This week *gleefully rubbing hands together* I have Charlene Roberts on the hot seat. I've interviewed her and can't wait to share her replies with you! Just for fun, Charlene is going to give away an ebook copy of Eternal Heiress to one lucky commenter. So please show her some love and enter to win!
Hello and Welcome!
Hi Melissa - hi everyone! Thank you for having me at your blog today!
Please tell us a little about yourself.
I live in Toronto, Canada (first generation Canadian). I like to travel, but I've noticed that I don't like to fly as much as I used to, so it has to be a darn good reason for me to get on a plane these days!
I've developed a recent obsession for Criminal Minds and cannot wait for the new season of True Blood-hurry up already!
I love reading fantasy and sci-fi, mystery, romance and comic books (Japanese manga has a hold of me at the moment).
My current day-time job is a somewhat frustrating administrative assistant position at a consulting/brokerage firm, which I hope to change VERY SOON.
If you were a cartoon character who would you be and why?
Lady Yoruichi Shoin from the Japanese manga, BLEACH. She was a captain who betrayed her community by siding with her good friend, who was accused of a crime. She has a 'tough-love' approach to people and situations, and can kick major ass with the best of them when she needs to.
What is your favorite song and why?
One song that I enjoy singing along is called 'Step by Step' by Huey Lewis and the News. He talks about the hardships of the characters in his song, and I love it when he sings 'it'll be better come tomorrow', and 'step by step; one by one; higher and higher.' As I listen to the song, it helps me to envision what I want to accomplish. Plus it's a catchy tune!
I wonder if that's on the old Sports album I have. If you had to live without your car or your computer, which would you choose?
This one is easy - I don't have a car! :) Our transit system is quite good, so I can get anywhere. But if I had to choose, then I would live without the car. My computer (with Internet access I assume?) Is my instant connection to everything and everyone.
I hear you about the internet access. Just ask my hubby what I'm like when it goes down! Not a pretty site! What’s your favorite thing to do to relax?
A lot of reading; I like orchestral music as well. I don’t watch as much television as I used to. Also, going out with my friend and catching up on her life.
Your books have a wide range of genres, do they have any common themes?
My heroines are strong-willed, stubborn and can think on their feet. I also love mystery stories, so my plots all have an element of mystery to them.
Did you always want to be an author?
No. I studied to be a computer programmer, then a graphics designer. I even wanted to be a fitness competitor (and still thinking about it). My friend introduced me to writing when she needed help typing her novel and I haven't looked back since (more than 10 years ago now).
What is your favorite part about being an author? What is your least favorite?
Favourite: Wow, that I can create and write stories, and then sell them! Can you imagine? Making a living by doing something that you absolutely love? I'm nowhere near writing enough to leave my current employment, but I'm working on it!
Least favourite: most times, I would have said that edits are the bane of all existence! However what I've noticed is, as my job gets busier, I have less time to write. So I would say that not having the time I want to create my stories is the least favourite part of being an author for me.
My time has been swallowed up by the pesky day job! Yuck! What has been your favorite part about getting published?
That I can tell and write stories and share them with other people! Also, meeting like-minded authors on writers’ loops with whom I can share this crazy life. My family still thinks that this is a hobby, nothing more.
Where do you write? Do you need anything to help you get in the mood for writing?
Most times I write at home in my room, but I've noticed lately that I'm tired of looking at my computer, since I also look at it while I'm at my full-time job. I've been writing more by using my Blackberry Torch. I'm debating on the purchase of either an IPad or Samsung Galaxy tablet so that I can take it anywhere and just write.
I also need to have noise - I cannot write in absolute peace and quiet. Symphony music used to work for me, but then I started humming to it, which distracted me. So now I listen to those 'Sounds of Nature' DVD’s, which offer beautiful sound without the distraction of humming or pretending that I'm a conductor, waving my pen around!
Tell us about your latest release: (blurb, excerpt, cover)
Tari Merytmut, adopted at age five and trained in the arts of swordsmanship, has made it her duty to track and kill the demons that suddenly infest her city. Under the watchful eye of her guardian angel, Tari travels to the remote mountain temple of her adopted father to learn of her past. From glittering cosmopolitan cities to the ancient tombs hidden beneath the hot, arid Egyptian desert, she discovers that a famous French general who sold his soul to Satan is plotting to steal her ancestor’s secret to complete his domination of the planet. Tari will do everything it takes to stop him – even if it means going to Hell.
It couldn’t think straight. There was a terrible point of light out of its sight, just enough to irritate its vision, making it squint. However, squinting didn’t help. The ache in its head increased, multiplying the pain already residing there after it was punched viciously in its face.
“The demon does not look very happy, Maria,” a soft female voice said.
“No, it does not.”
A hand reached out. It tried to turn its head away but the slender, strong fingers grabbed its chin, turning its head this way and that. The demon tried to spit, but a sharp, backhanded slap across its mouth prevented it.
“Do you want to talk?” the one called Maria demanded.
The demon looked around at its prison, still trying to find a way out. The light hurt its eyes, but it fought against the pain as it focused on its surroundings.
It was a wooden building, far from human habitation. The sharp, tangy smell of salt and dead fish meant that they were near or on the ocean. Even if it did escape these two females, its chances of getting back home were slim.
“I do not think it wants to talk, Teresa,” Maria said.
“Well, I am in no mood to wait for this thing to make up its mind.” The smaller female stepped forward, and in that moment, the demon knew that it was doomed. “Let me give it some incentive.”
She touched the rope that bound its arms, and a soft, white glow pulsed around the bindings. The demon screamed in agony, and the two angels backed away as it thrashed about, trying to break free.
“Tell us why you are here on the surface,” Maria asked.
Teresa moved her hand away from the bindings, and the glow disappeared. The demon hung its head, its breath rasping against its throat. It found the strength to spit out a black glob of blood before it looked up at the two women.
“What will I receive if I answer your questions?” it asked.
Maria and Teresa looked at each other. “A swift and painless death,” Maria answered.
The demon stared at them, surprised.
“Did you think that we were completely heartless? We are merciful, but do not believe that it makes us weak.”
“This I already know,” the demon answered, its arms seared and crusted from the holy aura within its bindings, its face swollen from its beating.
“Do I have your pledge that you will not send me back from whence I came?”
“We can only promise what we have stated. As for your soul, it will go where it must. We cannot change that course,” Teresa answered.
“Very well.” The demon managed to sit up straighter in the wooden chair. “My Lord and Master has commanded that my brethren retrieve an item of immeasurable value.” It stopped.
“And what is this treasure?”
“I do not know. But it was described to us, and where it can be found.”
* * *
THE VALLEY OF THE QUEENS – ONE HOUR LATER
“What do you think, sister?” Maria asked.
“I think—no, I know that the demon is a liar,” Teresa answered. “However, our God has instructed that we explore all evidence.”
The two angels flew quickly over the western regions of Africa, remaining high over the land to avoid human eyes.
“It seems that our Lord could not fathom the problem,” Teresa continued, “Because of what is involved.”
“And that is?”
“The problem is not of His faith. It pertains to another, older religion. That of the Egyptian Gods.”
“Egyptian? What treasure could Lucifer want from such a religion?”
“This we must find out.”
They located the great river Nile, its waters twinkling silver under a half moon, and flew south, their keen eyes picking out the sprawling, crumbling structures of the ancient cities.
The demon, in the last moments of its tainted existence, described an area located some distance from the ancient buildings, a valley where the female Egyptian royalty lay buried—the Valley of the Queens. One particular queen had hidden the secret that Lucifer now searched for. Unfortunately, the demon died before revealing the queen’s name.
“There it is.” Maria pointed.
The valley was barely discernible against the many mountains that enclosed it. The region’s only identifying mark was a single, wide path that led to a small opening in the center of a group of massive, semicircular limestone cliffs.
The area was empty of life.
“I do not understand,” Teresa stated. “It looks deserted.”
“And it does not feel right.”
“That is because you do not know of the history.”
“No, it is not that.” Maria scanned the area. “If what the demon told us is correct, then there should be many of its filthy brethren down there, looking for this treasure.” She grabbed Teresa’s hand as her sister prepared to descend. “Please, I wish to investigate further. Fly with me around the perimeter.”
Teresa believed that her sister’s precautions were unfounded, but agreed to follow. They glided silently around the valley and the surrounding mountains, searching for any signs of movement. When they were over the path, Maria followed Teresa as she flew in and landed on the rocky surface. “There is nothing here,” Teresa said.
Maria looked around, her wings folded tight against her body. She couldn’t explain the sudden chill that ran through her.
“Sister, you worry too much.” Teresa stroked her arm. “It is possible that the demons were here and left when they could not locate this item. Come—let us see if we can do better.” She walked towards the cave.
“But we do not know where to begin!” Maria said loudly, and instantly regretted raising her voice. She looked up into the silent rock face, sensing something...
“We begin by entering the cave,” Teresa replied, keeping her impatience in check. As she approached the entrance, Teresa became aware of a malignant odor. Halting just several steps away from the opening, she realized that the smell was coming from inside the tomb. She hesitated, trying to decide if the scent belonged to the dead, when several pairs of glowing, yellow eyes lit the entrance.
“It is a trap! Teresa, fly!” Maria shouted.
Several dozen demons poured out of the entrance, their shrill laughter echoing eerily throughout the valley. Hundreds more appeared from hidden crags within the mountain, running and leaping to enclose the pair.
Teresa spread her wings, preparing to fling herself upwards, when one of the larger demons sunk its talons into her shoulder. Teresa screamed in agony and fear. The pain was excruciating.
In an instant, Maria was there, ramming the demon’s face with her elbow. “Teresa! Are you all right?” she yelled.
“Yes,” she gasped, placing her hand on her shoulder. She could feel her flesh beginning to mend. She glanced at the demons that surrounded them. They had backed away from the ferocity of Maria’s attack, but held their ground. “How could I not sense the horde of evil spirits so close to us?”
Maria gave her an irritated look. “This is not the time and place for discussion,” she replied sharply.
“I am sorry, I am sorry,” Teresa stammered.
“Stop apologizing, we must leave!” In one fluid movement, Maria picked Teresa up and flung her into the air. She watched as Teresa spread her wings and caught the warm air current, hoisting herself above the melee. But she wasn’t so lucky. The demons had closed in and were now tearing at her feathers, sinking their long talons into her white skin.
“No! Get away from her!” Teresa aimed her finger at the writhing black mass, barely locating her sister beneath the tangled, scrabbling bodies. A soft aura appeared at the finger’s tip, which quickly became a blinding white orb, and Teresa launched her holy fire directly at the center of the malevolence.
There was no sound, but the devastation was awe-inspiring. The demons’ scorched, smoking husks littered the path and cliffs to either side of her as the holy fire swept across the valley, leaving everything that was earthbound untouched. Another blast obliterated the dead things.
Teresa flew down to Maria, who was slowly and painfully raising herself into a sitting position. “Maria! Are you hurt badly?”
Maria winced as she flexed her wings. A quick check revealed that they weren’t broken, but feathers lay scattered around her. Her body was covered in scratches, and her shoulder had two deep gashes, but otherwise, she seemed unhurt. “I will live,” she grumbled, finally able to stand. She glanced at her shoulder, which was starting to heal. “Nothing that a blessing or two cannot fix.”
Maria turned to her sister. “We cannot stay here any longer.”
“But we must find—”
“We cannot find anything if we do not know what to look for,” Maria interrupted, grabbing Teresa by both arms. “And we do not know if there are more demons about.” She looked meaningfully towards the cave’s entrance. “I could barely sense the creatures, while you did not at all—and I want to discover the reason why. If we enter…” Maria didn’t finish.
Teresa had to concede defeat. She knew that she could be very stubborn when it came to her investigations, but this—this was beyond foolish. They had been ambushed, and they could not afford to have that happen again. “You are right, sister,” she finally decided. “We were not prepared.”
“Then you shall leave this place and discuss the matter with our God, while I stand guard here.”
“What is this you say? You cannot—”
“The demons have found something,” Maria stated flatly. “Or are in the process of finding Lucifer’s precious treasure. The demons cannot leave this place with it.”
“And how do you intend to stop them?”
“With a delegation of our sisters and brothers,” Maria said, smiling. “If you make haste and tell our Lord what we require.”
Double Dragon: http://www.double-dragon-ebooks.com/single.php?ISBN=1-77115-064-5
Amazon kindle: http://www.amazon.com/Eternal-Heiress-ebook/dp/B00BFUJDFW/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1361156381&sr=8-1&keywords=eternal+heiress
Kobo edition: http://www.kobobooks.com/ebook/Eternal-Heiress/book-qsFk5dQOtE6dCgjng8U-hA/page1.html?s=5rM0btHszE2TfNiWwThtzg&r=1 ~~~~~~~
How did you decide on your story plot?
It's weird-- I think I was watching a documentary on Napoleon and when he was sent into exile, I thought to myself: 'I wonder what would happen if he escaped and had a second chance’? And immediately all these different ideas came to mind. Then, just to make it more difficult, I wondered what would happen if he came back from the dead as a demon leader, with Hell's Army at his beck and call. That's pretty creepy—Napoleon was a brilliant soldier and I hate to think what could have happened.
How did you choose your characters names and location for your story?
For Eternal Heiress, a lot of the background is based on Egyptian mythology, so I started with the heroine's name, as I wanted something in relation to her ancestry. For the angels, that was easier-- I stuck with Christian names. I looked up Japanese names on the Internet to see what they meant, but in the end I went with something that sounded like my character.
Do you have a favorite scene? Why?
There are so many that I like! One of my favourites is the scene of the two female angels trying to find out the source of the demon invasion, and tracing it back to the Valley of the Queens. But my favourite would be the discovery of the secret tomb. I love puzzles, and I really enjoyed putting that scene together!
Let our readers know how they can get a hold of you…
Facebook: Charlene Roberts
Is there anything else that you want to share… feel free!!
I've submitted a couple of erotica novels to Ellora's Cave. The first manuscript is a sequel to A Gentleman's Savior, part of the Art of Desire anthologies published three years ago.
The second manuscript is for the Cotillion line (Regency) for their Christmas anthology. As you can see, I like to write all types of stories--hot erotica, sweet traditional Regency and fantasy.
I'm also working on a graphic novel. It's in its very early stages, but the plan is to put together a proposal and see if I can obtain a grant from my provincial Arts Council. Who knows? If they provide me with enough money, I might be able to quit my job and concentrate on the graphic novel and other works.
Thanks for stopping by . All the best with the submissions. I'll keep my fingers crossed for you!
Readers- Don't forget to leave a comment and your email address for a chance to win an ebook copy of Eternal Heiress!
Musings from Michigan