctant for her grandmother’s help, why is that?
Sharon: Grandma is basically retired from the witch biz. She has her own place, her own social life, and is quite happy that way. She doesn’t want to live with Holly any longer—like many strong women, they can love each other, but get on each others’ nerves if they live under the same roof. You know how it goes: Grandma chain smokes like a dragon, Holly plays loud music, and who gets to clean up the mess left from the latest exploding-ghoul spell?
Grandma raised Holly and has taught her as much as she can, given Holly’s injuries. However, when Holly comes looking for help and is willing to push herself further, Grandma’s eager to get involved. Holly isn’t reluctant to seek her advice, but is cautious about dragging her arthritic, elderly grandmother into something that might be physically dangerous. I doubt Grandma would agree with that—she’d say she was good for a few more battles yet, thank you very much. There’s always that potential for friction between generations, each thinking they know what’s best for the other.
Terra: Alessandro is very much in love with Holly and equally so for his Queen. If it came down to him having to choose between them do you think he could, knowing full well that the one he doesn’t choose would not only be in grave danger but could very well be killed because of it. Being devoutly loyal and honor bound to a fault could he possibly survive emotionally with his choice of female knowing how high the stakes are?
Sharon: You’re right. Alessandro is passionately in love with Holly, but he also has a strong loyalty to his queen, Omara. The queen has been his lover in the past, she took him into her service when he needed a protector, and she is a powerful advocate for the vampires. On the other hand, Omara is power-happy, manipulative, jealous and often cruel. She’s a complex individual, neither entirely good nor bad; a clever politician but very hard to deal with on a personal level.
Alessandro tries to work around his conflicting obligations, but when Omara pushes him too far, all bets are off. He’s prepared to sacrifice everything. I’m not going to give away more than that, but Alessandro does find a way to hold the ultimate trump card. He has a brain as well as a big, um, sword.
Terra: The master demon is quite creative and I must say that this is the first time I have heard of such potent kisses, how did you come up with that as one of the demon’s most deadly weapons? Is it from the saying, “The breath of life is the kiss of death”?
Sharon: In Ravenous, the soul-eating demon’s kiss infects a mortal with what amounts to a metaphysical virus. It’s also a handy-dandy vehicle for a romance author to get their characters up to no good.
To be honest I can’t remember exactly what inspired the idea of the demon’s kiss. It probably came from a folk tale—Mothers throughout history were busy coming up with gruesome stories to frighten their kids away from hanky-panky out behind the cow barn. Of course, being me, the effects of the fatal smooch are pretty twisted!
Terra: Considering Holly comes from the world of magic and even though she is human, why does she feel so uncomfortable with Alessandro considering their close working relationship?
Sharon: Vampires in my world are venomous. Their bite is orgasm-inducing but highly addictive, so the fun times end in junkie slavedom and death. But, since the world is filled with idiots, vampires don’t go hungry. Not being an idiot, Holly is aware of the consequences of a workplace romance.
Her nerves come from the fact that he’s potentially dangerous, and also that she’s attracted to him. Like every other female, Holly has a soft spot for the bad-for-you guy.
Terra: If Alessandro had the chance at finding a soul mate that could make him finally feel complete and a real part of something more, do you really feel that he could accept that soul mate knowing not only is it something that would normally be forbidden but would he be comfortable with the soul mates mortality?
Sharon: Ravenous plays with the idea of power balance in relationships—both personal and social. For instance, Alessandro and Holly can’t truly be together as long as her power is impaired—she’s just too vulnerable. He’s afraid of destroying the woman he loves and has more or less given up hope for a satisfying relationship.
At the same time, Holly’s having her own problems with her human boyfriend, who is scared to death of her magic. And then there’s the vampire queen, who is the personification of power gone wrong.
My hero and heroine need to get rid of bad relationships that are holding them back and engage in intense self-development seminars to find a place of personal power, love and a complimentary spa visit—no, wait, backspace over that. Basically, they need to balance their magic so she doesn’t fry the vamp and he doesn’t eat the witch. Then they can get it on.
Terra: You are a budding author writing in a genre of great interest in the literary world, will you continue writing Urban Fantasy, Paranormal, Romance and will there be any follow up books to Ravenous?
Sharon: Absolutely. These books are a blast to write! There is a sequel planned for release late in 2009, and the tentative title is Scorched. My website is www.SharonAshwood.com and I’ll be posting more details as they become available.
Terra: Our demons seem to be targeting a particular type of female, why are they being so selective with their choice of target after being locked away for so long?
Sharon: That would be a spoiler.
Terra: I love your opening scene with the Flanders House, a great paranormal experience with all the bells and whistles. Is this something that you might incorporate more in future stories?
Sharon: I love to write atmosphere and enjoyed that scene a lot. I was a little nervous it might be skirting too close to horror for some readers, but I haven’t had any complaints, so stay tuned for more. I’ve always had a taste for spooky stuff.
Terra: Have you ever had otherworldly experiences? Is so could you elaborate a bit and if not how fearful would you be if you suddenly ran into something that went bump in the night?
Sharon: Um—that would depend on who’s doing the bumping! I’ve talked to some people who’ve had very scary encounters. I’ve been startled or weirded out but never truly felt threatened by ghosts. Most of the time they seem to be doing their own thing and, as long as that’s the case, I’m quite happy to ignore them. That being said, on occasion I’ve “cleansed” dwellings where something has upset the living residents. No, we weren’t wearing white hazmat suits and carrying a vacuum cleaner, although the thought is tempting. I love a good cliché.
It is true that places with water or roads under them get more than their fair share of spooks. I got into this stuff because I grew up in a house that used to be on an old path. That place had the textbook creepy corner of the basement. Jars would fly across the room and smash, cushions would depress when no one was sitting on them, that sort of thing. After a while it seemed almost routine, but now I’m a lot more careful about where I choose to live. Peace and quiet is nice.
Terra: Your story is well put together and nicely balanced. How much time did it take you to write this and did you have to do extensive research to make all the demons sound plausible?
Sharon: Ravenous has been around for a while and it’s been through a few incarnations. I started it around 2005 but didn’t work steadily at the project, so an accurate estimate as to how long it actually took is hard. As for research, I drew a lot from myth and folklore, which I’ve read all my life. Some creatures, like the changelings, I just made up.
That’s the great thing about writing fiction—if you discover you need something, poof, it’s there! I’ve got an entire “monsterpedia” on my website filled with fun facts and details about the Dark Forgotten universe—mostly so I can keep it all straight myself!
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Sharon is giving away an autographed copy of her book so please leave a comment and your e-mail addy. Maybe you'll be the lucky winner!