I want to thank Robyn for coming to visit-we will all be looking for the release of her next book. The winner of my contest is Annalisa, who was commenter #12 as chosen by RANDOM.ORG. Congratulations to her, and come by for the next visit, for more fun and prizes.
Today I want to welcome Robyn Bachar,author of Blood Smoke and Mirrors, soon to release in print from Samhain. Robyn will be giving away a $20 Amazon GC to one randomly drawn commenter on her tour for this book.
Please give us a brief bio, your website, my space page and blog links.
RB) I’m a fantasy and paranormal romance writer from Chicago, and in my writing I enjoy saving the world, one bad witch at a time. My website is http://robynbachar.com/, which has links to my blog and Facebook pages, but I’m most active on Twitter, and can be found at http://twitter.com/#!/RobynBachar.
1) What is the best thing about being a writer? The worst?
RB) The best thing is reader feedback. I love hearing from people who read and enjoyed the book. It always makes me smile, and I feel blessed to have had such a great response to Blood, Smoke and Mirrors. The worst are bad reviews. One person said she would have thrown my book against the wall if it hadn’t been on her Kindle. Ouch. Fortunately the good reviews have far outnumbered the bad, and I’m very grateful for that.
2) Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?
RB) According to my mother, I wrote my first book when I was four years old. (Yes, she still has it.) Creative writing was always my favorite subject in school, and I started writing my first novel in 8th grade. It was pretty terrible, but I was hooked.
3) If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
RB) My inner editor could pick at a book forever. There’s always something I would tweak if given the chance, but in general I’m happy with Blood, Smoke and Mirrors.
4) Do you write full time? What did you do before you became a writer? Or Still do?
RB) I do not write full time, and I have a full time day job. I love to write, but I also love to eat and have a roof over my head. Currently I work in the basement of a library with a fabulous, slightly wacky group of people who I love dearly. Before this, I worked as a college-level textbook editor, a bake shop clerk, a gift shop cashier for the Brookfield Zoo, and I spent several happy months selling the most delicious Italian beef sandwiches in Chicago. To name a few jobs.
5) What is your writing process? Do you outline, fly by the seat of your pants or a combination of both?
RB) I used to get an idea and run with it, but without fail I’d hit a wall of writer’s block about a third of the way through the story. Now I outline, and it’s been a wonderful tool to help me with tough scenes. When I get stuck, I move on to the next chapter.
6) Do you plan all your characters out before you start a story or do they develop as you write?
RB) Most of the minor characters develop as I go along, but I usually have a good feel for my heroine, hero and villain before I start writing. I use WriteWay Professional Edition to create my outlines and character profiles, and it’s extremely helpful for keeping track of details.
7) This is the print release of your book from Samhain, Blood, Smoke and Mirrors. Is it more exciting being able to see your book on shelves in stores this time around?
RB) This entire experience has been great, from the day I signed the contract to seeing it in print. I love being able to pick up my copy whenever I need to check something for my work in progress. My husband teased that I should sleep with it under my pillow, and it’s very tempting.
8) Can you tell us a bit about what book(s) you have coming out next and what you’re working on now?
RB) I’m continuing to work on more books in the series. In May my novella The Importance of Being Emily will be released from Samhain. It’s a prequel of sorts to Blood, Smoke and Mirrors, featuring three characters that appear in the novel. It’s a quick, fun read, and I loved writing it.
I want to give you a chance to talk about Blood Smoke and Mirrors. Would you like to tell us a bit about the book? How did it come about?
RB) Blood, Smoke and Mirrors began as my first attempt at National Novel Writing Month. (There’s more about that story on their site here.) It’s set in Chicago, in and around my hometown, and it has a little bit of everything. Witches, vampires, faeries, dragons, pancakes, epic fight scenes, romance. There’s a lot of humor and action, and general magical shenanigans.
1) When you get a chance to read, what books do you love to read?
RB) I love romance in all of its forms. I read everything from contemporary to historical, suspense to paranormal. I’m addicted to Nora Roberts, she’s my absolute favorite author. I also read fantasy, urban fantasy, and the occasional space opera. The last book I read was The Zero Dog War by Keith Melton, and if you love urban fantasy, I highly recommend it.
2) What bores you as a reader?
RB) Hmm, that’s a tough question. Charles Dickens. I hate Charles Dickens. With a passion. As an English major, I had to read a lot of literature that was historically significant and eye scaldingly boring. Dickens will always be my most hated author.
3) What is your favorite food and what is your guilty pleasure food?
RB) Cheese fries. Though that probably leaves me without a guilty pleasure food, but honestly I don’t count calories. I should, but I don’t.
4) What do you think is romantic? What does the word Romance mean to you?
RB) I’m married, and for me romance is having my husband call me his sweetie, and tell me that I’m beautiful, even though my love of cheese fries has ensured that I’m not as skinny as I was when we first met years ago. I love romance novels, because no matter how tough things get during the course of the story, the hero and the heroine make it through. Love’s a powerful thing, and it deserves to be celebrated.
5) Do you have an interesting quirk?
RB) No, but I have a love of the game Rock Band, and some powerful lungs. I’m actually not that bad at singing, but I’m terrible at drums and mediocre at guitar and bass.
6) Movies. Favorites? Vintage or current? Favorite new movie of the last year? Favorite movie of all time?
RB) My all time favorite movie is “The Philadelphia Story,” with Cary Grant, Katharine Hepburn and Jimmy Stewart. We try to watch it every New Year’s Eve while enjoying a few bottles of champagne. I do have a love of old movies, especially Cary Grant movies, but I have a wide variety of favorites. I’ve watched “The Hunt for Red October” more than any other movie, though I really can’t explain that obsession. It just is.
7) What’s the craziest thing you’ve ever done to figure out a book?
RB) If it’s a book I’ve written, then that’d probably be a Tarot card reading. I’m not an expert, but I break my cards out on occasion and see if they have an opinion.
1) You’re having a dinner party, what five people would you invite?
RB) In reality, my husband, my best friend Diana, and our friends Karrin, Steve, and Ben. In my wildest dreams, I’d invite Craig Ferguson, Kristen Bell, Joss Whedon, Nathan Fillion, and Wil Wheaton.
2) You’ve been given the honor of naming a planet, what would you name it?
3) If your life were turned into a cartoon, what cartoon character would you want playing you?
RB) Dot Warner, from the Animaniacs. She’s tough but wacky, and always cute.
4) If you were in a rock band what would the name of your band be? What would your rocker name be?
RB) As I mentioned earlier, I’m addicted to the game Rock Band. On Rock Band, our band is named I AM A VAMPIRE AND, which is a reference to Strong Bad email. I play Abby Sciuto, who is a character on NCIS, which is one of my favorite TV shows.
And finally, have you got a sneak peek excerpt from your current work in progress you can share with me and my readers?
RB) My current work in progress is in rough draft mode at the moment, but I can share a bit from my May release, The Importance of Being Emily. It is a historical paranormal novella set in Victorian England. It features Emily and Michael, who appear as vampires in Blood, Smoke and Mirrors, and tells the tale of how they fell in love as mortal magicians. This is a short excerpt from a scene where they escape to the garden for a quiet moment, taking a break from the murder mystery drama going on around them. Of course being alone together sparks a different kind of drama…
“There is nothing to discuss. In a few months you will be a chronicler, and I will still be a matchmaker. Our paths are star-crossed.” This time I held tight to my control, afraid of falling apart again, and I turned to walk back to the manor. He caught my hand and pulled me to him, wrapping his arms around me. I gasped and shook my head.
“Please, don’t do this,” I whispered.
His lips hovered above mine. “Don’t you want to know?”
Yes. Every fiber of my seer’s body wanted to know more. Why were we meant for each other? How could we possibly make this work? What would it be like to share his life? To finally know the happiness that I found so often for others? “But you are spoken for,” I blurted.
He frowned. “By whom?”
Michael laughed. “The Order is not a jealous wife. There are no rules prohibiting relationships, or even marriage.”
“No? What sort of marriage could we have? Should I offer you a vein instead of bringing you tea, until I fade away while you remain unaging? Immortal?”
“But we would be together.”
I sighed, thinking of my family’s definition of togetherness—in general it involved them poring over an old, moldering text while I looked on in irritation. It was not what I wanted in a marriage, though I supposed at my age I could not afford to be particular. In December I would be twenty-seven years old, an age my sister Sarah assured me was positively ancient. “But I am spoken for.”
Mr. Black frowned. “You’ve accepted Farrell’s proposal?”
“No. Not yet, but I should.” Shaking my head once more, I began to pull away, but he stopped me with a kiss. At first it was little more than a stalling tactic, a light brush of the lips meant to distract me from escaping, but then he drew me tight against him. Michael’s hand slid up my back and cradled my head, his thumb caressing the line of my jaw. He kissed me again, and my hands clutched the lapels of his coat for balance.
I must confess, I had been kissed before, though that was many years ago. Most of the appeal of that kiss had been in sneaking away from the Yule celebration and doing something forbidden, but this…was amazing. Everything that I expected a kiss should be—warm, soft and completely intoxicating. Closing my eyes, I abandoned myself to the experience, and he seemed happy to lead as I slid my arms around his neck. In the back of my thoughts a voice of reason lectured the need for caution. Being close to him had already triggered a flurry of visions, and I should be wary of more of them. A strong vision could incapacitate me for hours, possibly even days if it was very traumatic.
Like a fool, I ignored it, even when I began hearing his thoughts. My senses brushed against his as easily as our lips did. I caught a flash of a memory of the two of us sharing a quiet moment together at a previous gathering, and the impression of how much he enjoyed speaking with me. Mr. Black thought I was beautiful, and he had wanted to kiss me for a very long time.
Now for a look at the blurb for Blood Smoke and Mirrors, and an excerpt to gain your interest. I know I'm getting this one.
Even a bad witch deserves a second chance.
Wrongly accused of using her magic to harm, the closest Catherine Baker comes to helping others is serving their coffee. Life as an outcast is nothing new, thanks to her father’s reputation, but the injustice stings. Especially since the man she loved turned her in.
Now the man has the gall to show up and suggest she become the next Titania? She’d rather wipe that charming grin off his face with a pot of hot java to the groin.
Alexander Duquesne has never faltered in his duties as a guardian—until now. The lingering guilt over Cat’s exile and the recent death of his best friend have shaken his dedication. With the murder of the old Titania, the faerie realm teeters on the brink of chaos. His new orders: keep Cat alive at all costs.
Hunted by a powerful stranger intent on drawing her into an evil web, Cat reluctantly accepts Lex’s protection and the resurrected desire that comes along with it. Lex faces the fight of his life to keep her safe…and win her back. If they both survive.
Warning: This book contains one tough and snarky witch, one gorgeous guardian, explicit blood drinking, magician sex, gratuitous violence against vampires and troublemaking Shakespearean faeries.
For the entertainment portion of our evening Lex bravely—or perhaps foolishly—decided to teach the faeries how to play Texas hold ’em poker. The only cards I own are Tarot cards, but he’d brought a deck of playing cards with him in his gym bag, and we used pretzels and chocolates as poker chips. The man displayed the patience of a saint as he tutored my cousins in the basics of the game—I’d learned it when we’d dated, though we’d bet clothing instead of snacks.
Tybalt was enthralled, but Portia was slow to warm to the idea until she figured out how to cheat by magically marking the cards. Poker ended soon after that, and we turned to the Game Show Network for entertainment. Few things are quite as entertaining as watching millennia-old frost faeries shout “No deal, Howie!” at your television screen.
It was a welcome break, and I could almost imagine this was a normal night of fun with my cousins. The addition of Lex didn’t hurt, but it added to the strangeness. He was acting like the Lex I remembered—funny, caring, charming. I wanted to stay angry with him, but having him stand steadfast by my side today made that difficult. He was there when I needed him, which felt weird after what had occurred between us in the past.
A little after midnight I kicked the faeries out and sent them home so Lex and I could get a good night’s sleep before our big day tomorrow. Not that I predicted being able to sleep with the cold dread that’d settled into my stomach, but I was willing to give it a try. I gathered up the empty drinking glasses and the bag of chips we’d devoured, and brought them into the kitchen. When I returned to the living room for the second round of mess, I found the lights had been switched off. Barely visible, Lex stood at the window, staring into the night as he held the curtains aside.
“You need to see this.”
“What is it?”
“Might want to put your shields up in case they try to take a shot at you,” he advised as I crossed the room. With a deep breath I put my shields in place, feeling the energy snap around me and then continue its new odd habit of stretching to include Lex.
“How are you doing that?” I looked up at him, confused.
“You keep getting through my shields.”
“Huh. Probably ’cause your subconscious knows I’m not going to harm you, so there’s no need to keep me out. Those vamps outside, on the other hand, they’re probably not here to play cards.” Lex pointed into the darkness, and I looked out the window.
“I don’t see anything.” Squinting, I pushed my glasses up on my nose and strained to see what he indicated. My eyes slowly adjusted to the rainy night. The streetlights had been doused, and this time it wasn’t my fault.
“There.” Stepping close to me, he gestured again. “Two in gangways across the street, one behind that oak tree.” Following Lex’s lead, I managed to spot three figures hiding in the shadows, and they were definitely not my neighbors.
“What are they doing?” I asked, my voice dropping to a tense whisper.
“Waitin’. They can’t get in, so they’re waitin’ for us to come out. Sooner or later they’ll get impatient and figure out a way to force their way in. In fact, I’m surprised they haven’t tried to set your building on fire and smoke us out.”
“They can’t, I have a ward against that too. Fire here can’t grow any bigger than a stove burner.”
“Damn, you are good. Still, with those vultures outside it’s not safe here anymore, Cat. You’ll have to stay somewhere else from now on.” With his point made, he let the curtains fall back into place, plunging the room into darkness, with only the light from the kitchen to see by.
“You’re right,” I reluctantly agreed.
“You could come stay with me.”
“With you?” Surprised by the suggestion, I turned to look up at him. We were standing so close I could feel the heat of his body and the light brush of his breath against my face. Nervous, I took a deep breath and unintentionally inhaled the familiar, unique scent of him. My heartbeat drowned out the steady patter of rain against the windows. With an amazing display of willpower I resisted the urge to bolt, knowing I’d only trip over something (like the cats that were still standing guard over Lex) and break my neck. Instead I took a slow step backward. “Why, you think it’d be easier to babysit me on your own turf?”
“I’m not babysitting you. Really, I’m protecting them from you,” he teased. Grinning, he reached up and tucked a stray lock of hair that’d escaped from my braid back into place behind my ear.
“Thanks, that makes me feel so much better,” I joked, a blush heating my face.
“I try. But seriously, Cat, I’ll be here as long as you need me.” Lex looked down at me, seeming sincere, and I shook my head at him.
“Don’t, Lex. You’re only here on orders. You’ll be gone and on to the next as soon as this assignment is over.”
“What if I don’t want that?”
“What if I do? I’m all for the life-saving thing, but I don’t want you in my life again.”
“Are you sure of that?”
Scowling, I took a steadying breath and prepared to launch into an explanation of the myriad reasons why I wasn’t about to go through another round of heartbreak with him, but before I could speak he leaned down and brushed a kiss across my lips.
A warm tingling suffused my body as soon as our lips met, the sort of electric reaction I usually associate with casting magic, but much, much better. He was hesitant at first, probably afraid I’d slap him or zot him with a spell, but when I didn’t object he slowly began to deepen the kiss. My knees went weak as my good sense vanished, and I slipped my arms around him to steady myself. Lex held me close as he continued to kiss me, and I leaned into him. I’d forgotten how well we fit together. He sighed, as though my lips were delicious and he savored them.
“This is a bad idea,” I murmured.
“No, this is a good idea.” Lex nudged me back toward the couch, and I sat down in a less-than-graceful flop. Next he joined me and drew me into his arms.
“Oh yeah? How?” My hormones were obviously happy to see him, but I still had a little bit of brainpower left, enough to be skeptical of the situation.
“Because letting you go was a bad idea. I don’t want to make that mistake again.” His voice was low and strained, and I wished it wasn’t so dark so I could see his expression. I sighed, a mix of old pain and new uncertainty, but he kissed me again and I stopped arguing.
I relaxed into the embrace, returning the kiss passionately. I felt better instantly—safe, warm, desired. Lex stroked my braided hair and let his hand rest at the small of my back. I ran my own hands up and down his back, debating whether or not it would be a good idea to tug his shirt off, but then I felt him unhooking my bra. My pulse jumped, and my magic decided to take that opportunity to wreak havoc on a pair of unsuspecting table lamps. With an electric sizzle followed by two sharp pops the light bulbs flashed and exploded. Startled, we jumped apart, the mood broken. We stared at each other, and I felt a guilty blush heat my face.
“Cat—” he started, and I held a hand up to stop him before he could say anything further.
“I don’t want to hear it. I’m going to get some new bulbs, and we’re going to pretend that never happened.”
Thank you once again for coming by, Robyn. To my readers, be sure to leave your email address with your comment, so I know how to contact you about the prize I am awarding to one commenter here. Not sure if it will be a gift certificate, a hand beaded book thong, or other fun surprise. As always, winner will be chosen using RANDOM.ORG