INTERVIEW WITH SHANNON MAYER
Welcome to Under the Covers Book Blog, Shannon! We are thrilled to have you here today to talk about your new book VENOM & VANILLA. This book is set in Seattle under a particular set of rules for this world that are very interesting! Tell us why you chose this location and why it works for the book.
I love the pacific northwest, and as I live just north of the border, felt like I could do the locale, weather and settings of the book justice.
We love supernatural stories and your character is something unique, that we don’t see often. What can you tell us about Alena without giving away too much?
If you have read any of my other books you will know that writing typical supernatural characters isn’t my style. In all the reading I’ve done, I’ve not seen a heroine like Alena. In fact her transformation would be something more akin to a villain that one of the good guys. And I think that was what was the most fun about writing her and creating her character. She really should have been one of the bad guys with her size, fangs, and abilities, but she isn’t 🙂
What was the most fun part of writing this book?
The characters are always the most fun of any book for me, their dialogue and interactions will at times make even me laugh. Ernie and Remo were two of my favourites. Ernie for his sass, and Remo because I had never intended for him to turn out to be the love interest and yet he just pushed his way into Alena’s life.
Do you have a favorite quote or scene that you can share without being spoilers?
This is the scene where Alena is in the hospital, dying, and Merlin–a rather cheeky warlock–appears with a proposition.
He stepped away from Dahlia’s bed as he spoke. There was nowhere for me to go, nowhere for me to get away.
So I closed my eyes.
A laugh burst out of him. “Oh, goddess, bang me, baby. She closed her eyes. Does she think I’m a bogeyman?”
Dahlia sighed. “Merlin. I said to leave her alone.”
“In a minute. I’m enjoying myself.”
My bed creaked as he leaned his weight onto the edge and I squeaked, “Go away.”
“Tell me your name.”
“The devil needs a name to call you by, and I’m not giving you mine.”
His laugh was deeper this time, darker if that was possible, and the tone in it made me shiver. “I’m not the devil. I’ve met him, mind you. He really is an ass, but hardly anyone to worry about.”
I couldn’t help it; my eyes flew open. Merlin’s face was only a few inches from mine. “You have not met Lucifer.”
His lips twitched. “It really wasn’t all that memorable. He’s quite the sloth. Lazing about in bed, eating, belching, telling terrible jokes and expecting people to laugh. Boring as . . . well, hell.”
He winked as though I wouldn’t get his stupid joke without his prompt.
I pushed myself further into my bed, close enough to the far edge that another inch and I’d fall out. “Why aren’t you going away again? I don’t have money, and I’m not interested in whatever it is you’re hawking.”
Merlin tipped his head to one side and his eyes narrowed ever so slightly. “You are human. You’re dying. Yet you’re more afraid of me than death. That’s rare. It’s intriguing.”
“I don’t want to intrigue you.”
He shrugged and backed off the bed. “Too late . . . Alena.”
“You told him my name!” I snapped.
“I didn’t,” Dahlia breathed, “I swear I didn’t. I knew he was the real deal. I knew it.”
My charts, he had to have read it from my charts. Except I knew my charts were at the nursing station under lock and key. Everyone who contracted the Aegrus virus had his or her information kept that way.
“Dahlia, you have your price. Can you afford it?” He didn’t look at her, but instead continued to stare at my face.
She chewed her lower lip. “Is there anything . . . cheaper?”
Merlin blew out a low grunt. “You said you didn’t want to howl at the moon every month.”
“That’s the only cheaper option.”
Good God. Understanding hit me like a frying pan to the back of the skull. “You’re going to turn her into a Super Duper?”
Dahlia choked on a laugh as Merlin slowly turned to face me once more. “I’m sorry, what?”
I wasn’t sure I had the blood flow for my face to burn red with embarrassment, but it sure felt like it. “I mean, that’s what . . . we call—”
“You call supernaturals”—he paused, closed his eyes, and pinched the bridge of his nose—“Super . . . Dupers?”
He was going to kill me. I knew it without a shadow of a doubt. He was going to strike me down with his fearsome rage—
Merlin clapped his hands together and let out a laugh that echoed in the room. Not like his earlier laugh; this one was full-bellied, like he couldn’t control himself. Tears streamed down his face as he roared. I looked across at Dahlia. Her eyes were wide and she shrugged. “At least he didn’t kill us.”
“He hasn’t left yet,” I pointed out.
She grimaced. “If he kills us, he can’t get paid, now can he?”
Slowly in tiny increments he got control of himself. He brushed his hands over his face. “Good goddess, I have not laughed like that in decades.”
Decades? Just how old was he? Not more than thirty by the looks of it.
He pointed a finger at me and I flinched. “Alena, you stay there. We’re going to speak more in a minute.”
Ridiculousness. “Just where am I supposed to go, exactly?”
“Don’t die. We have business, you and I.”
I swallowed hard but didn’t move. Business I understood all too well. That he thought I had any with him was more than a little unnerving. I braced myself; if there was one thing I was good at, it was business. There was no way he could outbusiness me.
Not that there was any way I was doing any such thing with him.
Are you a fan of cliffhangers? Explain why or why not?
Both reading and writing I love a solid cliffhanger. I don’t have many in my books (Except for my Nevermore series which I have a warning on LOL). Most of my books are set up at the end for the next in the series, so they have what are called hooks. Often readers mistake a hook–a strong pull into the following book that is separate from the resolution in the current one–as a cliffhanger. I do this because again, I love a story or series that just won’t let me go.
Do you have a specific writing ritual that gets you in the right headspace for each book?
A good cup of chai tea latte, and my bose headphones and I’m good to go.
This is our paranormal week and as a writer of the genre, what was it about that was the immediate draw to write it?
I think that the draw to magic of any kind is the need to believe that there is more to this world than what we can see. That the ordinary can be extraordinary and we can have the kind of adventures that in the past we’ve only read about.
What are some of your favorite paranormal authors/books?
Oh man, that’s always tough! I’m just going to fire through this, I’ll leave it to you to do some links to the authors websites, because honestly these are awesome reads all around. Brandon Sanderson, Patricia Briggs, Kim Harrison, Jacqueline Carey, Denise Grover Swank, Melissa Olson, KF Breene, Karpov Kinrade . . . seriously I could go on and on!
What are you working on next?
Currently I am working on the seventh book in my Elemental Series. This particular series follows Larkspur, an earth elemental who is the bastard child of the king of her people, as she choses to become one of the elite guards of her world. Really, I have a ton of fun with her, she’s a very complex character.
Released: November 1st 2016
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Series: The Venom Trilogy #1
Successful Seattle baker Alena Budrene doesn’t want to die. But when she’s infected with a lethal virus spread by supernatural beings, her only chance for recovery is to make a deal with the devil—or in this case, a warlock.
Though he saves her life, it looks nothing like the life she once knew—and neither does she. Alena is a new breed of “Supe” no one has ever seen before. Even the supernatural police don’t know what she is. Now exiled to the northern side of the Wall, which marks the divide between humans and Supes, Alena is thrust into a dark and magical new world.
But just as she begins to adjust to all things supernatural, she realizes that her transformation is the least of her worries—and it was no accident. She was chosen…to be killed by a Greek hero trying to make a name for himself once more.
Alena was brought up to be subservient, preferring creating to fighting, and vanilla and honey to blood. But that was then. Now, to survive, she must stand up for herself—and this time she’s got fangs. But will she be ready to use them?