Good morning, everyone! Joining us today is romantic fiction author, Allison Cassatta. Allison has just put together her first anthology for XoXo Publishing, and has stopped by to help promote its release. Evernight: Romance in a World of Darkness is a paranormal romance anthology about the things that go bump in the night struggling to find their happily ever after.
Born and raised in Memphis, Tennessee, big-city life was a rat race that kept Allison busy in her career. It took moving with her new husband to a sleepy Mississippi town to make her realize that dreams can come true, and did they ever. She found herself a published author. She found her perfect romance. She has an eye for the visually stunning and a mind that screams to bring that beauty to life. She gives her readers something they can feel in the depth of their hearts, creates worlds they can touch, and characters who become your best friend or worst enemy.
Before we get into Allison's interview, let's take a quick look at Evernight, Romance in a World of Darkness:
As children, we feared the boogeyman… Our parents comforted us when the monster under the bed or in the dark depths of our slightly opened closet threatened our safety. We cried when those evil creatures invaded our nightmares and stole us from peaceful sleep, but what if those monsters truly existed? What if they lived in a world not unlike our own, where all they wanted was the same basic needs that every human being spends their lives searching for? What if the things that go bump in the night only wanted to be loved? In the next twelve stories, you will read about vampires and werewolves, angels and demons, and monsters of all kinds overcoming some of the most difficult hurdles simply to find their one true love, to find their happiness. You’ll read of heated, salacious trysts beneath the moonlight and of lovers doomed before they even have a chance to find the one person who completes their soul. Join us as we wander through a dark world where nothing is what it seems, where rainbows after a storm are a rare miracle, where the boogeyman captures your heart and fulfils your sweetest dreams.
We'll take a quick look at some of Allison's other work (including a few upcoming releases I'm very excited about) after her interview:
♥ For those who may be new to your writing, and who haven't yet checked out your latest release, please tell us a little about yourself.
I've been writing romance for a few years. People who know me would've never guessed me to be a romantic. I'm the girl who watches horror movies and listens to heavy music. Now, that being said, I've been caught watching "Glee" and listening to R&B, but we'll keep that between us. Reputations and such. Anne Rice is the author who inspires me most. I started writing romantic paranormal thrillers and murder mysteries.
My portfolio now consists of LGBT Romances as well as straight romances. I feel like love is blind. It doesn't see sex, age, race, religious preference. People love who they love, and no one has the right to tell them they’re wrong. In my stories, most of the characters have to overcome something hard, dramatic, life-changing before they can find true love. To me, the characters become more “real” that way. It gives the reader something to relate to, and our favorite characters are the ones we can “feel,” right?
♥ The journey from 'aspiring' to 'accomplished' can be a long one, even in the era of small presses and digital publishing. When did you begin writing, and how did you feel when you first saw your work in print?
I began really writing with the aspiration of being published in 2004, when I moved from a big city to a small, sleepy Mississippi town. There simply wasn’t enough to keep me busy here. So, I sat down in front of the computer and started to write.
Six years later, I saw my first full-length novel in print.
My hands were actually shaking when I opened the first box. My husband and best friend were standing beside me with bated breath, and when I cracked open the box and saw my baby waiting for me, I nearly cried. Jessa got the first copy. I took the second. We spent the entire night signing and packaging two hundred pre-sold books. It was an AWESOME feeling.
♥ Did you deliberately choose a genre because there's something specific that draws you to it, something you feel it offers that other genres don't, or was it just 'right' for the story you wanted to tell?
I write what I feel. I didn’t “choose” a genre. It chose me. Even when I started writing LGBT romances. I’d never read anything other than paranormal books, mysteries, English and American classics, non-fiction witchy books and the like. But, I thought, “What the hell? I’ll give it a try.” I had no idea it would come to me so naturally. So, I went with it.
♥ Do you have a soundtrack to your writing, a particular style of music or other background noise that keeps you in the mood, or do you require quiet solitude?
When I write the M/M romances, I have to listen to my friend Rod’s music. I don’t know what it is about it, but it inspires the most emotion I’ve ever felt from any particular music. I call him “my muse.” In fact, when I wrote “Sins of the Heart,” I had one of his songs on repeat. Listened to it more than 300 times while I wrote that story. The song ended up in the promo video, and I dedicated the story to him.
Other than that, I listen to whatever helps the rhythm I want for the story. For fight scenes, it’s metal. For sex scenes, it’s normally the Deftones… don’t ask. It’s a silly story. If my characters are punky type boys, I listen to something like Social Distortion or Bad Religion. Other than that, I have a playlist of mellow songs that end up being background noise.
♥ For some authors, it's coming up with a title, and for others it's writing that first paragraph - what do you find is the most difficult aspect of writing?
Coming up with a title is ALWAYS a pain for me. Sometimes, I get lucky and it comes through in the story. And, I absolutely hate writing blurbs.
♥ Sometimes, characters can take on a life of their own, pulling the story in directions you hadn't originally anticipated. Has a twist or turn in your writing ever surprised you, or really challenged your original plans?
Almost every time. In fact, when I get the worst case of writer’s block is when I am fighting the characters. They want to go one way and I want to go somewhere else. It’s like arguing with the husband over dinner. We usually starve until one of us gives in. The stories won’t progress until I give in to what the characters demand.
♥ When you're not writing (or reading), what are some of the hobbies and passions that keep you happy?
Graphics. Music. I also tinker around with web design. I make book covers. My husband is in a band and I enjoy following and supporting them. I play Rockband with friends. Music has always been a huge part of my life. Occasionally, I do normal human things like sleeping and eating, but only when time permits. (Yes, you can totally laugh. I’m sure you’re the same way.)
♥ Is there a particular author who has influenced or inspired your writing? Somebody who either made you want to write in the first place, or who refreshes your literary batteries?
Anne Rice! She started this obsession and I always read Anne Rice when my brain needs exercise. Usually, when I am burnt out, I can pick up any Anne Rice novel and have an instant need to write again.
♥ When writing, do you ever consider how a reader or reviewer will react, or do you write solely for your own satisfaction?
I’ve always said fans are the absolute most important consideration in any creative endeavor. Sure, I write for myself. I do it because I enjoy it and I want to, but I do the best I can, I strive for perfection for my fans. If I achieve it, great! If I don’t, I’m sure they won’t hesitate to tell me. I want my fans and friends to walk away satisfied and maybe feeling something more than they had before.
♥ What can we look forward to from you next? Is there a project on the horizon that you're really excited about?
I am working on my very first lesbian romance, which has been both very intimidating and very exciting. It’s called “The Witch’s Familiar,” and I hope to have it out by Halloween.
“Evernight: Romance in a World of Darkness,” from XoXo Publishing, hits on September 15th. It’s twelve paranormal, erotic romances by different authors and it includes nearly every creature under the moon. They all have to overcome some horror, conquer some burden to find true love.
Also from XoXo, “From Ashes to Flame” will be released this year. This one is a M/M Romance about a man who lost his partner to suicide and when his guardian angel is sent to heal his heart, they fall in love, but…. You’ll have to read it to find out what happens.
And last, but not least, coming early 2012 from Dreamspinner Press, “Kissing is Easy…” It’s the story of two college-age boys who had been friends for fifteen years when an unexpected kiss turns their worlds upside down.
Thanks so much to Allison Cassatta for stopping by! I'll be reviewing "Angel with Devil Wings" (from her Evernight anthology); Dear Diary and Sins of the Heart (two earlier releases), and From Ashes to Flame (her upcoming release) soon, so be sure to stop back for that. In the meantime, you can find out more about Allison and her works on her Blog, on Facebook, or on Twitter.
For a taste of Allison's work, please check out the teasers below:
“The Witch’s Familiar”
Mari carefully eased in behind Brigid, curled her arms around the witch’s waist and pulled her tight against her chest. She never stopped singing, even as her lips pressed to Brigid’s shoulder. “Sleep now, daonna álainn. Ancient magic watches over you.”
“Angel with Devil Wings” from the “Evernight” Anthology
His touch ignited a fire in her body.
“Giano,” she cried out to the heavens above. The muscled walls of her sex tightened. Pressure built in the base of her spine. Tiny waves of cool and hot spread across her shoulders and down her back. “Oh, gods!”
“You like that?” he purred against her flesh.
“From Ashes to Flame”When I’d finally been able to open my eyes again, when I could finally breathe, I’d looked up at the very naked, very muscular form of the man I’d loved, looking over me.
Candlelight had shimmered against his soft, bronze skin and cast a glow over the silken waves of his perfect hair. Then he’d disappeared. I hadn’t known what the hell to think until I’d felt moist warmth sheathing my erection.
“Oh shit, Brian,” I’d hissed as my fingers had fisted his hair. Licking my dry lips, my eyes had rolled back with my head and I’d arched myself further into his mouth. It hadn’t been too much later his tongue and lips and hands had worked me up and I’d orgasmed. He’d kept his mouth sealed around me, swallowed down every drop.
“Kissing is Easy…”
One, two, three.
My hands clamped around either side of his face and with a ferocity I’d never expected to have, I pulled him toward me.
I had no more than a split second to reconsider what I was doing, to think about the possible repercussions. My eyes yo-yoed back and forth across his face. I took a deep breath and I….
I kissed him.
My mouth locked over his, tongue teasing the seam of his tightened lips. I had to close my eyes. I had to forget, if only for a second, that I had pulled my best friend, a guy I’d known forever and then some, into a kiss. I knew if I saw him, I’d come unglued and for fuck’s sake, that could only make matters worse.
“I’ve had other things on my mind though. See, this past summer, I met a guy that….” He let out a deep, contented sigh. “He changed everything, opened up something in me I never knew existed. He made me feel things I’d never felt before. He got me. I mean, like, I made sense to him. And damn, the things he could do with his….”
Oh God, Josh had been incredible, he thought as the sights and sounds from a heated summer romance twisted and flickered and churned in his head. From the kiss that had incited a riot in his brain, to the first time he’d felt the guy doing oddly amazing things to his body, to sneaking out just to get a little more of that magical, explosive feeling.
He could still feel Josh’s hand wrapped around the base of his manhood after he’d finally been brave enough to let him touch it.
“Sins of the Heart”
My body lay against his, lips working over his mouth, his throat. My lover’s fingers raked down my back, and we moaned in perfect unison. Our hearts thumped hard, drumming in rhythm. Our pulses raced, pounding out the same tempo in our salacious symphony. It was tribal, animalistic, hungry. The urgency made the moment steamy. The passion made it exciting. Brody made it magical.
Oh, how delicious she had been, he thought as his blood-soaked fingers plunged into his mouth one by one, each sliding out clean and white as though nothing ever soiled them.
Evidence of death’s sweet kiss had made ruin of her slender neck. Auburn-colored curls fell in waves to cradle her peaceful face. He had been kind enough to blind her eyes from the horror of her own death and smart enough to gag her mouth to evade any possible screams. She deserved at least those little luxuries for her sacrifice.
She could’ve made a wonderful bride.
Her body built perfectly for the fiery sex that he would’ve given her, but her predilection for bad boys had landed her a gig as the main course of a sick buffet. He had taken her by enchantment, and she would’ve given him anything he had wanted, but tonight his mood had been much more vicious.