One of the best parts about having a book blog is getting to chat with authors. Today I have an illuminating interview with Annette Marie. Plus, she’s sharing the cover for her newest, book four in the series. And if that’s not enough for you, there’s a surprise short story that just dropped, too. I love surprises!
Zen: Your popular Steel and Stone series has three installments so far, with another due out in the fall. How many books do you expect to release in this series?
Annette Marie: I’m expecting five full-length novels in the series. I also just released a short story addition, Feed the Flames, which features Seiya and Lyre. I hope readers enjoy the change of narrator, the peek into another character’s head, and an extra dose of the Steel & Stone world while waiting for Reap the Shadows.
Zen: Can you give us a teaser for book 4?
Annette Marie: Some readers were concerned about the ending of Yield the Night – what will happen between Piper and Ash now? I can say that Ash is not the kind of guy to take a seat on the sidelines, and he definitely won’t be happy about being left behind. Piper will have her work cut out for her if she wants to stick to the decision she made at the end of Book 3.
Zen: Do you have plans other books or series?
Annette Marie: I have no shortage of ideas and some new projects already in the works, but I haven’t made any decisions on what will follow the conclusion of Piper’s adventures. There is so much potential in the Steel & Stone world, so many stories yet to be told, that I don’t want to put the series to bed after only five books. However, I have tons of ideas for new worlds and new characters that I’m dying to explore.
Zen: The cover art of Chase the Dark first got my attention. Since you’re the artist of your own covers, can you tell us how you came up with the design concept?
Annette Marie: While writing Chase the Dark, I got a bad case of writer’s block. To try to break out of it, I decided to make a desktop wallpaper to inspire me. That was when I created the original image, which I loved—the gritty moodiness of the artwork fit Chase the Dark perfectly. I later converted it into a book cover because it was just too perfect not to use.
Zen: What advice do you have for authors considering the artwork for their own books?
Annette Marie: It’s very important that the cover artwork properly conveys the genre of the book. As a reader, when I’m browsing for a new book, I look for covers with a sense of familiarity, especially when I’m in the mood for a particular genre. I’m usually drawn to books that clearly look like my type of read, and as an author, it can make all the difference to have a cover that draws in the right readers for that story.
Zen: What’s the last book you read and really loved?
Annette Marie: The last series I read and loved was the Iron Druid Chronicles by Kevin Hearne. I made it through the first five before I had to buckle down and write the next Steel & Stone book, and I particularly loved the rich world-building and the fascinating history and mythology in the books. Also, the main character was fantastically entertaining and—one of my big personal preferences—he could consistently and gratifyingly kick butt!
Zen: Books we read in our early years have a tendency to frame our literary taste. What were your favorites as a kid and as a teen?
Annette Marie: As a kid, I read Nancy Drew mysteries—from these I learned young heroines really do seem to faint an awful lot despite being completely healthy. I then graduated to Sweet Valley High books, mainly because they were abundant in my school library. I’m not sure what I learned from those, except that fictional high school is nothing like the real thing. As a teen, I finally discovered fantasy, starting with David Edding’s The Belgariad. And it was from that series that I learned I love books with action, adventure, and fascinating worlds a lot more than high school drama.
Zen: If you find yourself with a few hours of leisure time, what do you do with it (besides books)?
Annette Marie: I usually indulge in whatever artwork strikes my fancy, be it drawing, digital art, cover art for imaginary books, even sculpting (usually dragons). I also like to take naps—nothing like lazing around knowing I have no tasks or deadlines for an entire afternoon.
Zen: Where do you draw writing inspiration from? What revs you up and gets you creating?
Annette Marie: Music is a huge source of inspiration for me. The perfect song for an upcoming scene can fire me up for hours of writing. I also love to watch fantasy movies and anime to really get the creative juices flowing.
Zen: Piper is a dynamic young character. What do you think she’d choose for a career if she lived in our world?
Annette Marie: My first thought was a police officer, but then I realized that the authority aspect of being a Consul is not what really draws Piper to that career. She loves making a difference in the world—the more challenging the better—so I actually see her more as a relief worker, travelling to struggling countries to bring aid to the people there. She would love the adventure, the opportunities to make a difference in the lives of others, and the chance to see and experience new places and cultures.
Zen: What do you think her pastimes would be?
Annette Marie: Piper is very physical and loves adrenaline a bit too much, so I imagine she would gravitate toward sports like rock climbing, white water kayaking, or extreme snowboarding.
I like to finish up with random word association. Just say whatever comes to mind!
Stark – House. (Winter is coming…)
Monster – Ash. (From Yield the Night, “Do you know how many times I’ve been called a monster?”)
Orange – Tang. (A powdered drink mix. I don’t recommend it.)
Flower – Power!
Sturdy – Boots. (Everyone should have a pair of sturdy boots!)
Blood – Red.
Piper is feeling a bit overwhelmed. With Seiya and Lyre missing, Ash recovering from near fatal injuries, and the Gaians picking fights with daemons all over the city, a girl can’t help but think she might be in over her head. And this time, she’s on her own.
Before she even has a chance to investigate the Gaians’ new stockpile of mysterious, high-tech weaponry, an old enemy ambushes her: Samael’s henchman Raum. He wants Ash’s help and won’t take “get lost” for an answer. She doesn’t know if she can trust Raum, but even more than that, she can’t trust herself with Ash. Sooner or later he’ll catch up to her, and she fears she won’t be able to walk away from him a second time.
Despite her feelings, it will take their combined strength to face a frightening discovery about the Gaians. She and Ash begin to realize that the daemon war is coming to Earth, and they might be the only ones who can stop it—if it’s not already too late.
Seiya wants nothing more than to disappear with her brother, safe from all the enemies that would tear them apart. But now she, along with Lyre, has been taken prisoner. Separated from Ash, his fate unknown, and tormented by memories of her imprisonment in Asphodel, she must put her faith in Lyre and his carefully guarded secrets. To have any chance of escape, they’ll have to work together to find a way out—before they learn what fate their captors are planning for them.
Annette Marie wrote her first piece of fiction outside a classroom when she was fourteen. Nowadays she shudders to think of it but it got her started on the road to over one million words written in the last 12 years. Her passions in fiction haven’t changed since that first story. She loves characters with spunk, intense relationships that challenge those involved, dark and mysterious worlds, and lots of kick-butt action.
She published her début novel and the first book in the Steel & Stone series, CHASE THE DARK, on October 17, 2014. The next two books followed in January and March 2015, and the fourth book in the series, REAP THE SHADOWS, is coming this October. She plans to publish prolifically and with dedicated enthusiasm, and hopes her readers will share that enthusiasm. You can find more at www.authorannettemarie.com, including a sign up for new release alerts and exclusive giveaways!