"New Worlds Are Our Oyster."
Growing up, I had a vivid imagination with lots of imaginary playmates and stuffed animals to keep me company. I even had crayon box adventures where the colors had a kingdom and tales to tell. And who says pink is a girl color? In my world, he was a prince.
From the time I could form my letters, this translated into fancifal writings from poems on eye shadow (I was six) to a story about an Island world I created with animals and people. Writing was something I always did.
But it never clicked. I drifted in and out of genres, mystery, animal stories, thrillers, toying with it, playing at it. I would finish some projects and store them away. It never occurred to me that this pastime could be my life's passion if I let it. Until my world collided with rediscovery.
As a teenager, I devoured books, especially romances but drifted out of the genre as an adult. On a weekend trip to the beach, I read four romance novels. I had a flash of inspiration. I could write these! Romance was where my heart lay. Within six weeks I had written my first romance novel.
I went back and revamped a thriller that I had written a few years before, making it a romance. And I became serious about my craft, trying to soak in all I could about writing. I began to write on a roleplay loop and the practice has been invaluable. I've cut my teeth there and learned what works in writing and what doesn't. And I've finally accepted who I am. A storyteller at heart, be it tales told to my children, an erotic piece about lovers or about a vampire looking for love.
So come with me and take a journey where just like in my crayon box, things aren't always what they seem.
An Interview with Mechele Armstrong
PNR: Can you tell us a little about how you started writing; was it something you have always wanted to do?
Mechele A.: I have written since I could hold a pencil or a crayon. I started by writing a lot of poetry and short stories. Writing is something I’ve always done and dreamed about. I never imagined one day I’d be doing it “for real.”
PNR: How do you manage to balance your writing and personal time? What do you enjoy doing when you are not writing?
Mechele A.: I balance writing and personal time with a lot of prayers and asking patience from my family. They are pretty good about giving me some space and time to write. Sometimes both worlds collide though, leading to a lack of sleep for me and a lack of housework for the house.
When I’m not writing, I play with my kids, hubby, cat, and dog and I read as voraciously as time allows.
PNR: What are the greatest challenges to you as an author? The greatest rewards?
Mechele A.: The greatest challenge for me is fear of rejection. I’m an introvert at heart, so putting myself out there for everyone to read is hard. I have an abject fear of failure, and it’s very scary, knowing that I might not be well received.
The greatest reward for me is when someone reads a book and sends me a note saying, “I loved it.” I’ve been told I’m on a keeper shelf, which is the greatest compliment I could ever receive. I’m a reader first and I know how special that designation is.
PNR: Who or what has been the biggest influence on your work? Who or what has been your biggest support?
Mechele A.: I’m a big fan of Sherrilyn Kenyon and her spirit. Times got tough for her, and she never gave up. I look at her stories when I’m feeling rejected or down. Seeing all she’s accomplished is enough to keep me plugging away.
My biggest supporter has always been my husband. He encouraged me to go after my dream and still does on a daily basis.
PNR: You have received numerous awards and a great deal of reader admiration for your writing. How does it feel to have such positive recognition for your work?
Mechele A.: It’s surreal. I still can’t believe it sometimes. Every note I get from a fan, every review, every award is something that I treasure. I cried the first time someone said they put me on their keeper shelf.
PNR: What do you consider to be the key elements of a great story?
Mechele A.: I think the biggest element is characters that you want to keep with you always. I love to read a book where I don’t want the story to end and the characters stay with me long after I’m done reading. A riveting plot is another key item. It’s the blend of those two things that make a great story.
PNR: Congratulations on the October 07 release of THE LOVERS, readers are excited about this second title in your Settler’s Mine series; could you tell us where the idea came from and a little about your vision for the series?
Mechele A.: Thank you so much for the congratulations. I’m excited about Settler’s Mine. The idea came from a drive home and playing, “The what if” game. What if there was this mine? And stones determined who your soul mate was? And what if ménages weren’t abnormal but were the desired union? That’s how Settler’s Mine came about.
I have so many plans for this series! I’m about to start the next story. But there are so many I want to do. I’ve introduced a lot of secondary characters who can’t wait for their own stories to be told. I think it’s going to be a fun universe to work in, where anything can happen and always does.
PNR: I have to mention your enormously popular Bloodlines series; book four, NIGHT’S JOURNEY was released in June 07. Why do you feel this series has fascinated readers? Could you give us a peek at this latest release and what your plans are for the series?
Mechele A.: I think vampires are as hot and as fascinating now as they ever have been. I’d like to think that with introducing special powers for my vamps that readers never know what power will turn up in the next book and that keeps them coming back for more. Will there be a conduit? A vampire able to siphon off emotions? Mind control? Or a new power?
Night’s Journey has a kick butt heroine and a hero strong enough to match her. Anna Grace, while not impervious, is such a strong woman. Theo, quirky and stable, is a commanding man, not just because he has mind control powers. Together, they become the powerhouse needed to try to stop Titius, the villain. Nick and Sarah from Blood Kiss are secondary characters in Night’s Journey and I loved revisiting them.
I have at least two more books in my head to write in the Blood Lines series. After I write the next Settler’s Mine tale, the next Blood Lines is on tap. I’d like to explore the first vampire, who no one knows who they were. In Night’s Journey, I had a secondary character, Chey, who took me places in that book I’d not expected to go. I had planned for her to die but she wouldn’t and couldn’t. So, I know her story is going to be a wild ride. It’s probably next but I won’t swear to it.
PNR: Do you feel your writing is character driven or plot driven? How do you balance these two elements?
Mechele A.: Usually my characters come first, and then the plot is mostly constructed around or tailored to them. I think having my plots come about through the characters keeps a good balance of the two elements. Different characters will have different plots.
PNR: Could you tell us a little about the development of your characters? Who has been your favorite character to write? The most challenging?
Mechele A.: One of the first things that usually comes to me is the character’s name. A Harvey is going to be a different mindset to write than a Dirk. A description, both physical and personality, is the next part of the character I get. That helps put me in their frame of mind.
Sarah from Blood Kiss has been my favorite to write so far. She’s a strong woman, who found her strength through the events in Blood Kiss, yet she keeps this naivety that I find refreshing. She’s not going to be a character who becomes jaded, yet underneath she can be as tough as nails.
The most challenging character to write has either been Zelda from Settler’s Mine or Chey from Night’s Journey. Zelda is a woman who knows what she wants and will not stop at anything to get it. She’s incredibly feisty and tough. Yet, she also has a vulnerability that only her mate(s) see. Balancing that was difficult. Chey from Night’s Journey is so powerful, yet her mind has issues with how it sees the world. Trying to write her involved research. Not to mention she’s a strong character, who if Anna Grace hadn’t been so strong, too, Chey might have taken over the book. I really had to balance the two of them out when writing Night’s Journey.
PNR: With the recent reader interest in erotic romance, print publishers have entered a market niche that was formally covered by the epublishers. What do you feel accounts for the shift in attitude toward erotic romance; reader and publisher?
Mechele A.: I’m a firm believer that when you open the bedroom door, you open everything up emotionally in your characters. I think readers respond to that when it’s done well. I know I do. That type of story was found first in epublishing, and it was successful, which led to print publishers to try to tap into that market. That has shifted attitudes about the erotic romance genre.
PNR: How do you feel the sensual/erotic genre has affected the romance genre in general, the paranormal genre specifically? In your opinion, how far can you go with erotic content and have it still be considered romance?
Mechele A.: I think the sensual/erotic genre has opened up the romance genre. I know it’s really popular right now and the market will stabilize, but the more erotic works aren’t going away. I think it’s great in that it gives those (like me!) what they want to read while there is still room in the genre for those who want to read the more traditionally written romances. I think the more erotic genre has upped the possibilities in paranormal romance like it has romance across the board. Those who write about gritty vampires (or shifters or gargoyles or beasts) can now get gritty in the bedroom to suit the story they are telling, while again, there is room in the genre for those who don’t want to write erotic.
For me, a happily ever after (not necessarily a marriage and a baby carriage but a commitment) is a must for romance. If that isn’t there, for me, it’s not romance. So that’s one place where more erotic works part ways with romance. I also think that emotion needs to happen behind the sex, or to me, it’s not romance. A string of sex scenes is sometimes fun to read but I like to have a depth to a story that I don’t think that can have.
PNR: How would you describe the sensuality level of your books; do you find it challenging to write the hot love/sex scenes that readers demand?
Mechele A.: My books range from sensual to erotic. The love scenes in my books come out of the characters and the plot, so I don’t find them that challenging. They happen where they need to and that makes them easier to write.
PNR: What is it about the paranormal romance genre that captures your imagination?
Mechele A.: I love things that go bump in the night, things that are slightly scary to very scary. Which is why I think paranormal captivates me. Paranormal gives birth to a whole plethora of ideas that I find fun to write and read about. It’s a huge genre with lots of possibilities for the imagination to take.
PNR: You have written in the contemporary genre as well as paranormal; are you planning to continue writing in the paranormal genre? What is your favorite genre to write? Is there a genre you haven’t written but would like to try?
Mechele A.: Oh yeah, I’m going to continue to write in the paranormal genre. I love it too much not to. I would say paranormal is my favorite genre to write in because of all the possibilities. And my mind tends to swing that direction.
I would love to try writing a suspense or a thriller. I think there are a lot of suspense/thriller aspects in the Blood Lines series. But, I have thought about one day trying my hand at one.
PNR: Could you tell us about your current projects, what can readers expect to see in the coming months?
Mechele A.: I just finished up the second in the Curses series and started the third of the trilogy. The Six Curses of Christmas, the first, will be released in December. It’s a tale of a woman cursed, who tries to tear a couple apart by cursing them with the worst thing she knows, love, which has all kinds of mishandled consequences. It’s a shorter work for me, a Fling, as will be the other two parts.
I have a contemporary ménage releasing in November as part of Loose Id’s Veteran’s series. It’s entitled, Nothing to Lose and it is extremely erotic.
My plans include writing the next Settler’s Mine story and the next Blood Lines.
PNR: Thank you Mechele, for taking time out to speak with us; where can readers find out more about your work?
Mechele A.: Thank you so much for the interview!
Readers can find out more about me at http://www.mechelearmstrong.com which lists all my books, projects, links to my newsletter (where I share excerpts and news first), MySpace, blog, and more.
October 2, 2007
Settler’s Mine: Book 2
Amory comes to Settler's Mine, the biggest heartstone mine in the quadrant, searching for his heartstone. It's the key to his sexuality, and without it, he can't claim a woman back home as his mate.
But dreams and reality collide when the stones reveal Amory to be the destined third mate to Zelda and Bren, lovers, and owners of the mine.
Can they convince him to fulfill his destiny, despite his dreams, even as Gemini works to take Settler's Mine out from under them and destroy it?
July 3, 2007
Settler’s Mine: Book 1
Orion and Balt, rival bounty hunters, unexpectedly meet up on Settler's Mine to bring in a woman, Layla, whose retrieval will set up the finder for life. It's a race to see who will find her first.
Layla, who's not what she appears, is hiding in plain sight, but it takes a while for them to recognize her. When they do, they are stunned to find their heartstones glowing, marking them all as mates. All three of them.
Now Orion and Balt must learn to work together if there is any hope of saving Layla from both a rich, ruthless man and their government. They must also learn to accept each other as the threesome they were always meant to be.
Welcome to Settler's Mine, where rivals become mates...
June 1, 2007
Blood Lines: Book 4
Freelance photographer, Theo, is snapping pictures downtown when he takes something he didn't bargain on, a picture of a man leaning over a woman. When a woman is found dead in that area, Theo knows he has the face of a killer in his pictures.
Anna Grace arrives in Richmond to track Titius, a deadly vampire, who thinks humans are only good for one thing: food. And now her nemesis has let himself be photographed over the body of a kill.
When Anna Grace goes to retrieve the incriminating pictures before they are made public, Theo catches her. He's a human with the ability to push other's minds into what he wants them to do, including hers. He also does what no man has been able to do since she was made into a vampire: dominate her in sizzling sex.
From there, it's a race to what Titius seeks to complete plans, and there's a few losses along the way. This night's journey must result in victory for the organized stable vampires, or humanity and many vampires, and the passion between Anna Grace and Theo will be casualties of war.
Loose IdRead the Reviews! The Collector Series: Book 1
April 1, 2007
Chloe is having a terrible day, where everything that can go wrong does, until she's offered a chance at much-needed money by the Collector. All she has to do is fetch him an artifact. Easy enough, right?
Wrong. The totem is with her ex-husband, who didn't appreciate a vase tossed at his head during their last fight. They never did anything halfway, sex or fighting.
Drake is a retired magician who can do real magic. But that didn't help him to keep his wife when she tired of all the secrets he kept about the family legacy.
When Chloe tries to take off with his totem, Drake realizes that of all the stuff he'd amassed, only one thing ever mattered, and he'd lost it.
Striking a deal with Chloe, he agrees to give her his totem in more ways than one if she gives him a weekend to rekindle the current between them.
For Additional Titles from
Featured in this issue: ~Erotic Paranormal Romance ~2007 PEARL Career Achievement Award
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