Monday, June 14, 2010

An interview with Barbara Monajem

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


Mona Risk said...

Barbara welcome to our Voices. I also had a request for full from Chris Handsome but never ever heard anything although I sent two reminders. After two years I gave up on him. Your stories are different and your vampire lovely.

Barbara Monajem said...

Thanks, Mona. I never did send him a reminder, I guess because I didn't want him to say no. :) But I wouldn't recommend not following up as a way of getting published, LOL.

Patrice Wilton said...

Great blog, and Barbara your call from Christopher must have been an all time shocker after 3 years! Major congratulations, and your blurbs are wonderful - no wonder you're selling so fast!

Joyce Henderson said...

Your stories sound so intriguing! I love to read vampires.
Best of luck with sales with all your work.

Dawn Marie Hamilton said...

Barbara, Your stories sound fascinating. I can only imagine the wonderful thrill of receiving "the call" after 3 years. :)
Good luck with your books!

JoMarie DeGioia said...

Barbara, I received an ARC of Sunrise and fell in love with your vampire world! I posted a 4 1/2 star reader review at RT, and can't wait to read the second book. Congrats on all your success and here's to more to come!

Barbara Monajem said...

Thanks, Patrice. Blurbs are so important. Luckily I have editor help writing them, LOL.

Glad you like reading vampires, Joyce. Luckily for you, there are tons of vampire stories out there waiting to be enjoyed.

Barbara Monajem said...

Thanks, Dawn Marie. It sure was a surprise! I'd stopped writing paranormals at that point and had started trying my luck with historicals. It's fun to finally be writing both. :)

Barbara Monajem said...

Thank you so much, JoMarie! I didn't even know there were reader reviews at RT. I'm very grateful. Good reviews are a huge thrill and so encouraging. Thanks for the boost!

Keena Kincaid said...

Congrats on your success. I love the stories about Chris and how he always, eventually, in-his-own time gets around to each manuscript.

All your books sound delicious, but I'm most intrigued by Notorious Eliza. Love the title and the set-up

Barbara Monajem said...

Thank you, Keena. I have heard that Chris's slush pile needs its own zip code!

morgan wyatt said...

Hi Barbara,

How fanstatic to hear about a book you probably thought was forgotten. Congratulations on all your hard work finally bearing fruit. Stories like yours make me smile. Oh by the way, pick me, pick me.


Barbara Monajem said...

LOL. Thanks, Morgan. Comments like yours make *me* smile. :)

Cai said...

Barbara, Congratulations on your success! Being a native myself, I have to ask if you're originally from Louisiana or if you live there now? It's definitely a state of much colorful history!! :)


Barbara Monajem said...

Cai, I live in Georgia, but I have family in Louisiana and spend a lot of time there. I am gradually reading up on the history of the area. And the food! Sigh. Wonderful, wonderful food. (I make a pretty good red beans and rice, if I may say so myself.)

Paisley Kirkpatrick said...

It sounds like you have the patience of a saint and it has paid off well. Congrats on all of your successes. Your stories sound intriguing.

Nice to meet you today. :)

Barbara Monajem said...

Thanks, Paisley, but I can't claim any of the qualities of sainthood. I'm more scattered than patient, LOL. Nice meeting you, too. :)

Mary Ricksen said...

Barbara you are freakin' amazing. Like a firecracker taking off on a fantastic career. I loved Sunrise, I am hooked girl!
You are fantastic!

Barbara Monajem said...

Thank you, Mary!! I'm so glad you enjoyed the story. :~))

Beth Trissel said...

Barbara I enjoyed reading this and learning more about you. Truly, you are amazing. Keep it up and keep us posted. Very interesting following your career. You are indeed a rising star. :)

Mary Marvella said...

Barbara, good blog, interesting information, and I won't be asking for my money back for Sunrise. Or I wouldn't be if I hadn't won it. Love the socks, too.

Barbara Monajem said...

Thank you, Beth and Mary M. You and the other fuzzies are so sweet to me.

Joanne said...

I want to add my cheers to your fan section. You have a wonderful voice, and I wish you all the much deserved success that you can hold.