"New Worlds Are Our Oyster."
A family practice physician and Vassar graduate, Sunny was finally pushed into picking up her pen by the success of the rest of her family. Much to her amazement, she found that, by golly, she actually could write a book. And that it was much more fun than being a doctor. When she is not busy reading and writing, Sunny is editing her husband’s books, literary novelist and 2007 Quill Awards finalist, Da Chen, and being a happy stage mom for her two talented kids.
An Interview with Sunny
PNR: Have you always wanted to be a writer, what led you to pursue writing as a career?
Sunny: Actually, I never imagined I would be a writer. I’d always been an avid reader, but the few times I tried to write a story, I stalled after jotting down the first several pages. Didn’t seem to have a vivid enough imagination to come up with a whole, complete story. I grew up and became a family practice physician. It was only after I met and married my husband, lawyer and investment banker-turned-author, that I finally picked up a pen again. I did my homework this time first. Came up with a world, established some rules, and created specific characters with defined personalities. Crafting a story upon that sort of foundation was much, much easier then. PNR: How do you manage to balance your writing and personal time? What do you enjoy doing when you are not writing?
Sunny: To be a writer is to put your craft first. Sort of. By that, I mean that the first thing I do after getting up and washing my face and brushing my teeth is go to my computer and sit down and write for the next four hours. Hitting it while I’m freshest. Then the rest of my day is devoted to my family. My kids come back from school, and we hit the mother-as-a-chauffer part of my live, driving them to dance, singing and acting lessons, sometimes until 9pm at night. A crazy schedule, packed for each of my two kids. In the few hours of downtime I have at night, I read and devour books, and hit an occasional movie on weekends. I guess you can say that I’m a part-time writer and a full-time mom. J
PNR: What are the greatest challenges to you as an author? The greatest rewards?
Sunny: The greatest challenge for me was writing—completing!—that first manuscript. All 76,000 words of it. I’d never thought I’d have the imagination or discipline to do that. Once I did, it was like trying to lift a 1,000 lb weight over my head…and finding myself amazingly able to do it! What a high, a euphoria, to finish a whole book and find yourself liking what you wrote—a rare thing for me. The greatest reward next to that was getting published.
PNR: Which author(s) is your favorite? And who has most influenced your work?
Sunny: My favorite authors are Jack London, Louisa May Alcott, Linda Howard, Lois McMaster Bujold, Anne McCaffrey, Lisa Kleypas, Suzanne Brockmann, Nora Roberts, Jayne Ann Krentz, Lori Foster, Laurell K. Hamilton, and Anne Bishop. The last two authors have especially influenced my writing. Newer, more literary novelists that I love because they tell great love stories are Nina Shengold (Clearcut), and Ron Nyswaner (Blue Days, Black Nights).
PNR: You have received awards and a great deal of reader admiration for your writing. How does it feel to have such positive recognition for your work?
Sunny: Most lovely! A late, unexpected bounty in life. It just thrills me—and still surprises me—to hear someone come up to me and say that they’ve read my novels and loved them.
PNR: What do you consider to be the key elements of a great story?
Sunny: Intimacy and passion—great heart—are what moves me most as a reader. Love, loyalty, sacrifice, and devotion. So those are the basis upon which my stories spill from.
PNR: Reviewers and readers are excited about the August 07 release of LUCINDA, DARKLY, the first title in your new Demon Princess Chronicles; the series features a character from your Monère, Children of the Moon series, could you tell us where the idea came from and a little about your vision for the project?
Sunny: The new series came after I had completed my first 2-books plus 1-novella contract with Berkley. I had written them too fast, finishing everything six months before the publication of the first book, and my editor didn’t want to contract for anything more from that series until after they knew how well they would sell. Lucinda, the demon sister of Prince Halcyon, was a side character in the novella I had written for Berkley’s OVER THE MOON anthology headlined by Angela Knight and MaryJanice Davidson. A dark and dangerous bad girl with a possible soft touch, Lucinda fascinated me. When I had to think of developing another series, she came immediately to mind, hence the birth of the Demon Princess Chronicles. Can’t wait to start writing LUCINDA, DEADLY, book two. I have some great ideas about Ruric and Hari, Lucinda’s new royal demon watchdogs who accompany her back to the living realm.
PNR: Readers of your enormously popular Monère, Children of the Moon series will be happy to know that the next book in the series, MONA LISA CRAVING, will release from Berkley in January 08. For readers who are not familiar, could you give us an overview of the series? A sneak peek perhaps?
Sunny: Enormously popular—you are too kind, Dee. My Mona Lisa/Monère series are about supernatural creatures descended from the moon, my version of werewolves, shape shifters, and vampires. Mona Lisa is a human-Monère Mixed Blood raised among humans, who awakens to love and to her hidden powers upon coming into contact with others of her kind. In MONA LISA CRAVING, Mona Lisa finds that she had lived and died once before, in another time, on another world. And that the man she falls in love with now, Dante, the rogue warrior son of a healer, was the one who had killed her in that first life. Here’s the link for an excerpt and the first sneak reviews: http://www.sunnyauthor.com/mona-lisa-craving/
PNR: Could you tell us about the challenges you face in world-building with paranormal elements, and making it believable for readers?
Sunny: Actually I found it surprisingly easier for me that I could ever have imagined. The key, for me, came from first establishing the world, its rules, and then fleshing out and defining the characters you want to people them with. Once you’ve done that and understand them that well, it’s easy to throw them into situations and know how they will react, what they will say. Indeed, they come alive for you. Actually begin talking in your head.
PNR: Do you feel your writing is character driven or plot driven? How do you balance these two elements?
Sunny: It’s a combination of both. I need enough structure, a vague general plot first to then have the freedom to be character driven. Know your characters and world well-enough, and then throw them into one tight situation after another and have them react.
PNR: Could you tell us a little about the development of your characters? Who has been your favorite character to write? The most challenging?
Sunny: Aside my main character, Mona Lisa, each of her loves have been fun to write. It was a tickle for me to watch Gryphon and Amber and Halcyon each grow and come into their own from the vague character sketches I had done of them initially. My most challenging character to write so far was Lucinda. She came so easily to me in her first appearance in my novella—a powerful, bad, dangerous demon dead princess. Halcyon’s sister. When I had to then base a whole book around her, people her with new characters…well, that was much, much harder. Funny enough, the most difficult part was actually making her bad enough, a more hardened character. Toward the end, my main worry was not making her too soft.
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?
Sunny: First of all, there had to be someone smart enough to believe that there was a market for these kinds of books. Ellora’s Cave trail-blazed this, proved there was a very lucrative market, found and launched those first talented writers of this genre, and matched them up with happy readers. Once it became evident that erotic romance was a truly budding growth market, the major New York publishing houses jumped on board, launching even more new authors’ careers, myself fortunately included.
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?
Sunny: I feel it has been mutually beneficial one to the other, the sensual/erotic genre to the romance genre. It’s brought in new readers, and spread them around to all the other genres in romance, as well as flowing it the other way as well. The erotic content has become a strong part of the paranormal genre as well, a definite presence in not all but many of the books. For us writers, I think all this bold blending and overlapping of genres is making romance more edgy and mainstream. Doesn’t always have to have a happy ending, but an emotionally satisfying one—definitely that. This broadening of the rules allows us authors a lot of wonderful, exhilarating freedom. And that’s where the best writing comes from, I believe, when you try something new, daring, exciting. Something that gets your pulse pounding, as well as the readers.
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?
Sunny: My level of sensuality would definitely be at erotic. All my books are quite blushingly explicit. MONA LISA AWAKENING, my first book, was not at all the type of story I had intended to write initially; I was striving for a traditional romance. Only when I hit the first love scene, it was like another voice, more sure, flowing, confident, that suddenly possessed me. The words just poured out and I wrote them down, both embarrassed and exhilarated by what was flowing from mind to fingers. It quickly became evident that love scenes and violent action scenes were my strengths. Emotional writing. And where best to express emotion than when making love or fighting for your life or that of someone you care for.
PNR: What is it about the paranormal romance genre that captures your imagination?
Sunny: I love the great peril these fantasy worlds can throw their characters into, and the passionate love that can grow naturally from these intense, dangerous situations. I believe the best love scenes are the ones that simply flow over from the action scenes, like the early stories Linda Howard wrote for Harlequin. The hero puts himself at great risk protecting the heroine, does something noble to keep her safe, and love and attraction develop naturally from there.
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?
Sunny: I will definitely continue writing in the paranormal genre, more accurately, dark fantasy with an erotic touch—that’s basically what I write. Contemporary romance is fun, though. I wrote THE HARD STUFF novella during the high after completing that first manuscript. Buoyed up by my accomplishment, I suddenly felt as if I could do anything. I wrote that novella in two weeks, and that was what first got me published, featured on Geraldo At Large and CNBC, and won me my first award. But my dark fantasy stories are what really stir my passions most. I’ve thought about writing lighter paranormal chick-lit type romance, as well as mystery-suspense set in an urban fantasy world. For now, though, my focus for the next several years is developing the two series I have.
PNR: What is next for the Monère and Demon Princess series? Will we see favorite characters returning in future titles?
Sunny: I’m working on MONA LISA DARKENING at present, and work is the appropriate verb. Not longer flying on that gee-this-is-so-fun-and-easy high that I initially had. That only lasted me for the first two novels and novellas. The next two novels and two novellas that came after that was pure, gritty work.
Gryphon returns in MONA LISA DARKENING, which I think many readers will be happy to know, along with more quality time with Prince Halcyon when they go to rescue Mona Lisa when she is yanked down into NetherHell.
PNR: Could you tell us about your current projects, what can readers expect to see in the coming months?
Sunny: The publishing line-up for this next year is:
Jan 08 – Mona Lisa Craving (book #3), trade paperback original
Summer 09 – Lucinda, Deadly (book #2), original mass market paperback
PNR: Thank you Sunny, for taking time out to speak with us; where can readers find out more about your work?
Sunny: A pleasure being
here. Thanks for the invite. Please visit
http://www.sunnyauthor.com to enter my monthly free book
Berkley Pub Group
August 7, 2007
The Demon Princess Chronicles: Book 1
For centuries, Lucinda has endured her agonizing reality. As daughter of the High Lord of Hell, she rules over nothing, retrieving the occasional wayward demon and feeding off of the savage Monére-of whom she was a member before she died.
Then she encounters the Monére warrior Stefan, who offers himself to her. She is moved beyond measure by her desire for him-and soon finds herself drawn back into the heady eroticism of the Monére. There, she must carve out a home between the jealousy of the dead and the violence of the living, if she is to keep her newfound love-and life...
Berkley Pub Group
September 5, 2006
Monére, Children of the Moon: Book 1
On the dark side of the moon lies passion, hunger -- and danger...
A smoldering debut novel exploring the passion, hunger, and danger that can break loose in the moonlight.
From the time she was a child, Mona Lisa knew she was different—but she never knew how different until a man of otherworldly beauty appeared during her night shift in the ER. Gryphon is hurting and hunted and he attracts her as no man ever has before. He is a Monère, one of the children of the moon—and what's more, so is she.
Long exiled from the moon, the men of the Monère serve—and mate with—imperious Queens who can channel the rays of their far-off homeland. Gryphon believes that Mona Lisa is a Queen—perhaps the first of Mixed Blood ever known. But her introduction to the nighttime court of the Monère, simmering with intrigue, casual lust, and calculated cruelty, is far from smooth.
Berkley Pub Group
February 6, 2007
Monére, Children of the Moon: Book 2
Mona Lisa has finally accepted what she really is-a Mixed-Blood of the Monère, the children of the moon. Stronger, faster, and more beautiful than any human, they are the origins of Earth's darkest legends-and Mona Lisa is their newest Queen.
Accompanied by her loyal cadre of warriors and kin, Mona Lisa is entering her territory of Louisiana for the first time. She slowly learns the erotic and savage customs of the Monère elite-though some of her new subjects are uneasy at being ruled by a half-human. Her reign is threatened by enemies old and new, and she is ensnared in the thrall of dark forces she cannot deny. In a hidden world of animal passions and unrelenting lust, Mona Lisa soon grasps the tremendous power she must command if she is to hold her realm together-and if she is ever to come into her own.
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