Friday, September 26, 2008

Interview with Rowena Cherry

I’d like to welcome our guest today, Rowena Cherry. It’s a pleasure having you come visit us at Much Cheaper Than Therapy, where chocolate is plentiful and advice is free. So grab some chocolate and a lounge chair. Your therapy session has begun.

I understand you have a new release out called Knight’s Fork. Knight’s Fork is a very interesting title. How did you arrive at that name?

It is, isn’t it? There must be hundreds of Knight/night pun titles, but very few invite the pure-minded reader to think of cutlery.

All my titles are taken from the chess board. “Forced Mate”, “Mating Net”, “Insufficient Mating Material”, and “Knight’s Fork” are either positions, situations or moves. You can google them. I set Google Alerts for my titles, and more than half the time, I receive notices about a chess player’s latest victory!

That’s really cool. I just wish that my publisher (Dorchester) had given me chess cover art before Stephanie Meyer’s art department came up with that gorgeous white, red and black cover.

’Rhett, hero of Knight’s Fork, is an intergalactic White Knight in every sense except that of “Barbarians at the Gate” (a James Garner movie reference), so it seemed logical to use a Knight title, instead of another “Mating” one.

Can you tell us a little bit more about Knight's Fork (the story)?

I'd love to do so. Thank you for asking. Knight's Fork is intended to be a stand-alone book, but it is also the sequel to Forced Mate and to its sequel, Insufficient Mating Material. 'Rhett –whose real name is Djarrhett Raven Perseus Pendragon Roland Djames—has always been too virtuous for his own good. He's officious, righteous, inflexible and a spoil-sport. He has a history of trying to intervene when his older half-brothers are all fired up to have unwise sex. In Forced Mate he tried to dissuade Djetth from making out with Princess Martia-Djulia. As a result he got thumped, and then arrested, imprisoned and threatened with torture and death. In Insufficient Mating Material 'Rhett was thrown into the role of uneasy co-conspirator with the exceedingly dangerous Tarrant-Arragon after Tarrant-Arragon shot down Djetth on a tropical island with the slightly overweight and bitchy Princess Martia-Djulia. Tarrant-Arragon's had his reasons for marooning the unhappy couple, and they were mostly political. Martia-Djulia balked at the altar of her shotgun Royal wedding (to Djetth), but she needs a husband before she creates a bigger scandal as a result of a really bad choice of bed partner for a defiant one-night stand. Now, the bad boys in the family are sexually settled and respectable, they decide to do a bit of muck-raking, and find out whether there are any dirty secrets in 'Rhett's love life. In fact, 'Rhett does have a secret. An alien's queen has asked him to impregnate her, and she isn't taking NO! for an answer. Life gets very interesting after that, because no one believes he meant it when he said No.

Did you have to do a lot of research for the book?

Since I am a word geek and a pedant, and of a lawyerly bent, I can’t help noticing that you didn’t ask “Did you do…?” you asked “Did you have to do…?”
Fascinating question! I felt I had to.

Not only do I expect to provide my readers with six to eight hours of amusement, at least a couple of really good laughs, a romantic frisson or two from the sensual scenes, but I also like to slip in a well-buried nugget of useful information, and something to think about when the book is finished.

For instance, Insufficient Mating Material tells you how to save a drowning person, pick a camp site, build a fire, make a shelter, collect and purify water, establish whether alien berries are safe to eat, and much more. It could be the second most entertaining survival guide you’ll ever read. And, it’s a sizzling love story, too.

I do a great deal of research for all my books, and Knight’s Fork was no different. I don’t believe in making everything up. There should be some truth in Romance.

I’m asking my reader to suspend disbelief about things that are unknowable, such as whether we really do owe our existence to “gods” from outer space --as Erich Von Daeniken claims. I can at least refrain from misinforming them about those things that I could research… like which swords have blood grooves, and which do not, and how much bureaucratic red tape is involved if you want to exhume an alien skeleton legally.

Moreover, I’m a lady of a certain age. I do not naturally think and talk like a twenty-eight year old swordsman who is quite good at skewering enemies of the state… an ultra polite Dirty Harry with a sword.

(Nor do I swear and talk dirty, like Djetth did in Insufficient Mating Material.)

What made you decide to write in this genre?

My peculiar morality! As part of my Combined Honors Degree at Cambridge, I studied not only English but philosophy, sociology and psychology. Also, I studied George Orwell. His essays are particularly enlightening.

Somewhere along the way, I adopted a sort of Hippocratic Oath for writers. “First, do no harm!” Therefore, I don’t mess with geography, historical events, or the size and functioning of real historical personages’ private parts.

Besides, it’s such fun to look at our customs, our language, and our everyday behavior through alien eyes!

What are your favorite futuristic or science fiction romance research books, and why?

I like Ronald Tobias’s “Twenty Master Plots”, not that it keeps me entirely on track with my plotting, because my Romances are character-driven, and my characters stray off the beaten path.

When I have to write a love scene, I turn to Elizabeth Benedict’s “The Joy of Writing Sex” and also to Reay Tannahill’s “Sex in History.”
I could say that for Science, there’s The Physics of Star Trek - L. Krauss
How to Write Science Fiction & Fantasy - Orson Scott Card
Conceiving the Heavens- M. Scott
The Science of Star Wars- J. Cavelos
World Building - Stephen L. Gillett
Aliens and Alien Societies - Stanley Schmidt
Writers Guide to Creating a Science Fiction Universe--George Ochoa and Jeffrey Osier

In fact, I just did!

I imagine that my SFR bibliography is pretty much the same one that Susan Grant or Linnea Sinclair would suggest.

However, if you want just one book recommendation, it would be FIND IT FAST, by Robert Berkman, which tells you how to research anything at all on the internet and in person, which is a great deal more fun, and more likely to result in those happy accidents where you discover something unique and perfect, that you’d never have thought of if staring at the written page.

How do you go about building your world? Do you use maps, charts or drawings?

If you mean, do I draw, yes I do. I sketch stick people making love in strange positions to make sure all the body parts go in possible places.

If I’ve got multiple planets, moons, and stars etc, with daily eclipses and elliptical orbits, I draw diagrams to make sure I’m consistent with what’s in the sky when any character looks up/goes outside.

Most importantly, I have a family tree…always. Please find it before starting one of my books! It really was never my intention that my reader had to memorize a virtual who’s who!

If your book was made into a movie, what actor would you like to fill your hero’s shoes?

Hugh Jackman. I first noticed Mr. Jackman in a time travel Romance, where he was a duke, and he acquitted himself with great distinction. It was only later, in a movie where he was a devastatingly gorgeous villain, that I noticed his superior muscular definition.

Of course (why of course?) I’ve never seen him naked, so I am not absolutely sure that he’d be perfect for the role, which does call for some total nudity, but I expect he could fill my hero’s shoes.
Do you have any authors that inspired you?

Yes. Shakespeare, Isaac Asimov, Georgette Heyer, Alfred, Lord Tennyson, George Orwell, JRR Tolkien, Robert Browning, the artist Frank Frazetta. I’ve made a Listmania on and a similar one on

If you like my list, please give it a helpful vote!

What do you feel is the most effective promotion you have done for your book?
I have no idea! I’m not so systematic that I could prove one thing over another. For instance, if I were to say “My radio show on
I’d be promoting the radio show, here, and then if anyone who read this blog then listened to the radio show, and bought my book after that… well, we have a chicken and egg situation. One promotional effort usually spins off into several others.

If you want the bottom line -- what I think every author should do-- it’s have a clear, easy to navigate website, that excites the visitor to want to click your BUY links, and inspires them to come back, because there’s useful stuff –or fun stuff.

What do we have to look forward next?

I’m not sure. Which character would you (dear readers) like to see more of? Are you tired of Tarrant-Arragon’s high handed ways? Or of Grievous’s perpetual snarkiness?
Heroes are jostling each other in my dreams. I know which one my editor wants. She made me write him out of Knight’s Fork to save him for later! Can you guess who?

On the other hand, I’m rather interested in a particularly unscrupulous young rogue who isn’t altogether a team player in Knight’s Fork.

And then, I’ve always wanted to write a sequel for the Emperor Djohn Kronos.

For those who read Mating Net, do you think it would be too, too “soap opera” if he wasn’t really dead? The Romance loving world isn’t ready for a “wrinkly Romance” is it?

It would have to be another prequel….unless, my Djinn were as attractive as another author’s 3,000 year old vampire. We don’t mind immortals, and undead heroes, do we?

Thanks, Rowena!

To celebrate her book release, Rowena Cherry is offering a free ARC of KNIGHT’S FORK to one lucky commenter on today's blog. She will be around all day today. I'm sure some of you have questions or comments for her, so please ask away...


Check out author’s website at


Kathryne Kennedy said...

Hi Rowena! So good to have you here at MCTT! I'm a fan of your work, and I'm looking forward to reading your new release...your heroes are so yummy alpha.:} And I love your interview! Thanks so much for the insight on your writing.

Tia Dani said...

Wonderful interview Rowena! Can't wait to read your new release Knight's Fork.
You gave us some great info for research. Thanks so much.

Rowena Cherry said...

Hah, better!

I could not post in Safari, and until I finished formatting my newsletter online, I couldn't use Firefox for anything else.

Apologies for lateness, Kathryne, Kim, and tia dani.

best wishes,
Rowena Cherry

Rowena Cherry said...


Thank you for the welcome, and for your very kind words about my work and my interview.

I must reciprocate. This is a lovely blog.

Best wishes,
Rowena Cherry

"If you've made up your mind to impale someone, do it with conviction."
~Rhett, Knight’s Fork

Rowena Cherry said...

Hi, tia dani,

Thank you for your generous comment on my interview. I hope you do enjoy Knight's Fork (and also Forced Mate, and Insufficient Mating Material).

I'm delighted that you found my info for research useful!

Best wishes,
Rowena Cherry

"Never ask a question if you don't know the answer." ~'Rhett, Knight's Fork

Vijaya Schartz said...

Great interview, Rowena. Love your humor and candid attitude. So much truth in it. Can't wait to meet your characters.

Vijaya Schartz
Sci-Fi Romance with a Kick

Jacquie Rogers said...

Hi, Rowena! Emperor Djohn Kronos? Prequel or soap-operaish sequel, this guy is too enticing to pass by. And maybe he isn't dead. Maybe he needed to see who would muck up the works and who wouldn't.

Or maybe he was on earth begetting a whole new generation of djinn that we don't even know about--just waiting for Rowena Cherry to write their stories.

So I vote YES. :)


Rowena Cherry said...

Hi, Vijaya,

Your name seems familiar. Are you a reviewer? Perhaps with WRDF?

Best wishes,


Rowena Cherry said...


Thank you for the vote. Now if only I can think of a way to do it without resembling Pam's Dream (I was a major Dallas fan until that)....

Thank you all for commenting.

Best wishes
Rowena Cherry

Rowena Cherry said...

Tia Dani,

Congratulations on winning the ARC of Knight's Fork, which is probably the last one I will give away to a reader for quite some time, because the real book is on shelves in bookstores.

Thank you to everyone who commented. If you didn't get all the answers you wanted, I'm on on Wednesday, on Author Island late on Thurs, also on Thursday I'm on RomanceReaderArHeart, also checking back in at Melissa Schroeder's blog.

Best wishes,
Rowena Cherry