Thursday, October 23, 2014

Blitz : Prisoner

Why I Write Dark Romance

Thanks so much for having me! I’m Skye Warren, New York Times bestselling author of dark romance. I’m excited to share my new release, Prisoner, which is a book I co-wrote with my friend and bestselling author Annika Martin.
I think one of the joys of reading, thinking back even to childhood, was the sense that anything could happen. Wardrobes opened to new lands and golden tickets opened the gate to magical chocolate factories.
When I got a little older (but probably not old enough) I started reading Anne Rice. Ooo boy, let me tell you. The Witching Hour is as dark and as taboo as it gets. There’s ménage and incest and all kinds of wild times. And these were books sitting on a nice, bright shelf in the bookstore that my parents bought for me—totally not knowing what was inside!
So I really didn’t have a sense that there were boundaries in books. That was something I learned later, as an adult.
And it’s something I try to unlearn, in a way.
I try to push my own boundaries with each new book. I try to stretch myself. Because that’s a huge part of the fun of writing. And even though this is my career, I want to have fun. Plus, it produces better books. The books I wrote with my hands flying over the keyboard, the ones I questioned before I published them if they were even acceptable for public viewing, are consistently my bestsellers. My readers want me to push the envelope.
When Annika and I first discussed co-writing we both knew it would be dark and sexy. Well, that’s what we both already wrote, but we came up with a new style working together. There’s something seriously sexy about prison… strong men, powerful men, cunning men contained by something as primitive as metal bars. Something sexy about defying the laws of society and getting caught, but maintaining an air of danger.
Some days, I don’t even see how this stuff is considered that dark—or dangerous. After all, there are demons and werewolves in books and no one bats an eye. Is it that strange to read about a person finding love? Even if that person does happen to be a prison inmate… Real criminals find love (and hot sex) every day. But then I remember that that’s what makes these stories scary. They hit close to home. They make us squirm. And that’s why I love them.

Prisoner by Annika Martin & Skye Warren 

Publication date: October 23rd 2014
Genres: New Adult, Romance
Purchase: Amazon
He seethes with raw power the first time I see him—pure menace and rippling muscles in shackles. He’s dangerous. He’s wild. He’s the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen.

So I hide behind my prim glasses and my book like I always do, because I have secrets too. Then he shows up in the prison writing class I have to teach, and he blows me away with his honesty. He tells me secrets in his stories, and it’s getting harder to hide mine. I shiver when he gets too close, with only the cuffs and the bars and the guards holding him back. At night I can’t stop thinking about him in his cell.

But that’s the thing about an animal in a cage—you never know when he’ll bite. He might use you to escape. He might even pull you into a forest and hold a hand over your mouth so you can’t call for the cops. He might make you come so hard, you can’t think.

And you might crave him more than your next breath.
"Sexy, dark and thrilling. I loved every second of it!" – New York Times bestselling author Katie Reus

Interview Questions by Carolyn Crane

Where do you find your inspiration?  
You know those juicy, thrilling scenes in books or movies that you just love to pieces? And you think about them long after? Those sorts of scenes, and the huge emotions around them really inspire me. I love to feel that high-point thrill, and to create books around those moments. A lot of times I start with imagining an exciting scene I want to write and the book goes somewhere else completely, but the kernel, the inspiration still remains buried deep down.

Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing? 
A lot of writers hate revising and love first drafts, but I’m the opposite – I am crazy about revising--I like to mold and change things in big ways once the words are there. But I write a sloooooow and grueling first draft, and I daydream a lot and change my mind a lot. It’s a total challenge! That was one really nice thing about writing in a team—knowing Skye was at the other end, expecting me to come up with something new and exciting every day was kind of nice. But getting those first words down is hard and slow for me.

What are your current projects?  
I'm working on the next book by my other pen name, Carolyn Crane. Its one of my gritty, sexy romantic suspense books. This one is about Zelda, who helps run this shadowy organization. She has to go undercover as a prostitute, taking her twin sister’s place to infiltrate a drug cartel. The hero is a very dangerous assassin. I wanted to call him Sessimo, but everybody hates that name, so I’m thinking of a different one now.

Does music play any type of role in your writing? 
Definitely. I write now and then at coffee shops and if there are people talking around me, I need to put in earbuds and crank the music. I have specific songs I just loop over and over, usually dark and melodic. Also, I love to run after a hard day at the writing desk, and I crank the tunes and just zone out to the music and that’s when I get my best ideas.

Do you have a special time to write? How is your day structured writing-wise?
The morning is always when I write. I get up and try to get in 90 minutes of writing before I even check my email just to set the tone. (And because it’s soooo easy to get sucked into email and twitter and stuff!) and then I go back and work for at least 3 more hours. At that point I either go for a run or switch over to the day job (marketing writing).  Though, when I get into an editing phase, I’m working all day.

When you start a book, do you already have the whole story in your head or is it built progressively?
I definitely find the story as I go along. I usually think I have the whole story in my head when I start, and it comforts me to think I know where I'm going, but the place I end up is often different. I just never know what I have until I get in there.  I have had several novels where I write the first part four different ways and even with different scenes and characters until I finally have something I don’t hate.

When and why did you begin writing?’
I was quite the poet in third grade. I treated risky subject matter bac, then, by writing a first poem about worms and the way they crawl out of the ground when it rains. Lol.

Sirens sound. Reinforcements. Cherries flash in the distance. As long as the brawl keeps going inside those prison walls, they won’t be able to do a decent count and they won’t know I’m gone. My gaze darts to the speedometer. She’s going thirty-five in a fifty-five mph zone. “You get this thing the fuck up to the speed limit, and you keep it exactly there,” I growl. “Drive natural.”
“Or what?”
I let my voice go cold. “You really want to find out? You think you know me?” She looks over at me, and I let her see all the hell inside me. “You don’t know anything about me. Nothing.”
She speeds up, eyes fixed on the road.
“Easy,” I say as the cops come over the hill from the other way—a whole line of them. Then they fill the rearview mirror, growing smaller. So far so good. More than good, because after all this time chained up and monitored and kept away from her, never able to touch her, she’s under my complete control, mine to do what I want with. It’s as dizzying as the sky overhead, wild and white with clouds.
“We’re just out for a nice afternoon ride, you and me.”
Her jaw is set hard. Yeah, she’s good and pissed. And scared.
I glance ahead at the fields rolling on. The wide-openness is hard to get used to after two years of being confined. God, walking out of the joint today through the parking lot with all that sky above me was so overwhelming I could barely act normal, and then there were all the cars I had to pass by, all the places people could jump out from. I knew people weren’t hiding behind cars, ready to jump out, but in prison you learn to avoid that kind of thing. Second sense. And then I spotted Abby, and everything evened out.
Abby became my anchor. She steadied me, somehow. 
So I took her. There’s something about driving away, something sweet about freedom with a pretty girl in the seat beside you. Even if that pretty girl hates you. Even if the guys in your crew would all tell you to kill her. Maybe I should.  
“See, here’s something for you to ponder,” I say to her as the fields flash by. “You’re smart, so you need to be thinking what you are to me right now. Do you know what you are to me, Ms. Winslow?” I use her name from class.
Fear lights the fine, sharp features of her face. Her thoughts have gone dirty. Like I might rape her. The rims of her big, brown, frightened eyes are smudged with makeup. It’s a good look for her. I wonder if Ms. Winslow understands that to the outside observer, fear and arousal look like very much the same thing.
She’s concentrating hard, like she does with everything. She’s a perfectionist, my Ms. Winslow. She probably slaved over every little comma in that stupid journal.
It’s then I think about touching her. Maybe just her neck or her cheek. I wonder if she’d jump. Or if she’d cry. Or hell, maybe she’d eat it up. There’s one thing I do know: she’d feel it. Really feel it, because it would be different and new and all wrong, just like me going across that parking lot, feeling that huge, crazy-ass sky blazing above me. Out of my cage.
Her lips are pressed together, eyes firmly on the road, but not just for safety. She’s also avoiding me, like I’m not here with a loaded gun pointed at her ribs.
What would she smell like? What would her neck feel like against my cheek? What would her tits would feel like in my palms underneath that kitten-fur sweater? She tries to obscure them with clothes, but you can tell they’re nice. I’m thinking B-cup, maybe C, depending on what kind of bra she wears, a topic I’ve mused on pretty extensively, let’s just say.
Yeah, I really, really want to touch her. It doesn’t hurt that she’s so hot, with those smudged-up eyes and pale skin and the way her pulse beats in her neck. I imagine her under me, skin to skin. How smooth she’d feel.
I run my thumb up the back of the Glock. A nice piece. Smooth and warm from the body of a guard who’s currently out cold. Two long years without a woman’s touch—I’d be mad with lust for any woman. I tell myself it’s not about this woman with her books and glasses and prim hairdo, trying so hard to drive naturally even though she’s shaking.
She doesn’t have experience at this, and she sometimes makes jerky movements, but I don’t yell at her for that. I don’t want to hurt her for things she can’t control. 
I shift in my seat, shaking her out of my mind because I know how quickly things can go bad, and if she forces my hand, if it’s a choice between her or my crew…
She needs to not matter.
More cops. She’s going fifty-five exactly.
“What you are is a liability, Ms. Winslow. You made the car, probably even memorized the fucking license plate. You were going to call the cops on me.”
“No,” she whispers.
Liar. She’s too smart to do otherwise. “So I took your car instead. But that means… It means you aren’t that useful anymore.”
She’s silent. I’m scaring her, but I need her to understand the thin ice she’s on so she doesn’t do something stupid.
“My point is, if you don’t drive perfect, then maybe I should be driving. Right? Am I right?”
She stares at the road, lips pressed together, which plumps them out a little bit, and suddenly it’s too much, and I reach up to her face. It’s like an out-of-body experience, seeing myself do it, taking this liberty just because I can. She jumps as I graze her cheek with two knuckles. I draw them slowly down her silky skin, toward her chin, drinking up the feel of her, rich with electricity, rich with peace. She’s mine, and I want her so bad, it’s like a fever.
I pull my hand away. She’s breathing fast, hands gripping the wheel.
Softly I say, “That was a question, baby. You need to answer my questions now just the way I’ve been answering yours these past weeks. And if you’re good, I won’t make you list off twenty motherfucking items in your house, okay?”
She looks over, anger in her eyes. I shift the Glock so it catches the light, reminding her who’s in charge. To remind me she’s expendable. The gun keeps us both focused.
She fixes her attention back on the road. “Fine. You’re right,” she says quickly. “If I don’t drive perfectly, you should be driving.”
“Very good, Ms. Winslow. But if I’m driving, how can I hold this gun on you? How do I know you might not jump out or do something crazy? Flag down cars or something. You see my dilemma?”
“Yes,” she whispers. I can tell from her face she really has worked it out, but I spell it out anyway.
“Bottom line, you drive nice, that’s one less reason for me to kill you.” I watch the lump move inside her smooth throat. A gulp of fear. It’s almost comical. “Gulp,” I say.
Her eyes flash at me. “Fuck you,” she says.
“Are you offering?” I ask, the feel of her skin still blazing on my knuckles.
She sniffs angrily, like that’s an outrageous idea. I flex my hand. Her cheek felt warmer than I expected. Her belly would feel warm under that sweater. And she’d be jumpy with every touch. Oh, Ms. Winslow would be very, very jumpy, tensing with every slide of my finger, every kiss, every little invasion. That’s how she’d be at first, anyway. I’d make her keep the glasses on the whole time. Unless I went ahead and broke them, like I was thinking earlier, to put her off balance.
“Where are we going?”
“We’re going to meet my friend in a secluded area.”
She gives me that look again. The flare of surprise—and a little bit of something else too.
“Why, Ms. Winslow, please. Mind out of the gutter.” I smile and sit back. The smile is there to put her at ease. Stone’ll want her dead. It’s going to be a problem.
Another pair of cop cars heads over the hill. “You just drive nice, okay?”
“Nicely,” she snaps.
“Drive nicely, that’s how you say it. Not drive nice.”
Oh God. Nicely. Correcting my grammar even at gunpoint. I’m so fucking hot for her, I think I might burst into flames.

I’m a NYT bestselling author living a stone’s throw away from the Mississippi with my awesome husband and two cats in a home full of plants, sunshine and books. I'm heavy into writing love stories about criminals--some of them are dirty and fun (my Kinky bank robbers!) others are dark and intense (Prisoner!)

I also write gritty romantic suspense as the RITA-award winning author Carolyn Crane.

Author links:

Skye Warren is the New York Times and USA Today Bestselling author of dark romantic fiction. Her books are raw, sexual and perversely tender. For those new to her work, consider the bestseller Wanderlust or Don't Let Go.

Author links:

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