Today's spotlight is on a talented new author and rising-star, Barbara Monajem.
Barbara writes short Historical Regency stories, NOTORIOUS ELIZA, for Harlequin Historical Undone and paranormal vampire stories, Bayou Gavotte Series: SUNRISE IN A GARDEN OF LOVE & EVIL, and TASTES OF LOVE & EVIL, for Dorchester.
Here is what critiques are saying about Bayou Gavotte Series, Book One
"...a fresh and sultry voice joins the paranormal romance genre..." -- Romantic Times
"...charming, offbeat characters..." -- Patricia's Vampire Notes
"A breath of fresh air, in the spirit of Charlaine Harris's Dead Until Dark." -- New York Times Bestselling Author Susan Squires
Please join me in welcoming Barbara Monajem.
How did you sell your first book? Tell us about the Call.
I was a finalist in the Daphne contest in 2005, and although I didn’t win, one of the final judges, Christopher Keeslar of Dorchester Publishing, requested the full manuscript. I finished writing the story and sent it to him a few months later. Three years after that, he emailed to ask if it was still available, and if so, he would read the rest and get back to me. Talk about a big surprise!! The next day he called and made me an offer. I didn’t jump up and down and scream (that’s just not me), but I was doing a lot of very happy dancing inside. :~)) He’s an amazing editor to work with.
Here’s the blurb for Sunrise in a Garden of Love & Evil, which is book one of the Bayou Gavotte Series.
Bayou Gavotte, Louisiana, has a post office, a city hall, and an active PTA. It has magnolias and passion vine. It also has fetish clubs. And vampires.
Being irresistible sucks: Ophelia Beliveau learned that at puberty. When her friends developed breasts, she sprouted fangs as well. The effect on boys was even more dangerous.
Ophelia’s peril has only increased. As a woman, there’s been only one solution, but she can’t avoid men forever. Solitude satisfies no craving, and now her self-imposed exile must end. A vandal has destroyed her garden. A web of blackmail and murder is being woven across town, with her at its heart. And then there’s Gideon O’Toole, a detective sworn to uncover more secrets than she thirsts to bare…
How did you sell your second book? Please share your call.
The second call (actually an email) was from Harlequin about a short story I had submitted for their Historical Undone! line. I received the call while at RWA National last year, which was just wonderful, as I got to meet some of the editors and other authors of historicals, and attended some of the Harlequin events. It’s a Regency called Notorious Eliza, about a woman who paints nudes for a living and is hired to cover up some racy murals on the walls of a ballroom. I had a ton of fun writing that. It’s much different from the contemporary paranormals of the Bayou Gavotte Series, and I love writing in a different voice about a completely different time and place.
The third was from Dorchester (again, an email) offering a contract for three more paranormals in the Bayou Gavotte Series, as well as a story in an anthology. The second paranormal is a September release this year, and the anthology is slated for January 2011.
What gave you the ideas for your books?
The idea for Sunrise in a Garden of Love & Evil came right after I read Dracula, which I absolutely loved. I felt I just had to write a vampire story, but there are lots of characteristics about vampires which I don’t particularly like, such as being undead (which for me suggests bad breath) and immortal (which is a big complication in romance), and having to avoid sunlight (because I’m a day person). But I love the sexy aspect of vampires, and blood is powerful and compelling (as well as being red, my favorite color :~)). I started playing with the idea of a vampire heroine who was sexually irresistible and all the problems this would cause, and after that the story practically wrote itself.
The idea for Notorious Eliza came partly from some beautiful murals a friend painted on his dining room walls, and partly from A World Lit Only by Fire by William Manchester. It’s a fascinating book about the changes in European civilization from the Middle Ages to the Renaissance, and it contains lots of funky information of the kind you don’t hear in school, such as orgies held by the Borgia popes. I combined the orgies with the murals and came up with a scandalous ballroom that had to be painted over before the hero could get married. :)
Here’s a short blurb for Notorious Eliza:
Patrick needs a respectable new wife to be a mother for his daughter.
Notorious Eliza paints nudes to support her young son.
They should resist the attraction. (They don’t.)
They dare not fall in love. (They do.)
They must not marry…for one day Eliza’s most scandalous secret will surface and destroy them all.
Do your heroines take after you?
No way! They’re all talented at things I can’t do, such as landscaping, costume-making, portrait painting, etc. They’re also a lot more gutsy than I am. Oh, and I’m not irresistible (thank heavens!).
Any model for your hero?
No, my heroes are entirely imaginary. I have a few favorite actors (such as Johnny Depp and Liam Neeson), but my heroes aren’t based on them or anyone else in real life.
Any other book coming soon?
Tastes of Love & Evil, the second in the Bayou Gavotte series, is a September release. Here’s the blurb:
Rose Fairburn is on the run. Her vampire nature can’t protect her from everything, especially not herself. Now, when she should be worried about escaping her past, she can only think about one thing. Her kind can’t live without blood or sex. Love they must forego.
Jack Tallis can slake her thirst. Tall. Handsome. Trustworthy. And not a man alive can resist a vamp’s allure. But…Jack can. And he has other secrets, like why underworld hit men are on his trail, and how he can vanish into thin air. Love suddenly seems possible, but the shadows hide mysteries darker than Rose can even dream, and all will be revealed in the fetish clubs of one strange Louisiana town…
Barbara, thank you for being with us at Voices from the Heart, and sharing your amazing experience on the road to publication.
Barbara will give a free copy of SUNRISE IN A GARDEN OF LOVE & EVIL to a lucky commentator