NG: I’m welcoming author Xakara on Simply Sexy Stories! Hi, Xakara!
X: Hey, Nichelle! It’s great to be here. Thank you for having me.
NG: My pleasure! Tell me, what are you reading right now?
X: Right now I’m reading three things, two marketing books and I’m rereading Stranger in Strange Land by Robert A Heinlein.
NG: Nice! Do tell if the marketing books have been helpful. Let's talk
about your writing. What genre(s) do you write and why?
X: I write Paranormal Romance and Urban Fantasy because I love the idea of the every day and the preternatural existing side-by-side. I started with an urban fantasy titled Bloodsprite that will finally be available some time next year.
While I was recovering from that endeavor, I found an open call for a Paranormal Romance and I jumped at the chance to tell a story in this world I’d just created that would be a smaller focus on three people coming together. It completely opened up the genre of Paranormal Romance in a way I hadn’t considered before that story. It turns out that I’m more about the relationships over the crisis-of-the-moment than I’d originally thought.
The two genres are closely intwined and I believe even more so for me. I don’t tell the stories of strangers becoming lovers, but of friends turned lovers and lovers reuniting which is less common in PR, you get that kind of history more in UF. But the relationships, all of them, are the major focus rather than defeating the big bad, when there is a big bad. So I guess I write Urban Fantasy Romance. *smile*
NG: I like it! What draws you to erotic romantic novels?
X: I like writing the sexual element, because it’s the human element—even when your characters aren’t human. In fact, I think the erotic side is more important when dealing with nonhuman characters as it allows readers to see the commonality. I also feel that we are defined by our relationships and lack thereof. How we interact with the world and each person we encounter in it, is a reflection of who we are and who we want to become. Showing characters in the context of their most intimate relationships gives the reader the sincerest glimpse into this cast of characters they’ve come to spend 100 to 400 pages with and wish to know.
Personally, I chose to write the type of erotic romance I wanted to read but couldn’t find. I write Bisexual romance and I write open door sex as opposed to erotica. Unless I’m in the right mindframe, crude or explicit language can throw me out of a scene and I end up skipping them or fighting my way through them which takes something from the story. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find many ménages with Bisexual love scenes that didn’t involve a level of explicitness that turned me away as a reader.
I knew I wasn’t the only person losing the thread of what should have been a revealing scene because of word choices, so I wrote sex the way I wanted to read it and others took to it. Conversations with readers and fellow authors have revealed that I’m often the first erotic ménage romance they’ve read where the love scene pulled them further in the story, rather than ejecting them from it. I’m proud of that. MMF and FFM don’t need to be graphic to be engaging. An additional person or same-sex content don’t automatically require four letter words to be real. I offer an alternative slightly to the left on the spectrum of erotic romance for those who want it and that’s how it should be, something for everyone.
NG: Well said, Xakara and I agree. There should be stories available
for every reader's taste. Are there any particular authors you enjoy
reading or that have influenced your writing?
X: Everything I read and watch regularly has an influence on my writing. It’s insane how long it takes me to get through something when I’m particularly vulnerable to that influence. I stop every five minutes to take mental or physical notes on how I would have done something differently. I’m not the only author who does that , right?
That said, there are influences that are stronger than others. I’m the love child of Stephen King and Anne Rice as influenced by growing up alongside the love child of Octavia E. Butler and Joss Whedon and becoming best friends and college roommates with the love child of Piers Anthony and Laurell K Hamilton. *Grin*
Stephen King is the first author I feel in love with as a child. Everything I love about the concept of parallel worlds, post apocalyptic sagas and the ordinary hero comes from Stephen King. The Stand is still my favorite book to date.
Anne Rice is my gothic romance influence as well as my first understanding of same-sex romance. I was too young to understand that Interview with the Vampire wasn’t a love story between Lestat and Louis for everyone else. Frankly, I still don’t understand that. I never saw it as anything but Lestat being in love with Louis and in love with the family they built with Claudia, but having little to no understanding of how to express that love without being controlling. He was the perfect flawed hero or redeemable villain depending on your take.
Lestat aside, it’s The Mayfair Witches saga for which I own Anne the most. For the many, many years that I didn’t write, it was rereading this series that let me know I one day would.
Octavia Butler is the first time I read science fiction with a main character that looked like me. Lilith’s Brood let me know that not only did People of Color exist in the future, but they were the heroines of the story. It’s little wonder that her emotionally and intellectually powerful heroines gave me an instant love of Joss Whedon’s physically and magically powerful heroines. From Buffy to Firefly, the women Joss put on the screen let me know that I didn’t need to write women waiting to be rescued for there to be an audience in the modern market. My reader grew up on the same shows and admire that strength, even in romance.
Where Piers Anthony introduced me to fantasy as a child, Laurell K Hamilton introduced me to urban fantasy as an adult. Piers taught me that there are no rules but the ones you make. In fantasy everything is possible, every choice when building your world is valid, no matter how different or outrageous it is. Laurell K Hamilton is the first modern urban fantasy I ever read. It opened up an entirely new viewpoint on where I wanted my writing to go when I finally sat down and made the commitment. LKH is also the first mainstream author I read with poly themes in her books and I learned that regardless of the controversy there are readers that will follow you there, no matter where there turns out to be. I no longer felt restrained in what I could get away with on the page and I knew the stories I had to tell would have readers who wanted to listen.
NG: You've named some of my favorite authors as well. Your journey to writing and becoming an author is fascinating! Can you tell me a little about your writing process...are you a careful plotter or laid back pantster?
X: I’m a quilter, or what I like to call a patchwork pantster. I get scenes or excerpts and I have to figure out how they fit together to tell a larger story. Most of the time, I get an opening scene or bit of dialogue to go with later scenes, but sometimes I get a book from the middle out and have to work harder to get it all down and then make it coherent to someone besides myself.
NG: Has your writing process changed since your first book was
X: No, which is unfortunate. My first published work was written on a very, very tight deadline because I found out about the anthology call last minute. The same is true of my second publication and my third, both of which were pushed towards their deadlines because of illness. My fourth was a revision of an earlier completed work and the most stress-free of the lot. I need to decouple the adrenaline response of writing on a short deadline from the satisfaction of completing a manuscript so that I can give myself more time for each project in the future.
NG: Those anthology calls can be very distracting when you're in the middle of a WIP and I agree there's something exciting about rushing to meet a deadline. What are you working on now?
X: Right now I’m finishing Saint Valentine (PsiCorps #3) that will hopefully be available next February.
NG: Let's talk about your latest release, Dawn's Early Light (PsiCorps Volume 2). What's this urban fantasy romance all about?
X: Dawn’s Early Light is about learning to let go of fear and accepting that you can’t hold on to loss as a reason not to love fully and completely. Mackenzie, having lost his last family member six years ago, is lost when it comes to navigating the intimate network he finds himself thrown in the middle of when he takes lead in the assignment to protect them. Over the course of Dawn’s Early Light he learns what it means to belong to more than one and to suddenly have a family again.
NG: Sounds delicious! What inspired you to pen this sexy tale?
X: Ghost Of Christmas Past (PsiCorps #1) was originally meant to stand alone. I thought of it as a TV movie that followed a federal agent’s first Christmas with his loved ones after waking from a four year coma to a life completely changed. His partner and his fiancé have married and moved on after believing he died in the shoot out that caused his coma. How they come back together and where they might go from there was compelling and like any movie only touched that particular part of their lives. I was happy with it and ready to walk away.
Readers, however, didn’t feel the same. I kept being asked questions on what happened next and my little holiday TV movie turned into a pilot for my PsiCorps series. Dawn's Early Light picks up six months after Ghost of Christmas Past and touches on where the relationships revealed or hinted at, at Christmas have gone. It also reveals more of the darker things happening in the PsiCorps world, but without that darkness becoming the focus.
NG: Which movie stars would accurately portray your main
X: This is always a dangerous question. I do fantasy casting in order to have a visual of my characters as I write, but I never want to take away from the reader’s imagination of what the characters look like. That said, let’s share...four.
Marshal Mackenzie Matthews: Jensen Ackles
Marshal Kincaid Ides: Shemar Moore
Agent Torrin St. James: Jared Padalecki
PsiCorps Handler Quintus: Ian Somerhalder
NG: If you had to add a song/soundtrack to your manuscript what
would it be?
X: I listen to such a variety of things when I write, that my soundtrack for them wouldn’t make sense to anyone else. But I can give individual songs for the PsiCorps books.
Ghost of Christmas Past (PsiCorps #1) Everything by Lifehouse
Dawn's Early Light (PsiCorps #2) Find A Way by Safety Suit
Saint Valentine (PsiCorps #3) Wreck of the Day by Anna Nalick
NG: Nice! Were there any creative challenges faced and conquered
before you wrote, 'The End'?
X: Because I was on a deadline and I knew there would be other books, I tried to buck my nature and plot book two. Never. Again. It’s just not my style and trying to make it fit the outline caused delays and took the enjoyment out of writing until I finally abandoned it and just let the story flow.
NG: Give me three reasons readers will love Dawn's Early Light.
X: Real emotional vulnerability. The unusual dynamic of love developing within a larger intimate network. Hot guys having hot sex, (you know, if that’s your thing *grin*).
NG: What's the one thing readers can always count on when picking
up one of your books?
X: Love always wins.
NG: *sigh* Thanks so much for stopping by Simply Sexy Stories, Xakara, come back anytime!
Blurb: U.S. Marshal Mackenzie Matthews has spent the last six months on the most important witness protection assignment of his career--protecting PsiCorps’ own. The four agents under his care in the program have always had his admiration, but now, under such close quarters, they’ve earned his affections as well. Bonds formed after a dramatic showdown on Christmas Eve, and the concerted efforts in its wake to build a sense of normalcy around his pregnant charge, has Mackenzie the happiest he’s been in years and the most frightened.
To push for more not only questions his integrity as the lead marshal on the case, but it threatens the surrogate family that has engulfed him in a sense of home. Mackenzie is the only one that can see the danger in every step he takes--so he stands in place. He soon learns that he’s the only one not willing to move forward. In a whirlwind of revelation as the country celebrates the stars and stripes, Mackenzie is faced with what it means to truly be free. He’ll learn that sometimes no amount of caution can save you from what’s meant to be. Sometimes, no matter how deeply you bury secret desires in the darkness, it takes but a single kiss to reveal it all by the dawn’s early light.
Contains: Psychic Vampire seduction, all male ménage, M/F oral fixation and bloodless biting to spare.
Caution! Steamy Excerpt Below:
Mackenzie walked to the bathroom doorway in time to see Kincaid walk backward into the room, speaking out into the hall. Mackenzie was so caught up in the idea that the security cameras in the courtyard might have witnessed his moment with Quintus that he missed Ajay’s grand entrance. The second glance did equal justice as the young Agent walked in wearing only a towel, one that apparently couldn’t be trusted to behave as he held the ends bunched in a fist at his hip rather than tucked in place.
He didn’t realize he’d stepped further back into the bathroom until they headed into the walk-in closet without acknowledging his presence. Mackenzie walked to the bath-side closet door and stepped into the alcove that buffered the closet proper from any creeping moisture issues from the formal bathroom. Kincaid and Ajay entered from the other side and walked to Kincaid’s trove of T-shirts. He pulled out a deep crimson one only a few shades off from the one he wore.
“Here you go, sport. I hear it’s Riley’s favorite color.”
Ajay sighed. The small action managed to show off the significant definition months of working out with Torrin had carved. “You can aggravate me by using sport, or by reminding me I missed all the good stuff at breakfast, but to do both is just cruel.” He stepped closer to Kincaid. “Do you really want to be cruel to the young, impressionable Agent who looks up to you so sincerely?”
Kincaid leaned back on the dresser. “I guess that depends on what he’s doing when he looks up at me. I could be persuaded to be very nice indeed under the right circumstances.”
“Well, I’d definitely be sincere in whatever endeavor was on the table, Marshal.” He reached out and placed his free hand on the dresser. “Is there an approved list of activities that will get the best response?”
Kincaid seemed to hesitate and then he shook himself. “Right now the only activity you need to do is back your pretty little ass up and try on the shirt. And don’t go accidentally dropping that towel trying to entice somebody.”
“Yes, sir.” Ajay backed up. “No accidents involved.” He took off the towel and draped it over his shoulder.
“Now that’s out of the way, do I get the same points for looking back over my shoulder that I do for looking up?”
Kincaid whistled. “Wow, I bring up one little conversation on being a vampire, and you just get all kinds of--”
“Cocky?” Ajay supplied.
“You do know I could take you, right, sport?”
Ajay reached down and ran a hand over his thigh, framing the partial erection. “I thought we were negotiating that very thing.”
“You are just too much today.” Kincaid undid his buckle and pulled his belt free.
“Am I getting lucky, or have I been naughty, daddy?”
Only the slightest pause gave hint of a reaction from Kincaid. He held the belt out to the light. The black on black embossed dragon shone at different angles. “You’ve seen me wear this all the time, right? It’s my favorite.”
“It happens to be where I’m most often looking, so yes, I have.”
Kincaid pressed his lips together and shook his head. “This belt is older than you are by six months.”
“Wow.” Ajay reached out and ran his fingers over the design. “Good to know you take such good care of your things, especially those in my age group.”
“Boy, you need to stop.” The laugh held an edge of frustration.
“But you’re the one that came to my workout session to watch me get all hot and sweaty. And you’re the one that stood outside my shower to talk to me while I was naked and wet and imaging what happened if you opened the door to come in.” He closed his hand on the belt and stepped closer to Kincaid. “You’re the one that’s been talking about my vampire nature for the last twenty minutes, teasing over what I missed while offering a taste of it every time you moved closer.” Ajay leaned forward, closed his eyes and inhaled. “It’s still riding just above your skin, I can almost take it in.”
It happened so quickly, Mackenzie missed the smaller details. One moment they were facing each other, the belt in both their hands and the tension between them threatening to take on physical form. The next moment Ajay’s upper body lay face-down across the dresser in the center of the closet. The belt cinched tight over his wrists, the end wrapped several times around Kincaid’s right hand.
“Don’t fight me, Ajay.”
It took several tries to form the panting breaths into words. “That would defeat the purpose.”
Kincaid’s left hand worked his shirt out of his pants and up over his head. “I instigated this, I’m going to make amends. Skin to skin contact, don’t push for more. I’m all out of extra luck and saintly patience.” He dropped down to the balls of his feet and dipped his tongue into the hollow at the bottom of Ajay’s spine. Over the course of a full minute, he licked his way back to standing, pausing at each chakra point along the way to drag his tongue in a clockwise circle twice before moving on. He stayed flush to Ajay’s body, sliding skin to skin until he reached the back of Ajay’s neck and lightly bit down.
Ajay’s entire body shuddered; the sounds torn from his throat almost ones of pain. It took three times before his words were clear. “No marks, no permission, so no marks.”
Kincaid released him now. “So you remember that I don’t have permission. Good, that’s very good. I’m going to undo your wrists and you’re going to remember that I don’t have permission and we’re going to stay like this until you have everything you need.” He slipped the belt free, unraveled it from his hand and pulled the shirt off that arm. He placed enough space between their bodies to secure the towel around Ajay’s hips. “Now come here.”
He embraced him like holding happiness itself, fragile and new in his arms. “Be a good boy and I won’t have to tell that you set me up.”
Dawn's Early Light is available
with Liquid Silver Books!
Xakara is an openly Bisexual author of erotic poly paranormal fiction, with an emphasis on bisexual and sexually fluid characters and cultures within her work. Her stories include Ghost Of Christmas Past (PsiCorps #1) and Dawn's Early Light (PsiCorps #2) out with Liquid Silver Books. Shifting Passions (A Therian World Novella) out with Samhain Publishing. A Way To A Dragon's Heart (A Therian World Novel) coming October 2011 from Liquid Silver Books. Bloodsprite (A Therian World Novel/Dante Book 1) coming Summer 2012.
She always loves to talk to fans and new friends and can be found several places, waiting to catch up.
Curious about Xakara? Find her around the web: