Title: If Wishes Were Shadows
Series: The Shadows Series, #1
Author: A. Sangrey Black
Genre: Paranormal, Erotica, Menage (m/m/f), BDSM, Vampire,
Publisher: Cobblestone Press
Words: Approx. 14,000
Calinda Byer is all assertiveness in her daytime life, but when it comes to the bedroom, she leaves her will at the door with her clothes. Her vampire Dom, Adam Straton, refuses to turn her until she has witnessed the darker side of immortality and the true depths of his sexuality — including his male vampire lover. A weekend at his country estate promises dark, twisted delights the likes of which Calinda could never have imagined. All she has to do is use the safe word, and she can return to the “normal” world alone. But will she?
Calinda spotted him from her accustomed table in the corner by the door, the perfect location to watch the crowd of rich, beautiful people coming and going. Adam caught her eye the moment he sat down, all yummy and big and dark, just the way she liked them. Six-feet-two at least, broad of shoulder and back with neatly trimmed black hair, and a pinstripe suit that no doubt cost ten times more than her own was worth. His bold, straight posture told her beyond any doubt that he was the king of all he surveyed. No, emperor was closer to the mark.
But it was one fine detail that had grabbed her attention and imagination in a vise grip and wouldn’t let go, that set her pulse racing and her junkie heart pounding…
His lack of reflection in the mirror above the bar. Calinda checked at least four times, even shifted to different places in the restaurant to be certain, but no matter where she went… there he wasn’t.
It was by far the biggest adrenaline rush of a lifetime spent awash in them. A vampire. An actual vampire. They not only existed, but there was an unbelievably hot one sitting right there in her favorite restaurant, casual as you please. Anyone who looked hard enough would be able to tell—what kind of balls did that take?
How could she resist?
She’d sidled up to the suddenly mysteriously empty seat beside the gorgeous vampire and slipped onto the high stool. Not one much for subtlety, she let her skirt ride up just high enough to allow a peek at her lacy stocking tops, crossed her long, slender legs to show off the heels, ordered a red wine for herself, and turned to her attention to her soon-to-be-new vampire friend.
“So I wonder,” she said, looking directly at the place where his face should appear in the mirror. “Do you drink… wine?”
She caught his smirk out of the corner of her eye. “Why, would you like to be… I’m sorry, excuse me, buy my drink?”
They laughed. There was no secret about what he was. No doubt that she knew. They were made for each other. It had been all adventure and blood, paddles and leather, feathers and handcuffs, hot wax and hot sex in wild and often public and dangerous places ever since. She didn’t know if it was obsession or love, and she didn’t care. Adam told her he had never known anyone like her in two thousand years, and without a doubt, she had never known anyone like him in twenty-six.
Hi Victoria, everyone! Thank you so much for interviewing me for your blog. It’s always fun to get to know new people.
Glad You can be here Sangrey. I’m looking forward to this. Now tell me about yourself.
About me? Well, I’m a part-time freelance writer, full-time fiction and book freak from the Adirondacks of New York. I should also mention that I’m a vampire maniac from way back… in the days when I wasn’t old enough to have any business knowing about any vampire scarier than Bunnicula. Sadly, he didn’t exist yet. I have his entire collection now, though! No, I cut my baby vampire teeth on Anne Rice before I was ten, and I’ve never gotten past it. The slow explosion of immortal popularity from the early 90’s on was like heaven. Now I’m concerned. But that’s completely irrelevant, isn’t it?
I’m a student of Yoga, meditation, and Buddhism. I enjoy cooking, traveling (especially by train — I share this adoration with Sheldon Cooper of Big Bang Theory… to a slightly lesser degree), meeting new people, talking… and reading. I read constantly, and usually have several books going at the same time. I’m also unashamed to be a crazy cat lady. I’m currently owned by two rescued cats.
It’s lucky I’m not a millionaire yet, because this argument is ongoing. I was born and raised on the SE Connecticut shore (bless all of you!), so I’m an ocean baby in my soul. But having lived in the forested mountains for the past 25 years, I’ve put down roots here as well. I don’t have much desire to live outside of North America — all that I need is here, although I do have a strange pull toward Scotland…
The answer is… in the forest on the mountains overlooking the sea in Scotland (or possibly Nova Scotia, which is almost Scotland in Canada)
Growing up in Boston, with access to trees and the ocean I hear this. You’ve just spoke to my soul about home. A stupid desire for a career brought me to Miami though, so here I sit and write. Have you had any other careers before becoming a writers?
Oy. I hate to even say it, because in my heart I felt like I had a bunch of jobs that I loathed that all ended up in the same field and almost count as a career: medical billing and patient accounts. It gives me shivers just to type it. I used to spend day in and day out arguing with insurance companies over why this or that poor suffering patient actually NEEDED medical care, arguing with patients why their bills were so high or the insurance company wouldn’t pay for it, and all the associated mind-numbing clerical and data entry work that went along with it. There was never enough budget to run an office properly, management was indifferent at best and Nurse Crachet crossed with Scrooge at worst…
Now I write porn, horror, romance, and urban fantasy (plus articles and copy for money, but that’s still writing!) . See how much nicer that sounds?
It definitely sounds nicer to me. Writing full time sounds awesome. How did you get started writing?
Once upon a time, we didn’t even talk about this, but I guess now that EL James has made billions on the back of someone else’s ideas, it’s okay! I’ve been writing just for fun all of my life (although a particularly foul creative writing “teacher” almost drove me away forever by telling me my work was so bad that I should never put pen to paper again), but I didn’t really start trying to learn the craft until I became addicted to Buffy the Vampire Slayer and had to put Joss Whedon in his place when it came to Buffy and Angel. LOL
Seriously! I’ve written reams of epic Buffy fanfiction! Some of it is horrendous, but some of it I think is better than anything else I’ve ever written. I never really considered “going pro” — I wrote strictly for love and fun. But you’ve heard the story before: readers of my fanfic and other friends always said, “You should write your own novel!” I hemmed and hawed… but then I set a goal for myself. Not publication, but just, “Can I write an original book?” I read all the instruction manuals, took all the seminars, sat down, and did it. I finished a contemporary novel that is so utterly unpublishable, it’s funny. But I DID IT. Knowing I could do it, I did it again, and came up with something actually marketable. I’m still learning, still trying to be a better writer, but I’m here to stay. I hope.
I might have seen you around. Fanfiction is what addicted me to writing too, not going to lie. And yes I have that first manuscript which I thought was so good that no one bought. I learned alot from this journey though, like what genres are and what’s marketable. What genre(s) do you write in and why?
Did I mention the vampire addiction? Yeah. My genres were chosen for me long before I started writing professionally. It was paranormal romance and dark fantasy to begin with, and others have added themselves like train cars since, often connected by… you guessed it, vampires! I write wherever the muse takes me, though. While my primary genres are PNR/Urban Fantasy, I’ve begun writing BDSM and ménage (IF WISHES WERE SHADOWS combines all of those. Whee!), and I have a number of m/m contemporaries and paranormals in progress.
I’m not great with contemporaries, because there’s always that sensation that you have to be careful. People actually exist, and it’s tough to capture their feelings and behaviors in ways that aren’t stupid, cliché, or boring (at least for me). With fantasy and paranormal, the possibilities are almost endless, and you’re probably not going to offend any vampires or shapeshifters. I hear they have thick skins when it comes to that kind of thing.
Yeah you remind me of family members, lol. I’m much lighter than you myself, though I’m constantly writing. How many books have you written? Do you have a favorite?
Well, I write under two names. As A. Sangrey Black, IF WISHES WERE SHADOWS is my first published novella. As H.A. Fowler, under which I write my more mainstream PNR/UF, I have two novels, two novellas, and two short stories published.
A favorite? Oh, there’s that “do you have a favorite child?” question! LOL Right now, of course, I love SHADOWS, because it’s the baby, but I’m also kind of in love with the short story I’m working on right now. I’m too fickle to have a favorite.
I’m intrigued. Tell us about your current series/WIP.
I actually have a list of thing in progress. In fact, I’m chomping at the bit to get my appearances and interviews in so I can get to writing hour! Right now I’m doing rewrites on a contemporary m/m that I absolutely love about two middle aged ex’s who try to find a second chance together. There’s just something about these characters that has sucked me in and doesn’t want to let go. I’m almost sad they’re probably not going to be novel-length. But who knows! Then there’s a paranormal that needs a couple more drafts before going to the endless sea of submission. Finally, there’s another m/m contemporary that involves small towns, drug cartels, and Harleys… but it’s the sweetest love story I’ve ever written. If I can pull it off, it’ll be great!
Woah this sounds intense. Intense is good. What inspired your latest book?
I actually wrote similar types of stories back when I did fanfiction, but when I saw Cobblestone’s call for ménage and BDSM pieces… I went a little overboard and HAD TO WRITE BOTH ALONG WITH VAMPIRES! WHEE!
I get too excited about that. In fact, there will be more hot stories with these characters in the future.
Answering calls but wanting to do it different makes sense. What is your typical day like?
I am a cat. Creature of absolute habit, and when it’s thrown off, I’m a mess. I get up pretty early, do the bathroom stuff, get coffee and my vitamin shake, then head down into The Pit (aka my basement office). Turn on the full spectrum lamp next to The Comfy Chair (a giant old recliner that’s really not so comfy anymore), turn on the computer (takes about 20 minutes to boot up — she’s a loyal old dog), check my email on my Kindle while that’s happening, then try to make a To Do list for the day. Freelance stuff has to come first, as there’s a client on the other side. Then other tasks as needed. I do my fiction in the evening — seems to be my most creative time. Shut down everything during prime time TV, whether I’m watching or not. I just have to shut off the computer and power down, relax, spend time with living creatures. I head to bed between 10 and 11, read for an hour or so (except on those occasions when I can’t STOP reading), meditate, and then off to sleep.
Not boring at all. Some people wish to be creative. I can’t imagine spending my day playing video games, yet lots of people do. How does your family feel about your writing career?
I think they’re proud of me on one level (of course, they’ve never actually read anything I’ve written, which is for the best. LOL), but mostly they wish I was making more money. Hey, I warned them! I still do it for love. I adore telling stories. I hope people enjoy them. I have no illusions about ever even breaking even, let alone getting rich! I think it would make them happy when I have a paperback they can see on a shelf in a store where they or family shop. If that happens, I’d be jazzed too, but I’ve always been an online writer, and that’s my comfort zone too.
My parents never read anything I wrote either, but one sister is my beta. She’s a Scorpio and has no issues telling me how I do everything wrong in my life and in my story. She’s honest and helpful, which I need. Do you have critique partners?
Not right now, no. When I first started out I had first readers and belonged to the RWA, but those have sort of fallen by the wayside. Hopefully I’ll have that set up in the future.
RWA is how I met lots of writers and their workshops locally are good. Let’s talk dirt. Sometimes we have a horrible experience at a restaurant where the waiter took an hour to give you the bill. How likely are people you meet to end up in your next book?
I would laugh at that, but in one unpolished manuscript, I was really vicious about a fictionalized version of a person I despised. I mean, again, fun with horror scenes, right? I don’t know if I would write something like that again — in Buddhism, we learn that our thoughts become things in the world, and hate just begets more hate, so I would work more to let it go another way in my writing — but I am human, so you never know. As for writing someone particularly nice into my work? Absolutely. There are bits and pieces of so many people in my characters. Places are the same. I’ve never copied a place, but I have no problem taking parts of different places I’ve been and built areas based on that puzzle.
True. I’m a self help nut myself, and agree. If you hate you let hate into your heart, though the waiter should still be more responsive if he or she wishes to get paid. What is most difficult for you to write? Characters, conflict or emotions? Why?
I almost always have characters and their emotions at least partly in hand before I’ve even outlined the story. I tend to write out complicated character profiles first, because I depend on them even more than the plot skeleton to guide me through.
So I guess that leaves conflict. I have a terrible time finding, tracking, and steering increasingly terrible failures for the heroine and hero to overcome. I sit with THE WRITER’S JOURNEY by Christopher Vogler and try to track out exactly the events that are going to turn the story for me. I also use THE MARSHALL PLAN FOR NOVEL WRITING by Evan Marshall to outline my books, and take the trail of Writer’s Journey and work it into the Marshall Plan outline… it takes forever, and it doesn’t always work. It’s relatively simple to work out that first event that explodes the heroine’s everyday world, and I almost never have a problem with the Dark Moment onward in the end… but middles kill me. Finding a conflict that isn’t ridiculous, boring, or cliché is a real challenge for me. I’m still working out a way to battle those Evil Middles!
Complicated characters are the best. Are you a plotter or a pantser?
You may have noticed in my earlier answer that I am a Super Uber Planner. BUT once I start writing, I loosen up a lot. I may discover something when immersed in the world of the story that I never noticed when planning — I try to take that into account. The same goes for characters. I may have written in their profile that they love blueberry muffins, and all of a sudden in text, they’ve decided muffins are stupid mini-cakes and you should just break down and eat cake. (Or something more profound. *G*) The characters develop personalities as they come to life within the story, and for the most part, I give them their freedom to go the way they want — as long as it doesn’t throw off my hard won conflicts!
Characters talking in the head are fun. Tell us about your hero. Give us one of his strengths and one of his weaknesses.
Oh, Adam/Adrastus/Master. He’s an absolute gentleman’s gentleman on the outside, and a barely leashed predator inside. I hesitate even to call him a hero except in the strictest literary sense — in IF WISHES WERE SHADOWS at least, he’s not on any sort of transformative journey. His only concern is pleasure and whether or not his love, Calinda, will choose to join him as a vampire. He is a surprisingly complicated character, though. He identifies as a sadist when it comes to his BDSM lifestyle, but also defines his enjoyment of inflicting pain and wielding as part of vampirehood: blood, sex, and violence are mixed together, and power structures are imperative to their society. Adam is the Master — what he says goes when it comes to the bedroom/dungeon, and it is supposed to be law in the world. We find that he spoils his children, however, and gives them a lot of latitude… to a point.
In short, I think his strength is just that — his strength. He’s intelligent, he thinks things through completely, and he keeps things under control when chaos could easily take hold. Even when he lets George William get away with things he shouldn’t, he does draw the line when his behavior puts him, the three of them, or vampirekind in danger. And he draws that line HARD. Literally.
His weakness is that he can be hard. At over 2000 years old, it’s easy for him to forget the things that make Calinda and George William still very human. I don’t know if you can consider his Sadism a weakness, since we’re dealing with the very complicated relationship between vampires (Calinda identifies as a masochist, and takes pleasure in pain and lack of control. So do does George William, although we won’t see much of that until later stories).
Sounds like a tough guy. Love the alphas. Tell us about your heroine. Give us one of her strengths and one of her weaknesses.
Calinda is a walking anachronism, but one that’s not uncommon in reality. Outside the bedroom, the playroom, or the dungeon, she is a powerful woman, in control of her life. She owns her own business that consults with companies and groups to teach people how to be more assertive and build a more positive workplace. But in the bedroom… she’s a masochist, a submissive, and the polar opposite of everything she is outside. She loves giving over her power and control to her Dom. She gets to let go of all that she carries in the world and become the center of the universe while they’re together.
Her strength is that even with what seems like an oxymoron in her personality, she is actually a healthy, together person. She learns from both parts of her world, and finds fulfillment in both arenas. She says that she uses her energy in the business world, and recharges her batteries at home.
If she has a weakness, it’s that I don’t think she’s learned her hard lines yet — the things she absolutely will not do in the dungeon. She may not be able to be physically injured anymore, but that doesn’t mean that a BDSM scene getting out of hand can’t do damage in other ways. She has to be careful not to forget who she is and get lost in all the sensations that Adam is introducing her to.
Not losing oneself is an important lesson. What genres are you drawn to as a reader?
Definitely PNR, UF, and M/M… almost anything. LOL I have authors and series that I ALWAYS read, I try out recommendations in pretty much any genre from friends and reviewers whose taste I trust. I really prefer happy endings, and wish we got a lot more of them in Urban Fantasy.
Is that why I avoid the urban fantasy? Do you prefer to read in the same genres you write in or do you avoid reading that genre? Why?
As I said, I write in the genres I read. When I was learning to write, that’s what I was told: learn what sells in the market. Learn the tropes in the genre. Find the formula in the genre. Use those or dispose of them as you see fit, but know what they are. Write what you love.
BUT I don’t restrict myself, either, whether it be in reading or writing. I think breaking out of my comfort zone when reading positively informs my writing by feeding my creativity.
I’ve struggled with my genres and have two different things. Has your muse always known what genre you would write and be published in?
Pretty much! The vampire thing guaranteed me either paranormal romance, dark fantasy, or horror, and I was okay with that!
Lucky you. Wish I had one personality that likes specificity. I’m an Aquarius with 4 planets in Libra and I can’t make those decisions. Do you write under a pen name? Why or why not? How did you choose it?
This is an interesting topic for me. A. Sangrey Black is actually the pen name I chose for my less “mainstream” fiction: BDSM, dark erotica, and LGBT fiction. I actually chose it using a couple of character name generators on the web. I put together a list of names they gave me, and found a combination I like that I thought suited the more niche genres I’d be working in. I thought long and hard about whether I wanted to use a pseudonym (my other pen name is my real name, H.A. Fowler). I would be giving up what small name recognition I had, and I would have to worry about doing promotion for two writers — which has proved VERY difficult! I didn’t want to give the impression that I was ashamed of what I was delving into now either.
In the end, I think choosing a pen name came down to a couple of things: the fun aspect, and the branding aspect. Let’s face it, it is fun to have an alter ego. When I’m Sangrey, I get to explore different parts of myself, of my writing. It’s almost like virtual cosplay. The branding aspect is simply so that the niche genres I’m writing for will know that if they’re getting a story by A. Sangrey Black, that’s what they’re getting. If people who like my more mainstream fiction see my H.A. Fowler label, they know that’s what they’ll get.
And okay. It also protects me from random Googling by people I may not want to see my kinkiest fantasies put on paper. My family has a hard enough time with me writing vampire smut. Imagine if they got hold of some BDSM gay vampire smut! LOL I don’t struggle to much to keep them separated — people who read my blogs know each persona is the same person — me!
That’s cool. It’s funny when you google something cool for a title and someone’s done something else entirely. And Branding is key. Do you have any words of inspiration for aspiring authors?
No matter what anyone tells you, keep writing. Practice. It’s like any other art. But make sure you DO it!
Evil writing teachers who take away what you love should be stopped. What did you want to be when you were a child? Did you always know you wanted to be a writer?
I was a pretty typical kid, but I think I mostly wanted to be a veterinarian. Unfortunately, somewhere along the line, I discovered I couldn’t handle animals being injured or dying. Later, I decided to become a psychologist for troubled youth, which is what I achieved my first Bachelor’s degree in: Psychology. When I went to graduate school, I decided to go into research psychology in developmental and social psychology. It wasn’t until later that I decided to become a writer… not coincidentally, after the horror of the office world. LOL
This is how you come up with complicated characters. All journeys are for a reason. Will you share some encouraging words for authors still struggling for that first contract?
Seriously — don’t give up! You hear stories every day from popular writers who sent out dozens of times and were rejected before they finally found success!
Awesome. What’s next for you?
More writing, more reading. I’m debating whether I want to try and find an agent and possibly take on the bigger houses. I don’t know, because I’m comfortable where I am right now, and I don’t know if I want to get more involved in a bureaucracy where I have to give up control of what I produce or what happens to it after. On the other hand, if I want to expand my career, that’s the way to go.
True. It’s knowing to jump that’s the issue. Where can readers find you?
Blog: Shadowed Hearts – http://asangreyblack.blogspot.com
As. H.A. Fowler:
Blog: Bloothirsty Muses: http://bloodthirstymuses.wordpress.com
Facebook: h.a.f0wler (with a zero, not an o, since someone kindly scooped up every single permutation of H.A. Fowler!)
Thanks again for having me! This was a blast. Hope to see you all out in Bookland!
Thank you for being here. I enjoyed talking to you!