Sunday, September 18, 2011

Author Interview with C.J. Ellisson

Today I have the pleasure of hosting a erotic paranormal author, C.J. Ellisson.  (Thanks Jess for bringing her to my attention - she rocks!)  After reading the first book in her V.V. Inn series, Vamp's Vacation along with Just One Taste, I was stoked when I got the opportunity to host her for her Hunt Blog Hop.  I know I'll be definitely adding this book to my growing TBR pile. (So make sure to check out the blurb and excerpt at the end of her interview - there will be a contest giveaway too.)  
So on to the interview.

Dakota: Thanks, CJ, for taking time out of your busy schedule and stopping by to talk with me today.  I have to say that I really have enjoyed your work so far but I’m dying to know, have you always been a horror aficionado?  Somehow I can see you staying up to watch the Fright Night Double Feature…or am I dating myself here…lol? 

CJ: Thanks for having me here today, Dakota! I think you are the first person who has even mentioned the horror aspects of my books, thank you. Everyone focuses on the sex and glosses over the blood.

Now, to answer your question – nope, I can’t watch horror movies. I can watch the lighter ones on TV you’re mentioning, they are more like tame versions of the horror movies out in theaters today. But the really gory rated R stuff? Nope, I can’t stomach it. I know monsters (meaning serial killers with saws) could really exist and it scares me so bad I can’t sleep!

Reading horror? Whole ‘nother kettle of fish! I grew up loving Stephen King and really enjoy when an urban fantasy has a dark edge to it, like Jenna Black’s Morgan Kingsley series or Ilona Andrews’ Kate Daniels series. Both authors are stellar examples of mixing horror aspects into their fantasy worlds.

Dakota: That they are! *Leans closer*     So lets get down to the nuts and bolts.  I hear you have a new V V Inn book coming out – where did you get the inspiration to write such a series? 

CJ: Hmm… do you mean the inspiration for a series set in Alaska or one based on the adventures of a monogamous couple? The setting just seemed like a natural fit for vampires. Need to avoid the sun? What better spot than Alaska in the winter!

Regarding the couple angle, well, I got tired of reading about these kick-ass heroines who save the world and muck up their personal life by the end of the book. There is an old saying “Behind every strong man, there is an even stronger woman.” I’ve always have to hold back from shouting “Amen, sister!” when I hear it.

How about we reverse the concept and make the woman the lead figure? I love reading about a married couple in a series and there just aren’t enough out there. Aside from Nora Roberts’ In Death series, under J.D. Robb, and the Emerson couple from Elizabeth Peters’ tales, you just don’t find many good ones.

Mix it all up with vampires and some good looking men from Supernatural and BAM! Perfection. ;-)

Dakota: Good looking men and Supernatural - yum...what more can we ask for. Speaking of yummy men.....I have to say while I love your heroine, Vivian, I too like many of the other readers want to know more about her hunky husband, Rafe. I’ve read a bit of your free read that goes into their reuniting.  Will The Hunt give us another peek into their relationship?

CJ: Thank you! Some people love her and others not so much. Yes, I think this book will reveal more of Rafe’s strength. A few people thought he was perhaps more of a beta male, but they were unable to read between the lines and imagine what strength it would take to manage someone as volatile as Vivian for over six decades.

This book is told in a completely different way than the first. Each chapter we switch POVs to another member of Vivian’s new seethe. Unlike some books with a POV change where we’d review a scene again, the story in The Hunt constantly progresses through each character switch. Readers will get to see Rafe manipulating and subtly steering Vivian as they couldn’t in the first book.

Dakota:  What man doesn't...but if I had Rafe doing it...I don't think I'd complain too much. *fans self* Okay now that I’m all hot bothered thinking about Rafe, why don’t you tell us what exactly you’re looking for when you write your characters?  Are they based on people you know or are they fully developed and just pop into your mind and order you around until you have to write their story?

CJ: LOL! I’ve always laughed inside when I’ve heard people say their characters order them around. Then I secretly feared I was a loser because my characters don’t talk to me.

I borrow aspects of people all around me when creating characters. Some people have a mannerism I steal, others a personality quirk. I love to people-watch and I’m a better listener than people give me credit for. Makes for great dialogue inspiration in books!

I don’t follow rules when I make people up – like they have to have a huge personal flaw they’re unaware of, or a ton of emotional baggage they bury. Real people have all those things, sure, but when they become the crutch of why you character acts a certain way, then their traits are also a plot contrivance. You have essentially made them up to have this great inner problem and then you write them into a scene to exploit it.

Dakota: I'm all for exploiting them.*winks* It serves them right for trying to order me And last but not least, can you give a glimpse inside what the average day is like for you and any little traditions you need to get your creative muse going?

CJ: Ah… I wish I had something witty and amusing to share. I haven’t been writing all that long when you look at the cold hard numbers (two and a half years) and some little traditions would be really nice to get my mental creativity going.

I start my day by going through emails and checking facebook. Next I’ll eat and if the weather is good I’ll go for a walk or if not, try to do some yoga. I’d love to report I do this everyday, but I’m a bit of a lazy bitch. I work with about twenty other writers on various blogs and ebook projects, so publishing duties often take up more time than I’d like.

My new plan has been to push business stuff to the afternoon and focus on writing in the morning. I’ve battled some health issues for a few years now, so it’s made any type of routine rather difficult to maintain. But so far, since school began (YAY!!) I’ve been able to get back to work on book three, Big Game. The goal is to have it out by this winter and I intend to try my damnedest to make it!

Dakota:  I can totally understand that! We authors have to have our goals...or we'd never accomplish anything. Thanks for stopping by today, CJ.   I’m happy I was able to be part of your blog hop for The Hunt!

CJ: Thank you for having me! I was so happy to see you researched my books and even read a bit of them. It’s refreshing to do an interview where the person does such a great job with unique questions. I really appreciate your effort and I’m thrilled to be able to have a chance to meet your readers, thanks for the opportunity!

Dakota: You're welcome and speaking of readers, Ms. Ellison has been nice enough to do a give away today. Two lucky commenters will win a free copy of each of her V V Inn e-books.  All you have to do is answer CJ's question below.   We'll draw a winner on Monday so be sure to hurry over and comment!

What supernatural elements do you like in your vampire books? 
CJ would love to hear from you.

Find C.J Ellisson on the Net

The Hunt: Book 2 in VV Inn Series
 by C.J. Ellisson
Blurb for The Hunt:

Vivian thinks she can control every aspect of a deadly game with her usual manipulations...but what if she can't? 

Seven vampires and seven werewolves pay to hunt a supernatural criminal across the cold, vast grounds of an Alaskan resort. The one to catch her, and live through the encounter, will increase their power by feasting on hers. The tiny vampire they track is more than she appears, however. To escape a fate of twelve years in silver chains, she'll do anything to survive the weeklong excursion. This time, the darkness holds more than just the stinging bite of the Arctic--it holds death. Journey along, in this next installment of  The V V Inn series, for a wild ride as the tale is told through the eyes of all the new seethe members.

Warning: This book contains some explicit sex scenes and is not intended for readers under 18.

Excerpt from The Hunt:

Chapter One

As I lie here, curled around my husband’s firm body, I begin to wonder: Am I crazy? What in the hell made me think organizing a hunt, here at our hotel, would be a good idea? Over a dozen supernatural predators are flying in from all over the world; ones who’ve paid an exorbitant price for the privilege of removing their everyday masks and killing one of their own kind. I must be crazy.

I have a feeling this week is going to turn out to be more than any of us bargained for. Self-doubt plagues me as I rise from the warmth of the bed and stroll, naked, to my closet. The glow of the artificial landscape lighting beams in through the windows. The changing gradient indicates it's probably midday here above the Arctic Circle.

Part of my nervous edge could be associated with learning to trust the new members of our seethe. While the vampires appear upfront and honest—as much as a pack of bloodsuckers can be—my old habits of distrust have served me well over the years. 

The two months since November’s tracking and killing of Ivan have been a trial for me, this upcoming hunt week has been a long time in the planning, but I don’t have to like it. Having anyone from the Tribunal of Ancients on our property sucks, especially when I have no idea who they’re sending. 

Grabbing the clothes I set out in the wee hours of the morning, I head to the shower in our private suite.

The hot water cascading over me fills my mind with horrible memories of my own first hunt. My seethe wore cloth-lined, silver skullcaps to thwart my unique vamp-to-vamp mind-control abilities. They orchestrated the hunt to rid themselves of their “pet” manipulator. What started for the group as demented undead fun, ended with a young, redheaded vampire surprising them all with her ability to kill ruthlessly and without remorse. 

The blood of my seethe-mates once covered my body, as the water does now. Later, I stacked their headless corpses in our old farmhouse before setting the structure on fire. Killing that sick group was the least I could do to avenge the murders of my first and second husbands. Considering all I’d been through under their rule for twenty-six years, I let the bastards off easy. Thankfully, even a semi-mortal vampire can only die once—if it’s done right. The sound of Rafe stirring in the next room pulls me out of my dark thoughts and tells me he’s getting up as well. “Good morning, sleepyhead,” I call out over the noise of the water. “Get enough rest?” “You mean after you ravaged me for hours? Oh yeah, I slept pretty damn sound.”


  1. Thanks for having me on your blog today, Dakota!

  2. Good interview! Thanks to both of you for it. Supernatural elements I like in my stories: A basis on mythology that is a kind of twist to the modern vampire or supernatural being.

  3. i like it when the myth is based on a real person or event. for instance the Dracula myth is based on Vlad the Impaler and the werewolves are based on an actual disease that causes hair to grow all over the person that has it.(i saw this on the history channel last year at halloween).

    then when the author takes the story in a new direction it doesn't leave me feeling like it is just another vampire/werewolf/ghost or other being story.
    but then i guess that all of the myths have some basis in history somewhere, right?

  4. My vamp books...oh how I do love them. I always feel like vamps should be mysterious and other worldly. So, they should be able to read minds, be super strong, super fast and maybe even crazy smart. I have problems with the whole turning into bats thing because that is shifting and that's a whold 'nother ball of wax. I also like the only awake at night and lives forever thing because it just adds to the creepy sadness of being a vamp! The VV Inn series sounds like a fun read!

  5. BTW, I only got the GFC post this afternoon. Sometimes it is slow to post!