Our First Out of Blogging Experience
To aid in the release of my first novel, Hyde, an Urban Fantasy, Christina invited me to appear on her blog. She allowed me free rein (which, btw, was probably a very bad decision on her part) to decide how the interview will go down.
Author: Lauren Stewart
Title: Hyde, an Urban Fantasy
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Release Date: July 8, 2012
So, here it is. Instead of Christina asking me questions about the novel and how I write, I’m going to ask her about it. Note: If she gives any spoilers, I reserve the right to cut her off, and it may not be politely. I also reserve the right to call her on any answers she gets wrong.
Lauren: Thanks for appearing on your own blog, Christina. It must be exciting.
Christina: I can barely keep my fingers on the keyboard I’m so excited. I can’t believe I not only scored an interview with you but you are interviewing me. This is a BIG deal!
Lauren: I'm sure it is. ;) Then let's get to it, shall we? So…I forgot. What is my novel, Hyde, an Urban Fantasy about?
Christina: How in the hell should I know…I haven’t read your damn book. Who reads Urban Fantasy anymore? **Laughs hysterically**
Lauren: Maybe this was a very bad decision on my part. Christina, I know you read the book.
Christina: Okay, okay…I **may have** read it once (or three times). Basically, it’s a pretty by-the-book, cookie-cutter Urban Fantasy…lots of werewolves, ghosts, vampires and such…
Lauren: Okay, maybe you didn’t read it. In fact, maybe you didn’t even read the title. I would’ve thought the word “Hyde” kind of gave it away, but I hadn’t considered how many people would be drinking heavily before picking it up…three separate times.
Christina: Okay. I’ll admit I’m a HUGE SUPER FAN. If there was a Hyde Quiz on Goodreads I’d get 110% of the questions correct.
This is Hyde in my own words:
Mitch Turner is everything women want most in a man—charismatic, successful, drop-dead gorgeous. Except he’s not a man—he’s a monster.
The only way Mitch can protect others from his monstrous side is to stop them from getting too close…that and a 7x7 foot cage. Isolated by his genetic curse, he spends his life hurting people emotionally, driving them away before Hyde can harm them physically. But, after a night of the best sex Mitch has ever had, he realizes that might be impossible. Except the woman he wakes up with claims she doesn’t remember any of it.
Eden Colfax is everything men want most, men other than Mitch, that is. She’s kind, honest to a fault and sickeningly sweet. To rid herself of the monsters that haunted her broken childhood, Eden doesn’t lie, doesn’t curse, and definitely never wakes up naked in strangers’ beds…until the day she does.
Then the flashbacks start—places she’s never been, people she’s never met, blood she’s never spilled. She discovers she’s split into two parts—the woman she thought she knew and another who is capable of anything. And the only person with any answers is the one man she never wants to see again.
What neither of them know is that someone is watching them both, manipulating them, determined to see just how evil the two of them really are. And when the truth begins to seep through the cracks, leaving them nowhere to turn but each other, they will be forced into a partnership neither had expected.
Because in life, who you trust is as important as who you are. And when you can’t even trust yourself, sometimes the only person you can rely on is the last person on Earth you should be falling for.
Lauren: Wow, Chris, your exact words, huh? That was great. I wish that could be the official blurb for the novel. Oh, wait. It is. And you didn’t write it.
Christina: Dang! You caught me! I find summing up a whole novel (especially one that is over 400 pages) is quite daunting. How can I show your awesomeness in under 500 words? I’m pretty sure you helped me write my blurb for Only In Her Dreams.
Lauren: No, you wrote it, I just suggested you rewrite it five or six times. That's what friends are for, right? Okay, back to the topic...
Which author’s fans would this book appeal to? (I know the answer she’ll give, but I just can’t get enough of her saying it.)
Christina: E.L James, author of the Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy…not so predictable after all, huh?
Lauren: You are full of surprises today. Ah, yes. The Fifty Shades comparison. Not what I was expecting from you, but it does seem to happen a fair amount. And every time it does, I’m shocked. Sure, both rich-and-seriously-damaged heroes LOVE to use the F-bomb, both heroines start off terribly naïve, and the sex in both stories is hardly typical. But in my opinion, the similarities end there. I don’t think my heroine, Eden, ever blushes crimson or scarlet, the sex may hint of kink, but there definitely isn’t any spanking, and the length of Mitch’s fingers is never mentioned. Not even once. Also, if memory serves, neither Christian nor Ana are genetically part-monster.
Christina: Really? Did we read the same book? Fifty Shades of Grey (or is it Gray) does not hold a candle to HYDE, in my humble opinion.
Lauren: That's nice of you to say. However, FSoG is still doing pretty darned well on the bestsellers list, not to mention it has a very cool, very hard to pronounce acronym, so I’ll take the comparison. How does one pronounce ‘FSoG’ anyway? ‘Hyde’ is SO much easier.
Christina: Seriously, I started this book and three pages in asked myself, ‘Is Lauren Stewart a pen name for J.R. Ward?’
Lauren: Wow, that was an even better answer than I'd hoped for. I will never tire of hearing my name in the same sentence as hers. As long as the sentence is complimentary and has nothing to do with the restraining order.
Speaking of restraining orders, you claim to be my first “fangirl.” Is that why you won’t leave me alone, or is it because I have great hair…occasionally?
Christina: Me leave you alone? WTH! I’m not the one who sent someone five emails knowing they were on vacation…wait, that was me. Dang it!
To be honest, when I enjoy a writer’s books I treat them the same way I want to be treat as a published author. I just happen to feel that stalking is the sincerest form of flattery. I dream of fans following me at the grocery store, taking pictures of my daughter while she’s at school, and my phone ringing…once to hear heavy breathing. Is this too much to ask? By the way, Lauren…Whole Foods? You shop at Whole Foods? HYDE must be flying off the shelves.
Lauren: Yeah, about that. Seriously, heavy breathing is not a good substitution for an alarm clock, and my daughter’s soccer coach says that if you keep running onto the field during their games, you need to wear a uniform. We’re going to have to have a “chat” when we finish this. If we ever get through this.
Hyde is a big read, coming in at around 400 pages. How many times have you actually read it? And, shouldn’t you be working on your own stuff instead?
<---I'm so glad the issue of 'Stalking' was brought up!
Here is Lauren and Nalini Singh
Christina: I’ve read Hyde in its entirety (meaning I skimmed about 375 pages of the 400) three times. Am I proud of this addiction? No. Will I read the book again? Hell YES! Each time I read Hyde I find more references, allusions, and similarities to the classic book, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.
Lauren: Have you even read Stevenson’s novella? You basically just quoted my text from yesterday. Hang on, let me check. Um…no, I was wrong. That text was from today.
So stop lying and just admit that you read it for the great sex scenes. Which also means that you read more than—how many did you say—25 pages? I think you missed a few good ones. You should read it a fourth time to make sure. But not right now. Now I want to know why you don’t spend that time working on your own stuff.
Christina: Work on my stuff? I plan to copy Hyde, re-title it, and publish it as my own. Although, my promotion and marketing plan will be better…so, I’ll sell more copies. Just kidding (kinda)!
Lauren: Geez, I’m hoping you meant that as a joke. Because that is exactly what I did. Just kidding (really)!
Christina: Jokes aside, my own writing takes a back seat to helping other writers. When a friend, such as yourself, is so close to publishing a novel I want to help…in any way possible. That can be offering a shoulder to cry on when beta notes come back discouraging or being a sounding board for new story ideas.
Lauren: That’s sweet, but I don’t buy it. Sure you do all of those things, but you still haven’t mentioned your motivation. GMC, Christina. GMC—Goal, Motivation, Conflict. We’ve gone over this. And I still don’t understand yours. No one is as nice as you pretend to be—not even Eden. ;)
(Since I met Christina after I’d written Hyde, she may not know the next answer, but let’s see what she comes up with, shall we?) When I wrote Hyde, did I know it was going to be a series?
Christina: I’m sure you were a total pantser when you wrote Hyde. You had no idea where it was going and what would happen in the end…I’m convinced you still don’t know what The Clinic is!
Lauren: LOL. Yes, I am a total pantser (for anyone who doesn’t know what that is, let’s just say it has nothing to do with the terrible image you may have in your head right now and everything to do with a lack of outline before writing the first draft. A pantser writes and then finds out what happens).
However, with Hyde, I started with a fairly full synopsis. I knew what I wanted to explore, I knew all the characters (even the Clinic), and who I wanted to steal from—I mean, take inspiration from. In Ender’s Game, Orson Scott Card writes the scariest bad guys, simply with dialogue. I knew I wanted my big bad guy like that—mysterious and undefined with a somewhat omniscient feeling…for now.
And how much do you know about book two in the series?
Christina: NOT enough! I still have no idea how Detective Nick Landon is linked to everything and who/what the Clinic is. This may be bordering on a spoiler!
Lauren: Close to, but I'll let it slide. Yes, Landon will become a bigger player. How he knows what he knows will come out in book two, which you know nothing about. I’ve kept all the details close to my chest. Because, when writing something with a large mystery element, the biggest challenge is to know if the reader will figure it out immediately or not at all. So I need to leave my critique partners in the dark, so that when they read it, they will be able to tell me if it worked or not. And you, my dear friend, are quite good in the dark. Wait, that came out wrong. I didn’t mean— Never mind. Let’s move on, shall we?
Christina: This is why I LOVE this woman! Lauren, you’ve taught me so much about writing and honing my craft. I remember (long ago!) asking you what GMC stood for. Very patiently you gave me a full lesson Goals, Motivation, and Conflict for my characters. By the way, how much do I owe you for the class?
Lauren: I think we'd agreed on 25% of everything you'll ever make on everything for the rest of your life. Should I have gotten that in writing?
My memory for fiction is great, but my memory for life is foggier. So remind me, how did we meet?
Christina: I was on my online critiquing site (www.critiquecircle.com) and I saw your novel up for review. At the time I was outlining a new Urban Fantasy novel, and I wanted to ‘get in the zone’ by reading other UF novels. I was quickly hooked, and you couldn’t upload the chapters fast enough. So, you ended up emailing me the complete novel and I re-wrote the whole thing for you…why am I not listed as a co-author? Or at least an editor? Does anyone know a California attorney I can contact to get my royalty checks?
Lauren: Sure, I’ll find one for you. Hold your breath until I do. BTW, you are thanked in the book…until I upload the revised version of the acknowledgments, that is.
Christina: I’m laughing so hard right now. When I critiqued Hyde, the novel was basically publish-ready. I wish my 5th draft of my work in progress was as polished as Hyde was, at that point. I thank my lucky stars every day that I clicked on Hyde and it developed into such a close friendship and writing relationship. My advice for beginning writers out there is to find a person like Lauren (I say ‘like’ because I’m not good at sharing) to mentor and guide you.
Lauren: There she goes again being way too nice. Do not trust this woman, you hear me?
You were one of the first people to read Hyde in its entirety, and your notes helped me…a little. So how much do I still owe you in postage for all of the pages you snail-mailed me?
Christina: You owe me the 2nd book!
Lauren: You are at the top of the list, don't worry.
What kind of support did I need before Hyde’s release? And please don’t mention the tears, bitching, and whining—I don’t want anyone to know about that. Oops.
Christina: I held your perfectly coiffed hair as you puked your guts up…then I pushed the ‘send’ button and Hyde, an Urban Fantasy was released.
Christina: Okay, this is hard to answer so I’ll list a few of the subject lines from emails I’ve received from Lauren:
• Oh boy, do I have issues
• Name calling isn’t nice
• Insecure writer
• Freaking Out!
And my personal favorite--
I COMPLETELY UNDERSTAND IF YOU ARE JEALOUS!
Lauren: Ha. Did I write those? If memory serves, that last one was when I met JR Ward, she wished me luck with my writing, and I almost cried like a little girl. But, thankfully, I ran away like a little girl just in time.
Christina: I think that sums up what I’ve gone through getting Lauren to this point. But, I’m not a magician or a miracle worker…Lauren has to stand on her own two feet now! (Did I mention she has really big feet?)
Lauren: I do not! So, big, fat liar, what’s it like to be my critique partner? It must be just awful.
Christina: Probably as bad as being my critique partner…although you are low maintenance compared to my neediness. Personally, I think you get the short end of the stick in our relationship.
Lauren: Finally, something you aren’t lying about. What is the next kick-ass book I’ll be releasing? And when I sent it to you, did you skim it or actually read it?
Christina: Your next book had better be No Experience Required (NERF). As much as I hate complimenting you—this book is seriously kick-ass! This series is a comedic mystery that I often compare to the Stephanie Plum series, but way kick-ass-ier. Your heroine is very unpredictable, and you had me guessing to the last page…even at the end I emailed you and asked, ‘Are you sure that’s who did it or is there another twist?’
Lauren: I do love a good twist, don’t I? And I do love hearing your compliments, especially who you pick to compare my work to. Yes, NERF (as we call it for short—feel free to pick your own F-word to fill in) will be my next release, hopefully by the end of the summer. The heroine is great, isn’t she? She was so fun to write.
As soon as that book is out, I will be working hard on book two of Hyde. It’s ironic that Hyde is about the duplicity of man and my two series couldn’t be more opposite. I wonder if that means I’m creative or just that I need therapy.
Christina: I think you’re both creative and in need of therapy…but don’t we all! I’m looking forward to all your future novels. NERF will be a great change for readers. This new series will show how diverse you are as writer and portrays a lighter side to your writing. Don’t get me wrong…you are still as witty in your writing style as Hyde. Question…can I give the readers a quote from NERF?
Lauren: Sure, but only if I can give one from Hyde right after.
~ Excerpt from No Experience Required, Lauren Stewart
“Dang it, why had I never taken up magic as a hobby? Granted, in order for the trick to work, he would have had to be a plate or a utensil, instead of a complete tool.”
~ Excerpt from Hyde, an Urban Fantasy, Lauren Stewart
“Why doesn’t your boyfriend keep a better eye on you?” Mitch asked. “Keep you so busy at night, you don’t want to leave the house?”
“Relationships are complicated.”
“Not all of them. For instance, our relationship is very simple. You are annoying; I am annoyed. See? Totally uncomplicated.”
“Each time we’re together, I’m shocked at how much easier it’s getting to ignore your rudeness,” she said, turning back to him. “If I’m so annoying, why are you helping me?”
“Aside from the fact that you won’t leave me alone?”
“Yes, aside from that.”
“I would have thought you wouldn’t care about why I helped you, just that I did.” Mitch’s eyes never left the road. “Not that it’s any of your business, but I knew the woman who you claim to have murdered.” His knuckles were white on the steering wheel.
“Oh, I’m sorry.” He knew the woman? She leaned forward to look at him. “Are you . . . emoting?”
She righted herself in the seat again and faced forward. Of course, he wasn’t. Mitch didn’t have feelings he couldn’t control.
“Were you in love with her?” she asked.
“Again, not your business.”
“It’s the building on the left. Park in front.” She took a breath and prepared to ask a question she wasn’t sure she wanted the answer to. “Mitch, do you think I murdered your friend?” Her heart felt like a dirty napkin someone had wadded up . . .
. . . and tossed in the trash. She didn’t look at him, didn’t touch him. This was Mitch, not anyone else on the face of the planet. His rules were different.
Lauren: I like that bit. J And, finally, when are you going to be publishing your own debut novel, Only In Her Dreams?
Christina: Nice plug! And I thought I’d perfected the art of ‘shameless self-promotion plugs’. Have you seen my blog post titled ‘Beauty Pageant Winner vs. Proclaimed Indie Author’?<-- Still the Shameless Plug Master!
Lauren: I’d agree. You are a master. You deserve an award—World’s Best Literary Pimp.
Christina: I like the sound of that! Well, I do have some good news. I will be moving up my release date for Only In Her Dreams to September 2012! A whole three months early (I wish other writers were as dedicated as me!).
Lauren: By ‘dedicated,’ she means ‘have bosses who should be checking our computers to see what we’re actually working on when they’re not around.’ We should all be so lucky. The benefit of your boss's faith in you, of course, is that you get paid to write and we get a great read a few months early.
Thank you so much for letting me usurp your blog today to let people know about Hyde. It was extremely difficult and great fun. Just don’t expect me to agree to do the same thing on my blog when Dreams comes out. ;)
One last thing: I want everyone to know how much Christina helped me through this project. There was a lot of virtual hand-holding, endless support, and many, many laughs. She’s a great friend and a great writer. All I can say in return is thank you, thank you, thank you. And all I can do in return is get her to “publish the d*mn book”. :-)
Lauren Stewart...On Lauren!: