Thursday, February 20, 2014

KMM talks about ICED & BURNED!


Q: When does ICED come out in paperback?
A: February 25th, 2014

Q: Why the change in cover art between the hardcover and paperback?
A: Cover art and marketing is a mystery to me. I leave it in my publisher’s hands. I know two things for certain: It’s hot and folks will undoubtedly write me both love and hate-email for it. After 15 books, I’m rather used to that. :)

Q: Why did you make Dani so young in ICED? Why didn’t you age her and give the reader a protagonist with whom we could better identify, one who could have sex? 
A: Writers make choices every day, every page, every scene, in an effort to accomplish their goals and showcase their themes. My goal is not to craft a formulaic story that pushes all the right buttons and sells the most copies but to capture the story I want to tell. I prefer having passion for what I do to chasing commercial gain.

I think most of us who stick around on the publishing scene for a few decades or more tend to write the same themes over and over, kind of like living our life, trying to get it right, make it the most impactful, memorable, beautiful, poignant, raw, ferocious, emotional.

My underlying theme has always been transformation and the redemptive power of love. If I begin with the finished product, there’s nothing to transform. The more base the initial material, the more dramatic the change. Dani is raw, elemental, rough around the edges in the beginning. She grew up by herself, shut away from the world except for TV. In ICED she has few social graces. As smart as she is, when she acquires them, it’s something to see.

I began young with Dani because there’s an innocence and magic in childhood—the loss of which is a story in itself—and when you’ve shared that time with a beloved character, watched her lose it, then get to see some part of it restored after a period of suffering, it’s immensely fulfilling.

A small segue…when I stopped writing my HIGHLANDER romance novels and began working on the FEVER series, I encountered enormous obstacles. Change is a demanding bitch. Yet gratifying. I went from writing successful, stand-alone, third-person POV romance novels with happy-ever-after endings, to writing first-person POV urban fantasy novels with none (initially) of the hot-sex-and-guaranteed-culmination in each installment that I normally delivered. To further inflame the situation, I spread the story over five novels and gave them cliffhanger endings (ending DREAMFEVER on a figurative and literal cliff.) As if that wasn’t enough, I proceeded to take an average of 15 months to write each book, stringing the reader along. (Speaking of which—to those original Moning Maniacs who suffered through the wait for each installment, it was great fun and thank you! The SHADOWFEVER launch party was one of the more memorable weeks of my life, spending time with you in NOLA, answering long unanswered questions.)

When DARKFEVER was published, I lost readers, I lost ranking on the bestseller lists, I lost placement in bookstores, and I lost money. There it is. Bottom line. (The FEVER books have since drastically outsold my HIGHLANDER novels, it ended up being a very successful move at a time when historical romance novels were about to become a dying breed. I count my blessings I jumped when I did.)

I got sliced and diced by fans who told me in no uncertain terms that I didn’t have what it took to write anything but romance, that I needed to return to my roots, pull my head out of that un-sunshiney place I’d been foolish enough to cram it, and give up the writing the FEVER series.

I didn’t listen. I rarely do. Oh, I heard it. It just didn’t change anything. I’ve got this tunnel-vision muse that isn’t after the money or the fame and frankly prefers a little less attention so she can work in peace. All she wants to do is tell stories without a moment’s thought to how they might be received. And that cantankerous wench holds the reins.

When ICED was published, I received some of the finest critical reviews of my career and the largest number of positive reader reviews I’ve had on any book I’ve written.

However, as happens any time a writer begins a new series—spin off or not—I lost sales, ranking and money. Again. And managed to incite a vocal minority who disliked my protagonist’s age.

Q: So, will you stop writing this trilogy?
A: No. I understand a simple fact. Any new series I begin will initially suffer a similar drop off. We all have our comfort zones. We like to revisit the same world, sink down on the same comfy Chestefield in front of the gas fireplace in Barrons Books & Baubles beneath a mural I still haven’t revealed, and be assured a cataclysmic force of nature will walk through the door at some point and rock our world. When Harry Potter ended, I wouldn’t have wanted to read about Hermione’s adventures. At first. Eventually, I would have loved it just as much because JK Rowling is a wonderfully imaginative writer, I adore the universe she created and am hungry for alternate viewpoints of her world.

But writers can get trapped in their own never-ending series that sputter and fizzle long before they stop taking up space on the bookshelves.

It’s not confortable (in fact it’s damned unnerving) to go from being number 1 on the NYT (thank you fans for putting SHADOWFEVER there) making a predictable income to saying—this is what I’m going to do next for love of the story, believing it will ultimately be more satisfying for the readers, knowing I’ll take a hit, financially and via reader enthusiasm.

The simple fact is the most profitable, assured-of-success book I could have written after SF would have been a re-telling of Mac’s story from JZB’s point of view. I was offered a great deal of money for it.

The second most profitable, safe thing to do would have been to say simply: I’ve decided to keep telling Mac’s story and we will next publish Fever # 6, 7, 8, 9, 99 ad nauseum, oh, wait, ad infinitum. Those were safe bets. Those were nice hits for my bank account. They were guaranteed to sell. A new trilogy? Risk compounded by obstacle multiplied by uncertain success.

Yet there I’d be: trapped in my own never-ending series, bored, with my reader growing increasingly bored, watching myself lose passion for what I do. Life is short and complicated and then you die. The only thing you really own is what you do while you’re headed that way.

Many of the readers that didn’t want to take a risk on the new series emailed to tell me why:

1. They felt reading ICED was tantamount to admitting the ‘real’ FEVER series was over. They weren’t ready to say goodbye yet.

2. They didn’t want to read about Dani. They wanted to read about Mac. Or Barrons. Or Christian. Or the boring, celibate old woman in Galway that sits home and crochets by the fire. Anyone but Dani.

3. They had no interest in a young protagonist. They didn’t want to read about someone their daughter’s age. They wanted a mature heroine with a lot of mature sex. I understand that. There’s plenty of it out there. Unfortunately, I didn’t write it. Or fortunately, depending on how you view it.

4. They prefer I write individual romance novels for each of the Nine. I can put this to rest. Sorry. The Nine just don’t work that way.

That being said: passion, sex, love infuse pretty much everything all of us do. It makes us excited to wake up, exhilarated to hit the sheets, or floor, or stepladder in the stacks of the library where trying to keep quiet becomes a fun and forbidden sport. It’s not merely the icing on the cake, some days—those are the best—it’s the cake, the plate and the table under it, hell the whole floor we walk on. There will always be a firestorm of lust and love at the core of every story I tell. Did I deliver with Mac and Barrons? I hope you think so. Will I with Dani? As good or better.

Q. Is there sex in BURNED? 
A. I’ve pulled no punches in BURNED—after all, there is that title to live up to. The sex is hotter, more primal, there’s more of it happening, and there are enormous consequences for some of it that does. I adore exploring consequences for sex that shouldn’t have been.

Q: OMG, does that mean Dani—
A: I’m not talking about consequences for a 14 year old. Please park the “pedo” wagon around someone else’s campfire. There isn’t any in ICED. Or BURNED. Or FLAYED. I would never write about, condone, romanticize something so awful, and those of you who’ve been reading me for years know that.

Is there sexuality and sensuality in ICED that takes place in the vicinity of a protagonist who is young and mostly oblivious? Yes. Does the moment that Ryodan goes hunting for her because she’s late for work, finds her bunked down on a ship and wakes her have any sexual purpose in it? Not a drop. Does anyone get hot over the skull and crossbones on her bra and panties? No. Someone is ‘charmed.’ Does Ryodan lust after Dani in ICED? Absolutely not. There are three very different males who see the woman she will one day be and are invested in that future woman in many ways, sex being the least of them. One of them has lived so long that, like the Fae, a few centuries are nothing to him, a decade a mere blink of an eye. As he says in BURNED: “You hunt for the best, the brightest, the strongest…and when you find one that shines like the sun, you do everything in your power to make certain that light never goes out.” Are they grooming her? No. They’re trying to make sure she does one thing: survive. Dani can’t be ‘groomed.” She doesn’t have the temperament. Simply protecting her—something many are actually trying to do—won’t work. She’s unpredictable, rash as any teen and gifted in just about everything. Mac is a wild card. Dani is a wild card on steriods. A far bigger concern is that Rowena turned her into an assassin at the age of nine. Was Ryodan hard on her in ICED? Yes. Ryodan knows things about Dani you don’t know yet and there are reasons for all of it.

Q: Whose POV is BURNED told from?
A: Multiple first person points of view. Mac. Dani. Christian. Someone you haven’t met yet. A few others you have. Lor. Yes, I did say Lor and since you’ve been so terrific, waiting while I tell the story the way I need to, check back tomorrow for an excerpt from his POV on my FB page!

Q: How old is Dani in BURNED?
A: 19

Q: Was this a concession for the irritated reader?
A: The only one I made. I’ll likely compensate by finding other ways to irritate the reader. :) (I’d planned for her to be 17.)

Q: Does Dani have sex, sex, sex? Is it with Ryodan who we aren’t even sure we like or Christian who you screwed up by turning Unseelie Prince or Dancer who’s now going to be too young? Argh! You’re ruining my story!
A: You’ll have to read it to find out how I ruin it this time.

Q: Is Dublin still iced in BURNED?
A: No. The Dublin we all know and love comes back to life in BURNED.

Q: How many more FEVER books do you have planned? 
A: Originally I was going to write three books in this trilogy followed by two more Mac & Barrons books, but after deliberation, I decided to combine all five into this trilogy. So, two more FEVER books right now: BURNED and FLAYED, merging the original five-book story-arc.

Q: When will BURNED be released?
A: January 2015. I’m sorry about that. I’d hoped to get it done sooner but couldn’t. My heart and soul are in it, and I think you’ll see that. I love it more than anything I’ve ever written and can’t wait for you to read it.

Monday, January 27, 2014

BURNED Release Date, Book Launch Party & Ryodan’s Face

There’ve been rumblings lately—I’m beginning to think you guys are psychic, or perhaps like Dani, you’re sleuthing for clues such as my not announcing the date/place for the launch party—about whether BURNED is really coming out July 22nd, 2014.

I’ve got good news and bad news.

The good news: I’m having a blast writing BURNED, similar to how I felt when I was writing SHADOWFEVER, in a semi-fugue state. The characters are alive and on fire, the story is coming out exactly as I’d planned, and with even more intensity than I’d expected. There’s no doubt in my mind you’re going to love it.

The bad news: BURNED’s release date has been pushed back one final time. The new date is January 2015. The precise day is still being decided (right now it’s the 20th but that may change by a week either way) and as soon as we can, we’ll announce the dates and location for the big bash.

More good news: if BURNED had been released July 22, I was not going to be able to do a book launch party. Now I am.

As I’m sure you’ve realized by my not announcing the book launch date, I was concerned it might get moved again. And I’m sure you want to know why.

I took time off.

Why? I needed it. I won’t go into details of my personal life but I will say while I could have kept pushing, short-term gratification doesn’t yield the kind of long term goals I‘m after and sometimes pushing costs more than it yields, so I did what I needed to do: walked away, rested and got recharged.

It wasn’t an easy decision to make. I love to write. I miss the interaction with you guys when I don’t. I get paid when I write. But I will always put the quality of my writing, and of my life over my bank account. I won’t put out a book that doesn’t meet my standards

I’m back and beyond excited to take you deeper into the Fever world in all the ways you want. BURNED is sexier, has more points of view, including one of the Nine (and not just a few snippets) and is all around hotter in every way, as you’d expect from the title.

A final bit of good news: I’ve never given you a good verbal ‘look’ at Ryodan. Many of you have written to tell me that Stuart Reardon (beautiful man and terrific athlete!) is your vision of Ryodan and I’ve promoted him for you, although I’ve always considered him one of my other immortal badasses.

But I’ve never shared my personal vision of the mysterious, sexy owner of Chester's nightclub (where the privileged few get to visit level 4!) because I didn’t feel I could adequately convey what I see when I close my eyes and begin to structure one of his scenes.

Then I stumbled across Anthony James Hill and was stunned to find the match to the face I’ve been seeing in my head for years. Those eyes, that mouth…

This is my Ryodan, photographed by the fabulous
 Michael Stokes Photography and Gilles Crofta.

Drop by
 Anthony James Hill's page and welcome him to the Fever World!

As for BURNED, I’m truly sorry I couldn’t bring it to you faster. If I could have, I would. I can only tell you I think you’re going to find it absolutely worth the wait.

Stay to the lights,
Karen




Friday, January 17, 2014

BURNED!!! Your first Dani teaser!


A man steps out.

Strong. Brilliant. Controlled.

Predator.

Unbreakable.

He's everything I admire plus things I can't even put into words.

I crush on Jericho Barrons violently.

My brain almost shuts down every time I see him and that's a lot of gray matter to stupefy.

Used to be, if I couldn't fall asleep I'd fantasize all kinds of ways I'd impress Barrons by killing monsters or saying something really smart or saving the world, and he'd see me as a grown up woman and I'd glow just from the look on his face.

But then Ryodan began popping into my fantasies like he had some kind of business being there, and he'd look all, well...like...Ryodan and he'd laugh and do that husky groan thing he did on level four, so I terminated that happy little exercise in somnolence.

Now I count sheep.

Lately even those buggers look like Ryodan with clear, cold eyes and some weird kind of hypnotic hold on me.

Fecker.

I'm beginning to think I'm going to have to figure out a way to kill him, permanent-like just to get him out of my head.

____
BURNED
© 2014 Karen Marie Moning

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

BURNED…An Excerpt!!!


The king stirred from his reverie and stared down at the unconscious female in his wings.

Half a million years since he’d last seen her. Held her. Touched her.

It was no illusion. She was here. She was real.

She felt as small and gossamer fragile as the new worlds he spun.

He inhaled. She smelled the same as she had on the day he’d met her, of sunshine on bare skin, moonlight on silver oceans and enormous, sky-no-limit dreams. He closed his eyes and opened them.

She was still there.

After an eternity of grief and regret, he held the only thing he’d ever wanted more than he wanted to be God.

A second chance.

He’d imagined this, dreamed it, hungered for it beyond reason.

They are replaceable, one and all, insisted the Fear Dorcha, his dark traveling companion through insanity. You will forget her.

But he never had.

Grief will pass, lisped the Crimson Hag, one of his more exquisitely terrible creations.

But it never did.

He, who had once been whole was halved without hope of ever being complete again. And when you’ve known that kind of love, to exist without it is to live a half-life where nothing else ever feels real.

He’d fabricated their reunion in countless illusions, slipping in and out of madness for millennia, talking to her as if she were beside him, answering. Drawing to his side one mortal woman after the next that possessed the body, the hair, a pale imitation of the passion, never seeing them, calling them by her name, pretending they were her until they died.

He’d lived lie after lie to escape the unbearable truth: She’d left him by choice, killed herself to escape him. He’d come to believe she’d never loved him at all, or worse—had stopped loving him because of the things he’d done.

Gazing down at her now, he found it easy to pardon Cruce for stealing her, forcing her to drink from the Cauldron and erasing all memory of their time together.

Somehow his soulmate was at long last the very thing he’d struggled to make her: Fae, immortal unless killed in one of a very small number of ways. (He intended to eradicate all of those ways immediately.) Funny how things turned should time enough pass. But the king knew the natural state of Universes was not to list toward entropy, rather wholeness. Universes were healthy. It was sentient beings with free will that were the true disasters.

So what if he’d suffered an eternity of hell without her? If someone had offered him this bargain a half a million years ago, said—you need only endure a half a million years without her to have her for all time—he would have taken it in a human heartbeat. What was a brief time of madness for eternity with her?

Fire to his ice. Frost to her flame.

He was whole again.

The Unseelie king bent his head and kissed her. Lightly. Reverently. He’d sliced open his soul and bled it out over memories of the woman he would never kiss again. Deep in his chest, thunder rolled.

Lashes fluttered. She opened her eyes. He drew back and stared down at her, unable to speak. Creator of worlds, God, Devil, whatever he was, words failed him now. His massive black wings shuddered with the depth of his feeling. He shifted and resettled them.

There was wonder in her gaze as she stared up at him: a moment of precious, pre-conscious dawn where all is dew and promise and anything at all might bloom.

Beginnings are fragile things.

Was it as he hoped? Was the power of true love greater than the power of the Cauldron of Forgetting? Did the body recall despite the damage done the mind? Memory, carved into gray matter, never obliterated. What would she say? What would her first words to him be?

Time ground to a halt and, as a human might hold his breath, the Unseelie king held his existence in silence, filling the frozen moment with tiny miracles: the blush of her skin, the curve of her lips, the arch of her brows.

Was that a flicker of confusion? Of duality preceding recognition? He knew her face intimately, had never forsaken a nuance, yet these were expressions he’d had no cause to learn.

After all she’d been through—eternities about which he knew nothing and might have contained any number of atrocities spent as they were at the Seelie Court with Cruce—but more recently kidnapped, interred in a tomb of ice and nearly killed by the power-hungry prince, he sought to reassure her:

“My love, you are safe. I have you now.” He paused, to lend emphasis to his next words, a pledge he would keep until the end of time, which he was fairly certain he was in some fashion or another. “And I will never let you go again.”

Envisioning their joyous future together as immortals, he waited for the first sound of her voice in half a million years…

She screamed.
__________________
BURNED
©Karen Marie Moning

Friday, September 6, 2013

The first BURNED teaser featuring Mac and Barrons!


“Ms. Lane.”

Barrons’ voice is deep, touched with that strange Old World accent and mildly pissed off. Jericho Barrons is often mildly pissed off. I think he crawled from the swamp that way, chafed either by some condition in it, out of it, or maybe just the general mass incompetence he encountered in both places. He’s the most controlled, capable man I’ve ever known.

After all we’ve been through together, he still calls me Ms. Lane, with one exception: When I’m in his bed. Or on the floor, or some other place where I’ve temporarily lost my mind and become convinced I can’t breathe without him inside me this very instant. Then the things he calls me are varied and nobody’s business but mine.

I reply: “Barrons,” without inflection. I’ve learned a few things in our time together. Distance is frequently the only intimacy he’ll tolerate. Suits me. I’ve got my own demons. Besides I don’t believe good relationships come from living inside each other’s pockets. I believe divorce comes from that.

I admire the animal grace with which he enters the room and moves toward me. He prefers dark colors, the better to slide in and out of the night, or a room, unnoticed except for whatever he’s left behind that you may or may not discover for some time, like, say a tattoo on the back of one’s skull.

“What are you doing?”

“Reading,” I say nonchalantly, rubbing the tattoo on the back of my skull. I angle the volume so he can’t see the cover. If he sees what I’m reading, he’ll know I’m looking for something. If he realizes how bad it’s gotten, and what I’m thinking about doing, he’ll try to stop me.

He circles behind me, looks over my shoulder at the thick vellum of the ancient manuscript. “In the first tongue?”

“Is that what it is?” I feign innocence.

He knows precisely which cells in my body are innocent and which are thoroughly corrupted. He’s responsible for most of the corrupted ones. One corner of his mouth ticks up and I see the glint of beast behind his eyes, a feral crimson backlight, bloodstaining the whites.

It turns me on. Barrons makes me feel violently, electrically sexual and alive. I’d march into hell beside him.

But I will not let him march into hell beside me. And there’s no doubt that’s where I’m going.

I thought I was strong, a heroine. I thought I was the victor. The enemy got inside my head and tried to seduce me with lies.

It’s easy to walk away from lies.

Power is another thing.

Temptation isn’t a sin that you triumph over once, completely and then you’re free. Temptation slips into bed with you each night and helps you say your prayers. It wakes you in the morning with a friendly cup of coffee, and knows exactly how you take it.

He skirts the Chesterfield sofa and stands over me. “Looking for something, Ms. Lane?”

I’m eye level with his belt but that’s not where my gaze gets stuck and suddenly my mouth is so dry I can hardly swallow and I know I’m going to want to. I’m Pri-ya for this man. I hate it. I love it. I can’t escape it.

I reach for his belt buckle. The manuscript slides from my lap, forgotten. Along with everything else but this moment, this man. “I just found it,” I tell him.
__________
BURNED
©Karen Marie Moning