Oh! Do come on down! Shandra is here somewhere...most likely in one of the rooms checking out the St Andrew's Cross or the spanking benches with other guests. Before she started roaming around down here, I did tie her down to answer a few questions (yes, she loved it!) and she told us a bit about her series and new release of book 2!
Tonya: Readers love to know more about their authors. Tell us a bit about yourself.
Shandra: Oh, I don't really know what to say. I'm kind of boring, actually. I live in the mountains in Virginia – though I've only lived there a few weeks. I've been writing off and on since I was a kid, though only in the last year and a half or so have I seriously thought about writing for publication. I enjoy being outdoors – I love walking or running (especially in the rain), I've been known to lose an hour (or more) lying in the grass staring at clouds. I'm rambling some here and not sure I'm saying much. I do have a solid white cat named Lilly. She's a rescue kitty who's a bit neurotic, and she loves having the windows open as much as I do.
Tonya: Do you have a day job?
Shandra: Yes. Sorta. I'm a part-time waitress at a restaurant on the Blue Ridge Parkway. Job ends at the end of October, though, so unless I sell a mega-size truckload of books between now and then, I'll be needing another job.
Tonya: Some of us have things we do to get into the writing frame of mind like music, or drinks. Do you have anything special you do to get into the writing mood?
Shandra: I enjoy listening to music by Enigma, some by Deep Forest or Loreena McKennitt. I enjoy writing most at a desk, facing an open window at night, the cool air drifting into the house. I've learned to write anywhere under most any circumstances, but those are the conditions I most enjoy for my writing.
Tonya: Where do you keep story ideas? Where do they come from?
Shandra: I'll see something, just a normal thing that happens in life, and then I'll ask "what if" and add something to the situation. With my novel LETHAL OBSESSION, I saw some postings on Craigslist, people looking for some casual hook-ups (and no, I was NOT there doing that), and I saw the same thing on other sites, and I asked myself "what if two people hooked up, maybe they had been talking about BDSM, about experimenting, would a woman really do that? Meet a stranger and put herself in that situation?" That didn't seem to carry quite enough of a story for me, so then I added to it. "What if every time she met the man, later another woman turned up dead, bound and tortured in ways close to what had happened to her?" At that point I thought the story idea had possibilities, but then I added another layer – "What if she's a detective, assigned to investigate the murders?"
That's how most of my stories are, what if, and then I add a layer or two or three to it.
Tonya: If you’re self-published, can you tell us a bit about that and how it’s going for you?
Shandra: I am self-published, but I have no real frame of reference to know if it's going well or not, in terms of total sales and how that compares to other self-pubbed writers, or writers who go the small press or larger press routes. I was pleasantly surprised with the sales of LETHAL OBSESSION, at least out of the gate those first two months, then I had some things happen that prevented me from spending much time on marketing and sales dropped off. I've tried hitting it a little harder this month and things are picking up, and I hope the release of the sequel, HELPLESS, will take off.
The hardest part of all of this is the marketing. Organizing the blog tours, putting together the info for them, tweeting, Facebooking, all that stuff – it drives me crazy and takes more time than writing! I don't think I've written a single word over the past ten days because I've been working on this when I wasn't working at the restaurant. Don't misunderstand, I love blogging and doing interviews, it just takes so much time, and that's time I can't spend writing.
Tonya: Are you a daytime writer, night time writer, and do you have to be alone to write?
Shandra: I can go either way, though my preference is at night. Or maybe that's just because I've done most of my writing at night lately to build around work. I can write with others around me. I just tune them out.
Tonya: What advice would you give to new authors?
Shandra: Oh my, I'm still so new myself it's hard to give advice, but since you asked, I'd say just treat your writing like a job and always go to work. Don't put it off because you feel tired, or because you're busy with other stuff, or because you're not "inspired." I'm often not inspired to wait tables, but I know if I don't do that I don't get paid. Treat writing the same way. It's a job, just do it.
Tonya: Do you write better when you first have an idea of what your characters look like or do you write, then add character looks?
Shandra: I tend to have a vague idea of what my main characters look like when I start, but generally fill in the specifics as I go. Sometimes, with minor or semi-major characters, I don't even think about their looks until I get to their first appearance in the novel. One of the things I try to do with my characters is to envision them as normal people – a little overweight, a little thin, maybe with some self-doubt about their appearance – I don't really write characters who look like models or act like super heroes.
Tonya: What attracts you most about men?
Shandra: Well, this is going to be kind of odd-sounding, I think. I've never had a serious relationship that lasted any great length of time. I'm sure there are all kinds of psychological reasons behind that given my upbringing, but what I find most attractive is a man who understands that, with me, I need my own space and time. When I need him, I need him. And conversely, when he needs me, I'll be there for him. But there are going to be times I just need to be left alone. I don't want a man who expects marriage or a life-long relationship (at least not at this point in my life), but I'm not really looking for casual encounters or simple friends with benefits, either. Wow, no wonder I don't have any long-lasting relationships. I'm kind of hard to please. But, if a guy can figure that out, I find him extremely attractive. Being intelligent doesn't hurt, either.
Tonya: We’re dying to hear about your latest book. What can you tell us without spoiling the storyline?
Shandra: HELPLESS is book 2 of the Lethal Obsession Trilogy. I already described the basic story in an earlier question, so let me just give you the little cover blurb for LETHAL OBSESSION first:
Angela Martin is like everyone else. She wants acceptance. Love. Passion.
For five years she’s lived with the pain of knowing her husband cheats on her. She’s dealt with the heart-rending rejection by rebuilding her life around her work, becoming the first woman detective in the history of the Moose Creek, N.C., police department.
Then she stumbles upon him. A man who reawakens desire, who makes her feel more alive than she believed possible by pulling her into a world of bondage and dominance, devotion and trust taken to a new level, fear mingling with desire, a craving stronger than any drug.
Soon women start turning up dead in Moose Creek, bound and tortured, tied in ways that Angela finds startling familiar. Angela’s heart tells her that her new-found love cannot be the killer, her detective instincts tell her otherwise, and her obsession with this new lifestyle draws her back to him, even at the risk of her life.
LETHAL OBSESSION is a tale of sex and bondage, love and fear, desire and suspicion, with an ending that will leave you breathless, craving more.
Now, LETHAL ends on a bit of cliff hanger, and then in HELPLESS, we pick up the story knowing the killer – or a copycat – is out there, and not only is Angela not safe, but she learns those close to her might be in danger as well. All of this is going on while Angela is still trying to figure out what she is, or who she is, in relation to her newly discovered desire to explore BDSM. She also tends to have a bit of a self-destructive tendency, which puts her in some dicey situations regarding her BDSM interests.
Tonya: Where can our readers find you and your books?
Shandra: They can keep up with me at my blog - where there are links to all my books. You can also find me at Twitter and on Facebook – go ahead and send me a friend request, I've fairly open to most requests. If someone will mention they are from your blog, I'll definitely add them!
Tonya: Is there anything else you want to tell our readers?
Shandra: LETHAL OBSESSION is now an audio book. As the writer of the novel, I know it forward and backward, know even when someone reading it leaves out a word. Yet, when I heard it as an audio work, it blew me away! Not because of the writing, but because of the absolutely wonderful work by narrator Karen Kruper (she's done a lot of television and movie work over the years). She makes the novel come alive more than I had ever imagined. The audio book is 4 1/2 hours long, but well worth it. You can get it at audible.com or, at least for a limited time, Amazon.com is running a special where you can purchase the audio novel for just $1.99 if you buy the e-book ($2.99).
Tonya: What is your favorite night time snack?
Shandra: Ice cream. Caramel Praline Crunch if you want to know specifically what flavor, followed my mint chocolate chip (though I can handle just about ANY flavor). In fact, I'm eating some Caramel Praline Crunch right now.
Tonya: Do you like toppings on your ice cream?
Shandra: I like bananas cut up in it and chocolate syrup poured over it if it's vanilla or chocolate (and no, you can NEVER have too much chocolate). If it's a flavored ice cream, then generally not.
Tonya: What’s your favorite meal - Italian, Mexican, Thai, etc?
Shandra: You know, that may very well be the toughest question you've asked.
I'm not sure I can choose. I'll narrow it down to Mexican and Thai. But that's about as far as it goes.
Now I'm going to be thinking about this for the rest of the weekend – Thai or Mexican? Mexican or Thai? Which do I like better? Which one? I'm thinking I need to do some research on that….be back later!
Excerpt From HELPLESS:
"Repeat the words to me. Gray Ghost."
"Gray Ghost," she whispered.
"If the intensity becomes too much, if you can't take any more, say the words Gray Ghost and I will stop immediately, and you will be turned out into the street, never allowed to return. Do you understand?"
"Now, my dear slave, close your eyes and relax."
She did as he instructed, sighing as his fingers played through her hair, down her neck, caressing, his lips on her forehead. He kissed her cheek, her nose, pressed his lips against her mouth and breathed into her hard, his air filling her mouth, forcing its way down her throat, into her lungs. His breath tasted cool, the air felt hot as it filled her body.
"Oh," she whispered into his mouth. "Ahhh."
He stepped away, and Angela opened her eyes. He moved from her field of vision, then returned, scissors in her hand.
Hand pressed against her mouth. "I told you, do not address me again."
He stepped from her field of vision again, then returned, and that's when she first saw it.
"This is a violet wand," he said, flipping a switch on the handle. Jolts of electricity shot back and forth inside the globe, like an old plasma globe Angela remembered seeing when she was a kid. Jasper held his fingers an inch above the globe and a bolt of electricity shot from the globe to his fingers, a loud static buzzing accompanying the display.
Jasper stepped to the bottom of the cross, slipped Angela's shoes from her feet, then ran the globe across the bottom of her left foot.
A jolt of electricity shot through her foot, up her leg. Angela's whole body shuddered.
He was back at her head, inches from her face. "Please do not disobey me again."
Another shudder ran through Angela, this time from fear. Not that he was dangerous – Jasper had told Angela he was experienced in the world of BDSM, a master who played with any who would turn themselves over to him, and after seeing the room, she believed him. Had he been dangerous, had he ever truly hurt someone, she would have been the one to investigate.
He wasn’t truly dangerous, but that didn't mean he couldn't hurt her. She nodded without saying anything.
He picked up the scissors and began cutting her shirt – the back, dull ice-cold edge of the blade snaking against her skin as the scissors sliced through her clothing. Slowly – agonizingly so – he worked the scissors along the front of her shirt, up the sleeve of first her right arm, then her left.
Next he turned his attention to her jeans, slicing down her right hip, leg, followed by the left, until she was clothed only in bra and panties.
"Oh my," Jasper whispered. Angela shivered has his hands caressed her hips. His fingers played along the edge of her panties as he leaned over, and Angela gasped when his lips touched the inside of her thigh.
"Now, now, my dear," he said. "You had no permission to make noise."
Before she could react, Jasper bit the inside of her thigh, not hard enough to break the skin, but with enough force that Angela cried out.
"I said, you may not speak, you may not gasp, you may make no noise without permission."
Before she could protest he had the violet wand in his hand. He lowered it until the globe hovered over her right thigh. She heard the flick of a switch then electricity surged into her leg, muscles tightening, cramping, body shuddering.
As quickly as the power surged through her, it was gone. Her muscles relaxed, the sting in her thigh fading.
His hands again touched her skin, massaging where the pain had been only seconds earlier, his face next to hers.
"Do not make me punish you again," he said.
Angela lay still, afraid to reply, to react. His hands continued caressing, and Angela felt lips against her neck, light kisses, tongue flicking. He kissed across her chest, fingers again playing inside the edge of her panties….
Bio: I'm really just a simple girl, grew up in the Midwest, left home at 16 and, except for one brief period earlier this year I've never been back. I lived on the road for most of the next several year, eventually making it to Florida where I spent three years working for a little traveling carnival, and another three working for a small circus. Now I wait tables on the Blue Ridge Parkway, spent my nights staring at the stars and writing what I hope is blazing hot erotica and blood-chilling suspense. All rolled into one.
Book 2 of the Lethal Obsession Trilogy
(Not live yet, keep trying!)