Thursday, May 23, 2013

Guest Blog: Tara Fox Hall

Tara Fox Hall has just released new paranormal novel Taken By the Night and has kindly stopped by here to answer a few on both it, the process of writing, and some advice to new writers.


1. Hi there, Tara! I've noted how a lot of people ask this question in interviews, and you've probably seen it before yourself: what is the process you follow when writing one of your novels?

First, I’ll read through the preceding work, so I can remember who was doing what….or read through my spreadsheet of important events if it’s a series with a lot of books already out. Then I’ll just take up where I left off. Usually I will have already been thinking about the work on and off for the month previous, if not longer, so I’ll have notes in a word doc about possible plots or character arcs, maybe even whole scenes that I wrote. Then comes the slow process of fleshing out the story and closing the gaps so it is one long cohesive piece. Optimally, then I put it aside for at least a week and do something else, so when I come back to it, I can begin editing it with fresh eyes for content and typos. Then it goes to another set of eyes for feedback, then one more round of looking for typos after I incorporate that feedback.

2. In particular for Taken by the Night, what was your inspiration? Why did this story need to be told for you?
I wrote the Promise Me books one after another, and this book was just the next step of the tale. When Promise Me Book 2 Broken Promise ends, mortal woman Sarelle is with the werecougar Theo, having left her former vampire paramour Danial. The big question left unsolved at that book’s end is Theo’s former lover Tawny who shows up pregnant late in the book; what will the baby mean for Sar and Theo’s budding romance? Taken in the Night answers that question, but it also goes further, because this series was more to me than sex and paranormal creatures and who will end up together with Sar in the end. It’s important to me to transcend genre, to have a series that paranormal fans can enjoy that feels as if it could be real. Taken in the Night’s themes of regret, losing a loved one, healing old rifts, the love between child and non-biological parent, and making a new life out of the ruins of an old one will hopefully resonate with readers.

3. Can you tell us how many books you see being written within this series, and any hints of what might be in store for some of our favourite characters?

The Promise Me Series was originally 7 books, with several novellas of minor characters to explain events briefly mentioned but not elaborated on in the books themselves. As the original books are overly long, there will be 14 books total in the series. There are also 2 more books pertaining to the two vampire leads Devlin and Danial, the first of those being Immortal Confessions, Promise Me Book #5, due out in early fall. So 16 total books in the series. I’m writing more short stories all the time with these characters, so there will be several collections of those coming out in the next few years as well.

4. When did you first know that being a writer was what you wanted to do?

I always liked to write. But the truth is that I enjoy doing a lot of things. The difference is that I never get bored of writing. When I realized that, I knew I had to make time to write my stories and find a way to share them with others.

5. I've spent a bit of time on this blog asking authors for any tips or advice to new writers coming into the publishing world. What tips would you offer from your experience?

Get a web presence, set up pages on Goodreads, Manic Readers, and Amazon, and work hard to get reviews. But most of all write a lot. People may dismiss a writer who has one short story or one book. They can’t dismiss one that has dozens of works, especially if the works are with lots of different publishers.

6. Finally, can you tell us a bit about the series leading up to your third book Taken by the Night?

This is easiest done with an excerpt from the first few pages of the book, which I’ll include below!

Thank you so much for joining us today, Tara, and good luck with your new novel Taken by the Night.

Thank you —Tara Fox
Danial’s dark brown eyes stared down into mine. I was hyperconscious of his body as it lay on mine; the weight of him, the coolness of his skin, the way we fit together so well.
“Relax, Sar,” he whispered, nuzzling my neck with his soft lips. “Let me in.”
“I’m trying,” I said irritably.
I’d been trying for the last twenty minutes. Yet I remained tense, as pliable as a board.
Danial sighed, and got up. He went to the bedroom door, and opened it. “Theo, you may as well come in. It’s not working,” he said.
Theo quickly entered the bedroom, and sat next to me on Danial’s bed. “Sar, what is it?” he said, giving me a concerned look.
“She’s too nervous,” Danial said, leaning against the wall and looking at me. “Just like she’s been every time we’ve tried this.”
Theo glanced at him, and then back to me as if he didn’t know what to say.
I sighed. “I’m sorry. I’m doing my best.”
I didn’t add that I had every reason to be nervous in the presence of a vampire. Danial’s brother, Devlin, had nearly exsanguinated me on this very bed a little over two months ago. While I’d been saved in time by Theo and a sorcerer half-demon friend of mine, Terian, I still bore two scars on my throat from Devlin’s fangs. I wanted them gone. The easiest way was for Danial to bite me in the same exact spot just as deeply, and then use some of his saliva to heal me. That would ensure complete removal. The trouble was the pain would be substantial.
“I haven’t even been able to touch you with my fangs, Sar,” Danial said, breaking the silence. “You’ll never be able to relax enough for me to heal those scars.”
“She has every reason to be leery,” Theo said defensively. “Just be quiet a minute.”
Danial shrugged.
Theo leaned in and hugged me. “Don’t worry. You don’t have to rush.”
I leaned my head on his shoulder. “Thanks.”
“He’s right,” Danial said softly. “Take your time.”
I glanced up at him, studying him for a moment.
Danial’s hair was back to a little below shoulder length, falling in silky curtains down the sides of his face. It was almost straight, with just a hint of a wave in it. His body was tall and lean, with a powerful chest. His face was so sculptured to be almost beautiful, yet the arrogance and sexuality that radiated from him was all male. His skin shone like a pearl, lustrous, which meant he’d fed before Theo and I had arrived. He was dressed in one of his old-fashioned shirts, the red one made of heavy cotton, and some dark jeans. The one he’d promised to wear for me some night, back when we’d been together.
“You didn’t have to dress up,” I said meaningfully. “It’s only me.”
Danial narrowed his eyes and glared back at me. Yet his lips curved into a faint smile, pleased that I’d mentioned the shirt.
We had history, to put it lightly. Danial had been my lover, and at one time, we’d been oathed, a.k.a., what vampires called married. It hadn’t lasted long, only about twenty-four hours. I’d miscarried our child when I hadn’t known I was pregnant and then left him for a while to think things over. When I’d returned, I’d found a rival wearing my clothes in his bed. I’d broken up with him for good then. To make matters worse, I’d fallen in love with his best friend, Theo, shortly after.
“Do you want to come back in a couple days?” Theo asked, giving me a smile.
I gazed back at him, his blue eyes like an overcast day in fall, his strong features that had just a hint of feline grace to them. Theo was not beautiful like Danial; he was more traditionally handsome, with a touch of ruggedness in the cast of his face. While he was almost as tall as Danial, he was far more muscular. He worked out hard most every other day to be that strong, to make sure that he could handle whatever or whomever might come looking for trouble, either with Danial or with me. He was and had been Danial’s bodyguard and head of security, as well as Danial’s best friend, when I’d met Danial. He was also a werecougar, and had been since he was nineteen. He was still those things, only now he was my lover instead of Danial.
Despite how much Theo and I were in love, our coming together had happened entirely by chance. Terian had dosed me with a potion to find out if I liked him. I hadn’t, and he’d been okay—if not exactly—happy about that. Later the same night, Theo and I had inadvertently reactivated the potion, revealing his feelings for me, and mine for him, feelings we had kept hidden until then, especially from each other. That night, we’d shared a dream of us being together; one where we had no limits, guilt, or consequences. In short, in the dream we had done all the things we wanted to do with each other. It had driven Theo half mad, and I’d felt so guilty we’d stayed apart for months afterwards. Then Terian admitted plying me with his spell, mentioning any dreams I’d had later that night could’ve been shared by anyone I’d dreamed of. I called Theo, he’d come to my house, and we’d been together ever since.
“Sarelle, do you want to try some other day?” Theo asked again.
“Sorry,” I said quickly. “That would be fine.”
Theo’s phone rang. He flicked it open, his eyes still on me. “Hold on a minute,” he said, standing up. “I’ll be right back, Sar.”
That meant, “Don’t do anything with him while I’m gone.”
“Okay,” I answered.
Theo went out, curiously closing the bedroom door behind him. Wondering why he had, I pushed myself up to a sitting position.
“Sar, you know why this isn’t working,” Danial said chidingly.
“I know,” I said heavily. “Because he’s right outside the room. I heard you and Angelica having sex that night—”
“You would have to bring up that,” he muttered darkly.
“—and I don’t want him to hear me moaning, even if we aren’t being intimate,” I finished.
“Are you worried he’ll hear you, or that we might go too far?” Danial said seductively.
“Stop it,” I said tiredly. “There’s nothing sexy about this.”
“I’m sorry,” Danial said, coming over to the bed. He put his arms around me and I let him, leaning into his shoulder. “I’m worried because you won’t be moaning,” he whispered anxiously. “I don’t want to hurt you. I was always apprehensive about biting you after we’d been together so long that it started hurting you—”
Danial had taken enough blood from me in the months we had been together that I had become resistant to whatever substance it was that numbed pain in his saliva. His blood would still heal me; that was not the issue. The problem was Danial had usually only bitten me during sex, using pleasure to offset the pain. I’d hardly felt it, or in the best circumstances, it had heightened my arousal that way it did Danial’s.
“—I know you’re scared, too, because of what Devlin did to you—”
Devlin had bitten me deeply with no prep work, not that I’d wanted any from him. I’d been in agony, and scared to death. He hadn’t cared how much he was hurting me, as he’d been trying to kill me at the time.
“—please know I won’t bite until you tell me to,” Danial whispered gently. “You have nothing to fear from me.”
“I know that,” I replied. “I’m scared anyway.”
“Some of that are your memories of us,” he said, kissing my cheek. “They come back to me unbidden, being in your arms.”
“Yes,” I said, resting my head on his shoulder.
“Maybe I’m not the best vampire to remove your scars,” he said, tilting my head up to look into my eyes.
“Who else could I trust?” I gave him a smile. “I wouldn’t want anyone else to bite me, Danial.”
He didn’t return the smile. “You are worried about Tawny, too. About how Theo will react when he becomes a father. She is scheduled to give birth in two weeks.”
Tawny and Theo had been lovers for years before I came along, getting together whenever he was in Europe. Two months ago, she’d showed up at my door looking for him, almost six months pregnant. The baby, it had turned out, was his. She was set to deliver in a few weeks. In fact, Danial, Theo, and I were all going to be in Europe for the birth, something that had me more than apprehensive.
My smile evaporated. “I’m scared, Danial. Scared he’ll want her and not me.”
“Your fears are groundless, Sar. He loves you the way I’ve never seen him love anyone else since I met him. He’ll love the child to be sure, but that’s as it should be. He isn’t going back to her.”
“I know that Danial, but I still have this fear—”
“Tell him, Sarelle. Don’t keep it from him,” Danial said, old pain in his voice. “If I had shared more of my fears with you, and given you a chance to ease them...” He trailed off with a sigh.
Theo came back in, slightly mistrustful. “Did you make any progress?”
“No. I think we should forget it for tonight,” Danial said, getting to his feet. “Sar’s not ready. If I bite her now, it will just end up hurting her at best. At worst, she’ll have a new scar. We can try again some other time.”
“Okay,” Theo said. He held out a hand for me. “Ready to go?”
I took it, and he pulled me to my feet. “Thanks for trying anyway, Danial,” I said.
He nodded once to me, and then looked away. “Have a good night.”
Theo and I left, heading out to Theo’s truck. We got in, and he drove us towards home.
“I’m sorry,” I said, when we’d reached the road. “That was a waste of time.”
Theo took my hand in his. “It’s not your fault. I know you are remembering how you got the scars. Without the, um, usual distractions it’s going to be difficult to remove them. Danial understands it, too. This way is easier than surgery, and much safer for you. We’ll try as many times as it takes.”
I laid my head back, closed my eyes, and drifted, listening to the hum of the engine.
“You don’t have to worry about Devlin either,” Theo growled. “He’s remained at his estate since being dethroned. No one’s seen him since.”
That didn’t comfort me. Just knowing that he was still alive was cause for fear. Devlin, Danial’s older brother, had been turned with him over four hundred years ago. Yet Devlin had been more powerful than Danial for most of their existence, his ability to create vampires a rarity. At least a century ago he’d assumed control in the United State. Since then, Danial had gone along with everything Devlin demanded, until it came to me. Even then, Danial had not been powerful enough to fight his brother directly. He’d been the Vampire Ruler of the United States until recently, until Danial had taken his blood and his power with it. Devlin blamed me for his fall from influence; I’d seen it in his golden eyes that night. And he was not the type to forgive or forget.
“Terian is going to stop by later, isn’t he?” Theo asked.
“No,” I replied. “He said he’s too busy to do dinner anytime soon.”
Terian had moved in a little south of Theo and me, and was currently living with a woman he called Sundown. He claimed he was only looking for fun, but the way he talked about her, he was beginning to love her. I was happy for him; he’d been alone a long time. It was high time he got a break.

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