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Please welcome my special guest today, the lovely Cathryn Brunet, whose debut erotic fantasy romance Ritual Passion is released today by Samhain Publishing - just in time for a happy hot Christmas!!
Cathryn, thanks for stopping by! Can you tell us a little about your book?
Ritual Passion is an erotic fantasy romance containing jungle-hardened warriors, a capricious goddess, corrupt priests and some seriously hot sex.
A passion to appease the gods…or call down their vengeance.
The jungle-wrapped city of Challas is dying, crumbling under the weight of its corrupt priesthood and degenerate new gods. But an even greater threat looms on the horizon. Outside the city walls, a pestilence breeds. Unless stopped, it will crawl through the city’s decaying streets and destroy everyone.
Phalandria wants to see her magnificent city reborn and freed from the perversion of the priests who murdered her father. And she wants Massilis, the man who has stood by her side since childhood. The man who’s developed into a magnificent, jungle-hardened warrior…and ignites her unquenchable desire. Although Massilis has always protected her, only once has he allowed his hunger for her to show.
Now the water oracle has called for Phalandria and Massilis to perform the Concubitia, a sexual rite to propitiate the gods. But the priests suspect a conspiracy and will do anything to protect themselves. And Phalandria realizes that the priests are not the only ones sabotaging the ritual.
The man she loves has an agenda of his own.
Degenerate gods, corrupt priests and a jungle hardened warrior! *Christina fans self* I can't wait to read this book! How did the idea for the plot come about?
Ritual Passion started out as a combination of writing exercise and a half-hearted attempt to write a Spice Brief. As an experiment, I decided to write in first person. Suddenly I discovered this new voice coming through. A voice I liked. A lot.
I know it might sound strange but I had no idea of the plot. I simply wrote the first line and from there the words flowed as though I’d been thinking about the story for months. It was if the city of Challas, sexy narrator Phalandria and gorgeous, muscled warrior Massilis already existed and I was just a conduit for their story.
I’d never free-written to that extent before. But since then I’ve used the method on another erotica and I plan to try it again in the future. Though, given I have the next three writing projects already decided, that won't be for a while.
I love sale stories (ok I am just nosy!!) so can you tell us about your road to publication - and your call story?
The first version of Ritual Passion was just over 15,000 words. After sending it off to some readers (who universally loved it) I submitted it to Spice Briefs and promptly forgot about it while I worked on a single title. Six months later I received a rejection. I wasn’t surprised. Having read several Spice Briefs I didn’t really think it would fit the line, but I loved the story and thought it was worth a try.
I’ve had a great interest in e-publishing for a while now and Samhain always struck me as a serious player in the industry with an excellent reputation. So, on the 15th December 2008, I sent Ritual Passion to them. On January 6th, I received a rewrite and resubmit. The editor, Deborah Nemeth, loved my voice and the setting but wanted some changes. Quite extensive ones, it turned out, and I admit they damn near did my head in.
I wasn’t confident I could nail the rewrite but decided to persevere because 1/. I absolutely loathe not completing things and if I dropped it, Ritual Passion would forever remain unfinished business, a sort of “what if” hanging over my head. And 2/. If, in the end, nothing came of it, the experience of working with an editor would still be invaluable.
It took me until April to complete the rewrite, partly because I had other things on the go and partly because I found it so hard. By then, Ritual Passion had doubled in size with a lot more focus on the characters’ relationship and an expansion of the overall plot.
In June, Deborah came back to me with another rewrite and resubmit, and I gave serious consideration as to whether I would keep at it. I’d already spent an inordinate amount of time on the project - I could have written, at minimum, another 90,000 word single title in the time – and there was no guarantee I would be offered a contract at the end of the second rewrite.
But then I thought, “Don’t be an idiot!!!!”
So I worked my bum off again and sent the revised manuscript off on June 30. One month later, more than seven months after that first submission, Deborah offered publication.
And then the editing process started!
What a fantastic sale story, Cathryn. Do you write every day?
The short answer is, bar weekends, yes. I’ve always treated my writing as a business that’s open Monday to Friday. I sit down at the computer sometime between 6-30 and 7am and work through until approximately 3pm at which time I wander out for a couple of hour’s walk (I find walking fantastic for plotting and sorting out characterisations etc), a bike ride or, if I’m really lucky, golf. Anything that takes me out of the house and away from the computer.
Do you give yourself daily/weekly goals?
Sometimes but not often. My goals are more of the “just finish the book” type. I do, however, really enjoy writers’ groups where you post your daily totals. I find them an excellent motivator. The Romance Writers of New Zealand run a great loop called Book In 50 Days and even though my goal isn’t to write a book in that time period, I love posting my total to it. It’s a wonderfully supportive group.
LOL, yes I constantly tell myself to just finish the book! So would you call yourself a panster or plotter?
Umm....sometimes a panster, sometimes a plotter.
The first 4 or so books I wrote I pansted, although I did have a solid idea of what the stories were about, where they were going, and the main characters. I simply started with the idea in my head and sat down and wrote.
But then I tried plotting, and did that for the next two single titles. Ritual Passion I completely pansted, same as the manuscript I’ve just handed in to my editor. With my current work in progress, Pureheart, I’ve had to plot because it’s a complicated fantasy. And I’ve already plotted my next project, although only quite broadly.
I prefer pansting because it’s exciting. You never know where your characters will lead you, which means if you want to discover what happens next, you have to keep writing!
Yes, that's what I love about pansting, although sometimes it would be good to know what was supposed to happen next! What keeps you motivated when the writing gets tough?
As I said, I adore writers’ groups like the RWNZ's Book In 50 Days and, of course, I have my brilliant critique partners, but mostly I rely on sheer determination. Plus I loathe not finishing things. Half done projects, whether it’s housework, crossword puzzles or anything, make me twitchy. I’m disturbingly anal like that.
I'm with you on hating to leave things half finished. Except the housework, I don't mind about that!! Is there any advice or light bulb moment you'd like to share about getting/being published?
Find yourself some good critique partners. That's an absolute must, in my opinion.
Never give up. Believe in yourself and your writing. And never be afraid to try something new. Who knows where it could lead!
Great advice. Do you have critique partners (CPs)? If so can you tell us how you met up and your process?
I have some wonderful and extremely talented ladies as CP’s. Our initial group was formed three years ago after we hooked up on the Romance Writers of Australia loop. We all write in different genres and with different styles so we receive an excellent cross-section of opinions.
At the start, we all sent out one chapter a month for critique and did line edits on those. That didn’t quite work out, so now we send out 3 chapters or around 50 pages and rather than line edits we look at big picture type stuff – plots, characterisations, motivations etc.
Sadly, a couple of the original members have left but we still keep in touch to share triumphs and tribulations. Earlier this year we welcomed a new member and we’re on the hunt for one or two more.