CSP: Welcome to the blog, Cris. What inspired you to write Mercy and Redemption?
CA: It’s the sequel to Punishment and Mercy, and I can tell you I had no inkling that story would evolve into a trilogy. But in an epilogue in Punishment, which was set in 1694 Massachusetts Bay Colony, I showed two present-day descendents searching for their ancestors (to show a long-lasting HEA) who meet a woman doing gravestone rubbings. This modern woman and two men made me realize I had to tell their stories as well.
CSP: Which element of story creation is your favorite and why?
CA: I hate to plot and usually depend on my characters to tell me how the story’s going to go. So I do a lot with dialogue to discover who they are. Just the other day my beta reader read a couple of chapters and commented, “Boy do you have a way with dialogue.” Plus, readers have told me they felt like they were “right there” in 1694 Massachusetts, so I guess I do descriptions pretty well too. But by far my favorite time in the creation of a story is when the characters take over (usually about halfway through the book) and start surprising me with what they say and do.
CSP: What is your writing process?
CA: Uh, you mean there’s a process to writing? Something besides sitting and staring at the screen? Besides opening a vein? Seriously, I write in spurts. I know there’s a school of thought that says, write every day at the same time. Or, don’t lift your butt from the chair until you have 1,000 new words. Not me. If I was keeping a diary, it would look like this: 2145 words, 0, 0, 3844, 0,1889, 0…well, you get the picture. I like to think that during those zero days my characters are subconsciously formulating things for me.
CSP: What do you enjoy the most about writing?
CA: The smug satisfaction of being able to mark in a little calendar square how many words I wrote that day, followed closely by rereading it the next day and realizing it wasn’t as bad as I’d feared and with a little tweaking, it turns out to be really good. Getting a fan letter is way up there, too!
CSP: Is there a certain type of character or theme that you find yourself coming back to again and again?
CA: Second chances is a good theme for me. Many of my characters have done something they’d like to undo, so they have to redeem themselves. And most of my heroes are alphas (although the mild-mannered CPA in Adding Heat had his alpha moments when it mattered *grin*). Come to think of it, in Mercy and Redemption, Adam is a lot more alpha than Seth, but Seth gets his day as well, even when Mercy has both men in her bed at the same time (*bigger grin*).
CSP: What’s next for you?
CA: The third book in the Mercy trilogy. Don’t want to spoil a reader’s enjoyment of book #2 (Mercy and Redemption), so all I’ll say is, one of the major players from there is getting star treatment in the book I’m writing now, Redemption and Glory. I’ve done a lot of research for this one—it begins in a BDSM dungeon and I’m having loads of fun learning about it while the characters are deciding whether they’re a Dom, a sub, top, bottom, switch or what.
CSP: What’s the first book you remember loving?
CA: When we were kids, my parents never took us to libraries, they didn’t have time, nor did they have the money to spend on books simply for enjoyment. The first book I remember that had lasting impact on me was Forever Amber by Kathleen Winsor. I heard about the daringness of it (and the movie made from it back in the 40s? 50s?) but while living at home, I couldn’t access either one. As a freshman at college working part-time at the library, I had the liberty of checking out the book without my parents’ permission. As I recall, it didn’t have a happy ending, but it was highly erotic and the story has stayed with me. Little did I realize that I’d be writing erotic romance many years later.
CSP: Do you read the same genre that you write?
CA: Oh yeah, I read lots of erotic romance. Joey W. Hill, Desiree Holt, Cassandra Carr, Tiffany Reisz and the like are on my radar because they do BDSM so well. When I want something different, I usually turn to romantic suspense biggies like J.D. Robb, Sandra Brown and Caridad Pineiro.
CSP: What’s your advice to new writers?
CA: Never. Give. Up. During my long pre-published career, I must have quit a dozen times, but someone always talked some sense into me, and here I am now, with my 12th release having just come out on January 9!
CSP: What do you enjoy doing when you’re not writing?
CA: In warm weather you can find me in my garden. I love to get dirty (heh-heh). Before I retired, I was known as the flower lady because I always brought bunches of dahlias, peonies, lily of the valley and other flowers I grow to share with co-workers. I do the Silver Sneakers and Zumba Gold thing at the fitness center and this year I have a mind to repaint a room or two in my home. I love to take long drives to rural areas and stop to take photographs whenever the vista beckons. Oh, and dance. I love to dance as if no one’s watching. Even when they are.
CSP: Anything else you want to tell us?
CA: Yes. Here’s a snippet from Mercy and Redemption where Mercy experiences having both men at her beck and call:
“No, Adam, wait.” She struggled to lift herself, her palms planted on his massive chest, knees astride his hips to dig into the mattress. “This time it’s going to be slow and easy. I want to take a lo-o-ong time. Like we used to do.”
“What’s he going to do while we’re going to town?”
“Me?” Seth said, sitting on an edge of the bed. “I’m a voyeur. I’ll just watch.”
She felt Adam relax, saw the smile on his lips, the gleam in his eyes as he focused his attention on her. “Have at it. You want to see how long I can last? A lo-o-ong time,” he echoed her words.
“Good,” she cooed. “You just lie back and enjoy.” She began undulating her hips, lifting and lowering herself on the pole of him, the friction ratcheting her pleasure up another notch. “Just let go. Arms up so you can’t touch me. I’m in charge. You just…enjoy.”
His smug smile widened as he positioned his arms up to grasp the vertical spindles of the headboard. She lowered her head into his armpit, relishing the unique, piquant smell of him, the sandy tuft of hairs soft and tickling against her face.
From a corner of her eye she saw Seth move up to Adam’s opposite arm. The snick of metal made her blink. Handcuffs. Before Adam had time to react, and with her holding down his other arm simply by the weight of her body, Seth reached across to cuff Adam’s other wrist.
CSP: Sounds great, Cris! Congratulations on all your success and thanks so much for coming today. One last question. Where can readers find you and your books?