Everybody say hi and welcome Cheryl Brooks, author of the Cat Star Chronicles, to Love Romance Passion. Grab a cup of something hot and let's get down to business. Below is the interview:
Thank you so much Cheryl for sitting down to chat! How did you come up with the idea for the Cat Star Chronicles?
I'd been writing contemporary romances that utilized the boy-next-door theme and had also written a number of stories that were requested by friends, but my original intention when I began writing-about thirty years ago, now!-was to write a science fiction romance. Then I read an erotic sci-fi novel about a woman who had to pose as a slave to a dominant male, and because I've never been a fan of dominant alpha males, I thought it would be much more fun if the man was the slave instead of the woman! So I wrote a story about a tough, independent space trader named Jacinth in need of a man she can trust with her life to aid her in the quest to rescue her kidnapped sister. Toward that end she buys an alien slave, whom she dubs Cat, hoping to gain his loyalty by offering him freedom in exchange for his assistance. Part of the appeal of this hero was that, being a slave, he had nothing but his strength, intelligence, and sensual nature to offer a woman. It was my intention that he be the last of his kind, but to continue this as a series, I created a scenario where six Zetithian men were captured at the end of the war that destroyed their world and sold into slavery and each book in the series tells the story of how one of them found love.
Should readers start from the beginning of the series or do you feel that they can jump in any time?
I think any series works best by reading them in order, however, I've tried very hard to make each of my books able to stand alone, and, according to several reviews, I've succeeded.
What is your favorite book so far in the series? How many in total will there be?
It's difficult to choose because though all of my heroes are irresistible Zetithians, they all have very different personalities, as do my heroines. I let my imagination run wild in Slave, but Warrior was fun because most of the secondary characters were animals with whom the heroine could communicate telepathically-and they all had plenty of pithy comments to make about humans! In Rogue, my piano-teacher heroine had two stunning Zetithian brothers to choose from and some really fun aliens as the supporting characters. Outcast, being about a man who has lost all desire for women, is more of a tear-jerker than the others, and it is also the first to be written in third person which gave me a chance to get inside the hero's head for a change, something that I enjoyed very much. I've had a blast writing the last two books, Fugitive and Hero, too, so I really can't pick one favorite.
As it now stands, there will be six in the series, and possibly a seventh.
How did Sourcebooks first hear of your book?
I first heard of Sourcebooks when the Romance Writer's Report listed them as a newly approved publisher. They were accepting both paranormal and erotic romances, so I submitted the manuscript for my erotic sci-fi novel, and promptly forgot about it until the editor called saying she wanted to read the rest of it. She loved it, but it was too short, so I added a few new scenes and the manuscript was then accepted.
What do you think is the biggest appeal of fantasy / sci-fi romance?
For me, the appeal is that it places few limits on my imagination, and I think that probably holds true for the readers, as well, because there are endless opportunities for surprises.
I know you're a nurse; how does that work when it comes to writing on schedule? What is your writing routine?
I work three twelve-hour night shifts a week, which varies from week to week, so there is no schedule! I'm just like anyone else: I have free time, but what I do with it is write, rather than watch television. After Slave came out, I was encouraged to try to write four books a year-and this year, there are three-but found that I simply couldn't do it and remain sane. As long as the nursing job is the one paying the bills, the books will have to be limited to two a year.
Most of my writing is done in the evening, with blogging and emails, etc, done during the day.
Remembering the small details about different alien species from book to book and just where in the galaxy each planet is located. I probably need to keep a notebook of characters and species and draw a map, but I haven't done it yet, so I have to keep copies of my books close by!
In your own words, what is love?
A deep, emotional, enduring attachment that makes you consider that person's wishes ahead of your own.
What is your favorite aspect of writing?
The creative outlet it provides. I'd go crazy without it!
What makes a great written bedroom scene?
One that makes you tingle all over and want to read it again and again! The specific components can vary, but if it doesn't involve the heart and soul, it's just sex.
How do you decide character names? Who's your favorite male and female lead so far?
My male characters have all had a connection to the "cat" theme. There was Cat in Slave, Leo in Warrior, and Tychar in Rogue, which is an alteration of the word tiger. Outcast has Lynx, and Fugitive has Manx, which are both types of cats. Trag (Hero) is short for Tragonathon, which is a combination of a friend's name and the words tiger and dragon.
My heroine's names are sometimes suggested by their occupation or their personality, or it can just be a name I happen to like. For the more alien names, I experiment. Sometimes I'll take a traditional human name and change the vowels. Other times I strike random letters on the keyboard and then go back and play around with it until it sounds right. I may change the spelling several times while I'm writing before I'm happy with it.
My favorite hero will always be Cat (Slave), because he was the one who started it all, and Bonnie (Outcast) is my favorite heroine because she had the patience and kindness to turn Lynx's life around, which I'm not sure I could have done.
Is there anything else you'd like to share with us?
I love hearing from readers!
My email address is: firstname.lastname@example.org