I’m pleased to welcome author Michelle Rowen here today to Dark Faerie Tales to talk about Nightshade, the first book in her new Nightshade urban fantasy series. You can read the first two chapters of Nightshade here.
One lucky commenter will have a chance to win a copy of Nightshade. Michelle will stop by periodically, so you can leave any questions or comments that you have below. As always, details are listed at the end of the post.
National bestselling author Michelle Rowen writes paranormal romance, urban fantasy, and young adult fantasy. She was the winner of the 2007 Holt Medallion for Best First Book and the 2009 Romantic Times Reviewers Choice award for Vampire Romance.
Sure! Nightshade is the first book about Jillian Conrad, a woman who’s swept into a dangerous world she never knew existed when she’s injected with a serum that turns her blood both poisonous and irresistible to vampires. She is kidnapped from her normal life by a dhampyr assassin who wants to use her as a pawn to kill a vampire king.
DFT: Can you tell us a little about the main characters in Nightshade?
Jill is your average office worker, who discovers her own strength through extreme adversity—she’s a survivor, something she didn’t even realize. Declan is a scarred, dhampyr assassin who’s on a serum that keep his vampire tendencies at bay, but also dampen his emotions. He’s more accustomed to killing people than protecting them—that is, until he meets Jill and must make a choice about her continuing survival in his harsh and dangerous world.
DFT: If you could describe your main characters with only 3 words, what would they be?
Let’s see… for Jillian, I’d say: stubborn, survivor, and industrious. Declan would be: strong, dangerous, and dedicated.
DFT: Why did you decide to write an urban fantasy series?
I’m drawn to this genre because I like to write very heroine-centric novels. Urban fantasies, to me, can focus on the heroine’s journey and anything else added to the mix only enhances that. I feel there are arguably fewer rules in UF, compared to PNR (although Nightshade is marketed as paranormal romance I consider it an urban fantasy with romantic elements), and boundaries can be pushed a bit.
DFT: I like the fact that Jillian is just a normal girl and not just another hard broiled, special ability laden, extreme fighter urban fantasy heroine. What made you decide to cast Jillian outside of the typical urban fantasy heroine norm?
I’ve tried to create kickass heroines before, but it doesn’t feel organic to me as a writer. I like to write about what I call the “everygal,” a character the reader can identify with, as she’s swept into a life she didn’t expect or want, and how she must come to terms with it or fight to get back to return to what she knew before. One of my inspirations for Jill was the Sarah Connor character from the Terminator movies who started life off as a normal woman but needed to get very tough very fast in order to survive.
DFT: Declan initially comes off as a damaged monster. He’s not so pretty and has a chilling personality. Did you want to do something different than the usual beyond beautiful male leads?
I had read a glut of paranormal romances where the heroes are essentially gorgeous male models with super powers. Not that there’s anything wrong with that! The hero from my Living in Eden books is to-die-for hot and the heroine feels an immediate attraction to him. However, I wanted to play with these expectations a bit. I wanted a hero who was ragged and scarred and emotionally unavailable (due to circumstances beyond his control) but way, way down deep he had the potential to be a true hero; a potential he is forced to face when he meets the heroine and she sees something special in him. Well, eventually. I love stories where two very different worlds, two very different types of people, collide. A hero with flaws make them so much more interesting to me as a writer and a reader. Some of Declan’s flaws happen to literally be on the surface. I think the dude really just needs a nice warm hug. Well, maybe not.
I’m not a huge research hound. That’s the wonderful thing about writing in the fantasy and paranormal genre. However, there are some things that come up during the process of writing that require research in order to make them believable on the page. Nightshade is set in California and I had to do some research on that since I don’t live there. Also there is a lot of science in Nightshade, which is too bad since it wasn’t my favorite subject back in school. I researched potions and chemistry and asked a friend who knows about blood and body chemistry some questions. A lot of stuff can be explained by paranormal reasons, but it needs to feel right and organic. It doesn’t have to resemble a textbook of facts, but just be enough so the reader isn’t taken out of the story.
DFT: Who is your favorite character in this book, and why?
My favorite character in the book is Declan because he gets to go from being an emotionless super-soldier-type, to his emotions and loyalties slowly but surely shifting in a different direction. It’s all very confusing for him and, for him, dealing with these unfamiliar emotions is scarier than dealing with the most dangerous vampire foe.
DFT: Do you have a favorite scene or line from Nightshade?
One of my favorite scenes is when Jill needs to make a choice to either run away to safety or help the dangerous Declan after he’s been seriously injured. What she needs to do to save him, and the strength she must find in herself in order to do it, was a great deal of fun to write and helps to paves the way toward the rest of the novel.
DFT: What is your favorite part of writing this series?
My favorite part is the fact that since I’m aiming for the darker end of the spectrum, I don’t need to hold back anything when I’m writing. I can give the story everything it needs—from sex to violence to salty language. I write without thinking about anything but the story and give it whatever it and the characters need on a scene-to-scene basis. Writing Nightshade was slightly out of my comfort zone as an author, but it was great to get the chance to push myself into new territory. Also, it’s strangely cathartic to put one’s characters through a great deal of pain and anguish along the way. They say a writer should torture their characters as much as possible. My characters would likely agree that I did just that.
DFT: I read recently that you have a new YA series coming from Harlequin Teen. Can you tell us a little about the series?
Yes, I’m very excited to get the chance to write for Harlequin Teen since I love the books they’ve been publishing. I’m under contract for two books in my new Nightwatchers world (not to be confused with Nightshade!). The first book is titled Dark Kiss and will be out next March. I’m using a pen name for this — Charlene Riley. Nightwatchers is about a team of demons and angels forced to work together to fight against a spreading darkness that is consuming human souls. My main teenage character, Samantha, is drawn into this world and becomes integral to the success or failure of the mission led by a fallen angel she’s strangely drawn to as well as his demon rival. I’m writing this as we speak, actually. Lots of fun!
DFT: On your website, you mention your Bleeding Heart novella, which will be part of the upcoming sexy Primal anthology. What details can you share with us?
Bleeding Heart continues the Nightshade story, picking up a few days after the first book. It’s a mini-dose of danger and romance to tide readers over until Bloodlust, book two of the Nightshade series, comes out in July.
I’m very excited to have recently accepted an offer to write two books, taking the main characters of my Immortality Bites series off into a brand new series in the paranormal mystery genre. So I’m lucky enough to get to write dark vampires with my Nightshade books and light vampires in my Sarah Dearly Mysteries, starting with Blood Bath & Beyond out next Summer. And the final book in my Living in Eden trilogy, That Old Black Magic, will be on the shelves this December!
DFT: What books/genres do you read when you have the chance? Any must read authors or series?
Right now I’m mostly drawn to urban fantasy and young adult. Some stuff on my keeper shelf — Stacia Kane’s brilliant Downside Ghosts books. I’m an unapologetic Twilight fan and also love the Vampire Academy series (two very different looks at the world of vampires!). I adore the early Anita Blake books (the first ten are pretty much perfect, in my opinion, and were a huge early inspiration for me), and I’ve recently been sucked into Karen Marie Moning’s Darkfever series, but I’m way behind and trying to avoid spoilers for the last book which just came out.
DFT: Which urban fantasy world would you like to live in, and why? i.e. The Hollows, etc.
I’m a bit obsessed with the Vampire Academy world at the moment, so I’d probably say the world of vampires that Richelle Mead has created for that (that is, if I was seventeen again and enrolled in St. Vladimir’s Academy). Out of my books, I think I’d like to live in my Living in Eden world—I like the idea of magical and sexy monsters lurking just around the corner from where I already live.
DFT: If you could be any paranormal creature, which one would you be and why?
I think I’d like to be a witch so I can magically clean up my condo. A little hocus pocus would sure save a lot of time!
DFT: Thanks for stopping by, Michelle.
One lucky commenter will have a chance to win a copy of Nightshade.
To enter, just leave a comment on this post:
1. +2 entries for becoming a follower of this blog and Dark Faerie Tales on Twitter.
2. +3 entries for tweeting about this contest, blogging about it, linking via your sidebar etc…(please tell me where!).
3. Giveaway is open to US and Canada only.
4. Giveaway ends Wednesday, February 16th at 11:59 PM EST.
5. The winner will be picked with the help of Random.org.
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