|Taylor’s Hostile Takeover review|
T: I recently had the privilege of reviewing Hostile Takeover, the latest book in Joey W. Hill’s Knights of the Board Room series. I became an instant fan of hers, gobbling down the rest of the series in a couple of days, so I’m thrilled to welcome her to Guilty Pleasures. Thank you, Joey, for joining us today.
J: It’s a delight to be here, Taylor. Thanks for having me. And needless to say, I was beyond tickled by your review of Ben and Marcie’s story. You made my day!
T: You are incredibly talented, your stories capture the imagination, and your characters come to life in the pages of your books. When did you first get bitten by the writing bug?
J: Thank you for that wonderful compliment! Fifth grade. There’s an inside joke among my critique partners and editors (or maybe they roll their eyes and sigh, and merely make ME think they’re joking) about my tendency to push word count limits, but even at that age, I was writing novels, not short stories, though I did pen a few of those for contests. And before you ask, those novels are long gone. On one hand I regret that, but on the other, thinking of what a little melodrama queen I was, not so much (lol). But I was writing romance from the beginning. One of my best friends and I were devouring a handful of Harlequins a week at that point, and I found them hugely inspiring.
Of course, I have to add that there may have been some foreshadowing on the whole writing thing even before that. When I was in third grade and had my tonsils out, my class all sent me get well cards, written on the newsprint lined practice paper. Remember that? Do they do that anymore? Anyhow, my mother found me in the hospital bed, editing the mistakes and intending to give them back to the teacher. Fortunately, Mom let me know that would be extremely insensitive and rude.
T: Although I’ve only read the Knights of the Board Room series… so far… I’m mightily intrigued by your other books too. They seem to span the gauntlet, from contemporary erotica to BDSM, from cops to vampires, from business executives to mermaids. What is your favorite genre to write?
J: Whenever the muse points me toward a story, it’s always the story I have to write. The characters pull me in and win my heart, and become my favorites during the duration of their story. Like children, I love them forever, even as the next project comes forward. However, in terms of craft, what’s easiest for me is contemporary erotic romance. In fact, I try to write a contemporary book between each pair of paranormals, because it loosens up the creative muscles and gives me a break, because the paranormals are definitely harder for me. I’m a character/relationship driven author – for me it’s all about the love story, and of course paranormals pretty much require some world-building and fantasy plotting that has to interrupt that (er, I mean has to be well-integrated with that). I’m not done with a book until I’m happy with it, but I always have a sigh of relief after the paranormals, because they are a much tougher workout. Of course the overall answer to the question is romance. I love writing love stories!
T: I’m sure you’ve been asked this a million times before, but where do you get the ideas for your stories?
J: Chuckle – there is one interviewer (and I think she’s the only one who’s ever asked me this question) who asked what is my LEAST favorite question to be asked, the one I wish I could banish forever. My answer was – you guessed it – where do my ideas come from?
No, don’t cringe. It’s a very justifiable question to ask an author, but the reason I always wish to duck it is because my answer is so lame. I. Don’t. Know. “Something” will trigger a character, or a scene, or a piece of dialogue, and then it sort of builds and opens up from there. Natural Law, one of my fan favorites, was spawned by a handsome contractor I saw sitting at the ferry landing. Never spoke to him, but by the time I was on that boat, Mac Nighthorse, a homicide detective who was as alpha as a testosterone-laden male can get – but who nevertheless was a sexual submissive in the bedroom – had been created. By the time I was on the other side of the river, I had his heroine, a Mistress who gets involved with him romantically and on a murder investigation, and the first chapter was already rolling.
When a writer first starts writing, often we take classes where we learn all sorts of exercises to help us think up ideas. Like putting a list of potential heroines in one column, heroes in the opposite column, and then drawing lines between unlikely matches to see how that inspires the muse. It’s a way to train the brain to go to that creative pool and open itself to the possibilities. I think as you start writing books on a regular basis, you just start knowing how to do it, like any other skill.
T: I’ve heard some writers say their characters compel their story to be written, springing almost full-blown from the writer’s mind. Others have to wait for the characters to reveal themselves at the story is written. Which is it for you?
J: Depends on the character. In the case of Mac and Violet, noted above, they basically wrote themselves, always a delightful gift to the working author. When I wrote A Mermaid’s Ransom , Alexis, my merangel heroine, let me in immediately, to her dreams, motivations, desires, etc. Her hero, Dante, a Dark Spawn from a hellish world where it was all about survival of the fittest, was as closed off to me as he was to everyone else. It took pretty much halfway through the first full edit before he started opening up, but what’s interesting was that it was through Alexis that he opened up to me. The scenarios he had with her started opening up his soul, and when that happened, I was able to get in and flesh him out more.
And if that sounds a little weird and schizophrenic, well, there you are. Authors are a particular brand of crazy (lol). Except the people and voices we hear are real. And don’t tell me they’re not, or you’ll disrupt my happy little world. I might have one of those psychotic breaks you see on national news, where I take out my craziness on people who talk/text in movies, don’t put away their grocery carts or throw cigarette butts on the ground (of course, they actually deserve an ass kicking, so maybe the occasional psychotic break isn’t a bad thing?).
T: So I just have to ask, are your characters based on real people, or are they completely fictitious? Because if they’re based on real people, you KNOW I’m gonna be angling for an introduction to the Knights and their wives! *WEG*
J: Oh heavens, I wish. Despite my example of the contractor above, while I might get a story idea based on a physical feature, or conversation, or someone’s characteristics, the characters evolve into unique individuals, a compilation of the familiar and imagination. Which I actually think is what makes them so memorable – I like integrating the fantasy of what we wish a couple or hero/heroine could be, with the very real emotions and motivations that help us empathize with them, get in their corner and root for them.
T: Your characters have such depth to them, and as a reader, I couldn’t help but relate to several of them. Which of your characters do you most relate to on a personal level, and why?
J: Thank you! And that dovetailed nicely from that last question (grin). Just expounding on that a bit before I answer the question, I think that’s why I get really irritated when high-brows denigrate romance. The romances we love best earned that regard because there’s something about the characters that made us relate to them, want them to find that happily-ever-after. While we know that’s often not the way it goes in real life, there’s something about that particular story or character that made us feel like “damn it, these two deserve it, the way so many of us do, and at least in this story, they’re going to get the happily-ever-after that so many of us yearn to have.”
Now, as far as which characters I relate to the most…I’ve been writing for publication for almost fifteen years now, and of course that has taken me from my late twenties to my mid-forties. As a result, the characters to whom I relate best have shifted with my own life experiences. Meg, the heroine of my first erotic romance, Make Her Dreams Come True, touched me personally because some of her emotional struggles were echoes of things that were happening for me at that point, which of course helped me write/expand her character, the same way drawing on life experiences can help an actor flesh out a character who is going through something far more dramatic, but which may be based in familiar emotional terrain. Today, I might have given her a couple brisk slaps and said “Okay, snap out of it. In fifteen years, this will all seem like total melodrama!” Probably not, though. I’m still very fond of her (smile)
On that note, in the past couple years, I wrote Afterlife, Book IV of the Knights of the Board Room series. Rachel is a forty-three year old submissive who has never been able to explore that part of herself, and she falls for Jon, a thirty-year old Master who takes her on that journey, bringing them both to love and a happily-ever-after. The issues Rachel explored, self-esteem, trust, the confidence to grasp something for herself she never has before – it’s easy for a mid-forty-something to relate and tap into that!
Overall, however, the character with whom I’ve always had a connection is Marguerite of the two part story Ice Queen and Mirror of My Soul. Though I’ve thankfully never had to face the extreme trauma Marguerite faced as a child, I had to delve deeper into her mind than any other character I’ve had to find her, find what would bring her to love with her unforgettable hero, Tyler. (What you were saying earlier about whether these characters are based on real people? If he was, I’d have him locked up somewhere with a big MINE painted on the doorway – laughter). Anyhow, that journey made me feel connected to her in a very special way – I can understand the way she sees the world, and why.
T: Your books have definitely become one of my guilty pleasures. What’s your guilty pleasure?
J: Favorite movies and TV series on DVD – I love movies. After writing over thirty titles, it’s actually hard for me to get into pleasure reading, because I can’t turn off the internal editor. Which I hate, because, like most writers, I used to dearly love reading. However, what I’ve found is a well told story in the movie or TV medium can bring me to that same escapist state, where you’re pulled into the world with the characters and everything else stops existing for awhile. So I have an extensive DVD collection of favorite movies and TV series I watch while doing my daily exercise regimen. I am the addict that haunts the $5 DVD rack at Walmart (grin).
T: Okay, now for some fun, easy stuff:
Dogs or cats? I have a plethora of both – I’ll be in trouble if I choose. They KNOW these things.
Coffee or tea? Tea – celestial seasonings is technically herbal infusion, not tea, but most people don’t know that, so I’m going to say tea. Love my Black Cherry Berry and Tension Tamer blends!
Favorite chocolate? Dove Dark, hands down. (With their caramel a very close second)
Favorite movie(s)? Armageddon, pretty much tied with Serenity
Favorite author(s)? I’m such a picky bitch; I have favorite books instead of favorite authors, though I will say I worship the craft demonstrated by Laura Kinsale, Diana Gabaldon, Jodi Picoult and Audrey Niffenegger in my favorites by them – For My Lady’s Heart, the first three Outlander books, My Sister’s Keeper and Time Traveler’s Wife, respectively. Favorite all time book – Once in a Blue Moon, by Penelope Williamson. Nora Roberts was a HUGE early influence on my work.
What’s on your to-do list right now? Do you really want to post an interview that’s the length of War and Peace? Lol…oh, you meant writing-wise, right? Okay, that takes it down to a Victor Hugo size. Let me see if I can “sum up”, in the words of Inigo of Princess Bride.
I’m currently working on the next Vampire Queen series book, to be turned in September 30. I’m not sure of the release date yet, but hopefully sometime in the first quarter of 2013. It involves the vampire-servant pairing of Evan and Niall from Beloved Vampire, and Alanna from Vampire Trinity. These three were secondary characters in those books. Alanna is what they call an Inherited Servant, which means she was raised from birth with the intent of being assigned to a vampire. Her master in VT was a pretty awful vampire, and we were left with the impression she might be killed by him. He escaped Council’s wrath before accomplishing that (sort of), so now she’s an abandoned servant with a Master who is still linked to her mind. The Council has to figure out what to do with her, because no vampire would normally want a servant in that situation. That’s where our two heroes enter the picture.
Evan agrees to shelter her in his home. He and Niall have been together for some time (I may get to delve into a little bit of Brit/Scots history on this one, which should be fun). Though Master and servant, they aren’t as intimate as they could be with a woman in the mix. Alanna is emotionally shut down due to her master’s betrayal and her training as an Inherited Servant. They have to help her become a person again, and in doing that it opens all three of them to possibilities. Anyhow, here’s the unofficial blurb on it –
Groomed from birth to be an Inherited Servant, those who serve the most powerful vampire masters, Alanna never resented her destiny—she embraced it. Then she did the unthinkable; she betrayed her Master to the Vampire Council.
Certain death is her future, but until her Master is captured, she must be protected. The Vampire Council assigns her to Evan, a vampire who travels the world, painting whatever his muse dictates. His wandering lifestyle makes him the perfect hiding place…
Her training was for a vampire of power and ambition, one who requires her skills in politics, culture, sophistication. Evan lives in shacks on mountainsides, in caves in the Middle East, in a tent in the middle of a redwood forest. His servant, Niall, is a rough-mannered Scot who has been with him nearly three centuries. But these two men will teach her something her rigorous training never did. How to feel, to desire…perhaps even to love.
The knowledge is bittersweet. When the Council captures her Master, Alanna must accept her fate. But Evan and Niall are no strangers to defying fate. If she’s the prize, nothing will stop these two from fighting destiny to make her theirs forever.
I also have a contemporary brewing and another vampire book after that, but before I get too long winded, I have a Future Projects section on my website, where you can go at anytime to see where my muse is taking me next.
T: Joey, thank you again for sharing your time with us today! Where can readers learn more about you?
J: It was a pleasure! Thanks for inviting me.
Website: www.storywitch.com - Free excerpts, blurbs and cover art for all my work
Fan Forum: www.jwhconnection.com - You can find free vignettes revisiting the characters, great eye candy graphics, character interviews, all sorts of stuff here!
Joey W. Hill writes about vampires, mermaids, boardroom executives, cops, witches, angels, simple housemaids… If there’s an erotic love story to be told, she’ll take the plunge. As a result, she’s proud and humbled to have four series and almost thirty award-winning and highly acclaimed titles, as well as the support and enthusiasm of a wonderful and widely diverse readership. In 2009, she was nominated for a Career Achievement award in Erotica by Romantic Times.
According to her personal memo book, seen only by her eyes–probably because it would reveal that she loves the Partridge Family and the movie Pure Country–the top three ways to ensure her readers continue to come looking for her books are #1 Write a great story, #2 KEEP writing great stories and #3 “For the love of God, don’t let them get to know the author – that will scare them away.” (Particularly if they find out about the Partridge Family.)
She has become known for writing the type of erotic romance that not only wins her fans of that genre, but readers who would “never” read BDSM romance. That’s because first and foremost, she thinks what attracts a reader is strong characters.
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