When Wild on Books was asked to interview author Shayla Black (aka Shelley Bradley), Jennifer and Natalie both had some questions for this writer who happens to be one of their favorites!
Shayla Black's Sites:
Posted December 13, 2008
Jennifer: Thank you so much for agreeing to interview with us today, Shayla! Several of us at Wild on Books are big fans of your work, so this is quite an honor for us.
Thank you, Jennifer. Iím thrilled and honored to be asked for this
Jennifer, great question. So many authors I know said they always knew they
wanted to write and had a love of the written word from a very young age.
Um, thatís not me. Sadly, I grew up hating to read, and I realize in
retrospect thatís itís because my eyes had trouble following from line to
line. School also forced me to read books I simply had no interest in, which
was extra incentive not to read. Then in college, I discovered romance
novels and instantly fell in love. My friends and family were shocked that I
was suddenly devouring book after book after book. Iíd been reading about 2
years when I thought, Why not try writing yourself? How hard can it be?
I laugh uproariously at that thought now. Of course itís tremendously hard.
But very rewarding, and I love it. I wouldnít dream of doing anything else
Jennifer: We love to hear about when an author receives Ďtheí call for the first time. Can you share your story? Do you have any interesting stories about other acceptance calls or letters for books youíve sold?
I received my call in May 1998. I knew I was getting the call. My editor had
actually bought a book from a friend of mine the week before. My editor,
after learning that we were friends, said she planned to call me and buy the
bookÖthe next week (since, when she called my friend, it was late on
Friday). So I spent the weekend sitting on pins and needles, wondering if my
friend had somehow misunderstood her. It was, in fact, late on Tuesday
before my editor called with an offer. Every subsequent sale in meaningful,
but the first is always special.
Jennifer: You have written a number of books in the historical romance and contemporary romance genres in the past, but your new release, TEMPT ME WITH DARKNESS, marks your first foray into the world of paranormal romance. How does writing this genre differ from the others? Do you find it more challenging or easier?
Paranormals are definitely more challenging, but fun in their own way. They
are like the ultimate balancing act because you have to have the right blend
of world-building, romance, action, emotion, etc. TEMPT ME WITH DARKNESS was
my first attempt to juggle all this, and I learned a great deal during this
book. As Iíve written subsequent books in the series, I think itís come
easier and feels more natural. I canít wait to share the next two in the
series, SEDUCE ME IN SHADOW and POSSESS ME AT MIDNIGHT. Theyíll be coming
out back to back next fall.
Jennifer: What inspired you to write THE DOOMSDAY BRETHREN stories?
No one thing, really. I had the idea for the Doomsday Brethren back in 1996.
Itís been brewing in my head since then. I started the first book when I
first had the idea, then put it aside when I realized I just didnít have the
skill yet to write it. A few years later, after I was published, I took it
out once more, and again realized I wasnít ready. I dusted it off again
about two years ago, reworked a bunch of itóand sold the first three in the
series. This is near and dear to my heart, and Iím really hoping that
readers dig into this series.
Jennifer: THE DOOMSDAY BRETHREN series is tied to Arthurian Legends we are all familiar with, and yet you succeeded admirably in creating a fresh new world of your own. Was it intimidating to use these well-known characters in the mythos for your novels?
Should I be embarrassed to admit that it never occurred to me to be
intimidated by the thought of using such characters of significance? I
needed them and I had a clear vision. Iíve always been a fans of all things
Arthurian, so I thought what the heck? I think if I had actually USED
the characters, it might have given me pause. But happily, they and their
actions simply provided background. Later, however, that might changeÖ
Jennifer: You know we have to ask this one Ė out of all of your books, do you have a favorite hero?
Like everything else about me, that depends on my mood. I admit to being
very partial to several: Rafe from BOUND AND DETERMINED and Jack from WICKED
TIES immediately come to mind. I have to say, though, that Isdernus (Ice)
Rykard is rapidly turning into my favorite hero ever. Iím currently writing
him, and I have to confess that Iím completely in love. Youíll see what I
mean in November 2009.
Jennifer: TEMPT ME WITH DARKNESS not only is the first book of your new saga, it also marks your debut with your new publisher, Pocket Books. Was it difficult adjusting to a new publisher while writing a new genre and series?
Can you say nerve-racking? It was a huge adjustment, a new editor and a new
genre. We went through some tough conversations, but I think weíve got it
all worked out now. Sheís a great editor, and Iíve learned a lot from her.
Iím thankful for her support and the way she helped to make TEMPT ME WITH
DARKNESS be the best it can be.
Natalie: How hard is it to juggle your home life with your writing?
Some years have been harder than others. As time goes by, Iíve been able to
alleviate some distractions. Iíve had great support from my family, who have
gotten great about helping me out. There are still times when I swear Iím
going to kill the teacher who dreamed up the elaborate science project that
takes days to complete or the fact my husband works some killer hours, but
weíve all learned how to flow around and support each other.
Natalie: What is your normal writing routine?
Honestly, there really isnít one. Iíd say that most days, I write from 1-3
in the afternoon, then again from 9-11 at night. The hours inbetween are
largely devoted to the business of being an author, a mom, a wife, etc.
Weekends are a crap shoot. It just depends on how busy we are.
Jennifer: Great question, Nat! To add to that, what is your writing workspace like?
We moved a few years ago, and I have a bigger office with a walk-in closet,
which is great. The room itself is light and somewhat beachy. The walls are
a color called Sunrise, which is sort of a soft peachy-pink. I have a comfy
reading chair with stripes of light blue, light green, yellow and white. My
furniture is antique white with cherry tops. I switched my desktop for a
laptop and lined up research books behind me. Fiction and other handy office
supplies are in the closet. Itís really a great set up!
Jennifer: Do you need silence when you write, or do you play music to help set your mood? Also, do you have playlists for your stories?
I can write in silenceóor in the middle of ringing phones and chaos. But I
prefer to write with music. I donít always have a whole playlist for a book,
but I have a key song or two frequently. I write to different music for
different genres. Itís typically new age/Celtic for paranormals and
historicals. Alternative for contemporaries and erotics. The book Iím
working on now seems to have a mental soundtrack of a few songs, including
Switchfootís Learning to Breathe. The chorus is just perfect.
Jennifer: I love the special website you have for just THE DOOMSDAY BRETHREN with character bios and more. Was it fun to create their bios? Do you have any plans to include content such as character interviews, desktop wallpaper and the like?
Thanks! That site was a must for me. I do have plans to expound on it,
starting with the characters. The Doomsday Brethren has expanded, so I need
to throw up a few new bios. I would like to put up interviews at some point.
Desktop wallpaperÖ Good idea. Iíll look into that!
Jennifer: How many books are currently plotted for THE DOOMSDAY BRETHREN series?
7, but maybe more. If the series takes, and readership grows, I could
happily continue. Iím loving this world and hoping that readers will become
invested in the lives and loves of these magical warriors, especially as the
odds against them and the stakes increase. I have SO much planned for these
witches and wizards! And for those of you who have asked me, yes, you will
get resolution to Lucanís situationÖeventually.
Jennifer: Where do you normally find your inspiration for your stories? Do you find you are usually inspired for a character first or a plot?
You know, it just depends. Often the story problem and the characters come
together. Only certain people will be in certain situations. Only certain
people will act in certain ways. So, I usually know what Iím fighting and
who Iím dealing with at the same time. Some books have been plot before
character, and others vice versa. But itís unusual for me.
Jennifer: What would your readers be surprised to learn about you?
I guess that depends on who you think I am. Some people might be surprised
that Iím sort of an anti-female. That is, I frequently donít think like a
female. I was raised by a lot of very strong-willed men, so I learned early
that if you wanted to be heard, you had to be assertive. I learned it was
bad not to have an opinion, and if you didnít have one, to go do
research until you had an educated one. I learned that keeping the peace for
the sake of keeping it made you a pansy. Better to resolve conflict than
bury it. That said, I do enjoy chick flicks and (obviously) romance novels.
I can be a girly-girl when I want to.
Jennifer: Many of us find new authors and books on the recommendations of our current favorite authors. So we are nosy enough to ask what books and authors are currently at the top of your to-be-read pile? Who are your favorite authors and books?
Sadly, writing has taken up a lot of my reading time for the last few years.
At the top of my TBR is Lara Adrianís Veil of Midnight. I have an ARC, and
Iím very excited to read it. I also have and ARC of SJ Dayís Eve of
Darkness, which I hope to read over the holidays. I also have Shannon
McKennaís latest, which I canít wait to dive into. Iím always reading
something or someone new. I also read a lot from Elloraís Cave, Samhain and
Siren books when I get a few minutes and want a quick read.
Jennifer: What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
Persistence. Yes, read and write a lot. Do things to improve your craft. Get
critique partners, go to conferences, take classes, etc. But at the end of
the day. I say persistence. No editor can say yes if you stop trying.
Jennifer: In addition to writing, you also teach a class on storyboarding to other writers occasionally. What is storyboarding, and how does it help you in your own writing?
Itís essentially a visual means of pre-plotting a book. I lay out all the
scenes I see before I start the book on sticky notes and block them out
chapter by chapter on a poster board. Itís more complicated than that, but
essentially, thatís the essence of the process. Itís been a LIFESAVER for
Jennifer: Do you do anything special to celebrate the release day for each new book?
Not really. If itís been particularly fast or hard, I love treating myself
to a facial. Itís one of my secret guilty pleasures. On release day, Iím
often chatting with readers, updating my website and doing everything I can
to let people know that Iíve got a new release and what I think is special
Jennifer: Shayla, thank you so much for interviewing with Wild on Books! Before we finish, is there anything else you would like to share with your readers?Shayla: For those who have asked, yes, Lucís book, DELICIOUS is on the 2010 schedule. March, to be exact. Iím sincerely sorry about the delay and hope the book will make it up to you. Other than that, a HUGE thank you for having me here!
Writing as Shayla Black:
Writing as Shelley Bradley:
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