Q&A with Michelle Lauren…

Today my guest is author Michelle Lauren!

 Here’s a little bio for Michelle to let you know more about her…

A former editor at Cobblestone Press, Michelle Lauren is now a freelance writer and columnist. Her articles have appeared in Cobblestone Press Quarterly and Romance Writers Report, the monthly international newsletter for Romance Writers of America. Her urban fantasy HOW TO TAME A HARPY is a Dorchester & Romantic Times’ American Title V finalist and her novel, STARSTRUCK: HUNTER, is available from Liquid Silver Books.

 And now here is my interview with Michelle…

Welcome, can you tell us a little about the book?
Sure! Thanks for having me Jennifer. Starstruck: Hunter is a sci-fi/urban fantasy novella available here from Liquid Silver Books. Below are a blurb and a teaser excerpt. Enjoy!

Cover_Starstruck_Hunter_by_Michelle_LaurenA woman on the run…
When twenty-four year old star Miranda Snow crash lands on Earth, a place where humans hunt and kill her kind for their life-prolonging energy, she doesn’t know who to trust. Danger is everywhere. Her only hope for survival lies in the unlikely arms of ex-star hunter Noah Benson. Tall, dark and jaded, Noah’s touch sparks her passion and melts her defenses.

A man with a dark secret…
Nine years ago, Noah lost everything in one night: his freedom, his friends and all hopes of a future in astronomy. Years later he is driven by revenge against the man responsible, a ruthless killer determined to claim Miranda – something Noah refuses to let happen. But when faced with an impossible choice, will he be able to protect Miranda or will he lose her forever?

EXCERPT

Noah’s mind returned to the fallen star. A dozen hunters were tracking the star’s energy trail. They would probably make a capture by dawn.

And I will have another innocent life on my conscience.

The knowledge weighed on Noah’s mind. After toweling off, he pulled on a pair of gray sweatpants and a black cotton T-shirt. On his way past the window, something in the motel building’s pool caught his attention. He looked closer and gasped.

A naked woman floated facedown in the water, long black hair spread around her. Instincts took over as he leapt onto the fire escape and rapidly descended the stairs. Water soaked all the outdoor furniture and chunks of concrete littered the ground.

Something more than her must have fallen in the pool to cause that much damage. He dove into the water and gasped. It was freezing. Grasping the woman around the waist, he pulled her to safety and stretched her body beside the pool.

Ignoring her nudity, he scanned her for injuries. She couldn’t have been in the water long because her cuts were still fresh. Blood trickled from a gash on her forehead and she sported a black eye. He checked her arms and relaxed slightly when he didn’t find the usual needle marks he saw on jumpers. At least this isn’t drug related.

“Hey lady, can you hear me?” Grasping her wrist, he felt for a pulse. Sluggish, but it was there. He pinched her nose and blew air into her lungs. He started chest compressions, but she didn’t respond.
“Come on, fight!”

He lowered his mouth to continue CPR. The soft lips came alive beneath his as the woman sputtered. Her body jerked, and she rolled onto her side, expelling water from her lungs. Noah reached out to steady her. He blinked in surprise when she shrank away from his touch.

“I won’t hurt you. Don’t move. I’ll go call an ambulance.”

Thick lashes fluttered and hazel eyes pinned him before he could move. She had the largest pupils he had ever seen, like those sported by characters in anime cartoons. When she tried to sit up, he overrode the effort by placing a hand on her stomach.

With the immediate danger over, Noah suddenly became aware of the intimacy of their position. His eyes drifted down her body, lingering on the swells of her breasts and the dark areolas of her nipples, visible through the cottony curls plastered to her chest.

“Is this heaven?”

Her voice, husky and rich, rolled over his senses. It took a moment before the question registered. It surprised a laugh from him. Noah shook his head. “Far from it, sugar. This is Neptune.”

“Oh. What constellation is that in?”

His blood froze. “What did you say?”

She touched her temple, drawing his attention to the ring glittering on her left hand. “Something hit me when I was leaning out the window. I must have fallen.” Her expression morphed from confusion to terror as she stared at him.

“Where do you live?”

She pointed a trembling finger at the sky, cementing his suspicion: she was the star. His eyes closed. Of all the places she could have landed, why here? Should he contact the police? At least they would place her in protective custody. Then again, that was worth about as much as Confederate money these days.

Noah knew from experience that Joel didn’t mind spilling a little blood to get what he wanted.

“Where am I?”

“Earth. I guess you’ve heard of it?” he said drolly when she gasped. He got the feeling that she would have run if she’d had the strength. He purposely gentled his voice. “Don’t worry; you’re safe with me. What’s your name?”

“Miranda.”

Leaning forward, he captured a tear as it slid down her cheek. It shimmered on the tip of his finger and crystallized. Amazing. “My name is Noah. Whoa!” He caught her as she fainted. He scanned the area, realizing for the first time how exposed they were. “Come on, sugar. Let’s get you inside.”

He carried her up the fire escape to his room and settled her on the bed. Moonlight streamed over her body, highlighting her delicate features. Unbidden, a memory leapt forward, that of pale eyes begging him for help. With grim resolve, he focused.

Ten years ago, he failed to protect a star. He would not fail again. He would protect this one no matter what. His lips ghosted over hers.

“You’re safe with me. I promise.”

Want more? Buy it here:
http://www.liquidsilverbooks.com/books/starstruckhunter.htm

* * * * *

What inspired the story?
The film Stardust, based on the book by comic book and fantasy writer Neil Gaiman, inspired me. The film is about a sentient star who is knocked from the sky and rescued by a local shop boy from the fictional kingdom of Wall. The two unlikely companions fall in love amidst swordfights, homicidal princes and jealous exes. If you haven’t seen the film or read the book, don’t wait! You won’t be disappointed.

Seeing the film made me wonder: what if that really happened? How would a sentient star adjust to living in the “real” world? What if the “real” world was a place where stars are hunted for their energy and other creatures that go bump in the night regularly clash with humans? What if she fell for someone she shouldn’t? Starstruck: Hunter was born. 

Can you tell us a little more about the main characters?
Miranda and Noah are the ultimate star-crossed lovers. Not only are they from different worlds, but on the surface, they should be enemies. Making their relationship believable was a rewarding challenge.

Miranda is a complex character, which made her lots of fun to write. At times she’s vulnerable, at times brave. Even when she is unsure, she isn’t afraid to take risks or go after what she wants. 

I spent a lot of time developing Noah’s character. He turned out to be one of my favorite heroes. The darker aspects of his personality – his drive for revenge and justice — are balanced by his sense of honor and his desire to do anything to protect the woman he loves. He’s also great with his hands.  🙂 

What was your favorite thing about writing this book?
Imagining all the cool ways to use Mirada’s powers. I asked myself: “What would I do with the power to manipulate energy? What could go wrong?” The possibilities were limitless.

Another perk included inventing scenarios that required Miranda to adapt her powers for everyday use, and also watching the hijinks that ensued when she misused those powers.

What is your favorite thing about being a writer?
I’m greedy; I can’t pick just one thing! In my experience, nothing compares to writing fiction.  It’s the only job that allows me to literally rule the world. 🙂 I enjoy getting to know my characters and watching them evolve from ideas into fully-fleshed out creatures that demand my attention and beg me to write more stories for them to play in.   

Describe yourself in three words.
Innovative, driven and whimsical.

Is there anything that my blog readers might be surprised to learn about you?
I’m a major procrastinator. And I love reading fan fiction. 

What’s next for you?
Nonfiction-wise: I’m interviewing literary agent Michelle Grajkowski of 3 Seas Literary Agency for a future spot in my “Agent Spotlight” column in Romance Writers Report. 

Fictionwise: I have several projects in the works. I’m in the final revision stages on another novella. I’m also editing two urban fantasy short stories; I plan to post teaser excerpts from these to my next newsletter (available through my Yahoo group). 

Lastly, I am seeking representation for my novel, How to Tame a Harpy, which was a Romantic Times magazine American Title V finalist in 2009. I have a request for a partial from one literary agent, so I’m keeping my fingers crossed. 

Where can readers find you on the web?
Main site: http://www.michellelaurenbooks.com 
Yahoo Group: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/michellelaurenbooks/join
Group Blog: http://thenaughtygirlsnextdoor.blogspot.com

Do you have any questions for my blog readers?
Yes! Today, I’m giving away a $5 Border’s Gift Card to one commenter.

TO ENTER:  Leave a comment on this post answering the following question: “What are your pet peeves (i.e. things that turn you off) in a heroine?”

Michelle’ll pick the winner by 10pm today and announce it in the comments. If she chooses you, please make sure to contact her promptly at this address to claim your prize: interactive@michellelaurenbooks.com.  

 Thanks Michelle for being my guest!

Readers, go ahead and answer her question to be entered in the contest and be sure to check out the comments later tonight or tomorrow to see if you won!

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20 Responses to Q&A with Michelle Lauren…

  1. Hi Michelle,
    Heroines that turn me off, …..hmmmm? Well I guess I would have to say a heroine who is a doormat, or a heroine who is too kickass, or too perfect looking because really who is really like this in real life. I hate both of these extremes. I like my heroines to be more true to life, with flaws and strengths who can be vulnerable and grow as a person during the relationship that builds during a romance in a book, because that is what happens in real life (if it is going to work).
    I know it is fiction, but for me to be able to believe the love story, there are some aspects that make a story appeal to me.

  2. @ Booklover1335: Great answer! I agree with you in preferring heroines who have some flaws (as long as they’re redeemable). No one like a Mary Sue (i.e. perfect character). Thanks for dropping by and sharing your thoughts!

  3. Val Pearson says:

    I cannot stand for my heroine to be whiny willing to let anything just happen to her. I want her to be strong as well as willing and perfectly able to fight for what she believes in. I hate fake heroines who think they are God’s gift to men.

  4. @ Val P: Whiny heroines are definitely a turn-off for me as well. Thanks for commenting!

  5. pearl says:

    A heroine who is too perfect and arrogant and would never be able to show her feelings and become down to earth.

  6. chey says:

    Hi!
    The excerpt from Starstruck: Hunter sounds great. Can’t wait to read it!
    Pet peeves in a heroine? It has to be the woman who is too stubborn to go to a safe place, after her house/car/workplace/classroom (or all of them) have been broken into multiple times and she has been attacked. She puts others in danger and dilutes the workforce.

  7. RobynL says:

    I dislike heroines who think they ‘deserve’ the bad treatment they are getting from their SO because they might just have raised their voice somewhat or didn’t cook the sausages just the way he wanted them or she left some toys laying around of the kids’.

    I don’t like when the heroine can’t see what is wrong in her life because she can’t see past her nose.

  8. JOYE says:

    I prefer my heroines to have a will of their own, and I want them to be spunky. I don’t want them to feel obligated to someone for their existence.

  9. @ Pearl: I agree. A too perfect heroine is a big turnoff for me as a reader and a writer. I find it hard to relate to heroines who are arrogant.Thanks for commenting.

  10. @ chey: I’m glad you enjoyed the excerpt from Starstruck: Hunter. As for the heroine pet peeves: I think the heroine you’re describing is the kind editors describe as TSTL (Too Stupid To Live). 🙂 Yes, those are the kind that irritate me as well — women who refuse to take reasonable precautions after danger/tragedy occurs in the story. Thanks for commenting.

  11. @ RobynL: You aren’t alone in that. No one likes a heroine who is a willing punching bag — either physically or emotionally. Thanks for commenting.

  12. @ Joye: Spunky heroines are lots of fun to write! I don’t mind a character with some emotional dependence on other characters (i.e. friends, family) but it’s a off-putting to me when I read heroines who depend completely on anyone else for their happiness. Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

  13. Jane says:

    I don’t like heroines that are whiny. I don’t want to read about someone who complains all the time.

  14. Fedora says:

    Hi, Michelle! Thanks for the great interview and for the introduction to your writing! As for annoying heroines, I think previous commenters have hit the highlights–I think the most annoying are ones who are complainers or incredibly immature, or those who go out of their way to prove themselves smart/competent/kick-ass and rush into situations they ought not, proving just the opposite. And yes, a heroine with a few flaws is definitely preferred over the too-perfect ones–I like to feel like I can relate 🙂

  15. Lori Ann says:

    Thanks for the excerpt and interview.

    Heroines who act like they do not have common sense are my pet peeve. For example, a heroine in a regency historical who acts shocked that her parents would expect her to marry after she gets caught in a compromising situation. Another example, is a heroine who does not show caution in her daily actions when someone has been trying to kill her during most of the book. I also do not like doormats.

  16. Caylah W. says:

    1. Weak
    2. Needy(always needs to be saved or rescued)
    3. One dementional (no depth or insight to her character, no history)
    4. Goes along with everything( whatever is going on she is following, no ind of her own is represented by a sterotype)
    5. Plain( nothing that gives her character, no secret or no past. Just there, nothing to sink your teeth into as far as inner struggles or dilemma-the inner fight)

  17. Sarah Vincent says:

    Great interview Michelle! Starstruck: Hunter sounds really interesting. My pet peeves for heroines are ones who are ditzy or judgmental. I especially dislike heroines who harp on the hero’s flaws but expect him to accept all of hers.

  18. Okay everyone. Something weird happened with my Firefox browser and it stopped letting my comments post around 9 pm EST. I responded to most of your comments, though.

    Thanks to everyone for reading the interview and sharing the pet peeves about heroines. The winner of the Border’s Gift Card is Booklover1335.

    Congratulations! To claim your prize, please email me at the address listed at the end of the interview.

  19. […] Michelle Lauren, author of How to Tame a Harpy, by Jennifer’s Random Musings […]

  20. Caffey says:

    Hi Michele!! I don’t mind a heroine that is naive because its often fitting in a historical. But some that are in ways doing things that put the hero in jeopardy. I understand it can happen but don’t like it to happen like with what I called TSTL LOL.

    Loved hearing more about this book!!

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