Korrigan trained most of her life as a courtesan, submitting to the will of men and caring for the other brothel inhabitants. Beyond the brothel walls of Hampshire House, lay a broken world torn deep into the final stages of Revelation. Beaten, used, and starved, all Korrigan understood were the rules her master enforced, and there was no escape, hope, or love for women in her situation. What she learned of the world around her wasn’t the reality.
Petre searched for the perfect woman to break his immortal curse.
Three hundred years ago, the young Baron witnessed his brother’s heinous crime. Petre’s family forced him to lie, thus spared his twin brother’s death and their family name. The warlock Hestin sought retribution, and his revenge transpired, hexing both brothers with immortality to atone for their sins. Cursed, the brothers roamed through life, slipping closer to their demonic sides, until he saw her.
Sold to Petre in Arcadia, Korrigan stumbled through her journey of love, treachery, and forgiveness. Secrets and lies whispered in the dark recesses of her mind as her past haunted her sleeping moments. What if all her master taught her proved to be wrong? The weight of her new world compounded on her shoulders. Torn between her heart and revenge, Korrigan hatched a plan to liberate the brothels and tear down the walls, but could she put her pride and wrath aside to save the one she loves?
Beyond the Brothel Walls Saga #1
Lust ruled the demons. Seven signs have come and gone. Sloth ruled the vampires. Seven angels fell to the Earth. Envy ruled the courtesans. Seven Keys lay hidden amongst the Seven Angels. Gluttony ruled the rich. Seven families rose and fell. Wrath ruled the Horsemen. One family would bring the world to its knees. Pride ruled the Morning Star. The Horsemen must seize the keys. Greed ruled the world.
“Sure.” My gaze did not falter. Saying no, was not an option. Instead, I further studied him from the glass reflection. This man existed far above my low station by more than class level. Even if he appeared my age, there were not any signs of a harsh life on his angular face. A curious scar etched into his cheek though, and I bet the disfigurement had made for a fascinating story.
“You don’t sound terribly sure, miss …”
“Charlotte.” I lied. My real name stood as another reminder of my former life with Jules. Korrigan, the Goddess of Prostitution, and a sacrifice to her included paid sexual acts. He’d reminded me every chance and never allowed me to shorten the terrible name. I crossed my legs and folded my hands over my knee. Maybe my new master would permit a nickname.
In his reflection, I watched as the stranger’s dark eyebrow rose. His eyes no longer reflected as black, but they appeared wrong, like they’d held too much emotion for someone as young. “You don’t look like a Charlotte.”
I bit the inside of my cheek to keep my eyes from rolling. Whoever looked like their name? Who could say they looked like this name or that name. I shrugged instead and stared out the window. The whistle blew again, and the engine’s hiss soothed me. The stranger made a tsking sound as he leaned forward and glanced out of the window. More flames licked at houses and trees.
“The fires are a real shame,” the stranger said.
After the oil had vanished –burned or pumped dry- humanity fell further into turmoil. The nuclear drought followed, caused by the shortages, and the sundered earthquakes swallowed the states one by one. Those earthquakes destroyed the majority of the eastern coalmines too. I’d watched on as the world around me collapsed. Trucks, cars, boats, and planes stopped across the country for years. Delphia –As they had called the former United States now- fell the hardest when the earthquakes had hit. Dams fractured knocking out hydropower. Food grew scarce when farmers could not operate equipment or transport goods. Riots started, and people looted, stealing and taking from their friends and neighbors. The news replayed the stories to this day.
The other continents fell, swallowed by the oceans, or starved out of existence in the blink of a few short years. The Southern Americas and parts of Canada had survived, albeit torn asunder into a series of islands connected by bridges and tunnels. Even twelve years later, fires still blazed and pillowed their thick, black smoke into the polluted sky. There existed no heaven, no hell, but this odd sense of limbo as progress continued to falter around the remaining world.
I began writing at a young age, and the inspiration back then remains the same today. Life inspires me; photographs, music, and even art all inspire me to write too. What inspired my most recent story? A documentary on the trafficking of women.
Tell us a bit about your current work in progress, Beyond the Brothel Walls: Constricted. What was your inspiration for this piece?
Constricted, as well as the remaining series, is a blend of dark steamy paranormal romance and dystopian steampunk. It’s a world where humanity no longer exists and the world has sundered until only 1/4 remains inhabitable. Instead of humans, demons, their offspring, and witches and warlocks rule the lands of Arcadia, Delphia, and Garland. The plot itself goes beyond the characters mentioned below, but I want readers to experience the mystery and unfold the world for themselves. Keys and the number seven will play a role in each of the five books planned for the saga/series. There might be more, but we’ll see.
It’s a love story and it’s not.
It’s about the Books of Enoch and Revelation and then again it’s not.
I tend to write my own mythology, borrowing here and there, but I’m not a rewriter of old stories or myths. There is nothing wrong with that style, but it is not mine. In Constricted, you will see demons and a few demons that are not exactly evil, but their blood is mixed with demons.
*Wink* You’ll see as you enter the world roughly 12 years after the final sundering.
Constricted follows a courtesan, who has spent the majority of her life in a brothel, but finds herself, sold to a mystery man from Arcadia. The mystery man is a cursed, former human who became a vampire when he lied for his brother, and his brother transformed into a demonic horse for crimes committed against a warlock’s daughter three hundred years ago. Neither man can escape life until they break the curse with the blood and love of a pure virgin.
Korrigan has the greatest journey as she learns all she knew of the world was a lie. Here we meet a young woman (18) who cannot read, write, and has never tasted bread or sweets. All she knows comes from the conversations of the brothel and from what Jules allowed her to learn. The story delves deeper and into some darker moments as she learns the abuses she faced were crimes, but readers can watch as she faces those moments, and watch as she grows past the binds of her oppressive upbringing.
Inspiration came from various sources but with a sundered world, I found myself immersed in steampunk culture, primarily anything powered by steam or bio-fuel. In this world, there is little oil, even less coal, and the technology all but reverts to the 1800’s. From steam engines to steam boats and from bio-fueled homes to bio-fueled cars, the world has changed drastically even for the demons who remained behind.
Old technology becomes new as the countries race against each other for advancements. I sprinkled in some other elements here and there, but I’m hesitant to call it steampunk since the story isn’t so much the world as it is the struggles my characters face.
I have a pinterest board that highlight pieces I found inspiring or that reminded me of the story. http://www.pinterest.com/raezryans/constricted/
Did you find any scene or character difficult to write and if so how did you get through it?
There were a few dark moments that I almost cut and many more that caused bouts of crying. Writing Constricted brought pieces of my own past to life. She’s an abused woman who learns that the abuse she faced was illegal even though she had believed there was no other choice but to submit. Kori doesn’t expect others to understand or agree with her decisions, but she felt it was either brothel life or starvation. Even then, Korrigan tends to blame herself and follows the struggle most victims face while the plot itself evolves.
I made it through those scenes by becoming like Korrigan. I had to push her beyond the limits, but each time she came out stronger, and so did I. In the end, the scenes stayed at the requests of the beta readers, and I trust their opinions.
Have you started on book 2 in this series, Altered? Do you have an anticipated release date for it?
I am half way through writing Altered, which brings in two new characters, Cain and Dorian, The Fourth Horseman of the Apocalypse (Death). The cast of Constricted makes a cameo in this story as it pushes the world forward and the keys are explained.
A tiny spoiler, Cain is Korrigan’s brother.
Anticipated release is sometime next year. So much goes into creating a book and even more will depend on when I wrap up the story, but there are at least five estimated books planned right now for Beyond the Brothel Walls.
This isn’t your first gig: tell us about your writing journey from your first published work (Granny is a Werewolf) to your Nine Realms series (Chivalry and Malevolence) and now the soon to be released Constricted.
Granny is a Werewolf was a story I wrote for my kids the year my grandmother died. She had passed away at Thanksgiving and there wasn’t enough money in her policy to bury her. Christmas was tight and I wrote the short story in two weeks. I used to have it free on smashwords, but have taken it down for new editing, formatting, and all that jazz. When I released it, I had no idea what I was doing. This summer I plan to revamp and bring the story back, keeping the free price tag.
There is a free short story available on smashwords titled, Claws of Insanity. It’s a twist on cats versus dogs and allowed me to switch up my usual style. The classic damsel in distress scenario plays out in a strange and bizarre way.
Nine Realms is a massive series that spans multiple Norse worlds and creates series within series. So far I have Midgard and Alfheim mapped out, but there are actually seven other worlds I pull lore from too. Much like Beyond the Brothel Walls, it is a theological system inspired but not copied from the Norse Mythology. Loki even plays the good guy *wink* sort of *wink*.
Chivalry and Malevolence takes place in Alfheim and is the first novella in the series. It’s a clean high fantasy romance where a young Unseelie Princess (Mori) rescues a human knight (Sir Thomas) who wanders into their land. By doing so, she breaks her marriage treaty to a dragon Prince and is hunted by her mother the Queen.
The first book of the Midgard series also releases this year and features the great grandchild of the Princess. Instead of high fantasy, the Midgard series is a blend of high fantasy and erotic paranormal romance.
Is there anything particular you want readers to take away from your books?
Themes vary in my books so I’ll generalize the advice I always give instead.
Never change who you are for anyone but you.
Stand up for what you believe in and shout at the top of your lungs, even if you think no one will hear you. You just might inspire someone else to join you.
How do you balance your writing time with family, editing, and blogging (Literary Sweets)?
I invented this nifty cloning device … I wish. The short answer, I don’t. All I can do is plan and take a day at a time. Long ago I learned not to sweat it when the world implodes and backwards day begins. With three children and seven pets, someone always tests the boundaries of my patience.
It’s tough, but I’m lucky enough to work primarily from home, and my husband also works from home. There are days were I have all my wits and everything is on schedule, and there are days where I can’t seem to remember to eat let alone to put a post up on the blog. I rely heavily on reminder alerts and calendars. Without them, I wouldn’t remember to feed anyone.
Wh at’s your writing process like?
I’m a cross between a planner and a panster. Ideas spark and I write them down, map out little details, and build my world on paper. My writing cave is home to notebooks and binders for each world I’ve created because I wouldn’t remember which world I’m writing in without them.
Characters go through a dumping period where I literally write out their life stories as mini/flash fiction pieces. Each character also receives a nifty profile sheet where I jot down hair/eye color and any other physical features or quirks.
I do all of that before I write anything else, but I’ll be the first to tell another writer to do what works for them. Oh and copious amounts of coffee and Nerds make an appearance during writing sprints and outlining.
Do you have a specific playlist when you are writing?
It depends on the story. Each series, and sometimes book, receives its own playlist. Constricted features a blend of punk, pop, and various other genres and it seems to fit the hodge podge world.
"Lost and Found" is a duet I found between Leona Lewis and OneRepublic’s lead man Ryan Tedder. To me the song is essentially a theme song for Korrigan and Petre. Leona Lewis – Lost Then Found
Are there any authors that have influenced you in your writing?
Every book I read influences me in one way or another. It’s hard to pin point just a few without leaving any out, but it’s no secret that Richard A. Knaak is my all time favorite fantasy author. I’m his biggest fan girl and even had a chance to interview him. As a Warcraft and World of Warcraft fan, I fell in love with his stories and writing style. Nowadays I recommend his books to anyone venturing into high fantasy whether as a genre or as a writer. The romanticism has a perfect balance with the world and story line and he nails it for me every time. Dragonrealm is one of my favorites to this day and it greatly inspired my dragons in Chivalry and Malevolence.
Why Indie publish?
I like to control all aspects of my projects and my books fall into obscure genres. The process is humbling, terrifying, and exciting, but I also enjoy keeping more of my money. There’s nothing wrong with going the traditional route, but I write for my fans and the stories I want to share.
The second reason comes from a reading/editing standpoint. The unique one of a kind stories come from indie and small press more than traditional houses. I don’t blame them; they want what sells. The problem is the readers aren’t consulted.
On the Indie level, we’re in the trenches with our fans. I can ask them what they want, spin it in my style, and deliver the story they want to read. The traditional author can do the same, but they have to find someone to pick the story up first, and unless you have a known name, they’re less likely to take a chance.
Nowadays authors are getting around those rules by self-publishing those stories, which I commend. Indie and self-publishing has a stigma amongst ourselves and we need to break the mold. I think we should write f or the audience and fans, not only the trends.
Do you have a favorite step in the indie publishing process (cover art, writing, editing, promoting)?
Writing and editing are two of my favorite parts of the indie publishing process, but I don’t like to edit my own work. I love editing for other authors, especially those just beginning on their journey as I can help develop their craft. I do clean-up my own manuscripts, make changes from betas and critiques, but I don’t self edit prior to publication even though I am an editor. This was a lesson I learned the hard way.
Writing is one of those things I will do no matter who reads or doesn’t read my work. I can’t not write just like I can’t not breathe. On the rare days where I can’t or try taking a break, I feel as if I will explode.
Cover art is a fun experience, but I don’t make my own. My husband runs Raven Tree Design and makes my covers after reading my books. He’s also my sounding board and while not a writer, he listens and offers me advice.
What advice do you have for aspiring authors?
I’m sure I’ve stolen these rules from someone, but this is what I offer for advice:
· If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have time to write.
· Write the story inside of you, not the story you think your audience wants.
· Don’t force your story into a genre mold. The words come out forced and full of awkward tension.
· Just write. One word, one sentence, one paragraph, one page, or one chapter is more than you had yesterday.
It started when I watched Thor. Most women might have swooned over the lead, but I found myself drawn to Loki. Keep in mind I had already written my own Loki in the Nine realms series, but the emotions Tom drew from me while watching created inspiration on a new level.
Then I watched the interviews and got my hands on everything he’s ever created. Hooked is an understatement, I became obsessed. Tom Hiddleston is an excellent actor, but he’s a sweetheart too. Granted, you can always catch him eyeing woman’s breasts too. It’s funny and crude but it also shows the sexual side we may not see on film.
If you had to be one of your characters from your books – who would you choose? Why?
Korrigan and not because I know how her story pans out. She’s a tough cookie and has not only survived, but she rises above those who would see her fall. It’s not a magical power but her love and compassion for the innocent that sets her apart from all the other characters. Korrigan is the type of woman who would sacrifice her own freedom all over again to save a stranger.
Favorite TV or book character growing up?
Laura Ingalls Wilder is still my all time favorite character. I have reread her books to the point where I had to keep buying new copies and now I can share her adventures with my children. Thank goodness for e-readers!
I’m not much of a television person and really I never was as a child/teen either. I do enjoy a good movie, but the one television show I watched and still rewatch is … Little House on the Prairie. My husband made fun of me when we were dating because I would cancel dates during marathons on the Hallmark Channel.
Favorite hobby that isn’t reading or writing?
I make jewelry based on books I write or read and donate them to charity auctions or events. I’ve also been known to read an ARC, design a piece, and then contact the author offering the piece for their readers. Of course I also give them away to my fans, friends, and family too.
Readers, don't forget Constricted comes out June 1st!!!
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Chivalry and Malevolence!
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