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Sunday, January 10, 2010

Supernatural Sunday

MICHELLE PICARD'S RULING EDEN



Hello, Moonlighters! Please help me welcome Michelle Picard into the moonlight this first Supernatural Sunday of the new year! Michelle and I sat down for an interview and I was able to get all the dirt on her. LOL Yeah, not really, but it sounded good right? Well, her interview is just as fun without the dirt. So, kick back, relax and enjoy!


~~~~~


Buy link: http://crescentmoonpress.com/books/RulingEden.html

GRACEN: Do you make resolutions for the New Year? Why or why not? If so, please share one or more of them with us!

MICHELLE: I’m all over the place with this. Some years I do, some I don’t. It all boils down to my state of mind. Am I happy with myself? I don’t need to drop three dress sizes to live a good life, especially if I feel I am making an integrated effort to be healthy on a day-to-day basis. Last year I did make a resolution. I resolved to fold the clean laundry more regularly (lol). Exciting stuff, huh? And I did it for a while, until I started backsliding. But this year I didn’t make a resolution. I’m happier with where I am in my life and if I will never be the world’s most timely laundry folder, well that’s fine because I love the balance in my life as it is. I achieve many more important things on a daily basis and my housekeeping skills are now, appropriately, placed in big time perspective. I can’t be everything, but if I love the things I am and value them, that’s great!


GRACEN: Now that the busy holiday time is over, what do you do to recharge?

MICHELLE: Read, write, start scheduling dinner parties with friends. Just getting the kids out the door in the morning and knowing I can use the time to sink back into my regular routine brings me fantastic peace of mind. I’m a homebody by nature and like nothing better than to stay inside at my desk on my computer. It is nice to exercise more, because it makes me feel good, but I don’t need a lot to recharge. Just lack of craziness.


GRACEN: Do you have any holiday memories from 2009 that you would like to share with us?

MICHELLE: My family surprised me with a Nook. I’d wanted one, although it’s dangerous to purchase the first generation of a new technology. However, since I was e-readerless, I’m thrilled. The biggest excitement was that I actually went out for New Years. We’ve been spending the past decade sharing quiet dinners with one of our favorite couples in our home when the ball drops. This year we found a babysitter and went out to a yummy set menu dinner with dancing following. Our friends came with us and I got to buy a new red dress. That made it downright festive. Okay, so maybe the event ran more to fireside dining than club frenzy, but I loved every minute of it.


GRACEN: What area of the country/world are you from? What are the average temperatures where you are? What type of clothing would most residents be wearing today? What tips do you have for people to “survive” the weather where you are?

MICHELLE: I live in the US, in New England, but I moved around quite a bit growing up. Not from a military family, but changes in family circumstances had me in Kentucky, Connecticut, Chicago, New Jersey and Michigan before heading back to the Northeast. Outside this moment there’s a little over a foot of snow. I survive the winter (which I hate) wearing layers of warm wooly sweaters and socks. I’m not sure how warm it is inside my house because my husband sets our thermostat in Celsius. For all you non-American readers, that wouldn’t be a problem. But since most US residents have their heads stuck in the sand about the metric system, I still struggle.


GRACEN: Do you have any favorite outside hobbies? Can you perform any of these hobbies right now? If not, why not, and is weather a factor?

MICHELLE: Here is where I sheepishly admit I have no hobbies I perform out of doors. I have romantic dreams of becoming a gardener, but so far my thumb is black. First on my list of hobbies is reading, of course. And I am proud to say I can read virtually anywhere, including outdoors. Heck, I’ve even brought books to sporting events. My husband stopped asking me to share his tickets and started calling up friends. They didn’t bring books.


GRACEN: Do you prefer your hot tub inside the house or outside the house? Why?

MICHELLE: First off, is this an offer to install one in my home? Because currently I am without, but would looooove to have one (grin). At heart I am a practical gal, so I’d choose indoors. That way I can enjoy a soak in any weather and if the bubbles inspire other activities, I can spontaneously accommodate without planning for climate. No rain, hail or snowstorms to get in the way.


GRACEN: If you could be any character/creature, who/what would it be and why?

MICHELLE: A shape shifting dragon. All the benefits of being human combined with butt-kicking size, power, intimidation factor, and intelligence. Plus, you can fly. Or at least in the variety of dragon I’m imagining.



GRACEN: It was fun getting to know you, Michelle! Now, let’s get to your writing. Why the fantasy romance genre? What was the draw for you?

MICHELLE: I’ve always read fantasy. My first attempt at writing a novella was in high school when I wrote a tragic romance fantasy set in the He-Man world. Do you remember that cartoon? Things didn’t go well when He-Man fell in love with She-Woman and it turned out they were related. Even when I was a kid and the bookstores didn’t distinguish between fantasy and romance fantasy, I sought it out. Thankfully there’s so much more out there now. An avalanche at times. Yay! I adore world building and playing with ideas about magic. But no story is complete without the romance. Romance makes explicit the human need for connection and companionship and hope.


GRACEN: If you could describe your writing with a word or phrase, what would it be? Please look beyond words like hot, sexy, etc., and delve into the core of your writing to tell us what word or phrase you want readers to take with them when they've finished reading your story.

MICHELLE: I want my readers to feel intrigued by possibilities and wishing they were a part of my story world and a part of my characters’ lives. To feel the pull of the story drama. To feel like they are invested in the characters’ personal and external conflicts and rooting for their happiness. Okay, maybe not so much for the villains’ happiness, but I don’t like all evil villains. Even they have redeemable parts to them and should be interesting enough for a reader to want to share conversation with them at a cocktail party. My writing has to combine a rich vivid world, internal conflict in my main characters, intrigue, and romantic and sexual tension for me to be satisfied. Oh, that’s a bit more than a word or phrase. Another way to describe my writing is long (lol).


GRACEN: Do the holidays disrupt your writing schedule? If so, how tough is it to get yourself back in writing mode and what have you found that seems to help?

MICHELLE: Holidays definitely disrupt my writing schedule, but I’m a multi-tasker and juggler by nature, so its not any harder to jump back in than on any other chaos driven day when I have to stop and start the process a million times. I do better when I can take breaks. I call it thinking time when my muse has opportunities to hijack my mind and make her outrageous desires known.


GRACEN: Do you prefer hot chocolate with marshmallows or a hot toddy? Does that show through in your writing? If so, how?

MICHELLE: Hot chocolate with marshmallows. I’m a creature of comfort and there’s something very soothing and mundane about cocoa. Plus I like my mind sharp to balance the complex worlds in my writing and my muse does too. There’s a lot of detail to juggle in my stories, and the alcohol would fuzz the edges too much. This question made me realize that none of my characters have been big drinkers or have had alcohol affect their actions in a significant way in my storylines.


GRACEN: Who decides what characters/creatures you write about, you or your muse? What kind of influence do you have over your story, or is the muse always the one pouring the soap in the Jacuzzi?

MICHELLE: We work as a team. She’ll listen to a song and pop ideas and images into my head. Or she’ll throw me dialogue and conflicts. But I’m fully in charge of stitching it together. My mind is constantly working to find the gaps in detail or world building or pacing balance once the muse has had her way. I do know that my muse has a decided bent in all my stories. Not until after I’d been offered a contract on Ruling Eden did I realize she’s made me include gates and portals in every story I’ve written. I’ve completed four manuscripts (half way through a fifth) and they all include the integral concept of a gateway.


GRACEN: What creature/character did you have the most fun creating and why?

MICHELLE: In Ruling Eden, my recent release, there’s a character that goes by the name of Satan. He’s not the devil in any traditional sense of the word. He leads the race of demons, but they’re not evil as much as amoral. In my world building all of the paranormal races have been created as guardians of humanity, including the demons. Only their vision of what that means is a bit twisted. My Satan adopted the name because he was amused by the human mythology of Hell and was making fun of it. Satan’s Hell is a realm known as L’Etrange, which he designed to mimic 1950’s suburban middle class America, with ugly split ranch homes, rancid color schemes, and tacky kitsch. He always has a wicked cutting joke on his tongue and he likes to stir trouble. His favorite hobby is cooking and he walks around wearing a button that reads Practice Random Acts of Chaos. The chapter in which we first meet him is one of my favorites.


GRACEN: If you had the opportunity to meet just one of your characters in real life, who would it be and why? Which of your characters would you never want to meet under any circumstance and why?

MICHELLE: As much as I’m in love with my hero, Gabriel, a half-angel/half-incubus demon, I’d probably choose my heroine Rachel. She’s strong, a survivor, and shares enough of me (surprise, surprise) that I could relate to her. Second runner up would be her Fae bodyguard Tarn. Tarn is a tease and the life of the party, but has a hidden serious side that comes out unexpectedly. He’s pretty mysterious, even to me, with a past that has yet to be explained. I would never want to meet the dragon Matriarch, referred to as the Eemah in my story. She’s powerful, scary, vindictive and unfortunately short sighted. A bad combination. I find this hilarious since before I referenced my preference for becoming a shape shifting dragon if I had to choose one type of creature. Thankfully, my story has a very sweet, sexy and heart wrenching character named Qest who is also a dragon. He’s my heroine’s half-brother and very appealing.

Thank you so much for having me today. I really enjoyed the visit.


GRACEN: Thanks for joining us today, Michelle. It is a pleasure having you join us and interesting to learn more about you and your writing.


~~~~~




BLURB FOR RULING EDEN:

What if a modern woman suddenly learns she is heir to the throne of a magical realm hidden in our world and is the most powerful magical being on the planet? Growing up an orphan, Rachel always assumed she’d be going it alone, until the night before her twenty-fifth birthday when she was thrust into the realm of Eden's Court.

Her new job description? Unite seven contentious magical races in order to prevent the destruction of earth. But learning to rule is easier than facing her attraction to Gabriel, half-angel, half-demon. Born of a forbidden love between mortal enemies, Gabriel is convinced he is a political liability to Rachel. Once Rachel stops denying their chemistry, she must convince him to pursue their love. Although Gabriel is willing to help her solve a murder, avert a war, and learn to use her overwhelming magic, accepting their destiny together is another matter.


EXCERPT FROM RULING EDEN:

By Michelle Picard

The portal dumped us in the middle of a playground: chipped paint on the metal struts of the swing set, a jungle gym missing several key monkey bars, and a dilapidated rusty slide ending in a mud puddle. We’d opted to head straight for L’Etrange after visiting Kemuel, but I wasn’t expecting this.

The gate to this outdated tot-lot from Hell swung back and forth in the desultory wind. The place was deserted. With early fall in the air, I shivered, wrapped my arms tightly around myself, and looked beyond the gate to empty streets of 1950’s middle-American suburbia. Cookie-cutter houses with colors such as overripe avocado, rust orange, and uninspired brown dotted the street. The homes featured exposed carports and aluminum siding. The fifties won my vote for most unattractive architecture. What were people thinking?

Gabriel, Tarn, and Sebastian examined the play area with confused faces, as if trying to place the use for this run down bunch of metal and plastic.

My eyes refocused on the rusting playground. “L’Etrange is nothing like I pictured it.”

Gabriel looked around the streets, appearing resigned. His sigh was unusually angst-filled. “Satan has redecorated. The last time I visited his taste ran to Bourbon Street in New Orleans during a perpetual Mardi Gras. But I was here a quarter-century ago.” He shrugged at the view. “I imagine the middle-class suburban theme struck him as humorous in some way. He claims he makes social commentary on Achra culture with his choices each time he rebuilds L’Etrange.”

Satan sounded twisted.

Before we came, Tarn had rubbed his hands together in anticipation of our visit, and informed me that few, if any, non-demons were welcomed in L’Etrange. Tarn had anticipated his glimpse of the place. He’d have to live with the disappointment. Frankly, I was too wound up to give my own disillusionment more than passing notice. Desperation to solve the murder plucked at my last nerve.

My fae guard grabbed at one of the swings hanging askew on its chains and pushed it into movement, gesturing out into the streets with his hand. “The crescendo,” he chastised Gabriel, “after such a build-up leaves much to be desired, my friend.”

Gabriel shrugged again, and headed for the gate out of the playground.

“So, if the layout’s new,” I trailed Gabriel, sounding snarky to my ears, “how do we find Satan?”

He walked toward the nearest house, examined the black cookie cutter mailbox sticking out of the sparse grass edging the street, and continued on to the next, calling over his shoulder, “Check the names on the mailboxes.”

I rolled my eyes, but I crossed the street to start inspecting the other houses. Tarn and Sebastian followed me, weapons drawn. They didn’t bother reading the names on the boxes, leaving the pleasure to me. The names, things like Rod Serling, Jack the Ripper, Marilyn Monroe, and, my all-time favorite, Senator Joseph McCarthy, lent a psychotic element to the already disturbing nature of the neighborhood. Finally, I hit pay dirt: a mailbox painted with a large scarlet S.

“Gabriel,” I yelled across the street. He jogged over to my find and examined the box. “What do you think?”

We walked up the concrete path to an uninspired split level with tan aluminum siding and teal green trim. The doorbell, also teal, was surrounded by a decorative metal plate backdrop of a dog with three heads. Cerberus. How original.

Gabriel hesitated and turned to me. During our past diplomatic visits, I’d taken the lead by this point. Now, I saw shades of struggle shadow his face. “Rachel, will you allow me to ring the bell? Satan, he is… moody, and I prefer to test the waters.”

The entire Kesayim leadership needed a prescription for Prozac. I wished I’d had time for a briefing on this place before we trucked it over here, but Gabriel rarely asked for much. I trusted his judgment. The trust began to feel familiar, crowding out years of suspicion and doubt. At least with Gabriel, Tarn and Sebastian. “Go ahead,” I replied with forced casualness.

He rang the bell and the tune to the Addam’s Family pealed out from behind the door. Several heartbeats later, the door opened and a stunning dark-haired woman with the requisite glowing red eyes answered. She was wearing a mint-green sweater set and a straight calf-length khaki skirt. A string of pearls, with earrings to match, set off the outfit. Very traditional, very modest.

She was the farthest thing from it.

She hadn’t opened her mouth at this point, yet her body reeked of fuck-me-now. I inhaled, shocked by my reaction to her pull. Tarn and Sebastian crowded me from behind, stepping closer to the woman, eyes glazed as if not quite in control of themselves. It took me a moment, but I finally got it. Succubus. Heterosexual as I was, even I could imagine happily following this woman to bed. And I was supposedly immune to her?

She smiled. I imagined cutting the threads of attraction between us and my magic obliged and shut me off from her allure. I reinforced my shields to further dim her glow, elbowing Tarn and Sebastian with both arms to break her spell and move back further from her. I willed my shields to extend to the two of them, a new trick but one that might come in handy.

“Gabriel, what a treat.” The woman’s voice reverberated pure candy, her attention all for Gabriel as she purred. She stepped out on spiky heels and leaned down to present her cheek for a kiss. “Give your Aunt Niiki a kiss hello and tell me what brings you here to visit after all this time.”

I scowled. Jealous, me?

Gabriel, looking like he faced a helping of castor oil, hesitated, gritted his teeth, and leaned in to kiss his “aunt.” She sighed after the contact. It was only the cheek for pity’s sake. Niiki was not gaining points with me.

She gave him a Shirley Temple frown, and waved a manicured finger at him. “I should be angry with you for avoiding us so long. Your Uncle Coale will never forgive me if I do not drag you back to our home.” Dramatically, she softened her features into an indulgent smile and gave a second sigh. “But you were always my favorite nephew. I cannot stay mad at you.”

Gabriel clenched his right fist at his side. “I am your only nephew, Niiki. And I am here to visit Satan. I will be unable to attend Coale. You may send him my regards.”

She chuckled and clucked her tongue. “So serious. Have you never learned to play?” She looked beyond him, a coy smile on her lips. “And me with a prior engagement, just when you brought home some little friends.” She returned her predatory gaze to Gabriel. “Do they play better than you, my dear? But no matter, it is daring to bring foreigners to L’Etrange. They will be entertaining, regardless. And finally bringing a female home to meet your family--”

Gabriel made a chopping motion with one hand, his voice raised. “Niiki, stop it! You well know this is our Mother Heir. Show respect.”

Niiki raised an eyebrow. “Our Mother Heir?” Mock surprise on her face, she looked directly at me. “Do you belong to us? How nice. Perhaps we can display you in the china cabinet next to the Wedgwood soup tureen.”

Gabriel scowled. How easily this woman knotted his spine. He hadn’t lost it like this visiting the angels’ realm. I stepped to Gabriel’s side and offered my hand to Niiki, keeping fangs in. “Niiki, how lovely to meet you.”

She glanced at my hand for a moment, looking repulsed, hesitated, but took it and gave a tepid shake. “Of course…my lady,” she replied, honey-voiced. “I am only too sorry I must run just as you arrive. But I am sure Satan will be thrilled to host you, ruler of Eden and all.”

She turned back to Gabriel, dismissing me. “You are in luck. Your Uncle Satan is cooking today, so he is in a good mood. Now, give your Aunt Niiki a kiss goodbye and promise to come back for another visit soon. I will make some excuse to Coale, but he will pout for weeks knowing he missed you.”

Somehow, I doubted that. Gabriel grudgingly gave her another peck on the cheek and she patted his head before swaying down the steps and sauntering out to the street. Tarn and Sebastian scrambled to get out of her way, although she attempted to rub her body against each of them as she passed.

What odd L’Etrange had politics made him agree to kiss this woman whom he so clearly despised? Twice.

Tarn’s whistle after she left was long and exaggerated.

I turned to Gabriel. “Your aunt?” Catty much, Rachel?

He answered, raising his eyebrows at my tone. “By marriage…to Coale.”

“Satan’s your Uncle?” Sebastian asked.

“No. Niiki is his sister. She likes to make trouble.”

I couldn’t help myself. “I noticed.”

Gabriel glared at me. I shrugged and turned toward the open front door. He grabbed my arm. “Be careful. Of all of the realms, only here am I frightened for you.” His grasp tightened around my arm as he spoke. “No matter how jaded, even Solinthe cares about the Kesayim compared to Satan. Demons care only for their piece of Lillith’s mandate, and even that they interpret to their taste.”

“I’ll be careful,” I reassured.

“No.” He jerked his head in disagreement. “More than careful. Satan has no allegiance to Eden’s Court or the Mother Heir. He sends an envoy to council because it amuses him.”

My laugh sounded hollow. “Well, no surprise there.”

“Satan is a Mortnoire demon,” Gabriel continued. “He incites the chaos of battle, blood and death and feeds off the energy.”

A swirling blackness invaded my guard’s eyes. He wanted me to feel his fear. But, I was tired of my own, and tried to push this newest warning to the side. Maybe a shortsighted attitude, but what did Gabriel want from me? I pulled hard enough for him to release my arm. Voice snarly, I tapped my right foot on the ground repetitively. “Do I go in or don’t I?”

His jumbled look of worry, caring, and anger sliced regret through my gut. I softened. “Look, demons are center stage of the mess back at Eden’s Court. If Satan’s left the sidelines to do more than cheer for the possibility of war, I need to know.” I reached my hand to touch his, a light caress lasting a breath.

His brow relaxed and he nodded, turning away from me, avoiding my eyes and hiding his own. “We go in.” He gestured Tarn and Sebastian to my side and stepped into the house.


Buy link: http://crescentmoonpress.com/books/RulingEden.html

4 Moonbeams (comments):

Michelle Picard said...

Gracen, thanks for having me today. If anyone wants to check out more about me or my book, RULING EDEN, they can visit http://michellepicard.com or my publisher's website at http://crescentmoonpress.com. Hope everyone has an easy Sunday.

Penelope said...

Michelle, I'm glad you got a Nook so we can commiserate together about our upcoming e-reader addiction. Here's a good resolution....read as many books as possible on my new Nook! How about that one?

Great interview. Happy New Year Gracen and Michelle!

Gracen Miller said...

Hi, Michelle! I am sooooo sorry I forgot to put your buy link in the blog, especially AFTER I asked for it and you sent it to me. My mother showed up by surprise Friday afternoon, so I haven't even been on my computer again until just now.

I have added the links into the blog and have promoted the blog on a few sites. And I'll promote it at Paranormal Monday tomorrow, so hopefully, you'll get some more feedback!

I really enjoyed your blog and enjoyed working with you! Love the concept of this story and the excerpt shows the story is well-written. This novel has officially hit my TBR list!

Best of luck!

~huggles~
Gracen

Erika Gilbert said...

Hi Michelle, wow, Gabriel the half angel half incubus demons sound very intriguing!