Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Interview with Lee Roland Author of the Earth Witches Series

Can you tell readers a little bit about yourself and what inspired to write in this particular genre?

I am a full-time writer and live in Florida with two dogs who graciously allow me to share their home—as long as we don’t run out of treats.  Gracious can become cranky when we run out of treats. 

I have been a voracious reader since age nine, and was lucky to have parents who didn’t censor my quest for the written word shaped into fantastic stories.  

I was inspired to write Urban Fantasy by the stories of C.L. Moore.  I didn’t have much money when I first started reading, but I did have a library card.  Urban Fantasy and Paranormal Romance were not as readily available then as they are now, so I had to work hard to find them among the stacks. 
C.L. Moore wrote stories in the 1930’s and much later they were collected into a volume titled Northwest of Earth.  Moore’s character Northwest Smith could have been an inspiration for Han Solo, and Jirel of Joiry is the original queen of kick ass warriors.  Jirel is the inspiration for every kick heroine I’ve ever written. 

Please tell us about your latest release.

Vicious Moon is the third book in the Earth Witches Series.  It follows Viper Moon (2011), Vengeance Moon (2012).  The story involves a witch named Nyx, who ran away and joined the army to escape the ridged rules of her family and coven.  She’s made a life for herself and eventually ends up in San Francisco working as a private investigator.  Nyx is suddenly called home by her grandmother and then sent to find her sister Marisol.  Marisol has gone to the city of Duivel, Missouri to study with another witch and is missing.   Nyx does find her sister, but she also meets her match in Etienne, a man who has walked in the shadowy world of mercenary soldiers and criminal enterprises.

Was one of your characters more challenging to write than another?

In Vicious Moon, the character of Laudine, the witch Nyx’s sister went to study with was a bit difficult.  I wanted her to be devious and manipulating, but in the end, the reader could find a little compassion for her, even if Nyx cannot.

As Nyx sees Laudine:

Laudine, long and lanky at six-foot, wore an ankle length multihued skirt worthy of a gypsy fortuneteller.  Her hair, obviously dyed jet black, was secured in a bun at the nape of her neck.   She had an angular face, but it was smooth, regal. That face formed an expression of distaste aimed directly at me.  The thing I noticed most was her eyes.  Dark as her hair, they gave the impression of power.  Impression being the key word.  I’m not an expert at determining the power of other witches, but years of observation told me she had no more, maybe even less, power than I did.  Or she was exceptionally successful at hiding it.  

Is there a character that you enjoyed writing more than any of the others?
In Vicious Moon, the character I enjoyed writing most was Herschel, Nyx the witch’s familiar and friend. She hasn’t seen him in a long time and he certainly surprises her when he does show up:

I was barely winded and pursuit fell further behind with every step—until something massive slammed into my back.  It rolled me over into some brush and banged my ribs across a rock.  Then an enormous slimy mouth locked on my ankle and a large body plopped down on me.  The body farted in my face.
The ridiculous canine that the Earth Mother given to me as my familiar.  I hadn’t seen him in ten years.  I didn’t have time to think about how he got to California.  I pounded him with my fists. 
“Get off of me.”
I wrestled with him, pushing and shoving, but he wouldn’t budge.  Since he was my familiar, I couldn’t use magic on him without hurting myself. 

Nyx describes him:
The morning after my capture I sat in the hotel lobby handcuffed and feet chained, with Herschel’s massive head on my knee. His floppy jowls slimed my pants with slobber.  Herschel’s heritage seemed to be mostly Bull Mastiff crossed with a Great Dane.  He weighed in at two hundred pounds, far larger than any domestic dog.  Black as the inside of a deep mountain cave, he could be mistaken for a small pony at a distance.  I did love him, in spite of my irritation.  I’m told he arrived on the doorstep the day I was born.  His primary functions in life were sleeping, eating and farting.  And there was the incessant drooling.

What is your favorite scene from the book? Could you share a little bit of it, without spoilers of course?

My favorite scene is where Nyx meets Etienne.
A man stepped through the doorway.  He stood over six feet and had a rugged body, slim and lean, but at the same time well muscled.  Jet black hair curled slightly against his neck and around his ears, and his eyes…oh, those eyes…cold dark and dangerous as black ice on a frozen highway.  He had copper-colored skin with sharply defined black tattoos down his taut forearms.  Not pretty colored tattoos or pictures, but inked midnight curved like pieces of a puzzle.  His jeans fit that impressive body, as did the gun he wore openly in a shoulder holster over his T-shirt.  There are places in the world where that might be done, but this was Middle America.  Most everyone owned a gun of some sort—they usually kept it out of sight.  He obviously didn’t give a shit.
I’d met men like him before--powerful, dangerous.  They were usually lovers or enemies.  The look on this one’s face said he didn’t have love on his mind.

Can you tell readers a little bit about the world building in the book/series? How does this world differ from our normal world?

The Barrows is a section in the City of Duivel, Missouri.  In appearance, Duivel is an average Midwestern town. Perfectly normal—until you look deeper.  Beyond a magical ward created by the Earth Mother, is the Barrows.  There is a bit of the history of the Barrows on my website.
In Vicious Moon, Nyx says of the Barrows:
Before me stood a long, narrow street in ruins.  So many buildings had crumbled into that simple roadway it was impassable by car. 
I walked closer, threading my way around piles of glass and debris.  It was as if time had suddenly turned malevolent, overcome its human keepers, and crushed their dwellings. 
Laudine flung out a hand.  “This is the Barrows.  From here north are square miles of ruins, some like this, some better, some completely collapsed. Near the center is the heart of evil, the Zombie Zone they call it.  That’s where the demon hides.”
I didn’t know what to say.  I’d seen ruins before.  I’d walked through many from the Middle East to Southeast Asia, some ancient, some blasted to rubble by modern warfare. 
“What caused this?” I demanded.
“An earthquake. I’m told.  Mass exodus sixty or seventy years ago.    Some witches say the Earth Mother drove people out.  I know the Mother deliberately hides the ruins from people living uptown with a spell.  Beyond that…”  She shrugged.

Do you ever suffer from writer’s block? How do you deal with it?

Writer’s block?  No.  Procrastination?  Yes.  I always have stories and ideas circling in my mind, but sitting down to put them on paper is another thing.

Do you have any weird writing quirks or rituals?

I require silence.  No music, television, just focus on the words before me.  Some writers go to libraries, bookstores, or coffee shops.  Not me.  I have to be firmly locked my fictional world for it to come alive.  This writing style wouldn’t for writers with kids in the house.  That’d probably why I didn’t get serious about writing until mine hit their late teens.

I’m most creative in the morning.  The earlier I can kick myself out of bed the better.  After one o’clock, my attention wanders.  I always envied writers who could sit down a computer at any time of the day and actually produce great scenes. 

What was the last amazing book you read?

Amazing books.  I could never pick one.  Illona Andrews and the Kate Daniels Urban Fantasy Series is fantastic.  I’ve read each book in that series three or four times. Richard Kadrey’s dark, gritty Sandman Slim Series.  Kadrey is not for the faint of heart.  If you want sunshine and roses, look elsewhere.
Where can readers find you on the web?

Readers can check out my web site at, and I’m on facebook.

Would you like to leave readers with a little teaser or excerpt from the book?

This is how Nyx’s adventure begins.
Disaster loomed like an earthquake-born tsunami.  The moment the woman climbed into my car, that watch your back feeling kicked me in the ass and I wanted to hunch my shoulders and duck.  I ignored it, as I had many times in the past. I based my decision on the often flawed theory that catastrophe wasn’t so bad if you saw it coming.
She’d stood waiting in front of a convenience store, right where I’d been told to pick her up.  She said her name was Mara, but she didn’t offer a surname and refused to make eye contact.   
I’m Nyx Ianira. I’m a licensed private investigator in San Francisco. I’m twenty eight years old, a former soldier, armed guard, and an earth-witch with magical powers that unfortunately didn’t include the ability to discern lies.  I stretched my legs, trying to ease the tension.  Waiting is something every PI gets used to, but this time I couldn’t relax. 
At least I’d changed from my suit into more comfortable jeans and a T-shirt. I did wish this job was over with, though.  I had a date with the owner of a dive shop later.  He wants to give me lessons.  Actually, I’m pretty sure he wants to take me to a beach in Mexico and talk me out of my bikini.  He’s not a deep philosophical thinker but he likes what he sees.  I have gold-brown hair with lighter blonde streaks, nice perky breasts, and a tall slim body that curves in the right places.  There will be no great soul-mate meeting of the minds with this date, but it promises to be fun. 

Harold, my erratic and occasionally inebriated partner at Single-Eye Investigations had called last night and asked that I take a pro bono case for him.  I was to retrieve a child from a non-custodial father.  While I’m always happy to help a kid in danger, the agency has firm rules against that kind of high-risk intervention.  I helped write them when I became a partner in the firm.  Those situations are best handled by the appropriate official authorities, the kind with warrants, guns and badges.  Harold said he’d made an exception for this one because the father was an abusive, drug-dealing fiend. Apparently he feels I’m more qualified to face abusive, drug-dealing fiends than he is.  He’s right, of course, but that didn’t make it less dangerous or less a violation of the rules.

Dynamic Urban Fantasy by Lee Roland
The Earth Witches, the keepers of the world’s magic, find chaos and desire in the hidden ruins of the Barrows.  Servants of the enigmatic Earth Mother, they battle men, monsters and personal conflicts to protect the world. With magic, modern weapons and strong companions, they persevere to save mankind from evil.
The books from this series:

Viper Moon

Earth Witches #1
ISBN-13: 978-0451233769 

352 Pages

Cassandra Archer is the huntress. She has faithfully served the earth Mother for years, rescuing kidnapped children from monsters—both human and supernatural—dwelling in the ruins of the Barrows District. But when two children are kidnapped under similar circumstances, all clues point to a cataclysmic event on the next dark moon. Aided by police Detective Flynn and Michael, mysterious and dangerous resident of the Barrows, Cass must race against the clock and prevent a sacrifice that could destroy the entire town…

Vengeance Moon

Earth Witches #2
ISBN-13: 978-0451236432

352 Pages

Madeline Corso can’t rest until she hunts down the three men who killed her father and witch mother. Two of them are now dead by her hand.  Unfortunately, her second kill had witnesses.  Sent to prison, she is rescued Sisters of Justice—a mysterious order of female warriors with ties to her mother. Her fighting skills are honed by the Sisters, and they have tracked the last murderer to Duivel, Missouri.  He is hiding in the dark underworld of the Barrows. Once in the Barrows, she discovers that things aren’t what they seem.  The danger goes far beyond her need for revenge. Can she rely on Michael, a handsome and possibly deadly stranger, to help her navigate a world of men and beasts? Or will she lose her heart before the mission is complete?

Vicious Moon
Earth Witches #3
ISBN-13: 978-0451238269  

320 Pages

Ex-soldier and Earth Witch Nyx Ianira is working as a PI in San Francisco when she sees the last thing she ever wanted to see: the Sisters of Justice—the mysterious Earth Witch police force.  Three Sisters, a Triad, is usually a squad of executioners.  This time, thought, the Sisters mission is to capture and escort an unwilling Nyx back to Twitch Crossing, Georgia.  Nyx ran away from Twitch Crossing ten years ago to escape the stiff rules and duties of being a true Witch. She wanted a life of her own. Now she’s been dragged back to her swampy hometown because another life is in danger—her little sister is missing, and Nyx is the only one who can go to Duivel, Missouri and track her down.  But the key to finding her may lie with the dark and tempting Etienne—a sinister criminal with a fearsome reputation, a ruthless attitude, and a total immunity to magic…

About Lee Roland

Lee Roland began her writing career in middle school when she wrote a short story for her brother. He turned the story in to his teacher as his own work.  To his amazement and terror, the teacher was so impressed that she read it aloud to the class—and asked him to write another one.

Lee notes that, other than motherhood, she’s never had an exciting job.  She might have dreamed of being  a lawyer, nurse or police officer, but finding the right person to share her life with changed her plans.  Her only credentials for writing are a terrific imagination, life experience and the love of words in a good story.  She reads voraciously, but particularly loves Urban Fantasy and Paranormal Romance.

Lee lives in Florida and is a full-time writer.  She is a member of RWA National and the Florida based First Coast Romance Writers.

Before being published, Lee won many RWA Chapter contests and garnered a Golden Heart nomination in 2008 with her post apocalyptic novel, LILITH’S CHILD.

Lee is the author of the Earth Witches series published by NAL, beginning with VIPER MOON in 2011.

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