Posts Tagged ‘inspiration’

Lia Riley’s Off the Map MAP!

IMPORTANT: This is a ‘Special Feature’ web post! Spoilers do pop up! If you don’t want to know about the locales of the Off the Map series or haven’t read where our couple end up in Inside Out, check back after you’ve read the book!

Never has love spanned across so many continents than Lia Riley‘s stunning duo of Bran and Talia: their relationship started on the busy streets of Australia, flew over to North America, Tasmania and Africa, settling finally at the doorstep of the Golden Gate Bridge . . .

As Bran and Talia explore the world, they do so in the footsteps of their creator Lia Riley! Did you know that every place they visit was inspired by her own experiences or the people around her?

As we celebrate this week’s publication of Inside Out, follow along on the map below to read into how each place in the Off the Map trilogy stemmed from the author’s own life.

And try not to get jealous. 🙂

 

Australia/Tasmania

‘I studied abroad in regional New South Wales, where I met and fell in love with my now husband. Long-distance international relationships are tricky, and often require a leap of faith to succeed. In our case, I moved to Hobart, Tasmania at twenty-two, leaving behind family, friends, a state I loved (Montana), two classes shy of finishing my degree. The first six months that my boyfriend and I lived together were challenging. I had to take remote college courses to graduate, visa issues limited my work options, and homesickness proved a struggle. Out of any of the Off the Map books, Sideswiped (Book #2 Off the Map), felt the most personal.’

 

Africa

‘I wanted Talia to experience the Peace Corps, so choosing Malawi as a destination was a no-brainer. My younger sister spent almost three years in the country, running HIV/AIDS education and women empowerment programs. She kindly spent the majority of our time together last Christmas reading my first few chapters of Inside Out (Book #3 Off the Map), and pointing out everything I got wrong (and promptly fixed). I’m in her debt on that one. Big time.’

 

 

Santa Cruz/San Francisco

‘I live in Santa Cruz, a quintessential California beach town, on the northern edge of Monterey Bay. It’s known for its great climate, stunning coastline, redwood forests, funky locals, and socially liberal leanings. It is also home to the University of California, Santa Cruz and the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, an oceanfront amusement park operating on the main city beach. Last winter, I strolled through the Boardwalk, and noticed a cave in the sandstone cliffs along the San Lorenzo River. As a good smutty-minded romance writer, a naughty plot bunny hatched, and I went straight home and wrote the whole Boardwalk cave smexy scene. It’s the only scene in the book that I didn’t make any edits on, LOL. Living local to a book setting has its advantages!

Only an hour away, San Francisco is an amazing, eclectic city perfect for a vibrant couple like Talia and Bran (although I predict these two will move around a bit).’

 

Inside Out is out now in ebook, along with Upside Down (#1) and Sideswiped (#2)! All three will be released in paperback in 2015!

Cara McKenna on her inspiration for HARD TIME

Cara McKenna on why she didn’t have a Hard Time setting an erotic romance in a prison . . .

 

I couldn’t tell you precisely when I knew I wanted to write a book about a convicted felon, only that it was a year or more before I ever thought to pitch the idea to my editor. It was a vague sort of wish-list idea, jotted down on my mental notepad and left to sit around in a dusty corner of my head while I attended to contracted projects.

As I’d first envisioned it, the romance would be a purely epistolary one, comprised solely of letters between an inmate and a woman on the outside—a correspondence born of both curiosity and caution, then steadily evolving into something more intense and explicit, and always a touch dangerous. Though I never articulated it to myself, I had imagined that it would be a passionate but doomed affair, the felon serving a life sentence and having no chance at parole (and guilty of his crime, as well.) Loads of longing and hollow hope, leaving it to the reader to imagine what might have happened if the two had been able to be together, that sort of thing—more lit fic than a true romance. More of a concept piece than the novel that little seed ultimately grew into.

Last autumn I’d been struggling to come up with an idea that really clicked for my next book, the third of a three-book contract. I’d been wanting to revisit Darren, Michigan—the struggling Rust Belt city I created for an earlier story, After Hours—and had been wondering what sort of sub-setting I could use. After Hours was set on a locked psychiatric ward (I love grim, institutional stories, whatever that says about me.) Cousins Correctional Facility already existed in that world; many of its inmates wound up at the psychiatric hospital. The moment I realized I could set this new book in a prison, I was instantly infatuated with the notion. (Readers who are familiar with my backlist may have noticed that my heroes are often pretty pent-up, not having gotten laid in a while for a variety of reasons, so writing one who’s been locked up for five years…? Right up my weird alley.)

It took a little effort to convince my then-editor that a story about a felon could be sexy, as opposed to plain old scary, but in the end, I think my naked obsession with the idea swayed her. At least enough to run it by the editorial director, who thankfully shared my enthusiasm.

There’s a point in Hard Time, about halfway through the book, where the heroine discovers that the hero is about to be paroled. (She’s an outreach librarian, in charge of the prison’s literacy program.) By then they’ve been interacting cordially in public and exchanging secret, heated letters for months, but she’s suddenly faced with a reality she hadn’t anticipated. Every worry she has—Is he really as good a man as he seems? Is he dangerous? Is it wise to try to pursue him in the larger world? Will our heat even translate into a kiss, and beyond?

These are some of the same worries I had, myself. Or perhaps more pointedly, Can I pull this off? Will readers stand by this heroine, if she chooses to pursue a romance with a felon with a heinous crime in his past? Will readers feel the depth and strength of her infatuation and understand her decisions, or condemn her as an unforgivable fool?

Well, Hard Timee is out now, and I’m sure readers are falling into both of those camps. It’s not the easiest romance, certainly, but I hope some readers will enjoy that about it, and embrace the contentiousness. Many questionable decisions dot the paths of both characters’ lives before they ever meet and embark on their risky love affair, and writing it was a bit of a risk in itself.

I can say already, however, that the risk has paid off, at least for me—few books have been such a joy to create.

 

 

———-

Cara McKenna writes contemporary romance and smart erotica, sometimes under the name Meg Maguire, and has sold more than thirty-five novels and novellas to Penguin, Piatkus, Harlequin, Samhain and Signet Eclipse. She’s known for writing no-nonsense, working-class heroes with capable hands and lousy grammar. She was a 2010 Golden Heart finalist, and a three-time Romantic Times Reviewers’ Choice Award nominee. Cara writes full-time and lives in the Pacific Northwest with her own bearded hero.

www.caramckenna.com

https://www.twitter.com/caramckenna

Thank you, Ambrose! by Sheila Roberts

The wonderful Sheila Roberts stops by Entice to tell us some inspiration behind The Nine Lives of Christmas, her forthcoming contemporary romance and movie on US television channel Hallmark! We knew we were cat people for a reason . . .

 

Who knew that a matchmaking cat would lead me to Hollywood?

But that’s exactly what happened when I created Ambrose the feline hero of my Christmas novel The Nine Lives of Christmas. I suppose in some ways Ambrose and I came full circle, because it was Hollywood that introduced him to me in the first place. I’d been thinking about a scene from my all-time favorite movie, It’s a Wonderful Life, specifically the scene where George Bailey is on that snowy ridge, telling God, “Please, I want to live again.” I remember thinking, I’d love to put a cat in the same position. What if I wrote about a cat who was on his last life and desperate to hang onto it for as long as possible? What would he have to do to keep that life? What would he be willing to do? Something to help a human, of course.

But if a cat has gotten a raw deal from humans in previous lives this might prove to be no easy task. He’d have to encounter some pretty special humans. And I think Ambrose did when he met Zach the commitment phobic fireman and Merilee, Pet Palace employee and veterinarian wannabe. I had a wonderful time weaving all their stories together.

Lo, and behold, I wasn’t the only one who fell in love with these characters, and this holiday season Ambrose and his two-legged friends will come to life on the Hallmark channel. I couldn’t be more thrilled.

Not only did my characters get to be in a movie, my husband and I did, too. We had a chance to visit the set during the filming of The Nine Lives of Christmas and take part in the fun. Being on the set of a movie is a fascinating experience. I was amazed at how many people it takes to bring a story to life. In addition to actors and extras (also referred to as “background”, which was what we were), you’ll find makeup artists, cameramen, people to run mikes, people to build the set and fix the lighting, the director, the producers, even a continuity expert whose job is to make sure that everything stays consistent from scene to scene. A movie in the making is like a circus on the move, with trailers parked everywhere to house various staff and actors and, of course, a big tent set up where all those workers can be fed. Days are long – these people put in twelve hour days – and while the work is fun, it’s still work. And tiring. Let me tell you, I have a new appreciation for all those people who expend so much energy just to entertain us. Filming one scene can take hours. Our simple part alone involved several retakes. But we wouldn’t have missed a minute of it!

Unless our debut scene ends up on the cutting room floor, you’ll see my husband and me getting escorted to a table in the restaurant scene. I now have mixed feelings about my screen debut. They say the camera adds ten pounds. I had already added thirty all on my own. Oh, dear!

But I probably don’t need to worry too much. I’m sure Ambrose the cat will steal the show.

 

The Nine Lives of Christmas is out in ebook on November 4th and paperback December 2nd 2014!

The inspiration behind Darkest London . . . by Kristen Callihan

On the 29th we published the first four in Kristen Callihan‘s rich and exciting Darkest London series! And to help celebrate we have a special web piece written by the author herself, fresh-faced from the RWA convention in Texas!

 

Piatkus: What can you tell us about Firelight, and the inspiration behind it? And what do you think of the setting and characters?

 

Kristen: Firelight  is what I like to call a weed book, in that it popped up without warning . . .

 

One minute I was putting on Disney’s Beauty and the Beast for my young daughter, and then next, I started to wonder, what if the ‘beast’ was not outwardly ugly but had to hide himself behind a mask? What if who he was, and what he was hiding, made him the prime suspect of a murder mystery? And what if ‘Beauty’ was determined to solve this mystery and save her beast?

 

Of course this tale needed a setting; some place dark, atmospheric and full of danger; a place where murder most foul could play out on a grand scale. What better setting could there been than London? To me, Victorian London and Gothic tales go hand in hand. Flickering gas lamps, narrow alleyways shrouded in murky fog, glistening cobbles echoing with the sound of footsteps, all of it is a veritable feast for the senses. Is it any wonder that London became a character in its own right?

 

I’ve had such fun with this great city. From the British Museum to Big Ben to Trafalgar Square and St. Paul’s, the landmarks play their own roles and characters often have an emotional connection to them. In truth, during the course of research, I’ve grown quite attached to London myself!

 

The Darkest London series are stories of action, mystery and romance, revolving around characters who hide what they are from normal human society. And while the characters often have extraordinary powers, they crave for love and acceptance, as we all do. I hope you enjoy reading the books, and invite you to sink into the sensual and often dangerous world of 1880s London.

 

Firelight, Moonglow, Winterblaze and Shadowdance are out now in ebook, and in paperback later this year!

Entice Inspiration week! Top Three Tips – Caroline Kirkpatrick, Assistant Editor

Welcome to Entice Inspiration week! We’re getting geared up to really fill you with the writing spirit with Entice webposts and tweets (@piatkusentice)! Assistant Editor Caroline has kindly agreed to start us off . . .

It’s Monday morning, the sun is shining and it looks as if summer’s not officially over yet! Hooray! We’re really excited to be receiving your submissions for our Piatkus Entice competition so please do keep sending them in. And if you’re feeling a little bit of writer’s block this morning, don’t fear, as I’d love to give you my top three tips to help get you started!

Stand out from the Crowd

As we are only asking for the first two chapters of your novel, it’s super important that they stand out and grab the attention of the reader straight away. We want to be hooked into your characters’ worlds immediately and immersed in the story from the get go. Think of all your favourite romance writers and you’ll know that by the end of chapter one, you just can’t put their books down.

A heroine/hero you can identify with

All humans have flaws, and the heroine (or hero!) of your story will be no different. Remember though, it’s really important that they are someone that we, as the reader, can relate to and imagine being our friend. You might not like everything about him/her but you should be able to identify and want to be a part of their world.

Create a mini-drama every five pages

Ever thought what’s the secret to that really page-turning, unputdownable book? Most likely it will be pacy and there will be unexpected twists and turns that you really weren’t expecting. One of the elements of a book that I find makes it so readable is the mini-drama every five or so pages. Now this doesn’t have to be super dramatic but something should happen that keeps your interest firmly there. It could be the first time the heroine meets the hero, the first kiss, a moment of internal realisation when the heroine realises how she really feels. These mini-dramas can be really subtle but fundamentally it’s crucial that they move the plot forwards at all times!

And that’s it! We’d love to know what you think makes a great opening chapter or two.

Happy writing and keep sending your submissions in!

Caroline

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