Thanks for having me back, Kim! And I *always* revisit places that serve plentiful chocolate. I'm shameless that way. (You're more than welcome. Thanks for coming back)
I understand you have a new release out called Between a Rock and a Heart Place (Dorchester ~ March 2009). Can you tell us a little bit about your fabulous new book?
Hey, if you're going to twist my arm . . .*g*. Sure. This is actually the third book in my series of funny paranormal romances featuring sexy, shape-shifting pucas, unexpected Druids, temperamental faeries, and even a flabbergasted human or two. The first book, PANDORA'S BOX, was released in February 2008, and the second book, THE DRUID MADE ME DO IT, was an August 2008 release. With this third book, BETWEEN A ROCK AND A HEART PLACE (Dorchester Love Spell ~ March 2009), we meet another kind of magical being in my enigmatic hero, Tremayne, a powerful nature spirit. His job is simple and yet enormously complicated. For two thousand years, he silently served as jailer to Riordan, the puca from PANDORA'S BOX; then we met Tremayne and wondered about him in THE DRUID MADE ME DO IT. In BETWEEN A ROCK AND A HEART PLACE, the Druids again call Tremayne into service, this time to keep a watchful -- possibly dangerously so -- eye over my heroine Daphne Forbes.
As an only child of feuding and exiled Druids -- the dethroned king and queen of the weirdo cult, in her opinion -- all Daphne wants is to start a new life far away from them. She wants to work and live among normal people who live in blissful ignorance of the existence of magic-wielding types like Druids, pucas and faeries. At long last, she has that new accounting job, that sleek new apartment, that new and utterly normal life lined up and waiting for her all the way on the other side of the country. Of course, this all blows up in her face. A stray thunk with no ordinary cornerstone and suddenly Daphne's a non-practicing but hereditary Druid wielding puca powers and trying to suppress a lifetime's worth of rage. The Druids won't let her leave town now that she's wielding undisciplined shape-shifting and mind-control powers -- a virtual powder keg just waiting for a stray spark to incite flaming chaos. That brings us to Tremayne. He's charged with helping Daphne learn how to control her powers or, failing that, *destroying* her in order to protect everyone else. This could prove difficult since he's been fascinated with Daphne for months now. Makes for a bit of a rocky romance, I guess you could say.
Sounds like it. You said Between a Rock and a Heart Place is actually the third book in a series. How are these books connected?
Although many of the same characters show up in each book and they all share the same story world, there's a different romantic couple and different conflict for each story. We're talking magical beings secretly walking among humans in the contemporary real world of Richmond, Virginia. Each book stands alone, but I'm told the experience is richer if you read them in order.
Why did you write a series and what are some of the challenges of writing books in a series?
Why? Heh. That's a good question. I honestly didn't know I was writing a series until I finished the first book on a perfect hook to start another book. It's addictive, too, I swear. When you create a world and fall in love with it, you like to stick around and explore it for a while, elaborate on it, and maybe rock it every once in a while*g*. Challenges? Oh, it's very easy to write yourself in a corner with these books if, like me, you hate to plot everything out in advance. Once that first book is printed, then you've already placed limitations on the next book. Character histories, timelines, relationships. You have to maintain consistency in the next book, and it, too, will elaborate on those same histories and timelines and relationships, which limits your options further with any subsequent book. Specific to the paranormal subgenre, I've learned not to use absolutes when defining magical laws. I never know when I might need to get around a law I've created, so I leave the means for a loophole later if I need it. That's not terribly difficult; a world based only on absolutes would be too simple to be believable. Our real world is full of loopholes and exceptions. It makes sense to me that any world I create should also be riddled with them.
Which character did you like writing about the most, and why?
Oh, man, that's tough. Obviously, I love all my characters or I wouldn't write about them. I admit I find it easy to identify with Daphne's story arc -- was rooting for her even before I started writing the story -- and it was a lot of fun watching her learn how to wield unfamiliar magic and grow into her own power. Still, if I had to pick just one character from this book, I guess I'd have to go with Tremayne, my hero. He really broke my heart in this story. He's so strong -- his powers so intimidating -- and yet he can be so vulnerable. He's a magical being who's lived in impossible conditions for thousands of years but now he's facing the challenge of his vast lifetime. He's learning to be human and learning what it means to love and be loved. His approach to these is so painfully direct and honest . . . and then he's willing to give up everything he's gained, purely out of this new and wonderful love for Daphne. The guy's internal growth is enormous. I think he really earns his happy ending.
What was the hardest part about writing this book?
That's actually a complicated question*g*. You see, the hardest part about writing this book was also the easiest part. The ending. I had a completely different ending in mind when I first sketched up my synopsis for Between a Rock and a Heart Place, but when I sat down to actually write the story and worked my way to that last chapter or two . . . well, a radically different ending sort of wrote itself in a heated rush. It was an ether-to-fingertip-to-screen process -- seeming to bypass the brain (and internal editor) entirely. The ending was a risk for me but was so natural, the progression so organic, that for me, the story couldn't have concluded any other way. Clues and details setting up the ending were already planted early in the story -- just the subconscious doing my work for me, I guess. The hard part, I think, was convincing myself to have confidence in that ending. I sent it to my editor and immediately panicked*g*. Guess it was okay, though, since nobody asked me to change it. I love it now.
What do you feel is the most effective promotion you have done for your book?
Honestly? I blog and try to maintain an online presence with my website and Myspace and Facebook, but I don't know if any promotion I do has any direct effect on sales. I do believe, however, that each book I write helps to sell more copies of its predecessor. So, in a nutshell: writing another book.
What's next for you?
I have a hard time discussing projects while I'm working on them, but I will say that I'm still strongly drawn to paranormals and have some fun contemporary romance projects that are intriguing me at the moment.
To celebrate her book release, Natale is offering a free book to one lucky commenter on today's blog. The winner can choose one of the two prequels to Between a Rock and a Heart Place: either Pandora's Box or The Druid Made Me Do It. She will be around all day today. I'm sure some of you have questions or comments for her, so please ask away...
An avid reader and an incurable writer, Natale Stenzel has sold seven books for publication so far. The latest three are a series of funny paranormal romances published by Dorchester Love Spell. PANDORA'S BOX, the first book in the series, was released in February 2008; THE DRUID MADE ME DO IT was an August 2008 release; and a third book, BETWEEN A ROCK AND A HEART PLACE, a March 2009 release, is on bookstore shelves now. Prior to the paranormal romance series, she wrote four books for Harlequin's now defunct Flipside line of romantic comedies.
Born and raised in St. Louis, Missouri, Natale earned degrees in English literature and magazine journalism from the University of Missouri-Columbia. Currently, she resides in Richmond, Virginia, with a husband, two kids and a shamefully spoiled hound.
Check out author’s website at www.NataleStenzel.com.
Barnes & Noble: http://search.barnesandnoble.com/Between-a-Rock-and-a-Heart-Place/Natale-Stenzel/e/9780505527837/?itm=1