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-- Rhi


Interview: Cheryl Brooks, author of The Cat Star Chronicles

As you all know by now, when I find a new series of books I LOVE I have to tell everyone about them! Sometimes that can be a little tricky because I have fairly... well... random taste. I wish I could say 'diverse' but a few of you out there would give me a hard time since I primarily read PNR & UF.

When Slave, the first book in the Cat Star Chronicles, popped up on Amazon.com as a coverless book with no product description save for the series title and the book's name I was intrigued. I added it to my wishlist and kept checking the listing for the scoop. When I finally got my hands on it I read it in two nights which is very quick for me! I blushed through some of the graphic descriptions and giggled at the crazy predicaments and when I finished the book all I wanted was MORE!

But I know this is not the series for everyone. You have to appreciate the series for all of it's elements because in my humble opinion it is brilliantly crafted in a way that you get a wide mix of themes. As a huge fan of Star Wars I couldn't help but see a little Han Solo in Jacinth and being the owner of two spoiled kitties I have really enjoyed the feline qualities of Cat and Leo. Don't tell my mother but I like a little light hentai once in a while and the unique erotic elements of this series reminded me so much of some hentai that I could almost picture Slave as a manga.

Anyway... all that to say that I think everyone should give this series a try, it has a little something for everyone... the romance fan, the sci-fi fan, the shapeshifter/anthro fan, the erotica fan.

Now... I happened to be really fortunate and despite my utter lack of experience—let alone any finesse—was given the opportunity to interview the author of this terrific new series- Cheryl Brooks. She was both wonderfully gracious to me by giving me her time and she tolerated me having a totally star-struck fangasm. Ms. Brooks you are a saint, please keep writing wonderful books for me to read!

Any typos or terrible interview questions are completely my fault. I was a virgin interviewer and trying really hard not to ask all of the spoilerific things that came to mind. Please enjoy! -- Rhi
• • •

Interview with Cheryl Brooks
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author of The Cat Star Chronicles

The Cat Star Chronicles blend elements of science fiction, fantasy and romance with a strong thread of erotica. That could have been a very risky combination to put together. Can you tell us a bit about the birth of this series?
I can't say that I started right off writing this kind of novel. It was a growth process. I began a long time ago with some fairly typical romance novels that weren't quite so erotic, but did have a touch of fantasy. Then I didn't write anything for several years, but got started up again in 2004. Since then, I've written about twenty or so, and worked on writing the erotic aspect—and losing any inhibitions I might have had! I was writing the sort of book I wanted to read, but they weren't science fiction. Then I got the idea for Slave from reading another novel about a female slave and thought it would be so much better if the slave was a guy!
What challenges have you met trying to find the balance between the adventure of a space opera, the spice of erotica and the timeless happily-ever-after of traditional romance?
Perhaps the biggest challenge in writing this sort of novel was that most of my friends are not science fiction fans. My best friend didn't read Slave until it was in print, but had read just about everything else! The rest of my hospital “critique group” had read it and liked it, but until Suzie took it to the Florida Keys with her and lay on the beach to read it—and liked it!—I wasn't sure how it would go! I have to have that erotic element or I feel like something is missing in a love story, but it's hard to avoid being to technical in a love scene when you're trying to describe what's happening in graphic detail. I have to remember to include the mental aspects and not focus so much on the physical. As far as the happily-ever-after goes, without that, it's not really a romance, and without the romance, what's the point?

With roots in fantasy, sci-fi and romance, what are some of your favorite stories (books, films, etc.) that fall into these genres?
I love Lord of the Rings, Star Trek, Star Wars, and one of my favorite TV shows of all time was Farscape. If you've seen Farscape, you might notice elements of John Crichton in Jacinth, the heroine in Slave. She's a combination of him and Han Solo, with a little touch of Captain Jack Sparrow thrown in—along with a healthy dose of me.
Slave was Jacinth and Cat's story. It explored the roles men and women play both in their relationships with one another and within society. You haven't revealed a lot about Zetithian culture in the series yet, can you tell us a little bit more about them?
The Zetithian culture was disrupted by the war that ultimately destroyed their world. It was a peaceful society, and I see it as being more agrarian than industrial, with the men of the series being soldiers by necessity rather than choice. More of this will come out in subsequent books.
Your latest book, Warrior, hit the shelves on October 1st. What makes Tisana and Leo's story different from the story of Jacinth and Cat?
First of all, if you're expecting another romp across the galaxy, you won't find that in Warrior. It is set on one world and has more of a medieval feel to it. That's the nice thing about science fiction: different planets can have very divergent cultures, and yet there can still be space travel and contact with alien species. Another big difference is the contrast between Jacinth and Tisana. Jack is a woman living a more masculine role, but Tisana is more feminine. Though she is still a strong character, Tisana doesn't share Jacinth's fascination with ancient swear words!
When you're not busy writing, you're a critical care nurse. How did your experience in the medical field help frame Tisana's healing abilities?
Well, obviously the CPR sequence in Warrior comes directly from that line of work, but the herbal medicine comes from my own interest in a more natural form of healing. I grow herbs and dabble a bit in medicinal teas, etc.
I'm sure many of your readers know you're an animal lover. The Zetithians have distinctly feline physical attributes that separate them from Humans. What made you choose cats as your inspiration for the race?
I liked the idea of a man who could purr, and the other feline characteristics naturally followed. However, it's no secret that the eyebrows and ears came directly from the Vulcans of Star Trek—I fell for Mr. Spock a VERY long time ago!
One of the great draws to your series is the strong storytelling through the first person narrative. In what ways are you like your heroines and how do you differ?
It's interesting that you should find the first person narrative a draw, because many have disliked it for that very reason! Some of my favorite novels were written in first person, but apparently, it's a romance genre no-no! Many readers want to know what goes on inside the man's head, which is certainly NOT the way we normally experience the world! Men have a completely different thought process than women, and anytime I think I know what my husband is thinking, I'm wrong! I am very much like my heroines in terms of their insecurities, and in some of their strengths, but Jacinth is much more gutsy than I am. Tisana is more like me, I think. Beginning with Lover, my books will be written in third person. I'm finding that I have a little more freedom since the entire story doesn't have to be seen through one pair of eyes, but it's a very different style.
Creating the perfect hero seems like it would be an easy task since we women tend to know what we like in a man. What's your secret to building great chemistry in a coupling?
That's harder than it sounds because when you're writing for a larger audience, you have to take into consideration that all women do not like the same kind of man. I don't care for the macho alpha male type, I like mine with a gentler spirit and a good sense of humor. My Zetithians are strong, capable men, but they are not arrogant or belligerent, which are traits that a good many romance heroes seem to have. I wanted my men to be more likable just as they were; not someone who had to be changed before you could fall in love with them. If I have any secret, it's that my Zetithians are as lovable as my cat!
With many paranormal romance and urban fantasy novels being optioned by film and television studios your fans want to know... what actors (alive or deceased) would you love to see in the roles of your characters?
I think I'd have to go with unknowns, because if there are any out there who could play these roles, I haven't seen them yet. I'm not sure my books could ever be made into films because there's too much emphasis on male nudity. You can take women's clothes off completely and still be rated R, but full-frontal aroused male nudity will get you an X!
There is a certain irreverence and humor to your stories, is it important as a writer not to take yourself or your writing too seriously?
I love to laugh, and I love to make other people laugh. I don't want to read a book that brings me down; I want enjoyment out of what I read. Romantic comedies are my favorite movies, and if I can't chuckle at least occasionally while I read or watch a movie, I feel shortchanged. Some people who read Slave weren't sure I meant it to be funny, and I think the reason for that is that a lot of romance novels are so dead serious that they were sure it was a mistake! It was not! It was supposed to make you smile! I think we all take ourselves and our lives too seriously. I see enough death and dying in my other profession, and, trust me, nurses can find humor in situations that would astonish you!
Many of your love scenes and sexual situations are very erotic and quite unconventional (ie. public locations, with audiences present). Does this make writing them more difficult?
Not really, because it's still the people focusing on each other, rather than anyone else that might be nearby.
Slave and Warrior are currently on shelves and the third in the series, Rogue, comes out in March of 2009. Sourcebooks has already signed you for three more novels in this series. What can you tell us about what is to come?
Rogue is the tale of two brothers who are the pampered pets of a queen—until the piano teacher from Earth shows up! After that comes Lover, which is completely different from the others. Lynx has been a slave in a harem, and the women there have literally worn him out and turned him against women entirely! It's up to Bonnie to change that. Then comes Fugitive: Manx has never been a slave, but he's been on the run for a very long time. Drusilla is a painter who comes to the planet he's been hiding out on, and one whiff of her has him throwing caution to the wind! In Hero, a female Zetithian and Trag (the other brother in Rogue) will finally track down those responsible for the war on Zetith and bring him to justice.
When The Cat Star Chronicles conclude, will we be seeing a new series in the future?
I have a lot of contemporary romances that I'd like to see published at some point, but I have no series in mind after this one ends. I've been told that a series can go on indefinitely, but I think six books are enough!
Thank you for sharing your wit and wisdom with us, but before we close, can you offer any sage advice to aspiring writers?
Grow a really tough hide before you start submitting your work. Some people will love what you write, and you'll get an agent or a publisher, but most will reject you, and some won't be very nice about it. After you sell, what was once a solo project becomes a group effort which is something I find very hard to deal with! Once you are published, enthusiastic readers will email you, or maybe even write a nice review. Those that hate it will post it on Amazon!
My thanks to Rhianna for asking for this interview, and for such terrific questions! They really made me think!


• • •

There she is guys, answering all of my really over-thought and random questions. I hope you all enjoyed getting to know more about the series and Cheryl herself. I definitely enjoyed reading her answers even if it only made me more anxious for the next book! If you would like to know more about The Cat Star Chronicles please visit Cheryl at her website, http://www.cherylbrooksonline.com/, her blog http://wickedlyromantic.blogspot.com/ or at Sourcebooks Casablanca's author blog http://casablancaauthors.blogspot.com/.

And... don't forget to pick up your copy of Warrior, the second book in The Cat Star Chronicles.

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Warrior (The Cat Star Chronicles #2) by Cheryl Brooks
Paranormal Romance, Sci-fi Romance
Mass Market Paperback (CASABLANCA PR, 321 pages, $6.99)
ISBN# 1402214405
Tisana is a witch on the planet Utopia, but Utopia isn't a paradise for everyone. When her former lover brings Leo, a half-dead Zetithian slave, to Tisana for treatment, a sizzling romance ensues, culminating in a dangerous adventure. Will Tisana get to keep her lover and find a way to escape her own fate?


Amy Lane said...

Ms. Brooks sounds like a fun writing buddy to have--and her books sound terrific! Nice interview, Rhi:-)

Cheryl Brooks said...

It's such a hoot when someone really "gets" it! Thank you so much for all of your enthusiasm and interest in my series! With promoters like you on my side, I can't go wrong!
Thanks again!

Cheryl Brooks said...

Thanks, Amy!
Rhi came up with some great questions, didn't she?


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