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Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Author Interview: Rene Lyons

Rene Lyons

Over the last month or so, those of us here at SF have been very blessed to meet and come to know the soon-to-be published author Rene Lyons. We started stalking her blog and have been very anxiously awaiting her first novel, Midnight Sun, which comes out in eBook format on July 18th (ONE WEEK from now..WOOHOO!) and in mass market paperback in October.

Because we're forever curious, and because we wanted to help Rene promote her first book, we asked if she would be willing to be tortured interviewed by us and she very graciously agreed.

Before we get down to the nitty-gritty, let us give you a little bit of background info on our up-and-coming author.

Rene is a sweet, short, petite mother who lives with the love of her life in New York. She comes from a large Italian family who support her in her writing absolutely, hates to cook, loves Twisted Sister (a woman after my own heart here!) and swears blondes have more fun (Ok, ok, she actually said HELL NO when asked that..but I'm allowed my little fantasies, right?).

To give you an idea of what you're in for with her new series, here's a little snippet of information about her Knights Templar:

On Friday October 13, 1307 King Philip of France ordered
the arrest of the Knights Templar. Three years later, after
suffering unimaginable tortures, fifty Knights were burned
in the center of France.

Five of those Knights, the guilty among the innocent, rose
up from the flames to stand before the archangel Michael.
Damned to walk the night as vampires, they were given one
chance at redemption. If they succeed they will once again
know God's grace and be welcomed into Heaven.

If they should fail, the deepest pit of Hell awaits them.

Doesn't that sound amazing? We here certainly can't wait to read more about these damned Templars.

Alright, let's get down to it. Shall we start with Midnight Sun?

Tell us about Midnight Sun. What can we expect from it?

Well, you can expect to meet five Templars damned by God for sins they’d committed while alive and serving in the Order of the Knight Templars. You’re also going to meet Allie Parker, a tough as nails ghost hunter who can hold her own against these badass vampires.

You know how some of us here (ehm..HOLLY) feel about heroines, Rene, be honest, are we going to find a reason to hate on Allie?

Oh God, no! She loves – and I mean loves – being a woman. She’s secure in her own skin, which made it easy to write her alongside such formidable male characters. Nor does she suffer from the Too-Stupid-to-Live disease. I can’t abide a heroine like that and so made a conscious effort not to create one. I need to be proud of my heroines or else why bother writing them.

Thank goodness for that. We've about had our fill of TSTL heroines.

As a reader, how do you feel about the finished product that is Midnight Sun?

I love it! I’m extremely proud of this book, and not only because it’s my first published work. Midnight Sun began as one book I started writing a year ago and evolved into so much more. With the help of my editor (who has one hell of an eye when it comes to storytelling) it became a book that surpassed my every expectation.

Last year, Rene lost her only brother during a hit-and-run accident. She took the loss hard, as any sister would.

What inspired you to begin writing this series?

It was a combination of loving vampires and the Knight Templars. After I lost my brother I had a crisis of faith. It led me to wonder what would happen if people of extreme faith suffered the same doubt as I was experiencing. Slowly I began to see these five medieval warriors. Then I saw them wearing the distinct white mantle of the Knight Templars. I knew I had some truly incredible characters forming in my mind.

Be sure to check out Rene's site and the excerpt she has up for Midnight Sun.

Let's move on to some general Templar questions, because we're very curious about them and we want to entice our readers to be also.

Where did the idea behind The Templars come from?

Oh, that’s easy! To break it down, Tristan is my fierce sense of loyalty and my need to protect those I love. Constantine is my anger and pain. Raphael is my sexuality and humor. Lucian is my honor and compassion. Sebastian is my common sense.

Hmm, sounds great, no?

Which Templar is your favorite and why? (Come on don't be a chicken, which one do you feel closest too?)

When I wrote Midnight Sun I believed Sebastian was, and would always be, my favorite Templar. But then I started Lucian’s book (I haven’t given it a title yet) and he threw me for a loop. Seriously. When I began him a couple of months ago I had him all planned out in my head. He had other ideas however! Fairly quickly I saw he wasn’t going to play by my rules. He became a completely different man than the one I intended to write. The deeper I get into his story the more I fall in love with him. He is a man to be admired. So there you have it. The secret is out – Lucian of Penwick holds my heart.

Intrigued yet? We sure are. But for as much as we're intrigued by the Templars and the stories surrounding them, we're curious about the number of books in the series.

Do you have plans to write books for all of the Templars?

Yes. There are five Templars and I will write each of them a book. No more, though. There won’t be any Templar vampires popping out of the woodwork down the line. Although, we do meet some interesting female vampires in this series...

What makes your Templars different from say, The Dark Hunters or The Carpathians?

As far as the Carpathians, I’ve no idea. I’ve never read Christine Feehan, nor do I plan to now that I’ve taken on writing vampires.
The Dark Hunters, however, I’ve read plenty! I love Sherrilyn Kenyon and her vampires. However, my vamps are the traditional kind. Dead as doornails. They are minus their souls, and only God can return it to them after they’re destroyed. There is no winning it back and continuing to live on as mortals. And the only ‘rules’ they are forced to abide by are the Ten Commandments – more or less. ;)

More or less, huh? Doesn't that sound interesting? You know we're all, for the most part, obsessed with tortured heroes, and it sounds like your Templars are right up our alley, but I have to wonder....

Who is the most tortured of the Templars?

Constantine Dreagon. He is as tortured as they come. His past is brutal. When I wrote his back-story I often found myself in tears.

Constantine's book is titled The Daystar and is scheduled to be released on October thirty-first, Halloween, in eBook format. There's more information available on her site about The Daystar, along with an excerpt that will, if you're anything like us, leave you breathless with anticipation for it to be released.

Through various chats and emails with Rene, we've come to learn that writing Con's story was very emotional for her. It's not uncommon for her to say, "Con made me cry today".

With that in mind, we asked her whose book she was most looking forward to writing, and her answer surprised us. We were sure she'd say Con's had been the best for her, but nope.

Whose book are you most looking forward to writing?

Tristan Beaumont’s. His will be the last and since I’m a ‘pants’ writer (I write blindly, you know, by the seat of my pants), I am eager to see how the series will end. I have an idea how it will go, but until it’s written anything can happen – as I’m learning with Lucian!

Since we found Rene, her blog and her website, Dylan has become mildy obsessed with Rene's character, Raphael. Of course, those of us who know her realize why she's become obsessed. If you check out the profiles Rene has on her site for her Templars, you'll notice that her muse for Raphael is none other than David Beckham, Dylan's favorite man to lust over So, naturally, she's very curious about Raphael.

What do you have planned for Raphael?

I was dreading this question! I intended to kill him off. I was going to gloss right over his book (which is the fourth in the series) and kill him off in book five (The Prize, which is the final book in the series and is Tristan’s story). I have since rethought that idea. I believe his story needs to be told and I know I’ll have a blast telling it. He is the typical Devil-May-Care character. Or is he? Only I know and I’m not about to share such privileged information! At least not without a truckload of Starbursts as a good bribe. ;)

So many books to write, so little time. Rene is going to be one busy beaver in the near future which is fine and dandy with us, since we're eagerly awaiting the release of all of her books. Her Templars are already a part of our SF world and this interview shows just how anxious we are to read Rene's stuff. If you didn't know how obsessed we are with Rene's Templars, all you need to do is visit Rene's sidebar on her blog, you'll see that we've staked our claim on each of the Templars.

Shall we dig a little deeper into Rene's world? We asked Rene some questions about her writing style and some random questions about her we wanted to know.

We love a good vampire story, so what can we expect with your vampire stories?

Tortured heroes and a couple of seriously tortured heroines. I’m not a fan of tying up a happy ending in a pretty bow. My characters have to work for their happiness and I can promise the roads they must take to get to them aren’t smooth by any means. Nor is there any guarantee they’ll even reach the end of it. Though each book will have some humor in them (I love to laugh in ‘real life’ and that spills over in my writing), these books are not ‘light’. Far from it. As the series goes on the books will take on darker tones. Hence the whole ‘working for that HEA’.

We love the sound of that. Too many authors seem to take the easy road, lately. We're glad you're not one of them.

When you have writers block, what tricks or methods do you have to get yourself out of a funk?

I go back and rework what I already have written. Usually that brings back the muse. I also ogle pictures of Andrei Claude. He’s always good for a bit of inspiration! And if those methods fail to work, I simply allow myself to slack off a little. I seem to only suffer from WB when I’m pushing myself too hard and I’m nearing a burnout. So, before I loose touch with my writing completely, I take a step back and allow myself the time to breath and rejuvenate my mind. (oh God, that sounds so cheesy! lol) I also have some amazing friends (you know who you guys are!) who seem to be a new source of motivation.

Who is your favorite vampire? Angel, Spike, Dracula, etc?

Angel. Hands down. But early Angel. Not end of the show’s run Angel.

How long does it take you to finish a book?

Roughly three to four months. But that was prior to getting published. Now, with edits on existing books and promoting my upcoming releases I suspect it will take me longer to get through a book. And I’m grateful for the extended time since Midnight Sun and The Daystar flew by as if in a blur.

Once you're done with a book how do you get into your next project?

I’m always thinking ahead. Once I’m nearing the end of one book I’m already thinking about the next. Or rather, that’s when the characters of the next project begin to scream at me to hurry to get to them. Lucian was the worst. I swear I woke in the middle of the night needing to finish The Daystar just to get Luc to shut up!

When did you start writing?

I always liked writing. Yet it wasn’t until I read Saving Grace by Julie Garwood a few years later when I realized that I didn’t merely like it. I loved it. Writing became as much a part of me as breathing.

Did you do a lot of research for your hero's or make most of it up?

I should say I researched for years! That would be a lie, though. Since I’ve always loved the Knight Templars I only needed to go back and check certain dates since I placed them in a real events (the mass arrest of the Templars in France and the execution of fifty Knights three years later). Everything else is made up!

Now, on to the more random questions we asked Rene, because we were too nosy not to ask them...

What's the best book you've ever read and why?

There are actually two. Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follet and The Jester by James Peterson and Andrew Gross. Both books put you back in the medieval age. And as someone like me, who seriously wishes there was a time machine that could send me back to the time of William the Conqueror, I loss myself in those books.

Who's your favorite author?

Lynn Kurland. She could write a grocery list and I’d buy it.

Quick, your house is on fire, what three things are you going to save after your family?

My laptop (my writing is in there!). My box of photographs. My daughter’s favorite stuffed animal (a grubby teddy bear she loves).

Are you a hot and steamy love scene lover or do you prefer to read tame, breeze over the sex love scenes?

It depends on my mood. Lately I’m all about the erotica, since that’s what most of my friends write.

What are you reading?

Nothing at the moment. I have too much writing going on.

What genre do you like most?

Paranormal romance. Give me a good vampire or ghost romance any day!

Your favorite type of vacation?

A relaxing one on a beach. Or Disney. I mean, seriously, who doesn’t like Disney?

Did you ever think you'd be where you are now in your career?

Are you kidding? I still don’t believe it. I wake every day needing to remind myself I really did it. I chased the dream and a caught it by the tail.

Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

At my computer writing stories that hopefully, people will want to read – with my editor still trying to explain to me what a dangling participle is. (lol)

Rene is so much fun to chat with and we're grateful that she took time out of her busy writing schedule to answer some questions for us. We hope that you're just as excited to read her books as we are and we hope that when she makes it all rich and famous, that she won't forget us here at Sanctuary's Finest...

A very special thank you to Rene Lyons from the ladies here at Sanctuary's Finest, we wish you nothing but the best of luck in your writing career and we all just wanted you to know that you have loyal fans in the whole lot of us.

Don't forget to pop over to her blog and say hello.

Rene also very graciously agreed to visit tomorrow to answer any lingering questions our readers may have for her. Just post a comment and she'll reply tomorrow.

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