Book Chat with Cindy Lynn Speer

Continuing our chat about The Chocolatier’s Wife and Beautiful Death, here’s the next questions I asked Cindy and her response.  Head over to Cindy’s blog for my questions/answers re: BD.

How long have you been writing, and where does TCW fit in your bibliography?  And what’s in the works for you next?

I’ve been writing since my teens…about 20 years.  The Chocolateir’s Wife is my third completed book.  Of my first two, Blue Moon is, ironically, my second book.  The first I wrote, Balancing Act, will be out in a year or so.  I’ve also written a lot of short stories and poems.  I wanted to write longer works, but when I was a teen I was more interested in expressing myself…my emotions, what I was going through…in a descriptive way, and I loved poems because I could finish them.  Then I did short stories…when I finished my first novel, it was really a relief! 

And since I missed a week or so over the holidays, I’ll post another.

What’s next for the world of Chocolatier’s Wife? 

As for what’s next for that world…I have several plans.  Someday, I think William is going to have to face the sea…I imagine a mystery, perhaps, happening while he and Tasmin go on a voyage, perhaps to visit cocoa plantations?  I’m not sure.  But I am working on a story set in the “enemy” empire of Pandroth.  I don’t know if I ever will truly write about William and Tasmin again…but I love them so much, it gives me comfort to think I might just.   

Book Chat with Cindy Lynn Speer

Continuing our ongoing book chat, the next question I asked Cindy about The Chocolatier’s Wife:

How did you come up with the idea of the letters between Tasmin and William?  I loved the way the two storylines unfolded!

Her answer:

The letters came about because I needed to create a history between Tasmin and William.  In the story, they aren’t allowed to meet, technically, until their wedding day, a rule that goes out the window when he’s accused of murder, since she is now able to break her promise to be his wife with no repercussions.  So, why would she risk everything to go and see him and help him?  The letters seemed like the only solution, and as I wrote them, I realized that they could tell a completely different second story.  They were a lot of fun to write. 
 

Head over to Cindy’s blog if you want to hear about what attracted me to the Hades myth.

Come back next week for her next question,

Now I have to ask you…are any of your characters partly inspired by actors or actresses? 

Book Chat with Cindy Lynn Speer

Last weeks’s chat and Cindy’s post with my answer about the original inspiration for Beautiful Death.

The question I asked her next was what movie and characters had inspired TCW?  Her response:

Well…I have always loved the movie Master and Commander, and I thought Edward Woodall’s character, William Mowett, was just a lovely, wonderful and much under used person.  Since I’ve seen him in a handful of other things, and he’s a very good actor, he puts a lot into his roles, even the smallest parts become full, perfectly realized people.  So, in a way, that’s where our William gets his sea faring past…and his first name. 

 
I probably shouldn’t have confessed that!   
 

Ha, I love that she confessed it!  If you’re curious to see how I would “cast” Beautiful Death, head on over to Cindy’s blog.

Next week, we’ll continue our chat with my question to her:

How did you come up with the idea of the letters between Tasmin and William?  I loved the way the two storylines unfolded! 

Book Chat with Cindy Lynn Speer

This summer, I was priviledged to chat in depth with Cindy after reading The Chocolatier’s Wife released by Drollerie Press around the same time as Beautiful Death.  Events conspired against us so we’re just not getting this “chat” published on our blogs, but we had a great time discussing the story behind the books and general writing.  We plan on posting part of our “back and forth” chat every Friday until we finally stopped talking shop.  This is very informal, so there may be some overlap…or some juicy tidbit extras!

First off, let me say how much I enjoyed The Chocolatier’s Wife (TCW).  This sweet romance really tugs on the heart-strings.  I absolutely adored the little touches between Tasmin and William.  For most of their lives, their courtship happens through letters.  It’s sort of a fluke, really, that they were even “matched” by the magic that determines who should marry. 

Little things speak so loudly, though.  It’s the care and consideration between the two of them that really makes this story so sweet, long before they ever meet face to face.  The small considerations between these characters really shows how they fall in love bit by bit.  Love comes softly for these characters, and it’s beautiful to watch.

We thought it would be interesting to delve deeper into our stories, because they are on opposite ends of the spectrum, really, for what our niche micropress Drollerie Press is really all about.  Beautiful Death is violent and quite sexy, where TCW is softer and subtler, but BOTH stories combine magic and romance into what we think is a rather rich and unique tapestry.  Both stories are transformative, because I assure you, William is never the same after Tasmin blows into his life, and Isabella can only learn what it truly means to be a “monster” after she becomes a monster herself. 

So the first thing we started talking about was the “story behind the story.”  Here was Cindy’s response:

What started my book was a sort of goofy confluence.  It was nearing Christmas and my then department chair had given me a tower of chocolate…different boxes with all these lovely things inside.  And I had just watched a movie with an actor in it who I was wishing was in more roles…and as i was opening the box, I was wondering what I would like to see him in.  And I took a bite of this square of chocolate…it was, sincerely, one of the best pieces of chocolate I’d ever eaten…and the idea flooded into my head, even the title.  

Sounds yummy, yes?  So head over to Cindy’s blog and read my response about Beautiful Death and its original inspiration.

Next week, we’ll continue with the next question, where I said: 

Oooh, so you know I’ve got to ask:  who was the actor and what was the movie?  

Then we got to talking about “casting” our characters.

And since it’s been quite a while since I posted anything about Beautiful Death, I’ll post an excerpt.  This piece provides some of the backstory about how Isabella became “Beautiful Death.”  Although she doesn’t know it at the time, this “alien” is Hades.  Not exactly your everyday run-of-the-mill “first meet” in a romance.  :roll:  :wink:

Without opening her eyes, she knew someone watched, very close, the stirring of air warning her that a hand stretched toward her.  She exploded into action, rolling to the side and scooping up the knife that she always kept nearby.  Huddled with her back to the wall, she felt her heart stutter with dread.

This monster was the real thing. 

The alien spun silvered rainbows through the alley, leaving her nowhere to hide.  He squatted down to her level, as though that would fool her into trusting him.  “Isabella.  I’ve come to help you.  Your father–”

A cold sweat coated her skin, but she couldn’t hold back the laughter.  Ragged, shrill with grief and rage, her voice grated like broken glass.  “Even if you weren’t a monster, I’d know you were lying.  My father’s the last person I ever want to see again.”

A sound jerked her attention behind him.  More aliens had her sister.

“I’m tired.”  Amelia lay in one of the alien’s arms like a helpless baby, and the look of resignation on her face made bile burn up Isabella’s throat.  “I’m dirty and cold and starving.  I just want to go home.  He said we’d be safe, Bella.  If not…”  she shrugged, “at least it’ll be over.”

Fight!  Why don’t you fight?  Don’t lie there and let them kill you!  “There is no home.  Mom’s dead, and Daddy’s never coming back.  Don’t you understand?  There is no safety!  If they don’t kill you, their virus will!”

Choking on tears of rage, her throat hurt, her eyes burning.  Otherwise, she’d have seen the alien coming at her.

The bastard was good, she’d give him that.  He seized her right arm, his thumb pressing on her tendon until her nerveless fingers dropped the knife, while he pinned her against his body with his other arm.  For all his size and power, he made one monumental error.  He treated her carefully, as though she were just a fifteen-year-old kid, half starved and scared shitless, as though she hadn’t seen people tearing each other apart for food or killed to keep herself alive.

She lunged up and buried her pitiful human teeth in his neck, tearing at that vulnerable pale skin.

The alien’s body jolted against hers, silver burning higher.  Glass shattered in the windows of the abandoned highrise.  Street lamps that had long ago quit working exploded like fireworks.  The ground trembled, glass and metal tinkling, debris falling all around them.

“Bella.”  The alien’s voice sounded shaken, hushed, not filled with fury or pain like she’d expected.  The fool released her hands and cupped her head tighter to his throat, curling his body around hers protectively.  “Your father sent me to you.  I mustn’t…”

Then you’re dead, she thought, fisting her hands in the ridiculously long, pretty hair about his shoulders.  She yanked his head back further and tore deeper at his throat, determined to rip her way to his spine, but he still didn’t release her.  His power burned higher, sinking into her, melting her bones, and swirling rainbows sucked her down into an endless pit of darkness.

Her heart pounded harder, her mind screaming with terror, but her body slipped into neutral while he siphoned off her energy.  Her strength, hatred, and rage that powered her ferocious will to live disappeared in an instant.

He’s feeding on me.  He’s eating me alive.

She’d seen the horrors, watched as the aliens drained their victims and left them mindless shells to die twitching and screaming when the virus struck.  She’d hated those weaklings and despised their stupidity, never understanding the horrific compelling need to give up the fight. 

There was nothing she could do to stop him; worse, the longer he fed, the less she wanted him to stop.

Rest, peace, safety, all lies he silently promised while he crushed her against him and drained her lifeforce.  Surrender, his body purred against hers.  Death won’t be so bad.  I’ll be gentle, sweet, good, I promise.

His blood coated her face, filled her mouth, and slid down her throat in a hot, liquid flood, but she was the one dying.  Little by little, Isabella flickered lower, a candle guttering in the silent, cold night.  Her defenses crumbled.  He was all around, inside her, soaking her up, drinking her most horrible dreams and memories, seducing her to death.

Lost, all she could think about was how incredibly good his blood tasted.