Welcome to my blog spot- grab a cup of coffee and a good book ;-)
I had the pleasure of meeting the highly talented Nicole Scarano on Twitter. I'd added her book to my Goodreads TBR stack long before it was recommended to me by my fellow indie author, J.D. Park. As soon as I saw that it was about Greek mythology, I jumped on that baby like a desert dweller to a bucket of water. With each page I read, I knew I was in the midst of a fascinating tale, and Ms. Scarano didn't disappoint. After reading it, I knew I had to ask her what inspired her to write it. Here's what she had to say:
Me: Hi Nicole. Thanks so much for being my guest tonight. I’m honored to have you here on my blog. Tell me a little about yourself? When did you know you were going to be a writer?
Hi! Thank you for having me here. I am an indie author of Pomegranate which is a fantasy twist on the Hades and Persephone myth. My day job is video editing. I am a hard core dog mom and love rescued pitbulls. I adopted China five years ago, and her adorably sweet personality made me fall so in love with the breed.
In high school, my dream was to move to L.A. and become a script writer and film director. I loved film and television (still do) and wanted to be a part of the movie magic. I wrote my first full length script in high school and my second in college. By the time I graduated with a degree in film, I had discovered while I loved all aspects of filmmaking, my true love was storytelling. Every movie or show starts with story. Without writers, we have no entertainment.
Me: Amen to that. I wanted to do movie makeup as I kid and would still love to do anything involving film. So, I gotta ask- What inspired you to write Pomegranate? Where did you get the idea to turn Hades into a woman?
I started Pomegranate as a script in college, but the story dates even further back. It has been over ten years since I first came up with the idea to write a reinvention of the Greek myths centering on Hades as a woman, but to be honest I cannot remember where exactly the idea started or what made me think of it. I have always loved the gods of death, though. Anubis, Hel, Hades. I love anti-heroes, villains, and darkness. Hades was always a god hated for his rule of the Underworld, but according to legend he was the more straightforward god. Unlike Zeus he didn’t often meddle in human affairs, seduce multiple women, or lie. He tended to do what he said he would, and I loved the idea that this man history hated was probably one of the more honorable god. I wanted to write a script with Hades as the MC, but I love female protagonists, so I’m sure that had something to do with the gender change.
Me: That is so super cool! I love it!! And I, too, have always been fascinated by the Egyptian and Greek gods too. (If I ever have another dog, it’s gonna be a Doberman named Anubis) Now, I bet you had to do a great deal of research on this novel before writing it. Did you plot everything out or did you just let the pages take you away and see where it was going to go?
Yes and no. Of course I had to research each myth and know what the originals told and work them into the plot, but the great thing about re-inventing myths is that you only have to know the basics before you write your own version. When Pomegranate first started, it was right after college, and it began as a script. I did not outline and by the time Hades meets Keres (for those of you who have read this you know how soon into the book it is) I felt the idea was good, but it was going in a direction I did not like. I deleted everything, wrote an outline, and then turned it into a book. I outline everything to this day, even shorts.
Me: Good point. How long did it take you to write this book?
About six years. I started it after college and wrote a lot at first, but I got a full-time job, adopted China, and eventually started dating someone seriously. I kept finding less and less time to work, and Pomegranate got abandoned. It always seemed like an impossible dream. Then two-and-a-half years ago, I went through a rough patch and felt I was floundering in life. I got a tattoo of a line of dialogue I wrote; partially because I love it and partially because in essence it is about facing the impossible and fighting anyway. I picked Pomegranate back up and have not stopped writing since.
Me: I understand one hundred percent. Abundance was written well over fifteen years ago, and my own personal struggles helped give me the courage to publish. So, which character in your book is your favorite-- Besides Kerberos ;-) LOL? Why?
Hades. I adore her. She is so much a part of me. Sometimes when I write I feel Nicole is gone and only Hades exists. She is so badass and loving. To me she is the best part of the book. I love Alkaios cause I mean, how can you not? I also love Keres and Charon. Keres is the friend we all want, and Charon is this surrogate father to Hades, guiding her through her new godhood.
Me: I love it and love all those characters too. Now, did anyone in real life inspire your characters? Hades? Alkaios?
Hades definitely is inspired by me. I did not write her as a biography or even do this on purpose, she just evolved that way. She is partially who I am, and who I want to be. Kerberos is inspired by China, my rescued pitbull. People dislike the breed or fear them, and these dogs are often mistreated. China came to me so shut down and anxious. She does not trust easily, but once you bond (and she is so sweet and bonds with almost everyone) she is loyal and full of love. Kerberos and Hades have a similar relationship. He is feared and hated and doesn’t trust easily, but with Hades, he is a big bed-hog puppy… with three heads, a leathery hide, and razor spikes
Me: I love it. Dogs are the best. What are you working on now?
The sequel to Pomegranate. It is so close to being done and should hit sometime later this year. I also have a YA Dystopian in the works as well as a romance novella.
Me: Awesome! What drew you to the fantasy genre?
I have a weird relationship with genres. I never set out to write any certain genre. I just come up with a story and then go ‘I guess this is what it is’. Most of my stuff stays in the fantasy/sci-fi/dystopian/apocalyptic genre, but I tend to genre blend. I love doing this. Pomegranate is Fantasy Historical Fiction, and my next series will be a sci-fi fantasy.
Me: Ha ha, you sound like me, I never set out to write a specific genre either, but it is what it is, right? So, who are your favorite authors/books?
Thunderhead (sequel to Scythe) by Neal Shusterman
Red Rising by Pierce Brown
Orphan X by Gregg Hurwitz
The Butterfly Garden by Dot Hutchison
Me: Hmm, I’ll have to check those out! What do you personally love about writing?
The ability to live lives that are impossible, exciting, and beautiful. I love so much about writing and reading, but I think one of the most magical parts of a book is its ability to transport us into these adventures. Real life often is composed of endless days that consist of waking up, going to the office, coming home to errands, cleaning, cooking to go to bed and repeat. Writing and books open up worlds to you; adventures and romance. I love living through their stories. I also love a good plot. There is something about a plot so well crafted that I cannot guess the ending. An interesting soulful story sticks with you, and I want to give my version of those stories to the world.
Me: Amen to that!! What are you looking forward to before year’s end?
Pitchfork finally being published! This sequel is two years in the making. I have written shorts for contest and a novella all to hone my skill, and this new book really shows my growth as an author. I cannot wait.
Me: That makes two of us, Nicole. I am super excited to read book 2. You have a true talent. Thanks so much for ‘hanging out with me’, I wish you all the best :-)
Nicole Scarano is an avid Audible listener, book reader, and TV lover and therefore loves the art of storytelling. She is the author of "Pomegranate" which follows Hades rise from mortal woman to god of the underworld. By day she is a video editor and dog walker, and in her spare time she is working on two novels, a novella, and any other short story that comes to mind while her rescued pitbull, China, keeps her company.
Shanna Swenson, author of the Abundance series
Shanna enjoys a good book that thrills, chills and warms her heart...and supporting her fellow indies, like Nicole Scarano ;-)
5 outstanding stars for Kidnapped by an Outlaw
Ivy McAdams is a new to me author and this debut novel set the pace for a fun series that I look forward to getting lost in.
As a fellow cowboy and adventure lover, the blurb to this book grabbed me right away. It’d been a hot minute since I’d read a historical romance novel and this one just sounded too fun to miss out on.
Sadie Turner is riding the train on her way back home with her father, who has just stepped out for air, when the unthinkable happens. Train robbers are headed her way down the aisle. Two of them to be exact, and one with the bluest eyes she’s ever seen. (What girl ain’t a sucker for some sexy baby blues, am I right?) Next thing Sadie knows, Papa has a gun to his head and she’s being taken outside to jump from a moving train.
What follows is an adventure into the wild west as Sadie is taken into an outlaw gang’s camp as a prisoner, her soon to be marriage to a well-off rancher’s son now on the line, and a ransom note is being sent to her last remaining family back in Emerald Falls. Not to mention the budding love interest from one of the outlaws who’s taken her captive. After all, Clay Pearson is handsome, broad-shouldered, and gives Sadie butterflies each time he looks at her.
These two were a match made in Heaven as Sadie soon realizes that life might just be more exciting on the other side of the train tracks than she ever imagined it could be.
I loved watching these two lovers find themselves while falling for one another- Sadie’s strength and perseverance and Clay’s kindness and protectiveness towards her. He was so swoony!
If you love a good historic outlaw love story with excitement then grab this one up. You won’t be disappointed. I’m excited to head back to Emerald Falls for book 2 in the series, Ginny’s story, Seduced by a Wrangler.
Shanna Swenson, author of the Abundance series
Shanna loves a good book that thrills, chills, and warms her heart...and has her jumping off moving trains onto horse's backs with a good-looking outlaw too ;-)
Edgy, spicy, sexy- that’s what Reckless is…
Take a trip to the Big Easy in this endearing, raw and steamiest of the three reads in the Kismet series. Evelyn Montgomery has taken the Kismet series to a new level in this one, folks. New Orleans is H-O-T.
This book follows Rex Roberts and Gwen Coppola whom we were introduced to in books 1 and 2.
Gwen is the best friend of Evelyn Monroe (now Stewart) and the spunky redhead with a tragic past that haunts her and a secret that has kept her from true love for over a decade now.
Rex Roberts is Noah Stewart’s best friend, and well, Eve’s too for that matter, and he’s surreptitiously loved Gwen since they were teenagers. But he too has a big secret he has yet to get to share with her, a secret that has eaten him up every day since Gwen’s twin sister’s death.
These two lovers reconnect at the airport bar on their way home from Eve and Noah’s wedding. And we all know what bottled up feelings and a little booze will do (wink wink) and Rex and Gwen see this as kismet and choose not to let the opportunity pass them by.
However, Gwen wakes the next morning and decides not to be made a fool of… after all, how could she allow Rex to get back into her bed once again and so close to her heart? So, she bails before he has a chance to hurt her once more.
Rex somehow has run Gwen off, she eludes him and has for so many years. Why is it that he can’t seem to get things right and tell her how he really feels? How do they keep screwing things up?
Enter New Orleans, Gwen is there on business and coincidentally Rex (and his newest club) just happens to be her next client. Is this for real?
Gwen and Rex collide in this spicy romance novel. Two stubborn souls who were meant to be together, souls that fate just keeps throwing itself at hoping they will finally work their shit out and get together, but these two are as hard-headed as the foundations of the French Quarter and it’s gonna take a lot to convince the other of their true intentions.
I loved getting to reconnect with Noah and Eve and see how happy they were. I also loved the descriptions of New Orleans and the angst building in this book, and the ending was perfect. I laughed, I cried and I was yelling at Gwen and Rex a good bit, but after all love is complicated and these two have never come clean with each other…until now. The truth hurts and a tragic past is not always an easy pill to swallow.
So, if you’re looking for a good summer read that’s as spicy as cajun crawfish étouffée then grab this one and eat it up!
Shanna Swenson, author of the Abundance series
Shanna enjoys a good book that thrills, chills, and warms her heart...and one that takes her to the Big Easy like this one did.
I had the pleasure of meeting the lovely Michelle Hillstrom almost from the very beginning of joining Instagram. We were grouped together in a romance author huddle that a mutual friend of ours put together and I’m super glad we found one another. The support of the Instagram writing/reading community has been invaluable.
Once I saw that Michelle wrote paranormal romance, I was super excited to read her work--as I’m a big fan of all things that go bump in the night. I won five of her books as part of a giveaway on Instagram -- Yaaayyy me ;-) -- a few months ago and read the first one of her books in her Kiss series while I was chillin’ at the pool this summer.
Here’s my review of it Goodreads.
After reading this intriguing debut vampire novel of hers, I wanted to ask her what inspired her to write it.
Here’s what she had to say:
Me: Hi Michelle, tell me a little bit about yourself? When did you know you were going to be a writer?
Michelle: Hi, Shanna! Thank you for asking me to do this interview! So, a little about me… I was born and raised in Texas. I’m a Marine Corps Veteran, a Fur Mom, and a chronic illness warrior. I began writing as a child and wrote my first novel when I was twelve. It wasn’t very good, but that was when I knew that I wanted to be a writer. I grew up with a love for books thanks to my parents who would read to me every night before bed and would take me to the library frequently to check out books.
Me: That’s awesome and thank you for your service :-) So, what inspired you to write The Kiss Series?
Michelle: The Kiss Series was inspired by a dream that I had one night where I saw a girl watching a guy walk down a set of stairs talking to his friends. (The scene in chapter one of The Faithful Kiss.)
The Kiss Series is actually a combination of that idea and an idea that I had of a vampire who was in love with a vampire slayer who was frequently reincarnated. I ended up cutting out the vampire slayer and setting it on a college campus instead of during the Renaissance.
Me: Now, how many books will be in the series?
Michelle: The series will be a total of six, maybe seven books, but at the moment I’ve stepped away from the series to publish two standalone books that were clamoring for me to write them and preventing me from focusing on the series.
Me: Ha ha, right! Which character in your collection is your favorite? Why?
Michelle: In The Kiss Series, I think that Elizabeth is my favorite character. She is so tragic, dark, and has experienced so much trauma. It makes her a very interesting character. Writing her book was the most fun for me because I really got too dig deep into her motivations and her psyche.
Me: She is quite a character just from what I read of her. I’m eager to see her history.
Now, did anyone in real life inspire your characters?
Michelle: There are bits and pieces of different people in some of my characters, but none of the characters were based solely off of one person.
Me: What are you working on now?
Michelle: Currently I am preparing FRIENDZONE, (a New Adult, Jock Romance) for publication while simultaneously writing Courting Death (a Dark, Fantasy Romance).
Me: Ooohh, sounds interesting! Tell us a little about your writing process?
Michelle: I don’t have a very strict formula or process when it comes to writing. I’m mostly just moved to write by my Muse, usually at the most inconvenient times. But, I actually do a very large part of my writing on my cell phone while soaking in bubble baths, or jotting down different scenes on my water-proof notepad while in the shower. Water seems to really help me get the words flowing.
Me: Haha, isn’t that the way it goes…wanting to write at the most inopportune times! Now, what drew you to the paranormal romance genre?
Michelle: “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” started my fascination with vampires. Angel and Spike were my first vampire loves and they inspired me to write a vampire romance story. But I never got around to finishing because life took me on a detour from writing for a few years. It wasn’t until a friend introduced me to the Twilight Series back in 2008 that I was brought out of the dark, uncreative place that I had found myself in and got back to reading and writing and really started to focus on writing my own paranormal romance series.
Me: OMG, I LOVE Buffy and Angel AND the Twilight series. So, who are your favorite authors/books?
Michelle: How can you ask me that??!?! Well… let’s see… I have to give a shout out to Stephenie Meyer since she got me back into reading and writing. Gone with the Wind, Where the Red Fern Grows, Sarah J. Maas, Holly Black, Outlander, Harry Potter, Rebecca, Gillian Flynn, Anne Rice, Victoria Holt, but right now I am really enjoying reading a lot of indie books.
Me: All great ones and likewise! I’ve read so many awesome indie books! Now, what do you personally love about writing?
Michelle: I love just getting lost in a new story that I am writing. Creating characters that people will fall in love with, become invested in, and care about what ends up happening to them. I always say that I’m just a big kid who never outgrew her imagination, but now instead of acting out stories with my Barbies, I write the stories down and create books.
Me: Ha ha, yes! But where’s the fun in growing up? ;-) Now, what are you looking forward to this year?
Michelle: I am looking forward to the release of FRIENDZONE in December!
Me: That's great, it sounds so good. Can't wait for it!
Thank you so much for being my guest tonight, Michelle. It’s been a pleasure.
You can grab Michelle Hillstrom’s Kiss series and all her other books on Amazon here.
Michelle Hillstrom is a New Adult Romance Author. Her work includes “The Kiss Series,” “Insomnia,” and “#MeToo: A Collection of True Story Crimes Against Women.”
Michelle was born and raised in Texas where she began writing short stories at a very young age and wrote a novel at age twelve.
When she isn’t writing, Ms. Hillstrom advocates for victims of sexual assault and domestic violence, animal rights, and suicide prevention and mental health. She enjoys cooking, dancing, and reading. She spends as much time as she can with family, friends, and her two Labradors.
Ms. Hillstrom was honored to serve her country in the Marine Corps Reserves before being medically discharged.
Michelle Hillstrom continues to reside and write in her Texas Hometown.
Shanna Swenson, author of the Abundance series
Shanna enjoys a good book that thrills, chills, and warms her heart... and supporting the spooky bitches of Lubbock too :-D