Michelle is the author of the IMMORTALITY BITES vampire series from Grand Central Publishing, the DEMON PRINCESS series from Walker Books for Young Readers, and a Harlequin Blaze (paranormal, of course!). Next year, THE DEMON IN ME, the first book in a new paranormal romance series from Berkley Sensation will be out. She has also written futuristic romantic suspense as Michelle Maddox. Under the new pen name Rachel Connor, Michelle is currently working on a pair of supernatural thrillers due out in 2011.
Demon Princess is about a sixteen year old girl named Nikki Donovan who not only finds out she is a Darkling (half-demon/half human), but that she’s also a demon princess set to inherit the Shadowlands, a world that exists between our own and that of the Underworld. Can you tell us a little more about the book, and perhaps give us a teaser or new insight into Nikki’s story?
You summed it up very well! A little more insight is that it’s really about girl power. An average teenaged girl realizes that she’s got this crazy, uncontrollable power that she never asked for, doesn’t want, and now she has to decide what to do with it when certain options are presented to her. Go back to her regular life or embrace that which makes her different? It’s also about what boys are better to like -- the (hot) perfect guy who everybody likes or the (hot) weird guy who really likes you. (Hot is always good, of course ;) ). And to top it off, it’s about finding your place to fit in -- even if that place isn’t anywhere near where you thought it would be.
Here’s the short excerpt that’s going on the back of the hardcover version of the book:
“Your powers...have you noticed anything?” Michael asked.
Powers? Maybe he was otherworldly in more ways than one, but I definitely wasn’t. “Other than a persistent headache, there’s been nothing out of the ordinary in my life. Well, other than you.”
He actually grinned at that. He was even cuter when he smiled.
“I mean, do I look like a Darkling to you?” I asked.
Since I’d given permission, Michael took a step closer and looked at me, starting at my boots and working his way up slowly. Even though I was wearing winter clothes, I felt like I’d just showed up in a bikini and asked him to check me out. When his gaze finally reached my face, he lingered on my mouth for a long moment before meeting my eyes again.
“Not sure. I’ve never seen a Darkling before.”
He moved close enough to me that if I just moved my hand a little I’d be touching him. If I moved my mouth closer to his, I’d be...
In my writing, I like to take normal people and thrust them into very not normal situations. My original spark for Demon Princess was... what if you found out you were the daughter of Lucifer? The original title was Nikki Donovan: Demon Spawn, which I found to be hilarious, but didn’t really work in the long run. Her father is not Lucifer, but he is a demonic royalty. Also, I kept seeing all this merchandise about the Disney Princesses. I thought -- what would be the total opposite of a Disney princess? A Demon Princess, of course. ;)
The first line has changed a bit in the three years since I wrote the original draft, but it’s got the same meaning it always had. “That guy is staring at you.” It’s spoken by Nikki’s friend, alerting her to the fact that there’s somebody watching her -- and that somebody is about to change her life forever, she just doesn’t know it yet.
If Demon Princess: Reign or Shine was to be made into a movie, who do you perceive playing Nikki as well as Michael (the cute boy she’s forbidden to have feelings for)?
I always picture actors in the roles of my characters as I’m writing. Nikki was a little different because instead of an actress, I picked Avril Lavigne because of the way she looked in a couple pictures. Michael definitely started off being very Kevin Zegers for me, although due to my recent obsession with Robert Pattinson, he and Kevin are currently sharing the role in my imagination. LOL
Up until now, all your novels have been in the adult paranormal genre. What drew you to write a novel geared toward young adult readers instead? Has the transition been easier or more difficult than you originally thought?
YA is my first love. The first thing I ever finished writing was a YA trilogy about angsty ghosts which I still hope to publish someday even if I have to rewrite it. But then I got a bit distracted with writing for adult readers due to being published in the paranormal romance genre (although I have a huge amount of teen readers who read those books, too). I never forgot about writing YA, it just took me a little longer to get here. LOL. There’s no transition as far as I’m concerned. My writing voice is essentially the same in either genre. It’s just the age of the characters and what they’re after that changes.
Your alter ego, Michelle Maddox writes romantic novels steeped in action and suspense, one of which was nominated for Romantic Times Reviewer’s Choice Award as Best Futuristic/Fantasy Romance! What prompted you to write under this not-so-secret pen name instead of your own?
Mostly because the book I wrote under that pen name was way edgier, sexier, violent, and not as “funny” per se as my Michelle Rowen paranormals. I didn’t want to freak anyone out. ;-) Also because writing for two different publishers typically means you need to write under different names (if it’s essentially the same genre -- ie: Romance) so your books don’t run the risk of competing for sales and cannibalizing each other.
You’ve written numerous books and contributed short stories to two anthologies. Your popular Immortality Bites vampire series is scheduled to release its fifth installment, Tall, Dark & Fangsome, in September. What do you think separates your novels from the large of pool of paranormal offerings that are currently saturating the market?
Good question. I strive very hard to have a real mix of humor and drama in my books -- whether I succeed or not is another question! LOL. When things are really rough for my characters, they’re not cracking jokes or being silly. They deal. I’ve found that there are books that are just goofy funny and books that are so dark you need a flashlight to find your way to the end of them, but rarely books that combine light and dark elements. My favorite reader letters are the ones that say I made them laugh and cry during the course of reading one of my books. I try to mix it up and I really hope that is what helps to differentiate me from other authors in the genre.
Out of all your novels, if you could become one of your characters and be transported into their world for just one day, who would you choose and why?
I put my characters through a great deal of angst and stress so I’m not sure I’d want to trade places with any of them! LOL. However, if they were having a nice, non-stressed day, I’d probably like to be Nikki since it would be fun to be sixteen again...plus, have some kick-butt powers!
What would you say is the best advice you were ever given as an author?
To write what you love to read. A lot of people try to write “for the market” in the hopes of selling their book to a publisher. But the odds of getting published are pretty steep when you think about it. So why not write for the love of it? If you love historicals, then write historicals. If you love vampires, then write vampires. But if you love historicals but are writing vampires just because you want to get published, then that lack of love with show in the writing and be counter-productive to getting that elusive book deal. Have fun with it! Life’s too short to write something you don’t like.
When you have a free day with no responsibilities looming overhead, and your only mission is to enjoy yourself, what do you like to do for fun?
I’d probably go see two movies. I love going to the movies and chowing down on the popcorn and Diet Coke (the Diet Coke helps to balance out the calorie content in the butter in the popcorn, of course). I also love going to amusement parks although I hardly ever do that anymore since roller coasters now make me feel a bit queasy.
Demon Princess Book 2: Reign Check is scheduled to be released in June 2010. Can you tell us how many books we can expect in the series? Do you have the entire series planned out and know how it will end?
Currently I’m contracted for the two books although I’ll be writing a proposal soon in hopes of doing more. I really love these characters and there is a TON more to explore with them at the end of Reign Check. As far as mapping out the series...I have a pretty good idea where some characters and plot lines are leading, however I have no idea how many books it might take to cover everything I want to include. If I had my way, it would be at least six books, if not more, but that’s entirely dependent on how the books sell and what my publisher is looking for. We shall see! Keep your fingers crossed!
What other projects are you currently working on that we can look forward to reading in the future?
I have the first book in my fun, new paranormal romance series launching next May, called The Demon in Me. It’s also about demons, although I suppose that’s evident from the title. ;-) But, it’s a different kind of demon mythology than is in my Demon Princess series. I’m also currently working on the first of two vampire urban fantasies that will be written under the brand new pen name of Rachel Connor.