Carved in Darkness is your first published novel, what has lead up to this point in your literary career?
I’ve been a writer for as long as I can remember but was always very protective and secretive about what I wrote… mainly because I knew that what I liked to write about wasn’t considered “acceptable”, so I wrote in secret. I never took a writing class. I never shared my work with anyone. I wrote in my spare time and it took me 10 years to write what would eventually be Sabrina’s first book. When I finished it, I knew I had to show it to someone, I just didn’t know who… so I took my first writing class and that’s where I met Les Edgerton, my instructor and who eventually became my mentor and one of my closest and dearest friends. In his class, I basically re-wrote the whole thing, which took about a year. I sent it out to agents in January of 212 and I signed with Chip MacGregor in March. Chip took my manuscript to BEA (Book Expo of America) in June and left with 3 publishing houses interested in it. I received a two book offer from Midnight Ink two months later.
When you began writing, why did you decide to start within the mystery/thriller genre with your Sabrina Vaughn series, as this is a hard genre to get a following in as there are many well known and well followed authors within it. How do you think that your novels differ from other authors within this genre?
I never approached writing in terms of, “what would be the easiest genre to break into?” because I never really intended to pursue publishing. I’ve always gravitated toward thrillers—in both reading and writing. I heard somewhere (Less Edgerton) that you should write the book you wanted to read, so I did.
What do you think would be the hardest or most challenging genre to write a novel in and why?
Romance, hands down! SO many rules and guidelines—I’m a tad too oppositional to have so many restrictions, I’d probably lose my mind.
What do you think are the essentials to make a great crime thriller novel?
A few things… 1) Great characters that people care about. I mean, as a writer, I’m basically torturing these poor souls to death—one harrowing, life threatening situation after another. If readers don’t like them, then no one will care what happens to them except me. 2) Curveballs—lots of curveballs. The problem with most thrillers is that they are predictable. Readers want to be surprised and excited, if not, what’s the point? 3) Realism. I really go for a sense of realism in my writing. I research everything—probably to a disturbing degree. When I had my idea for the scene where my killer tortures someone for information (trying to not spoil it for people who haven’t read it yet…) I tried it on myself—to a lesser degree—so I would know if it actually hurt enough to be considered torture. I realize this thrusts me into the realm of the crazy but I also think that it’s what sets my writing apart from other authors in the genre.
Carved in Darkness is a very dark themed novel what appeals to you about the dark and disturbing aspects of human nature?
When I was growing up, most girls my age wanted to be ballerinas and veterinarians—I wanted to be a criminal psychologist. I’ve always been fascinated by the fact that we all harbor the capacity for evil. We all have a dark side… it’s just that some of us allow ourselves to be consumed by it. As a thriller writer, I get to explore that darker side of human nature—those things inside us all that none of us want to admit to—and I get to tell stories about how we, as people, overcome that darkness. How we survive. How we ultimately win.
You recently posted on Facebook as to whether to have a sex scene within your next novel between Sabrina and Michael. What has the responses been like? Do you think that sex and romance are required now in novels in order to succeed in these post fifty shades of grey world?
During my agent search, I emailed a pretty well-known agent and asked him what it would take to get him to read my manuscript (I was feeling particularly ballsy that day…) and he said, “send it to me.” I chose him in particular because he reps a few writers I like and one in particular that I feel writes along the same lines that I do. Anyway, he gave it a full read and while he said the story was great, the characters were fantastic, blah, blah, blah… he didn’t feel that it was “marketable”. I took that to mean that no one would buy it because there’s no sex scenes in it. By then I was already in negotiations with the agent I would eventually sign with so I didn’t think too much about it. Looking back, I feel vindicated in a way that not only did I land an agent who loved CARVED just the way it was, that I was able to sell the story with relative ease and that no one told me to write a sex scene to make it “marketable”.
Here’s a little fun fact… the original draft of CARVED IN DARKNESS has three (yes, three!) sex scenes in it between Sabrina and Michael but I cut them because I didn’t feel they were appropriate to the story and how I wanted to develop the relationship between Sabrina and Michael. The physicality of sex has never been a problem for her because of the partners she chooses and the degree of control she is able to exert over the relationship. She is able to maintain emotional distance and use that distance to keep herself safe. With Michael, there is no control. There is no emotional distance. I wanted her walls completely torn down before they finally “go there”… and they will eventually. Overwhelmingly, people have responded in the “YES!” category when it comes to a Sabrina and Michael sex scene.
As far as whether or not I think books without torrid sex scenes can be successful… there are many, many authors who do it and do it well. I think as women (readers and writers) most of us tend to search out the emotional elements in a story and explore them and usually, that includes love and romance but I don’t think it’s required. Just as there are some out there who love a good erotica novel, there are those out there who are looking for something that delves a bit deeper. All the Fifty Shades of Greys in the world the world won’t change that.
Sabrina is a very intense character, as she literally had to become someone else after her supposed death, what went into the creation of her character?
She is pretty intense, isn’t she? I almost kind of modeled her after someone who has a multiple personality disorder in the sense that when she woke up after her ordeal as a young woman, she was a completely different person. I wanted there to be a strong contrast between who she was and who she used to be—both mentally and physically. In one of my book clubs, a reader mentioned the fact that Sabrina was never talked down to or treated as weaker by her male counterparts and she wondered if I had to go through the manuscript and remove or re-write exchanges between Sabrina and her male counterparts in order to make her appear “tougher” or “perceived as equal”. I really didn’t understand the question at first but what she was asking me if I instinctively wrote her as being treated as inferior by men… and the answer is no. Hell no. It never even occurred to me that she would be treated differently by men because she’s a woman—probably because I’m not treated that way. There is a lot of me in Sabrina. How she approaches her relationships, her sense of loyalty, she’s too tough for her own good and would rather chew her own arm off then ask for help… all me.
Can you give us a little tidbit as to what the premise for the second book in the series? Hmmm… okay. In book two, we get to see the aftermath of where we left Sabrina at the end of book one. Obviously, she’s survived and as a result, her story has made national headlines… which turns her into the Pied Piper of Crazy Town. We also get a glimpse of how the outcome of book one has affected her—physically and mentally—now that she’s had time to process what happened.
Do you have any information on upcoming works or events that you are able to share? Possible when the next book is coming out?
We’re really hoping for a spring/summer 2014 release on book two… In addition to my Sabrina series, I’m working on an unrelated crime novel set in South Boston… my main character is named Mave Mckinnon and she’s got a very particular skill that makes her useful to the local crime boss (who happens to be a woman!).
What is one book on your shelf that you cannot wait to read (can either be a new or old favorite).
I’ve got two, Into the Dark by Alison Gaylin (I always have book cover envy when I see her books!) and The Night Season by Chelsea Cain. Can’t wait to have some down time so I can catch up with their characters!
As stated above I loved Carved in Darkness and cannot wait for the next book by Beaumont, she is a great addition to the Thriller authors club. Maegan has very kindly sponsored two giveaways with one copy of Carved in Darkness each. One is open INT and the other US Only, please see the rafflecopter applications below and THANK YOU Maegan for being part of my Blogoversary.
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