I’d like to welcome our guest today, Natale Stenzel. It’s a pleasure having you come visit us at Much Cheaper Than Therapy, where chocolate is plentiful and advice is free. So grab some chocolate and a lounge chair. Your therapy session has begun.
Did you say chocolate? And plentiful? Sounds like my kind of place.
(We aim to please. KW)
I understand you have a new release out called The Druid Made Me Do It. Can you tell us a little bit about your fabulous new book?
Actually, The Druid Made Me Do It is the second book in a series of funny paranormal romances. The first book, Pandora’s Box, was released in February, and Druid basically takes up where Pandora ends, with a new romantic couple and conflict but some of the same cast and mythologies.
Here’s the back cover copy:
IT'S ALL FUN & GAMES
Dark, powerful, sexy Kane. He has many names, but in truth he is Robin Goodfellow, the one-time favored son of Oberon, King of Faerie. For centuries, he's worked his magic, seducing and pleasuring women as befits his puca nature. But Kane made one big mistake -- punishing his brother for a crime he did not commit.
UNTIL SOMEBODY LOSES A GUY
Oh yeah, he also left Dr. Janelle Corrington after the most amazing night of her life. Their lovemaking was brief, intense . . . and a one-night stand. While she'd established what she thought was a soul connection that could occur only once in any lifetime, he was simply having sex. Why else would he have disappeared without a word? That's why the Druid Council's punishment for Kane's other crime is so delicious: for him to be Janelle's ward, to make amends to all he harmed, to take responsibility for his actions. Finally, Kane would have to take things seriously. And only true love would be rewarded.
The Druid Made Me Do It is a very interesting title. How did you arrive at that name?
I’m normally terrible at titles and rarely get to keep them, but this one was mine. As for its origins . . . deep in the dark and weirdo recesses of my subconscious. In other words, I have no idea, which really stinks because I could use another good title or two right about now. Figures, huh? I do love to play with words and irony, though. Writerly toys, I guess you’d say.
What made you decide to write in this genre?
I’ve been obsessed with paranormal romance for several years now – dark, light, funny, tragic, suspenseful, werewolves, vampires, ghosts, faeries, witches, gods, you name it. I’ve always been curious about the unexplainable and fascinated by mythology. I was only too excited to see the genre explode like it has. Why funny paranormal? I think funny is just a natural fit for me, always has been. My first four published books were romantic comedies and, while I enjoyed writing them, I really loved challenging myself by adding the paranormal element to the mix. It just expanded the realm of story possibility such that my only limits are defined by my ability to coax the reader to believe the unbelievable. Challenging, exciting, intriguing, satisfying.
Where did you get your idea for this particular book?
As I mentioned, The Druid Made Me Do It is the logical sequel to Pandora’s Box, so I guess I should go back to the origin for the series itself. I’d like to say I was overseas on a wild and wicked adventure and am simply relaying things to you in an autobiographical manner, but in reality, I was just surfing the Internet. Given that I’m drawn to stories of the wild and weird and wonderful, even while skimming the news, I found this piece about the Circle of Avebury. It’s a stone circle, much like the better known Stonehenge, but bigger, older and less preserved or researched. One thing historians do know -- which completely fascinated me -- was that many of the stones had been deliberately shattered into smaller pieces, which were then used in local construction. Just think about that for a moment. Imagine having a piece of Stonehenge cemented into the foundation of your home. The possibilities . . . how could I resist?
The rest of the story sort of fell into place based on my own interests. I loved Shakespeare and was especially fond of the incorrigible Puck character in A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Puck happens to be the bard’s vision of a shape-shifting character from mythology called a puca (which can be spelled a gazillion different ways). Lucky for me, the details of this myth are a bit sketchy so I brazenly created some on my own and twisted existing ones for my own purposes. Arrogant, huh? But lots of fun.
What are your favorite paranormal research books or sites, and why?
I do a lot of surfing and skimming, but I seem to come back to a few: Encyclopedia Mythica (http://www.pantheon.org/areas/mythology/), Mythography (http://www.loggia.com/myth/myth.html), Edith Wharton’s Mythology and several others. I like to cross-reference everything so I can get different perspectives and slant them toward my own purposes, though.
Which character did you like writing about the most, and why?
Other than the hero and heroine, you mean? Honestly – and I swear this isn’t a PC answer – I love all of them for different reasons. Obviously, I’m completely in love with my main characters or I could never have made the romance work. They’re both complex people with senses of humor and noble streaks (whether they admit it or not). I also love High Druid Phil for many reasons that become even clearer in my March 2009 release, which I just finished writing. He’s quirky, smart, unexpected. Oh, and the faeries. Titania’s so wonderfully bad; Oberon manages to be arrogant, vain and still loveable; oh, and Breena. I adore Breena. Kane’s faerie sister is so utterly full of mischief and unexpected wisdom. She loves nothing better than to disarm, unless it’s to help those she loves in spite of herself. I guess I didn’t leave anyone out? It was just so hard to choose . . .
Tell us about how you develop your characters. Do you create character sheets, do interviews, that sort of thing? How does your research and/or world affect your character development?
Oh, I wish I could do that. Do you know how much simpler my life would be if I could sit down and actually plan my characters? No, I have to go into the story and meet them as they already are, gradually get to know them as you might a real person. Any attempt to mold them into what works best for me fails every time. It’s so frustrating. Writing a story, for me, is like walking into a movie where I can see and feel and think, with and as, these characters, but I swear they simply are who they are and open up to me only when they feel like it. Once I know them a little, though, I can sometimes sit down and interview them at the keyboard. That helps. If they’re willing.
How do you go about building your world if you use one? Do you use maps, charts or drawings?
Once again, you mistake me for somebody organized and logical. A plotter. Unfortunately for me, I’m really a pantser who’s been dragged kicking and screaming into a world that requires plotting in order to sell. Anything I note down is after I’ve written about it, and only as a reminder in case I need the details later. The world, much like the characters, already exists. I just have to be patient and see the details as they are, not as I would like them to be. It’s insane and frustrating.
Do you have any authors that inspired you?
Too many to name. I’m a lifelong fan of romance, from the time I was checking out every Georgette Heyer, Victoria Holt and Phyllis Whitney I could find in the library as an early teen. From there, I discovered (usually via my mother’s ‘secret’ bookshelf) romance favorites like Julie Garwood and Kathleen Woodiwiss (I now have all of her books in paperback and hardcover). I have nearly every book Nora Roberts has written. I love Jayne Ann Krentz (in all of her personae), Christine Feehan, MaryJanice Davidson, Lori Foster, Jennifer Crusie, Sherrilyn Kennyon, Katie MacAlister, Lynsay Sands, Nina Bangs . . . somebody stop me.
What do you feel is the most effective promotion you have done for your book?
I’ll admit promotion is not my favorite aspect of this industry. I tend to focus most of my efforts online, in the various social networking and library cataloguing sites. I do guest blogs like this one and my group blog (Deadline Hellions), myspace (come friend me, please! www.myspace.com/NataleStenzel), a newsletter (you can subscribe via my website at http://www.natalestenzel.com/). I also really love doing stock signings. It’s mostly stress free and casual – a lot of the benefits of booksignings but without the social challenges introverts have a hard time facing. Booksellers are fabulous and love having authors come sign stock, at least in my experience.
What do we have to look forward to next?
As I mentioned earlier, The Druid Made Me Do It is the second book in a series of funny paranormal romances. Pandora’s Box, released in February, was the first. The third book, called Between a Rock and a Heart Place, is scheduled for release in March 2009.
To celebrate the release of The Druid Made Me Do It, Natale is offering a free copy of Pandora’s Box, the first book in her series of funny paranormal romances, to one lucky commenter on today's blog. (Please make sure we have a way to contact you if you win) She will be around all day today. I'm sure some of you have questions or comments for her, so please ask away...
Born and raised in St. Louis, Missouri, Natale Stenzel endured your average childhood with two brothers to annoy and parents to baffle. She attended the University of Missouri-Columbia, earning bachelor's degrees in English literature and magazine journalism. At this logical point in time, she decided that being a reporter or technical writer did not appeal to her in the least. But she tried.
She moved to Baton Rouge, Louisiana, did some business and technical-type writing, married her adorable engineering geek, then quit the tech writing job to churn out babies. At home full time and uncomfortable in June Cleaver mode, she tried her hand at book-length fiction.
She spent several years shooting in the dark, writing her heart out only to face rejection after rejection. Then, after a move to lovely central Virginia, she sold her first book in July 2002 at a Romance Writers of America conference in Denver, Colorado (Forget Prince Charming, Harlequin Flipside, November 2003). In total, she published four romantic comedies with Harlequin Flipside.
Her fifth book, Pandora’s Box (released in February 2008) is the first in a series of funny paranormal romances to be published by Dorchester for its Love Spell line. So far, she’s written and sold two sequels: The Druid Made Me Do It (just released this month) and Between a Rock and a Heart Place (due out in March 2009).
Check out author’s website at http://www.natalestenzel.com/ .
Barnes & Noble: http://search.barnesandnoble.com/The-Druid-Made-Me-Do-It/Natale-Stenzel/e/9780505527776/?itm=1