Monday, April 21, 2008

Guest -- Cheryl Brooks

I've had the opportunity to read Cheryl Brooks' first book and can say it's a delightful futuristic blend of humor, adventure and romance (with just a touch of erotica). I'll do a review of it on my personal sites this week so do watch for it but I will say here, you don't want to miss this one. In the meantime, please join us in welcoming this week's guest.

Cheryl Brooks is a critical care nurse by night and a romance writer by day. She is a member of the RWA and lives in Bloomfield, Indiana. The Cat Chronicles: Slave is her first novel.



My name is Cheryl Brooks, author of The Cat Star Chronicles: Slave.
My inspiration for this story actually came from another book about a woman who had to pose as a slave, and I thought, Hey, I'm tired of women always being the slaves! Men are dominating enough without being encouraged! I want a male slave!

I made my heroine, Jacinth “Jack” Rutland a pretty tough cookie, basing her on several male characters—she has a touch of Dirty Harry's ruthlessness, Han Solo's casual heroism, and John Crichton's (Farscape) brash sense of humor.

For my hero, I began with a real person as a template and then started tacking on the alien characteristics. I wanted him to be honest, steadfast, loving, and above all, to have a sense of humor! That done, I worked on his sexuality, enhancing the types of characteristics that I believe already exist in human males. The result was one very sexy Cat!

The story takes place in our own Milky Way galaxy, but in the far distant future. I've never felt that science fiction writers have given mankind enough time to reach the levels of technology required for space travel between star systems, so I gave us a thousand years to accomplish it!

The different planets came from my own imagination which has been influenced by other writers as well as my own experiences. The “desert planet” setting of Orpheseus Prime can be traced back to Dune or Star Wars. The lush, tropical planet of Statzeel is based on Hawaii.

When it came to creating characters and new species, if you're into sci-fi at all, you’ll get to know a lot of aliens! Most of them came from my own imagination, but since Mr. Spock was my first alien love, Cat had to have his pointed ears and eyebrows!

I made the attraction between Jacinth and Cat a very strong, almost instinctual connection because I think that anytime two people meet, they either click, or they don't. I still remember the first time ever I saw my husband—I thought he was completely adorable, and he later told me that he said to himself: “I'll probably marry her someday. . .”

While having an incredibly sexy slave ready for anything seems like it would be any woman’s dream, I wanted Jack to be reluctant at first because I enjoy the sexual tension. It makes for more explosive fireworks when the deed is finally done, and I also like the idea of meeting someone who makes you fall in love despite your best intentions and even though the timing is terrible!

For some characters, it works to have them be intimate early in the story, but to look at it from Jack's perspective, she's a tough businesswoman on a mission to rescue her sister, and she is not looking for love!

I’ve come to realize that it’s impossible to please everyone: some readers are turned off if the hot stuff occurs too soon, and others will stop reading if there isn't any sex in the first three chapters! The next book in the series, Warrior, should appeal to those who don't like to wait.

Having grown up watching Star Trek and later staring in awe as that huge space cruiser flew in over my head at the beginning of Star Wars, writing science fiction romance has come very naturally to me. But, let's face it; we ladies all love a good romance along with our technobabble! For me, the best part of Star Wars is the romance between Han and Leia.

When I first began writing—a very long time ago!—the sci-fi was the main theme, rather than the romance, and the sci-fi romance genre as we know it didn't exist. But that was what I wanted to read, so that was what I wrote. My first novel was never finished, but Jack had her origins with that original heroine.

With respect to my writing process, I rarely start with an outline. I begin with an idea and write until it takes me somewhere. My characters take on lives and personalities of their own and I simply let them talk and discover what happens next. Whenever I get stuck, I just keep writing and invariably one of my characters will say something that sends me off in another direction.

I prefer to write in first person. Some of my favorite authors—Mary Stewart and Daphne Du Maurier—wrote from that point of view, and I believe it's more realistic because it's the way we all see the world—I don't know what you're thinking, and you don't know what I'm thinking—and I believe it's more suspenseful, too.

I seem to do my best writing in the evening, but since I live out in the country and it's a long drive to just about anywhere, I've hit on the solution to a number of problems while behind the wheel!

I am currently reading Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. Like everyone else, I've been infected with Pottermania, and I'm reading the series through again—for probably the third or fourth time! It's the best stress-reliever I know of. I’m also reading the books of our other Sourcebooks Casablanca authors, which I am enjoying very much!

Aside from writing, I look after my husband, two sons (aged 18 and 21), five horses that I don't ride nearly enough, five cats, and a dog. Professionally, I'm a full-time critical care nurse, and have been working the night shift in ICU for more than thirty years—I've been at it so long that I've been nicknamed Yoda! I enjoy gardening, love to cook, but HATE to clean! I've been singing and playing guitar longer than I've been watching Star Trek, and my greatest ambition is to be a rockstar! Don't think I'll ever make it, though. Guess I'll just have to write about it!

My advice to other aspiring writers would be to keep at it. You never know when that chance will come. I'd been rejected a lot of times before Slave was sold: Agents were too busy to take on another client; some publishers took almost a year to reject me, or never responded at all. I'd never sent this particular manuscript to anyone before, but when I saw that Sourcebooks was newly recognized by the Romance Writers of America and that they were taking erotic paranormals, I figured I had nothing to lose, so I sent it off—and almost forgot about it! Slave was originally a 72,000 word novel called The Rescue, and, unfortunately, Sourcebooks only publishes single-title novels of 90,000 words or more, which was something I didn't realize at the time. If I'd known about the length requirement, I doubt that I would have ever submitted it, but fate must have taken a hand, because the editor liked it anyway, gave me some suggestions for expanding it, and here we are!

I am currently working on Warrior, Brothers, and Lover in the Cat Star Chronicles series, with Fugitive and Hero to come after that. I've also written a number of contemporary erotic romances that I'd like to see published at some point.

I’ve enjoyed sharing this experience with you and look forward to your comments!


Cheryl Brooks

The next novel in the series is Warrior, which is a story is about Tisana, a witch/healer on the planet Utopia. Like all witches on that world, she has been brought up and trained to serve those in her domain for life, but Tisana longs to spread her wings and fly. Unfortunately, Utopia isn’t a paradise for everyone—especially the slaves! When Tisana’s former lover brings Leo, his Zetithian slave, to her for healing, a sizzling romance ensues, culminating in a dangerous adventure. Will Tisana find a way to keep her alien lover and escape her own fate? Find out in the next exciting chapter of The Cat Star Chronicles!

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Cheryl Brooks said...

Hello out there!
I'll be around for the next few days to answer questions and read your comments.
In the meantime,thanks for reading!

Linda Wisdom said...

Great post, Cheryl!


marie force said...

Loved reading about your journey and your process, Cheryl. Thanks for sharing. I am looking forward to reading your book!

Cheryl Brooks said...

Linda and Marie,
Thanks for stopping by! Hope you like the book!

Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

Hi Cheryl,
Another Sourcebooks author popping by to say hi! I just bought "Slave" and am looking forward to reading it.

LOVED your comment about you being tired of women always being the slaves, so you made the man a slave in your story. I did something similar in my debut release "The Wild Sight". In all the stories I'd read, it was the woman who had 'second sight' so I decided to make my HERO the one who is clairvoyant!


Skylar Masey said...


Thank you so much for visiting with us Cheryl! Loved you post which gave us such a sense of you as well as touching the heart of the writer in all of us.

Glad to see that you also like romance with your technobabble and that you were able to perservere on your road to publication.

I will admit I drooled over your first "Cat" when I saw the full color ad in RT. I knew I had to pick up the book...especially since Sourcebooks also gave a good friend of mine her break into publication.

Congrats with your success! May your Cats and their mates live long and prosper for a terrific series!

Cheryl Brooks said...

Aunt Cindy,

You know, I thought the same thing when I read about your clairvoyant hero! It's fun to turn the tables and do something different!

Cheryl Brooks said...

I know what you mean. I did a bit of drooling when I first saw it myself.
Thanks so much for the encouraging words and the opportunity to visit your site!

Angie Fox said...

Great post, Cheryl and your cover is just fantastic. Thanks for telling us about Slave - what a great concept for a story. I'm going to have to get it.


Lynda K. Scott said...

Hi Cheryl, this was a great post! Re technobabble, here at Star-Crossed we love technobabble :D I'm really enjoying Slave and I'm looking forward to getting Warrior when it becomes available.

Cheryl Brooks said...

Thanks Angie!
Your cover is pretty cool too!
I hope you enjoy the book!


Cheryl Brooks said...

Glad you're enjoying Slave!
Let's hear it for Technobabble!
Thanks for reading!

Michele Ann Young said...

Slave sounds like my kind of book. I really like visiting other worlds, be they in the past, which I write or someone's idea of the future. Great interview. Book is top of the TBR pile. Michele

Cheryl Brooks said...

I got a lot of enjoyment out of creating those new worlds, and I hope you enjoy them, too!
Thanks for stopping by!

Savanna Kougar said...

Hi Cheryl, I sooo know what you mean about Star Wars. I had a similar magical response, almost as if reality had expanded around me.
Luv those new worlds and cats too. I have a lioness shifter sci fi novella with Liquid Silver Books.
Congrats on your success.

Skylar Masey said...


Thanks for stopping by my site :0) I'm hoping to pick up my "Slave" Friday when I get paid.

Cheryl Brooks said...

I don't think I'll ever forget that feeling until my dying day. Thank you George Lucas!
And thanks to you for dropping by and sharing your comments!
Good luck!

Cheryl Brooks said...

Ah, yes, payday! Time to splurge! I hope you enjoy the book!