Thanks for having me! VICIOUS CIRCLE is an adult sci-fi/LGBT (f/f) romance featuring a bisexual female assassin protagonist and a lesbian romantic interest. Think Xena: Warrior Princess in space with the subtext as the main text. Lots of action, multiple worlds, and a little magic thrown in on the side.
One of the coolest things about science fiction (at least in my opinion!) is the world-building. Can you share some of the unique aspects of the universe of VICIOUS CIRCLE? Would you want to live in this future?
VICIOUS CIRCLE is set primarily on two very different planets--Sardonen, which is a harsh, sparsely-populated, desert world, and Lissex, where the privileged population resides on dozens of islands, most of which are owned by different ruling families. There are many other settled worlds in this far future as well, and advanced starship travel between them. Languages vary, though most people speak the standard language in addition to whatever their native tongue might be. Belief systems come and go, but the people of Lissex belong to a religion known as the Givers of Life and are devoted to the teachings of their ancient text--the Generational, while on Sardonen, the Guild of Assassins is practically a religion all its own.
As for wanting to live in this future? Definitely not on Sardonen. Blazing sun, endless rocks and sand, and poison-spitting sand lizards are not my idea of a vacation spot. But Lissex? Laid-back, casual-attired island life? Sign me up. Add in interstellar passenger liner travel, and I'm totally there.
Do you have a favorite line in this book? Can you tell us a bit about it without spoiling too much?
I don't have a favorite line so much as a quick interaction:
I was up and at my cell's bars before the guard made contact. My arm went through the narrow space and around his neck. One twist and a sickening, wet crunch, and the enforcer dropped at my feet. I glanced at Vargas while pawing through the guard’s uniform. The pirate looked ill.
"Don’t tell me you’ve never killed anyone before,” I snarled, coming up with the keys.
Deftly, I inserted them in the exterior lock and let myself out.
Derrick Vargas puffed out his broad chest. “Certainly. But I’ve never seen a woman do it with her bare hands.”
This time I was the one with a wicked gleam in my eye. “You haven’t associated with the right women.”This bit is a personal favorite because it sums up the main character, Cor, nicely. She's deadly, highly-skilled, efficient, and still manages to keep a sense of humor.
Let's talk about your writing process. How long did it take you to draft this novel? How long from that first draft until publication?
This novel took three months to draft. At that point, it was the fastest I'd ever drafted a novel, though I have beaten that by about two weeks on a more recent work. It also underwent almost no editing, though I did add a few antagonist scenes that took about one more month. However, it was several years before it found a home with a publisher.
What's the most difficult part of the writing process for you?
Insomnia. My characters wake me up at night. They vie for attention. They run conversations five different ways in my head until they are just right for whatever scene I'm working on. It's wonderful, but it does make for some sleepless nights.
Can you tell us about how you got your book deal with Torquere Press, LLC and what makes them a good fit for your book?
Actually, I just wrote them a query letter about the project. At the time, I was between agents, so I did this on my own, though I did sign with a new literary agent shortly thereafter, and she negotiated the contract. Torquere Press is a great fit for VICIOUS CIRCLE because they primarily publish LGBT romance, and though mine is more sci-fi than pure romance, I knew readers looking for the sort of thing I write would be familiar with Torquere.
What about the title? Was VICIOUS CIRCLE the original title you had in mind? How did it come about?
VICIOUS CIRCLE was the original title, yes. It's actually based on a line from the novel and pretty much describes the main character's life.
Tell us about your cover! Who designed it? How much input did you have? What do you hope it will tell the reader about your story?
Ah the cover. :-) I'm so thrilled that my debut novel's cover art turned out so perfect for the story and my assassin main character. Kris Norris designed it and did a spectacular job, if I may say so. I had a lot of input including filling out a lengthy form explaining what I did and did not want to see, font styles, colors, and images. I sent her several images of that particular model. I knew that woman was Cor. And the cover blurb? J.A. Pitts, author of the Sarah Beauhall series, wrote it for me. I was soooo nervous asking him to blurb VICIOUS CIRCLE. He's one of my all-time favorite authors. When he said he'd do it, I almost dropped my computer. And if you're looking for a great urban fantasy/f/f romance series, then check his out.
Releasing a debut is definitely cause for celebration — how did you celebrate this achievement?
We had a great launch party. About fifty of my friends came, from every avenue of my life: college, work, neighbors, writing groups. Some of them I hadn't seen in ten or more years. We served beverages appropriate to the two major characters from VICIOUS CIRCLE. Cor, the assassin, has a taste for unusual craft beers, and Kila loves blueberry wine. It was definitely an afternoon I'll never forget.
What are you working on now that VICIOUS CIRCLE is done?
Well, my agent is currently shopping an Old West/time travel/zombie/romance novel for me. Yeah, I have a hard time picking a single genre to write in. I also have several in-progress projects I'm fiddling with, trying to decide which one to get serious about. A bisexual rock star character named Lexi Cade has been waking me up at night, so she may get her book next.
Is there any other advice you'd like to pass on to others pursuing publication? Anything you would have done differently?
The biggest advice I have is Keep At It. Your first book doesn't get an agent? Write another one, and another, and another. Let people with real writing/publishing experience tell you what you're doing wrong, and LISTEN TO THEM. Keep honing your craft. My fourth novel was the one that got me my first agent, and when that one didn't sell, I wrote another one. VICIOUS CIRCLE was the fifth novel I completed, even though it's the first to be published.
And that leads right into what I would have done differently.
After writing my third complete novel, and being rejected by about 80 agents, I became so discouraged that I stopped writing for five years. Five years! Imagine all the books I could have written in those five years! I'd give so much to have those years back. If I had it to do over, I would keep writing despite the rejections, because I was so close, and I had no idea.
Great advice! And, just for fun: what actresses would you cast for the lead roles in VICIOUS CIRCLE?
Ah, Xena: WarriorPrincess in space, remember? I'd totally cast a 28-year-old Lucy Lawless as Cor, and a 19-year-old Renee O'Connor as Kila.
Thanks again for telling us all about your book, and congrats on your debut!!
Purchase VICIOUS CIRCLE here!