It’s Author Interview Friday. This is an opportunity to go behind the scenes, get into the nitty-gritty of the many paranormal worlds and enter into the fertile imaginations of authors I love. Bring a flashlight. It’s sometimes dark in here, but so worth the trip. Remember, monsters need love too. Otherwise, how would we ever have baby monsters?
Think on THAT a while…
Welcome, Author Lori Sjoberg! You’ve just released Grave Destinations. Tell us a little bit about your story. Thank you for having me here today! Grave Destinations is the story of Ruby Dawson, a reaper assigned to harvest a soul on a cruise ship. Most reapers would love that kind of gig, but boats remind Ruby of the chain of events that resulted in her becoming a reaper. She finds distraction in the form of smexy passenger Jack Deverell, but there’s more to him than meets the eye. Jack’s harboring a few secrets, you see, including the curse that’s plagued him for nearly a century. And when passengers who aren’t on Ruby’s list start showing up dead, Jack becomes the prime suspect.
Is this a series? Stand-alone book? If it is a series, what does the future look like for this series? How many more books to come? What can we expect and more importantly…WHEN!
Grave Destinations is book two of the Grave series. Each book can be read as a standalone without feeling lost, but a little bit more of the reaper world is revealed with each story. I’m contracted for a total of four books, but there’s the potential for at least one more. The next book in the series is scheduled for release in January, 2015.
What attracted you to the genre?
My older sisters were sci-fi and fantasy fans, so I watched tons of it growing up. And when I entered my teens, I started watching soaps with my mom and got hooked on Days of Our Lives. At some point, those two interests collided – kind of like when you put your peanut butter in my chocolate, or I put my chocolate in your peanut butter, and if you catch the reference, you’re as old as I am!
Let’s talk beasties. You write about reapers (a personal favorite!). What first attracted you to the idea of reapers and what worldbuilding aspects make your books unique?
I’ve had a thing for reapers ever since I read On A Pale Horse back in the 90s. My reapers are damned mortals who have been given one final chance to earn their salvation by collecting the souls of the recently departed. They work under the direct authority of Fate, who is far from a gentle mistress. The hours are long, the assignments are often dangerous, and they have to work under the radar to avoid human detection. Each book focuses on a particular reaper and his/her journey toward a happily ever after.
Do any other monsters make appearances in your current or previous novels? If so, tell us about a few of them. Do you have a favorite? Don’t lie. Every parent…erm…author…does.
Reapers dominate the spotlight, but there are a few other supernatural players on board. So far, there have been witches, demons, and the occasional priestess. Jack, the hero of Grave Destinations, is human, but he harbors an otherworldly secret that could put everyone on board in mortal danger. (Don’t want to say too much and spoil it!) I have to admit, he’s my current fave, but that might change by the time I’m finished writing the next book.
What else are you working on?
Right now I’m working on book three of the series. This one features Dmitri, a former KGB agent-turned-reaper. He’s acted as a supporting character in the first two books and has been an absolute blast to write! He’s surly, sexy, and alpha, but he’s met his match in the form of a woman from his past.
Of all the characters in your fictional word, which one character or couple would you most like to hang out with over a long weekend? What would you do together? What actor or actress would play him/her in a movie?
Just one? Oh man, that’s so hard. If I had to pick, I’d go with Jack & Ruby. They both know how to live life to the fullest, so I’m sure they’d be a hoot to hang out with over a long weekend. Ruby’s the kind of gal who’d talk you into dancing on top of the bar, but wouldn’t let you do anything you’d regret the next morning. As for movie casting…do I have to tell? I’d hate to ruin anyone’s mental image!
Let’s talk about craft. Are you a plotter or pantser? What are the first steps you take before diving into the writing of the next book?
I have to admit to a weird writing quirk – I write out of sequential order. When I start a new book, I write scenes as they form in my mind, and honestly, at that point I have no idea where they’ll end up in the story. It allows me to get to know my characters without trying to shoehorn them into a particular storyline. By the time the characters solidify in my mind, I have a pretty good idea where I want to go with the plot. From there, it’s research, research, research, and more writing out of order. Usually, when I get to around 40,000 words, I start stringing the scenes together and switch from pantser to plotter. I know, it doesn’t make much sense, but it’s how my brain is wired.
How long does it typically take for you to write a novel. Best case scenario? How about editing? How long will you pick at it before setting it free to the world?
I have to admit, I’m a pokey writer. Typically, it takes me a year to finish a novel. I tend to edit as I go, which slows things a bit, but in the end I usually don’t have to make as many revisions. I have a critique group that picks at it with me during the process, and a couple beta readers who go over everything as well. After that, it’s off to the editor!
Do you have any advice to new authors or anyone considering writing fiction?
Never stop reading, and never stop writing. Reading feeds the imagination, and the more you write, the better you’ll get.
Can you give us a taste of what to expect?
A luxury Caribbean cruise is Ruby Dawson’s idea of hell even under the best circumstances. Too many bad memories bubble up—especially of the wrenching injustice that made her a reaper. It doesn’t help that Jack Deverell is making this routine soul-collecting job twice as difficult with his devilish good looks and not-so-innocent questions. Now, as several unscheduled, unexplainable deaths throw passengers and crew into a panic, Jack becomes the prime suspect. The only way Ruby can save him is to challenge the decades-old curse threatening his soul. And as a malevolent unstoppable force turns their immortality into a fatal weakness, Ruby and Jack must risk their fragile humanity to save Fate’s delicate balance and their own unexpected destiny…
“It’s taken me a while to figure you out,” Jack said, his tone conversational as he braced his forearms against the smooth wooden rail. He stood close now, so close she could smell the rich, musky fragrance of his aftershave. She took a deep breath and his scent filled her lungs, but she refused to acknowledge how much it soothed her weary soul. “It’s been driving me crazy. Ever since I met you, I knew you were something special.”
Ruby slanted a glance in Jack’s direction. If this turned into some cheesy pickup line, she was dumping the drink over his head. “Oh, you think?”
“I know.” He reached over, twining his fingers with hers. His grip was loose yet managed to convey a silent strength she found reassuring. “At first, I thought you might be a witch. Or a faerie.”
A reluctant smile tugged at the corners of her mouth. “If it makes you feel better, I don’t ride a broom and I’m not packing wings.”
“Good to know.” His thumb gently glided over the back of her hand, the subtle display of affection making her heart beat a little faster than normal. He leaned closer, his shoulder touching hers, his body so warm she had to fight the urge to snuggle up against him. “You did a good thing with that girl tonight, comforting her when you knew she was going to die anyway.”
Ruby shrugged, struggling for nonchalant while she blinked back the threatening tears. My God, she was practically a baby. She could only imagine what her parents were going through at this very moment. “What else was I supposed to do? Leave her there on the bathroom floor, all by herself?”
“That’s exactly what a lot of people would have done. But that’s not your way, is it?” He met her gaze then, his brown eyes nearly black in the moonlight. There was an undeniable intensity to his features, mingled with compassion and something else she couldn’t quite identify. “You’re a passionate woman. It must make your job hell on earth.”
Ruby’s muscles tensed. “I’m afraid I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
“Sure you do.” When she turned away, he dipped two fingers beneath her chin and turned her head back in his direction. “When we first met, you told me that you were a collector. Now I know what you collect.”
No way. Impossible.
Jack leaned closer, his breath impossibly warm against her ear. His voice rumbled low, rough, when he uttered one word and rocked her world.
Where can we find you and your books online?
Lori Sjoberg is the award-winning author or GRAVE INTENTIONS and GRAVE DESTINATIONS. After completing her first novel, she joined the Romance Writers of America and Central Florida Romance Writers. Now she exercises the analytical half of her brain at her day job, and the creative half writing sensual paranormal romance. Grim reapers are her specialty, but she loves to write about all creatures of the night.