An immortal warrior cursed to die every night, only to awaken the next morning knowing he has to die again. A mortal woman with a power beyond imagining…
So describes Gena Showalter’s latest book, THE DARKEST NIGHT, which is the beginning of her new LORDS OF THE UNDERWORLD series. I first heard about these books a couple years ago when the concept was nothing but a sparkling, sexy, ghost on the horizon—and man, oh man, look at them now: Pandora’s box, demons, immortal warriors just looking for a lil’ bit o’ love…
Gena is a wonderful person and a fabulous writer (with a slight addiction to spanking), and you can see more of her at Author Talk. Check out the Kresley Cole interview for some interpretive dancing. But before you do that, leave your name in the comments! Gena will be giving away a signed copy of THE DARKEST NIGHT, and we’ll pick the lucky person tomorrow night.
What is so satisfying to you about writing? And how do you organize your day to balance work and family?
There is such an amazing sense of accomplishment when I type “The End.” While staring at that first blank page, 450 pages seems like too big a mountain to climb and I think, “Can I do this? What if the last novel was a fluke? What if I�m tapped out and there�s nothing left?” So when I finally reach the top, I�m utterly and delightfully amazed. Even better is holding the final product in my hands. There are my characters, my words, my ideas, the fruition of a dream.
Used to, I would write constantly. Seven days a week, all hours of the day and night. My family missed me. Now � on average—I write eight hours, five days a week. Finding that balance was hard, though, as I�m obsessive and once I begin a project it�s difficult to walk away, even for a little while.
Do you have any concept of the success that you’ve come to, or does it still feel too new?
I think, in the back of my mind, there�s always the thought that this could all be taken away in a single instant. And that�s a terrible thing to feel because it taints the joy I should be experiencing. I mean, my books are out there, my name on their covers, and that�s the very thing I desired when I sat down to write my first novel. I�m really working on letting go and just enjoying the moment.
What setbacks or detours have you had along the way and how have you dealt with them and learned from them? Self-doubts, fear of failure?
Self-doubts and fears are constant. I never want to let my readers down, yet at the same time I know I can�t please everyone. Well, I know that now. In the beginning, I would write the books with a single thought in mind: What will readers like most? Oh, man, talk about torture! I second guessed myself at every opportunity. I learned that it�s best to write a book the way I love it, the way it�s demanding to be written.
What personal characteristics do you think are most important for achievement, for success?
Determination, definitely. Perseverance. Writing is not always fun. Sometimes the rejections will stack up and you�ll wonder if you�ve chosen an impossible dream. Sometimes there�s no inspiration to be found and you have to force the words to come. Sometimes a slew of negative reviews will hit your box and you have to write when you�re doubting everything you�ve ever produced. But you do it, anyway, or the days will pass and you�ll have nothing to show for it.
What do you think you know now about achievement that you didn’t know when you were younger?
That accomplishment is a never-ending ladder. Once you reach one plateau, you discover there�s another step to climb. So it�s best to strap on your big girl boots, wear knee and elbow pads and keep moving up, even after you fall.
When we were on the Levy Bus Tour together, I remember looking around at all of us writers, and I felt this sense of wonder that we were here, together, creating stories for a living. I felt so grateful. So I ask, what does the American Dream mean to you? And do you think that you would have become a storyteller, no matter the circumstances of your life—or was it a fine balance of place and time and people that led you to where you are now?
To me, the American Dream is being able to do something you love. And I think I would have reached this point in my life no matter the circumstances. I was a restless child � and that restlessness was even worse when I reached adulthood (though some will tell you I have hit to become an adult, but whatever), my head filled with stories and dreams. Writing was the only thing that soothed me. I just can�t imagine doing anything else.
You have a new series launching May, June and July of this year. Tell us a little about it.
My pleasure! This Lords of the Underworld series is my new favorite topic. I�ve taken the myth of Pandora and her box and completely, well, rewritten it. I claim the gods entrusted Pandora, the greatest warrior of her time, to guard the box. But a group of immortal warriors, her peers, fought and won it, opened it, and unleashed the horde of demons locked inside—demons so vile even hell had been unable to contain them (Violence, Death, Pain, Disease, Misery, Doubt, Defeat, Lies. . . ). Because of this, the gods punish each warrior to house a demon inside his own body. So the warriors become the box, so to speak. It�s not an easy pairing, either.
What inspired you to write the Lords of the Underworld books?
I needed to write Twice As Hot (the sequel to Playing With Fire) or The Vampire�s Bride (the next Atlantis book). But neither of those stories would come to me so I decided to go a different route. I had a list of ideas I�d been playing with—one involved Pandora�s box, one involved cursed immortals who lived together in an exotic location, and one involved the grim reaper. On their own, none of the ideas seemed quite big enough. It was as I began to combine them that the magic happened for me.
Can you tell us a little about the first three books? The heroes and their women?
Maddox, the hero of The Darkest Night, is keeper of Violence. I tried to stay true to his character and show his fierce struggle with the demon. Sometimes, he does not win that struggle and the demon overtakes him. His heroine, Ashlyn, is able to stand in one location and hear every conversation that�s ever taken place there. Lucien, the hero of The Darkest Kiss, is keeper of Death. He�s been ordered to escort the goddess of Anarchy�s soul to the hereafter. The tempestuous and fun-loving Anya views his attempts as a game. Reyes, the hero of The Darkest Pleasure, is keeper of Pain. He�s forbidden to know pleasure. Actually pain is his pleasure. Danika, his heroine, is being chased by his best friend, the demon of Wrath, for reasons the warriors do not yet know. Writing Reyes�s book was the hardest thing I�ve ever done. I had to tap into an emotional well I hadn�t known I possessed but I�m so happy with the result.
Oh, and I can�t end the interview there. I have learned that it�s best to end an interview with this phrase: Jill Monroe is amazing.
To read an excerpt from THE DARKEST NIGHT, check this out…