Bad Boys, Bad Boys...
An Interview with Gena Showalter
The first Gena Showalter book I read was The Darkest Night, the first novel in her Lords of the Underworld series, and boy did she grab my attention and refuse to let go. I read a lot of paranormal romance so I'm the first to hold up my hands and admit there is a lot of bad stuff out there (but then, isn't that true of every genre?), but Gena Showalter is one of the leading lights in this field. If you like your bad boys bad, or if you need a masterclass on how to make your Alpha successfully walk the line between dangerous and sexy with perfect precision, then you should read the Lords of the Underworld series.
Hi Gena! Have you always wanted to be a writer? What encouraged you to stop dreaming and actively pursue publication?
Not always, no. In fact, as a kid I hated books. I thought they were boring and hard to follow. (Bad Gena!) Then I discovered the Sweet Valley High books by Francine Pascal and my perspective changed. Suddenly I was invested in these fictional characters and had to know what they'd do next. I read voraciously, and a few years later my own characters and storylines began swimming in my head.
Can you talk us through your path to publication?
I had dropped out of college three times. I just didn't know what I wanted to be when I "grew up." Finally I had a heart to heart with myself and writing books was the only thing I could see myself doing for the rest of my life. So, I sat down and just started writing. I didn't read How To books or take classes because I am highly OCD and I knew that if I an idea got stuck in my head – like this is how you MUST write your books – I wouldn't be able to stop myself from writing that way, even if it didn't work for me.
So. Fast forward about four or five years. I'd written seven books, and gotten a million rejections. And oh, baby, did those rejections sting. But I kept my eye on the prize and never stopped writing. I was working on my eighth book when HQN decided to buy the seventh, The Stone Prince.
Do you have an agent?
I do have an agent. Deidre Knight of The Knight Agency, and I adore her. She sold my first book, and I've been with her ever since. She's one of my biggest advocates.
My best advice is to do your homework and follow agency guidelines. If they want you to email your query, email it. If they want you to snail mail it, snail mail it. The best way to alienate them is to send them something they don't want. Also, finish the manuscript before you start sending out those queries. If they ask to see the full and you wait six months to send it, their excitement could dim and you might seem unreliable.
How did it feel when you first held a copy of one of your books? How about when you first saw your name on the NYT bestseller list?
The calls came in, and both times I paced and laughed and cried and had to fight for breath. Oh, and I repeated myself over and over. "Are you sure? Are you sure?" The joy and shock of finally realizing such seemingly unattainable dreams was overwhelming.
Romance as a genre is often looked down on, and thus so are the authors and readers. Have you ever experienced this?
I was with best friend and fellow author Jill Monroe. We were at our first book signing, happy beyond belief to finally have our work out there. A woman and her husband approached our table. The wife lifted one of the books and sneered. "This isn't one of those trashy romance novels, is it?" she asked.
We were completely caught off guard, but we told her that love and monogamy weren't trashy. She dropped the book and walked away. I was truly flabbergasted. Thankfully, nothing like that has happened since.
Do you write full time or part time? What are the advantages / disadvantages of your writing method?
I write full time. As OCD as I get about a book once I start it, unable to think about anything else until it's done, I would be fired if I tried to work somewhere else. LOL
There is talk of the paranormal romance market being saturated. Do you think this is accurate? What advice would you give to someone wanting to build a career writing in this genre?
I always tell authors to write the book of their heart, no matter the trends. Trends come and go, but your passion for a book can make it magical.
The Lords of the Underworlds take the "dangerous bad boy" type of hero to a whole new level, and does it very successfully! What do you think are the key ingredients for creating the ultimate bad boy alpha?
I have always loved reading about those bad boys. They skirt the edge of good and evil, but in the end, they will never hurt the heroine. No matter how many rules they have to break, they will protect her. They die for those they love. And most importantly, they never lust for anyone else ever again! (The way it should be in real life J)
What are you working on right now?
Right now I'm working on my first Nocturne, Lord of the Vampires. This will be a four author series (the other authors are Jill Monroe, Jessica Andersen and Nalini Singh) Each of us will be writing about a royal sibling from Elden, a land of vampires, shifters, witches and all kinds of other creatures of the night. Sexy stories with alpha heroes!
What is your ultimate writing goal?
Two dreams are driving me right now. I'd love to see my books on the big screen, and I'd love to crack the top five of the New York Times. But always, there's one goal that stands out more than most: to entertain my readers.
And finally, please could you sum up a key piece of advice for aspiring writers in one sentence?
Giving up is the only sure way to fail.
Many thanks to Gena and her assistant, Jennifer, for getting these questions back to me so fast. I owe you both an apology for mixing up the publication date (my bad), so sorry that this was posted later than expected.
Gena has one of the slickest author sites you are likely to come across, and I thoroughly reccommend checking it out over here. There's a ton of information about Gena's other series of books, including her young adult fiction. She also tweets if, like me, you are addicted to meeting people through a medium of 140 characters. If you are yet to be converted to Gena's books, then you can buy them over here.