Wednesday, April 7, 2010

A Different Kind of Sunrise

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,

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?


Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

Here chooky chooky!

Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

Barbara, it's great to have you "on the other side of the blog" today! LOVED that excerpt, but then I'm a sucker for hot guys and small furry creatures like dogs. :-)

Funny you should mention not intending to write a cop hero. I never did either, and yet, my hero in my July release is an ex-cop. Those guys really know how to show up and take over a story. LOL!


Helen said...

Well done AC what do you have planned for him today

I love that excerpt very good I do love stories with animals in them LOL. Congrats on the release as well. Thanks Nancy for inviting Barbara today

As for favourite cop story I have read a few one that comes to mind is one of Beth's stories Not Without Her Family I loved that one Jack and Kelsey's story was so good and I am sure there are others and I can't think of them at the moment trying to cook dinner for the family again LOL.

Have Fun

Tiffany Clare said...

Barbara, your book sounds delightful. I think I'll have to pick that up when I'm at the bookstore. I really love the excerpt. Love strong heroines, love cop heroes. Not sure I have a fave cop hero/book. But cops are totally hot. Congrats on the debut.

Deb Marlowe said...

Congrats Barbara! I'm so glad this release date is finally here! It feels like we've been waiting forever. Congrats on a kicking cover too!

Actually, my favorite cop show is Castle--where the female lead is the cop and the hero is a charming mystery writer/tag along. I just love that show!

Gillian Layne said...

I really like Beth's policeman Jack in Not Without Her Family. And the policeman in the Virgin River books.

I like the concept for your story, Barbara, and really like your excerpt. And I think your call story's sweet. My mom always says things happen when they're supposed to, and it sounds like they worked out great for you!

Nice interview, Nancy. :)

Barbara Monajem said...

Thanks, Aunty Cindy -- It's wonderful to be here on the other side of my fave blog.

I think one of the reasons I didn't want to write a cop is because they have too many procedures to follow. All those rules! But Gideon turned out to be a bit of a rule-breaker, so all went well, LOL.

Kirsten said...

Barbara -- amazing excerpt! You know, there's a skill to writing these books, and a serious skill in picking a good excerpt. That one really made me want to read the book! Wow!

I'm also not generally a fan of cop stories, but if the hero is well done, I can love anything (like the amazing Beth Andrews' cops -- love them!). Not Without Her Family is definitely my favorite cop story. :-)

I am going to muse on your call story all day. Three years? That's amazing.

Barbara Monajem said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Minna said...

My favorite cop series is In Death series by J.D. Robb.

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Kuorosota 2010 [3]// Kuopio - Like A Virgin -a bit heavier version of this song...

Kuorosota 2010 [2]// Kuopio - Paradise City

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Barbara Monajem said...

Hi, Deb! (Waving energetically. It's still morning, so I have lots of oomph.)

I really enjoy The Mentalist, because the male cop is SO manipulative (in the service of the greater good, of course). He's one of those annoying characters you can't help but love.

Cassondra said...

Wow, Barbara!

What an awesome story! I love the scene between your characters. And I read through the comments and saw that animals show up in your stories. They do in mine too. So far it's been cats, which is not what I would have expected.

Love your titles also.

Aunty Cindy, woohooo on getting the bird!

Barbara Monajem said...

Gillian - I agree with your mom. Things happen when the time is right. I would have been SO unprepared a few years earlier. Well, I'm still unprepared, but not quite so badly!

A friend recommended the Virgin River books to me ages ago. Thanks for reminding me.

I'll make a point of looking for Beth's book!

Cassondra said...

OH...I should answer the question.

Sorry. A bit too much blood in my system. The caffeine-blood ratio is off a bit. I think about it, I'm not certain I've read a lot of cop stories. I don't tend to gravitate toward those. I love Beth's cop hero though. I also like the cop hero from Tawny's in Double Dare.

Nancy said...

Cindy, congrats on the chook!

Barbara, I love this post, and it's a wonderful book! I've started it.

In the interest of full disclosure, I'm Barbara's PAL (sort of a booster) for Georgia Romance Writers, so I already have a copy of the book. I've started it, and it really is fabulous.

Nancy said...

Helen, Beth's Jack really is a great guy, isn't he? Trish's current detective, Sara, is also a great character.

Nancy said...

Hi, Tiffany--I like cop stories too. They're sort of modern knights, y'know?

Barbara Monajem said...

Kirsten - I'm so glad you liked the excerpt! It's not easy picking a good excerpt scene. I try to find one that really got me emotionally keyed-up when I was writing it. Hopefully, readers will feel that same strong emotion.

Wow. Three recommendations for Beth's story. It's going in my Amazon cart right now.

Nancy said...

Deb, we're big Castle fans at our house. I think the dh likes it, in part, because not as much stuff blows up as in some of the things we (primarily me) watch. The characters really are appealing.

Nancy said...

Gillian, I like your picture. :-)

Glad you enjoyed the interview. What's the Virgin River series?

Barbara Monajem said...

Minna - I'm reading one of the "In Death" stories right now! Exciting stuff.

Barbara Monajem said...

Cassondra - Actually, I'm still surprised when dogs show up in my stories. I have had far more cats than dogs. I think the dogs appear because they are such participators. They get involved in everything that's going on, for better or for worse. Cats are more contemplative.

Barbara Monajem said...

Thank you, Nancy. Glad you're enjoying it.

Cops as modern knights? What an enlightening concept. I'll never think of cops the same way again, LOL.

Nancy said...

Kirsten, isn't that a great excerpt? I should maybe add that I volunteered to be Barbara's PAL because I knew I'd love her writing. I really like these characters. And since I live in a household run by a dog, I can relate to that, too. :-)

Nancy said...

Minna, I think J.D. Robb has lots of fans here. I recently finished Fantasy in Death and loved it! It plays right to my inner geek as well as having the usual terrific mystery and romance.

Nancy said...

Barbara, I like The Mentalist, too, but I keep missing it. That and Human Target.

The Devil Wears Prada re-ran a few days ago. I'd forgotten Simon Baker was in that, too.

jo robertson said...

Hi, Barbara, welcome back to the Lair! Great interview, Nancy.

Aunty Cindy, what are you doing up at this unearthly hour!!??

Loved the excerpt, Barbara. Shame on you for making the sale sound so easy. JD, of course.

How are Sunrise in a Garden of Love and Evil and Tastes of Love and Evil related? Are the same characters involved as well as the setting?

jo robertson said...

Deb, I love Castle too!

One of my fave cops in a book is the Harry Bosch series by the late Michael Connelly. He's not a romantic hero per se, but I love his ordinary rumple-ness!

Anita Clenney said...

This series is right up my alley. The characters sound great. I loved the excerpt. The heroes in my series are warriors, but I love cop heroes too. They're all protectors. Can't think of a favorite cop.

Nancy said...

Hi, Anita--We like warriors and protectors around here, too. I think you'll like this book. :-)

cait045 said...

I really liked Sins of the Flesh by Caridad Pineiro. The guy is all big, macho, and feels the need to protect this girl who needs help. It is the best type.

Jeanne (AKA The Duchesse) said...

Hey AC! Grins. congrats on the chooky-chook!

Hi Barbara!! Welcome to the LAIR!! I know you come often as a commenter, but it's great to have you as a guest as well.

I love the sound of this book. It also sounds sssstttteamy hot! Grins. right up my alley.

I'm also with AC on being a sucker for hot guys who like dogs.
Oh, fan me now!

I'm off to the dungeons for another long stint of writing, but wanted to pop in and saw WOOT! and WELCOME!

Virginia said...

Congrat Aunty Cindy on the rooster today!

Barbara what a great post! Loved the excerpt! I am not sure I have a favorite cop book but love the Castle show on TV! I love book where the hero is protecting the heroine even when she is a strong lady. I love the strong heroine but they still need protecting.

Barbara Monajem said...

Jo - Thanks very much. Sunrise and Tastes share many of the same secondary characters. These are all characters who just showed up on the page and refused to leave. Also, Ophelia has a cameo appearance in Tastes. One of the secondary characters, a Native American rock star, will have his own book soon -- hopefully next year.

Barbara Monajem said...

Anita - I love warriors, too. They're hot! And cool! And we don't see many in our everyday lives, so they make great story fodder.

Mary Marvella said...

Hey, Barbara! Hey, Nancy!

My favorite stories are usually the ones I'm reading, unless they are really bad. I'm reading Allison Brennan now. Yep I grabbed two of her books from my stacks. I just finished reading Killing Fear.

Babrara, I can't wait to start this book.

Barbara Monajem said...

Cait - Isn't it fascinating how modern, independent women still fall for the macho, protective male? (I haven't read Sins of the Flesh, so I'm making assumptions here.:))

Barbara Monajem said...

Thanks for the welcome, Jeanne. Have fun in your moldy, gloomy, quiet, peaceful, hopefully productive dungeon.

jo robertson said...

Barbara said, "One of the secondary characters, a Native American rock star, will have his own book soon -- hopefully next year."

Ooooh, that sounds really intriguing.

jo robertson said...

Barbara said, "Cait - Isn't it fascinating how modern, independent women still fall for the macho, protective male?"

Isn't that so true? I think we like the idea of being strong and independent, but also tender and protected.

Barbara Monajem said...

Virginia - Yay, another reader who goes for the independent heroine who also wants to be protected. And Jo, too!

Heroes also need protection, but in different ways. The heroine of Tastes of Love and Evil feels compelled to protect the hero.

Barbara Monajem said...

MAry M - Ooh, Allison Brennan. She writes some suspenseful stuff!!

TerriOsburn said...

I must say, I do NOT read vampire romances, but I'm really hooked on that excert. That is GOOD. I saw this cover on my Avon email the other day and thought the title was pretty cool too.

So, you may be the one to convert me to vamps. The not undead ones anyway.

Great call story. That could be the most relaxed one I've ever read. LOL!

Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

Morning Barbara and Everyone!

I've got the GR busy with my laundry -- wash, dry, fluff, and fold! I told him males who do household chores are exceptionally HAWT, and he must have believed me because he's even found an ancient flowered apron from somewhere...

Barbara, I really love the fact that your vamps are not UNdead. That cold, pale and dark really creeps me out about most vampires.

And waiting THREE YEARS to hear back from one editor has got to be some kind of record! Thanks for sharing that great call story with us.


Mary Ricksen said...

And you have all those books you wrote in the three years you waited, to publish and have more best selling, award winning, stories!
Barbara you are so sweet and your picture is a mirror of that. Best of luck in sales and when you are really famous don't forget us at PFS!

Mary Ricksen said...

And you have all those books you wrote in the three years you waited, to publish and have more best selling, award winning, stories!
Barbara you are so sweet and your picture is a mirror of that. Best of luck in sales and when you are really famous don't forget us at PFS!

Barbara Monajem said...

Terri - Actually, the call situation was surprisingly relaxed, at least on the surface. I'm not much of a screamer (= sore throat) or jump-up-and-down (= massive headache) type of person. Immediately after the call, I started worrying about promo and other stuff, LOL.

Barbara Monajem said...

Loucinda - Can I borrow the rooster for my laundry mountain?

Mary R - Thank you, Mary, but don't be deceived by the picture. Bwa-ha-ha!

catslady said...

"Or your favorite story where the hero has to protect the heroine" - that's almost every book I read lol. Don't think I can pick a favorite. I did just finish Hotshot by Catherine Mann - I guess the hero was really special ops but almost the same lol.

Barbara Monajem said...

catslady - Maybe we should look for stories where the heroine has to protect the hero. I really like those. Not that I can think of one offhand...

Beth said...

Thanks for being with us in the lair today, Barbara! Congrats on the release - love the excerpt and can't wait to read the book :-)

I love Virginia Kantra's cop heroes - I just re-read her Children of the Sea trilogy and the first story has a very sexy cop hero *g*

Loved your call story. What did you do to celebrate your sale?

Beth said...

Helen, Gillian, Kirsten and Cassondra, thank you so much! I had a lot of fun writing Jack :-)

Barbara Monajem said...

Beth - I love Virgina Kantra's trilogy. Selkies are way cool.

Celebrate? Hmm. Well, I did go out to dinner with my dh, two of my daughters, and one son-in-law. Eventually. 'Come on, Mom, we have to do SOMETHING to celebrate.'

Susan Sey said...

AC! With the GR snag! Nice!

Okay, down to the business of protective heroes:

First, Barbara, your excerpt is wonderful! I'll be snatching up a copy of this one ASAP!

Now, as for protective heroes, I just read Nora Robert's vampire trilogy (Morrigan's cross? I'm so bad at titles) and though I'm a huge NON fan of vampire stuff, that third book featured a vampire hero who absolutely stole my heart. He was so suave and nonchalant about the whole damned forever thing, had taken not caring to an art form. And this heroine--this brave, plucky, dutiful heroine--came along and brought that undead heart right back to life.

He had to protect her from himself, of course, which just killed me.

I loved that book.

Nancy said...

cait045, I've heard other people recommend Sins of the Flesh. We like strong alpha heroes around here.

Nancy said...

Hey, Jeanne--Good luck with the cave!

Nancy said...

Hi, Virginia--I like strong heroines, too. The dh and I faithfully watch Castle.

Nancy said...

Mary Marvella wrote: My favorite stories are usually the ones I'm reading, unless they are really bad.

LOL! What a great line! I'm happy to say I haven't run across many bad ones, but there is that occasional clinker.

Nancy said...

Terri, I don't read vampire romances, either. As a rule, they don't do it for me. But I'm really enjoying this one a lot!

Nancy said...

Hi, AC--Watch the GR with the folding. He stuck a talon through the boy's favorite anime t-shirt.

Nancy said...

Mary, Barbara's Harlequin Undone was fabulous, too! Very different from this, but excellent.

Nancy said...

Catslady, I loved Hotshot. Lots of action and great characters!

Nancy said...

Hi, Beth--I agree with you about Virginia's cops. She also did some very hot law enforcement heroes for IM.

Nancy said...

Susan, you may have put another vampire series on my list. The one I read and liked initially was Robin McKinley's Sunshine, which is usually shelved in horror but has a strong romantic subplot. I love that book.

Loving Barbara's, too! But vampires are a hard sell for me.

Nancy said...

I'm out of town today but do have internet access. Back in a bit!

Pat Cochran said...

Best Wishes and Congratulations,
Barbara! Loved the excerpt of
your book.

Favorite cop shows: the NCIS and
CSI shows, Castle, The Mentalist.

They are not exactly cop books,
but I am really enjoying Suzanne
Brockmann's Troubleshooters Inc.
series. (I'm on the tenth of the
fifteen book series) They are
about counter-terrorist Seals
and FBI agents.

I also enjoy the interplay that
occurs between the primary characters. They do take care of each other, the women and the
men alike!

Pat Cochran

donnas said...

Congrats on the release! Sounds like a great book.

I do love a good cop story too, they really know how to protect. But I dont like it if it makes the heroine weak. I like both to have strengths they can pull on and come together.

Barbara Monajem said...

Susan - I love it when the hero protects the heroine from himself. You see that in a lot of historicals, too. It's fun, because try as they may, it never, ever works.

Louisa Cornell said...

Aunty !!! You nabbed the Golden One!! I KNOW he will behave. He usually does for the woman with the crop!

Barbara, what a cool sounding book! And I am a sucker for ANYTHING set in Louisiana as it was my home away from home when I lived in Mississippi. And it is where my dear bassett/beagle mix (we call him a bagel) Boudreaux was rescued after Katrina. I already LOVE this hero !!Can't wait to read the book.

Beth's Jack is one of my FAVORITE cop heroes. He is just so smooth and sexy!

One of my favorite unlikely cop heroes is FBI Agent Pendergast from the Childs and Douglas series. There is a scene in Brimstone where he is in prison on a string of set up charges with no hope of release and the heroine comes to see him. He kisses her for the first and last time and tells her "This is goodbye." And she says "You know where I'll be. I'll wait there until you come for me." It has been a while since I read the book, but that scene just makes you melt into the floor for this guy. LOVE cop heroes like that.

Barbara Monajem said...

Pat - Yay! Another Mentalist fan. Many people have mentioned Castle, so I guess I should try it out. Actually, I've probably seen bits of it and just don't know. I'm not much good at staying put in front of the TV. It's too distracting!

Barbara Monajem said...

Donna - Totally agreed on no weak heroines!

Louisa - Oh, I'm a sucker for Louisiana too. Such an atmosphere... Definitely a home away from home for me, too. Boudreaux sounds like a sweetie!

Nancy said...

Pat, I love NCIS, too. I'll watch the marathons, even if I've seen them before, if I have a few minutes to kill.

Nancy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Nancy said...

DonnaS, I like the pulling together part, too. I can't relate to weak heroines.

Nancy said...

Louisa, that does sound like a fabulous scene, the one from Brimstone. I may have to check these books out, too.

More for the TBR pile . . .

Nancy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
jessi said...

Barbara, I haven't read this yet, but now I'm looking forward to reading the next in the series, too!

Looking forward to a great read.

Barbara Monajem said...

Jessi - Great to see you again!

Nancy said...

Hi, Jessi--Thanks for stopping by!

Joelle Charbonneau said...

Hi Barbara! I loved the excerpt. A vampire that is a sucker for a dog is a character that I'm going to love. I can't wait to dig into the book!

Nancy said...

Hi, Joelle--Isn't the dog great? This is a wonderful book.

EmilyBryan said...

HI Barbara! LOL about languishing in Chris's slush pile for 3 years. I've seen the pile. It needs its own zipcode! So glad it worked out for you.

Liane Spicer said...

Barbara, that's a great story about how the book sold!

Love, love LOVE that excerpt - and I'm not even into paranormals! But I'll read a great story in ANY genre!

My fave cop story is A Running Duck by Paula Gosling. If you're into this stuff you have to read it now!