Happy Tuesday to you! And Happy New Book Day to you, too! My lovely and talented friend, Samantha MacLeod has a nw book out, and I (because I’m all kinds of lucky) got to read an early copy of it.
It. Was. Fabulous.
As I’ve mentioned more than once, her breathtakingly lyrical stories breathe new and unexpected life into the old gods and the mortals who cross their paths. No, seriously–she’s that good.
And she’s also a good sport because she agreed to let me ask her a bunch of nosy questions. And she’s got a blurb and excerpt to share with us, today! But first, let’s be nosy…together.
When did you realize you wanted to be a writer?
Oh, I’ve always been a writer. Even before I knew how to form letters, I’d fill pages and pages of sketchbooks with crayon stick figure stories. I was a weird kid; honestly, I’m kinda surprised my parents didn’t take me to counseling.
What made you realize you wanted to write romance?
It took me a very long time to give myself permission to write. I went 13 years without writing anything longer than a grocery list because none of my ideas were Very Serious or Literary. In my late 30s I finally decided to write the kind of book I wanted to read, and to use a pen name to protect my fragile little ego. I haven’t looked back since.
Do you have any hobbies?
Baking! I’d be a lot skinnier if I ran marathons as my hobby. Instead, I bake chocolate muffins.
Do you have any bad habits?
Which of your characters would you least want to take a road trip with, and why?
King Nøkkyn is the first straight-up villain I’ve ever written, and he’d be a total dick on a road trip. He’d refuse to stop at any cute little road side attractions, and he’d force you to pump all the gas. Plus, he’d probably make a million snide, condescending comments about the state of your car.
Also, I gotta say, as much as I love Loki, a road trip with him would probably be an epically bad idea. I feel like you’d wake up on a beach in Tijuana with a warrant out for your arrest and no idea what happened to the car.
Introvert or extrovert?
Oh, such an introvert. My husband says I’d be happy living in the woods with just an internet connection. He *might* have a point…
What do you like best about writing?
That magical, magical first draft. I’m a pantser for life, and usually I feel like I’m the first person to read the story. It’s really amazing to watch it unfold on the keyboard.
What do you like least?
Line editing. I do a LOT of grading in my other jobs, so that part feels the most like work to me.
Do you have a day job in addition to writing?
Yes, yes I do. I teach online philosophy classes at a community college, and I teach English reading and writing to immigrants and asylum seekers. They’re both rather excellent gigs, but I’d like to step away from teaching so many classes (usually five a semester, sometimes six) and focus more on my writing.
What are your favorite kinds of stories to tell?
I’ve got kids – ages eight and four – and I love re-telling myths to them, especially on long car rides. I do multiple voices and everything. This backfired slightly when my daughter, at age three, told my mother how Loki was bound beneath the earth using the entrails of his own son.
Questions about the book.
You have what’s clearly a deep and abiding love for Norse mythology, and I love that you’re bringing it to an audience who may be less familiar with the Norse tale than other mythology. What’s the specific draw for you?
I wonder this myself all the time! Part of the draw, for me, is the pure strangeness of the myths. So few of the stories have survived, and the myths that are recorded in the Eddas are more like outlines than fully-fledged stories, so Norse mythology is rife with blank spaces. I feel really drawn to fill in those blank spaces. Or perhaps compelled. 😉
The Monster’s Lover is your most recent release. What can you tell us about it? How did the idea come to you?
The Monster’s Lover is the first book in my five book fantasy romance saga The Fenris Series. And the Norse myth of Fenris is such a fascinating story!
In the myths, Fenris is one of the three monster children Loki had with the giantess Angerboda. He’s a giant wolf who is first befriended by Odin’s son Tyr and then horribly imprisoned by Odin and his family. It’s a short story, but it’s packed with unspoken assumptions and really tragic betrayals.
My entire series started when I asked myself two questions about the original myth: What if Fenris had a human form as well? And what if he fell in love?
What do you like best about Fenris?
Fenris tries really hard to do the right thing. He’s brutally honest, and in a lot of important ways he just doesn’t understand people. He expects the entire world to be as forthright and trusting as himself, and that leads to tragic consequences.
What do you like best about Sol?
Sol was raised in an oppressive society. As a woman and as the daughter of former slaves, she had no rights. Yet she still has this inherent sense of justice and fairness that flares to life when she’s angry. I admire that about Sol.
What other characters in your story are you especially fond of? Why?
Well, my very favorite character shows up in the last two books of the series. If you’re a fan of my Loki series, you’ll get to see Loki, Sigyn, and their sons Nari and Vali in the fifth and final book.
In The Monster’s Lover, I have a soft spot for Sol’s mother. She’s a woman who’s faced a lot of tragedy and who’s been forced to make terrible decisions. She ended up being more interesting and complex than I’d initially imagined.
Were there any scenes that were particularly difficult to write? If so, how?
Super serious, emotional conversations are always a challenge for me. The whole Fenris series is told entirely from Sol’s point of view, so I had to depend on those conversations to reveal a lot of Fenris’s backstory and personality… and Fenris really hates to talk about himself!
What’s up next for you?
I know I say this every time, but I really am going to write something that’s NOT inspired by Norse mythology!
Now, let’s check out that cover.
Promised to cruel King Nøkkyn’s harem, Sol Eriksen is out of options, and nearly out of time.
When she meets a distractingly handsome stranger in the Ironwood Forest who claims to be a legendary monster, Sol thinks he must be a madman, or a demon. She knows she shouldn’t listen to him. Or trust him. And she should not, under any circumstances, kiss him again.
As King Nøkkyn’s grip around her tightens, Sol finds her last chance at freedom may lie with her mysterious new lover, the man who calls himself Fenris.
I closed my eyes, tilted my face toward the fading sunlight, and ran my fingers through my wet hair, carefully avoiding the sore lump on the back of my skull. The fear and shame of the day slowly melted from my body, evaporating in the thick evening light. I was safe under the trees, just like Da always said.
I can scarcely explain what made me turn.
There were no strange noises, nothing out of the ordinary. The river hissed and murmured. Birds cried from the canopy while the wind whispered to the treetops. Shadows pooled beneath the pines’ thick trunks, and the evening insects began their songs.
Still, something silent and invisible thickened the air, raising the hairs on the back of my neck. I opened my eyes and turned away from the Lucky, toward the deep forest.
He stood a pace away from me, beneath the trees. Not hiding, but not exactly visible. He was so motionless, he may as well have been made of wood himself. My heart jumped, and I grabbed a river-smooth stone in my fist before coming to my feet. If he tried to throw mud at me, I’d smash that stone into his skull.
His pale eyes blinked, and he tilted his head to the side as if trying to understand what he was seeing. My breath caught in my throat. He wore no shirt; black curls of hair scattered across the rippling muscles of his chest. His bare skin reminded me of my own nakedness, and my cheeks warmed.
“Who are you?” I demanded.
He frowned, then tilted his head to the other side.
“Are you from the village?” I asked. My voice trembled slightly as I tightened my fingers around the cool rock pressed to my palm. I’d never seen him before, but that meant little. Town people moved around like seeds on the wind.
“No.” His voice sounded odd, as though he were unused to speaking. “I am not from the village.”
My fingers relaxed around the smooth stone from the riverbank. He wasn’t one of the boys from the village, come to further torment me. Thank the stars. I glanced down at my stained, wet dress spread over the grass, then at my own exposed body. I’d never been naked in front of a stranger before. King Nøkkyn most certainly would not approve. The thought sent an unexpected ripple of heat through my core.
“I’m not decent,” I said, wrapping an arm around my breasts and cupping my free hand over the curls between my legs.
His gaze dropped, as though he were just now noticing I was completely naked. He watched me for a long time, his eyes widening as they traveled down my arms, over my legs, and along the bare contours of my hips. My skin warmed as he watched me, almost as though he were running his elegant fingers across my body, chasing away the cold of the Lucky’s waters.
“You’re quite beautiful,” he said at last when his light eyes returned to my face.
Beautiful. How many times had I heard that? Ever since I was a child, I’d been dogged by that word. I’d grown to hate it.
But, coming from his soft, full lips, the word brought me pleasure. Beautiful. It was unreasonable, but I was glad to hear he found me beautiful. My lips started to curve, and I turned away, embarrassed to have the stranger see me smile.
“Excuse me,” I said.
I bent toward the grass and let the rock slip from my fingers when I grabbed my dress. It was still wet, but I pushed it to my chest anyway, making sure the damp, stained cloth covered my breasts before I stood again.
He’d moved. The stranger was one step closer to me. I blinked, trying not to stare at the way his muscles curved and arched toward his hips. He was totally naked, and I had to force myself to tear my eyes away before they could linger between his legs.
Was he mad? Was this a demon from the fiery depths of Múspell?
He was certainly handsome enough to be a demon, with his pale eyes and high cheekbones. His hair spread over his shoulders, a dark amber like the last flash of life in a dying fire. A tiny green twig twisted in the strands. Something unexpected tightened deep inside me as the silence between us stretched taut.
Perhaps he was trying to lure me toward him, so he could grab me around the waist and drag me back to Múspell. I watched him through narrowed eyes, wondering about Múspell. How would his demon fires compare to the cold stone of King Nøkkyn’s fortress?
I’d never seen the fortress of Nøkkyn the Mountain King, of course, but everything I’d ever heard about it was frightening. Some of it was downright terrifying, like the stories of rotting heads on iron spikes lining the gates. Even the head of his first wife, if the rumors were true. Could life with the demons of Múspell possibly be any worse?
If this strange madman dragged me away, I’d look at those bright blue eyes every day, those full lips and high cheekbones, that thick, auburn hair swirling around his temples. My heart thrummed against my breastbone so loudly, I worried he’d hear it.
“What do you want?” My voice wavered like sunlight across the water.
You can get your own copy of The Monster’s Lover by clicking on the links below. And this week, it’s FREE!!!
Born and raised in Colorado, Samantha MacLeod has lived in every time zone in the US, and London. She has a bachelor’s degree from Colby College and an M.A. from the University of Chicago; yes, the U. of C. really is where fun comes to die.
Samantha lives with her husband and two small children in the woods of southern Maine. When she’s not shoveling snow or writing steamy sex scenes, Samantha can be found teaching college composition and philosophy to undergraduates who have no idea she leads a double life as an erotica author.