It isn’t a big surprise that THE DARKEST WARRIOR was one of our most anticipated reads of 2018. Gena Showalter has been a staple favorite author here at Under the Covers since we very first started this blog (and way before). This series is always on our must read paranormal romance recommendations and we couldn’t wait to read the latest installment with one of our most anticipated characters.
We had a chance to chat with Gena about this release. Help us give her a warm welcome and see what she had to say.
UTC: Welcome back to Under the Covers, Gena! We’re so excited for THE DARKEST WARRIOR! Since we’re big fans of the series, we would love to know what makes this particular book so special to you.
GS: Thank you so much for having me.
What made THE DARKEST WARRIOR special to me is the same thing that made it a pain in my backside 😉 But first, a little backstory! For years I used secondary storylines in different books to prepare two characters for their own story (William and Gillian.) But, when it came time to write their happily ever after, the scenes that rolled around in my head had nothing to do with forever and everything to do with letting go of a first love and finding lasting love. The decision to separate them agonized me, but I did it. My only intention was to write the best book I possibly could. Now, reader favorite character William is in a place where he’s ready to love and be loved. (Or in a place where he’s ready for me to get him ready.)
UTC: Gillian is a beloved character of the series. What was your favorite thing about her before writing this book, and how about during/after?
GS: My husband has talked publicly about some of the abuses he suffered as a child, and it is heartbreaking, devastating, and a real eye-opener to the absolute evil in the world. I think that is why Gillian is a character very close to my heart. Horribly abused as a child, she is doing everything in her power to build a new and happy life. I loved watching her bloom into a warrior queen who fights for women and children.
UTC: What would you say was the biggest challenge in writing this book?
GS: Oh, man, were there challenges while writing this book! Many, many, many. But I’ll stick with three.
The first hurdle: When I wrote the original proposal for THE DARKEST WARRIOR—the first three chapters—I started where the last scene with Gillian and Puck had left off in THE DARKEST TORMENT. They were married, and his lies were being exposed. But after my editor read those original chapters, we had a long heart to heart about how I’d started in the wrong place, and why. (If I delve into those reasons, we’ll have another book on our hands.) So I went back and pulled all the scenes I’d written between Gillian and Puck-scenes written only from Gillian’s point of view. I had to pick which ones to rewrite from Puck’s point of view in order to make THE DARKEST WARRIOR a complete book on its own, without relying on another book.
But I don’t want people to think the book is recycled material. THE DARKEST WARRIOR is the longest book I’ve ever written. None of the scene are repeats. Anything from Torment is rewritten from a different point of view. Also, most of my books come in at a little over 100k words. A few have come in at 120k. This one is over 130k because I didn’t want the scenes rewritten from Puck’s POV to take away from the new material.
Second hurdle: The age difference. Time had to pass, without taking up a good portion of the book, because so much had to happen.
Third hurdle: Giving Gillian and William a proper goodbye scene without infringing on her feelings for Puck.
UTC: Please tell us more about Puck!
GS: He is possessed by the demon of Indifference. If he lets himself feel an emotion, any emotion, he is punished, his strength wiped out for days. Fighting his desire for Gillian is the hardest thing he’s ever done (yeah, I went there.) He is determined to rule his realm as the rightful king, but first he has to kill his brother…which means teaming up with William the Ever Randy. He is alpha, tattooed, horned, stubborn, and dang it, sexy. Not many characters can go head to head with William, but Puck did it and made me smile in the process.
UTC: There are many fans that wanted a different HEA than this one. How heavy did that weigh on you while making the decision of this HEA and was it something you were struggling with for a while or something that came up along the way?
GS: When I sat down to write THE DARKEST WARRIOR, my only intention was to write the best possible book I could. I had planned to pair Gillian, the heroine, with William, a reader-favorite. Like I said, I’d set it up. The story was ready to go. But in the end, I struggled to reconcile a happily ever after with the things William had done—sleeping with a ton of other women even though he’d thought he’d found his future mate, and not bonding with Gillian when he knew it was the only way to save her life. After everything Gillian had been through, I wanted to give her someone who would put her first. (Well, maybe not at first—Puck had some growing to do, too.) I wanted her to be with a man who would give up anything to be with her, and I realized Puck—who’d faced his own traumas—could get there. But it was difficult. Oh, it was difficult. I agonized over it. Ultimately, I had to go with the story taking shape in my head, and not try to force one that wasn’t.
UTC: This series has grown so much over the years. Did you ever have such a big scope for it when you started writing it? How has your writing experience changed over the years with each book?
GS: When I sat down to write the first book in the Lords of the Underworld series, THE DARKEST NIGHT, I had a rough idea of what I wanted to happen in it. I wasn’t sure who would come next, or how the overarching plot would go. Not really. Then and now, I let the characters drive the series, one story at a time.
UTC: As an author that writes across many genres, do you ever feel like you miss writing a certain style of book when you have commitments for another? And if so, how do you deal with that?
GS: I tend to immerse myself in whatever book I’m writing, leaving zero room for other books. However, when I finish writing a rough draft and start thinking about contract deadlines and what has to come next versus what I’d like to write next…yeah, I can miss a certain genre. But I keep a journal of every snippet of conversation, character trait, and plot twist that hits me. When I catch up on deadlines, I work on the pet project as a reward.
UTC: What are 3 things (non-book related) that you are currently loving?
GS: My dogs, cosmic brownies, and paintings by Elaine Cory. (Her art is gorgeous, whimsical, and her choice of colors makes my heart happy.)
UTC: You have a new series starting later this year! What can you tell us about it?
GS: The Gods of War introduces a new crop of immortal alpha warriors, as well as the All Wars—a battle for new realms, where the winner takes everything and all losers die. In Viking times, the battle for Earth kicks off… the entire world is a battlefield as these men and women with powers beyond imagining fight for the right to rule the planet…and fall in love along the way. But the combatants are frozen and forgotten for centuries. Fast forward to modern times, when a modern woman stumbles upon their icy prison, and the warriors finally escape…
I had so much fun writing book one! I am over the moon excited for this new series, and I cannot wait to share SHADOW AND ICE with readers.
UTC: What are you currently working on?
GS: I am currently writing THE DARKEST CAPTIVE rough draft. This story features Galen, keeper of False Hope and Jealousy—total villain–and Legion, the woman who gifted him with her virginity…before trying to murder him. Every couple has their problems, right? He’s obsessed with her and I’m loving it LOL
UTC: Thanks so much for sharing with us today!
GS: Thank you for having me. 😉
by Gena Showalter
Released: June 26, 2018
Series: Lords of the Underworld #14
Published by Harlequin HQN
A searing Lords of the Underworld tale by New York Times bestselling author Gena Showalter, featuring a beastly prince and the wife he will wage war to keep.
He is ice...
Puck the Undefeated, host of the demon of Indifference, cannot experience emotion without punishment, so he allows himself to feel nothing. Until her. According to ancient prophecy, she is the key to avenging his past, saving his realm, and ruling as king. All he must do? Steal her from the man she loves—and marry her.
She is fire...
Gillian Shaw has suffered many tragedies in her too-short life, but nothing could have prepared the fragile human for her transition into immortality. To survive, she must wed a horned monster who both intrigues and frightens her...and become the warrior queen she was born to be.
Together they burn.
As a rising sense of possession and obsession overtake Puck, so does insatiable lust. The more he learns about his clever, resourceful wife, the more he craves her. And the more time Gillian spends with her protective husband, the more she aches for him. But the prophecy also predicts an unhappily ever after. Can Puck defeat fate itself to keep the woman who brought his deadened heart back to life? Or will they succumb to destiny, losing each other…and everything they’ve been fighting for?
Gena Showalter is graciously giving away
Signed copy of The Darkest Warrior
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