Friday, October 2, 2015

Interview with the Authors of Dark Secrets A Paranormal Noir Anthology

Please tell us about your latest release.

Suzanne Johnson: DARK SECRETS: A PARANORMAL NOIR ANTHOLOGY brings six authors of paranormal fiction together with six all-new novellas. Our only prompt was to interpret “paranormal noir” in our own way, so all six books—by Rachel Caine, Cynthia Eden, Megan Hart, Jeffe Kennedy, Mina Khan and myself—are very, very different, which makes it fun. We have ghosts, the devil, vampires, faeries, djinn and fairy tale reimaginings. All dark, all different. Oh, and a little romance, of course.

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?

Rachel Caine: I go about it differently for different books, but I do try to pull from popular and appropriate names for the time periods. I don't usually go after attributes ... sometimes I think it's fun to play against that, though, as with Valentine in the story for DARK SECRETS. (He's not exactly hearts and flowers, even if he is in love ...)

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

Rachel Caine: I found Tilde (in DARK SECRETS) a little mysterious, but that's a good thing—she's mysterious partly because she can't tell Valentine everything she knows, and frustrated because she's helpless to be by his side. She was challenging in that I wanted her to have a creepy edge to her, but it's her death that was creepy ... not Tilde herself.

Jeffe Kennedy: In Heart’s Blood (part of DARK SECRETS), Nix was a challenge to write because she needed to be broken and cowed, wounded by what happened to her, but also strong enough to overcome. I didn’t want her weak and whiney, so we all lost patience with her. She’s destined to be a queen and needed that kind of spine. It was a delicate line to walk!
Suzanne Johnson: In my DARK SECRETS story, The Consort, Liandra was hardest to write because she is innocent and maybe even naive—yet also smart and has an innate courage she’d never before had tested. So it was challenging to show her innocence without losing her intelligence and courage.

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?

Rachel Caine: I really enjoy just letting the characters speak to me. I start with a name and a bit of background, and a situation, and let it go from there. I'm often surprised by the twists and turns they take! It's part of the reason I love doing shorter fiction; I generally know quite a bit more about my novel characters before I begin. This is more of a journey of discovery.

Suzanne Johnson: I do some basic character work before I start writing. I know enough of their backgrounds to know what makes them tick, and I know each one’s emotional flaw, what he thinks he needs versus what he really needs. That way, I make sure the characters complement each other or, if it’s a romance, complete each other.

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

Suzanne Johnson: My favorite scenes from THE CONSORT are the ones set in Faerie, when Liandra goes to the Royal Tower to visit Queen Sabine and when she and Faulkner go to the Winter Palace to visit Prince Christof. I’m a zealot for worldbuilding, and it was fun to start developing this world. Because in my universe, the fae are nuts!

What is the most interesting thing you have physically done for book related research purposes?

Megan Hart: I once tossed my kids out the front window of my Suburban to make sure it could be done in the amount of time I was having my heroine do it. There was someone there to catch them. ;)

Rachel Caine: Well, I attended an autopsy ... that's certain interesting!

Jeffe Kennedy: I got to have a private, off-season backstage tour of the Santa Fe Opera House when I was writing MASTER OF THE OPERA, which is my erotic, contemporary retelling of The Phantom of the Opera, set at the Santa Fe Opera House. That was super cool!

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

Suzanne Johnson: THE CONSORT is set in the “multiverse” of my Sentinels of New Orleans series, although the story itself isn’t tied to the series and you don’t need any knowledge of the series to read the story. So the “normal” part of the world is modern New Orleans, but there are also the vast otherworlds called The Beyond, and the Realm of Faerie is part of that. In the novel series, we don’t visit Faerie until book five, which comes out in 2016, so THE CONSORT gave me a chance to take a couple of visits into that realm, which is very eclectic, to say the least (think alpine village with skyscrapers). Faerie is on the verge of civil war, and I was able to bring that into the novella.

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?

Suzanne Johnson: All of the novellas can be read as standalones even though a couple are set in the worlds belonging to series.

Do you have any weird writing quirks or rituals?

Rachel Caine: I need to have music to set the mood, and the mood is different for each project, so I have a LOT of playlists! I spend two or three days before a major project assembling a good set of tunes that helps me capture the story. 

Jeffe Kennedy: I don’t know if it counts as a weird quirk, but I do most of my writing walking at my treadmill desk. I walk 6-8 miles a day while writing and love it!

Other than writing, what are some of your interests, hobbies or passions in life?

Mina Khan: Cooking (followed by eating), and Renaissance dancing!

Suzanne Johnson: I do mixed-media art and art journaling. I’d love to illustrate one of my books!

What was the last amazing book you read?

Mina Khan: THORN by Intisar Khanani; this is a thought-provoking retelling of the fairy tale, “The Goose Girl,” which makes you think about things like social order, justice, choices and more. Both the heroine and the hero grow throughout the story. I’m adding this to my Keeper Shelf.

Megan Hart: BIRD BOX by Josh Malerman was thrilling, scary and so much fun.

Rachel Caine:  I think it may be a three-way tie: Lilah Bowen’s WAKE OF VULTURES, Claudia Gray’s LOST STARS, and Sabaa Tahir’s EMBER IN THE ASHES!

Where is your favorite place to read? Do you have a cozy corner or special reading spot?

Megan Hart: The beach!

Dark Secrets:
A Paranormal Noir Anthology
Rachel Caine, Cynthia Eden,
Megan Hart, Suzanne Johnson, Jeffe Kennedy, Mina Khan

Genre: Paranormal Noir,
Romance, Fantasy, Urban Fantasy

Date of Publication:  September 29, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-942840-05-3

Number of pages: Approx. 350
Word Count: Approx. 150,000

Cover Artist: Robin Ludwig Design

Book Description:

Six award-winning authors bring you this spellbinding collection of stories about dark desires, mysterious worlds, and danger that lurks in the shadows of the night. Where nothing is black and white; where things might not be as they seem; where magic and mayhem rule.

MARION, MISSING by Rachel Caine

Valentine is a detective with two major problems: he's been offered a kidnapping case that will probably get him killed, and his partner won't let him turn it down. He owes her that much … since his partner's a ghost, and he's the one who killed her. A dark, haunting noir mystery of love, hate and loss.

FEMME FATALE by Cynthia Eden

PI Mick Swayne has seen it all—his clients have included liars, thieves, and even killers. He thinks he can handle anything and anyone. Then she walks into his office. Savannah Moreau is beautiful, seductive, and…a vampire? The gorgeous vamp hires Mick to help her track down a killer who is hunting in Chicago, but as Mick slips deeper into Savannah’s paranormal world, he wonders if he can really trust his new client…


When the devil starts the music, you'd better get ready to dance.

Kathleen Murphy has sold her soul to the devil. Fame, fortune, success...everything she's ever dreamed of is hers, and all she has to do is the devil's bidding. When love comes knocking, the last thing in the world she wants to do is involve Jake in her twisted world, but the devil's started up the jukebox and Kathleen has no choice but to learn the steps.

THE CONSORT by Suzanne Johnson

Faulkner Hearne, the captain of the ruthless Fae Hunters, finds his duty at odds with his heart when he’s ordered to capture the consort of Faerie’s cruel Prince of Summer when she flees across the veil into modern New Orleans. Can Faulk turn Liandra over to a certain death at the hands of the prince, or will he risk a war with Faerie in order to save her? An all-new novella set in the Sentinels of New Orleans multiverse.

HEART’S BLOOD by Jeffe Kennedy, a Twelve Kingdoms novella

A dark fairytale retelling of a princess robbed of rank, husband and even her name.
Nix is nothing. The Princess Natilde—her former waiting woman—attacked her on the journey to wed Prince Cavan, stripping her of everything and taking her place. With no serving skills, Nix becomes a goose girl. Perhaps if Nix keeps her promise never to reveal who she really is, Natilde won’t carry out her vile threats. Prince Cavan entered his arranged marriage determined to have a congenial, if not loving relationship with his future queen—for the sake of both their kingdoms. But, his wife repels him more each day and he finds himself absurdly drawn to the lovely Nix....With broken vows, anguish and dark secrets between them, Cavan and Nix struggle to find the magic to restore what’s gone terribly wrong... if it ever can be.

THE DJINN IN THE MIRROR by Mina Khan, a Djinn World novella

A paranormal Cinderella story with a young witch as the heroine and a wicked, sexy djinn instead of a fairy godmother....Dahlia, the step-daughter of a power hungry wizard, promises to free a djinn trapped in a mirror if he rescues her from impending death. But Ashmael the djinn has his own agenda: to trick & seduce his way to freedom. The only problem is he ends up falling for Dahlia. Can he win his freedom and save the girl?

About the Authors:

Rachel Caine is the New York Times, USA Today, and #1 internationally bestselling author of more than 45 novels that span the categories of horror, suspense, urban fantasy, science fiction, media tie-in, historical, and young adult. She’s also the author of more than 100 short stories.

Twitter: @rachelcaine

Award-winning author Cynthia Eden writes dark tales of paranormal romance and romantic suspense. She is a New York Times, USA Today, Digital Book World, and IndieReader best-seller. Cynthia is also a three-time finalist for the prestigious RITA® award. Since she began writing full-time in 2005, Cynthia has written over fifty novels and novellas.

Twitter: @cynthiaeden

Megan Hart is a USA Today, Publisher’s Weekly and New York Times bestselling author who writes in many genres including mainstream fiction, erotic fiction, science fiction, romance, fantasy and horror.

Twitter: @megan_hart

Suzanne Johnson is the author of the award-winning Sentinels of New Orleans urban fantasy series. Writing as Susannah Sandlin, she is author of the award-winning Penton Legacy paranormal romance series as well as The Collectors romantic suspense series, including Lovely, Dark, and Deep, winner of the 2015 Holt Medallion and the 2015 Booksellers Best Award winner for romantic suspense. Her new Wildlife Wardens romantic suspense series begins in 2016 with Wild Man’s Bluff.

Twitter: @suzanne_johnson

Jeffe Kennedy is an award-winning author whose works include non-fiction, poetry, short fiction, and novels. Her most recent works include a number of fiction series: the fantasy romance novels of A Covenant of Thorns; the contemporary BDSM novellas of the Facets of Passion, an erotic  contemporary serial novel, Master of the Opera, the fantasy series The Twelve Kingdoms, and the erotic romance trilogy, Falling Under. The first of the Twelve Kingdoms books, The Mark of the Tala, has been nominated for the RT Book of the Year while the sequel, The Tears of the Rose, has been nominated for best fantasy romance of the year. Jeffe lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico, with two Maine coon cats, plentiful free-range lizards and a very handsome Doctor of Oriental Medicine.

Twitter: @jeffekennedy

Award-winning author Mina Khan grew up in Bangladesh on stories of djinns, ghosts and monsters. These childhood fancies now color her fiction. She daydreams of hunky paranormal heroes, magic, mayhem and mischief and writes them down as stories. She is the author of the Djinn World Chronicles, including The Djinn’s Dilemma and A Tale of Two Djinns, as well as Wildfire, a paranormal mystery with cowboys and dragons.

Twitter: @SpiceBites

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