Today I'm featuring an interview with romance author Erica Lucke Dean, whose paranormal romance, Suddenly Sorceress, came out in December and features a run-of-the mill kindergarten teacher named Ivie who discovers she has magical powers when she accidentally turns her cheating fiancé into a skunk.
Me: Suddenly Sorceress is a paranormal romance, which is a departure from your previous novel, To Katie with Love, which took place entirely in the real world (or at least as real as a fictional world gets). What do you feel are the unique challenges and delights in writing a story with fantastical elements?
Erica: The best part of fantasy is the freedom to color outside the lines. When you’re writing about how a magical spell works, you have only to work within the guidelines of what your mind can conjure. I did do far more research so I better understood those things that are considered “fact.” Such as lunar cycles, magical communities, etc. But I had lots of freedom to imagine crazy ways my witch could get herself into trouble. And boy, did she.
Me: Sorceress is full of quirky characters and laugh-out-loud scenes. Which scene is your very favorite? Did you know it would be your favorite when you started writing, or did it surprise you?
Erica: Picking a favorite scene is like picking a favorite color, or a favorite song. That’s hard! I like just about any scene that has all the major players in it. They were so much fun to work with, and when they’re all in the same room, the snappy dialogue makes me smile.
Me: Okay, Imagine you’re a happy, engaged 22-year-old kindergarten teacher and your fiancé does to you what Matt did to Ivie. And so you turn him into a skunk, naturally, because in this fantasy you’re a witch. Admit it, if you knew you could get away with it scot free, you’d totally leave him that way.
Erica: LOL, probably. He wasn’t very nice, was he? Okay, if I’m being totally honest, I might start to feel guilty after a few weeks or months. Then I’d be afraid he’d fall victim to something higher in the food chain. I might keep him in a little cage on the back porch so he couldn’t get eaten. But I’d be sure to remove his ability to spray me, first.
Me: Sorceress has… How shall I put this? A lot of sex. Plot-relevant sex, to be sure, but it’s definitely not skimping on the coitus. Does writing sex scenes from writing other types of scenes? How do you decide what heat level to go with in your novel?
Erica: Well, I’ll admit, the sex scenes were hard. I mean, difficult. I didn’t initially want sex to be a factor, but the more I got thinking about the characters, the more I realized it was a perfect way to insert tension between them. This time it’s the poor guy trying to put on the brakes and the girl is pressuring him. I’m no stranger to four letter words, but for some reason when I sit down to write a sex scene, I get squicked out by the language. I wanted those scenes to be really steamy, but I tried to keep the vulgarity to a minimum. That’s a fine like to walk, but I hope I managed it.
Me: This is the part where I would ordinarily show deep insight and say how your book reminds me of other paranormal romance authors’ works. But since I reside pretty far on the urban fantasy side of the UF/PNR divide, so instead I will ask you who your favorite PNR author is and whether you consider his/her work to be an influence on yours.
Erica: I have had an on-going love affair with Michelle Rowen’s Stakes and Stilettos characters. It’s a fun vampire romance series. That’s the book series that made me realize you get away with being really funny in a romantic setting. Jill Shavis’s Out of This World is another fantasy romance with a huge dose of humor. I like making people laugh so if I can do that while I’m making them fall in love, all the better.
Me: You have what I’ve found to be a unique writing and revising process—the group edit. Tell us a little bit about that and how it works for you.
Erica: I love immediate feedback. (I’m sure you know this because you DO get the lovely updates in your inbox.) And the live group edit gives me more than one person to bounce ideas with, and that makes me happy. Sometimes the words get stuck in my brain and it takes someone to shake them loose. It’s like a great big writer pajama party on Skype.
Me: I hear rumors that you are working on a sequel to Suddenly Sorceress. (Note to readers: This is a massive understatement. Erica updates me every 500-1000 words on the sequel’s progress.) Any hints on what’s coming for Ivie? Anything else coming down the pipeline, if only so I know what kind of snippets will be flooding my inbox?
Erica: Ivie is in for a bit of trouble. Someone from her past is coming back and he’s bringing chaos (not THAT Chaos) in his wake. More humor, more funny sexual situations. At least one poodle and the return of the goat.
Me: So we’re getting toward the end of your blog tour. What is one question you wish someone had asked you but no one did? Question and answer, please. Unless you feel like being mysterious.
Erica: I’ve had some pretty crazy questions lobbed at me. I even had to answer to my first kiss. You can find THAT question and the humiliating answer on one of the stops on the tour. I guess the one question no one has thought to ask is, “Why do you feel such a connection with characters so different, and yet so similar to yourself? Do you think you’re trying to make up for something that’s missing in your life?” Okay, that’s two questions, but no one has asked them so far. And the answer? My characters all come from within me. To quote Shrek, I have layers, like an onion. When I write, I can explore each of those layers separately without losing anything from the whole. I can take my adventurous layer and do something entirely insane without having to contend with my paranoid layer, who’s terrified the sky will fall if I do something dangerous. I can separate that shy twenty-year-old from the fearless woman and create more than one dynamic person. They’re all me. Just different sides, from different times in my life. Sides that, just maybe, I didn’t have the courage to explore along the way.
There you have it, folks. Pick up Suddenly Sorceress, or Erica's first book, To Katie with Love, at your favorite on-line retailer. But for now, enter the giveaway!
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