It's extremely exciting for a new author to be able to say, hey, I HAVE A FAN! Ahem. Anyway, Brandy Newton--a fan who's been a great beta reader and friend as well as my new cover artist as of Owned!--agreed to ask me a few questions of things she wants to know about me/my books.
What inspired this amazing world where humans have been pushed to the bottom of the social ladder by supernatural beings?
As flattered as I am for it to be called amazing, I can't claim credit for the idea--even though I do try to make it my own instead of copying what others have done. I discovered Obsidian Butterfly by chance, and I devoured all of the books leading up to it. Laurell K. Hamilton's Anita Blake series was the first one I read where supernatural beings were out in the open, and the idea fascinated me. (Granted, Obsidian Butterfly was the first I read and the one I stopped liking the series at, so I have no idea how it's progressed.)
I know other authors have experimented with varying shades of it over the years, though I'll admit I haven't read many of them. When Charlaine Harris's Sookie Stackhouse books followed, I kept wondering why they would settle for a struggle for integration--and what would happen if they decided that wasn't good enough.
I know there are other books out there, but I haven't read most of them! I read mostly fantasy books. I didn't even read a book in a universe like this until after Recoil and Ravel were published and I was working on Bought--and then I found Nicholas Bella. It's so cool to see the different way people take the idea.
I've also wondered what would happen if the Death Eaters had won in Harry Potter, so hey, maybe I'm just a sucker for the bad guys.
tl;dr: I have a sick mind and I love watching characters squirm. If they were real, I would be so in for it.
When writing your first book "Recoil," what were the challenges in bringing it to life?
So here's the embarrassing truth: Recoil is the second story/book I have ever finished in my life--and the last one was when I was in college taking a fiction writing course.
The biggest challenge was in getting over that block of "I've never finished anything before. How am I going to finish this?" I really wanted to play around with characters I knew very well and go with the "what might have been" path. I struggled a little until I threw out what I'd been taught about writing--outlining, writing in order, detailing the world out first, plotting, and so on. When I started writing what I wanted to write in the moment, it seemed to flow from there for the most part. I write by starting with something I want to write; I write until I'm out of ideas/inspiration for that scene. If I want to write another scene, I mark it as a ***TBC*** with any notes I want to include, then I skip ahead or go back.
There are reasons editing takes me longer than actually writing!
Beyond that, I'd never had anything published before. I'm still stumbling through the process, and I had no idea what I was doing. I'd been told not to write about vampires because they're "out," and I was under some pressure to try to write what was "popular" instead of what I wanted. I was afraid the characters weren't good enough, that the story wasn't strong enough... and then that I'd get a lot of flak for the ending. Ahem.
I did some research and found eXcessica, and I submitted to them not expecting anything to come of it.
To my shock, they accepted me into the author co-operative. From there, it was a journey of "oh, shit, am I really doing this?"
The world of your "Ripples in the Status Quo" series has seen vampires, werewolves, witches, and of course humans. Will we be seeing any other supernatural beings in your future books?
"Of course humans." Feh. Who needs humans?
The honest answer here is that I don't know. I've thought about it, but the series is set up so that supernatural beings as a whole agreed to step out together and subjugate humans together. (Those who didn't agree were declared legally human, and then that was that.) To work other beings in would be a little tricky, because I would have to a) account for why they weren't involved and what they've been doing and b) ...decide what I would what to add.
I really like the fae, and I think it would be interesting to bring them in--so that could happen at some point. (If I did, though, I'd be comparing myself to Jim Butcher's fae in the Dresden Files books, and man, I don't think I could do it!)
When writing about supernatural beings what do you find most challenging?
Consistency and creativity.
I've written on and off in this world for a long time, so consistency isn't usually a challenge, but when writing the RISQ books, I tweak some things to make them better suit what I want for the series. I'm afraid of realizing I contradicted myself earlier--which is why I have notes. Lots and lots of notes.
There are also so many books centered around supernatural beings that it's difficult to bring something new in. It feels like it's all been done before, and one of the hardest (*mature* hardest *snicker*) things is finding my own voice and my own perspective. Vampires and werewolves have been easier for me, because witches and magic are a bit more involved. The more possibilities there are, the more difficult it is for me to rein in and decide on which path I want to take.
One of the things I find most awe-inspiring about Butcher and Brandon Sanderson is their ability to world-build and to remain consistent. Their "magic" systems have rules, and even when they seem to be "broken," there's an underlying reason. That's what I want to go for, but I'm still working it out in my head.
(I reference authors outside of the M/M genre a great deal, because I've been reading their books for years. My best friend literally only got me to start writing M/M about a year ago, so it's still new!)
Authors love all their characters, otherwise they wouldn't write them but which character is your favorite so far?
This is like asking me which of my three cats is my favorite (Tas, my fluffy black one who does nose bumps) or which of my five ducklings is my favorite (the only brown-spotted one in the bunch) or which of the kids is my favorite (the small one. The husband only acts like one, and it's less endearing than the actual one). I mean, man, how can you expect me to pick which one of my darlings I love the most?
Okay, okay. Real answer.
Khaz's inspiration comes from my close friend, and measuring up is difficult. He's fun to write, but he's also difficult to write, because he's extremely multi-faceted. Ashton is a blast to write, because he says what's on his mind, but keeping up with his level of snark can be tiring. Reese is a little stoic for my tastes, but it's nice to write a genuinely nice person for a change. Jace is coming into his own, but he's still developing, so I'm on the fence about him.
Noah is my favorite to write because of his story. He has the most difficult road of all of them, and it's only just begun. You'll get more of it in Owned, but he's the most special to me because I've written the character he's based off of through some pretty rough times in my life.
And then there's Elias. Elias is my favorite character in the books. He's a manipulative, megalomaniac asshat who has entirely too much influence for his own good. I only intended to write Elias and Jace once, for the free short story I put out there (Bought) but that one's had the best reception of all of them...and I very much enjoyed writing him. I literally wrote half of Bought in a few hours because I was so involved in the story.
You may--eventually--get a peek into his head. Spoiler alert (okay, I kid): it's a dark place.
Your next book "OWNED" is due out in March. What can readers expect from this newest addition in the "Ripples in the Status Quo" book?
Owned is where the first three start to come together. It picks up shortly after the end of Recoil and about three weeks after the end of Bought. You'll get to find out what happened to Khaz and Noah at the end of Recoil, and you'll get to see how the dynamic between Elias and Jace has evolved since the end of Bought. (Yeah, the timeline is a little screwy, but Bought was intended to be a short set outside the main story line, so it threw things a little bit out off.)
Recoil ended in a dark place; I consider it a Dark Romance. Ravel is also what I consider a Dark Romance, and it's a happily for now. Bought came from the darkest corners of my mind, and it's Dark Erotica with dubious consent.
And then there's Owned, which is somewhere...in the middle. (Dark Erotic Romance, perhaps?) There are eight chapters--and one of those is told from Jace's POV, and it's going to sit somewhere around 30k words.
I ramble. In terms of content, readers can expect to see a fair bit of sex, but they can also expect to see just what impact it has on the characters. There is no sunshine (which is good for the vampires in the world), and there are no rainbows (much to the dismay of the leprechauns that don't exist). Here's Brandy's summary of it (slightly modified to take out a spoiler), which is...well, pretty apt. (And no, I'm not forgetting you calling me a diva for whining about how hard it is to write blurbs. Nope.)
Khaz messed up. Big time. His split second decision should have been the end. It was only the first ripple that sets off the rest. Did he do the right thing?
Elias was promised a slave--a slave that was part of the rebellion. He looked forward to breaking him as he had his werewolf Jace. Problems arise when Elias finds out his new pet has been taken from him by Khaz and now he's going to make Khaz pay for taking what was his.
And while we're on the topic of Owned, I'd like to share the cover Brandy created for me. She came up with this after reading the unfinished beta draft, and I was giddy because it's exactly what I would have wanted. Oh, and this is her first book cover. Ever. I'm still in awe.
Owned by R Phoenix
A Ripple in the Status Quo Story
Published 11 March
Paranormal Dark Romance
No one denies Elias Ivers what he wants--especially not someone who’s little more than dirt beneath his expensive shoes. Ivers was promised a slave recently captured from the Rebellion, and it would have only been a matter of time before the witch broke a mere human to be his pet as a beautiful match to his already enslaved werewolf. However, when Malkhaz takes what should have rightfully been his, he's determined to make the vampire pay. Malkhaz had never imagined one hasty decision would both change his life and put him in over his head.
LINKS TO COME
Others in Series
Ripples in the Status Quo is a dark series featuring stories within a world where supernatural beings seized control from humans and relegated them to the bottom of the food chain. Used for food, entertainment, and worse, nothing protects them from the hands of those who claim them as slaves.
But there are some who don't adhere to the status quo the world at large has accepted...
The RISQ world has little place for humanity--and the author's idea of romance may not match yours. As such, there are no guarantees of happily ever afters, and content may be offensive to some readers.
More information about the books can be found on my site at http://rphoenix.theupsideis.com/index.php/books/.
The suggested reading order for Recoil, Ravel, and Bought is below, though these three works can be read in any order. Owned picks up where Recoil and Ravel left off...
Recoil, Reveal, Bought
(Subject to further edits since I edit until the last second)
“You’d better hope I’m as good at sucking up as you are at sucking cock,” Mays said, and Khaz hesitated--not for long, but long enough for him to silently berate himself for his own carelessness. He’d known something hadn’t been quite right from the start, but he’d thought they were in the clear now that he’d given the werewolf what he wanted.
“Yeah? Why’s that?” Khaz asked, relieved to find his voice reflected disinterest instead of his growing trepidation.
“Because I already had a buyer lined up for him,” the slaver replied, and Khaz’s heart sank further at the sight of his smug smile. “And Elias Ivers doesn’t like the word no very much.”
The words hit him like a physical blow. Even in the midst of his shock, though, he didn’t miss the way Mays’ human slave trembled and bit back a whimper upon hearing the name. Well, that didn’t surprise him, not with what Khaz knew of the intended buyer. The witch had put a bid in on Noah?
It might have been funny if it hadn’t filled him with despair, and Khaz had to swallow back the maniacal laugh threatening to bubble its way from his throat.
Elias Ivers. Elias Fucking Ivers.
Of course it had to be him. Why wouldn’t it be someone he could easily contend with? Why wouldn’t it be someone he could work around? Motherfucker, he was screwed six ways from Sunday.
Khaz wasn’t usually violent, but right then, he wanted nothing more than to slam his fist into the wall. He didn’t. He could feel the heat of Mays’ eyes upon him, could feel the greedy bastard’s glee as it swept over him like some tangible tidal wave, and he refused to let the self-satisfied prick gain any more pleasure from his predicament.
Resentment swept over him and through him, searing him from the inside out. He’d been so stupid to agree to Mays’ little deal. The ‘wolf had gotten a free blowjob out of it, and the stab at Khaz’s dignity hurt more than he would ever admit to. Now he had to contend with a man rumored to be next up for Witch Elder. He would have had the influence to fight it before the Takeover, when he’d held the wealthy and elite in the palm of his hand.
But now? He struggled to survive as a two-bit whore sucking and fucking in alleys and street corners to keep a roof over his head.
After years of wasting her B.A. in English and being the adult no one wanted talking to their children about the usefulness of college degrees, R. Phoenix decided it was time to dust off the old nag. She settled down and started writing books in the Ripples in the Status Quo universe, a dark world of her own devising where supernatural beings have risen up and taken over the world - and relegated humans to the very bottom of the food chain. These stories are the paranormal romance chronicles surrounding the vampires, werewolves, witches, and humans whose experiences are outside the norm. Her search history is for research purposes, not nefarious schemes. (Really.)
When she's not writing, learning new synonyms for naughty words, or knee-deep in sexy gifs (to make sure scenes are anatomically possible, of course), she's apparently preparing for the apocalypse. She's attempting to learn how to cook without setting fire to the kitchen, garden without drowning the plants, and tend to what she suspects will be a horde of ducks. Her son, husband, and cats occasionally let her take naps. Uninterrupted. She's spoiled rotten that way.