9:39 AM

In the Author Spotlight & Contest

Laura Navarre

CONTEST: Laura will be giving away a copy of her new e-book release, my Dark Crusader romance, The Devils' Temptress, in the reader's preferred format. Anyone who posts a response to the blog will be entered. The winner will be drawn and notified after the Spotlight week is finished, and the e-book will be sent on Feb. 15 when it's released. 

AL: Hi Laura Thanks for being in the “Author Spotlight” this week.

Laura: Thanks for inviting me, Ann! It’s a thrill to share space with so many sexy, exciting reads.

AL: So, tell us what’s happening with you.

Laura: This has actually been a very eventful period in my life! I’ve just moved to Seattle, rented a quirky little 1920s-era house overlooking the water and Mt. Rainier, and graduated with my MFA in Writing Popular Fiction from the University of Southern Maine (an awesome low residency program that allows you to write romance or any other genre—horror, urban fantasy, you name it—for your degree). And, most importantly, I’ve recently gotten engaged to the love of my life. :-) Steven is a screenwriter and English professor who was my writing mentor for several years before we realized we’d fallen in love and decided to get married. We first met in 1998, and we were separated for years while I lived abroad, so it’s very much a When Harry Met Sally kind of story.

AL: Please tell us about your Devil series.

Laura: These are three stand-alone historical romances, all very dark and sexy. The Devil’s Temptress is a 2009 Golden Heart finalist about a disgraced Muslim knight and an ardent Christian lady at Eleanor of Aquitaine’s court (Feb. 15 e-book release, August 2011 print). The Devil’s Mistress is a dark Tudor romance about a reluctant lady assassin who’s blackmailed to poison Anne Boleyn (e-book out now, March 1 print release). And The Devil’s Bargain is an unconventional romance, set in late Anglo-Saxon England before the Norman Conquest, that features an exiled princess and two very different heroes. My agent’s talking to editors about that one right now, so please keep your fingers crossed for me!

AL: What are you currently working on?

Laura: I’m just starting a Tudor romance with a paranormal twist—which excites me terribly, because I’ve never written a paranormal before! This one is about 80% historical and 20% fantasy, set during the time when Bloody Mary Tudor was burning heretics and her young Protestant sister Elizabeth Tudor was beginning her rise. All my stories have lots of political intrigue, history, and a twisty plot woven into the romance, and this one is no exception.

AL: When you write do you do a detailed outline before you get started or do you have the idea then 'fly by the seat of your pants'?

Laura: I’d love to say I’m a “pantser!” I want to be a pantser. Alas, I fill notebooks with historical research and detailed character sketches before I start drafting, and this time I’ve also got to fit the paranormal world-building into the mix. I like to research until the material is “old hat” for me, and this in-depth knowledge of my world and characters is where the story comes from. I don’t have a clue about plot until I’ve done this work.

AL: How much of your “day job” do you use to write up those deliciously, suspenseful tales?

Laura: It varies! I get up early to write before my other work, and I write on weekends and sometimes in the evenings. Since I just finished my full-time MFA course load after two years of INSANITY (full-time job, plus full-time student, plus author and marketer for the novels!) I’m enjoying the opportunity to spend a little time with my fiancé and, of course, to read other authors’ work.

AL: What do you hope for your writing career in the next few years? Any goals that you have yet to obtain that you have set for yourself?

Laura: When I acquired my agent and sold my first two books within a very short time span in 2009-10, I thought I wanted to make it onto the bestseller lists within five years—and of course that would be nice. :-) But I think my goal is really to tell the unique stories I want to tell—intricate, danger-laced, dark historical romances that also appeal to the historical fiction market, a la Philippa Gregory. If it takes me longer to write and sell the stories, I can live with that.

AL: It’s time to get personal! I have several questions in this one….What made you decide to be a diplomat in Russia and help create weapons of mass destruction, then get the idea to link it to writing romance novels? That’s not something you just roll out of bed one day and say, “Hey, I’m going to be a kick-butt chemist and write sensual romance tales on the side…” What built the bridge between these two careers?

Laura: Well, let me say that I’m not a plotter when it comes to my personal life. :-) If I’d been able to see 20 years ago what I’m doing with my life now, I’m sure I would have been delighted but bemused. I’ve always loved to write, but I chose initially to pursue a career outside the book world because—coming from a family who’s always worked hard to get by—I needed a job that would make some money! So I earned my B.A. in International Relations and Russian language, and my M.A. in National Security, and started doing government work. Since I’m a Russia specialist, many of my assignments have involved the former Soviet Union. And my work has focused on helping the Russians get rid of their excess weapons of mass destruction, not building new ones. :-) The work was uniquely stressful, as you might imagine, so I started writing seriously with an intent to publish as an escape mechanism, as much as to pursue the dream. It took six years, four novels, and 63 rejections before I sold.

AL: You are obviously an animal lover from the two furry kitties on your website. Who are those furry babies? Do you have any other pets?

Laura: Pandora and Delilah are pedigreed Siberian cats I found in Moscow when I was living there. The breed isn’t as well known in the U.S. as some others, but they’re gorgeous long-haired critters with huge plumey tails and tufted ears called “lynx tips.” Lilah is a Siberian sub-breed, very unusual here, called a Neva Masquerade—with long silver fur, big blue eyes, and pewter-colored paws. There are times in my life when those two have felt like my best friends—they’ve flown around the world three times with me. They have little pet passports, and more frequent flyer miles than many people I know!

AL: You’re back in the states and winter is all around us. What is your favorite part of the season? Sweaters? Snow angels? Is there a big difference between a winter in Maine and a winter in Russia?

Laura: Gosh, I think my favorite part of winter is curling up in front of a crackling fire with a glass of red wine, a novel, and a cat in my lap. The winters I’ve spent in Maine have been much colder than the ones I’ve spent in Moscow, lately. Moscow gets a lot of snow, and the days are very short (5-6 hours, and the sun never swings very far above the horizon), but the cold has been far more breathtaking in Maine! Of course, in Russia I’m usually functioning without a car. The traffic is like nothing you’ve ever seen—it can take hours to go six blocks, and it’s very unpredictable, even when people are driving and parking on the sidewalk! So everyone takes the metro, which was built during Soviet times as a bomb shelter/cultural icon and is gorgeous. And all that walking makes it incredibly important to bundle up.

AL: You obviously love to travel -- of the places you visited which was your favorite and why?

Laura: My favorite cities are Istanbul and Venice. In Istanbul, the jumble of mosques and minarets and sprawling outdoor markets steals my heart—not to mention the food (yum!) and all that opulent Islamic art. In Venice, it’s the canals, the haunting knowledge that the water is slowly rising and the city slowly sinking beneath the waves. In front of the houses, you see these stone staircases that plunge down and down and vanish in the canals’ opaque depths; all of that used to be above the surface. And when the city floods, the water rises over the banks and flows right into the houses. It’s crazy, and fascinating, and scary.

AL: Fun question! You’re the actress in a must see blockbuster movie that everyone’s been waiting all summer for. A) What’s the movie about? B) Whose your character? C) And who’s your leading man?

Laura: The movie would be a time travel romance/adventure. I’m a nuclear scientist running an experiment who gets flung back in time to the Crusades. Let’s say I have to find the Ark of the Covenant in order to return to my own time (holy relic as miracle worker) and prevent a looming nuclear war between the Christian west and a Muslim state. But the Ark is being protected by a Muslim knight who has sworn his life to the duty—and taken a vow of chastity to boot. :-) We begin as adversaries, but then fall in love. And I can’t think of a better leading man than my fiancé Steven, who’s an actor-director in addition to his screenwriting identity. Will I choose to remain with him in Crusader-era Jerusalem, or return to my own time without him, but with a relic that can prevent nuclear holocaust…?

AL: Please share a favorite quote(s) with us.

Laura: “I can resist anything except temptation.” (Oscar Wilde)

AL: Thanks so much for sharing with us, Laura.

Laura: Thanks so much for hosting me, Ann! This has been fabulous fun. :-) 

AL: If you’d like to find out more about Laura please visit:

www.LauraNavarre.com
www.facebook.com/LauraNavarreAuthor
www.twitter.com/LauraNavarre

FEATURED TITLE: THE DEVIL'S TEMPTRESS

Blurb:

THE BEAUTY

In the glittering, sumptuous court of Eleanor of Aquitaine, betrayal lurks around every corner. The queen is at odds with her king, and to obey one could mean treason against the other. Even Alienore, considered the most virtuous lady at court, holds secrets: whether masquerading as a knight on the tourney field to defend those without a champion or desperately trying to save her lands—and her maidenhead—from the Duke of Ormonde.

THE BLACK KNIGHT

He is called the Raven—his face scarred by a Saracen blade, his voice raspy with the effects of Greek fire. His parentage is unknown, his prowess legendary. And he’ll sell his sword to the highest bidder. As his piercing eyes track her every move, Alienore wonders who he’s working for now. Finding a spy for King Henry? Sent by the duke to fetch her home? Or is each heated touch, each whispered promise of pleasure part of a much more personal mission?

Excerpt:

The black stallion erupted into view, snow spraying beneath his hooves.

All her senses sharpened as the outcast knight thundered toward Alienore like a nightmare against the gray-white forest. The world paled with dismay at his passage. Even the small woodland sounds—the rustle of branches, the yip of a hunting fox—receded as the stallion halted before her in a scramble of hooves.

Then a raucous scream split the air, as a dark bird raked across the sky. Her heart froze as razor-sharp talons sliced toward the knight’s unprotected face. But he stared straight ahead as the raven arrowed toward him—and landed, delicate as a lady, on his shoulder. Wicked claws flexed gently as the bird settled. Suspended breath escaped her lungs in a rush.

“By my faith, sir, what are you?” she whispered.

In her turmoil, she’d spoken English—a tongue rare in Aquitaine—and he did not reply. Unperturbed by the corvine preening on his shoulder, the knight called the Raven studied her through eyes like flickering flames. Her skin prickled with foreboding, and an ungodly thrill.

So she had not given him the slip after all. Why must the infernal man always find her at a disadvantage?

“Have you not the good grace,” she said in Norman French, “to know when a lady wishes to quit your company?”

His lean face hardened, cruel as any Saracen. Topaz eyes glinted as they raked the forest. “Expecting someone?”

Sweet mercy, does he think I am trysting with rebels? If he’s the King’s man, this will be my undoing.

She swallowed down her fear, defiance sparking. “I expected no more than a private hour. But it appears I am to be denied even that much.”

When he swung a leg forward over the pommel to dismount, the corvine fluttered from his shoulder to perch in a tree. Paying the uncanny creature no heed—as though accustomed to the Devil’s creatures—the knight sprang from the saddle. Light-footed as a cat, he landed in a swirl of stark wool.

Her senses stretched to tingling alert as he stalked toward her. Alone they were in the forest, but never say she feared him. Was she a lion or a mouse?

“Were you thrown?” He looked askance at the wounded Galahad.

“Hardly,” Alienore said proudly. “My destrier picked up a stone.”

He gestured her aside. Sparing with words, but at least he could not be accused of idle chatter! A twinge of curiosity plucked her nerves as she wondered if that shredded voice troubled him when he used it.

Aware of the bird’s beady gaze, she circled away, keeping her distance from the wicked crescent of Damascus steel at the knight’s side. He frowned over the injured hoof, and she suffered a stab of guilt. Aye, she should not have been galloping down this ill-kept trail. She was fortunate to fare no worse, though finding herself marooned with the Devil of Damascus—a known ravisher of women—was bad enough.

The knight slid a curved dagger from his boot. Alarm spurted through her as her hand flew to her long-knife.

But he only swept that banner of sin-black hair behind his shoulder. Then he pried at the embedded stone with the dagger’s notched tip. Embarrassment warmed her cheeks as she dropped her hand, and brushed needlessly at her mantle.

While he worked, she studied him. Even preoccupied with the delicate procedure, bitterness lingered around his eyes and mouth. Perhaps he was merely weary, features lined with years of privation and war. The jagged scar raking from ear to jaw contributed to his disreputable air.

Yet the Raven’s hands were gentle as he handled her injured horse without aggravating the inflamed hoof.

When the stone dropped, she peered at the hoof. “’Tis only bruised, thank Heaven.”

An exotic aroma wafted from his clothing—the spice of incense, heavy with musk and sandalwood. Then he released the hoof and straightened. Like a startled deer, she shied away.

“That sprint was foolish on this terrain, lady. Could have broken his neck—or yours.”

He echoed her own thoughts, yet it vexed her to hear him say it.

“I know what I am about, monsieur. This path is familiar to me.”

“No doubt.” His eyes narrowed. “But reckless all the same, and you know it.”

Did he speak of more than her ill-conceived flight? Had he discerned her identity, that day on the tourney field?

“I am bold, perhaps.” She tucked ribbons of hair beneath her hood. “But rarely reckless. There is a difference.”

His own hair slithered forward, decadent and unconstrained, as he slid a practiced hand along the stallion’s leg. “You’re no empty-headed sparrow, a woman of your station.”

A dangerous thought, if he’s the King’s man.

Briskly, Alienore gathered her reins. “Pray do not concern yourself on my account. You need not forego your hunt. I shall return to the castle on foot, so my horse sustains no greater damage.”

When he did not spring to obey, she added, “I know the way, so you need not linger.”

Abruptly the Raven straightened, shaking back that profligate hair. The bird startled into flight, a flurry of black wings and beak as it raked away. When the knight claimed her reins, apprehension spiked through her. She stared at his hand: sun-bronzed, long-fingered, rough with use—a fighting man’s hand beyond question, deadly yet graceful, like the man himself.

“You bid me come and go like a stripling page,” he said, with dangerous softness. “Best not become accustomed to it.”

REMEMBER: Laura will be giving away a copy of her new e-book release, my Dark Crusader romance, The Devils' Temptress, in the reader's preferred format. Anyone who posts a response to the blog will be entered. The winner will be drawn and notified after the Spotlight week is finished, and the e-book will be sent on Feb. 15 when it's released.

18 comments:

Danielle said...

Wow! Everything sounds soooo fascinating Laura. I loved reading this blog. And the fact that there's a movie? I didn't know that! I would love to watch it! It has to be a must watch now! And your new book...sounds amazing. Historical and Fantasy...that is one of the best mixes ever! I look forward to it tremendously!! :D

Hachigatsu@Live.com

Desiree Holt said...

What a fabulous excerpt. I think, despite my own looking deadlines, I'm going to have to kill my discipline, go right now online to buy the book and curl up with it for the evening. And the movie? Definitely on my Must Watch list.

Laura Navarre said...

Hi Danielle & Desiree! So happy that you enjoyed my blog and excerpt. On the movie--a slight misunderstanding. :) I was asked to make up a blockbuster movie I'd be in (or so I assumed.) I have done some amateur acting, but I think I'm in no danger of Hollywood casting me anytime soon...But it's funny--several people have told me they really do like the plot I came up with for that movie. Maybe I should write that story?

As for Devil's Temptress, it goes on sale Feb. 15 (e-book), or you can pre-order the print book on Amazon anytime.

lksienkiewicz said...

I wasn't surprised to read that you enjoy researching until the material is “old hat” because it shows in your polished writing. The historical aspect shines.

Melanie Marie Shifflett Ridner said...

I would love to read more of your works.

Melanie Marie Shifflett Ridner said...

Yes indeed you have great works here.As a writer in multiple areas I tip my hat to your writing.Excellant in all areas.
Melanie Marie Shifflett Ridner
A Patsy Cline Cousin
ASCAP Songwriter/Author/Poet Laureate
melanieridner@zoomtown.com

Laura Navarre said...

Thank you so much, Melanie and Linda! I definitely love the research aspect of writing historicals. It's hard for me not to cram into my stories all those juicy historical tidbits I pick up! BTW, last night I received in the mail a big box of author copies for my other (Tudor) romance, The Devil's Mistress, so as of Feb. 15 you'll be able to read both of them! :)

Lindsey Brookes said...

So excited for you Ruby Sister! I've judge your work in an RWA contest and loved it. Can't wait to read more!

Lindsey
www.lindseybrookes.com

Kristine Cayne said...

Laura, I attended your workshop on Dark Heros at ECWC 2010 and it blew my mind. I even blogged about how great it was :-)

I'm also a member of GSRWA (and Seattle's EastsideRWA) and look forward to meeting you at the February workshop.

--Kristine

Bev Pettersen said...

What a fabulous interview. Loved hearing about your life, Laura. Congratulations and best wishes with both your writing and your fiance. Really enjoyed your excerpt.

Laura Navarre said...

Kristine, thank you so much for your kind words on my dark heroes workshop! I had so much fun doing it that it didn't feel like work. :) I have a follow-up workshop in development...will keep you posted!

Laura Navarre said...

Lindsey, I really appreciate your kind words about Devil's Temptress (which used to be Devil's Virtue). I entered that ms in so many contests before it sold! And I really think those credentials helped with the sale. I'd like to thank you and every single judge personally for your generous time and feedback. Contest judging is so rewarding. I try to do it whenever I can!

Wendy Delaney said...

Laura, your books and your life sound fascinating! What a terrific interview! You've definitely hooked me as a reader. (Loved the pix of the cats, too :)

Welcome to Seattle! And congrats on the engagement! - Wendy

Ann Lory said...

Thank you to everyone who stopped by and a BIG thank you to Laura for spotlighting this week.

Ann

DL Thomas said...

Great interview!
I will most certainly be buying the book (e-book).

This will be the first one of you books that I will be reading, but I plan to get the rest too.

Laura Navarre said...

Thanks so much, Wendy and DL, for being so kind! And thanks once again to ALL of you for making this such a fun experience for me. FYI, I'm posting Alienore and the Raven's first kiss as an excerpt at Unusual Historicals on Jan. 30. Just for anyone who's curious to see how the chemistry plays out between those two. :)

Patricia Altner said...

Thanks for telling us about your book and your writing day. I understand the love of research. For me it's hard to stop reading and put the info to work.

desitheblonde said...

wow i love the book and cover and the
kittys wow they are soo cute i hope your book goes for the best in the year love to read it