Happy Friday, everyone!
Today, I’m pleased to welcome author J.T. Geissinger to Paranormal Unbound. She’s not only a terrific author, one of my fellow Montlake Romance authors, and my agency-mate, but is a RITA finalist for paranormal romance this year for her shifter novel Edge of Oblivion. This is the second in her Night Prowler series following Shadow’s Edge. The third book, Rapture’s Edge, comes out on June 18.
Welcome! First, major congrats on finaling in the RITA contest with EDGE OF OBLIVION! Tell us about your sexy shape-shifter series.
Thank you for having me, and thanks for the congratulations! The series centers around the Ikati, an ancient race of shape-shifters who live in small, hidden colonies around the world. Prior to Caesar Augustus invading Egypt, they lived in the open (spawning the cat worship culture there–the Sphinx was built in honor of one of their Queens) but have since been hunted to near extinction and exist on the fringes of human society. They are panthers who can also shift to vapor, and many of them have other abilities such as telekinesis, mind control, passing through solid matter, etc. Books one and two introduce the world and the main characters that populate it. By book three, Rapture’s Edge, humans have re-discovered the Ikati…and things are not going well.
What inspired your Ikati? Did you think ‘I want a new race of shape-shifters’ or did you come up with the concept of the people before the story arc? Are there elements of shifters or other paranormals you wanted to twist in a new way or avoid altogether?
The entire story was inspired by a stray cat. One day an amazingly beautiful black cat wandered into my life who looks exactly like a panther in miniature. This cat is incredibly smart and has the ability to disappear in the blink of an eye. I’d always loved shape-shifter stories, so I got to thinking about cats and the love/hate history we’ve had with them. They’ve been persecuted by the Church–at one point being labeled demons by a pope–have been associated with witches and the devil, but have also been worshipped as divinities. The duality of that intrigued me. I don’t really read much paranormal so I wasn’t trying to do anything new, I was just trying to do something interesting.
We keep hearing that “paranormal is dying” as a genre. I’m not sure the readers feel that way, but editors seem to be tired of it. Describe your path to publication for your Edge series.
First I’d like to say I had no idea paranormal was dying! But if that’s the general consensus, I don’t care; I believe a writer should only write what speaks to them personally, not to the market. Life is too short to waste it chasing what anyone else thinks is “in.” No one read SHADOW’S EDGE before it was published except my editor at Montlake and my agent. I didn’t even tell anyone except my husband I was writing it. I just woke up on my 40th birthday and decided it was time to stop screwing around and write that book I’d always assumed I’d write. It took me five months of writing part time to complete the manuscript, then another few months to find an agent, then about a year for the manuscript to be sold once my agent began sending it out. That was the most nerve-wracking part of the process; I’m not good at waiting! And after the book was sold, there was another six
months of waiting before it was finally published. So the process does take a while, but the end result is worth it.
Totally nerve-wracking, I agree! What is your favorite scene from EDGE OF OBLIVION?
I put Morgan and Xander through emotional hell in this book. Both of them are damaged, neither believes in love. And he’s supposed to kill her! So when they finally share one night together, the morning-after realization that there is no future for the two of them is my favorite scene because it’s honest and real and makes their decision to just enjoy it one moment at a time until time runs out all the more poignant. Here’s a snippet.
“What happened last night…this…thing between us.”
She faltered, breathless, struggling. Xander’s hand pressed against her lower back, slid under her hair, spread warmth over the space between her shoulder blades. His thumb began a slow tracery of her spine, and she curled her bare toes into the wet grass.
“This cant end well. There are no happy endings for people like us, Xander,” she whispered, staring at the sky. “We both know that.”
It was a long, long while before he answered. His thumb kept a slow rhythm over her skin. When finally he spoke, he sounded older, and very tired. “Yes.”
She was surprised how much that hurt, and what a relief it was he hadn’t tried to lie. She bowed her head and closed her eyes. He slid his palm up her neck and cupped the base of her head with his hand.
“But we have a while yet,” he said, softly pleading. “We have today, and tonight, and eight more days and nights after that. Some people live their whole lives and never get that much.”
She inhaled a long, shuddering breath, and then his hands were in her hair and his lips were on her shoulder, her neck, her cheek. She braced against it, trying not to crack, trying to push him away, but then he took her in his arms and clasped her against his chest and she broke, ashamed and enraged that there was nothing to be done about it all but cry.
“Let me go–I can’t–we can’t–” She couldn’t get it out, but he knew. He knew what she meant.
“One more day then,” he urged, cupping her face in his hands. His eyes burned hot and desperate, brilliant as dying suns. “Give me one more day, just until the Fever breaks–“
“No! I’m already too–“
He kissed her hard, cut her off before she could say too far gone. I’m already too far gone. He kissed her as if it would be the last time he’d kiss anyone ever again, and it muddled her brain and ignited her Fever until all her nos were crisped to ash in the inferno of her desire for him.
“One,” she panted, breaking away. “When the Fever breaks–“
“It will be over,” he promised, gathering her in his arms. “It will be over and we’ll never talk about it again.
She was nodding, she was crying, she was trying to crush the horrible, rushing onslaught of adrenaline that made her heart pound and her blood boil dry.
Hope, she thought, delirious. You evil bastard. One more day, and then I’ll drive a stake through your fucking heart.
Xander put an arm around her back and another hooked behind her knees, and he lifted her off the grass in one swift move as if she weight nothing, nothing at all. He brushed his lips against her forehead, tucked her against him, and ran back to the house with her cradled gently in his arms like a treasure, like something fragile and precious and fleeting, a broken-winged sparrow almost healed enough to fly.
You say you don’t read many paranormals–do you read more now that you’re writing the genre, or do you try to avoid it while you’re writing?
I never read paranormals, unless you count Twilight, before writing about the Ikati. Now I’m “informing my genre” by reading some of the bigger names like Kresley Cole, JR Ward, etc. But my favorite books are very dark, literary novels about life and death like JoJo Moyes’ ME BEFORE YOU, or Frank McCourt’s ANGELA’S ASHES. I absolutely love it when someone dies at the end! That’s usually not an option in romance, however!
No, but I LOVE Angela’s Ashes. If you were going to step outside the paranormal genres, what would you like to write?
I want to write a book that will make people cry, like the two above I mentioned. The themes I write about in my paranormals — the healing power of love, man’s interdependence with animals, the equality of all living things, the futility of revenge, our need to oppress anything “different”– are all themes that would most likely carry over into anything else I write.
For those of us salivating with envy (but only good-natured envy!), what was it like to get that call that you’d finaled in the RITAs? What did you do to celebrate?
Like probably every other author who submitted their books to RWA to be judged, I looked at their website the morning the finalists were announced in anticipation, but my name wasn’t there — which is exactly what I was expecting so I wasn’t disappointed. What I didn’t realize is that they kept putting names up throughout the day as they reached the authors via phone to tell them! So when my cell phone rang and it was a number from RWA, I literally thought, “That’s weird. I wonder if there’s a problem with my membership?” I had absolutely no clue the two things were related. When they told me, I just kept saying, “Are you kidding me? Are you sure?” because I couldn’t believe it. Meanwhile, my husband was dancing around going, “I told you! I told you!” He’s always much more confident than I am in my writing ability, which is bizarre, because he’s never read a word I’ve written. I don’t remember what we did to celebrate, but most likely it involved champagne!
And so it should! Describe your writing process–how long does it usually take you to write a book, and are you able to devote full-time to writing?
It typically takes me 4-5 months to finish a novel, writing about 3-4 hours a day. And my books are quite long, the last one clocked in at 110K, which is probably going to come out north of 450 pages. I like to write first thing in the morning when my mind is clear – I’ll get up at 5:30, get coffee and sit down in front of the computer in my bathrobe and fuzzy socks. On full-time writing days, which usually happen on the weekends or closer to a deadline, I write for 8 hours, broken up in the middle by a nap. I get my best ideas in that twilight between sleep and waking! And no one, NO ONE, gets to read the book before it goes to the editor. I’m not a fan of critique groups, though I know most authors and agents espouse them. I’ve always been more of a go-it-alone type of person.
I know you have at least one more book in this series, that comes out in June. Will there be more? What other projects can you share with us?
There will be (as of now) a total of six books in the Night Prowler series. Edge of Darkness, book four, should be published sometime later this year, then the final two installations of the series will be next year. I’ve got a very tragic story arc planned that runs from book one to the end of the series, threaded between all the different plot lines of each book, and I hate to say I can’t wait to write the final book because with what I’ve got planned, it’s going to definitely be my favorite!
Giveaway: Comment to Win!
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Leave a comment for a chance to win a copy of one of JT’s books–either her RITA-finalist Edge of Oblivion or the first in the series, Shadow’s Edge. What’s your favorite shape-shifter?
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This contest will run until Saturday midnight (12 AM CDT). Winner will be drawn and announced Sunday at the Preternatura website. International entries welcome.