posted by Nancy
Today we welcome Lair regular and award-winning author Barbara Monajem to discuss her dynamite debut paranormal, Sunrise in a Garden of Love and Evil. Welcome, Barbara!
We love call stories. Tell us how you sold Sunrise in a Garden of Love and Evil.
Oh, I just sat around polishing my nails and waited for the call. :)
Well, not exactly, but apart from writing the story and entering it in a contest, that’s pretty close to the truth (except that I’m really terrible at nail care). I was nowhere near as proactive as I should have been. I entered the Daphne du Maurier Contest in 2005 and finaled. Chris Keeslar at Dorchester Publishing was one of the judges. He asked for the full manuscript, so I finished the story (I was about 60 pages from the end) and sent it a few months later. Then I went on to write other novels, improve my craft, enter more contests, and submit to some agents. I didn’t follow up with Chris because I didn’t want him to say no! Three years later, he emailed to ask if the story was still available - if so, he would finish reading it and get back to me. The next day, he called and offered me a contract. So although I wouldn’t recommend sitting around waiting, in this case it worked for me.
Who are the hero and heroine, and what are they trying to accomplish?
The heroine, Ophelia Beliveau, is a hereditary vampire. My vampires are not undead. (I’m such a daytime person that I don’t think I could write characters who are awake only at night.) They sprout fangs at puberty and develop a craving for sex and blood. For Ophelia, this causes nothing but trouble. Eventually, she’s had one too many obsessive boyfriends and decides to give up on men. Fortunately (although it doesn’t seem that way at first), she gets caught in a web of vandalism, blackmail, and murder, and meets Gideon O’Toole, a hunky police detective. I was really surprised to find myself writing a cop hero. Generally, I’m not into cop stories, but Gideon strolled right onto the page and took over.
What’s the biggest problem between them, and what’s the biggest other problem they face?
Between them: Ophelia really, really needs to bury the past, and Gideon can’t help but dig it up. :)
Apart from that, it’s just one thing after another - death threats, blackmail, character defamation, and murder.
Can we have a peek inside the book?
Here’s a short excerpt:
Gideon left the headlights on and the engine running, got out, and held the door open for his dog. “Put the gun away, Ophelia.” He walked calmly toward her. “It’s only me.”
“I know who it is.” Ophelia’s voice broke, and a tear spilled treacherously down her cheek. “Go away!”
“Don’t call me that! I am not sweet.”
She watched Gideon control himself and start again. “I brought Gretchen to stay with you. She’ll warn you if there’s any danger.”
How had he come up with such a blessed idea? “I don’t need her. Take your dog and go home.” Ophelia bit down hard, piercing her lip, ignoring the blood, fighting tears, wanting the dog like crazy. She felt so alone.
Anguish in his voice, Gideon said, “Ophelia, don’t cry. Honey, you can’t think I’d harass you after what you’ve been through tonight.”
“You are harassing me,” she choked out. “I am not honey. I am poison. Get the hell away.”
Gretchen trotted up and stuck a cool nose under her hand. Ophelia’s fingers moved by instinct toward the dog’s curls, but she yanked her hand away, clenching and unclenching her fist, needing and wanting the animal so much it hurt. “Gretchen doesn’t want to stay with me. She’s yours. Take her and go away.”
“I discussed it with her on the ride over, and she agreed to stay with you.”
“That’s the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard in my life.” Ophelia cocked the shotgun. “Get off my property and don’t come back.”
Gideon swore under his breath. “Stupid or not, Gretchen is staying with you.” As if on cue, the dog planted her butt on the drive.
“Damn it, Gideon!” Ophelia let out a scream of rage and fired, kicking up gravel far too close to Gideon’s feet. He didn’t flinch. He didn’t move a goddamn hair. “Don’t you get it?” she yelled. “I’m trying to protect you from yourself. I am not safe!”
“‘That’s the stupidest thing I ever heard in my life,’” Gideon echoed in bitter mockery. “You could at least come up with an intelligent lie.”
Ophelia opened her mouth and shut it again. Pissing him off was what she wanted. Still, the disgust in his voice tore into her.
“I’m out of here,” he said. “I won’t come back unless you need me.” He turned to the dog. “Stay, Gretchen. Stay with Ophelia.” He got in his car and backed into the turnaround, flinging his last words through the window. “What makes you think I give a damn about being safe?”
What’s next for you?
The next novel in the Bayou Gavotte Series, Tastes of Love and Evil, will be released in late August. It’s about another vampire heroine and a hero who can literally fade into the background. In spite of initial distrust, they work together to save a runaway and rid the world of some bad, bad people. :)
One person who comments will win a signed copy of Sunrise in a Garden of Love & Evil. Also, I’m holding a contest on my website with more free copies and socks. (Bayou Gavotte, Louisiana, the imaginary town where my story takes place, has a lot of fetish clubs. If I have a fetish, it’s for socks. But don’t despair - there are other prizes, too!) More information about the contest can be found on the contact page of my website, www.BarbaraMonajem.com
So tell us, what's your favorite cop story? Or your favorite story where the hero has to protect the heroine? What do you like to see in a heroine in such stories?