Author Spotlight

Author spotlight – Heather R. Blair

Your upcoming novel is the third in the Phoenix Inc. series. Can you tell us a bit about it? A snippet would make me love you forever.

It’s hard to believe this is #3!!

Phoenix Inc. is set in is an alternate world to our own. In the series, shades (a term encompassing wraiths, demons, vampires, shifters and other ‘monster’ races) revealed themselves to the world in 1987.

In response to the growing threat from these creatures, human evolution stepped up and created paras; humans with various psychic powers, including psychokinesis, psychometry, and even elementals; super rare paras who can control things like fire, plants or water.

Believe me, all this makes for a helluva of a volatile world!

The main character of Phoenix Broken is Scott Davidson, who suffered a horrendous tragedy in the previous book. Two years later, he’s a man interested in one thing—retribution. But fate has other plans when he meets a demon half-breed with a crap ton of secrets. Desdemona is a succubus on the run with nothing to lose, except maybe her heart.

These two don’t just have the usual rocky road ahead of them. Their story is more along the lines of taking Deadman’s Curve at 120 mph, with two bald tires and a bridge out up ahead.

****

“Is this your boss’s idea of a joke?” Des said as she moved forward, trying to ignore the knot in her stomach.

Scott straightened slowly, those muscles she’d admired going taut. “If it is, I’m not laughing.”

“Of course not.” She stopped behind him. “Do you ever?”

He twisted around, frowning. “Do I ever what?”

“Laugh. Smile even.” He had the night they’d danced. But he’d been different then. He hadn’t known what she was.

His jaw tightened. “I only relax around people I can trust.”

“Ah, well. Makes sense then, since we all know I’m nothing more than demon scum.” She said it lightly, with a bright smile. While the knot grew tighter in her stomach.

Why did her stupid body persist in being attracted to someone who obviously hated her?

“If you’re gonna give me crap the entire time we’re here, this is gonna be painful.”

For both of us, his expression warned.

“I thought that’s what the music was for.” She wrinkled her noise at the speakers blaring in the corner. “Gotta say after seeing you dance, I thought your taste would be a bit more old-fashioned.”

“Different music for different moods.”

“Lovely. So basically, this is your ‘kick Desdemona’s ass’ music?”

His lips twitched, but the smile she was hoping for didn’t break free. His mouth firmed. “Yours is the only ass in sight.”

“At least you’re checking out my ass,” she said wanly. “It’s a pretty nice one, yeah?” Des tapped her fingers over the generous curve of her backside in the black yoga pants.

His eyes dropped to follow the movement and instantly darkened. When he raised them back to hers, the knot inside her twisted deeper yet. “Trying to tease me is a very bad idea, Des. I’m not falling for that again, so you’re only gonna piss me off.”

“And you were in such a good mood already,” she said softly. “My bad.”

****

best dance teaser PB

Phoenix Rising was the first in this series, which was a novella. Did you plan on it becoming a full series or did Jules from Phoenix Fallen demand some attention?

Definitely not! lol Phoenix Rising started as a lark, a serial for a weekly blog group back on MYSPACE! lol

I was actually working on Smoke in Moonlight (my first full length novel) at the time, but everyone loved Miles & Kelsey’s story so much, I decided to turn it into a novella.

And that’s when Jules (who actually died in the original version) got ‘shirty’ with me and insisted not only was he NOT going to die, thank you very much, but he wanted his own goddamn story. Above all, he wanted the chance at love, and to crush the vampire who murdered his family when he was a child.

But first he had to deal with me (by way of Miles) turning him into a vampire, which— needless to say— Jules didn’t take very well.

Now I have a whole series of 12 (gulp!) books in mind. And if you think it’s been a wild ride so far, you ain’t seen NOTHING yet! 😉

Speaking of demanding , what about your other series, Celtic Elementals? You have another one in the works for that series as well, correct? Can you tell us a little bit about that one?

And didn’t you just come back from Ireland for “research” purposes? 😉 Did it help cement some ideas in your head?

I have had a lifelong obsession with Ireland. It started when I was like, 5. lol

Its myths, history, heroes, etc. Celtic Elementals started as my way to feed that obsession. One of the many stories I read was about the faoladh— the Irish version of the werewolf myth—and I was simply fascinated by their unique take on the legend.

In Celtic tales, werewolves are far from evil. They’re not exactly fluffy puppies either, lol, but Celts considered these fearsome beasts more protectors than anything else. That got me thinking, and— boom! I got this vision of Ronan Fitzpatrick running through a misty moonlit night in my head, and from that came Smoke In Moonlight, the first in the series.

Cursed to be faoladh by a bratty goddess when he is still a teenager, Ronan struggles for millennium to serve the light, while trapped in the dark. But despite his issues, Ronan’s a big sweetie, along with the whole Fitzpatrick clan. I just adore that family and, of course, have a huge soft spot for Ronan’s best mate, vampire Aidan O’Neill.

Aidan’s story is even darker than Ronan’s, and was told in Blood In Fire. That book ripped my guts out. Going back and forth between 9th century Ireland and modern day, the reader follows the twisted path that forced this ancient Celt warrior into vampirism. When love hits Aidan upside the head (literally, by way of an American tourist in a Jaguar), he has very good reason for shoving it away.

As for the third, and final, book, Lightning In Sea, we are going to go deeper inside the Irish pantheon. We’ve already met Lugh, Aine, Fand and—probably most vividly to my readers—Aidan’s nemesis, Bav, the goddess of death. Bav is one narcissistic bitch, but despite her evil manipulations, she’s shown she is capable of love.

Bav also has a brother, Manannán mac Lir, the god of the sea, who was introduced in Blood In Fire. Mac made a promise to Aidan, and over a thousand years later, he’s still keeping that promise. Or trying to.

Now we’re going to find out what happens when a god does the unthinkable, and loses his heart to a mortal. One that he can never, ever have. It’s going to get crazy, bloody and….

Well, batten down those hatches, tuck in some good Irish whiskey and prepare for the storm to end all storms!

So yeah, in contemplating Mac’s story, it seemed clear I couldn’t continue without firsthand experience of the Emerald Isle, right? I just had to see the place in the flesh, soak up the mist (and accents!) and you know, drink some damn Guinness.

Research, damnit!!

That led this past April to me going on the trip of a lifetime. I flew into Shannon, drove all over the West of Ireland, (I racked up over a 1000km on my rental) and went all the way up to the tippy tip of the island looking out over the North Sea and then over to Dublin for an evening. I also spent a day on Mac’s very own island, aka the Isle of Man, where a great deal of the action for Lightning In Sea will take place.

Ireland itself was incredible and I had a freaking blast! I learned how to drive on the ‘wrong’ side of the road, that tourist buses are EVIL, Irish radio rocks and how to properly pronounce ‘Sligo’, among other things, lol. I also ate lots and lots of potatoes. Seriously, the Irish are obsessed with potatoes. They even serve them with pizza!

It was AMAZING. All I can really say is, GO. Go NOW!

Of course, I got lots and LOTS of ideas, too. But you’ll have to wait for the book to hear those! 😉

Back to Phoenix Broken… *sigh* You broke my heart in Phoenix Fallen. I hope you realize that. Umm, wait, a question. Ah yes, was it difficult writing a “second love” kind of story?

best sexy teaser PB

YESSSS!

OMG, I thought Aidan’s story was hard, but I swear, getting Scott’s out damn near killed me. Trying to stay true to him and the kind of bone-deep loyalty that makes up his character, but also give him a second chance at putting his heart back together again…

Well, it was a HUGE undertaking as a writer. But I am so pleased with the result.

And yeah, you’re gonna hurt me, because you’ll DEFINITELY be crying again. And I’m not one bit sorry. 😉

Now, I know why you set the Celtic Elementals series in Ireland, but why did you set the Phoenix Inc. series Chicago? Did something about the city speak to you?

Ha! Yes and NO.

I was born in Iowa, about six hours from Chi-town. As a kid, I took a disliking to the city, don’t ask me why, but now, as an adult, it appeals to me. It’s such a…practical, hard-working place. With a touch of violent beauty.

“Stormy, husky, brawling, City of the big shoulders”

Sandberg’s words are apt. I loved the idea of putting a foundation run by psychic paranormals with mythical powers right smack in the middle of this very bourgeois city.

You’ve created an intricate world within Phoenix Inc. with paras, demons, vampires, and werewolves. Can you tell us more about the paras? How many different kinds are there?

There are really three main types; the empaths, the elementals and what I think of as the physical, or kinetic type, psychics.

The empaths deal in emotions; thoughts, feelings and memories. They tend to be kind at heart and good, though they can be cruel as well. Case in point, Daimen Cross, the sadistic vampire with pathokinesis powers. These are the mind readers, the telepaths, etc.

The elementals, like Scott, the main character of Phoenix Broken, are very rare. And usually their powers tend to be weak. Not so for Scott, who, as a terrifyingly strong plant elemental, can basically sic an entire forest on you! Even Daimen is scared of Scott.

Elementals are passionate, with strong, sometimes wild and hard to control, emotions. They form deep bonds and are intense. There are two other powerful elementals in the series besides Scott. There’s Gordy, a water elemental from Georgia, who also works for Phoenix Inc. and is definitely not your typical redneck. Ákos, a fire elemental from Hungary, will be introduced in upcoming books.

The kinetic paras have abilities that can effect things outside the mind, whether through mental force (telekinesis), the ability to heal others (energy medicine) or various other, more physical traits. They are the doers; stable, strong and good at playing ‘normal.’ Sabrina Watts, as Phoenix Inc.’s resident healer, is one of these. Nolan Lessing, head of security, also falls under this group, but as I haven’t given away Nolan’s power just yet, I’ll leave it at that. 😉

In the Phoenix Inc. world, all of these powers were present in the human population before the Reveal takes place. They were just very rare, and weak in nature. Once shades start getting ready to make themselves known though, human biology kicked things up a few thousand notches in an attempt to protect the race and even the odds.

I have to know, do you plan on revisiting Miles and Kelsey in another book? Or are they now characters who will appear throughout the series in the other books?

Actually, there is a plot thread involving Miles’ past that is integral to the entire series.

I love Miles; he fascinates me to no end. Ruthless, but with the ability to be incredibly sweet. Coldly vicious, but kind, generous and protective. I mean, he’s a vampire who runs a hospital, for God’s sake!

And that’s just the tip of the iceberg that is the Marquis of Saintonge. Miles has had a long, complicated life that we’ve barely touched on yet. Born in Franco-German border in the late 1400s, he fought alongside Joan of Arc, and she plays a big piece in his story. But that’s all you’re getting for now, sorry!

I can say, you will be definitely seeing a lot more of him and Kelsey. They will be in most, if not all, the upcoming Phoenix Inc. stories. I am also toying with the idea of doing one or two novellas with the two of them. Trust me when I say, their story is not done.

What do you love best about writing paranormal romance? Do you have some favourite authors?

Ohhh, I love all it! The incredible backstories, the mythos, the pathos…and the heat. 😉

I also love you can get away with stuff you can’t in contemporary romance. Like alpha heroes who would be over the top in real life, but if they’re a thousand year old werewolf or vamp, with a mating instinct or a thirst for blood, we can cut them some slack. It makes for rich and powerfully provocative fiction.

I adore so many PNR writers! Kresley Cole is one I recently discovered, and OMG, her Immortals After Dark series is gonna kill me. I am in the middle of Garreth and Lucia’s story and….wowza, love it! I also can’t get enough of Laurann Dohner—even though her books sometimes frustrate the hell out of me. There is no denying the New Species world is freakin’ amazing.

Jae T. Taggert in an indie who wrote an amazing novella about angels and demons called CASH, which I adore. It’s MM, though, so some readers might find it taboo.

Other PNR indies I can’t get enough of are you, and your awesome Enforcer’s & Coterie series! When the hell is Nicor’s book coming out anyway?? And Pippa DaCosta, is another fave, though some would say she is more UF. Her Veil series is simply breathtaking.

Now I know you asked me this question a while back, so I’m interested in your answer. If you could insert yourself into your Phoenix world, what would you be? Vampire, para, demon, or something else?

Oh I want very badly to say vampire! lol. They’ve always been my faves, after all.

But I think, no. Not in my world, anyway.

Right now, I’m obsessed with the demons and the enormous secret they’ve been hiding for millennia, not only from the human world, but all the other shade races as well. It is a doozy, trust me! And well… two words, Guido Calimente…

Rawr!

Still, I wouldn’t want to be demon either because their society is so cruel and manipulative. I think para, probably an elemental, but only if I could be super bad ass, like Gordy or Scott, lol.

Now what would you be?? 😉

Celtic Elementals:

Smoke In Moonlight:  http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00KWBDL8K

Blood In Fire:  http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00PUN79LA

Phoenix Inc.:

Phoenix Rising:  http://www.amazon.com//dp/B00M0T54K0/

Phoenix Fallen: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00U6545V4/

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