Hi Tillie and welcome to Under the Covers!
Since this is your first time here, we would love to get you know a little better. Tell us 5 things about yourself that others wouldn’t necessarily know.
1) I can sing. I was trained in musical theatre and dance. I always thought my career would be down this path—it’s funny how things change!
2) I can ride a mechanical bull with no hands and not be thrown off! Don’t ask how this was discovered!!! 😉
3) I trained as a make up artist part time while I was at university. I just love being creative.
4) I have lived in 5 countries: England, Scotland, Italy, Canada and the US. Italy was my favourite (I’m English and half Scottish so these two countries are home to me—not quite exotic!).
5) My husband was a professional rugby player for 11 years. Yes, I was a VERY dedicated WAG for a VERY long time!
RAVAGE is the third book in the Scarred Souls series. Now, I am so intrigued about this story because of its originality. Can you share your inspiration for it?
All the books in the Scarred Souls Series are extremely unique. Each male lead has a place in the novel’s underground Gulag system. With each book we explore another part of this strange and complex—almost dystopian—world. For RAVAGE, I wanted a much darker male lead than we had seen in the previous two books. A male that is much more aware of his actions, rather than one who has been drugged into submission by the mafia/organization that controls him. Believe it or not, I took inspiration from Beauty & The Beast. It sounds strange that a Disney film would be my inspiration, but it’s true. The themes in this tale are quite sinister if studied close enough! 😉
In RAVAGE, although 194 is very messed up and rough, he also has a reason to obey his wicked master—they hold someone very dear to his heart as a captive. They hurt her to control him and use his size and strength as a tool for their wrongdoings and sick pleasures. This treatment eventually makes him cold and unfeeling—it is at this point in his life where we meet him. Zoya, the female protagonist, is at first his victim, then she quickly becomes his beacon of light. She makes him believe in good again when he has lost all hope in humanity. RAVAGE is a very dark and Sadistic take on an age old theme—triumph of good over evil, and love over pain.
How did you come up with these unique characters? Did you have any visual inspirations you could share? Also, what do you hope readers love about them?
The characters came to me not through models or actor muses, rather through historic topics and themes I knew. We met the female lead as a young child in REAP and I based her on the legend of Anastasia Romanov. In the same way Anastasia’s body wasn’t found with her family’s after the Russian Tsars were killed in the early 1900’s, our female lead was also missing, presumed dead in REAP… or so we thought.
As for 194, again, I pictured him as a modern day beast (Beauty & the Beast)—mainly his gruff personality and his belief that he was hideous to look at and his life was not his own, almost cursed. From there, developing his character was easy, his persona just spilled from my mind onto the page. I have no real-life muses that inspired the look of the characters, just what my mind imagined. And 194 is EXTREMELY difficult to cast—you will understand what I mean when you read RAVAGE!
As for what I hope the reader will love about this novel… I hope that they fall in love with this couple, and the bond they manage to forge in a desperate and hopeless situation. It is a brutal and harsh story, I’m not going to lie or sugarcoat that. 194 is a difficult male to initially love as he is so dark and unforgiving to our leading lady. But we find that there is a heart-breaking reason for why he is so aggressive and dark, one that will tug on the heart strings and make you fall for this very troubled and difficult man. Love is blind, but hope is real. Zoya and 194 demonstrate that even in the most awful of times, solace can be found through another kindred spirit.
A lot of people would categorize this as a dark romance. What was the biggest obstacle you faced while writing this book?
The obstacles are always many when writing a dark romance—I have discovered this in great detail over the past couple of years. The themes and the harshness of the book’s content always walks a fine line for any reader. I always aim to push my readers to the brink, almost to more than they can take—emotionally and mentally—but then I pull them back to safety and happiness by the end. The Scarred Souls series and, especially RAVAGE, are no different. This book will test you, push your boundaries, but ultimately, make your heart beat with such intense love for the main couple and the other characters we have all grown to adore that you will love it. It’s a rollercoaster of a ride, that’s or sure!
Because of the explicit and often-taboo nature of this niche dark romance genre, I think the hardest thing about it, is not writing it, but convincing those who don’t already read it to jump in and give it a go. However, I’m a firm believer that once you embrace the dark, you’ll be hooked!
Bad boys ALWAYS do it better! 😉
It’s not a shocker that you write deep and sometimes heartbreaking books. What has been the hardest book to write for you and why?
A Thousand Boy Kisses was probably the hardest book I have ever written. It was a tearjerker Young Adult book that I released earlier this year. The subject matter in that book was very dear to my heart. Almost all of the tough and emotional scenes were based on tragic and extremely difficult times my family has gone through in the past few years. For that reason, it was very painful to write, but it was also very cathartic. It pushed me like no other book ever has, but I adore the end result. It’s one of my favourite books to date.
We would love to know what you have been reading and loving lately.
I haven’t had a huge chance to read lately (too busy writing!), but I’m obsessed with YA books and PNR. I’m about to delve into Born Sinner by SL Jennings. She never disappoints in the PNR category! And I always make it a point to read my two most favourite books in the world at least twice a year. Pride and Prejudice and Wuthering Heights will be re-read again VERY soon! I just love Heathcliff and Darcy, they are the perfect men to me—one dark and messed up, one moody but good… their hybrid character would be spectacular!
What’s your favorite way to celebrate a release day?
My favourite way to celebrate a release day is to interact with my readers as much as possible on social media. I adore my readers, they are my best friends and I love seeing what they think of my newest work and adore reading their reactions to the plot twists and characters. I do get crazy nervous when I release a book, so it’s always good to have a bottle of Prosecco nearby for a cheeky tipple, you know, just to settle those jitters! 😉
What are five things you can’t leave home without?
I can never leave home without my iPhone, my Kindle, a good lipgloss, my concealer, and mascara—what can I say? I’m an extreme reading make up junkie!!!!
What’s next for Tillie Cole?
Right now, I’m working on a couple of new projects. One will be released by the end of the year—a standalone Contemporary romance that is just so so beautiful and heart-wrenching to read—very different for me. The other is an angsty YA trilogy. Not sure when that will be released, but I’m having great fun writing it! After those two are done, I’ll be jumping back in with another Dark Romance—I can’t help it, my blood runs thick with all things dark and screwed up!!!
Thanks so much for sharing with us today!
No, thank you!
Available August 16, 2016!
by Tillie Cole
Released: August 16th 2016
Series: Scarred Souls #3
Published by St. Martin's Griffin
Taken by the Jakhua Clan as a teen, 194 was stripped of his name, his identity, and his freewill, meticulously honed to be a ruthless, soulless killing machine, trained solely to spill blood and stop hearts. This is a role he resents with every fiber of his being, but one he embraces to gain back the precious leverage the Georgians wield as their weapon of control: his younger sister, 152.
Mzia Kostava is in shock. After fleeing her mafia family's massacre in Georgia as a child, Mzia lives in secret, hiding from her enemies in the dark shadows of Manhattan. At age twenty-five, believing all her family is dead, word reaches Mzia that her brother Zaal is very much alive... and living with their family's greatest enemy: the Volkov Bratva in Brooklyn.
Yearning to be reunited with her beloved Zaal, Mzia risks her safety and anonymity for the brother she had mourned since childhood. But just as she reaches Zaal's apartment, Mzia is seized and taken captive by a strange man, who is strong, dark, and brutal... Unyielding, he demands her utter obedience as he locks her away in darkness. He is highly skilled in torture and inflicting pain, and demands to know everything about her brother Zaal and everything about her. He is a man that'll do anything to get what he wants.
Sometimes love requires the sacrifice and betrayal of those held most dear. But is finding one's true love worth committing the greatest sacrifice of all?
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