Azrael Paul Damien introduced me to you on Facebook and told me you are a fiction writer. How long have you been writing and what is the nature of your fiction?
I have been writing for going on three years. I started out as a paranormal romance writer. My first book was a young adult shapeshifter romance novel. I enjoyed writing that as my first step into the industry, but have since moved on to more adult content. I now write BDSM romance novels. Detailed explicit writing for those looking for hot sex scenes, Alpha males, and submissive women.
Did you and Azrael make acquaintances on social media? I remember a writing project of his published some years ago, Convict Grade. If you read it, would you consider it an inspiration?
I did not meet Azrael on social media; I have known him for years. I am aware of his writings and artwork and I love them both, so I asked him to do my cover art. He is very talented and has agreed to do all my book covers for me. I have read Convict Grade, but I would not consider it an inspiration to my writing. Convict Grade is in quite a different genre than Shifting Souls.
How many book covers has Azrael designed for you? When choosing his work for your covers do you look for pieces that best fit the content of your novels?
Two covers so far, but he has agreed to do any more I need. I don’t choose from covers Azrael already designed, he designs covers specifically for me. I give him a basic idea of what I would like to see and he designs the cover off my idea and the book description.
How well has Azrael captured your novels while designing your book covers?
He designed them exactly how I wanted them and they reflect my stories in every way. He will be designing all my book covers, I couldn’t trust anyone else to do such a good job.
What interested you in writing paranormal subjects into your fiction? Did you draw on personal experience or research you did on the subject?
It is purely fiction from my imagination. I have loved other shapeshifter novels but instead of using the common werewolf, which is most often used, I have chosen to use other less commonly used animals. The books to follow in the series will have even more animals. Unlike other paranormal stories with alternative worlds, species, and other magical aspects, this novel is specifically placed within our own human world. I wrote it with the idea in mind of what would it be like if you lived alongside a paranormal species and didn’t even know it.
Where do you find the shape shifter novels you have read, in local book stores or on the internet? Which of them would you suggest to genre fans?
I find all my books on the Internet or the library. Most of the time they are recommended through my friends and family. I enjoyed the Grey Wolves Series by Quinn Loftis, it is mostly about werewolves instead of shape shifters. My favorite shape shifter series is the Paranormal Dating Series by Milly Taiden. I would recommend the Grey Wolves Series for younger readers and the Paranormal Dating series for adults.
How many installments of the Grey Wolves Series and the Paranormal Dating Series have been published altogether? How would you describe the writing of Quinn Loftis and Milly Taiden?
Grey Wolves has ten and Paranormal Dating has twelve. Quinn Loftis’ writing style is much younger, geared towards young adults. She has a younger style using words and phrases that young adults would use. Milly Taiden is more adult, constructing her novels from a more mature prospective, and adding more details fit for adults.
What animals were obvious choices for you to base your shape shifting characters on?
Obviously I had to pick my favorite animals. I started with wolves and horses, but by the time the series ends you will see tigers, jaguars, cheetahs, bears, foxes, and maybe a few others.
What is the intended effect of placing your fiction in the human world? How are your otherworldly characters introduced?
The intended effect was to blur the line between fantasy and reality. I wanted a story where all those things you fantasize about and think couldn’t be anything more than make believe could actually be real. The otherworldly characters are introduced by no other way than is required for the story. They are the story, therefore their introduction is written as if what and who they are is commonplace. However the introduction to Skyler is based on love. How else can you convince your soulmate that you two are meant to be together if you don’t tell her who you are?
How much in your novel did you blur the lines between the everyday world and the world of the paranormal?
My hope with this story was that I created a character in which the reader could imagine meeting this person in their everyday life and not realize they were a paranormal species. I wanted a world in which they lived together so cohesively the average person wouldn’t know the difference between a Therian and a human unless they were privy to the secret. I hope I was able to blur that line enough that the reader could feel this, because as I wrote it I could.
What was the title of your first novel and when was it released? Was it available in print format or on the internet?
The title is Shifting Souls: Damien’s Spitfire. It was released in March 2016. It is available in eBook format only from all eBook distributors. I have one printed copy of the book for myself, but it is not available for purchase in printed format.
How much of a response was Shifting Souls met with upon its release? Where on the internet can people place an order?
Shifting Souls is available through all major ebook distributors, like Kindle and Nook. The story had little response upon its release; it had no advertising and other than friends and family no one knew of it.
Do you personally prefer ebooks or physical books? What are the advantages of ordering and reading a novel online?
I love having physical books. I have physical copies of my own books, but I find ebooks to be more easily accessible. On planes and in bed I like the physical books, but when I am on the go I like ebooks because I can take them anywhere.
How many physical books are in your collection at this time? Any rarities you have worth mentioning?
Somewhere around a hundred. I don’t have any rarities or signed copies by the author.
Sexuality has been a part of literature for centuries. In what ways has this aspect changed today when compared to past literature?
I really can’t answer this question. I’ve only started reading romance novels and books that contain sexual content recently so I don’t have any knowledge on previous literature to compare my writing to.
Talk about the main characters and storyline of Shifting Souls: Damien’s Spitfire.
The Shifting Souls series is about a paranormal species called Therians and their search to find their soulmates. A Therian has but one true mate and to find them is a precious gift, but finding them isn't the hardest part. Protecting them once they have been found proves to be the most difficult. Damien’s Spitfire follows the story of three main characters; Damien, the horse Alpha, Seth, the wolf Beta, and Skyler the human female. Skyler and Seth have been friends for many years, but unbeknownst to Skyler, Seth is a Therian. When Skyler comes to Seth’s hometown on business he intends to introduce her to his pack, having recognized the qualities of a true mate in her. His hope is that she will be a mate to one of his pack members, thereby strengthening their pack and improving all their lives. However with an unexpected turn of events Skyler ends up meeting Damien and his herd instead of the wolf pack. Skyler turns out to be Damien’s soulmate and it is with that revelation that the fighting between the wolves and the horses increases. The horses are trying to secure what is theirs, the wolves are trying to solidify their future, and Skyler is the key to both. True love is lost and found, friendships are tested, and lives will be changed forever.
What is the nature of the conflict between Therians and humans? Has this conflict existed for many years in the universe your novel is set in?
The conflict between Therians and humans is not brought out in the first book because it is just an introduction to the world. However you will see it as it arises later in the series. The conflict becomes apparent as they struggle to keep their species secret. Therians are by far the superior species with their unique abilities, long life span, and healing capabilities. Some Therians believe that they shouldn’t have to hide from the human world, that they in essence could rule the world. Where as others feel the consequences of letting their secret out could be detrimental to their species.
Does the novel indicate how long the Therians have existed as a species, or when their conflict with humans began? Or is this something that will be revealed in the sequels?
This will come out in the other sequels. I wanted to build it up so you learn a little more about Therians in each book.
Why did you opt to reveal only a little about the Therians in each novel? Is this so the readers will find it easier to swallow?
I chose to do it that way to bring more structure to the other stories. I like slowly revealing new aspects of who they are so that the reader learns about them the same time the characters do. I think it builds a better connection between the reader and the characters.
Do the various species of shape shifters form a hierarchy according to their respective bloodlines?
Alpha status is not guaranteed by bloodline, therefore it has no bearing on the hierarchy. In my story becoming Alpha is so much more than following one’s bloodline. It has everything to do with the character of the person. Their own strength, the sacrifices they make for their herd/pack, and the ability to lead with an honest and true heart.
How much of a process was it to devise the characters and plotline of Shifting Souls? Did you have to write multiple drafts before you were satisfied with the novel?
The characters came easily to me. I knew exactly what type of personalities and appearances I wanted them to have. I had each of them envisioned from the beginning of the story. In fact some of the story was written around a certain act from a specific character just so that I could show that particular side of that character. I went through many drafts of this particular novel. I would get this new idea and would have to incorporate it somehow, so I would go back and change things just a little to make sure I got that one thought in. Even after I published I went back and added more because these ideas kept coming to my mind. When I release the next sequel I will release an updated edition of the first novel so my final thoughts can be added.
How will the updated edition of Shifting Souls expand on the currently published edition?
I added another chapter to show a little more of Skyler’s personality and determination. I also changed the chapter layout, just to make the flow of the story a little smoother.
When mentioning a series, do you mean to say you planned to write sequels to your first novel or did this develop naturally?
I always planned to make sequels to the first book. My plan is to follow the story of the Alpha and the Beta of each animal species as they are introduced and see where it goes from there. We will see if it turns out that way as I continue writing.
How many sequels to Shifting Souls were you thinking of writing altogether? How much interest has there been in sequels on the part of your readers?
I don’t know how far I plan on taking this series. It will go until I run out of ideas or I feel it is complete. There has been some interest in sequels from fans that I know personally but from other readers I have not had much feedback. I am about halfway through the first sequel and hope to have it finished by summer 2017.
How much has the continuation of the series been fleshed out in the first sequel? How much do you think you’ll have to revise it before it’s published?
The next sequel picks up where the previous book ended. It reminds you of key points from the first book, but to get the best understanding of the story it would be best to read the books in order. I still have some fleshing out to do on the second book. I have to think three books ahead to make sure I don’t contradict myself later in the series.
What sort of a role does eroticism play in the other novels and/or novel series you are authoring?
Eroticism plays a significant role in my other novel series, CC’s Protection Agency. This series is a BDSM romance series that has graphic love scenes and introduces the reader to the many aspects involved in a BDSM lifestyle.
Was there a transition between horror/supernatural fiction and the BDSM related fiction you undertook? How was it to arrange both novels into coherent storylines?
There really wasn’t a transition between the two stories, I actually wrote both books at the same time. When I write I have to write whatever is on my mind at the time, or I get writer's block and I can’t finish either story. I write my books much like a play, scene by scene. The scenes don’t necessarily go in order and I switch back and forth between books. Once I have all the scenes I want in the story then I go back and put them in order and write in the filling so that the story flows. I wrote in two different genres because I had two story ideas that I wanted to see come to fruition and they couldn’t be written into the same novel so I spread out and wrote one idea in one genre and one idea in the other. I am happy with how both books turned out. It was an easy process, I already knew what direction I wanted the story to go in; I just had to fine tune the details.
How much research into the BDSM lifestyle did you undertake while writing the first CC’s Protection Agency novel, Stalking The Baker?
I had to do quite a bit more research for my BDSM novel than I did for my paranormal novel. Since Therians are a made-up species I didn't have to follow any guidelines for what I wanted them to be able to do or in creating a history in which they came from, but BDSM is a real lifestyle with its own rules and guidelines. I read several books on the subject and spent many hours Internet searching to learn as much about the lifestyle as I could. I incorporated the general basics of BDSM that seem to be root elements of the lifestyle, but as I learned through my research there are variances in how BDSM is practiced. There are probably no two people in the lifestyle that do the same thing as someone else. Other than the rules for safe and consensual engagement everything else is up for interpretation. I took some paths of interpretation when writing but I think the readers will find most of the BDSM aspects to be the norm for the lifestyle.
How many books on the topic of BDSM did you have to choose from during your research?
There are many, many books to choose from on the subject of BDSM. I read books from different authors to get a baseline of what parts of the BDSM lifestyle I wanted to reflect in my writing but I got most of the actual BDSM facts from articles on the internet. Even Wikipedia has information on BDSM. A full detailed search on the internet can give you a good understanding of the lifestyle.
Name specific books and internet articles that provided you information on BDSM?
The first books that drew me into the lifestyle were the books in the Serve Series. The Serve Series is part of Entangled Publishing’s Brazen book series. As for internet articles you’ll have to do your own searching. There are so many articles that focus on different aspects of BDSM, pick your topic and do your own research. It’s a personal growth project and everyone will take something that pertains to them personally out of what they read.
How many books were published as part of the Serve Series, and how informative would you say those volumes are?
I read as far as book four before I quit reading and started writing, but I know there are more books in the series. For me they were informative and gave me a basic idea of what the lifestyle was about and intrigued my interest enough to make me want to do my own studying.
Who is the author of the Serve Series? Can these books be purchased online by interested parties?
The Serve Series is a comradery of several authors you can look them up under Entangled Publishing. All of these books are available online through amazon as well as other ebook distributors.
How do you account for the increased popularity of BDSM and its lifestyle after its long underground status? Now that society has come to accept the BDSM lifestyle do you see it possibly becoming a trend with people getting involved only because it’s popular?
I don’t necessarily think there has been a popularity increase in BDSM, I just think society has become more accepting of it, therefore people aren't hiding it as much as they used to. As with any new trend, or a trend that has suddenly become popular, there will be those that get involved because they want to be popular. This lifestyle isn’t something that you can just jump into because you want to be cool. It requires a certain personality and an inner desire, you can’t make someone something they are not. It is my opinion that that those that get into BDSM to be popular will fall away from the lifestyle once they realize its not who they are, and for those that really do have the desire inside of them, they will find completion.
What are the rules and guidelines of BDSM you discovered? How were these written into CC’s Protection Agency?
The rules and guidelines that I was looking to use were the basic fundamentals of what makes a Dominate and what makes a submissive. I was looking for the characteristics and qualities of what makes a good Dom or Sub, and looking to see how those characteristics formed compatible bonds. There are different kinds of Doms and different kinds of subs and I wanted to be able to reflect those different types in my stories. I also wanted to build realistic relationships by researching what characteristics would draw a certain type of sub to a certain type of Dom.’
How many main characters are written into this novel and how much realism relationship-wise went into them?
There are nine main characters; the six Connelly's; Parker, Corbin, Duncan, Tyler, Jayce, and Christy. Cooper, Jayce’s partner and Christy's love interest. Hayward, Duncan's partner who is as close to the Connelly's as family. And Kylee, our female victim and the woman Tyler is trying to claim as his own. Many of these characters are based off people close to me, and I will not share who those people are, but let’s just say that though this story is written in a confrontational genre it holds a lot of personal feelings for me.
What can you reveal of the storyline of CC’s Protection Agency and how you’re developing it?
The storyline through the series will follow the main character Christy Connelly and her brothers as they protect and fall in love with the stories’ damsel in distress. CC's Protection Agency is an agency Christy developed to help stalking victims, like herself, stay safe and protected from unknown predators, while Christy works towards finding, identifying, and getting rid of the stalker. Christy's brothers are in charge of protecting the stalking victim while Christy does her investigating. As cliché as it is this is where the romance part comes in. In each story one of the brothers will fall in love with the woman they are supposed to be protecting. Each book in the series will be about one brother and how his relationship develops with this woman that he has just met. The BDSM part comes in as part of their development. The Connelly’s have been part of the BDSM lifestyle their whole lives and they have to find a way to introduce the lifestyle they can’t live without to these new women. Some women will already know of the lifestyle, where others will not. Each book will incorporate a different D/S dynamic, depending on the kind of Dom the brother is. Christy is the main character of the series and her story and relationship will grow throughout the entire series.
Are you making any effort to make the romance aspect of the series less clichéd despite the circumstances under which the protagonists start a relationship?
Not really; I like the love at first sight aspect. It’s happened to me and I believe it can happen to others. I also have it in there because that is the joy of writing my own books, I can have things anyway I want them.
Do you have any ideas in mind for new novels once both of your current series have been written and published?
Not at this time. I have to finish my ideas for these two series before I can even consider the idea of writting another one.