Can you tell readers a little bit about yourself and what inspired to write in this particular genre?
It’s funny, because Historical was my first love. Most of the romances that I treasure and love are from bygone eras and feature men in breeches and women in petticoats. My first release was a Historical with a twist of Fantasy, because it was what I knew and loved. But recently I started expanding my horizons in the book department to include Paranormal books. I was suddenly struck by the brilliance of love across different realms. I fell in love with the idea of people literally being from different worlds. The rest, as they say, is history. I’m definitely addicted to the Paranormal now.
What is it about the paranormal, in particular (angels), that fascinates you so much?
Angels have always been such aloof and untouchable creatures. They’re beautiful, powerful, and pure in a way that humans could never understand. But the thing is, they feel like we feel. They have emotions just like humans do, and I like to think they experience them even more strongly. I really love exploring that emotion, playing with the interactions between angel and human, intensifying their differences as well as their similarities.
What inspired you to write this book?
The first book in the series, ‘Fallen’, was originally supposed to stand alone. It was about an angel falling in love with a woman he’d been sent to heal. The heroine in ‘Tempted, Sarah, was a secondary character, a friend of the hero in the first book. She just couldn’t understand how an angel could risk losing his wings over the love of a human. She begged for her story to be told, and as I realized just how vulnerable I could make this angel by exposing the real loneliness that she feels, I knew her story could be great.
Please tell us about your latest release.
‘Tempted’ is the story of an Iraq war vet named Jackson Bennett. He is scarred and he is broken because of the lives that have been lost because of him (he thinks). He’s sort of retreating into himself and shutting out the world. He thought that the Army was his purpose, but now that that part of his life is over he feels he is left with nothing.
Enter Sarah, an angel from heaven with news of a purpose even greater than anything Jackson could’ve imagined. In the midst of his discovery of his true self, he finds himself falling for the angel. The only problem with that is the set of rules governing angels. Romantic relationships between angels and humans are forbidden. In the midst of it all an angel finds that she is not quite as strong as she thought. A man will discover that he is stronger than he ever dreamed.
Do you have a special formula for creating characters' names? Do you try to match a name with a certain meaning to attributes of the character or do you search for names popular in certain time periods or regions?
I definitely want names to match characters. For a Historical character, of course certain names are out but I still like to be creative. For this series I used a lot of angels and demons that have been written about in religious myths. The hero in book 1 is named Amir which is Hebrew for ‘Prince’. I found this to be very fitting for an angel. Ironically, the heroin in this book is named Sarah, Hebrew for ‘Princess’.
Was one of your characters more challenging to write than another?
Jackson was definitely hard to write because I wanted the reality of PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) to shine through in his character. It is something my family has struggled from as my husband is a war vet. I wanted the reader to really see things through his eyes and experience the turmoil as if it was their own. The complexity of his character is something I still agonize her. I often wonder if I did enough. I certainly hope so!
Is there a character that you enjoyed writing more than any of the others?
The demon Eligos was loads of fun to right. In a lot of religious myth, he is the Great Duke of Hell. He is described as a flaming skeleton (think Ghostrider), wearing a medieval suit of armor and carrying a lance while riding a winged lizard/beast. He has legions (thousands) of lesser demons beneath him. So, I figure this has to be one cocky guy. I had a lot of fun writing him as I love a good villain!
Do you have a formula for developing characters? Like do you create a character sketch or list of attributes before you start writing or do you just let the character develop as you write?
The characters come to me first. Before I even start developing a story the people that shape the story are always foremost in my mind. I don’t have to make a list, I just somehow know who they are when I begin writing. As far as the growth or development of a character…that very often catches me by surprise. A lot of times they end up places I never thought of at first.
What is your favorite scene from the book? Could you share a little bit of it, without spoilers of course?
One of my favorite scenes in the book is Jackson and Sarah’s first kiss. The emotion there is so strong because Jackson has just found out that he is not an ordinary human. He belongs to a hybrid race of humans, and it turns out that the reason his father abandoned his mother and him was because of this special calling. Everything he’s ever known is turned upside down and he learns that his hidden abilities are what allowed him to survive the attack that killed everyone else in his unit.
The scene is very intense, with Jackson trying to sort through his turbulent feelings, and Sarah experiencing emotions she’s never known before. When it finally happens, it is—I think—one of the most tender moments I’ve ever written. Something about the purity and sweetness of their kiss in the rain just touches me every time I read it. It gives me chills
Did you find anything really interesting while researching this or another book?
The research on religious myths was very cool. I am a Christian, but didn’t want my own beliefs to influence the story. Most of what I used is a combination of beliefs across the board, including Catholicism and Orthodox Judaism. I feel very happy with the results. There is a mix of a world of my own making, along with these myths and legends.
What is the most interesting thing you have physically done for book related research purposes?
I wish I could tell a cool story about travelling somewhere awesome and learning something new, but alas, there are none! Perhaps someday. Right now, though, I am reading an awesome book called The Amazons of Black Sparta about the Dahomey Amazon warrior women of Africa. It’s for a Historical I’m working on and it’s great stuff! These chicks were tough!
Can you tell readers a little bit about the world building in the book/series? How does this world differ from our normal world?
On the surface, everything appears just like our world. However, there is a realm hierarchy that exists that trickles down from heaven to earth and into hell as well.
There are angels (which have different orders: Seraphim, Cherubim, Archangels, angels who serve in heaven, and angels who are privileged to serve on earth), there are also humans with abilities that play a role between the worlds (Oracles who can see into the future, Guardians who guard portals between worlds as well as spiritual artifacts and ceremonial objects), then there are demons as well as the Fallen angels who will eventually become demons. In book 3, which I am working on now Naphilim (half-breed, human/angel) are introduced.
The idea is that there was a Great War in heaven. Most already know the legend of how Lucifer was cast from heaven and became Satan. He took 1/3 of the angels with him. Now behind the scenes, the war continues, with all sides working toward their own goals.
With the book being part of a series, are there any character or story arcs, that readers jumping in somewhere other than the first book, need to be aware of? Can these books be read as stand alones?
This book can definitely be read on its own. The first book’s hero and heroine have gone off into the sunset into their happy ever after, and most of the convoluted world between heaven, hell, and earth that I have written isn’t clearly laid out until this book. However, book 2 and 3 will be very closely tied together as one of the secondary characters of this story is the hero. Sarah and Jackson continue to play a huge role I the continuing story as well.
Do any of your characters have similar characteristics of yourself in them and what are they?
I try to put a bit of myself in all of my characters, though in this case I put a little of someone I love in one of the characters. The hero Jackson is a reflection of my husband, a scarred war vet. Every line I wrote about him resonates with me as it ties back to him. It was even more personal than writing a character that is a reflection of me.
Do you ever suffer from writer’s block? How do you deal with it?
I wouldn’t call it writer’s block. It’s more like being in a rut. This is why I work on one to three projects at one time. I currently have two open series I’m working on at the moment. Alternating between the projects keeps me from getting caught in a rut. If I get stuck on one, I switch over to the other and give the first one time to breathe. When I’m struck with inspiration then I go back to the first one. You’d think it would be confusing, but it’s just how I work.
Do you have any weird writing quirks or rituals?
Nothing weird, sorry to say. Just peace and quiet and a laptop are all I need. And maybe a Coke!
Do you write in different genres?
Yes! Variety is the spice of life, as they say. For now I have books in Historical, Paranormal, Contemporary and Erotic categories. In the future I am contemplating urban fantasy, time travel, and fantasy; all within the scope of Romance though.
Do you find it difficult to write in multiple genres?
Not at all. I appreciate the variety.
When did you consider yourself a writer?
I’ve always been a writer. I wrote my first piece of fiction when I was 12! I wrote poetry in high school as well as pieces for the school newspaper. I’ve been writing romance since I was 15 and haven’t stopped. I just recently became a published author, but I’ve always been a writer.
What are your guilty pleasures in life?
Food! I love to eat and try new things. I also enjoy cooking, which of course leads to eating!
Other than writing, what are some of your interests, hobbies or passions in life?
Books books books! I am also a big movie buff as well as a singer.
What was the last amazing book you read?
I just read the entire Hunger Games series. It was one of those things where I was like ‘let me see what the hype is all about’. Best books I’ve read all year. I couldn’t tear myself away. I cried like a baby at the end of Mockingjay.
Where is your favorite place to read? Do you have a cozy corner or special reading spot?
As a busy stay at home mom of 2 I read when and where I can: while cooking, before bed in the bed, in the tub, on the couch, the house is my oyster!
What can readers expect next from you?
More books! There is so much in me. Be looking for me to dip my hands into all kinds of subgenres. I want to write about people from all walks of life.
Where can readers find you on the web?
Twitter: follow me at @elise_marion
Would you like to leave readers with a little teaser or excerpt from the book?
Definitely! Why don’t I share with you that favorite scene I told you about. I hope you enjoy Jackson and Sarah’s first kiss!
Jackson shook himself back into reality at the sight of a white light streaking across the sky. A shooting star. Sarah.
As it neared, he couldn’t deny the urge to meet her on the roof. Not only did he owe her a serious apology, but he just knew that seeing her face would make everything else seem distant. He wasn’t sure how it had happened, but somehow Sarah had become a lifeline, a symbol of hope for his life. She represented goodness and faith and everything that was right in the world. Being near her was like coming up for air after being trapped in a dark cave.
Raindrops plopped onto his head and shoulders as he stepped onto the roof. Sarah stood a few feet away from him, her palms stretched out to catch the water drops. Her eyes were closed and her face was tilted back to the cloudy sky. Jackson watched, his jaw slack, as she twirled in a slow circle, extending her arms to embrace the coming storm.
His heart pounded in his chest, and his conscience nagged him for intruding on her private moment. Yet he couldn’t look away from her. She looked like the angel she truly was, bathed in moonlight, her arms and legs bare in the thin sundress she was wearing, her face tilted to the sky. His stomach clenched and his blood raced. He took a step toward her.
She opened her eyes and turned toward him slowly, lowering her arms. As she moved toward him, he felt time slowing around him, and realized he’d felt this sensation before so many times. He’d never bothered to pay attention to it, chalking it up to childish fantasy on his part, blaming it on too many slow-motion filled action movies. He would never have attributed it to the power he'd always possessed. A power he'd never known he had.
But as Sarah walked toward him through the rain, he soaked in every detail. It was as if his mind wanted to remember everything; the flow of her dress’ skirt around her knees as the breeze tugged at it and the curling sable waves made damp by the rain, every water drop that rolled down her face. Every detail stood out in sharp clarity, until nothing else existed for him.
“I’m so sorry,” she said, breaking the silence. Her wide eyes were filled with tears that mingled with the rain running down her face.
“No,” he interjected, reaching up to grasp her upper arms gently. “I’m the one who should be sorry. I took my fears out on you, and you didn’t deserve that. You didn’t ask for this job, and you sure as hell didn’t ask for me. I told you to run, to leave me alone, but you stayed. No one stays for me, Sarah. No one ever stays.”
“Your father…” she trailed off lowering her eyes. “I know who he is.”
Jackson’s heart dropped into his stomach. “You do?”
She nodded. “After you left, Vivian told me all about him. He left your mother because he was charged with guarding one of the few portals between earth and hell. He knew he would be putting you and your mother in harm’s way if he stayed. Guarding portals is a dangerous job. There are Oracles, demons, and even some humans who are constantly searching for them. They would not hesitate to hurt the family or friends of a Guardian in order to get what they want.”
Jackson felt his head spinning with the sheer magnitude of what he was hearing. All this time he’d thought his father was an arrogant, heartless bastard. He’d never known anything about him beyond the day he left. While he was still hurt and angry at his father’s abandonment, he couldn’t help but feel pity for him. Much like Jackson, he’d stood on the precipice, facing a choice that could change his life forever. It had cost him his family, but contributed to a greater good beyond anything Jackson could have ever fathomed.
“Did you know that Vivian raised me?”
She shook her head, a frown marring her forehead. “No. What happened to your mother?”
“She ran off with some boyfriend of hers a few months after my father left. His leaving changed her, and she never had time for anything but herself after. I don’t think she knew about my father’s assignment.”
“People have been leaving me my whole life, Sarah,” he said. He wasn’t sure why he was saying these things to her. He only knew that it felt right, even good to share it with her. It was a part of him he’d never even shared with Rochelle. “I do things to chase people away.”
“No!” she protested, stepping more fully into the circle of his arms. Her hands reached up to his face and she forced him to look down into her eyes. “No, Jackson. You didn’t chase your parents away. They made their own decisions.”
“Rochelle,” he said with a half-hearted shrug. “I was so broken after Iraq that I chased her away too. And now I’m doing the same thing to little Jack that my father did to me.”
“No,” she said again, shaking her head. Her wet waves clung to her face and neck. “You are not alone Jackson, and you are not broken. You have a calling now, a purpose. Accept what you’ve been offered and fulfill your destiny. You don’t have to make the same choices your parents did. You don’t have to be afraid or run or abandon the people in your life.”
“I just don’t want-“
Her grip tightened on his face, silencing him. “You will not have to do this alone, Jackson. That’s why I’m here. I won’t leave until I’ve seen this through. I don’t care how much quicksand you think you’re standing on, I won’t abandon you.”
Silence stretched between them as he allowed her words to sink in. I won’t abandon you. As he looked down into eyes that were incapable of lying, he believed her. He believed it like he’d never believed anything else in his life.
He brought his hand up to her cheek, resting it there as his eyes caressed her face.
“You know, I was wrong about you,” he said.
“You were?” she asked. Her lips parted and he felt her rapid breath against his wrist; it pulsed with the same rhythm as his pounding heart.
“Yes, I was. You’re beautiful.”
Her breath stopped, suspended between her parted lips. She trembled as his arm came around her swiftly, bringing her body up against his. Fear and indecision flashed in her eyes briefly, but by the time his lips pressed against hers it was gone.
Her lips were soft and pliant against his, but chastely closed and still as if she didn’t know what to do. Of course she didn’t, he thought as he brought one hand to the back of her head; she’d probably never been kissed.
The sweetness of it, the purity of the moment touched him in ways he would have never thought possible. He allowed his lips to linger over hers, gently accustoming her to the intimacy of his mouth pressed to hers. As his fingers caressed the back of her neck, he gently coaxed her mouth open with his. She trembled against him as the inside of her mouth met his; warm, moist, heavenly. Her hand came up tentatively against chest, burning his skin through the wet fabric of his t-shirt. Her touch burned its way across his chest until his entire body was heated by it.
She became bolder by the second, angling her head and returning the bold caresses of his lips with her own innocent kisses. A primal satisfaction flared through him at the knowledge that no other man had touched her. No other man had kissed her. At that moment he held a pure, untouched piece of heaven in his arms.
He pulled her more tightly against him, molding her against him. He felt every inch of her through the wet fabric of his clothes. She shuddered against him, reaching up with both hands to grip his shoulders tightly. He wrapped both arms firmly around her, one hand at her hip and one at her back. He feared if he let go, she would fall at his feet.
When he’d nearly stolen her breath away, she pulled away slowly and stepped away from him reluctantly. Somewhere in the back of his mind he realized that the rain had stopped. His eyes remained locked on Sarah.
She took one step away from him, and then another. Her eyes were lowered, her lips tinged pink and parted. Her chest heaved as she struggled for air. She raised her fingers to her mouth as she gazed up at him, her expression of carnal bliss melting into one of pure horror.
“Sarah,” he said gently, stepping toward her slowly. She shook her head and took another step back.
He reached one hand out for her, but before he could touch her she was gone. Her footsteps echoed across the roof, the skirt of her sundress fluttering behind her. Jackson was rooted to the spot, too numb to follow her. Seconds later, she disappeared from view, leaving Jackson staring off into darkness. Alone.
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By Elise Marion
Jackson Bennett is alone in the world, and he prefers it that way. The former Army sergeant has seen more death than any human ought to experience in one lifetime. Even his dreams are haunted by the faces of those who have lost their lives because of him. He feels lost, purposeless, until an encounter with an angel reveals the secret purpose that he was made for. Born of a superior race of humans, Jackson learns of a special assignment.
Should he accept, he will become an important part of world that exists between heaven, hell, and earth. After all that he has been through, Jackson doesn’t know if he’s ready to take on such a heavy responsibility; what he does know is that he could lose himself in the eyes of Sarah, the intriguing angel assigned to him. She is the only person who seems to understand the darkness and pain that have enveloped his heart; she is the only person capable of driving them away.
In a battle between love or loneliness, divinity or damnation, Sarah’s choice once seemed easy. What she finds is that the black and white lines that once defined her world are now impossibly blurred and gray. What she finds is that she may not be not quite as strong as she thought.
Elise Marion Bio
As a child I always had my nose in a book. From R.L. Stine to Chronicles of Narnia to The Babysitter's Club and Sweet Valley High, I read it all. When I started Junior High and found out that the school library had over 400,000 books, my goal was to read every single one! Of course I didn't achieve that particular goal, but I sure had fun trying!
In high school I developed a talent for writing and discovered romance. Needless to say I combined my love for both and am now a published Indie author. After almost a year of peddling my book from agent to agent with no success I decided that my work was good enough despite the constant rejection. That's when I discovered the world of indie publishing through e-books. I couldn't have made a better decision than stepping out on faith and doing something for myself instead of waiting around for someone else to do it for me.
A litle bit more about me: My husband Kevin and I have been married for 4 years and have two beautiful children, Haley (4) and Gavin (4 months). We are a military family, which means I spend alot of my time alone with two children. People often ask me how I deal with the military life. I simply say, someone's got to do it, right? I am proud of my husband for serving his country.
When I'm not reading (which is almost always) or writing (I try to every day), I am watching movies (which I love), cooking (which I love even more) or watching someone else cook on TV (love me some Paula Deen). I have been singing my entire life and enjoy being my church's choir every Sunday. My large, extended family is close and means the world to me.
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