Saturday, 31 October 2009

Eleni-fest: chatting with Christina Phillips

Today we have the fantastic Christina Phillips my special guest on Eleni-fest. Christina has just signed a two-book deal with Berkley Heat, and has been published by The Wild Rose Press in novelette format. Congratulations Christina!

Welcome Christina to Eleni’s Taverna and Eleni-fest!

Hi Eleni, and thank you for having me on your blog today as part of the fabulous Eleni-Fest!

Congratulations on getting a two-book contract with Berkley Heat. Can you tell us how this came about? Are you able to quickly describe these books?

Thanks for the congratulations on my sale to Berkley Heat. I'm still in shock! As for how it came about, until I sold my two shorts I'd never tried writing erotic romance. But in-between writing Foretaste of Forever and Touch of the Demon I had a very short, very visually compelling scene drop into my mind. It involved a Druid princess, her Roman lover and satisfyingly evil villain. I wrote the scene as a short story - only 11 pages long - and I must confess it ended badly (the hero and heroine ended up as stone statues, not such a great HEA really!)

So I decided to start from scratch, and write a full length erotic romance. Something which, you might not be surprised to know, I had recently told my CPs I could never attempt as it was far too hard!

I finished the book in May, subbed to agents, was offered representation on 12th June and my wonderful agent sold it in a two book deal to Berkley Heat on 23rd September.

A Roman centurion leads an invasion into Cambria, and tangles with Carys, a Druid princess, who both defies and enthralls him. I managed to keep my villain and he is deliciously twisted!

Book Two
This is the story of Carys's best friend, Morwyn, as she fights to deny the wrath of her goddess, the mantle of her Druidry and the depth of her love for a man she has vowed to kill. (I'm only two chapters into this one. It will probably change a LOT from my outline!!) 

The cover art of both your Rosettes (Foretaste of Forever; Touch of the Demon) is great – did you have any input into how it would look?
I filled in the art sheets for both covers with as much detail as I could, but I have to confess I did possess a secret weapon! My editor, Angela Anderson, was also the cover artist, so she had insider information! I was, and still am, thrilled with the cover for FoF but it was nothing like anything I suggested! That was all down to Angela.

You have accredited with the 2008 Roadshow in getting published with Foretaste of Forever. Why is that?
Before the 2008 Roadshow I'd had a couple of really tough years writing wise. If not for my CPs continual encouragement and stern words I don't know how I would've got through. I was floundering between genres - should I continue with my ST paranormals or go back to my beloved categories? 

Nikki Logan with Christina
The Roadshow really kicked my butt into gear. Not only were our fabulous visiting authors (Anne Gracie, Trish Morey and Marion Lennox) completely inspiring, but another local author suggested I send a short story, which had been languishing on my hard drive for a while, to The Wild Rose Press.

So I did! 
(EK: Hooray for that!)

What attracted you to writing in a shorter format?
Oddly, I don't write short as a rule. FORETASTE OF FOREVER was originally aimed at Arabella magazine, but within a few weeks of submitting it the magazine folded. At my CPs insistence I rewrote it as an erotic short and thoroughly enjoyed the entire process!!! 

What are you working on now? And what’s in the near future for Christina Phillips?

I'm currently writing the proposal for Book 2 for Berkley, and am waiting for revisions from my editor for PRINCESS and from my agent for another book I sent her about some bad ass angels.

You have very supportive CPs. How did your relationship with your CPs start and what do you think has kept it going?

We met on the eHarlequin boards, but didn't meet up in person until the RNA conference in the UK in 2004. Now both Amanda Ashby and Sara Hantz live in New Zealand, and for the last three years I've been fortunate to make the RWNZ conferences, so we always have a lot of fun there!

None of us were published when we first got together, and we were all targeting HM&B/Red Dress Ink. We didn't become CPs straight away, we forged friendships through email and only then started to send each other chapters to read and critique.

As for what's kept us going? It's the support and encouragement we know we can rely on from each other, sharing the rotten times as well as the fabulous times. When we crit each other's work, we don't hold back and it's because we each want the other's work to be the best it possibly can be.
What was your ‘apprenticeship’(ie pre-pubbed years) like?
Long. LOL! I started writing with the serious goal of publication just after Easter break in 1999. I wrote several HM&B Romances and Silhouette Desires and received lots of requests for fulls, and revisions, but never could quite leap that final hurdle into publication. Then I wrote three first person chick lits (just as the genre was dying a horrible death) and then went back to my first love. Paranormal romance.

I wonder if I should mention here that while HIS FORBIDDEN PRINCESS is an erotic historical romance, there is a paranormal element weaving throughout the story!!

What has changed since getting your book deal? What has surprised you?
What's changed is that suddenly I have deadlines. Not just for revisions, but for a book that isn't even written yet. I had a severe panic attack when that hit me a week after the offer!! I've always written on a daily basis, so I always thought I wouldn't really find it that much of a difference. *chokes* Let's just say I was wrong, wrong, wrong on that one!!! And that covers the surprise question too!!! 

You went to the recent RWNZ conference. As a published author, did you still get light bulb moments?
Oh absolutely! I had countless moments that pinged through my brain. One was to finally embrace my process - it may be messy, it may drive me nuts, but it's my process and somehow, I'm not sure exactly how mind you, it works. The other was Mary Jo Putney saying it was okay to have nana naps. Phew! I love me some nana naps!!!
(EK: Gotta love those nana naps!)

Are you a plotter or a pantser?
During the years when I targeted HM&B, I was an obsessive plotter. I knew exactly when chapter breaks would occur and every turning point. About three years ago when I wrote my first paranormal romance my brain buckled and I found I couldn't plan a detailed outline. With the second para romance, my outline was even sketchier, to the point I wasn't sure how it would all tie up. By the time I wrote PRINCESS I was completely in the fog. Not only did I not have a clue how it would end, I also didn't have the first idea what was going to happen in the next chapter!

What would be your ultimate research trip? ;))

Ooh! I would soooo love to visit Rome! Do you think the ATO would write it off as expenses?

How long does it take you to write a book?
HIS FORBIDDEN PRINCESS took me seven or eight months. That's a long time for me and happened because after TOUCH OF THE DEMON was contracted I abandoned my Roman for a while, and then it took me several weeks to get back into the ancient world again.

On the other hand, the night I signed with my agent I sent her a novella about a fallen angel. She got back to me and asked if I could develop it into a full length novel. I sent her the finished book within three and a half months, and the RWNZ conference came in the middle of that. So, I think I work a lot faster when under pressure!!

Can you tell us a little more about your Fallen Angel story?
Ooh yes I would love to tell more about my fallen angel!!! It's a twist on the Fall and involves vindictive goddesses and malevolent Guardians of the Dimensions, plus a hot bad ass archangel, Gabriel, and a heroine with a unique psychic ability to manipulate her reality.
(EK: I likey!)

You use a pen name. Can you tell us why and how this came about?
Yes, I use my middle name rather than my first name for the simple reason I much prefer the name Christina! I just thought it would look prettier on the cover of a book. Sorry, what a shallow answer that is!!!

Do you have any say in the titles of your books? Who is your favourite character from your books?

I kept both titles for The Wild Rose Press, although it took me a while to come up with TOUCH OF THE DEMON in the first place. HIS FORBIDDEN PRINCESS started out as HIS FORBIDDEN DRUID, but as soon as my agent said my editor wanted to change the title I was completely sold! I love the Princess, and can't believe it never occurred to me before!

As for my favourite character, that's a hard question because I have to be completely immersed with the characters I'm writing about *now* in order to feel their story. So I'll have to say my fave characters are the ones I'm spending my time with in my current book!

Thanks so much for having me today, Eleni!

You're welcome and thanks Christina for joining us at the fest! Christina has kindly offered an e-copy of either Foretaste of Forever OR Touch of the Demon as a give away (must be over 18).

For your  chance to  win leave a comment below. 
Comments will be open until 5th October.

Comments for prize now closed. Congratulations Tracey O'Hara!

Good luck!

And thanks to Christina for her generosity.

Don't forget to visit Christina at her website.

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