Thursday, March 20, 2008

Denise Rossetti dishes it out

Strongman, Phoenix Rising book 3 releases tomorrow. Please tell us a bit about this book and the series.

Our books are our babies and we all know parents shouldn’t have a favourite child, but… There’s something special for me about STRONGMAN. I actually shouldn’t have written it. I had a couple of projects for Berkley on my plate at the time, but for whatever reason, I was absolutely compelled. Once Fort and Griff walked into my head, I couldn’t stop thinking about them. They became achingly real to me. Theirs is a real love story, very human - no magic, no feathers or flying or dragons, just a hard hurting warrior, fighting his soul-deep attraction to a circus acrobat, needing him desperately, but knowing he shouldn’t. It’s drippingly romantic, but also very, very male.

A large part of the inspiration came from Brokeback Mountain. When the credits rolled up, were you in tears? Boy, I was!

Then I got mad – two souls destined to be together, so much love, so totally wasted. All because of the society those men lived in. But what if a similar situation occurred in another place, at another time? In a world I know well, like Phoenix? My writer's brain started churning...

A hard-bitten mercenary who’s had a gutful of mud and blood and death, Fortitude McLaren joins the Ten Nations Fair as a roustabout. Tough, cold and competent, he’s shocked and angered by his hunger for Griff, a circus acrobat. Brought up in the bigoted society of the Straight Church, Fort regards manlove with casual contempt. Not for him. Never for him.

Athletic, cocky and single-minded about he wants, Griff sets about getting it. Fort fights with everything in him, but Griff affects him like no one else. It’s not just his strong, supple body. Fort is irresistibly drawn by the openhearted friendship the other man offers so freely.

Fort may have found a friend, but the cruel memories of his childhood are the greatest enemy of all. When a job for Jan the Aetherii puts Griff in danger, Fort discovers what’s really at risk — everything he is and everything he’s ever believed in. To save Griff’s life and preserve his own sanity, Fort must not only fight the battle in his soul, he must win it.

There’s a chance to win a free download on my blog, but be quick! Closes midnight tonight. Check the Contest Pages for details. All you have to do is leave a comment. Easy peasy.

Ellora's Cave tomorrow. Yeehah!!! Excited? Me? Nah, not at all. *cough, cough*

For an excerpt, visit html

As for the Phoenix Rising series, it started with GIFT OF THE GODDESS, then TAILSPIN and now STRONGMAN. You don’t have to read them in sequence, though it’s probably better that way. Each is a stand-alone.

What do you feel is the draw of m/m interaction in your stories for a genre that has a primarily female readership?

I’ve thought about this and thought about it. I still can’t quite put my finger on it. (So to speak. heh heh) I used to find men who were turned on by lesbian love scenes amusing and a bit pathetic. Now I feel ashamed for being so superior, because m/m totally pushes every button I’ve got.

All I can think is that if one beautiful man is a turn on, then two of them – interacting with intensity - is more than twice as good. That said, effeminate men don’t do it for me. They have to be real men, thinking and acting like men. I’ve read books in which one of the male lovers could be called a “a girl in a man suit”, a pseudo man, one who thinks like a woman - usually the author. I hate that with a passion.

I guess also that m/m stories allow the female reader to “switch bodies”, experiencing male emotion and sexual pleasure, both as the dominant partner and the submissive. Wouldn’t it be amazing to try it for real?

So I try incredibly hard to ensure the testosterone flows, regardless of who is doing whom. Male on male sex has a completely different emotional quality to it, quite apart from the obvious mechanics and the choreography. If I’ve done my job right, there’s a fight/sex scene in STRONGMAN that should suck the breath right out of your lungs. It certainly did mine!

So far, I haven’t written a hero who is exclusively gay, but who knows? I’m probably going to try. What I find excruciatingly erotic is the dynamic of a man who thinks he’s straight, but who meets his soul mate in the body of another man. All that shocked, terrified desire. Hoo boy!

What do you love most about being an author?

To be frank? The validation. When a reader writes to tell me my books have given her pleasure, it just makes my day. Heck, it makes my week! The two ultimate compliments are – “I re-read it.” and “You kept me up all night.” They just make me beam. I guess I really am a hussy at heart! *grin*

The other part is the connection with strangers all over the world. I just go right ahead and adopt them as my friends. I’m a highly extroverted person. (Can you tell? LOL) I thrive on company. And I purely LOVE to talk.

I’ve just kicked off a blog. It’s called Under and Over because while I’m Down Under, most of my readers are Over There. Geddit? I’m having a blast with it and I’d love to see all you Hussy gals pop in. Sally’s already dropped by. Hi, Sally! *waving*

It’s a wonder I get any writing done at all!

The money’s just jam. Yes, it’s nice, no doubt about it, but I won’t be giving up the day job any time soon. And getting paid is just another form of validation anyhow.

Tell us something quirky or interesting about yourself we wouldn’t otherwise know.

Hmm, the Hussies already know I love tarty red stilettos – my hussy heels!

Let’s see, I have a birthmark on my shoulder blade. It looks a bit like a cross-eyed butterfly. When I was teaching, years ago, I wore a summer dress with a low-cut back one day and the kids asked me about it. I told them I was a lost Ruritanian Princess and it was the Royal Birthmark. One dear little soul believed me for a whole three minutes.

What is the writing process like for you? Do you plot out every detail ahead of time or write more spontaneously? Do you need quiet or music playing in the background?

I’m what other writers call a “pantser”. For me, writing is a completely organic, instinctive process. I don't plan much, or write character interviews or plot outlines and I purely loathe synopses. That sort of stuff kills it for me. I love the thrill of watching the story unfold under my fingers. I'll write until I hit the edge of the "mist" and then I...wait...and wait... Eventually, the fog clears and I can "see" what happens next. I do always know how it begins and what happens in the end. It’s the bit in between that’s um, interesting…

Characters take up residence in my head without so much as a by your leave, and talk and fight and all sorts of wicked things. *wg* It happens hen I’m driving, or in the shower, or dropping off to sleep or out walking with My Beloved and the dog. Every now and then, he’ll grin and ask, “Where are you now?” And I go, “Huh?” Because I sure ain’t in Kansas, Dorothy. It’s like having a movie screening just behind your eyes and it’s good because now I’m never bored. Have to wait at the doctor’s? In an endless staff meeting? No problem. *smile*

Funnily enough, despite the home movies in the cranium, I'm a very slow, very deliberate writer. I don't often get carried away and have words simply flow out of my fingers. I have to dig for every single one, which means I need to concentrate. I have a timer on the computer and I turn it for 45 minutes. When it goes off, I'm allowed to check my email. (Did I say I need a 12 step program?)

The music depends on the mood required. I have a number of playlists - an upbeat, rock ‘n’ country one for when I need energy, a lush operatic one for over-the-top emotion, a Celtic or a baroque, liturgical one for soothing background. I’m currently obsessed with Rufus Wainwright. And I’ve always been obsessed by Leonard Cohen.

I also burn essential oils, soothing florals like lavender or bergamot or rose with a few drops of something sharp like lemongrass, to stimulate creativity. That's the theory, anyway. I don't like heavy, musky scents. And I drink a lot of tea. No coffee.

Where do you see yourself as an author in the future? Is there a specific direction you would like your writing to go?

I guess I’m headed for New York and a print career. Well, I'm hoping so. I have a four book contract with Berkley for THE FOUR-SIDED PENTACLE series. The first, THE FLAME AND THE SHADOW, will be released as a Berkley Ace trade paperback on 4th November 2008. Ace is Berkley’s fantasy line. They publish Charlaine Harris – OMG, gulp! It’s interesting that they see my work as cross-genre, strong enough as a fantasy to be sold to that market, erotic and romantic enough for Berkley Heat or Sensation, because it will also come out later as a mass market in one of those lines.

The cover of THE FLAME AND THE SHADOW is simply beyond gorgeous. The artist sent me a 24 x 18 print and I cried when I saw it, it’s that beautiful. Unfortunately, I don’t have permission to show it to you just yet, dammit. Keep visiting my website and my blog, or join my newsletter.

I also have a story appearing in the Berkley Heat anthology, UNLACED (2nd December 2008), together with authors Jasmine Haynes, Jaci Burton and Joey W. Hill. Pretty damn good company, isn’t it? I’m stoked! I’m thinking of changing my name to Jenise to go with the flow.

All that said, I love the freedom of writing for Ellora's Cave. Electronic publishers generally allow their authors to push the envelope further than the big print houses and I’m rather fond of m/m. *grin* After all, that's how Ellora's Cave got off the ground - by offering readers the hotter romances they couldn't find in a bookstore. And Liseriel the Gray and her master-thief lover are already talking in my head.

I see myself as continuing to write cross-genre. My books are essentially love stories – with heaps of hot sex. But I also have to have things happening - I like action, and lots of it. Heart-stopping adventure, angst and derring-do, so that characters are tested and they grow and change. I like trying out ideas, being different. Fantasy is my first love, though I do also enjoy paranormal. My Kaminski Family stories are urban paranormals. (ELLORA’S CAVEMEN: SEASONS OF SEDUCTION 1 and A RED HOT NEW YEAR) I have more story ideas for the Kaminskis.

I like romantic comedy too, and sometimes I think I’m actually funny, but so far I’ve saved the humour for the Kaminskis and my free stories – the current one, RACKETY KATE AND THE PIRATES, and THE AMOROUS ADVENTURES OF ALICE, both available on my website and in my newsletter. They’re my light relief.

Then there’s contemporary romantic suspense. Could be fun. It probably sounds really dumb, but one of my problems is that I’ve never been to the US (I’m an Aussie, if you hadn’t realized) and I’m too lazy to do the proper research on settings. But this year, My Beloved and I will be in California for RWA Nationals and then Vancouver and Alaska. So maybe, one day…

Please list any links to your website, reader groups, blogs, email addy, etc.

Hey, my pleasure!
Thanks for letting me hang out with you, Hussy Gals. Once a Hussy, always a Hussy!


Dani said...

Hi Denise! It was great seeing you blog over here today. I can't wait to see what you write about Liseriel and her lover in the next book.

Sally Painter said...

Hiya D! Big hugs and smooches, and I love your Hussy HEELS!

Congrats on your book release tomorrow! WOOT!

It's wonderful to see you and everyone jump over Denise's new blog, it is fantabulous just like the amazing D and her books are.

Thank you for joining us on the blog, D, feels like old times!

Once a hussy, always a hussy, you know. HUGS And SMOOCHES!

Denise Rossetti said...

Dani, my friend! It's always a pleasure to play with the Hussies. Uh, you know what I mean. ;-)

Given I'm a pantser, I can't wait to see what I write about Liseriel either. *chuckle* Let alone her lover, who is a strange and dangerous guy, let me tell you!

Denise Rossetti said...

Ah Sally, how I've missed your energy and good vibes! It is like old times, isn't it?

You Hussy gals are going from strength to strength. I'm in awe at what you've accomplished and the community of strong, brilliant women you've built here.

And yes, I would love, LOVE everyone to swarm on over to my blog -

Not only is it fun - well, I'm thoroughly entertained, can't speak for anyone else - but I actually get to talk to readers. *bwg*

And if you get in with a comment before midnight tonight (NY time, I use that otherwise I become terminally confused) you're in the draw for a free download of STRONGMAN. Whoohoo!

Nicole Austin said...

Thanks for doing the interview, Denise! Its great to hear more about someone whose books I love too read!

And those hussy stuff, woman! :D

Denise Rossetti said...

Thanks Nic. My pleasure to be here!

As for the red hussy heels, pity about the squished toes and aching back. *sigh* But they've proven their worth many a time, those heels.

As I said to my daughter as they were about to pierce her second ear, "You have to suffer for beauty, darling." ;-)