Author Elizabeth Amber has several fans on the Wild on Books staff! So of course when she was gracious enough to interview with us, more than one member of the team had questions for her.
Elizabeth Amber's Sites:
Posted October 9, 2008
Hi Jennifer and Yosha, and everyone at Wild On Books! Thanks for having me and
for helping to get the word out about my satyr series. Iím so excited about
your review site and canít wait for you to have a first anniversary bash in
Jennifer: First off, how did you get your start writing? Have you written since you were a child, or did you start as an adult?
Iíve been hooked on romance since age thirteen, when I was already reading
Georgette Heyer, Victoria Holt, Charlotte Bronte, and Jane Austen, so I always
thought it would be cool to write a romance. But I didnít write one until the
satyr series idea practically hit me over the head and wouldnít go away until I
Jennifer: What is your writing workspace like?
Itís wonderful. I have an entire room dedicated to my work. Itís painted light
yellow and white, with ten bookshelves, two closets, two desks, and a huge
window that looks out on trees. I see deer, squirrels, and birds while Iím
writing. My husband built it for me last year, and Iím loving it.
Jennifer and Yosha: Do you listen to music to help set a mood for writing? Do any of your books have playlists you associate with them?
My iTunes playlists donít get much play time. Iíve found that Iím concentrating
so hard when I write that I donít hear the music. I only play music when Iím
doing mailings or email or other things that donít require as much
concentration. I tend to like pop, rock, or alternative, with the occasional
country, hard rock, rap, or new age song thrown in.
Jennifer: What gave you the idea for your LORDS OF SATYR series?
Elizabeth Amber: The Lords of Satyr series is erotic historical paranormal romance, and includes 4 books so far: NICHOLAS, RAINE, LYON, and DOMINIC. Two things contributed to the idea:
1. My background in Greco-Roman history got me thinking about satyrs, who are the carnal followers of the wine god Bacchus. It seemed natural for these descendants of the actual satyrs to be lusty alpha men, who are the owners of an ancient, ultra-successful vineyard. It also made sense for them to be sexually creative. The physical change that occurs during the Moonful ritual (as first described in the NICHOLAS prologue and continued in all of the books) is one of those things that just came to me out of nowhere.
2. At the same time I
came up with this premise, I kept thinking of one erotic sceneóthe first scene I
wrote for the whole series. Itís the blindfold scene, which begins on page 190
of the English edition of NICHOLAS. Iíd never seen a scene like it before and
more than one reader had told me itís her favorite.
Jennifer: I understand you are an art history major. That must help tremendously.
With all those Greco-Roman art history facts swirling in my head, it does help.
Itís really fun to take a few basic facts or myths and build an entire new
world, characters, and plot around them.
Jennifer: I know that the LORDS OF SATYR books started as a trilogy, but I believe I have heard that there are new stories being planned that are connected to these books? Will they be in a new series or a continuation of the LOS books?
Iím talking to Kensington about whatís next. Theyíre great to work with and are
giving me a lot of freedom. I have 3 more satyr ideas for books 5, 6, & 7 (one
set entirely in ElseWorld thatís related to the original series, and two set in
another region of Italy thatís more distantly related). Iíll certainly keep you
Jennifer: What can you tell us about your upcoming books?
Elizabeth Amber: DOMINIC, THE LORDS OF SATYR (#4) releases in March 2009.
Set in Tuscany and ElseWorld, it includes 2 interlaced stories:
* A full-satyr warrior named Dominic serves as an important weapon in
ElseWorld's war. Things heat up right from page one, when he is sent
through the interworld gate to find Emma (Jane's sister in NICHOLAS)
during Moonful for reasons he must keep secret.
* The 2nd story is closely related to the first and involves Vincent
(Jane and Nicholas's firstborn son), who's brokering a peace treaty in
ElseWorld when he becomes involved with a lovely, dangerous female
from that world. His brothers and friend Landon are major characters.
(I love writing brothers--can you tell?)
Jennifer: Your books have proved to be a bit controversial within the romance reader community. Were you surprised by this? Does it change the way you approach future plots?
Elizabeth Amber: I was surprised. For those who arenít familiar with the books, these seem to be the things that were controversial:
1. The physical change the satyr men undergo, which first occurs in the NICHOLAS prologue, got a lot more attention than I expected. It got people talking and trying the book, which resulted in a 3rd reprinting within the first year. The book also received nine RWA regional award nominations (and some wins), and lots of great reviews. Romantic Times BOOKReviews said, ďThe leading man is the sexiest one this reader has seen in a long time!Ē
2. Then, the hermaphrodite heroine in RAINE was certainly controversial. That book went into a 2nd printing within one week of its release. (Iíll talk more about that in question 10.)
3. The oral m/m scene in LYON fit into the m/f storyline and I thought nothing of it, but even though it was brief, it was graphic and steamy and seems to have shocked some. LYON went into a 2nd reprinting within one month of its initial release.
My goal is to create well-written books that are unusual, but I donít set out to
be controversial. Still, I donít self-censor. That wouldnít be any fun for me
or readers. I let the characters take things where they will. If that leads to
less steamy or more steamy situations, thatís where Iíll go.
Jennifer: Why did you choose the Satyr as the paranormal creature for the brothers?
The minute I thought of satyr men as lusty winemakers, I was driven to write
about them. It seemed such a natural extension of the satyrs in mythology that
I could hardly believe someone else hadnít already written it. Then, when I
read about the phylloxera epidemic, that really fueled the plot.
Yosha: Where did the idea for Jordan, the heroine in RAINE, come from?
Elizabeth Amber: In my original proposal to Kensington, Jordan wasnít a hermaphrodite. But I came across some non-fiction writing about how hermaphrodites lived in the 1800s, and I was fascinated. Some earned their livings by exhibiting themselves for study by medical professionals.
This isnít exactly
whatís going on with Jordan, but from birth, sheís forced to live a lieóto
pretend sheís male. She has never had a sexual relationship with anyone and
fears sheíll wind up marrying a female if things go on as they are. Yet, sheís
dying for a relationship with a man. Enter Raine. He has been hurt before by
non-acceptance from his family and former wife, and is distant, but is also
instantly attracted to Jordan. The most important thing to me in writing this
book was to have both Jordan and Raine accept her for who and what she is.
Yosha: How did you come to make the wine fungus part of the centerpiece to launch the LORDS OF SATYR storyline?
Elizabeth Amber: Once Iíd decided that the satyrs were going to own a lavish vineyard in Tuscany, I began researching the history of winemaking. I learned about the phylloxera epidemic that nearly wiped out all of the grapevines in Europe and beyond in the 1800s. It was caused by an aphid-like pest brought to Europe on an American vine, and was eventually cured by grafting vine stock.
I wove this into my
ongoing plotline, saying that the cause was actually of ElseWorld origin and the
cure was found by Nicholas and his brothers. Reading about the various ďcuresĒ
that were tried during the desperate times the phylloxera was rampant was sad,
but entertaining. For instance, one thing they tried was having choirboys
urinate on the vines. I mentioned some of the other cures in RAINE.
Yosha: Would you ever write a strictly M/M book? What or why not?
Elizabeth Amber: Wow! Iíve never been asked this question. My ideas seem to focus on m/f as the central romance, but thereís an f/f scene involving the villainess in NICHOLAS, and an m/m/m/f scene in both NICHOLAS and LYON.
I think a romance is a romance is a romance. If I care about the people involved, Iím into the romance. For instance, Brokeback Mountain broke my heart. What a fantastic movie and book! I was grieving for those two guys and their wives.
Iím open to writing any
combination of male or female, including groups, as everyone who reads my books
has probably figured out by now, but I never stick any kind of sex scene into a
book for shock value. It has to fit into the plot, and I have to believe itís
something the characters would do.
Yosha: What are your inspirations, non-romance or non-fiction, if any?
One inspiration comes from knowing what I want from a romance novel as a reader.
And thatís ROMANCE! I read romance for the thrill of watching the loving
relationship between the main characters grow and develop, so thatís what I want
to write. I do want plot, characters I care about, voice, sex, and all of those
other things, too. But whether Iím writing or reading, romance comes first.
Everything else comes second.
Yosha: Could you write a book with another author? If so, who would it be?
Oh, yeah! I definitely could. It would be like having a crit partner whoís as
invested in the book thatís being created as I am. Our writing styles, methods
of working, and personalities would have to mesh. Thereís one author Iíd love
to work with, but I donít know her, so Iím reluctant to say.
Yosha: Which history did you draw the inspiration for the King from? Celtic, Norse, etc.?
King Feydonís not a central character in the series, but heís very important
because he causes trouble that galvanizes the plot from the beginning. All we
know about him is that heís of the Fey, had no qualms about visiting the beds of
women and giving them children when they were unaware of it, and he didnít want
to face his own mortality so he didnít name an heir before he died. This leaves
his daughters in danger and his world in turmoil, so Nicholas, Raine, and Lyon
have to find and wed these women to protect them and sire heirs. Iíd say this
king is loosely based on kings of England in past centuries.
Jennifer: What would your fans be surprised to learn about you?
NICHOLAS was the first romance novel I wrote. It took about a year of writing
off and on, but I finished it in 2006. I sent 3 chapters of it plus a short
series synopsis for the 3 books (Nicholas, Raine, Lyon) to Audrey LaFehr at
Kensington because Iíd heard she was looking for hot books at the time. She
called six months later with an offer for the whole series!
Jennifer: Elizabeth, thank you again for your time on this interview. Before we finish, is there anything else you would like to share with readers?
Thank you, THANK YOU to every one who has read my books. I couldnít keep
writing without you!
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