Barbara Monajem is the author of Tastes of Love & Evil, the second book in her Bayou Gavotte series. Barbara dropped by the virtual offices to tell us about the series and to chat about her writing methods and inspirations.
[Manga Maniac Café] Describe yourself in 140 characters or less.
Heh. Do they have to be well-rounded, believable characters?
[Manga Maniac Café] Can you tell us a little about your book, Tastes of Love & Evil?
[Barbara Monajem] An irresistible vampire saves the life of the one man determined to resist her. Forced to work together to rescue a runaway, they combine her allure and his talent for vanishing into thin air to tackle a vamp-gone-bad and unearth the secrets of the most dangerous club in Bayou Gavotte.
[Manga Maniac Café] How did you come up with the concept and the characters for the story?
[Barbara Monajem] The vampire heroine wasn’t difficult. I’d already dreamed up my own version of vampires for the first book in the series, Sunrise in a Garden of Love & Evil. My vamps have a genetic mutation that gives them fangs, a powerful sex urge, and a taste for blood. They’re irresistible, but they’re not undead (because I find the sort-of dead thingy a bit of a turn-off and potentially smelly as well). I got the idea for Rose, the heroine of Tastes of Love & Evil, from two things. One was a portrait of Elizabeth I in one of her elaborate gowns. I love how intricate and gorgeous the gown is, and wondered what it would be like to make one. The other was a dress constructed of homemade fabric that I saw in Quilting Arts magazine. Rose makes period costumes and also designs her own fabrics. I don’t have either of Rose’s talents, so I get some vicarious competence through writing about her!
The hero is a human chameleon. His genetic mutation enables him to blend into almost any background. He uses his special skills to rescue abused women, but he also has a lot of issues, and meeting Rose makes him confront them.
[Manga Maniac Café] Why do you think books with paranormal elements are so popular with readers? Why do you enjoy writing them?
[Barbara Monajem] I think it’s because it’s so much fun to imagine oneself with all those cool powers! Just look at how many kids play at being Harry Potter. Adults like to imagine themselves in such roles, too, even if it’s only through the characters of books. Also, stories with paranormal elements are a step further away from reality than ordinary contemporary fiction, which makes them even more of an escape. I write them for the fun of imagining the unusual abilities and all the problems they would cause.
[Manga Maniac Café] What was the most challenging aspect of writing the book?
[Barbara Monajem] Tying up all the loose ends. The book got more and more complicated as I went on, and I went down quite a few false trails. (I’m not much of a planner.) I think my subconscious had a master plan, though, because it all sorted itself out in the end, and I got surprised several times in the process, which was fun. I love it when things fall into place without me actually planning it that way.
[Manga Maniac Café] What are your biggest creative influences?
[Barbara Monajem] I thought about this question for quite a while, and I’m not really sure. For my historical romances (which so far aren’t paranormal), I guess Georgette Heyer is my biggest influence. For my paranormals, I can’t think of any one direct influence. I’ve learned a lot from reading certain authors – Jennifer Crusie and Loretta Chase, for example – but I see their work as excellent examples rather than creative influences as such.
[Manga Maniac Café] What three things do you need in order to write?
[Barbara Monajem] Time, emotional energy (because writing can be quite exhausting!) and preferably a computer.
[Manga Maniac Café] If you had to pick one book that turned you on to reading, which would it be?
[Barbara Monajem] The Winnie-the-Pooh books by A.A. Milne, as well as his poetry. My mother read these stories and poems to me when I was very young, and I absolutely adored them. I still remember coming home from school the first day of first grade, totally joyous because now I could read!!
[Manga Maniac Café] What do you like to do when you aren’t writing?
[Barbara Monajem] Cooking, baking, reading, walking, traveling… Just not too much of any one thing.
[Manga Maniac Café] Thanks!!
You can learn more about Barbara by visiting the websites below:
You can purchase Tastes of Love & Evil from you favorite bookseller or by clicking the widgets below:
Here is an excerpt from Tastes of Love and Evil – Please enjoy!
The room was empty.
No, it just appeared to be. “I told you there was no one here.” Her nostrils quivering, every sense alert, Rose scanned the bed, the curtains, the embroidered mantle draped on a chair, the Elizabethan gown on the luggage cart. “Now get out of my room!”
The gunman ignored her, ducking in and out of the bathroom, glancing into the closet, going efficiently through every hiding place. Warmer, cried Rose’s senses, warmer, warmer, damn, oh God please no, as he shoved past the luggage cart to the window, and then as he returned, colder, warmer, colder, where the hell is the man? One-handed, the fake fed lifted the mattress and box spring, but no one was concealed underneath.
Sirens cried in the distance, and a second later the gunman’s phone squawked a warning. He left without looking back.
Rose retrieved her breakfast, double-locked the door, and scanned the room. Aha. She’d seen this phenomenon once before. She knew Random Man was in the room, somewhere near the window. “They’ve gone,” she said softly. “You can come out now. You need to have that wound tended.”
Nothing. Where was he?
“I brought coffee and doughnuts.” She put the food on the table. “I’d be happy to share, once we’ve patched you up.” Pause. “I know you’re here. I can hear you breathing.”
“I can smell you,” Rose said, her voice rising, tendrils of allure escaping. You and your blood. “I’m here to help, you fool!”
Still nothing. Or maybe…a faint shimmer, like heat rising in summer air, over on the luggage cart, right by the Elizabethan gown. Damn it, thought Rose. If he stains that costume… Anger coupled with the aroma of blood overwhelmed her senses, and her fangs slotted down. Purposely this time, she directed her allure toward the luggage cart. Another shimmer, instantly controlled, and then absolute stillness.
No more pussyfooting around. She smiled and sent a wave of allure crashing across the room. Random Man resolved into view, gold and tan and brown blending with the dress, then gradually reacquiring his own muted shape and colors, blue denims and Saints jacket, nondescript but definitely all there.
“God help me,” Random Man said. “Not another vamp.”
Thanks to Bewitching Book Tours for arranging this interview!