Monday, March 16, 2015

Interview & Giveaway: Underworld Queen by Sharon Hamilton

UFI welcomes Author Sharon Hamilton. Thanks for Joining us!!

What can you tell my readers about yourself that they might not know from looking on your bio or reading in another interview? 

I guess I’d say that I love the interaction with readers. When I first decided to write, I thought all my energy should be put into just the writing part. That’s true, and you do have to make sure you are learning, growing and getting better as a writer, but the most important thing to do is to grow your fan or reader base. Readers have divergent tastes. Some read everything under the sun from BDSM to sweet romances. Others are strictly paranormal, or military romantic suspense. The NA category is what we used to call the ChickLit. These readers were always there. Just because we don’t call it that anymore doesn’t mean the readers have gone away. Readers are reading a variety of genres now. With the new explosion of new titles on all the devices, they now can get just about everything. Caribou shape shifters? Bear weres? LOL.

So I didn’t realize that all my past experience in business has actually been a good training ground for me being a writer. What was perhaps something that was encouraged but not required (social media presence) is now more important in some cases than the genre, or stories themselves.

Now we’re writers, but we create these big media events around our books, where readers can come and have a lot more facetime than what used to happen ten or twenty years ago. I do enjoy this part of the business.

What do you enjoy doing on your down time? 

I am an avid organic gardener. Where I live, in beautiful Sonoma County, California, I can have a garden nearly year-round. I also like to quilt, although am not the expert at that like I am with the gardening. We live within a half hour to about 200 wineries, and doing wine tours is also fun (when we have someone to drive us).

What is your Favorite part of writing? 

That first spark between the hero and heroine, when they first begin to wake up to the fact that there is an attraction there, with or without an attitude trying to mask it (that can be fun) or denial. Seeing them get closer, and closer, perhaps separate and find each other again, that is what I love to read and write.

Do you have any certain routines you must follow as you write? 

Only that I work best all alone, or in an area where I can listen to music with my headphones. I also do best in the beginning of the day, or late at night, mostly again because there’s complete quiet.  If I’m on a deadline, I can write until I get tired, go to bed for a couple of hours, wake up, doing this 2-3 times so I can get an extra 2-3 “mornings” out of my day. You can’t do this for more than a few days, but it works for me in a pinch. I like writing intensely like that. Like Bikram Yoga, where they turn up the heat and you sweat while you work out.

What are some of your Favorite books or Authors in the Urban Fantasy/ Paranormal Genres? 

My first loves were Nailini Singh and Kressley Cole. I’ve read Anne Rice for years, her early ones, and those haunting books still call to me on occasion. Tina Folsom has been a good friend and I enjoy her vampire series. Lara Adrian is another favorite author of mine. But I have to say I love J.R. Ward the best today. I love her dialogue, especially on some of her great audio books read by male narrators (I always prefer male narrators for UF and Paranormal).

How would you pitch the Guardians Series to someone who has not heard of it before? 

Newsflash:  Director gets knocked up and fears expulsion from the Underworld or death.

One of my themes in the so-far 3-book series, The Guardians, is this:

Heaven isn’t 100% perfect by design. The Underworld isn’t 100% evil by accident.

My Underworld could be found in Washington, for instance. Anywhere there’s an enormous about of huberous in advance of any evidence of talent. Oops, is my bias showing?

The highest form of power is that earned, not demanded or commanded. Earned loyalty and difficult choices. In a way, in my series, the human world is the breeding ground and the proving ground of all the theories of Heaven or the Underworld. It’s where the action really is.

Can you tell us a little bit about the world that the Guardians Series is set in? 

My Guardians are charged with saving humans from giving up their souls. I have them preyed upon by dark angels, who convince them a forever life of sex and fun is way better than nothing, or nothing and a chance of nothing else.

The guardian isn’t allowed to really interfere with a human’s life like a dark angel does, so each side has their strengths and weaknesses.

Audray, my heroine, wanted the power of the leadership, but when she meets the love of her life, and she discovers she’s pregnant, her better self, her self that knows right from wrong, is beginning to grow along with the child.

I threw in some witches and half witches, dark angel minions, and black fire-belching dragon-type dark angel creatures. I have a snake hail and powers to transform humans to mice and frogs. I really had fun with this book, and had some characters I’d never used before. The audio book was outstanding, performed by my talented narrator, J.D. Hart. You should hear his witch voice!!

Do you have a favorite scene in Underworld Queen ?

Although a minor character, Drucilla, the witch is one of my favorites and here’s a scene when she is speaking with her granddaughter’s (Molly is a ½ witch) new lover, a  college professor named Carl. The hero and heroine in this excerpt are in it as well, but have minor roles here.

Carl looked around the room, clearly uneasy with his situation. Molly leaned over and took his hand. With a sweet smile, she tried to reassure him. “Sweetheart, you’re going to have to get used to my family. We are a bit eccentric.”
Carl was going to say something, but the big white fluffy cat jumped into his lap and he spilled his teacup, which had been balanced on his knees.
“Off! You are the devil himself!” Drucilla screeched at the cat, who found a patch of rug in the sunlight to hunker down on. The cat looked back as if unmoved by the event.
Carl stood, exposing a dark stain of spilled tea, front and center on his jeans in the groin area. He cursed.
“Not in my house!” Drucilla screamed. “You will not defile this holy place with obscenities.” Drucilla glanced at Jonas and Audray adding, “There are times for those kinds of words, and times when they are not appropriate.” She turned around and addressed Carl again. “Since we’re not having sex, I don’t want to hear you say the f-word, understood?”
Everyone but Carl laughed. Carl put his hands on his hips and hung his head.
“If you can’t stand the heat, boy, better get out of the kitchen,” Drucilla needled him further. Audray began to feel sorry for the young professor.
“Look, you old bag,” Carl began, drawing strength as he continued, “I think your manners are horrible. I was raised to have more respect for others.” Carl’s breathing was ragged, his face red. He looked like he was could punch Drucilla if she said something else he didn’t like.
“Ah, there’s hope!” Drucilla sauntered up to Carl, extricating the tea cup from his hands, wiggling her eyebrows up and down. “It’s been a whole twenty-four hours since I’ve been called that.” She rushed to the kitchen and brought back a jar containing another mouse. The top was covered with netting, secured by a blue ribbon tied in a bow. The little mouse inside stood on his hind legs, paws pressed against the glass, sniffing and looking at Carl. “Molly,” she began, but she remained focused on Carl’s face, “Your cousin Tremaine called me the very same thing yesterday, so I’ve given him a time out.”
Carl’s eyes got big as saucers.
“Now, son,” the old witch said as she thrust the jar into Carl’s quivering hands, “call me that name again.” Audray noticed through her sickly smile that all of her teeth had returned to her head. But this time, instead of sparkling white, they were pearlescent yellow.
Carl looked at Tremaine through the glass jar and began, “Holy sh…Holy succotash.” He stopped and took a deep breath. Composing himself carefully, he spat back, “Not only are you an old bag, but you are a heartless old bag.” He held the jar up in the air. Tremaine shit a green liquid that started to pool at the bottom of the jar. “You vile woman, hurting members of your own family. You should be ashamed of yourself.” As an afterthought, Carl held out the jar. “You should apologize to this little fellow here, and set him free. Or should I?”
Drucilla smiled from ear to ear. “Ah, I do love a man in uniform.”
Silence descended on the room. Audray didn’t know what was going to happen next.
“Go ahead, release him. If the cat doesn’t get him, he’s free.” Drucilla had folded her arms in front of her.
Everyone watched as Carl loosened the top and poured Tremaine out onto the rug. The little figure made a beeline for the mouse hole Tabitha had disappeared into.
“When are you going to release him?” Carl asked.
“You just did, my boy. He’s gone home to Tabby. They have a nest of little squeakers that keep me up all night long.” She smiled again and patted his shoulder. “Good job, son. You don’t think I would really turn a member of my family into a mouse, do you? Although, I must say, I don’t mind that you think so.” 

Which one character out of all your books was your favorite to write about? What about the hardest to write about? 

I can’t say that happens to me. I fall in love with each hero I’m writing about. If I don’t feel passionate hat way, I can’t write him.

Sometimes scenes where this beautiful, perfect couple is dashed to bits because of a misunderstanding or some event that they didn’t anticipate, those can take a toll on me. I hate hurting them like that sometimes. It always works out in the end, of course, but I’ve cried at coffee shops and had people walk up to me and ask if I needed a hug. LOL.

What Other Projects can we look forward to reading from you? 

I have a hybrid paranormal coming out in the late summer, two other Navy SEAL romances this spring and summer, and probably Book 3 in the Golden Vampires of Tuiscany series in the fall/early winter. I also have a time travel, and a futuristic romance calling to me, not in any of my three current series.

Sharon’s NYT and USA Today bestselling novels are almost-erotic Navy SEAL stories of the SEAL Brotherhood. Her characters follow a spicy road to redemption through passion and true love. This series continues with book 8, SEAL's Promise, which will release November 11, 2014. All of her SEAL Brotherhood Series are available in audio book. She has maintained an Amazon top 100 author status in Romantic Suspense for since the end of 2012.

Her Golden Vampires of Tuscany are not like any vamps you’ve read before, since they don’t have to go to ground, and can walk around in the full light of the sun. Honeymoon Bite, Book 1 of the Golden Vampires of Tuscany Series, has earned the Amazon designation of #1 Gothic Romance. It and Book 2 in the series, Mortal Bite are both available on audio as well.

Her Guardian Angels struggle with the human charges they are sent to save, often escaping their vanilla world of Heaven for the brief human one. You won’t find any of these beings in any Sunday school class.

Sharon lives in Sonoma County, California, with her husband and two Dobermans. A lifelong organic gardener, when she’s not writing, she’s getting verra verra dirty in the mud, or wandering Farmer’s Markets looking for new Heirloom varieties of vegetables and flowers.
"True Love Heals in the Gardens of the Heart"

Find Sharon and her books

Underworld Queen
The Guardians #3
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Audray has just assumed the title as first-ever Queen of the Underworld.

As she attempts to consolidate her rule, characters from the past threaten to destroy her and the love she shares with Jonas Starling, a 300-year old dark angel. When she discovers she has been the recipient of a miracle, suddenly their whole immortal lives are changed forever.

Will they survive the coming war or get snagged in the power struggle over not only the underworld, but the human world as well?

Book Trailer:
Excerpt:  Jonas Starling, Hero 

The charred remains of the executed dark angel smelled like the soil at a slaughterhouse Jonas had seen as a child. It was disgusting then, and it was even more disgusting now, as his black boots trudged through the crispy black flakes, kicking up a fine dark-grey dust that got lodged in his nostrils. He forced a sneeze to clear himself out, but was rewarded with a whirlwind of fine particles—the remains of the dark angel who had come to meet him. Jonas had not told Audray everything about his past and this now festered like a splinter under the nail of  his moral code. He might have to reveal things he’d hoped he could bury forever, along with the story of his youthful love and her family who had died, partially because of who he’d become.

He had to see for himself what was left of the fellow. He found a melted silver medallion, like a large dollop of shiny wax, still attached to the grape wreath silver chain some of his ancestors wore when Jonas was a boy. He couldn’t make out any indentation or markings as he cleaned the smooth surface from the black grit of death. It reflected back his distorted face.

Although already dead, Jonas had begun to cherish his afterlife as an immortal dark angel. His relationship with the new Director made him feel strangely alive for the first time since becoming immortal some three hundred years ago.  After his disastrous years at Court, where he’d been conscripted into doing despicable things, he’d slipped aboard a vessel bound for the Caribbean, and set up a new life on several of the islands there, until he’d been discovered and then took the only option available to him as a last resort: join the Underworld as a dark angel.

It had been a long three hundred years, and he’d considered ending himself in a true death. Until recently, he’d wondered if he could tolerate living forever. But finding Audray had changed everything and opened up a brand new bright future for Jonas. She was every bit his equal, in intelligence and strength of character. Her desires in the bedroom also matched his perfectly. If he could have a thousand nights with different women or one night with her, he would take her anytime. He’d thought of himself as completely dark and brooding. But these past few weeks he was beginning to feel the warm afterglow of—could it be—love?
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