If you haven’t read it yet, here’s a bit of background to the story:
Faina has been dead for one hundred and fifty years, but she’s about to become human again. All she has to do is seduce Jace Blackmon, the most honest financier ever to grace the city of angels, into signing away his soul.
Jace Blackmon has fallen in love with his fantasy woman. But when he realizes she was tricked by a demon to bring about his ruin, including the revelation of a long-buried secret to the media, he must choose between his heart or life without her.
Catherine: Welcome Carolyn and congratulations on your success with ‘The Last Soul’.
Carolyn: Thank you for having me here today, Catherine!
Catherine: What made you start writing and when did you begin?
Carolyn: I’ve wanted to write since I was about 8 years old. I was the geeky kid in school who carried around a notebook filled with stories. I read my first romance novel at age 19. Sweet Savage Love by Rosemary Rogers. I was hooked. But it took a devastating tornado two years ago in the town where I live to spur me into action. Seeing the destruction first-hand made me realize how everything can change in an instant, and if I didn’t pursue my dream of being a published romance writer, I might not have another chance. I joined Romance Writers of America and attended their National conference last year in Orlando Florida. It was the first writing conference I ever attended, and it lit a fire under me that’s still burning. I also joined Litopia.com where I met mentors, including my Evernight editor, Emma Shortt. Last year I joined the local RWA chapter here in Nashville, the Music City Romance Writers, and the contacts I made there helped me toward my dream.
Catherine: I know that you are a prolific author and have another book coming out (published by Etopia Press) in July called ‘Haunted Heart’. You’ve also just secured another publishing contract with Evernight for the sequel to ‘The Last Soul’. How much planning do you do before starting to write your first draft?
Carolyn: ‘Hunted’ took almost no planning because Jahi, the heroine, was Faina’s best friend in ‘The Last Soul.’ I knew I had to write Jahi’s story before ‘The Last Soul’ was even finished. I sketched out a bit more for her character, then went to work on the hero, Dagon. I wrote out their goals, motivation and conflict – both internal and external – and went to work on the story.
Catherine: Tell us more about ‘Haunted Heart’
Carolyn: ‘Haunted Heart’ is the story of Rowena Sommers and Van Whitney. Rowena left her home in Creek Ridge Ohio at age 18 to pursue a career as a costume designer in Hollywood, despite strong opposition from her family. While there, she earned her degree and had a small measure of success, mostly because of her association with bad-boy Oscar-winning actor and all-around-creep Brett Fontaine. Brett cheated on Rowena every time he went on location, and she finally issued him an ultimatum. He chose to hack into her email account and doctor private emails between Rowena and her friends, to make it appear she was slamming her industry contacts, then he sent the emails to the media and other key people. Rowena filed a character defamation lawsuit and won twenty million dollars. Her beloved great-aunt Lunette died at the same time she won her lawsuit, leaving a Queen Anne home to Rowena. A home Rowena spent almost as much time in as her own, two streets over. As the story opens, Rowena’s return home is two-fold. To escape Hollywood and all its pretentions, and to restore the home she loves to live there.
The man she hires to restore the home is Van Whitney, ex-high school football star and former best friend of Rowena’s older brother, Jake. Van asked Rowena out in high school only to win a cruel bet. Now, Van avoids gossip because he has secrets in his past that, if exposed, could cost him his father’s home restoration business. His father is dead and Van’s crew depends on him for a paycheck. He and Rowena are drawn to each other, despite their awkward past in high school, but he gossip follows Rowena home. When someone tries to make it look as though her home is haunted, and Van realizes one of his own crew may be involved, the race to find the bad guys before they can hurt Rowena takes precedence over his aversion to gossip.
Catherine: That sounds great. I’m looking forward to reading it. What else are you working on now?
Carolyn: Before ‘Hunted’ was even submitted to Evernight, the idea for the third book came to me while taking a walk outside one day at work. One of the characters in ‘Hunted’ just begged to have her own story, so Teresa (a demon who worked with Faina at Madame Lily’s when they were both human) will be the heroine of ‘Redemption.’ This story is plotted out and I hope to have it finished by the end of June.
Catherine: Moving onto the ‘business’ of writing: There’s an ongoing debate about whether writers should just get on with the job of writing and leave all the marketing of their work to the publishers. How do you feel about that?
Carolyn: I think marketing is part of the deal. If no one knows your book is out there, how can you expect to sell it? Promoting your work comes with the territory.
Catherine: What advice would you give to anyone who wants to get their story published?
Carolyn: Never give up. Keep writing. Learn your craft. Find mentors who write what you do, who are where you want to be, and who are willing to give of their time and knowledge, and learn from them. Don’t fall so in love with your own words that you close your mind to constructive criticism. We all can learn something new and improve our writing. Be patient, be persistent, and behave yourself online.
Catherine: Sound advice! Now for something light-thearted. If you had your own TV chat show and could interview 3 people (living or dead), who would they be and what would you want to talk about?
Carolyn: Mark Twain, because his stories sliced right through a rough time in our country’s history and I’d love to hear how he worked through the writing process.
Harper Lee, to pick her brain about writing ‘To Kill A Mockingbird.’
General Robert E Lee. What were you thinking at Gettysburg??? I mean really.
Catherine: I’d watch that show! Thank you very much for joining us today, Carolyn. Where can we find out more about you and, crucially, where can we find your book?
Here’s an excerpt to give you just a taste of ‘The Last Soul’:
Faina donned a Betsey Johnson flowered dress and wedge sandals, then materialized a few blocks from where Jace worked.
It felt so good to be outdoors. The warm air was soothing, the traffic noises and bustling crowds reminding her of New York City. Faina didn’t often get nostalgic for her human life, but today she did. If she succeeded in this mission, she’d be human again. Warm weather, noisy crowds and city life would be her reality, not simply the realm in which she was allowed to work.
Unless Mastema had tricked her. No. She wouldn’t think about that now. She had a job to do. She took her time, peering in shop windows and trying to look like just another California trust fund babe out for a stroll on a bright summer day. The fact nearly every man pounding the pavement tripped over his own two feet as she strolled past wasn’t lost on her. She didn’t have the baby face, long blonde curls, and legs up to there for nothing.
She avoided eye contact. It was enough to leave them with her scent, they’d have trouble getting it out of their head for weeks, but to look them in the eyes would be downright cruel. Even when she’d been alive all she’d had to do was turn her baby blues in a man’s direction and he followed her around like a dog in heat. She’d made more money for Madame Lily during her first six months than most of her girls made over the course of two years.
As she made her way to the entrance of the 770 Wilshire Building, she caught a whiff of burned toast. She ducked into the nearest shop and pressed her nose to the plate glass window, scanning the crowd for a familiar face. She’d only seen Mastema appear once in human form. He’d looked ridiculous dressed in a long coat and cowboy hat on the streets of Aurora Nebraska, population four thousand two hundred and twenty-five as of last year. His bad-boy Western get-up would have been more appropriate for Arizona in the late nineteenth century.
Either Mastema hadn’t been the demon she smelled or he’d already evaporated. The sidewalks were filled with six foot blondes and men who looked like they walked off the cover of GQ. Not a weird outfit or menacing swagger in sight.
“Help you, Miss? You need mani and pedi today? We have new summer colors look perfect on you.”
Faina whirled around to face the ancient Vietnamese woman. She’d ducked into a nail salon. Her senses had been so focused on the burnt toast smell and Mastema’s human form she hadn’t noticed the acrid smell of nail polish.
“No, not today. I’m sorry. I’ve got to go.”
Faina opened the door and strode to the parking garage entrance of the building. On the way a clock struck five. The smell of burnt toast wafted from a nearby taco stand. Had that been what she smelled? Tacos? She was jumping at shadows. That wasn’t like her.
She made her way to Jace’s sports car by visualizing it. As the flood of workers poured into the garage, she hoped Jace would stay calm when he saw her. She was taking a risk as there would be plenty of witnesses if he wigged out.
He was busy scrolling through messages on his phone as he sauntered to his car, and didn’t see her until she stepped in front of him as he was about to open the door.
“Oh Jesus. Holy fu—” His warm brown eyes opened wide and he visibly swallowed. “How did you... you’re real. Holy shit.”
“Get in your car, Jace. People are staring. One of them looks like he’s going to take a picture with his cell.”
The lie snapped him out of his trance. He unlocked the doors and she slid into the passenger seat. “Start the car but don’t move yet.”
He stared straight ahead as the engine roared to life. Beads of sweat pooled at his hairline. She could hear his heart pounding. When she reached up to wipe his forehead he moaned. “It’s all right, Jace. Just try to relax.”
“I don’t understand.” His voice shook.
“You don’t need to. Wait until the garage clears out a bit. Then we’ll leave.”
“I... I have a dinner date. A family friend. I have to go. I don’t want to but… I… I should.”
“Do you want me to leave?”
He looked into her eyes with the most desperate longing she’d ever seen on a human face. A flash of apprehension shivered down her spine, unbalancing her. She was going to hurt him. Badly. He’d lose everything. His home, the Foundation, his dinner date, maybe even this fancy sports car. And some kid wouldn’t have a place to sleep on a cold, winter night, or a youth group to keep him off the streets.
The men she brought to Mastema were bad-to-the-bone to begin with. They just needed a little help to push them in the right direction. The inevitable direction, as he liked to call it. But Jace Blackmon was a good guy.
Then why does Apollyon want him? But what if he didn’t want Jace? What if Jahi was right and Mastema had forged the contract?
“Faina.” His whisper pulled her back to the present. Until she had proof to the contrary, it was Jace’s soul or her eternal torment as one of Mastema’s sex slaves. This was self-preservation. Nothing more.
She looked into his eyes and smiled “Yes, Jace?”
“Please don’t leave, Faina.”