"New Worlds Are Our Oyster."
Catherine Spangler grew up in Alabama and began writing when she was a teenager. She’s had a life-long interest in paranormal and metaphysical topics, the power of the mind, and the creative process. Her award-winning futuristic Shielder series earned her several P.E.A.R.L. nominations and a 2005 RITA nomination. Now she’s forging new territory with her Sentinel series—dark and sensuous paranormals set on current-day Earth. She lives near Dallas, Texas, with her husband and various critters. Visit her at www.catherinespangler.com
PNR: Welcome back Catherine, when we last spoke with you in 2003, SHADOW CROSSING had just released from Love Spell, could you tell readers what you have been up to?
Catherine S.: Wow, has it been that long? Time is just flying by, isn’t it? Well, in those four years, I wrote SHADOW FIRES, which garnered a RITA nomination for best paranormal romance. Then I decided I needed to do something different. I was ready to write something other than SF romances, and I wanted to “grow” my career. I switched gears, and basically reinvented myself (at least that’s what it seemed like). I developed some paranormal romance stories that were set on Earth, and submitted them to new publishers. I was incredibly lucky, and Cindy Hwang of Berkley offered a two-book contract on my Sentinels, as well as a contract on a novella. I’ve been writing like crazy ever since!
PNR: Your Shielder series is very popular with readers; SHIELDER received Honorable Mention in the 1999 PEARL Award for Best Futuristic; SHADOWER received Honorable Mention in the 2000 PEARL Award for Best Futuristic, SHAMARA received Honorable Mention in the 2001 PEARL Award for Best Futuristic and was a finalist for Best Overall Paranormal, SHADOW CROSSING was a finalist in the 2003 PEARL Award for Best Futuristic, and SHADOW FIRES was a finalist in the 2004 PEARL Award for Best Futuristic. The PEARL is a reader’s choice award, how does it feel to have such admiration and positive recognition for your work?
Catherine S.: It’s awesome! The publishing business is very tough, and awards and recognition offer validation that really helps to get me over the rough spots. The fact that readers are bestowing the honors is even better, because my readers are the reason I’m writing these stories (well, aside from the voices in my head). And those same loyal readers are the reason my publishers keep offering me contracts. So thank you all!
PNR: As one of the pioneers of the recent futuristic romance movement your Shielder series was extremely popular. What factored into your decision to try your hand at Contemporary Fantasy with your new Sentinel series?
Catherine S.: I was amazed and gratified at how well the Shielder series did—again, thanks to the readers. As I mentioned above, after I’d written five futuristics, I needed to stretch my wings and do something different. I wanted to advance my career and felt a larger publisher might be an upward move. But I wanted to continue writing paranormals. So I looked for a different venue, and came up with romantic fantasy set on Earth.
PNR: Reviewers and readers are excited about TOUCHED BY DARKNESS, the first title in your new Sentinel series; could you tell us where the idea came from and a little about your vision for the series?
Catherine S.: I’m really excited about this series, because it springs from one of my lifelong passions: Atlantis. I’ve been reading books on Atlantis since I was eleven years old. The first two SF romances I wrote (but didn’t sell) were based on Atlantis. I actually pulled from those book concepts to develop this series. I envision an ongoing series where the Sentinel world continues to unfold and more of its patterns and complexities are explained. New Sentinels and conductors (their human counterparts) will be the focus of each book, with the introduction of new villains (Belians). These stories are basically paranormal romantic suspense, so there’s also a mystery element in each book. I’m always intrigued with secondary characters, so I hope to develop those in each book. Already, three secondary characters in book two, TOUCHED BY FIRE, are clamoring for their story. And hopefully, they’ll get it!
PNR: The mythology of Atlantis has long captured the imagination of readers. Why do you feel mythology in general, and Atlantis specifically, is such a popular theme in the paranormal romance genre?
Catherine S.: Mythology encompasses stories that have universal themes that resonate for all of us. Atlantis is mysterious and alluring. It is believed to have had a very advanced society, and is considered mystical and magical. Because there’s no proof it even existed, and no one really knows what it might have been like, it allows for speculation and fancy. An author can use Atlantis as a springboard into any number of worlds. I believe Atlantis really did exist and that many of us lived there in past lives, which could also be why people feel an affinity for, and a fascination with, Atlantis.
PNR: The premise of the series is that the heroes (Sentinels) and villains (Belians) are reincarnated Atlantean souls. These souls are now in human form and walk among us. We've seen fantasies with human superheroes and half breed superheroes, what influenced your choice of reincarnated Atlanteans? Tell us about these beings.
Catherine S.: Many of my ideas on Atlantis come from the readings of the prophet, Edgar Cayce, as well as my personal belief in reincarnation. Cayce gave over seven hundred readings on Atlantis, and he emphasized that the Atlantians had not learned their life lessons. He said that they would begin to reincarnate into Earth again when technology began to approach what they had known on Atlantis. This would start happening in the latter part of the twentieth century, and these reincarnated souls would once again face their lessons. Good versus evil is a timeless challenge. I just took the theory a step further. Bad Atlantians (Belians) come into the Earth, attracted by the technology. They have superpowers, and they thrive on fear and chaos and blood (their offering to Belial). They become the Hitlers, the serial killers, mafia, gang leaders, third-world dictators. The good Atlantians (Sentinels) have no choice but to also start reincarnating into Earth to try to stop the Belians. Both Sentinels and Belians have superpowers, but both are also in mortal bodies and can be killed.
PNR: The human element is also important in your world. Not just the unsuspecting ones among whom the Atlanteans walk, but there are also a special group called Conductors who are to put it in superhero terms "sidekicks" to the Sentinels in their battle against the Belians. What role do the Conductors play, and are there risks involved in their interaction with the Sentinels?
Catherine S.: Conductors are regular humans who are psychically wired in a way that allows them to link with Sentinels and enhance the Sentinel tracking ability. Conductors and Sentinels are always opposite sex, and the conduction process raises strong sexual energies. There are great risks for both Sentinels and conductors. The Belians are powerful and ruthless, and good doesn’t always win over evil. Sentinels and conductors do get killed. Of course, this doesn’t apply to the main characters in the series!
PNR: The heroine of the TOUCHED BY DARKNESS, Dr. Kara Cantrell, is a Conductor. She is also the widow of a Sentinel, and a mother of a 6 year old son who may have inherited his father's power. How have the events of the past affected the way she has chosen to live her life? Her response to the hero and their obvious connection? Her approach to parenting?
Catherine S.: Kara witnessed the brutal murder of her Sentinel mate and barely escaped with her own life. Traumatized, grieving, and pregnant, she turned her back on that world, swearing she’d never again conduct for a Sentinel. She hid out in a small Texas town, hoping to give her son a normal life. So when she sees Damien and realizes he’s a Sentinel, her first impulse is to run from him, which she does. But when he finds her, then she falls back on bravado and refuses to help him. She’s a wonderful mother, devoted, loving but firm; and finds herself struggling with her son’s emerging Sentinel abilities.
PNR: Sentinel souls choose to be reincarnated and the parents they are born too. Do they have an awareness of their past existence at birth, and are their powers present from the beginning? How has the hero Damien Morgan's childhood affected his approach to the way he lives his life and handles his mission.
Catherine S.: Yes, Sentinel souls choose to come into the Earth and they choose their parents (and at least one parent is always a Sentinel). They don’t have any awareness of past lives at birth, and their powers manifest over time, as they grow older. Damien lost both of his parents when he was ten, and was sent to live with a Sentinel mentor, a stranger who knew nothing about young boys. As a result, Damien is emotionally shuttered, determined to remain alone, with his missions the sole focus of his existence.
PNR: While it's important to note that while Kara's son Alex is never actually in any danger, he is getting a first hand look at what a Sentinel's life would be. How does this affect him?
Catherine S.: He’s excited and intrigued by his growing abilities. What boy wouldn’t think it was cool to be able to move things with his mind? But Alex is still just a boy, and he’s frightened by the ghost he draws to him, and when he senses he’s being stalked by a dark being. But his Sentinel heritage bolsters him, as he finds himself digging deep and reaching for his destiny.
PNR: The inclusion of Alex in the story is really critical both to understanding Kara and her reluctance to re-involve herself in battle but also in understanding the man Damien has become. Was that your intention in including his character? Will he make a return as a grown man?
Catherine S.: While I generally don’t give children significant roles in my books, I do think Alex is crucial to this story. Alex is what draws Damien into their lives, and Alex is the only reason Kara agrees to work with Damien (she realizes Damien is the only one who can protect her son from the Belian stalking the town). I also felt having Alex in the book would help illuminate how Sentinels develop their powers and come into their own. It’s very possible we’ll see him again in a future story.
PNR: Tell us about the next title in the series. Will it be connected by theme only or will we see characters recurring? How many books have you planned for this series? Do you have any plans to return to the Shielder world?
Catherine S.: The second Sentinel book is TOUCHED BY FIRE, and it’s Luke’s story (he’s introduced in TOUCHED BY DARKNESS). It is connected to the first book, with appearances by Damien and Kara. Here’s a brief overview:
Marla Reynolds has insulated herself from the world and from memories of her sister’s brutal assault eleven years ago. She doesn’t date—period. But then she encounters Luke Paxton. She doesn’t know he’s a Sentinel, a superhuman being from an ancient race, and she doesn’t understand the instant, electrifying attraction between them. But he does—she’s a conductor, one of a very small number of humans capable of helping him track an evil being. And he needs her help—willing or otherwise. Whatever it takes—even if he has to kidnap her.
Let me add that Marla is more than capable of keeping Luke on his toes, and the kidnapping doesn’t go quite as planned J
I have at least two more books planned in the series, and hope to develop more beyond that. At this time, I don’t have any Shielder books on the drawing board, but you never know.
PNR: You also have a novella in the March anthology, DEMONS DELIGHT. Could you tell us a bit about that story?
Catherine S.: I truly enjoyed writing this story. It’s about a female vampire who’s also a prostitute. As I jokingly say, she can work nights! But it has serious overtones, as Rachel lost her family in the Holocaust, and is so resistant to intimacy of any kind, that she has fantasy mind sex with her clients rather than actual sex. The hero is Gabriel, an ultra-sexy angel sent to show Rachel how to live again. DEMON’S DELIGHT will be out in March, and also features stories from MaryJanice Davidson, Emma Holly, and Vickie Taylor.
PNR: Could you tell us about your current projects, what can readers expect to see in the coming months?
Catherine S.: My current projects are the two new Sentinel books. One will be TOUCHED BY LIGHT, but I haven’t decided on the title for the fourth one, although it will be a “Touched” title. I’m also working on several novella ideas, and might even wander into the erotic realm.
PNR: Thanks Catherine, for taking time out to talk to us. Where can readers find out what’s new and how can they contact you?
Catherine S.: Thank you for interviewing me! I credit the PNR reviewers and readers with helping to launch my career, not to mention being instrumental in increasing public awareness and the popularity of paranormal romance.
Please visit me at www.catherinespangler.com. I usually have a contest going, and you can sign up for my electronic newsletter.
January 1, 2007
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Dr. Kara Cantrell settled in the sleepy town of Zorro, Texas, convinced she and her child had escaped the sinister reach of a supernatural underworld. But now dark forces may jeopardize her new life. Her only hope is Damien Morgan, a dangerous, alluring man with superhuman abilities. He and Kara share a mystical link that triggers desires they must ignore. But as they work together to protect her son, and begin tracking the evil stalking them, something threatens to push them toward the edge...of darkness.
Berkley Pub Group
March 1, 2007
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Four never-before-published paranormal tales from a quartet of top-tier talents.
In the realm between the living and the undead, between human and immortal, four of today's most thrilling authors explore the delight that ensues when opposites come together...
New York Times bestselling author MaryJanice Davidson challenges a charlatan exorcist with a sexy dead woman-and an unnatural romance.
USA Today bestselling author Emma Holly introduces a beautiful scientist to the realm of the Demon World...and an irresistible male she has experimented on.
National bestselling author Vickie Taylor throws a hell-bent man into the arms of a beautiful dark angel who is driven by ethereal desires of her own.
And award-winning author Catherine Spangler gives a vampire prostitute a last chance at redemption when an angelic hunk offers her a night of divine lovemaking.
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