It's my birthday and I want to give away presents!
Dani and Michael have almost nothing in common. She works as burlesque dancer. He works as a therapist for special needs children. But both have a secret.
Stronger and faster than ordinary humans, Dani must partner with Michael, whose psychometric gifts let him pick up psychic impressions through touch, if she is to have any hope of saving her brothers and one of Michael's clients.
If they join forces, they could save those they care about from becoming the latest victims of a decades-long hunt. But the fiery chemistry between them threatens to unlock a millennia-old secret which could devour them both.
The clock is ticking and they will be faced with the ultimate hero's choice: save the world or save each other?
Jennifer Carole Lewis - Revelations
· When did you first realize that you wanted to be a writer?
I came to the realization over several steps. When I was a child, I loved drawing but got frustrated because the story in my head would move faster than I could complete the scenes. A teacher suggested I try writing out the stories instead, so I began my early fan-fiction career writing stories where I got to hang out with Anne of Green Gables or visit the My Little Ponies.
As I got a little older, I began to be interested in different material, particularly comics. I started writing what I called “between the scenes” moments, such as interactions between Batman and Alfred after a long evening of crime fighting.
Then I began creating my own characters and stories within the different universes. At this time, I still thought of it as an amusing hobby, something to share with my friends. A friend of mine, who had always been an enthusiastic reader, suggested I create my own universe. She was the first one to tell me that she thought what I wrote was as good as any paid author out there.
Before that, I hadn’t really thought seriously about the people who wrote these stories or that I could be one of them. It sparked something inside me which kept pushing me to take my writing seriously and push myself to improve. That was over 10 years ago and it was the final stepping stone that put my feet on the path to publishing.
· How many books have you written?
I’ve written dozens of books but thus far I’ve only published one. There are a large number of fan fiction adventures which I’ll be keeping to myself out of a great desire to avoid being sued. My first independent manuscript was a paranormal romance about a Faerie lord who falls in love with a 20th century mortal woman, called Lord of Underhill. It will be staying in the dusty corners of my computer for the foreseeable future while I work on the 6 Lalassu books I have planned but I hope to some day dust it off and improve it.
· What are you currently working on?
I’m currently working on Metamorphosis, which is the sequel to Revelations. We’ll follow Corporal Ron McBride as he tries to cope with what happened to him. Without giving away any spoilers, it will be a continuation of the issues raised in Revelations and should be available in early 2016.
I’m also preparing a short story about a paranormal investigator and a devout skeptic. The two of them clash as she investigates the strange goings-on in his parents’ home but find themselves having to work together and learn from each other. That should be available in September 2015 as a pre-Hallowe’en treat to my readers.
· What was the hardest part about writing Revelations?
The hardest part for me was learning to write from an outline. I’ve always been a seat-of-your-pants writer, letting inspiration flow. But I’ve found that leaves me with long periods of creative drought, where I can’t write much of anything.
Instead, what I’ve learned to do is use those days when my mind is blazing and the ideas are flowing. I write down as much detail as I can in my outline and then I have something to guide me on those days when I’m not as inspired. I’ve been surprised to discover that the outline makes it easier for me to become re-inspired.
· What inspired the lalassu?
I’ve always liked the concept of secret societies. The idea of having a group in plain sight and yet hidden from everyone except each other intrigues me. The original inspiration for Revelations was a dream I had in which a burlesque dancer was actually a succubus, luring men in. She became linked to the stories I’d read about the ancient priestesses of Babylon, who used orgasm to connect worshippers with the divine.
As I played with the idea more, I thought about the ancient legends and stories of gods and demi-gods walking the earth. What if those stories were accurate? What if there were people who were capable of extraordinary feats? Where would they have gone? What would their descendants be like? The idea of that the children of ancient heroes could have inherited their gifts combined with the idea of a secret society and the lalassu were born.
The word lalassu is ancient Akkadian, the language of Babylon. It means ghost or hidden. I chose it to represent the “hidden” people with their extraordinary gifts.
· What is the strangest writing habit that you have?
The strangest habit I have is going over scenes and dialogue in public, sometimes out loud. My husband bought me a Bluetooth headset to wear when I walk to pick up the kids so that I look less like a crazy person as I talk and gesture to myself. I’ve watched my seven year old son pick up the habit and now we both talk to our separate imaginary friends.
· Were Dani and Michael’s characters inspired by people in your real life?
Some aspects of Dani were inspired by the burlesque dancers I met and spoke with as part of my research. The description of how she feels when she dances (powerful and beautiful and as if everything in the world makes sense) came directly from one of the dancers who explained that she began dancing after breaking up with an ex-boyfriend who cheated on her.
Most of Dani’s character was inspired by the larger-than-life legends of female warriors and dangerous beings which I love. I wanted a character who was strong with that exotic touch of danger to her.
Michael was primarily inspired by a number of therapists who work with special needs children. These people are amazingly generous with their time and energy, working tirelessly on the smallest goals with patience and humor. Their positive and optimistic outlook inspired me and made me want to write a character completely different from the dark and gritty cynics I often create.
I did use a little bit of my father for Michael, namely when he is being introduced to the burlesque dancers. My dad has a great gift for making people feel comfortable and he can draw them into personal conversations within seconds of meeting them. I wanted Michael to have that same comfort and knack of connecting with people.
· What advice would you give aspiring writers?
The best piece of advice I can offer to aspiring writers is to never stop learning. I was amazed by how much I learned from joining the Romance Writers of America. I make it a point to attend as many workshops and events as I can because there’s always something valuable to glean, some little trick or improvement that I can apply to my own work. I also read constantly, across a wide variety of genres, to expose myself to different techniques and ideas. Be open to new ideas and you’ll grow faster than you could have imagined.
· What is your favorite thing about fantasy/paranormal fiction?
This is actually a tough question for me because there are so many things I love about fantasy/paranormal/science fiction. But I think in the end, I have to say that I love how it can explore issues and introduce people to new ways of thinking without them even realizing it. The classic example would be Star Trek’s exploration of racism. By transposing the issue onto another culture, they could talk about it without people getting personally upset.
Another thing I love is the skillful building of alternate worlds. The best fantasy/paranormal works are internally consistent and detailed. They feel as if they could be real.
· What famous person would you love to have as a fan of your work?
There are a number of authors that I admire and would have trouble acting cool and nonchalant with if they said they liked my work: Sherrilyn Kenyon, Jenna Black and Gena Showalter, to name a few. But if I were to open it up to anyone, I think I would be on a geeked-out wave of bliss for weeks if Joss Whedon said he liked my stuff.
· If you were stranded on a deserted island and you could have ONE character from Revelations on the island with you, who would it be and why?
I think I would want Vincent, Dani’s brother, to be with me. His enhanced strength and senses would definitely come in handy. He’s cute and (currently) unattached and has experience with odd and useful survival skills. He’s funny and entertaining. And it would give me the best chance of being rescued, since I’m sure his sister would come looking for him.
Thank you, Ella, for having me on your blog and reviewing Revelations. It’s been a great deal of fun thinking through your questions. This is all still a new experience for me and I’m honored to have the chance to share my stories and ideas with others.
Jennifer Carole Lewis