Monday, March 28, 2011

MET A NICE WEREWOLF LATELY? ASK AMANDA E. ALVAREZ

Werewolf stories have attracted readers since there've been readers. Please help me welcome Amanda E. Alvarez, author of a an exciting new werewolf tale which promises to frighten and tantalize readers.

Caroline: Readers love to get to know authors. Please tell us about growing up. Siblings? Locale? Were you the shy kid or the tomboy? Married, single? Children? Share anything that lets readers get to know the real you.

Amanda E. Alvarez
 Amanda: I grew up all over Texas, we moved roughly every four years when I was a kid. As I result I now find I tend to have itchy feet. I was both a tomboy (always into sports) and very shy until I hit my later years of high school where I finally found my stride. I have one younger brother whose contribution to my writing endeavor was to offer to be the cover model. (He’d fit right in on romance novel covers but that would just be flat out weird!) I’ve got two cats, one massive, one shrimpy. I currently live in Dallas and spend far too much time working, writing or avoiding the gym to manage a relationship.

Caroline: So nice to host a fellow Texan. Who are your favorite authors and favorite genres?

Amanda: Tough question! I love the Harry Potter series and I really enjoyed The Hunger Games trilogy. As a young adult I read a lot of Stephen King and Dean Koontz (there’s always a well thumbed copy of LIGHTNING around my house). I didn’t start reading romance novels until I was in law school. Iris Johansen’s THE UGLY DUCKLING was my first and I never looked back from there. Paranormal romance and romantic suspense continue to be my sub-genres of choice.


Caroline: How many books and what genres do you read a month? What are you reading now?

Amanda: I’m a binge reader so some months I won’t read anything. (This is especially true if I’m trying to get a lot of writing done.) Other months I’ll read several books a week. I generally stick to romance and its varying subgenres, mostly because I know that if I branch out, say into YA, I’ll get ideas…

Caroline: Oh, yes, those new ideas can distract us from our projects! When you’re not writing, what’s your favorite way to relax and recharge? Hobbies?

Amanda: I go to the gym as often as I can fit it in and talk myself into it. In the fair weather months I play tennis and just recently I’ve started going to the driving range with a friend of mine. I’m also an avid movie attendee. I can’t wait for the summer blockbusters.

Caroline: Perhaps you could lend me some of your energy. I hate exercise. Describe yourself in three or four words.

Amanda: Procrastinating cupcake aficionado.

Caroline: Would you like to share any guilty pleasures that feed your muse?

Amanda: I like having various finger foods. Twizzlers are good because they’re like a toy and food. And I’m a strong believer that M&M’s raise IQ and skittles are vitamins.

Caroline: I hear that Nora Roberts keeps M&M’s on her desk at all times, so they must be good for authors, right? At least, that's my story and I'm sticking with it. How long have you been writing?

Amanda: HUNTING HUMAN was my very first project, so since about 2008. I wrote for school and such but it wasn’t ever something I thought I’d pursue seriously. But I like a challenge and eventually I just wanted to see if I could. Then I discovered that I also enjoyed it.

Caroline: Where do you prefer to write? Do you need quiet or music or solitude? PC or laptop?


Amanda: Laptop – it’s the only computer I own. I research on my iPad and I never work in silence. Working productively from home is a challenge (I’m getting better!) so I love to go to Starbucks or The Pearl Cup, a local coffee shop with the best mochas on the planet.

Caroline: Are you a plotter or a panzer?

Amanda: Plotter, plotter, plotter, plotter… PLOTTER. I’m physically incapable of writing if I don’t know where I’m going. This is often a problem.

Caroline: I’m a plotter also. Do you do your research before you begin a new project, or as you go along?

Amanda: It really just depends on the project. I usually do research as a method of getting my feet wet, learning the terrain and working out my direction. This includes everything from character sketches to general information to surfing name generators.

Caroline: Tell us about your writing schedule. Do you set goals? Do you write daily?

Amanda: I wish I wrote daily, but that simply isn’t realistic for me. I try to write every Saturday and once I hit a groove on a project I’ll write every single day until I get the first draft down. Finding this groove however, now that’s a challenge.

Caroline: Isn’t that groove wonderful once you hit it? Do you write full time or do you have a day job. If you have a day job, what is it?

Amanda: I’m a lawyer by day so I only get to write in my spare time.

Caroline: I would imagine you have very little spare time. What do you hope your writing brings to readers?

Amanda: That sense of escape that novels have always provided me. I think the best compliment in the world would be for a reader to e-mail me because they fed their kids cereal and slept through their alarm because the simply couldn’t put the book down.

Caroline: Yes, those are words that thrill an author’s heart. What advice would you give to unpublished authors?

Amanda: Keep writing! And set realistic goals; don’t hold yourself to other people’s stories or standards. You have to make your own.

Caroline: So true. Tell us about your latest release.

Available Now From Carina Press


Amanda: Here’s a blurb for HUNTING HUMAN:

For two years, Beth Williams has run from the past, and the beast that dwells inside her. She is haunted by memories of being kidnapped and the savage attack that killed her best friend. Now Beth finally thinks she's ready to move on...with Braden Edwards, a charming, irresistibly sexy man who tempts Beth to embrace the present.

But the past lurks closer than Beth realizes. Markko Bolvek, one of the werewolves who kidnapped her, has tracked her to Portland, Oregon, his pursuit fueled by a hunger for vengeance. Only Braden, a werewolf himself, senses the danger shadowing her steps. The Edwards and Bolveks have been enemies for centuries and despite the instant connection he feels with Beth, Braden isn't sure which side of the war she's on.

With suspicion at odds with their attraction, Beth and Braden must learn to trust one another to stop Markko for good. Can Beth accept the wolf within and love a man who embodies everything she fears?

Caroline: Oooh, sounds enticing and the cover is beautiful.

Amanda: Here’s the Excerpt: (PG)

Liz shivered. Nights in Estonia, even in the height of summer, were cool. As silence settled around them, cold began to creep in, spreading across the cobblestones and seeping through her clothes. Liz looped her arm through Rachel’s and urged her to walk a little faster. “Come on Rach, a couple of blocks and you can be horizontal in no time flat.”


“I’m dreading the morning.” The giggle attached to the statement said Rachel had no idea what she was in for. With any luck, she’d sleep straight through the worst of it.


They rounded the last turn and started the uphill walk, their destination finally in sight. The street, with lots of little shops and cafés, was empty but well lit. A white delivery van sat parked in an alley, nestled between a bakery and a tourist shop. In just a few hours, the street would start to come alive with residents and tourists walking up and down the cobblestone ways. There wasn’t a chance in hell she’d be awake to experience it.


Rachel let out a long yawn followed by a groan. “I’m exhausted. Are we there yet?”


Liz shot her an amused grin over a shoulder. “Watch it, missy. Or you could share his fate.” She inclined her head toward the kid slumped on the stoop of a small shop. He was propped up sideways against the brick wall and the store’s blue door. His head hung at an undoubtedly uncomfortable angle, curly brown hair obscuring most of his face, an open bottle of beer next to him.


This was their routine. Rachel partied, Liz studied. Rachel drank, Liz drove. Rachel got them into trouble; Liz got them out of it. It had been that way since they were kids, and as annoying as it was, Liz wouldn’t change it. It was who they were; it just worked.


Up ahead on the other side of the street, someone leaned against the wall, the red embers of a cigarette the only thing distinguishable in the shadows. The small flame arched through the air. A man emerged into the lamplight, crushing out his dying cigarette as he went. Liz’s pulse stuttered into overtime as she recognized him as the man from the bar. She pulled Rachel closer and focused on the hostel up ahead in the distance.


Walking parallel across the street, the man called out, “I figured you for the hostel.”


His words shot through darkness, thick and heavily accented, clearly Eastern European. Increasing her pace, Liz narrowly avoided a collision with a man who stepped out of a shadowed doorway and into her path. He was shorter than the man across the street, but broader in the shoulders. The sleeves of his dingy white shirt were pushed partway up his forearms, revealing angry vines of tattoos that disappeared under his shirt and reappeared at his neck, twisting around his throat like a noose.


“Lizzy?” Fear now, more than alcohol, tinged Rachel’s voice.


“It’s alright,” Liz murmured. “Excuse us.” She focused past the man and stepped off the curb with Rachel clinging to her side. In her peripheral vision, she tracked the other man moving parallel along the street. They were only two hundred yards away from the hostel. It felt like miles.


Liz stumbled as Rachel jerked away from her, letting out a terrified squeal. Refusing to relinquish Rachel’s hand, Liz spun. A third, younger man had grabbed at Rachel’s shoulder. Fear slid down her back. The kid from the café doorstep stood grinning, rocking back and forth on his heels, looking neither drunk nor harmless. Rachel backed up, pressing herself as close to Liz as she could. They took a few steps back in tandem.


Staccato barks sounded next to them, sending Rachel spinning wildly in panic. Liz forced her fingers into an iron grip on her friend’s sweater and yanked, keeping Rachel from bolting from her side. Tears of fear and frustration welled in Rachel’s eyes.


“Shh. Listen to me. Stay with me,” Liz murmured, trying to keep Rachel out of panic’s grasp. The man across the street stepped off the sidewalk, ego lengthening his stride.


“Poor little Americans. Alek, I think you’ve frightened them,” he taunted.


Alek’s face stretched into a wide, pleased grin, his mass of tattoos contracting over the muscles of his neck.


Liz glanced over her shoulder; the kid was still behind them, though he had fallen back a few yards. She and Rachel might be able to rush past him, but to where? Beads of sweat began sliding down the back of her neck, slipping along her spine and eliciting a chill unrelated to the temperature.


An ignition fired, the hum of an engine filled the air; hope sparked in her chest.


Please.


The van parked by the bakery edged onto the street, creeping toward them. Hope twisted and died when the van’s headlights remained dark. They’d have to run.


Decision made, Liz spun back toward Alek, who’d gone from barking to panting, his tongue lolling obscenely in Rachel’s direction in a sick imitation of an animal. There was a small gap between him and the man in the middle of the street. Liz knew she and Rachel could never get past both men. Squaring her shoulders, she threw her foot into Alek’s crotch with enough force to have him choking on his balls. His animal-like pants turned to howls of pain and rage as he doubled over from the blow.


Shoving past him with every ounce of her strength, Liz propelled Rachel forward, placing herself between her friend and the remaining two men.


“Run!” Liz commanded.


Rachel didn’t need to be told twice. She hurtled up the cobblestone street, Liz following close at her heels.


One hundred yards.


White-hot pain erupted in the back of her head–someone had caught hold of her hair and wrenched. The force pulled her off her feet and she hit the street, breath snatched from her lungs and tears of pain burning her eyes. Relief mingled with terror. Rachel hadn’t realized what had happened.


Almost there, almost safe.


Seventy-five yards.


She grasped at the wrist that viciously gripped her hair, pulling her back up to her feet. She didn’t need to see his face to know that the body pressed against hers belonged to the man she had encountered in the bar. “Call her back,” he demanded.


“No,” Liz ground out, proud her voice didn’t waver.


Fifty yards.


“Stop!” The shout startled Rachel enough to glance behind her and slow. “Come back, or I’ll have to hurt your friend.” He shifted his grip, freeing up his right hand. The heavy swish-clink of a butterfly knife opening reached her seconds before the blade bit into her throat. To Liz’s horror, Rachel stopped.


“No!” The tip of the knife nicked her, a bead of blood trickling down to join the sweat running down her neck. Rachel stared at her, eyes wide, mouth open in terror. “Rachel, please, just go.” The pleading tone —so typical of Rachel and so alien to Liz, kept Rachel from moving forward. But she didn’t move back either.


“She won’t go. She won’t leave you.” Amusement laced his voice.


Alek moved forward, taking a few cautious steps toward Rachel. In seconds Rachel would have no chance of escape at all. Liz opened her mouth to yell at her again, but the blade slid up to press tightly to the underside of her chin.


“None of that.” His lips pressed close to her ear, his warm breath sending unwelcome shivers down her spine. “Come here, Rachel,” he ordered.


When Rachel remained frozen, his knife widened the nick in Liz’s neck to a shallow cut. “I will slit your friend’s pretty throat.”


His promise skittered down Liz’s spine.


“It would be such a waste.” Panic clawed through her as his tongue stroked the shell of her ear.


“Lizzy…” Rachel’s torment resounded through Liz’s chest. In that instant, she knew Rachel would never leave her. Liz wanted to be mad. She wanted to scream. But she couldn’t have left Rachel either.


Time snapped forward. Alek grabbed Rachel roughly by the elbow and propelled her forward. The van pulled up right next to them, the sliding door screaming open on a rusty track. Liz didn’t get the chance to brace herself for the impact as she was shoved to the floor of the vehicle, cheek pressed against the cold metal, her hands yanked behind her back and secured with plastic ties. The last thing she saw was Rachel’s tearstained face as she was forced down next to her. Then the sliding door slammed closed, plunging them into absolute darkness, leaving only Rachel’s terrified sobs to focus on, echoing in her head and slicing through her heart.


Caroline: Wow, that captured my interest and gave me goose bumps! Where can readers find your books?

Amanda: Carina Press
Amazon
Barnes and Noble

Caroline: What’s your next project?

Amanda: Right now I’m working on a new romantic suspense novel with strong paranormal elements.

Caroline: How can readers learn more about you?

Amanda: You can find me here:

Twitter: @amandaealvarez
Facebook: www.facebook.com/amandaealvarez1
Web: http://www.amandaealvarez.com/

Caroline: Is there anything else you’d like readers to know?

Amanda: Nah, I’ll just get boring. Thanks for having me today, Caroline. It’s been a lot of fun!


Caroline: I doubt you are ever boring. Thanks for sharing HUNTING HUMAN with us.

16 comments:

Michelle @ The True Book Addict said...

Great interview! I really enjoyed it. The book sounds really good.

Amanda said...

Hi Michelle, I'm glad you enjoyed the interview and I hope you enjoy the book as well. :)

Emma Lai said...

Lovely interview ladies! I too think Skittles are vitamins. The story sounds like it would be jam packed with emotional turmoil and action. My kind of read.

Jeanmarie Hamilton said...

Great blog Amanda and Caroline! The book sounds exciting. :-) I write werewolf stories and find them a great escape and lots of fun. Good luck with yours, Amanda!

Sarah Grimm said...

Mmmmm, cupcakes...

Sounds like a wonderful read!

Vince said...

Hi Amanda:

I have two questions:

1. Were you the model for your book cover?

2. Have you had a lawyer as a vampire of a werewolf?

I think there is an opportunity here.

Vince

Amanda said...

Thanks everyone for stopping by!

Emma: I stand by the fact that Skittles are absolutely vitamins. Yum!

Jeanmarie: werewolf stories are a great escape.

Sarah: Thank you!

Vince: LOL. No I wasn't the cover model, I don't think the cover artist ever even saw a photo of me but people keep asking me that question. And geez, your character dynamic sounds exhausting - entertaining - but exhausting.

Thanks again for having me Caroline!

stacey said...

I'm always Glad to find a new Author to me that rights Paranormal books.Can't wait to read yours
sasluvbooks(at)yahoo(dot)com

Carol L. said...

I definitely can't wait to read Hunting Human Amanda. Love the blurb. Congrats on your Debut. Enjoyed your interview.
Carol L
Lucky4750@aol.com

The Itzel Library said...

Terrific!

I currently reading this books, it's great :)

itzel_library@hotmail.com

Cathy M said...

I agree, what a great excerpt, Amanda, it gave me goosebumps as well.

caity_mack at yahoo dot com

Anabel González said...

Great excerpt I want to read your book just with the blurb but the excerpt totally catched me.
anacasamadrid at hotmail dot com

JenM said...

That was quite an excerpt. I was interested in the book anyway, but now I really want to read it.

jen at delux dot com

Vivien said...

WOW! Loved it :)

Vivien
deadtossedwaves at gmail dot com

Katy said...

I really enjoyed this interview! I will have to check out your book soon!!

hense1kk AT cmich DOT edu

IdentitySeeker said...

Haha @ M&M's raise IQ and Skittles... I loved the interview and totally agree that it would be weird having your younger brother on the cover of your novel. Thanks for the interview:)

sarahDOTsetarATgmailDOTcom