Book Interview on January 2013
Interview by Laura
Hi J.T, welcome to The Romance Reviews. Let's dive right into your book!
Q: What inspired your series Night Prowler? What is it about?
I've always loved cats, and one day a pure black stray cat wandered into my life who had this amazing ability to appear and disappear at will, as if she was vanishing into vapor. The world of the Ikati (a Zulu word for cat warrior) was inspired by this mysterious cat who looks uncannily like a miniature panther.
The series is a lavish, brutal fantasy romance mixing the tone of True Blood, royal intrigue of Twilight's Volturi, and Christian conspiracies of The Da Vinci Code. Book one, Shadow's Edge, revolves around the Ikati who live deep in the forests of Southern England. Bound by primeval bloodlines and a savage code of law that punishes traitors with death, the Ikati value secrecy and allegiance above all else. Subsequent books deal with other colonies, how they handle living among humans, and their ancient enemy who will stop at nothing to destroy them.
Q: Please tell us more about the Ikati. What are they?
The Ikati are animals first, humans second. They've evolved a human disguise over thousands of years in order to live among humankind undetected, but they all can shape-shift to panther, many can shift to vapor, and still others have different, unique skills such as mind control, invisibility, the ability to pass through solid matter, etc. They originated in the darkest heart of equatorial Africa, but after being discovered and hunted by Caesar Augustus when Egypt fell to Rome, they fled and settled in small colonies around the world. They maintain an inflexible hierarchy forged through frequent battles for dominance. Years of isolation have made breeding difficult and mating outside the race is strictly forbidden…which puts them in a very precarious position! New blood is needed, but only secrecy and allegiance to the tribe has allowed them to survive.
I grounded the series in Egyptian mythology, the cat worship cults of ancient Egypt to be specific, and carry that theme throughout the books. I also tied in some real historical figures—Cleopatra and Marie Antoinette, among others—who were secretly Ikati leaders.
Q: Sounds awesome! Can't wait to see how the series would evolve. In the second book of the series, EDGE OF OBLIVION, Morgan carries such a heavy weight on her shoulders, as she is convicted of treason. How does she cope? What kind of person is she that she would be accused of such? Please tell us more about her that we may become sympathetic to her plight.
Morgan is a badass, and quite a rebel in the Ikati world. She doesn't want to be a breeder, she doesn't want to be confined, and she values the ideal of freedom above all else. She's courageous but also impulsive, and she makes a terrible mistake in book one that she's punished for in book two. She's one of my favorite characters because she is all heart and passion, and doesn't care what others think of her—she is a total nonconformist. But she's also willing to admit her mistakes and take her lumps for a chance to be forgiven. She's a woman in a man's world, and has been twisted by all that male dominance. She's a fighter, and isn't afraid of anything—except living on her knees.
Q: Sounds admirable. What about warrior and enforcer Xander? He's ruthless, heartless and cold-blooded. What redeeming qualities does he have that makes him a swoonworthy hero?
Xander was damaged by a brutal, violent father and the death of his first love—which he blames himself for, as she was human and it was forbidden. He has such depth of emotion, but it's been buried for so long he believes he can no longer feel anything at all. Indeed, he doesn't feel anything, until he meets Morgan. He is loyal, brave, selfless—and convinced he is unworthy of love because of all the terrible things he's done. Beneath his cold exterior is a soul in flames.
Q: Definitely swoonworthy! What makes Morgan and Xander perfect for each other?
They're both outcasts, living in a world with no chance for anything so sentimental as romance or self-growth. They're both passionate and damaged, rebellious and suppressed by outside forces, self-reliant and completely lacking self-pity. They take responsibility for their mistakes, but dream of a better world in which they could live.
Q: What's the most romantic thing that Xander did for Morgan? Not killing her doesn't count. : )
He listens to her. No one in Morgan's world is interested in what she has to say, and you'd think the man assigned to kill her would fit right into that mold. But he gives her the gift of his consideration, and his understanding. He lets her be who she really is, without apology. For me, one of the most important things a man can do for a woman is listen to her. It makes her feel cherished.
Q: I definitely agree! What's your favourite scene in the book?
This is the ending of a scene where Morgan and Xander make love for the first time, but both of them know their relationship is doomed. Enjoy!
She kissed him and rocked beneath him and with her hips coaxed his body to where it wanted to go. He began to thrust, a primal motion disconnected from his will, which wanted him to slow, to be gentle—
Morgan moaned her approval beneath him. His hips took over and he thrust harder.
He heard thunder, he heard rain, he heard the metal headboard smacking against the wall, sending repetitive, hollow clanging through the room. He braced a hand against it, gripped Morgan's hip in his other hand and lifted her up so only her shoulders were on the bed. So deep, so deep, he didn't think he could go any deeper—
"I'm going to come again," she breathed. She gripped his arms, meeting every thrust of his hips with one of her own, staring up at him with those searching eyes that carved a hole into his heart. "Come with me. Come with me, Xander."
Breathing hard, sweat blooming over his entire body, he let go of the headboard and clasped her hips hard in both hands. He plunged into her again and again, wilder and harder, with every thrust losing himself to her and the storm and the magic they made together, here in the succoring dark.
"Amada mio," he hissed through clenched teeth, teetering on the edge as a wave of heat surged up his spine. Every muscle in his body flexed. "Eu me comprometo a você."
She stiffened and cried out, her head tipped back into the pillows. His eyes slid closed and he heard a roar, only dimly aware it had come from him. Pleasure, searing white, rocketed through him and he jerked, emptying himself inside her, surging again and again as his orgasm tore his breath and every coherent thought away. For a blinding moment there was nothing but the two of them, joined as one. It spun on and on, dreamlike, and then—
He collapsed on top of her. Shaking. Panting. Wordless. He buried his face into her neck.
Her arms came around his shoulders. She cradled him, murmured soft things into his hair that he could not comprehend, so great was his agony and his bliss. He drifted on a current of gratitude so pure it was almost sweet.
She had let a monster into the most precious part of her, had reminded him of what it was to feel passion and pleasure and tenderness, had given him a glimpse of things he didn't deserve.
He wanted to tell her that, wanted to say you have shown me the way back from hell. But there was a terrible pressure in his chest and a stinging in his eyes and a tightness in his throat that threatened to choke him if he opened his mouth.
"It's all right," she murmured, knowing him already too well. "We're safe from the world now, for a little while. We can have this, it doesn't have to change anything. We can have our night and go back to who we were tomorrow. Just for tonight, we can have that different life we always wanted."
He stayed silent, while inside he wept.
Q: Powerful excerpt. We definitely get more than a glimpse into Xander's soul. Thank you! How hard was it to make Morgan sympathetic in this book, considering her treasonous act in the first book that almost got their queen killed?
For me, it wasn't hard at all. I totally understood what drove Morgan to do what she did. I can relate to all her choices, good and bad, and I respect her for not trying to make excuses for herself or blame anyone else. If I lived in the society Morgan lived in, I may have done something desperate, too. Maybe even something worse.
Q: Please, please, please give us a sneak peek at the next book in the series.
Of course! Book three, Rapture's Edge, will be released in June. It's Eliana and Demetrius's story, two characters we meet in Edge of Oblivion. Because of something that happened at the end of book two, Eliana is convinced D killed her father. This scene is a meeting where he gives her something he hopes will prove his innocence. Enjoy!
Then he turned his head and across the distance his eyes found hers, as if he knew where she'd been hiding all along. As if he'd felt her watching.
She stood. She stared back at him. Even with the distance, everything was between them, palpable as rain, bright as summer sunlight. His gaze was heat across her face, his dark eyes burned, just staring at her, not a muscle moving, searing intensity and the crackle of invisible flame. She felt pinned by that look, the stark longing in it, the hunger, raw and real. She felt powerless against it and suddenly a wave of anguish rose up in her, a longing to match his own, and she had to look away.
She turned to the stairs of the old chimney and began the winding descent down.
When she finally stood beside him on the second floor observation deck and looked out over the vast, sparkling majesty of Paris on a winter evening, she had herself a little bit more under control.
D didn't turn to look at her. He acknowledged her presence with a slight bow of his head, but that was all. They stood silently for a while, a shoulder width apart, listening to people chatter in a dozen different languages, feeling the wind on their faces. Up here it was colder, the flakes of snow a little more biting than below.
"I have this memory of you," he said in a low, solemn voice, still looking out over the city. She kept her own eyes on the view as well as he continued to speak. "You were sixteen, maybe seventeen. It was the winter solstice, everyone had gathered in the great room after the ceremony in the temple for the feast of Horus."
Eliana closed her eyes, remembering the cavernous great room they used on festival days, the smell of hot beeswax and incense, the glow of a thousand candles in iron braziers and chandeliers, the shouting and laughter, the heat of so many bodies pressed close together at long wood tables as they feasted on suckling pig and roasted beef and delicacies from all over the world, brought in to celebrate the birthday of their patron god.
"You were sitting with your father and brother at the main table. I was standing behind you, against the wall, on duty as always. The Bellatorum had drawn straws to see who would stand guard during the feast, and I was the one who drew the short straw. It didn't matter anyway, the rest of them had women they wanted to go to, but I had no one, so I didn't mind.
"But you kept glancing back at me, with this worried look on your face. I didn't dare look at you, but I couldn't figure out why the King's daughter, the precious spem future, would be paying the slightest attention to me."
Hope for the future: that's what the elders had called her, though she never knew exactly why.
He went on and his voice grew softer, tinged with something close to awe.
"Then when your father was distracted by someone who'd come to speak with him, you called one of the servants to you and passed her something. You whispered something to her, and I could tell she was trying to talk you out of whatever you'd said. She looked very angry, but you insisted and eventually she made some pretense to walk by me and hand me what you had given her."
D glanced down at her. "An apple. You gave her an apple to give to me."
"You looked hungry," Eliana whispered. "You looked miserable, standing there alone. I thought you might like something to eat."
"You kept sending her back, every chance you could, too, didn't you? Pieces of fruit and cheese, bread, candy."
"You wouldn't eat any of it. I had to keep trying until I found something you liked."
He turned to her, stared down at her with all the intensity from before still burning in his eyes. "I liked all of it. I couldn't eat it because I was on duty, but I liked all of it. You were the only person in that room of thousands who gave a damn about me, the one person with the least reason to. You were kind to me. You noticed me. You looked at me, when everyone else went to great lengths to avoid doing that. Everyone else was terrified of me, and yet you never were. You smiled at me whenever we passed. You said hello." His voice dropped. "You said my name. Said it like you liked it…like you liked me. That was the beginning for me. Just like that apple, you were this perfect, delicious thing I hungered for with every cell in my body, but was forbidden to eat."
"Stop," she whispered, frozen in place. "Please. Stop."
They stood like that, not moving, a foot apart, his gaze searing, hers trained on some spot in the distance because she couldn't bear to look at him.
Finally, around the lump in her throat, she said, "You brought it?"
From the corner of her eye she saw him nod. She held out her hand. He placed the paper-wrapped bundle in it and she closed her fingers around it, hard. "I'm leaving now."
"If—afterward—I'll be at the same place I brought you after the police station. The safe house. You remember where it is?"
She glanced at him, her eyes as freezing as the wind. "I won't come. Don't wait."
He said nothing, just looked at her. She slowly backed away, clutching the parcel to her chest. "I won't come," she said again, but he didn't even nod.
Eliana turned and fled.
J.T., you sure do know how to pick ‘em! We can't wait that long until June! For the meantime, though, thank you for this lovely interview!
J.T. Geissinger is the author of the Night Prowler series, a #1 Amazon bestselling fantasy romance. Book one, Shadow's Edge, was published in June 2012, and book two, Edge of Oblivion, was published in October. Book three, Rapture's Edge, will be published in summer of 2013. Six books in all are planned for the series. She lives in Los Angeles with her husband and a menagerie of stray cats.
J.T. is graciously giving away two $25 Amazon Gift Certificate ! Sweet! Thanks, J.T.!
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