*Colorful Confetti Falls From The Sky*
It’s February! The month of LOVE. I’m hanging out with the tantalizing Tory Michaels. What better way to celebrate? Her new book, Blood Rage, is a hot new paranormal romance/urban fantasy published by Evernight Publishing, and set to release tomorrow February 8, 2012.
For eighty years since the Great Awakening, humans and non-humans have lived in relative peace together. That peace is threatened when three bodies turn up less than a mile from the Bureau of Non-Human Affairs in Tampa bearing the signature of vampires who once terrorized Europe.
The Bureau’s chief liaison to the vampires, Dara MacKechnie, learns that the Tampa victims are not alone when her ex-lover, and head of the vampire’s Great Council, Anthony Caldwell comes calling.
The pair discover the lie that separated them two centuries ago only banked their passion, not extinguished it. Dara must decide whether she can trust Anthony with her heart a second time as they try to head off the war that threatens all they hold dear.
Here's an Excerpt:
Dara spared a glance at the delicate diamond and emerald watch attached to her wrist. Twenty-six minutes, plenty of time for some blackjack before she went to the ballroom. Her best friend, Chris, who was attending with Sarah, would text if the speaker ahead of her moved more quickly than the program indicated. If nothing else, gambling would take her mind off the unpleasantness to come.
Her hand trembled a little as it fell back to her side, the first hint of nerves. God, why do I agree to these things? I detest public speaking.
As she approached the tables, something felt off. She saw nothing concrete, no sign of anyone acting out of place, but instinct guided her. After falling in love with a murderer, she always paid attention when she got that little tingle at the base of her neck. Other than a dapper human who seemed fascinated by the expansive view of her breasts that the low-cut gown offered, no one seemed to be looking in her direction.
Such realization didn’t alleviate the impression someone was watching.
The moment passed, and Dara shook her head in annoyance. “You’re paranoid, girl,” she said to herself. “Ronnie said he won’t be here.”
Her palms itched, and unease returned as she reached the tables. Her eyes narrowed warily. Someone was definitely watching her. But who? And from where?
She brushed her tongue against one of her razor-sharp fangs, took a deep breath, and brought her mental barriers down. Few other vampires her age would dare lower the protective barriers that blocked out the chaotic mishmash of thoughts from other beings when amongst a large gathering. She prided herself on her strength, the only gift from her unknown sire that she was grateful for.
The rush of hundreds of minds would have overwhelmed someone less well trained. So many poor souls around her believed the next roll of the dice or pull of the bandit arm would bring them great wealth, and so many were desperate for the money. It hurt, feeling their pain and knowing she couldn’t help any of them.
Dara forced herself to concentrate on the matter at hand, despite the whispers of mental voices seeping into her thoughts. The other races simply didn’t have the ability to keep their thoughts completely private.
She filtered out exterior distractions, such as noise and flashing lights, with painstaking care and then began sorting through the minds pressing in on her. Whoever watched wasn’t human; she could tell that much. Human scrutiny almost never bothered her.
“C’mon,” she said. “Where are you?”
After fruitless moments trying to find the guilty party, her temples throbbed. Dara built her barriers back up and felt her shoulders slump in relief at the abrupt silence in her head. The presence was gone again, but she knew it would return.
Lifting her chin in defiance, she nodded to herself. If, or when, they let their presence emerge again, she would find them. Per the Privacy Act of ’74, if someone used non-human gifts to spy on anyone without a warrant, much less a senior manager at a federal agency, they were guilty of a misdemeanor. It was her responsibility to find them and warn them to tread cautiously.
“Would you like a drink, ma’am?”
She glanced at a voluptuous auburn-haired waitress who stood several inches taller than she, even with her three-inch heels, and shook her head. As the woman swaggered away, she fished out her cell phone to make certain she hadn’t missed Chris’s warning text message. Still fifteen minutes remained before she needed to go.
Harry Myers, CEO of Savage Enterprises, the largest non-human run corporation in the world, was presenting her with an award for her part in the Great Awakening. She considered the whole presentation ridiculous, coming some eighty years after the non-humans made their presence known. If not for her boss’s order, and the need to drum up constant public support for the Bureau, she would be at home in Florida where she and Sarah belonged.
About to place her first wager, she felt fingers stroke her left palm. Dara’s fingers jerked, and she stared down at the rose-shaped scar that lay in the center. It was one of the more spectacular, and visible, “gifts” from the monsters that had raped and converted her in 1810. Since no one stood to her left, the caress indicated telekinesis, unusual in the extreme.
Telepathy came with the fangs and hunger for blood. Telekinesis did not. Telekinesis took decades of practice and a great deal of personal power to master. Few vampires less than seven centuries old possessed the skill. Her watcher was back, and they were very old.
She hissed and waved off the dealer. This game of cat and mouse ended right now. Her watcher needed to learn not to toy with the Bureau. The folds of her skirt swirled softly around her ankles as she squeezed through the crowd to find a solid wall to lean against. Dara wanted a solid surface to brace herself against while she lowered her barriers this time, to save more strength for her search.
The onslaught didn’t stun her as much this time. She honed in on the vampires around the casino, fifteen in all. The mage-born wouldn’t toy with a vampire, not out in the open, and the assorted were-creatures didn’t have the capacity for either telepathy or telekinesis. In less than thirty seconds, she found him.
Her barriers slammed back into place as she pushed off the wall and pivoted to her right. She lifted her gaze to sweep the staircase, finally settling on the balcony above. When she focused in on him, her mouth dropped open in an unattractive imitation of a trout gasping for air. She knew what the expression looked like, had ever since a photographer once caught her staring at someone.
Anthony Caldwell, unchanged by the passage of two hundred years, leaned on the glass and metal railing, looked down on her with a slight smirk. Clad in black and white formal wear, his dark blond hair just touching the collar of his jacket, he might be posing for GQ or some other gentleman’s magazine. Photographs and television appearances didn’t do the man justice. If one ignored the dark heart that beat in his chest, the packaging around it was spectacular.
Thanks for stopping by, Tory, and for sharing such an awesome excerpt. Why don’t you tell us a little bit about yourself, and how you found your way into writing paranormal stories.
Like a lot of authors, I’ve been writing most of my life, though I took a few years off just after I got married. I thought my writing had died. Turned out it was just taking a break and then it came back and bit me in the butt. I wrote the first draft of what would become Blood Rage 2 versions later and, looking bad, yikes it was bad. As for writing paranormal, I can’t really picture writing anything else. While I can devour Harlequin Presents by the dozen (I kid you not – when I get into my HP kicks, I will devour 20+ in a week), the idea of writing contemporary romance dull, and I don’t have the interest in doing the extensive research required for Regencies (sorry, I just can’t stomach reading Jane Austen and other stuff to help accurately understand/convey the period). Paranormal’s awesome because I get to play God with the world, yet the physical world has (largely) already been together (other than some altered rules to allow for the supernatural).
What was your inspiration for writing Blood Rage?
Dara, Anthony, Christine and Verissa were all old role-playing characters. Jordan was referenced, but never really RPd. I was never content not getting Dara’s story down, so I poked at it from several angles and Anthony underwent a phenomenal personality change. As originally envisioned, and role-played, Anthony was pure evil and guilty of every single thing Dara thought he was (and then some). But clearly that wouldn’t work for a romance, so he changed and Jordan took up a lot of the slack, since he already existed and was also (I thought) pure evil (he has since schooled me otherwise). The Bureau of Non-Human Affairs came out of my master’s degree program in Public Administration. I figured that since the non-humans made their presence known 80 years ago, they would have taken advantage of the civil rights movements to get quite a few rights of their own (public blood bank systems, regulation of magic/licensing, etc).
What did you find to be the hardest part of this story to write?
THE SEX SCENE(S)!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Er, sorry, didn’t mean to yell. They were the final pieces to be put in and without a doubt the hardest part for me.
Do you have any specific books that have influenced your writing?
Hmm…yeah. Keri Arthur’s Riley Jensen series (who first introduced the idea that a government agency MIGHT exist for supernatural beings), Kim Harrison’s Hollows series probably played in, and there are no doubt others, mostly because they showed that there was a definite market for paranormal romance/urban fantasy.
Are you reading anything good right now? What?
Let’s see, I’ve got Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare next to the bed, and Atlantis Awakening by Alyssa Day on the Nook.
I have been seriously considering adding Clockwork Angel to my TBR list. :D
Do you have any special habits or quirks when you write? If so, tell us. We so want to know what they are.
I almost always have Facebook open in the background. I have trouble focusing on a task exclusively. Unless I’m in the mood (i.e., I’m blowing through the word count), then I need my headphones on, no children/husband bugging me, and to be left alone.
I personally believe there is a huge difference in a bad-ass character and just an ass. I have been asked this question a few times, so I want to pass it on. Alpha males. Hot or not? Why or why not?
<snicker> Strangely, one beta reader has described Anthony as an ass, and another thinks he’s an alpha. Definitely hot, in my opinion. Just love a guy who can come in, take charge, and kick ass. Anthony doesn’t if he doesn’t have to (the ass-kicking part), but over the centuries he’s acted as an executioner for the vampire’s Inner Circle (their ultimate leaders, and ultimate judge/jury for members of the Blood).
What do you find sexy?
My husband. Seriously – he’s cute, he makes me laugh, and loves me despite my issues. It’s hard to get sexier than that.
But, getting off the “I’m ridiculously in love with my husband even though we’ll have been married for 8 years + 1 day on my release date” track, I like me a dominant man, though he better be able to back off if the situation calls for it. Yes, protect and all that, but know when a girl needs to take care of her own problems too.
Aww... well said!
Speed Round Questions:
Sweet or Salty? Both – kettle corn anyone?
Chocolate or Vanilla? Please, vanilla isn’t a flavor. Chocolate.
Bubble Bath or Shower? Bubble bath.
Cake or Pie? Now that’s just not fair, making me choose.
Flats or Stilettos? Flats.
Jeans or Skirts? Slacks – hate jeans and I look terrible in a skirt.
Pick any three words to describe Tory Michaels.
Punctual (yes, punctual), stubborn, prudish.
Put your own flair on this famous fairy tale quote. Mirror, Mirror on the wall – OMG, I’ve finally gone over the bend…there’s a man in my mirror!
*Snort* & *Giggle*
What other works do you have in store for your fans this year?
Blood-Mage Rising comes out (theoretically) next month. It’s urban fantasy, though there’s a certain something between the main characters Jordan (yes, the same Jordan earlier referred to as evil) and Christine (both of whom have parts in Blood Rage). It covers the same time period as Rage, but shows that what Anthony & Dara were doing was only part of the story.
I’ve got several plot points for Book 3 (no clue on a title yet – that usually comes somewhere in the second or third draft. I don’t even have a working title for it yet. BMR was Blood War until two days before I submitted it to Evernight). The main characters will be Ronnie (Dara’s assistant at the Bureau, a minor character in both Rage & Rising), and a new character, Trevor Kyle Tremaine. I know Chris & Jordan will have a part to play, and Dara and Anthony will likely have a part to play as well.
On my goal list for the year, I’d also like to write Book 4, but since I don’t know exactly where Book 3 is going to end, I’m not sure what Book 4 will cover.
Once again, Thanks for stopping by. All my best wishes for your new book, Blood Rage, and for a successful writing career. Come back anytime. You are always welcome.
To find out more about Author Tory Michaels:
Facebook series page: http://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Dream-Walker-War-series/160355797401525