Thursday, June 11, 2009
The Trouble With Demons by Lisa Shearin
Terra: What is the best thing that has changed in your life since becoming a published author?
Lisa: My fans. There is absolutely nothing better than getting fan emails, especially when I’m having a tough day at the keyboard. I love hearing how much they love my characters, whether they’re “Team Mychael” or “Team Tam,” that they “devoured” the books, read the books multiple times, can’t wait for the next one, and urge me to write faster. One of the main reasons why I stuck it out for over 20 years and was so determined to get published was that I had these stories to share and I just knew if I could get them out there that readers would love them and my characters just as much as I do.
Terra: Your books are set in a traditional fantasy world with elves and goblins, but the tone is snarky and has a contemporary feel. Why did you decide to put a heroine with contemporary sensibilities in a Tolkien-esque world of swords and magic?
Lisa: Anyone looking at my bookshelves can see that I love genre fiction: fantasy, detective, action adventure, mystery, romantic comedy, crime capers, and political thrillers. I think that over the years they all just sort of merged in my head and Raine Benares and her world was the result. I simply wrote the type of books I wanted to read, but couldn’t quite find. Well, that and Raine didn’t give me a choice.
Mixing contemporary sensibilities with traditional fantasy was a hard line to walk. I resisted doing it for as long as I could, but I finally gave in. Raine’s voice just wouldn’t be forced into traditional “fantasy speak,” and third-person was out of the question—Raine let me know that in no uncertain terms from day one. Once I started writing in first-person, I immediately found her voice, and I really knew I was on to something when my other characters started coming out of the woodwork as if they heard their cue to come on stage.
Terra: Armed & Magical also has a romantic element, with Raine juggling the attentions of Mychael, a handsome elven knight, and Tam, a sexy goblin dark mage and nightclub owner. Can you tell us more about your goblins? How are they different from the traditional ones?
Lisa: I wanted to do something different with my elves and goblins. I have two finished manuscripts in my office closet that I consider practice books for what I’m writing now. In those books, I went with the more traditional idea of elves. In fact, the character that eventually became Raine was an elf princess, of all things. Knowing Raine now, I look back on that and it cracks me up. When I started writing this series, I decided that not only should Raine be non-royal, she should be from a family of criminals, and she had to work for a living. No hoity-toity elves for me (at least not for Raine and her pirate cousin Phaelan). However, there are a few hoity-toity, pure-blood elves, most notably Raine’s nemesis, a high-elf mage named Carnades Silvanus.
And as to my goblins—I wanted my goblins to be mysterious, sexy, and dangerous. At the goblin court, conspiracy, deception, and seduction are a way of life—not to mention a goblin’s idea of a good time. My goblins are tall, lean, silvery skinned, and wicked sexy. They have long, black hair, and a pair of fangs that aren’t for decorative use only, Tamnais Nathrach is the main goblin in my series, and one of two love interests for Raine. He’s a former duke and dark mage who has been forced due to mysterious circumstances to flee the goblin court. Tam arrives in Raine’s home city of Mermeia and opens the most notorious nightclub and gambling parlor in the city.
Raine’s other potential love interest is Mychael Eiliesor, who’s just your basic tall, hot, and handsome elf. He’s the commander of the Conclave Guardians, the most elite magical fighting force in the seven kingdoms. At first he’s after Raine to keep the Saghred (the stone of cataclysmic power that’s bonded itself to her) from falling into the wrong hands; later he wants to keep Raine from falling into anyone’s hands except his own. Raine begins to suspect that there’s a lot more to Mychael than meets the eye. She’s right.
Terra: And I understand that you’ve recently become a columnist for The Writer magazine.
Lisa: I’d written about The Writer being my favorite writing magazine because it had articles that a writer could use at any point in their career—pre-published, newly published, and established author. And I felt the articles did more than scratch the surface; they dug down into a topic and gave me information that I could actually use. Well, apparently Sarah Lange, the associate editor, had Google Alerts set up for mentions of her magazine online. She commented on my blog that day, which was a huge thrill. And she apparently became a regular reader of my blog. She emailed me and said that she liked my blog and wanted to offer me my own column. And yes, when I read that email there was some serious squeeing involved. I’d always dreamed of having my own column in The Writer magazine. My column will be in the “Take Note” section in the front of the magazine and will be called “Dueling with Words” and will cover fiction writing. My first article will appear in the August 2009 issue, which will be out in early July.
Lisa will be giving away two signed copies of The Trouble with Demons, along with signed bookmarks and postcards from all three books. Make sure and leave Lisa a question pertaining to her books and your email addy to be entered in the giveaway.
Here is an excerpt from Lisa’s third Raine Benares adventure, The Trouble with Demons, on sale now.
I heard the creak of leather as Tam came to stand directly behind me, the heat of his body warming me. Warm and nice. Except it wasn’t nice; it was dangerous. Don’t forget dangerous, Raine. Tam was dangerous to anyone who crossed his path, but mostly to me, especially now.
And I was dangerous to everyone, period.
Tam’s strong hands settled on my shoulders and gently pulled me back against him. I knew it was a bad idea, but I leaned into him anyway, my head resting on his chest. Just a minute or two wouldn’t do any harm. A little comforting never hurt anyone, and right now, I could use some.
Our reflections looked back at us out of the glass.
I watched Tam’s hands slide from my shoulders to my arms. His hands were deliciously warm. My numerous brushes with death today had left me shivering—and not just from cold.
“I’m sorry,” he whispered. Those two words said everything, but told me nothing.
Tam could be sorry for any number of things: the bond that linked us, using me to cram that demon into a bottle, me being accused of practicing black magic, or even the crap heap my life had become thanks to the Saghred. But it didn’t tell me what I could do about any of them. The only thing I wanted more than to run was to do something, anything to find a way out of all of this.
Tam wrapped his arms around me, pulling me closer, his head bowed, hair falling in a silken curtain around us. The side of his face softly brushed against mine, like a cat—a big, dangerous cat. A shiver ran through me. This was about to go beyond comforting.
My heart sped up, and not just from Tam’s touch and his scent of fire-heated spices, of cinnamon and cloves. Getting within arms’ reach of Tam had always been risky; the kind of risk where your clothes somehow ended up on the floor. Now risk had turned to danger. Thanks to our bond, we were as intimate as two people could be and still keep their clothes on. The Saghred had forged our bond.
The rock never did anything without a reason—and no wards held it now.
I swallowed hard. “Tam, no.”
“Raine, I would never hurt you.” Tam’s voice was a husky whisper against my ear. It was the whisper of a man torn between what he wanted and the knowledge that what he wanted could ultimately destroy him. Tam wanted me. Tam’s black magic wanted the Saghred. Deep down, he knew it. He knew it and he didn’t care—or he couldn’t stop himself.
In one swift, smooth move, Tam turned me to face him. I didn’t fight him; I needed to see his eyes, to see if Tam was the only one home in there. I looked up into twin pools in a midnight forest. Not the solid black orbs that they’d been under the embassy, no black magic glittering there, just desire. A woman could drown in those pools. I could drown in those pools. But if did, I’d drag Tam under with me. It might not be tonight, but it would happen. The Saghred would see to it.
“No, Tam,” I said quietly. “I’m the one who would hurt you.”
His heart pounded beneath my hands as he pulled me tight against him, his body hard against mine, his breath warm against the tip of my ear. I expected his lips next, followed by a nibble of fang. Neither happened. We stood there, not moving, not speaking, not safe. Definitely not safe. And we both knew it.
Tam pulled back just enough to gaze down at me. “It won’t happen yet.” His denial was murmured on the barest breath. He bent his head, his lips poised above mine. “Not yet.”
I didn’t stop him, and I should have.
Tam’s kiss was a brush of featherlight silk, tentative, cautious; but his breathing had taken on a ragged edge—for me and for the power that had slowed to a soft pulse inside of me, anticipating, waiting. The touch of his lips quickened that pulse, and my breath along with it. Suddenly I was returning his kiss, my mouth pressing insistently against his, my tongue touching the smooth sharpness of his fangs. Tam shivered at the contact, and his breath came in a quick hiss as his long fingers gripped my hair, holding my head still as he kissed me hard and deep, devouring. His other hand left my waist to explore other places. I heard a soft groan; I think it was me. A slim slice of my consciousness knew it was more than me, more than Tam.
Stop this, Raine. Stop it now.
My hands took on a life of their own, sliding from Tam’s chest to his throat. I lingered there, my fingers resting against the vulnerable pulse point, feeling it quicken and throb at my touch. Tam’s arms tightened around me, and suddenly my feet weren’t touching the floor.
This was more than sensation, more than Tam and me. Magic curled in a sensuous swirl of heat through my belly and lower, along my skin and through my mind, and I saw Tam and I pressed together as if I were standing outside my body, a witness to passion that I had no control over. Tam’s magic answered mine, his power responding, transforming those swirls into living vines, touching, entangling.
Heat flared in the center of my chest, awake and eager, and I came back to myself, passion turned to panic.
I wasn’t across the room; I was clenched tightly in Tam’s arms. Our lips parted and we froze, pressed together, breathing fast, our hearts beating faster. Inside of me, the Saghred’s burn went from an exultant blaze to a triumphant smolder.
The rock had just given Tam a sample of the ultimate fix and a taste of me along with it. For a recovering addict, it could be damnation. Tam might be willing to risk it; I wasn’t going to risk Tam or myself.
I got my hands between us and pushed hard against his chest. “Tam, let me go.”
I was panting, so was he. A shudder ran through his body and his hold on me loosened just enough that my feet touched the floor. I was ready to fight him if I had to, but Tam released me.
“I’m sorry,” he managed between breaths.
I pulled air into my lungs, trying to clear my head, and took two steps back. I’d have retreated further, but my back was against the glass wall. Tam made no move to come after me.
I exhaled and tried for some more air. “My fault. Shouldn’t have . . . let you get that close.”
Tam’s lips were parted, breathing softly. “I should have had more control.”
His dark eyes were still drowning pools, reflecting fear at what had happened, but desire at what we’d done. I looked away. I couldn’t drown if I didn’t go swimming again.
“Though control would be easier to come by if you didn’t feel so good.” There was still fear in Tam’s eyes, but his sly grin was sex itself. “And if you hadn’t tried to stick your tongue down my throat.”
“I didn’t try to—” Then memory collided with sensation. Oh yes, I did. Damn.
“Maybe next time we should just stand across the room and talk dirty to each other,” he suggested.
“There can’t be a next time.”
Tam didn’t answer. He might be a scoundrel, but he didn’t make promises he couldn’t keep.