Thursday, September 14, 2017

Gemma Snow, Author of Seduction en Pointe

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Today we are interviewing Gemma Snow about her contemporary erotic romance novel "Seduction en Pointe."

Describe the plot of your new book, “Seduction en Pointe,” in a few sentences.
Nicco Castillo, star of the famous television drama, The Queen Anne’s Revenge, bad boy about town, gets shipped off to Paris for ballet classes, and so his production team can keep him on a tight leash. There, he meets the icy, but oh-so-tempting Isabelle La Croix, his ballet instructor, who wants nothing to do with performers, no matter how hot around the collar Nicco makes her. When Isabelle accidentally seems something she shouldn’t, however, she and Nicco begin to bond over shared hurt, their friendship turning to something far more decadent, and dangerous, as Isabelle and Nicco find themselves dancing all over Paris.

Who do you think would most enjoy this book?

I think "Seduction en Pointe" will appeal to anyone who’s ever fantasized about a Paris love affair. Nicco is definitely a bad boy, but he has a huge heart, and Isabelle has been hurt and needs to be reminded that she’s worth loving, and it’s worth it to give her love back in return. Set against the background of the most romantic city on earth, they divulge their pasts, learn how to heal and explore their intimate and unique desires. It’s a story for artists, travelers and lovers alike!

Tell us a bit about the protagonist, Nicco Castillo.

I loved writing Nicco. I think of the two main characters, he went through a much larger and in-depth development process. In the beginning, I knew I wanted a bad boy who liked to tease and flirt and didn’t take anything seriously, but the first iterations came out a little cardboard and two-dimensional. The deeper I got into writing Nicco, the more I understood that his behavior was rooted in hurt and a sense of losing who he was over his time spent in Hollywood. I think it’s a universal theme to struggle with a sense of self, and exploring Nicco’s journey to finding who he is, against a background of so much pomp and masquerade as Hollywood, was a satisfying and important.

What can you tell us about the relationship between Nicco and Isabelle?

So I’m all about the love/hate tension, and I knew from the start that "Seduction" needed that element, though it took awhile to figure out exactly why. For Isabelle, Nicco is a stark reminder of her ex-husband, who publically humiliated her with his affairs. Nicco is a playboy, though a lot of that is his defense mechanism to deal with his own hurt, at his ex-boyfriend’s unfaithfulness, which Isabelle doesn’t find out until later.

A lot of their relationship is about seeing past what’s on the surface—Isabelle and Nicco both wear masks to cover up what’s been done to them, and when they eventually crack through, they see the people below. Playing around with the elements of performance, both artistically with the acting for Nicco and the ballet for Isabelle, and erotically, with this shared exploration into voyeurism and exhibitionism, was a huge element of that dropping the mask theme.

How does the tumultuous ending to Nicco’s prior relationship affect his relationship with Isabelle?

A lot of Nicco’s bad behavior, the drinking, the partying, the kind of lifestyle that landed him in the emergency room at the very beginning of the book, is a reaction to his failed relationship with Antonio. Though Antonio is ultimately the one who is unfaithful, Nicco goes through the journey of understanding his own role in why the relationship didn’t last—something he eventually works through to be with Isabelle. Since she’s suffered much of the same hurt, though in a far more public and damning capacity, their shared pain and ultimately shared healing is a large part of what brings them together.

Are there any authors who have influenced your writing style?

I’ll recommend reading Juliette Marillier until the day I die. Along with J.K. Rowling and Jane Austen, I’ve learned much about writing unique women with a wide breadth of skills, talents, personalities and relationships. I’ll learn at their helm for the rest of my life.

As far as romance, I owe so much to Eloisa James, Sarah MacLean, Laura Kaye, Suzanne Brockmann and so, so many others. I’m of the mind that you can’t be a writer unless you’re a reader, and I strive to surround myself with the greats.

How do you feel about the increasing popularity of ebooks?
Ebooks are a good thing, don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. For one, the accessibility of ebooks has opened writing to the world. You don’t need connections in New York or a wealthy spouse to try your hand at writing. The options are all there, and that’s really fundamental and important for new writers.

They’re also far more accessible for readers, who can order ebooks from the library and download them the day they’re released. Writers also make more money when they’re not producing physical books, which might just mean they can carve a stable career from it. We’re moving forward with ebooks, undoubtedly.

What are your goals as a writer for the next ten years?
Eee, well I’m hoping to continue the Full Swing series, of which "Seduction en Pointe" is book one. I’m also working on The Triple Diamond series, with "The Lovin’ Is Easy" coming out this month. My main objective is to be able to support myself with writing. I don’t see a future where I’m not a writer, and I have so many stories to tell, so I look forward to the chance to continue following this crazy dream and hoping it all works out.

Tell us about your next book.
Yes! So "The Lovin’ Is Easy" comes out at the end of September and is available for pre-order on the major retailers and early download through Totally Bound. Unsurprisingly, that’s part of a four book series (I love writing series!) set at the Triple Diamond Ranch in Montana, and I just finished up the first draft of book two! "The Lovin’ Is Easy" is the story of city girl Madison Hollis, who inherits a ranch from an uncle she’s never met. When she goes out to inspect the place for sale, she meets the two ranch managers, Christian Harlow and Ryder Dean, and ends up on a whirlwind of desire, family history and personal journey.

I’m also working on "Leather and Gold," which is historical BDSM. One of my favorite elements of writing historical is the built in tension, stemming from propriety and the rules of society. Adding this heavily erotic element into that has been a unique and fun challenge.

Is there anything else you’d like to add?
Romance and erotic romance are really important genres, they’re forward thinking, progressive and open-minded. But in today’s day and age, we can’t be feminist if we’re not intersectional. It’s important to me, moving forward, to continue pushing for diverse, inclusive and representative books, and I’m hoping to see the tide in the industry begin to change as well. Romance has a history of paving the way for the future, from Jane Austen and the domestic story, to the proliferation of romance in grocery stores, so housewives could hide it in the grocery budget without their husband’s knowledge. We have routinely pushed against the order, and we must, cohesively and persistently, do so now.

Thank you so much for having me, and for reading! I hope you enjoy "Seduction en Pointe!"

An excerpt from "Seduction en Pointe":
He schooled his features and checked in with the receptionist for his appointment with the French production team before turning around to face her. If he’d thought her beautiful from the back, he hadn’t been prepared for her face, for the expression in her pale-blue eyes, for the softest, sweetest curve of dusky-rose lips as they parted slightly.

She read a magazine, and Niccolo cursed himself for having let his written French lapse, because he didn’t have a clue which glossy it was.

Still, never hurt to try, and something about this unknown woman made it impossible for him to walk away or pick one of the seats at the far end of the waiting room. She called to him, a modern-day siren, all enticing and impossible to ignore. So he sat beside her, catching a hint of her scent. She smelled like lemons, sweet and fresh, and that seemed to fit her, as did the pointed sharpness of her neck, which grew considerably more rigid once she realized he planned on talking to her.

“What is it you’re reading?” he asked, thickening his Spanish accent. As long as he’d been chasing lovers, the Spanish charm had always worked wonders. Hell, it did wonders for getting him starring roles too.

“Who wants to know?” Her accent was light, as though she’d learned English alongside her French, studied in Sweden or London or New York City. But for all of the softness that came spilling out of those pale-rose lips, there was a steel core that told Nicco she wasn’t having any of his charm. Her words came out strong, self-possessed, and confident, and they made him curious about the woman below the slight frame. Despite appearing so soft, she held her head at a tilt that signified power, kept her neck straight, her shoulders arched. Everything about her stance told Nicco exactly how she felt at his intrusion into her space. Normally, he took his cues and left the obviously uninterested alone, but this woman was enchanting and mysterious, and Nicco found he couldn’t quite look away from her, even as he knew that he tempted the serpent, perhaps because he did. 
More Information
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Thursday, September 7, 2017

Howard Kaplan, Author of The Damascus Cover

damascus book, middle east spy book, Israeli Secret Service bookAn interview with Howard Kaplan, author of the "The Damascus Cover," the first book in the Jerusalem Spy Series.

Tell us a bit about your novel, “The Damascus Cover.”
"The Damascus Cover" is a plot within a plot.  There’s a surface story about a rescue of children from Damascus.  Then there is an underlying story unknown to the protagonist as he races through Syria and everything starts to go wrong.  He slowly learns it is intended to go wrong and there’s a twist near the end of the story that actually didn’t come to me until I was a good deal into writing it.

 You have a unique background, having lived in the Middle East, as well as participated in covert missions in the USSR. Did your personal experiences influence your writing?
When I was 21 and 22, I made two forays into the Soviet Union to smuggle out manuscripts on microfilm.  At the time anyone leaving the USSR could not take unpublished writings with them as they were considered “property of the state.”  I was arrested and interrogated for four days though I had no incriminating documents on me.  I met some people in the espionage business along the way so I began to write about what I’d learned and seen in fiction form. I’m always surprised when how writing, personal experiences jump to mind and find their way into the novel.  So yes, all I’ve seen and experienced and I’ve been to the Middle East dozens of times seem into the works.

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Kaplan on-set for The Damascus Cover film.

Tell us a bit about the protagonist Ari Ben-Sion.
Ari is a man who has made a huge mistake that cost the life of a younger spy.  He’s plummeted from being at the top of his game and is desperate not to be put out to pasture, so he will accept about any mission.  He does not realize the head of the Israeli Secret Service uses Ari’s weakness to create a greater mission.

“The Damascus Cover” will soon be made into a major motion picture. What can you tell us about this upcoming film?
The film adaptation stars Jonathan Rhys Meyers and Olivia Thirlby (Juno, Goliath) as Kim and Ari.  There is great chemistry between them.  I was on set in Morocco for some of the shoot.  The head of the Israeli Secret Service is played by Sir John Hurt, who recently passed after an illustrious career.  We are beyond lucky to have had him with us.

Some authors have a very hands-off approach in the production of their book’s film adaptation while others are more involved. What was your role in the movie’s creation like?
Generally speaking production companies purchase motion picture and television rights to the novel, which means I still control the book and they have complete say in the screen versions.  I was fortunate to maintain and close relationship with the director so while I had little input into the script, I was invited on several occasions to view the film during the editing process and I made a number of suggestions which were taken.

The protagonist of “The Damascus Cover,” Ari, is played by Jonathan Rhys Meyers in the upcoming film. What about Meyers makes him a good fit for the character?
Jonny as he likes to be called is a fabulous actor and he brings passion to everything he does both in terms of action and romance.  He was a real coup to get him to play Ari. 

What, if any, were the difficulties of transitioning the story to the big screen?
Changes were made but there weren’t any real difficulties other than one scene where in the novel Ari jumps off a train and the producers decided it would be too expensive to shoot so they changed that transition to inside a movie theater in Damascus.  The director often says that when he was up against a wall he always returned to “the spine of the novel.”  So the film adaptation preserves the integrity of the book.  It’s real a marvelous movie.

“The Damascus Cover” is the first book in the Jerusalem Spy Series. Is there any talk of film adaptations for subsequent books in the series?
Not yet, but wouldn’t that be great.  I think those things depend on the success of the film.

Thank you for speaking with us about your book and upcoming movie!

An excerpt from the opening of "The Damascus Cover":

DOV ELON sat in the dirt in his cell leaning against the whitewashed wall. The cubicle, three feet by five feet, was windowless. The air stank of urine. A can, his washbasin, lay on its side in one corner. A thin blanket covered the mound of damp straw piled in the other.  
Dov’s eyes rested on the food trap in the door. Not long before he’d heard the banshee cry of the muezzin beckoning the Muslim inmates to prayer. He assumed a bowl of jasmine tea would soon be pushed through the food trap, but he wasn’t sure. The previous day he’d been transferred from Tadmor Prison, near the ancient Greek ruins of Palmyra in the north, to Sigin al-Mazza, on the outskirts of Damascus.  He didn’t know if his new guards would feed him regularly or at random intervals. So he waited, listening for approaching footsteps, not moving—for every shift in position arched pain through his bruised body. After a while he closed his eyes. The minutes fell away. There were no sounds. The silence hummed in his ears.
More Information
Buy The Damascus Cover on Amazon
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IMDB page for The Damascus Cover