Monday, March 21, 2011

Guest - Tamara Hogan

Good morning everyone!  Today's guest, Tamara Hogan, is a new to me author who has written a very compelling urban fantasy. I posted a review for Taste Me yesterday. You can read it here. Sourcebooks is offering a giveaway so read further to see how you can enter the drawing.

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Star-Crossed Romance’s question: What interested you in writing urban fantasy?

When I first read Lynda’s question (thank you for having me on, Lynda!), I giggled up a storm. If you only knew how many discussions I had with RWA chapter mates and other writer friends about how to categorize Taste Me after I finished writing it! The manuscript was a mutt, a mash-up, influenced by and drawing from so many romance sub-genres that I didn’t quite know what it was. And in the end, it really didn’t matter—but more on that in a moment.

An English major and a longtime, feral reader of romance novels and other genre fiction, I got the idea for Taste Me in a club one night, and…just started writing, fortunately discovering the Minneapolis-based branch of RWA, Midwest Fiction Writers,at about the same time. My people! They understood exactly why I was willing to sacrifice a couple of hours of sleep every night to write down a story that set my imagination on fire. When I had a finished manuscript in hand, I entered it in a couple of contests, including Kiss of Death’s Daphne du Maurier and RWA’s Golden Heart. For these contests, the paranormal romance category was the obvious fit, but ‘paranormal romance’ felt like way too vague a sub-genre description to use when querying agents and editors, who’d decide whether to request even a partial manuscript based upon how I described the story in a query letter. Sheesh, where to begin?

What did I know about my story?

-         it was a supernatural bodyguard story, a woman-in-jeopardy story—with a twist
-         it was the first book in a proposed series
-         it featured some complex world-building
-         it proposed an alternate history
-         supernatural characters lived alongside humanity, hiding in plain sight
-         it had psychological thriller, fantasy, and futuristic/science fiction components
-         it was dark, edgy and erotic—but not erotica
-         the story was built around a hero/heroine/villain triad
-         the story had a happily ever after ending

Alrighty, then.

The romance sub-genre categorization I ultimately used to pitch the story was “a paranormal romantic suspense with a sci-fi twist.” Sourcebooks managing editor Deb Werksman wanted to read more, and she ultimately acquired the first trilogy of the series I came to call “The Underbelly Chronicles.” The manuscript won a paranormal Daphne and was named a 2009 Golden Heart Paranormal finalist under the title Underbelly,but Deb was concerned that the original title just didn’t say “romance.” Sourcebooks’ editorial and marketing wizards put on their thinking caps, assessed the story, their line, and the market, and proposed a new title: Taste Me.

(double-take) Wow. Um, yeah.Taste Me was a title that said romance, all right! And I thought it was a genius title, because in addition to better communicating the book’s romantic foundations, it also highlighted a key aspect of characterization and world-building: the book’s hero, security guru Lukas Sebastiani, is an incubus who tastes emotion.

Sourcebooks determined that the book should be marketed as an urban fantasy romance, and this was perfectly fine with me. One of the reasons I signed a contract with a traditional publisher was because they possessed exactly this type of market expertise.  

So that’s the story of me being interested in writing urban fantasy. Bottom line, I didn’t set out to write a novel of any particular genre, or worry overly much about marketing, while I was writing the book. I wrote a book I’d personally want to read, injecting it with every bit of complexity, spark, passion and craft I was capable of producing.

Please let me know how I did. ;-)

Read an excerpt! (Mature readers only)   


TASTE ME BY TAMARA HOGAN – IN STORES MARCH 2011
Hot, sexy urban fantasy romance by a new author with talent to burn…

He Wants Her So Badly He Can Taste It…
Ever since their tempestuous fling years ago, incubus Lukas Sebastiani has known that siren Scarlett Fontaine was meant to be his. But when you’re a sex demon with an insatiable desire, relationships are way more than complicated…

Her Siren Songs Bring Men to Their Knees…
Rock star Scarlett Fontaine desperately needs a break after a grueling tour. But with murder and mayhem surrounding her band, and the one man she never thought to see again put to the task of protecting her, life is going to be anything but peaceful…

Every encounter between them creates more turmoil—and heat—until Scarlett pushes Lukas to the boiling point, and unleashes forces that go way beyond anything she can hope to control…

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Tamara Hogan loathes cold and snow, but nonetheless lives in the Minneapolis exurbs with her partner Mark and two naughty cats.  When she’s not telecommuting as a quality and process engineer for a global networking company, she writes urban fantasy with a sci-fi twist. Taste Me was a 2009 Daphne Paranormal Winner and Golden Heart paranormal finalist under the title Underbelly. For more information, please visit http://www.tamarahogan.com/

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-- Lynda Again,

Wow, what an interesting story! Thanks for telling it, Tamara. 

As I mentioned earlier, Sourcebooks has offered a giveaway of Taste Me. I've discussed it with my alien kitten, Wookie, and she says that to be eligible to enter the drawing you have to:

1) Send an email to Lynda@LyndaKScott.com
2) Put Taste Me in the Subject line
3) Answer this question - What was the first title of this book?
4) Include your name and mailing address
5) Send the email to Lynda by noon on Friday March 25

Wookie will select two winners and I'll notify you asap ;-)

Oh, and if you have the chance, check out my review for Taste Me
http://star-crossedromance.blogspot.com/2011/03/review-taste-me.html

11 comments:

Tamara Hogan said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Tamara Hogan said...

(Starting the morning off with a big ol' typo! Sorry--)

Good morning, Lynda! Thanks for hosting me today. Scarlett's ornery cat, Calamity, would really like to meet Wookie. He promises not to bite. Much.

Jacqueline Seewald said...

Hi, Tamara and Lynda,

I enjoy both writing and reading paranormal romance. I think modern readers are more sophisticated and appreciate novels that are complex, not mere formula romances. So a mixing of genres is perfectly good and acceptable. Best of luck!

Jacqueline Seewald
TEA LEAVES AND TAROT CARDS

Tamara Hogan said...

Hi Jacqueline - I agree with you 100%. I personally enjoy reading genre-blending (and-busting) books. As a writer, I couldn't help but be influenced by the genres that I devour as a reader. My interests and reading tastes are all over the map.

To be clear, though - TASTE ME is an urban fantasy ROMANCE. There is definitely kissy stuff. ;-)

Stephanie said...

And some pretty steamy kissy stuff at that! This Excellent story kept me so engrossed I couldn't put it down and missed some sleep because of it...luckily it was over the weekend :) Definitely can't wait to read more from this series! Congrats Tami!

Victoria said...

Hi Tamara and Lynda,
I love the title. Certainly gives you an idea of what is in store for you. I've seen several reviews and know I will enjoy the read. Thanks.

Patricia Green said...

Looks great! Mixing genres is either a huge success (as Taste Me will be) or a giant flop as the author tries to put too much into one book. The very first book I wrote bent genres, but I didn't put it out to publishers for a long time because of that. Now it's published--the timing was finally right. Good luck with your novel, Tamara!

Tamara Hogan said...

Stephanie - please forgive me if I don't apologize for your lost sleep! So glad you enjoyed the book.

Victoria, thanks for stopping by! I've been so pleased with the reviews for the book. So few people read the manuscript before Sourcebooks acquired it. I'm still learning which parts of the book are resonating with readers. So far what I'm hearing and reading is that readers appreciate my treatment of my villain - and that they like Calamity, Scarlett's cat. My own cat, who shares many behavioral traits with Calamity, will probably ask for his share of the book royalties in tuna fish!

Patricia, I think you're right, that even genre-blending books have to have some focus. During TASTE ME's editing process, I scrapped a sub-plot so I could focus in on the romance a little more and still stay under the upper bounds of my wordcount, 95K. I barely made it, coming in at 94,800-something. ;-) Congrats on your book!

Lil said...

This books sounds like loads of spicy fun.

Lynda K. Scott said...

And the winners of Taste Me are

G.Bisbjerg and Aspasia Bissas

Thanks for playing. Sourcebooks will get the books to you this week.

Lynda K. Scott said...

Tamara, thanks for visiting us and thanks for a great read! As for Calamity and Wookie -- She's not too socialized with other cats (or, for that matter, other beings or life forms, lol) But, luckily, Calamity is fictional so his feelings wouldn't be hurt when Wookie proceeded to ignore him ;-)