"New Worlds Are Our Oyster."
Robin D. Owens
Robin D. Owens has been writing longer than she cares to recall. Her fantasy/futuristic romances found a home at Berkley with the issuance of HeartMate in December 2001. She's sure the telepathic cat with attitude sold that book. Heart Thief was a launch book for Berkley Sensation in June 2003, Heart Duel was published in April 2004. Heart Choice was released in July, 2005; Heart Quest in September of 2006 and Heart Dance is out now, July 2007.
Her Luna Books include shape-shifiting fairies and average American women Summoned to another world to fight monstrous evil. Guardian of Honor was published February 2005, Sorceress of the Faith came out in February 2006 and Protector of the Flight in February 2007.
She is the recipient of the 2002 RWA RITA Award and the 2004 RMFW Writer of the Year award.
An Interview with Robin D. Owens
PNR: Welcome back Robin, when we last spoke with you in 2003, HEART THIEF was about to be released, and you have been very busy since then. Could you tell readers what you have been up to?
Robin D. Owens: Wow, it’s been that long? I always feel close to the PNR group, and I try to attend the chats, so I guess I didn’t realize it. I’m still writing the “Heart” series and am up to number 6, HEART DANCE, which will be released in TRADE paperback this July. The cover is pretty cool, and I managed to work in the jeweled piece Saille is wearing into the book. I have sold at least one more book to Berkley, Heart Fate, which will feature Tinne Holly.
The books in reading order are: HeartMate, Heart Thief, Heart Duel, Heart Choice, Heart Quest. They are romances first, then fantasy.
I’m also doing fantasy with romantic subplot for Luna. The first three titles of the five book series are: Guardian of Honor, Sorceress of Faith, and Protector of the Flight. I write in a more contemporary American style since these are stories of average American women Summoned to another dimension to fight invading evil. Right now I’m working on Healers of Hope (current title) which is a twin story, and the last book will probably be called Singer For A World.
PNR: Could you tell us about your writing routine, how do you balance writing and personal time? Do you have any personal time?
Robin D. Owens: My day job went away last December, and thanks to a small nest egg, I am currently trying to make a go at writing full time. I DO have free time, and I’ve been spending more time with friends and family. I’ve also found the world of gaming on the computer, and usually play at least an hour or two a week on City of Heroes, AFTER I make my word count. ;) I am still working on a good schedule for writing and currently what works for me is getting up and feeding the cats, writing my morning word count, long break, writing in the afternoon.
PNR: Most writers are avid readers, is this true for you? What titles would we see in your TBR pile?
Robin D. Owens: Yes, I read a lot, and if a new book comes out by one of the Top Three authors, it usually doesn't hit the TBR pile, that’s Jayne Ann Krentz, Nora Roberts, Linda Howard, and of course I’m looking forward to Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. I DO read old favorites – comfort reads – when I’m feeling overwhelmed. Currently in my TBR are Eyes of the Crow, by Jeri Smith-Ready, which I hope to savor, Fortune’s Fool by Mercedes Lackey, Surviving Demon Island by Jaci Burton and The Wrong Hostage by Elizabeth Lowell.
PNR: Congratulations! SORCERESS OF FAITH won the 2006 PEARL Award for Best Science Fiction/Fantasy and HEART QUEST received Honorable Mention for Best Magical/Fantasy, You have received numerous honors, including several PEARL Awards and a great deal of reader admiration for your writing. How does it feel to have such positive recognition for your work?
Robin D. Owens: FABULOUS! Awards and feedback can really keep a writer going during those moments of self-doubt. That said, a writer must base their validation on the knowledge that they have written the best book of their heart with the tools that they had. Because, you know, outer validation is a SWEET, SWEET drug...at least for me, I can get hooked on it. ;) So I repeat that little mantra I just gave you. I wrote the best book of my heart with the tools that I had at the time.
PNR: Before we get into the new and upcoming titles, let's talk about your two latest PEARL winners, Sorceress of Faith and Heart Quest. First how does writing these two series differ or do you approach them both in the same way?
Robin D. Owens: The Heart books are romances and the story is focused on the romance. They’re set completely on a different world where other rules apply, rules of society and magic. Only the hero and the heroine have a point of view in these books. Also, the characters may be introduced in former books and appear in later books, but while they are on stage, they are the primary characters and their story is individual to them. I still like the Heart books and have an up-and-coming generation that I could explore for a while.
The Luna books are epic fantasy for women, so it’s the woman’s personal growth that matters, then the fantasy, then the subplot. That sounds technical, but it’s just a change of mind-set. I don’t write both series at the same time. My language is freer for the Luna books, and I add points of view of secondary characters. Also, the Luna books have a specific theme and climax and will end after five.
PNR: Let's start with Heart Quest. As with the others it is futuristic fantasy but this is a multifaceted tale crossing into the mystery, suspense, and police procedural category as well. How was writing this story different than its predecessors?
Robin D. Owens: Oh, sheesh, the mystery stuff was very difficult for me. I don’t have a linear brain, so I had to figure out the clues and some of the police procedures (the poppet magic), and go back and put them in, then clean up the whole thing so it read well. That was tough, and I don’t see myself doing another soon. Even so, I don’t think the mystery is very challenging. I may have an element of suspense in some of the books, but I read mysteries and know my work is very “mystery-lite.” Enjoyable, but not much of a puzzle. Also Heart Quest was interesting in that it was a May-December book, which I didn’t think I’d ever write, but actually grew out of a line in HeartMate.
PNR: The hero is detective Ilex Winterberry of the Druida City Guardsmen. Unlike many of his kind he has the advantage of knowing the identity of his heartmate. Why can he not act on this knowledge? Can you give us some background on his heart mate Trif Clover and her involvement in the criminal activity?
Robin D. Owens: Ah, well Ilex is a very honorable man, and he has a touch of foresight. He’s had visions of himself lying dead. One of the rules of HeartMates is that when one of the couple dies, the other follows within a year. Since this was a May-December story, Trif is quite young. Ilex knew if he bonded with Trif and his vision came true, he’d cut her life short.
As for Trif, she’s young and knows she wants her mate and goes hunting for him. The killer was targeting specific sorts of people – youngsters who had their second passage, a dream quest that frees psi powers at 17 or so -- but their Flair (psi powers) wasn’t settled. They’d have flashbacks or be unstable. Unstable Flair is easier to drain...
PNR: Of course there has to be a cat involved. No doubt the readers read these stories as much for the cats as the human characters. Can you explain the cats for new readers and then tell us about Greyku.
Robin D. Owens: Yes, I’m sure Zanth in HeartMate sold that original book. I like the cats, and they usually reflect my own. They are animal companions and secondary characters that can be used in a variety of ways – confidant, trickster, comic relief, mentor. So they are usually important – by the way, Ilex has a FOX, so I did some research there. Greyku is a kitten, a small, demanding white kitten who, like Trif, is not altogether happy with her current circumstances. She doesn’t like being white and wants to be tinted (painted). So that’s her subplot and goal in the book. This idea, of course, was spawned by the wonderful book, Why Paint Cats.
PNR: HEART QUEST, the fifth book in the Celta series was released in September 2006; can you tell us about the challenges of keeping a series and its characters fresh for readers?
Robin D. Owens: I like to reveal a little more about Celta, the world, and how it works and how magic works in every book. That’s a rich area to explore. And I hope to heaven that the characters are different. For instance, T’Ash in HeartMate is very alpha, Saille in Heart Dance is a more sensitive guy, Holm Holly is charmer until we get to Heart Duel where he’s in love and his savoir faire abandons him. I keep mixing up the status, the amount of magic, and the inner problems of my characters to keep them different from each other. And, of course, if the characters are different, how they meet and react to their mate means their romances will be different.
PNR: HEART DANCE, the sixth book in the Celta series, will be released in July 2007; can you give us a sneak peek? What are your plans for the series?
Robin D. Owens: Heart Dance is the story of Saille T’Willow, of the highest strata, who was banished to the country his whole life by his MotherDam (grandmother on his mother’s side), because he was strong in power and would succeed her. He’s just taken over the title. Dufleur Thyme is a distant cousin of the Hollys (and direct cousin of Ilex Winterberry), whose father ostensibly destroyed himself and his Residence (sentient house) while experimenting with time, and such experiments were consequently banned. However, Dufleur’s main talent is with time and she just can’t give it up... There is, again, a couple of outer suspense plots, and in this book I deal a little bit with the social season of the nobility in Druida city. You can see a slightly dated chapter here: http://www.robindowens.com/reads/01Heart%20Dance.pdf
I will continue with the Heart books as long as readers want them and I can sell the books. I have sold another, Heart Fate (title is set), which should be out in July of 2008. I have more ideas and more characters waiting in the wings, some of whom have had a large slice of time onstage, some not. In Heart Dance, I HAVE added a Cast of Characters to refresh readers’ memories.
PNR: You have been complimented on your masterful world building. Tell us about the challenges you face in world building and making it work with the ideas you have in mind for the progression of your characters and series? Do you write your characters to fit the world you have created or vice versa?
Robin D. Owens: LOL! It’s mostly that I fit the world to the characters, but some of Celta is also based on the old Druidic calendar of thirteen months. Right now I have rules I can’t break and can hardly bend, so they will stay solid. But if something new comes up – like experimenting with time – I get to play with more world building (actually figuring out the rules of time slowed the writing of the book considerably and made my head hurt). In fact, Celta got the 70 minute septhour because T’Ash was making a sword in HeartMate and despite magic, it HAD to take a certain amount of time, but I also wanted it to be done in a certain amount of time. The only solution I could see was to stretch the hour. As a regular worker, I always wanted a three day weekend, so I made a week with one.
PNR: On to SORCERESS OF FAITH. Lladrana is a parallel universe to Earth filled with magic and fantastic creatures as well as humans. Can you give us a little background on Lladrana and what has occurred since we left it in Guardian of Honor? How does the Earth woman Marian Harasta fit into the picture?
Robin D. Owens: The time gap between Guardian of Honor and Sorceress of Faith was slight, a couple of weeks (consulting notes). The action in Guardian ended on May 4th and Marian was Summoned to Lladrana on May 29th. During that time one of the evil magic-and-life-sucking monsters called a sangvile feasted and grew strong on a town composed mostly of Sorcerers and Sorceresses (and since I got tired of typing that I call the whole group of them Circlets). The sangvile killed the parents of the sorcerer we met in Guardian of Honor, Jaquar Dumont. Basically, this particular “horror” is sent to destroy the Circlets. Marian is the academic or librarian archetype, and since the Song that was crafted was to Summon her specifically for the Circlets, she has incredible magic. Marian is a grad student with an interest in New Age beliefs, so she DOES fit in. But she has a brother she left behind with multiple sclerosis and also searches for a cure for that disease.
PNR: PROTECTOR OF THE FLIGHT, the third book in your Summoning series from Luna Books released this month. This tale involved a rebellion of the equine kind. The volarans are rebelling. Who will be called by the sorcerers to tame these flying horses and right their world once more?
Robin D. Owens: Yes, the volarans left between the end of Sorceress of Faith and Protector of the Flight (and a cut scene regarding that can be seen here:
http://www.robindowens.com/reads/TeaserPOF.pdf ) So the Chevaliers or Knights segment of society wants someone to help. Calli Torcher is an ex-barrel racer whose pelvis has been broken in three places. She dreams of being a horse trainer when she is fully healed. Once she reaches Lladrana, she can’t resist the volarans – the winged horses. The volarans actually return quite quickly...as soon as Calli arrives, and then we are off on another fantasy adventure. This book has more romance and more sex than the previous ones, mostly because Calli is the nurturer archetype and her deepest need is to have a family.
PNR: What inspired the Summoning series and what are your plans for future titles?
Robin D. Owens: Ah, how I came to write the Summoning series makes me smile. These were old, old stories I told myself before I went to sleep – at least kernels of them – before I began seriously writing. When I heard of Luna books and the description, I pulled them out and began working on them.
PNR: Last but not least tell us about your online serial for Luna Books. Why do you think these not for profit offerings are becoming so popular with publishers?
Robin D. Owens: EHarlequin has been doing serials for many years, and I was pleased to write one. It came out in January 2001 and was eight chapters long, so it overlapped with the release of Guardian of Honor. Obviously, we all hoped to hook people into the story.
Right now the Online Library is getting an overhaul and when it is back up, the Luna link will cycle through all the stories the Luna authors have written.
When HeartMate was first published, I was very nervous since the real paranormal boom had not hit and I knew that if HeartMate wasn’t successful, Berkley might not buy another fantasy romance for some time. It was PNR that really got the word out and I’m grateful. Now I have a backlist and I hope that people who read my work (or read my excerpts on my webpage) like it and will buy it. I think the same can be said for the serials. They hook people into discovering and buying authors they didn’t know about, it makes readers feel they’re getting a little “something extra” from the publisher.
PNR: Of all of your books, who has been your favorite character to write? The most challenging?
Robin D. Owens: Alexa in Guardian of Honor was the easiest. She can swagger on stage and be over the top. I have to watch her carefully in the later books. I’m not sure who the most challenging was – it’s usually the ones I have just struggled to get down on paper, which would make them Dufleur Thyme and Saille Willow, for different reasons. By the time I have Heart Dance in my hands I’ll think they weren’t so hard to write.
PNR: How would you describe the sensuality level of your books; do you find it challenging to write the love/sex scenes?
Robin D. Owens: I don’t know that I can describe the sensuality level, because it means different things to different people. In the Heart series I do use “body parts.” And sensuality may not be sexual. I’m very aware of sexual tension, which I’m very aware of and keep as strong as I can in the Heart series. I took a deliberate step back in the Luna series, so the consummation scenes are more romantic and less descriptive, but they are there. Protector of the Flight has the most graphic sex in the Luna series and that is simply because it is told from Marrec’s point of view and he is an earthy man (despite being a volaran flier and Lladranan).
PNR: It seems everyone has there own definition of “Urban Fantasy” how would you define this sub-genre? How does this differ from traditional fantasy?
Robin D. Owens: I would say Urban Fantasy takes place in the contemporary world, slightly skewed to accommodate magic. Still, you would have the current mores, culture, etc., with magic.
PNR: You have written in the magical fantasy genre in your Summoning series and futuristic fantasy in your Celta series; is there a genre you haven’t written but would like to try?
Robin D. Owens: LOL, I have a few paranormal romances on the back burner, and am putting together an Urban Fantasy proposal and have another idea for urban fantasy romance.
PNR: Could you tell us about your current projects, what can readers expect to see in the coming months? Do you have any additional series in the works? Single titles?
Robin D. Owens: I am currently writing Healers of Hope, which is the fourth of five books in the Summoning series. This deals with Bri and Elizabeth Drystan, twins, who have a natural healing gift. Elizabeth is a medical doctor, Bri a new age healer. Both have strong ties with their parents so they want to return home quickly, but an unknown sickness caused by the Dark is reaching epidemic proportions. Singer For A World will be the last book and find all of our couples fighting the Dark on its volcanic island.
Heart Fate is the story of Tinne Holly, the younger brother of Holm Holly and a major secondary character in most of the Heart books. I don’t want to say any more because I do want the story to be a surprise.
Those are the books that are contracted for, but, as I said, I would like to sell an urban fantasy trilogy featuring a single strong female character with a romantic subplot, and hope to get the proposal polished by July. I have another paranormal romance series that might fit in with the new Nocturne line at Harlequin, or might go single title, I have the idea for the urban fantasy romance. My favorite books to read and write are all aspects of the paranormal/fantasy genre.
PNR: Thanks Robin, for taking time out to talk to us. Where can readers find out what’s new and how can they contact you?
Robin D. Owens: THANKS! The questions were quite thought provoking, and I enjoyed answering them.
My website IS updated monthly and has excerpts under the READS button:
http://www.robindowens.com/reads/reads.htm Interesting stuff like character interviews – including T’Ash on the tattoo on the cover of reissued HeartMate – pictures, cut scenes from the books, can be found on my WORLDS page: http://www.robindowens.com/worlds/worlds_main.htm
I can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org I do eventually answer, but it depends on my time. On the other hand, I have a DAILY blog On Writing And Publishing and welcome comments http://www.robindowens.blogspot.com . I usually answer those in a couple of days.
Featured in this issue:
The Summoning SeriesFinalist ~ 2005 Best Science Fiction/Fantasy Buy it now!
LunaThe Summoning: Book 1 With their magic boundaries falling and terrible monsters invading, the Marshalls of Lladrana must follow ancient tradition and Summon a savior from the Exotique land.... For Alexa Fitzwalter, the Marshall's call pulled the savvy lawyer into a realm where she barely understood the language, let alone the intricacies of politics and power. Armed only with her wits, a mystical companion and the help of the chevalier, Bastien, Alexa must use her very human mind and skills to fight the encroaching evil-and resist manipulation by the Marshalls to force her to stay in Lladrana. Now torn between her affinity for this realm and Earth, if given the chance to return home will she? Or dare she risk everything for a land not her own? Winner ~ 2006 Best Science Fiction/Fantasy Buy it now!
February 1, 2005
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LunaThe Summoning: Book 2 With the world of Llandrana threatened by encroaching evil, the Sorcerers must do the unthinkable--Summon an outsider to stop the insidious Darkness slowly taking control of their land and poisoning the Sorcerers themselves. Arriving in Lladrana, grad student Marian Harasta is stunned to find herself the center of a dispute among Sorcerers who want to augment their Power with her own. She must quickly learn her new magical Powers - and decide who she can trust in this strange land. She has prayed for a miracle to save her brother - could Lladrana offer that knowledge, and can she somehow return to Earth with it? She knows she must offer the Sorcerers something in exchange, and ridding them of the Evil Sorcerer is what they want, but how will she fare in her first magical duel? With unexpected help - and unexpected betrayal - Marian must determine where her true fate lies.
February 1, 2006
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Winner Best New Author 2001 Website Blog Robin's Worlds
March 1, 2007
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The Summoning: Book 3
The Summoning continues...
If horses could fly . . .
Then Calli Torcher might ride again. But a devastating accident left her in such pain, she thought the chimes and chanting in her ears were a hallucination . . . until she found herself transported to another world, and met the Llandranans who had Summoned her.
Llandrana was a parallel, magical earth filled with exotic creatures, noble humans and magic -- all threatened by an encroaching evil.
And when the mighty volarans stopped obeying the Chevaliers, the flying horses' unexpected rebellion had thrown Llandrana into an uproar. In desperation, the sorcerers had sought help from afar -- and gotten Calli. If she could fulfill this mission, perhaps she would also finally find all she had longed for -- a mate, a home, a family. But against this great darkness, she had no battle experience, no strategy plans. She had only a bond with horses . . .
The Celta Series
July 3, 2007
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Celta Series: Book 6
Heart Dance is the story of Saille T’Willow.
September 1, 2006
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Honorable Mention Best Fantasy Magical 2006
Celta Series: Book 5 On the faraway planet Celta, a guardsman must reveal the truth of his destiny to his HeartMate-or else leave her in the grasp of a vicious murderer.
July 1, 2005
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Winner Best Fantasy Magical 2005
Celta Series: Book 4
Everyone's back! Characters from HeartMate, Heart Thief and Heart Duel appear to help renovate the Residence, solve the mystery, give advice on the perfect duel—or meddle. And the first baby of the next generation is born...
Tracker Straif Blackthorn has returned to Druida City after his last rescue mission, intending to repair his home and resume the noble duties he abandoned at seventeen, when he lost his family to disease. He's futilely searched Celta for a cure.
But he may be too late! A secret enemy is ready to claim his title, his lands, and destroy the woman he loves.
As an interior designer Mitchella Clover dreamt of someone saying "no expense spared." Unfortunately it's a wildly attractive GreatLord who offers her the chance of a lifetime—to restore an ancient showplace. She knows she can never give Straif what he truly wants, but can she resist him?
The job isn't easy. Both the sentient Residence and Straif's new snobbish Fam cat have remodeling ideas, and Mitchella's ward instantly dislikes Straif.
April 1, 2004
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Winner Best Futuristic 2004
Celta Series: Book 3Healer Lark Collinson hates the street dueling that is a way of life among the noble families on Celta—it was just such a skirmish that killed her Healer husband and left her a grieving widow. The last thing she wants is to love a man to whom fighting is a way of life—a man like the brashly confident Holm Holly.
All it takes is one brief touch for Holm to know that Lark is his HeartMate, though wooing her will be his greatest challenge. For not only does she despise everything he represents, but the long-standing feud between their families has exploded into even greater violence. Their destiny has been revealed...but at what cost to their own hearts?
June 1, 2003
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Winner Best Fantasy Magical 2003
Celta Series: Book 2
Ruis Elder never asked for his unusual trait - the ability to neutalize other's psychic talents. Because of it, he has always been hated in his own homeland, destined to roam the harsh planet alone. But trouble finds him in front of the ruling Council - and face-to-face with the most beautiful woman he has ever seen. There's only one problem: Ailim is on the opposite side of the bench...
Ailim has never before felt such passion coursing through her as she feels in Ruis's presence. And she never thought she would - at least not with a man so far beneath her station, a man who does not even have psychic powers. But even on the planet Celta, love is blind to such details. Separately, Ailim and Ruis must forgo their old lives. But together the can take on the world...
August 1, 2006
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Winner Best Fantasy Magical 2001
Celta Series: Book 1
2002 RITA Finalist
T'Ash rolled the divination dice. The spun and stopped: "Today you will meet your HeartMate."
T'Ash has avenged his dead family and carefully crafted his life. He knows Danith is his future and the future of his clan. Danith, an orphaned commoner, wants life easy too. But one look at T'Ash tells her that he's going to make her life quite difficult. She knows he is noble, powerful and dangerous. Not for her. Then there's the second prophecy: A woman surrounded by blasers, in peril...
Original Heart Mate Cover
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