To get us started can you please start by telling us a little about what you are working on or have coming out?
My debut release, SHADOWFAE, is a steamy urban fantasy/romance. It's about Jade, a succubus who's in thrall to her demon lord for a thousand years.
After two centuries, she's sick of being forced to seduce men she doesn't want and send their souls to hell. She's looking for a way out, an end to her millennium of misery, and she discovers an ancient erotic ritual that just might break her demon thrall and let her die. And then, she meets a guy she does want - a sexy 400-year-old incubus named Rajah - and sparks fly. Only he's seeking his freedom too, and there's only enough ritual for one... It's the first book of a series called the Shadowfae Chronicles, with book two, SHADOWGLASS, to follow in 2010. I call it urban fantasy/romance, because there's other stuff happening alongside the romance, and I don't wish readers to be misled. But there's definitely a strong romance, steamy sensuality and of course a happy ending! So I'm hoping SHADOWFAE will appeal to readers of both genres.
Could you please tell us a little about yourself?
Let's see... I live in Australia, and I write full-time. Before that I had a smattering of different jobs -- I've been an editorial assistant, a musician, an air force officer -- but nothing held my interest for very long. For a while I wanted to be a professional musician -- I play the oboe -- but I couldn't get good enough. I still play a little here and there. But once I got rid of the 'real' jobs and put my energy into writing, I didn't look back.
If you could be one of the characters from this book - Who would you be? And why?
Well, my heroine, Jade, has a lot going for her, even if she starts off miserable. She's smart, resourceful and dependable, and of course she has powerful demon magic and can seduce any man she chooses! And Rajah, her hero... well, I confess I'm a little in love with him -- he's courageous and strong with a wicked sense of humour -- so I prefer to admire him from a distance! I think if I had to choose, I'd be one of my villains, Luna. He's cheeky, amorous, a powerful magician, dead sexy of course. And immortal. For now :)
Who or what influenced you when you wrote this book? Did you have a CD, Songs, environment, etc?
I find it difficult to write to music -- I'm too easily distracted! - but I did have a strong mood in mind when I wrote SHADOWFAE. I wanted the city to be dark and moody and dangerous, the kind of place where monsters hide in the shadows and nothing is what it seems. In my world, the paranormal creatures -- fairies, vampires, succubi, banshees, spriggans, trolls, you name it -- are hidden from ordinary human eyes by glamour, and I wanted readers to believe it could be happening right under their noses. A central location in my books, where a lot of the action begins, is a gritty gang nightclub called Unseelie Court, and I do have some playlists on my website of the kind of music I imagine they'd play there.
Can you please give us a sneak peek into the book?
You mean, like an excerpt? So glad you asked :) Check out the first few pages of SHADOWFAE at http://www.shadowfae.net/fae_excerpt.html You'll meet Jade, my succubus heroine, and see how she -- literally -- stumbles across the hero. Half naked. In the dark. Next to a dead body. You know you want to :)
Please tell us what you have planned next?
Erica Hayes: Well, I'm working on book three of the Shadowfae series. It's called SHADOWSONG, and it's about Mina, a deadly banshee assassin who's hunting for revenge on her mother's killer. Mina's a woman who always has to be in control, she's determined never to show vulnerability. So of course she falls for the hero, a shapeshifting ganglord who also has to be in control... he's an intense, iron-willed guy who sees right through her facade, and really knows how to push her vulnerability buttons. And then, of course, she discovers his secret: he knows more about her mother's murder than he's letting on... Then, it's on to book four, and more fairies. Always, it's back to the fairies...
What kind of research did you do for this book? Did you enjoy the research process?
My research consisted mainly of checking out the established mythology for succubi, and promptly tossing it out the window. That's the great thing about paranormals -- so long as you're consistent and don't cheat the readers, you can make up your own rules. For instance, my succubus, Jade, isn't a demon like traditional succubi -- she's a human trapped in thrall to hell. So it isn't in her nature to damnmen's souls -- it's something she's forced to do, over and over until she begins to hate herself. But she can't stop, because her demon lord won't let her. And it'll take all the compassion of her hero, Rajah, who's trapped in exactly the same situation, to heal her self-esteem. I also researched the gangland culture in Melbourne, where my series is set. It's a fascinating subculture, and once I decided that the reason tensions were boiling over must be that the city was controlled by warring demons, I couldn't let the idea go.
Is there a genre of book you would like to write but haven't yet?
Oh, I'd love to do a sci-fi, but in the style of urban fantasy. I love ray guns and spaceships!
What would you like to tell your readers?
Umm... I just hope you enjoy the book! And let me know if you do -- I'd love to hear from you. You can reach me at email@example.com
Who is your perfect hero? And why?
I'm a little in love with all my heroes :) but let's see... He looks like Johnny Depp, talks like Richard Armitage, dances like Antonio Banderas, fights like Wolverine and makes love like... well, we'll keep that last one a secret, shall we?
Do you belong to a critique group? If so, how does this help or hinder you?
I'm in a wonderful critique group. Sadly, now I've got deadlines, I don't have time to use them anywhere near as much as I'd like. But it's comforting to know they're there, when I have that last-minute, 'this-book-sucks' emergency!
Can you please give us a sneak peek at any of your upcoming books?
Well, after SHADOWFAE comes SHADOWGLASS, in March 2010. It's the story of Ice, a fairy pickpocket who stumbles across a magic mirror that steals her common sense. Ice has a big crush on a gorgeous hot-eyed fairy whom she thinks doesn't even know she's alive -- Indigo, a frosty professional thief. But Indigo wants Ice with a dangerous passion, and has his own reasons for standoffishness -- there's a dark side to his glittery fae personality that he longs to destroy. Probably a bad idea for him to peek into that magic mirror, then... Mmm. Indigo. Hard-muscled men with wings. That's all I have to say.
When did you first decide to submit your work? Please, tell us what or who encouraged you to take this big step?
Oh, I've been submitting for years. I've written three other novels which will likely never see the light of day, and I queried them all. I guess I've always wanted to be published. I don't remember ever deciding to submit -- it just happened. Querying is a learning process, so my advice is to take it slow. Send out only a couple at a time, and test the response you get. It may be that you need to make your query letter more enticing, and you don't want to waste your one chance to query that special agent by sending a letter that isn't ready.
What was your first published work and when was it published?
SHADOWFAE is my first published novel, but my first ever published story was back in 2005, a short fantasy tale in a great little online zine called Deep Magic. Sadly, DM is no longer with us. Sad for the zine, that is. Good for my story, which wasn't that great :)
What is the best and worst advice you have ever received?
Best advice was from Aussie author Keri Arthur, who when asked if she agreed you should write what you love, said: 'Write what you want to be stuck with'.
Worst advice? 'Paranormal is dead, man. In a few months, no one will want vampires any more.' :) People have been saying that for how many years now?
Do you outline your books or just start writing?
I love to outline. I can't imagine writing a novel without a plan. It doesn't stifle the creativity at all for me to know what's going to happen. For me, the surprises are in the details.