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Please Welcome Joey W. Hill

A story of two lovers who could not be more different.

Daughter to an angel and a mermaid, Alexis has grown up in peaceful waters. So when her nightmares begin, the mer-angel has little idea what to make of them. In her dream is the loneliest man Alexis has ever met-and she’s strangely drawn to him. Until the night her dream comes true…

Born of a vampire and a Dark One, Dante only knows brutality. And although he’s the leader of the underworld, he longs to escape it. How better than to hold for ransom the Prime Legion Commander’s daughter? But there’s one thing Dante never planned on-the way Alexis steals his heart.

Joey, Thank-you for agreeing to an author interview today.

You’re very welcome – it’s my pleasure, and a delight to be here.

Can you tell everyone a little bit about yourself?

Sure – I’m an erotic romance author for Berkley Heat and Ellora’s Cave Publishing. I write mostly paranormal for Berkley, and mostly contemporary for Ellora’s Cave. While some of my work is more mainstream erotic, most of it has a BDSM theme or undercurrent to that effect. I’ve been told my style is exceptional for the emotional depth and psychological exploration of my characters. I also tend to write longer books than many in this genre – you can decide if that’s good or bad, depending on your reading preferences :).

On the personal side of things, I’m dull as dishwater. I pretty much write, take care of our seven animals, eat, sleep and start over each day. I don’t travel too far afield, due to the fact I don’t fly, though I hope to do a leisurely cross country trip and stop at all the places I’d like to see one day. Grand Canyon, New Orleans, dozens of roadside thrift shops :). I have a wonderful husband who has been the center of my life for over twenty years.

How long have you been writing?

I wrote my first story around the sixth grade and wrote all through school and early college. All sorts of romances – mafia romances (my Godfather phase), psychic romances, paranormal romances (when we called them fantasy romances – grin), etc. I stopped for about ten years when I became heavily involved in animal welfare jobs and the animal rights cause. That worthwhile effort took much of my creative energy during that time. However, around the time I turned 30, my mind turned back to the writing, and I started pursuing it professionally.

What is your writing process like?

I used to handwrite my first drafts, but when I became contracted for over four books a year, I had to change my process to increase my turnaround time. The first rule of any part of my process is that I don’t want to sacrifice quality, so that has been a little bit of a difficult transition, but over time, I’m learning to connect to the same creative flow through a keyboard that I used to do with a pen. And I can always switch back and forth if I get blocked up.

Once I get the first draft in, I do three full edits, and a fourth on my ereader if there’s time before the deadline, to “read it like a book”, which gives me a different look at it.

I started fulltime writing in November 2007, so I typically write five days a week, 6-8 hours if the creative juice holds, work on marketing three nights a week, and, if my deadline is tight, also add a weekend day to my writing time. See? Told you that’s all I do! LOL

Can you tell us about your newest release A Mermaid’s Ransom?

Here’s a blurb on it:

Growing up the daughter of a famous mermaid and the second in command of the angelic legions can put a lot of pressure on a girl. Though she loves her parents, Alexis has chosen to live among humans as an ordinary college girl, but she can’t hide the tranquil aura of angelic light and empathic ability that draws people to her. Unfortunately, while it draws men to her, none of them are willing to cross the line to find her true heart and soul – or even give her a decently passionate kiss. That is, until she begins to dream of a male trapped in fire and rage, who wants her so badly he’ll tear the universe apart to have her. However, while all she can feel is his pain and suffering, and a yearning to heal him, Dante sees her as the way to his freedom. He thinks he’s willing to destroy her to accomplish that, but once he kidnaps her into his world and is confronted with the girl who is the opposite of everything he’s ever known, he starts to wonder if his freedom is as important as keeping her by his side.

Dante was a major challenge to write, because an author has to connect to a character in order to write them in such a way that the reader can also connect with them. He came from such a harsh world, beyond most people’s understanding, and it took a while, and Alexis’s help, for me to get under the surface and find the hero within that she could feel with her empathic abilities. The way to connect with a character is to put him in scenes that open him up, and that’s kind of a chicken-egg thing – you have to know what kinds of scene will open him up. So there was a lot of guesswork at first.

I ended up being pleased with the result, though, and hope the readers will agree. Like most my books, not an easy read, but if you like the kind of love story where there are hard choices to be made to earn the love and happy-ever-after, and a difficult hero who has to earn the reader’s love as well, this book will fall under that category.

This is the third book in your Daughters of Arianne series, how many more books will there be?

I know I want to write at least one more. In A Mermaid’s Ransom, Alexis’s clairvoyant roommate develops a crush on a very grumpy angel captain named Marcellus, when he was pulling guard duty over Alexis. I think he and Clara have a future together, though at the moment he’s quite adamant they don’t :).  After that, who knows? I never know what secondary characters will develop in each book, or what story ideas will branch off into other ideas, but I’ve enjoyed writing this one, so I’m sure something else will crop up, if more books are meant to be.

What books do you have releasing in 2010?

Laced with Desire is the newest anthology by Jaci Burton, Jasmine Haynes, Denise Rossetti and myself. It has the connecting theme of a corset in each story. My story, Honor Bound, is another of my Knights of the Board Room series. Peter is about to do another tour in Afghanistan with the National Guard, but on his last few days stateside, he meets an incredible sexual submissive in a BDSM club. Turns out she’s an Army sergeant about to go on a tour to Iraq. It will be a year before they see one another again, and when they do, Dana has been badly injured, such that he has to use his talents as a Master to help her embrace her life again. The anthology releases February 2010, and of course will feature fantastic stories by these other three ladies – I’m honored to be part of it.

Recently, I turned in Vampire Mistress, which is Gideon’s story (Jacob’s brother from Mark of the Vampire Queen in the Vampire Queen series). Gideon’s story turned out to be a ménage, where Gideon, a hardcore vampire hunter, gets tangled up with the Mistress of a BDSM club. When Anwyn is violently turned by a pack of rogue vampires, Gideon discovers she has a silent partner, the mysterious vampire Daegan Rei. Gideon finds himself drawn into a relationship with two vampires. The relationship was complex enough that it needed to be told over two books, so this month I’m cleaning up Part 2, Vampire Trinity, which will be released in September 2010. Vampire Mistress comes out May 2010.

I’m also finishing up the next book in my contemporary Nature of Desire series, Branded Sanctuary. This one features Brendan, who is an extraordinary male submissive, devoted to the wellbeing of his chosen Mistress. He falls for Chloe, who is not part of the D/s world, and so they have to figure out how their love will work. Two favorite characters from earlier books in the series, Tyler and Marguerite, who are both strong Doms, will help them reach that point. This book should release in the spring.

What are you currently working on?

If my vampire series contract continues, I hope to write two more vampire books in 2010. Jacob and Lyssa of the first two books now need a third book, because Mark of the Vampire Queen left them wide open for another sequel, where they’ll get to interact with the Fae world, and continue to explore their ever changing relationship dynamic. Also, I’ll have a book about Elisa, a character introduced in Vampire’s Claim, who is the guardian of a handful of children that were turned by force to vampires. It’s a situation which brings her to a wild cat sanctuary and the brooding vampire who runs it, to see if he can help her teach the children how to get along in the very “the fittest survive” vampire world. This book allowed me to do some great research on wild cats and visit the Big Cat Rescue sanctuary in Tampa, which was a delight. Great organization.

On the contemporary side, I hope to write one or possibly both of the books left for the Knights of the Board Room series. I mentioned Peter above, but this series revolved around five high powered male executives, all sexual Dominants. Each story focuses on one executive finding his soulmate, and using the sensual talents of his other four companions, if needed, to woo the woman of his dreams to be his forever :).

Where do you get your ideas for your books?

Laughter – I’ve said in a past interview this is the one question I’d love to have struck off of my interview questions, but only because there’s no good answer to it. I don’t really know. I mean, there are times I’ll hear a snippet of conversation or get intrigued by a stranger’s face and it might kick off a scene in my head that leads to a fully fleshed story idea, but on the whole, a new idea just comes in my head, probably something plucked from the collective unconscious. Of course, these days, since I have four series going, a lot of my new books come from secondary characters developed in previous books.

One thing I’ve always been curious about, many of your books have the D/s or BDSM theme, is there a particular reason why?

It’s a genre I very much enjoy reading, and I am a sexual submissive. I started writing erotic romance when I was exploring that side of my personality, and it led to a deep fascination with the many facets of this personal orientation, both the Dom and the sub side.

As an author, you must be an avid reader. What books do you enjoy reading? Who are your auto-buy authors?

I like a central love story of course, and prefer heavily character-driven plots, versus a lot of politics, intrigue or world building. Definitely want steamy sex or sexual tension. I want the protagonists to have a lot of obstacles to overcome, but I want them to be drawn together by that, not constantly driven apart through the book by contrived “misunderstandings”. That irritates me like nothing else. I like it when the stakes are high and heroic – probably why I like paranormal romance almost as much as contemporary.

Because so much of my reading is to keep my style fresh, I have shamefully few “autobuy” authors, because it’s usually specific books, versus ongoing series or offerings, that capture me. Exceptions would be Denise Rossetti, who is one of my critique partners, and JD Robb’s “In Death” series, which is my brain candy when I need to relax. I also will buy any of the Outlander series that Diana Gabaldon publishes.

What books are on your keeper shelf?

See the question below for my “test of time” romances, but in addition to them and the autobuys above, the Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger, My Sister’s Keeper by Jodi Picoult, Odd Thomas by Dean Koontz. There are others, but those are representative 🙂 I also have a lot of early Nora Roberts’ work, which heavily influenced by original style.

What was the first romance book you read or the one book that has stood the test of time for you?

I can’t remember the very first, because I was reading 2-3 Harlequins a week by the time I hit 5th grade, but there are a handful that have stood the test of time – over twenty years for some!

Once in a Blue Moon by Penelope Williamson

Ashes in the Wind by Kathleen Woodiwiss

Hidden Riches by Nora Roberts

Flowers in the Storm by Laura Kinsale

The Black Lyon by Jude Devereaux

Son of the Morning by Linda Howard

If your book was made into a movie, which actors would like to see as the lead characters?

Hmm…this is always a tough one, because I think we all tend to imagine the hero and heroine looking the way we want them to look, for our own private fantasies, and I don’t necessarily want readers to have that ruined by knowing what I imagine the characters to look like. Of course, as I’ve told my husband, sometimes it works best when an actor or actress is chosen to portray a book character, not because they’re an exact physical match, but because they have the ability to encapsulate the most important qualities of that character.

On that note, there are really only a couple actors with whom I’ve been able to match my characters. I could see Hugh Jackman playing just about any of my heroes – that may be because I’m such a fan 🙂 If he was still alive, I would have wanted Heath Ledger to play Brendan of the upcoming Branded Sanctuary. Brendan is a quiet, gentle soul with a tough edge to him, and Heath would have pulled that off with style – as he did all his roles.

If you could switch lives with one of your characters who would if be & why?

I think I’d be willing to switch with almost all of my heroines, after they go through all the life threatening and tragic situations, so I could spend some time with the heroes 🙂 Yeah, I’m a real wimp. But let’s pretend I’m brave and I have the strength of character to deserve the love of one of their incredible heroes. I love Anna’s character from A Mermaid’s Kiss. The chance to be a mermaid, human or pixie fairy (she has a handful of shifting forms), and have someone like Jonah, the Prime Legion Commander for the Goddess and head of the angelic Dark Legion, devoted to me? Sign me up for that.

In my contemporary works, it would be Savannah of Board Resolution (Behind the Mask anthology). She’s an accomplished business woman, and yet is utterly taken over, heart, mind and soul, by Matt’s loving dominance. And then to have the other four “Knights of the Board Room” as constant eye candy around the office and during their weekend get-togethers? Definitely.

When you are not writing or reading, what do you enjoying doing in your spare time?

I’ll let you know when I have spare time (laughter). Seriously, my day is pretty tightly scheduled between writing, promo and family/pet needs, but when I treadmill at night or take short lunch and breakfast breaks, I like to unwind with one of my favorite movies, or series that I DVR. Like right now, I’m trying to watch the ER seasons I missed that are running in syndication on TNT, though I’m beginning to remember why I stopped watching them 🙂 I also love Criminal Minds. My husband and I will usually have a movie night on the weekend – our latest finds were Transformers 2 and Up, both great movies. I look for stuff with great characters, a moving story line and happy endings (which is probably why I stopped watching ER, because it got SO depressing all the time, but I’m grimly determined to see it through to the end, mainly because I love Noah Wyle.) It’s easier for me to watch movies or TV than it is to read, because I’ve done so much writing and editing over the years it’s hard for me to “turn off” the editing mode and just get into a great book. Which I hate, because I used to adore reading. But I can still manage it on vacation, when I get into “relaxation” mode, or if I find a really outstanding book.

If you could ask readers any one question, what would it be?

I always encourage readers to give me specific feedback on my work, whether good or bad, because both types can help me continue to grow as a writer. That’s what I continue to ask them – please keep giving me reactions to my work, no matter what they are!

Where can readers find you on the internet?

My website is http://www.storywitch.com/, and there are free excerpts and blurbs about all the books/series mentioned here. You can subscribe to my newsletter through my home page and get monthly news about my upcoming works and have the chance to win books and other great things in my monthly contests. I also have a blog, accessible through the home page or directly. I usually go into detail about past appearances there, but the real draw is that I serialize vignettes featuring characters from my full length works. Right now, I’m finishing up an eleven-part one called “Tyler Tied Up”, featuring Tyler and Marguerite from the Nature of Desire series.  After the holidays, I’ll start on one featuring Lyssa from the Vampire Queen series. You can also follow that vignette and read archived excerpts and vignettes if you join the Fans of Joey W. Hill yahoo group. I am on Facebook and Shelfari as well. Thanks so much for having me here!

***Leave a comment answering Joey’s question and one lucky commenter will win a copy of A Mermaid’s Ransom. Good Luck 🙂