Sunday, March 30, 2014

Sunday Morning Chat: #Interview with @CEBlackbooks

John Satisfy:  As you know each week I find one talented author and ask them to sit down with me to talk about their story.  I find it amazing how many different sub-genres and niches there are in this one area of writing.  Today I’m welcoming to my blog C.E. Black who delves into the paranormal erotica and shows you why you shouldn't be afraid of no ghosts.  Can you please tell my readers a little about who you are and what you write?

C.E. Black:  I live in the south, born and raised, and was quite the goody two-shoes growing up. At least, that’s what everyone thought. I tried my hardest to join with the rebellious crowd, but no matter that I was the same age, I was patted on the head and told I was too innocent for those things. It was the reverse of peer pressure. I guess in hindsight, I can say it kept me out of trouble, though I thought life pretty boring in my teen years. As an adult, I know that I didn't miss out on much and am thankful for those that steered me in the right direction.

My husband and I have been married for over twelve years and it was he who encourages me to write all my crazy ideas down. I’m actually quite the newbie. I admit to playing around with short stories in grade school, but that didn’t last long once I noticed boys. No, writing wasn't a part of my life until I began reading again, which had also fallen to the wayside. A friend loaned me a Dan Brown book and I thought it was pretty good, but it wasn't until I picked up Charlaine Harris’ Sookie Stackhouse Series, that I began to fall in love with reading again. Then came Laurell K. Hamilton and Maya Banks, and next thing I knew, I was opening my little notebook and writing my first imagined a story, Enduring Kiss, which was published in 2011. I haven’t stopped dreaming stories since.

My imagination tends to veer into the paranormal and fantasy, but I cannot go without romance, and I admit, I need steamy scenes as well. I enjoy how the paranormal genre can go anywhere I want it too, but I have to have reality as well. A few have mentioned my work being a little dark at times, and maybe so, but that’s just reality in my opinion. Also, my work has started to get more erotic as I go and I think that has to do with the fact that I just can’t let the scene pass me by. I have to tell it like is, or was, and I want to know every detail.

JS:  That's a great trait in a writer, keeping a scene as true to life as you see it.  When you talk about paranormal elements in your stories, are we talking creatures?  Magic?

CE:  Creatures, magic, you name it and I want to try writing about it.  I started with vampires, which in my mind, are closely associated with werewolves, so I went there next. In my Enduring Kiss Collection, I go back and forth between those creatures. A Master Vampire rules his city/town along with a Pack Master. They work closely together to protect each other. I then decided to venture toward shifters in general and that’s when Shifted Temptations was born. I threw in seven different shifters, jaguars, a bear, fox, tiger, lion, wolf and a hawk. It was... interesting, to say the least. A lot to keep up with anyway. But thankfully, the story stuck with a pair of jaguars as the main characters, making it a little easier. And I will be looking into the rest of the beasts as I continue the series.

In my new release, Cursed Desires, I decided to change it up. There are no vampires, werewolves, or shifters. Instead, we have a ghost that follows a human couple home with them after a weekend getaway and a fun tour in one of the oldest cemeteries in Charleston. He’s a very friendly ghost, it is a ménage story, but he has a tortured past, which brings in a little magic in the form of a curse caused by a vengeful witch. It goes into reincarnation a little also, and a physical medium aids them with their ghostly problem.

I have a few books in the works that go back and deal with vampires, but I hope to explore all the different creatures and magics out there. As long as there’s a story, nothing is off limits when it comes to the

JS:  Those stories sound like fun.  Is there a paranormal element that you'd like to incorporate into your stories but haven't done so yet?

CE:  There are so many ways to go when it comes to supernatural elements, but I would absolutely love to incorporate zombies into a story. The whole apocalyptic storyline appeals to me, but has been done so many times and so well, I’ll wait until I have something really great before giving it a try. So far, no ideas as of yet, though I am keeping my eyes and mind open.

Also, I have some works in progress that delve into ancient folklore. It’s amazing the things you can find in our legends. Vampires, Fae, Succubus/Incubi, Spirit Women, gods and goddesses, the list goes on and I want to explore them all. Time is my only restraint.

JS:  There really is a wealth of great mythical creatures to use for different purposes.  And then of course there's gods like Zeus who are essentially shapeshifters... so much to mine.  Do you think your southern upbringing informs your work in any specific ways?

CE:  Zeus is a favorite of mine... Maybe... Well, I’ll think about it later.  I think a writer’s upbringing shapes their work in all ways, and I’m not an exception. When it comes to locations, I’ve pretty much stuck to what I know and that’s mostly the Southeastern US, so the southern drawl comes out in my dialogue quite often. You will see “y’all” and “gonna” and much more, because to me, it’s real. That’s how people talk around here.  However, with that said, I know when not to go overboard. I don’t want to read it and think it sounds silly. I always try to keep true to the characters.

JS:  A little bit of southern charm to your works...  When you sit down to start a new story, where do you find your inspiration?

CE:  Inspiration can pretty much come from everywhere and anything. An example is from Cursed Desires. My husband and I went on a weekend getaway and did a couple of those haunted tours. A tour guide mentioned protecting yourself from spirits attaching to you, and instantly, I had an idea. What if something did follow you home? What would you do? Could it be good or would it be evil? A million questions and ways to go from there.

I also enjoy listening to music as I write. I find inspiration in the feelings the songs invoke. I try to find the right ones for each scene, especially if I’m blocked. Some of my favorite bands that have inspired my works so far are Muse, Seether, What Now, One Republic, Imagine Dragons, Adele and a quite a few more. I consider myself a music mutt and can listen to just about anything.

JS:  You have just released a new book, Cursed Desires, a few days ago.  Was there a song that you feel is connected to this story?

CE:  Actually, there wasn't a particular song for this story, just a few together that helped along the way. If you haven’t heard them, What Now has a song called Move Like a Sinner, perfect for those steamy scenes. A couple of others were, Keane's Somewhere Only We Know and  Bittersweet Symphony by The Verve.

Cursed Desires had a lot of emotions running through it. There’s the love between Kara and Gabe, a husband a wife of seven years. I actually have an argument scene and boy was that crazy. Just a tip, don’t stop in the middle of a scene like that. I was angry with my own husband for a while and couldn't figure out why. Luckily he wasn't home and then I had to laugh. I had gotten caught up in the characters' emotions, making me very irritable. I jumped back on the computer and had them make up before the hubby came home and I was much happier.

The story has the fear of the unknown when Kara realizes her house is haunted and then the confusion when gets to know her ghost. The ending is a surprise so I won’t say much about that, but the emotions continued to bounce as they got deeper into their situation. Overall, it was a roller coaster for me.

Cursed Desires was released March 20th, and I hope readers will give it a shot. It’s a novella, so not too long, but it’s packed full of... well, craziness, I think. Kara is a writer and stays home alone most days. Can you imagine what it would be like to have to deal with a haunted house every day? Each chapter is actually a separate day, so you get to see how the haunting and  the relationships progress over the month and in the end, connects the characters in way that none of them saw coming.

JS:  That's kind of funny that your characters were so irritable that needed to decompress yourself before your husband came home.  Do the emotions of your characters often bleed into your life?  What about the reverse, you're in a mood and then your characters feel the same way?

CE:  Oh, absolutely. I have learned to try and find stopping points where the mood is lighter or a conflict has been resolved, if possible. Otherwise, I will take on the emotions, but I have come to realize this and I've learned to adjust. Doing something fun, like playing with the kids or reading a more uplifting book can help me get through those sad or extreme emotionally draining scenes.

As for the reverse, again, absolutely, my mood can affect my characters. There have been plenty of times that I have sat at the computer only to get right back up again, or more often, have to write a different scene to add later because my mood was so opposite that day.

My book Embraced is a prime example of both points and is one of my most emotional stories for me. Sarah goes through something no woman wants to, even a werewolf. She has a miscarriage and has to deal with all the emotions that can come from such a difficult situation. Guilt, horrible sadness and loss, and a sense of feeling lost. On top of learning how to embrace her wolf, because she had suppressed it for so long, she hit a low point. It took me many tries to get that down because it brought on many memories and emotions from my own miscarriage. And  in return, I know Sarah, has a piece of me inside her from that. However, finishing that story, though written years after, brought me a lot of peace.

On a lighter note, Shifted Temptations was all about the action and that includes the sex. You know hard it is to think about a ménage when you have a load of laundry needing washed, a sink full of dishes and dinner that has to be done in an hour. Frustration doesn't work for that scenario, so I have to take a breather. But, on the other hand, when I’m feeling down, or having a blah day, that same scene can make me look at the brighter picture and recognize one of the most important points in life. Love.

It’s amazing to see how much of ourselves we put into our work. I look back and see so much of my life. I may write fantasy, but there’s no hiding those little realities. I think it’s a way to work out what’s bothering me, whether it’s the small, everyday situations or the bigger, life changing ones. After a book is finished, I’m always amazed at how much lighter I feel. And then it starts all over again with the next book.

JS:  Do you find a blank page inspiring or unnerving?

CE:  I find the first blank page to be exciting. Starting a new story that’s been on my mind, with characters pushing for a voice, is thrilling to me. I want to give them that story, so the beginning is always inspirational. However, once I’m inside that storyline, I have come across stumbling blocks, in which case, that blank page can become unnerving. I am learning to solve this problem by not forcing anything. If I’m pushing those characters and scenes too much, then everything comes to a halt. I need to step back and just think on it. Not matter what I’m doing throughout the day, part of my brain will be in that story.

I have never started writing without having an idea ready to go, but that changed recently when I was asked to write a short story for an anthology, which will be published, hopefully this month. I was beyond excited to be asked, very honored, but it was the first time I had to come up with a story to fit a specific topic and nothing in my list of ideas was relevant. I had to start from scratch and I just knew that first blank page would be frightening, but that wasn't the case at all. A storyline immediately came to mind and my short story, reVerie was born.

JS:  A new short story, exciting!  Can you give my readers a little info about it to whet their appetites?

CE:  Absolutely! The theme of the anthology is dreams, so I went with the idea of an incubus that feeds from his victims in their sleep and when they wake, they don’t remember a thing. In first person, I describe the experience of his latest victim, who falls in love with him, but never remembers her experience the next morning. It’s a short story, but I tried to push for more and it gave me a bit of grief. Again, you can’t force a story and as soon as I came to realize this, everything got down on paper pretty quickly.

I look forward to those blank pages, because I have so many stories to tell, and seeing that clean white screen, inspires me to fill it up. Then again, seeing a full white page filled with my words, inspires me even more, because I want to start all over again.

JS:  Now that this latest book is out in the world, what do you think the next story you’ll publish will be about?

CE:  You know, I am trying really hard to figure that out myself. My goal for this year includes finishing up three books. reVerie, which I just talked about, Cursed Desires, and Shifted Perceptions, which is the next book in my Alpha Division Series. The first being my best seller, Shifted Temptations.

Shifted Temptations was suppose to be a stand alone. I had no plan to make it into a series, but I will admit to leaving it a little open. Many supporting characters were trying to push their way out, or in, however you want to see it, and readers picked up on that. So many reviews came in asking for the next book, wanting to know what happened to the other characters. I even got a few emails. So I thought, okay, let me see what I can do and I started really thinking about it. Unfortunately, the few ideas that began, fizzled out, and like I said, forcing them doesn't work.

I will continue to keep it in mind, but now another book is calling my name. It’s one I have been working on for years. So much research has gone into this story and yet, I got stumped pretty early on. I had to step aside and work on something new, but I have never forgotten all that work I had done. I don’t like having unfinished business, so half stories sitting on my computer irritate me.

This book is tentatively called Forget Me Knot and it brings in Irish Folklore and some of the very first vampire myths. It’s still really new so I won’t go into details, especially since I’m still working on them myself.

So as of right now, I have no idea which story will win out. When the characters begin to speak, I listen and that one will be the next to come to life.

JS:  It's always exciting when you have a plethora of stories vying for your attention.  I'm sure whatever succeeds at getting your attention will be a win for your readers.  If my readers would like to keep in touch with you on social media, where can they find you?

CE:  On my website you can find all kinds of goodies. I have a blog, that I use to keep my readers informed on what’s happening with my work and I also feature other authors from time to time. You can also see my books, of course, and links to where they are sold, including Amazon and Smashwords, as well as what I’m working on next. I love to read, don’t we all? So, I've posted some recent reads along with reviews on there as well.

Twitter has been a great friend for a little over a year now. I don’t think I would have sold as many books without it and I like to post sales and information to where my books are sold. There are so many new readers that can be reached through twitter, as well some fantastic people. I am not a very social creature. I don’t know what to say half the time, but so far, everyone I've spoken to has been so kind and supportive.

I recently got a Facebook page and am enjoying meeting many different people there as well. I like to post about things going on with myself as well as teasers for my works in progress. Every once in a while I like to treat my fans to a giveaway. Usually for eBooks, signed prints and gift cards. Those are always fun.

I’m kind of new to social media, but I've been doing my best to keep up. It’s a great way to connect and I love hearing from my readers.

JS:  Looks like there are plenty of ways to keep up with all your hot stories.  Is there anything else you would like my readers to know, either about you or your stories?

CE:  I would like to tell your readers that writers so appreciate when we hear from you. I love reading reviews. The good, great, bad and ugly. I want to know what you think about my work. Feedback is vital and helps me grow with each story I write. So please continue to support your favorite authors and don’t be afraid to find new ones as well. Some of the best stories I have ever read were from chance purchases of books by new, or new to me, authors.

JS:  That is so true.  Comments, reviews and messages really help encourage us.  Well C.E. thank you so much for your time.  I think this was very informative and I encourage my readers to check you out on social media and your storefronts.

CE:  Thank you so much, John! It was an honor to be here. Your questions were great and I really enjoyed our conversation.

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  1. Thank you again, John! I really enjoyed our talk! <3

    1. No Problem, CE. It was a fantastic interview and very insightful.

  2. I love how you describe what it feels like to be a writer, CE. How our characters can take so much out of us sometimes and also how our mood does in fact affect our work. You seem very intuitive.
    I have to read the story that made you irritable with your husband, Cursed Desires, I'm curious about how they make up. ~Giggles~
    You said at one point during the interview that your not very social. I disagree, this interview was wonderful.
    I'm pretty new to all of the social networks myself and find them a bit frustrating at times because I don't know how all the features on all of the platforms work. But Rome wasn't built in a day. Kind of like pushing our characters at times because we feel pressured for whatever reason. Your right, forcing it, just does not work.
    A writers words come from within... deep within at times and simply cannot be rushed. (I have to remind myself of that a lot)

    I'm looking forward to trying you out CE. I think I've shared tweets with you, but haven't really looked at the links. (I know that's terrible of me.... but twitter is crazy for me. I try to retweet for everyone who tweets or mentions me. It could easily take up half my day if I let it, if I stopped to read everything I retweeted.. OMG I would still be on tweets from 2 months ago.
    Okay, I'll stop blithering all of John's blog now... Great Interview John and CE.