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.



Christina Phillips said...

Ooh, am I first? Do I get the golden Adonis? LOL!

Eleni, thanks so much for having me today and I LOVE all the gorgeous pics you found!! You're a star!

Eleni Konstantine said...

Yep indeed you are...this is a first that the guest is on before anyone else - LOL! You wanted the Golden Adonis really bad didn't you? ;))

You are so welcome and thanks for being a guest. I'm glad you love the piccies. :)

Unknown said...

Hi Eleni & Christina :)
Thank you for the excellent interview. You really are a pro at interviewing Eleni! I loved learning about Christina.
All the best,

Nikki Logan said...

Wait... Nanna naps are allowed? Awesome news. LOL.

Congrats on the double reward for perseverence, Christina. I look forward to seeing both on the shelves.

Thank you for bringing Eleni-fest to a fabulous close....

Cari Quinn said...

So great to see you here, Christina! I have both FoF and ToTD and they're both fabulous! :)

Helen Hardt said...

Always great to see you, hon! His Forbidden Princess will be a must-read for me! I work better under pressure, too. Nothing gets me going like a deadline, LOL. Which is why I'm doing NaNo once again. Much more success to you, Christina!

Kaye Manro said...

Hi Christina! What a cool interview-- good job Eleni! I love both Fortaste and Demon. So I hope someone wins who hasn't read Christina Phillips before! Oh we are all so happy about that contract.

Have a Happy Halloween!

The Scarf Princess said...

First off, I LOVE the tiaras you're wearing! I so want one!

Second, the covers for the Scarlet Rose books are fabulous. The women are a vamped up Xena and those men are super drool-worthy.

Happy Halloween to everyone!

joderjo402 AT gmail DOT com

Sara Hantz said...

Fabulous interview!!!!!! As one of Christina's CPs I have to tell you I couldn't have been more excited about her latest sale if it had happened to me. She is the most awesome writer ever and we're all so proud of her achievement. And she's going to make it big.... as in huge! Remember - you heard it here first!

(Do I get a prize :))

Anna Campbell said...

Hey, where's my Golden Adonis????!!!! I want him back!

OK, Christina, it's gladiuses (gladii?) at ten paces until you unhand my man. You can keep the loincloth. I mean it - YOU CAN KEEP THE LOINCLOTH!!!

Just swinging by to say I'm SOOOO thrilled for you with your sale to Berkley. And wow, with such an unusual setting and story too - it must have really blown their socks off.

By the way, I'm snickering at a 'satisfyingly' evil villain. Um, what exactly is he satisfying???!!! Or am I perfectly right to snicker, you naughty girl?

Loved the interview! Loved the photo with the tiara - suits you, m'dear!

Thanks, Eleni. Another fascinating guest!

Amanda Ashby said...

Great interview Christina!!!!!! Do you know I completely forgot about that short story where they turned to stone at the end - that's so funny. Anyway, Druid has ended up becoming one of the most awesome books ever and I can't wait for the rest of the world to read it (though while I'm happy to share your Roman hero with everybody, remember that Mephisto is all mine!!!!)

Linda Henderson said...

I enjoyed the interview very much. Great pictures.

seriousreader at live dot com

Kylie Griffin said...

Fantastic news about your 2 book Berkley contract, Christina. And some great answers to some great questions - I found it fascinating that you went from a plotter to a lost-in-the-fog-panster. :-)
Eleni - sad to see this month go so fast and the end to Eleni-fest - it's been a terrific month of writer-ly things. Thanks for running it - I've enjoyed logging in every couple of days and catching up.

Sandie Hudson said...

What a great interview to finish Eleni-fest on ladies. Oh, I'm so plesed Nana naps are allowed or I'd be in big trouble.

Congrats Christina on your 2 book Berkley contact.


Mel Teshco said...

Hi Christina!
I've read FOF and can say it was a great read =)
Love your road to publication story - persistence really does pay off!
And thanks Eleni for yet another great introduction to an author =)

Rachel Bailey said...

Hi Christina, what a great interview! I love learning a bit more about authors I know. I'm a *huge* fan of the Roman / Druid times and can't wait for this book to be released.

Thanks for the interview, Eleni!

Nicky Strickland said...

Happy Halloween & Samhain everyone!

Christina & Eleni - a great interview.

Christina - I'm with Rachel in loving the ancient times & can't wait to hunt out copies to read.

I think it's interesting how when we go "I couldn't do that, it's too hard/not me etc" it can tend to be exactly what it is we are meant to be doing! (I say this with the entire Romance Genre in mind - took me years to face up to the fact that I have them ....though I'm not guaranteeing HEAs I might end up more "For Now HEA" or a love story *gulp*).

I think Nana Naps are highly underrated! (Plus I also think when in the throes of deep writing/editing they are wonderful brain rechargers).

Suzanne Brandyn Author said...

What a wonderful journey into your world of writing. I learn more and more about you each day.
It's so interesting, and your journey sounds like it has been fun but at times a struggle. (like most writers)
Congratulations on your Roman Christina.
All the best,
Suz :)

Mitz said...

Congratulations Christina on your 2book deal, go girl....
Loved the interview interesting how you change genre's. I'm sure alot of erotica writers told themselves at some time or another they could never write erotica either so props to you for going ahead with it obviously it's payed off, Good Luck with that...
I would love to read the two books your offering today. I can't wait to read your 2 new contracted books. Thanks for doing this interview with Eleni.

I just found your site recently, but always find something new and interesting over here. Keep up the good work girl...

Sharon Archer said...

Fabulous interview, Christina and Eleni!

It was so interesting to hear that you were a plotter, Christina, but now you're more of a pantser. It obviously suits you though because your story lines and your characters sound fascinating.

I was absolutely delighted when you announced that you'd sold. Congratulations on your success!

PS I'm rapt to hear that nana naps have Mary Jo's seal of approval!

Eleni Konstantine said...

Thanks everyone for making Christina feel welcome.

RK - thanks for the lovely compliment.

Nikki - Nanna naps rock!

Cari - Aren't Christina's Rosettes just great - great writing and great stories.

Helen - Good luck with NaNo.

Kaye - Oh yes, Happy Halloween everyone!!

Joder - Don't those tiaras just suit the the three CPs. And the covers are so lovely.

Sara - Oh I'm sure you will get an acknowledgement being one of her fab CPs. You all have journeyed together and have shared the ups and downs. Let it be UPS all the way now for all of you.

Anna - I know, I thought you were hanging onto that Adonis for dear life. LOL re loincloth and 'satisfyingly'. You always know how to make me laugh.

Amanda - another CP supporting, how cool. We got it - keep hands of Mephisto. I really can't wait to read this book!!

Linda - hey there. Glad you enjoyed the interview.

Kylie - yes, I found the plotter turning pantser interesting too - usually it's the other way around. And thanks for joining in Eleni-fest. Glad you enjoyed it.

Sandie - thanks Sandie. Yay another fan of nana naps - we should start a fan club.

Mel - yep another lady with persistence. And great to see a pay off.

Rachel - It's such an interesting time in history isn't it. Nicole - Of course let's say Happy Samhain too (though I can never pronounce it correctly).
-Nana naps are definitely recharging.

Suz - Christina's world is definitely fascinating.

Mitz - thank you. I don't know how I'm going to top of having all these fantastic special guests on.

Sharon - yay another Nana nap fan! and yes wasn't the announcement of Christina's 2 book deal just absolutely amazing!!

Anonymous said...

Another fantastic interview to round off your awesome month!
Great insight into your writing and can't wait to read the new book,
All sounds wounderful,
And what? Are nanna-naps not part of everyone's normal day?
They sure are written into my daily schedule! Thought everyone had one...or two...
Thanks ladies,

Christina Phillips said...

RK, thanks so much for stopping by!

Nikki, nana naps are definitely allowed! And I'm looking forward to seeing your books on the shelves soon too!

Cari, thanks so much for your fabulous endorsement!!

Christina Phillips said...

Helen, it's always lovely to see you too! Happy NaNo-ing!

Kaye thank you sooo much for all your support and good wishes!

Joder, aren't the tiaras fabulous? I think we might be wearing them next year too! (be afraid... lol) And I love that Xena warrior woman as well!!

Christina Phillips said...

Sara, the cheque is in the post... hehehe... seriously you know I wouldn't be here today if you and Amanda hadn't given me well-deserved kicks up the bottom when I needed it!!!

Anna, really it's not the loincloth I'm after!!! I'll hand him back in a day or so... hehehe... And yes you're right to snicker, my villain's visions of satisfaction are more than a little naughty...

Christina Phillips said...

Amanda, yes the famous granite scene, hahaha!!! And Mephisto is all yours, except for the times I need to, uh, *borrow* him for research purposes...

Thanks so much, Linda! Aren't the pictures fantastic? Eleni really excelled herself!!

Christina Phillips said...

Hi Kylie! Yes the plotter to panster thing is very strange for me. I've tried fighting it but my brain just closes down and refuses to cooperate!

Sandie, thank you so much for the congrats. And yes I was so relieved to have nana naps sanctioned at conference!

Christina Phillips said...

Hey Mel! I'm so happy you enjoyed FoF. And persistence does pay off, I didn't quote my fave quote in the interview but I'll do it here (and no it's not from BSG, Eleni!!) it's from Galaxy Quest: Never Give Up! Never Surrender!!

Hi Rachel! I love the Roman/Druid times, there's so much to explore there. It's a fascinating period of history! Thank you for dropping in!!

Christina Phillips said...

Nicole, yes that's exactly what happens to me with my writing all the time - I'll say I can't do something and immediately go and try it! And nana naps are great rechargers, keeps me going till midnight! Thanks for stopping by!

Suz, thank you for the congrats! It has been a struggle at times but whenever I took a break I'd just feel a million times worse!

Christina Phillips said...

Thanks for the congratulations, Mitz! Yes, I've tried quite a few sub-genres over the years, lol, and would never have attempted to write erotic romance if my CPs hadn't virtually dared me into it! I'm very glad they did!!!

Sharon thanks so much for the congrats! It still feels weird to me that I don't know what's happening in the next chapter but so far it's panned out - hope it keeps up... lol!

Eleni Konstantine said...

Suzi - yes it's a fantastic way to end the month! Yes there should be a law - nana naps allowed.

Christina - ah how could we forget the quote from Galaxy Quest. But did you mention BSG? The Plan is coming out soon...I hope. I haven't kept up with the goss over the last month. I've had this little thing called Eleni-fest happening ;))

Christina Phillips said...

Eleni, thank you again for this fantastic month of Eleni-Fest you've hosted. You deserve a medal!

Hi Suzi, lovely to see you! Thanks for stopping by!

Tracey O'Hara said...

Great interview Chrisina and Eleni. Congrats again on you sale, Christina, your books sound right up my alley. AWESOME. CAn't wait to see it on the shelves.

Eleni Konstantine said...

Aww thanks Christina. I'm glad you have enjoyed Eleni-fest and for being both a guest and a hostess :))

Tracey - hey there. It will be great seeing Christina's books on the shelves. I loved seeing your NCK on the shelves last week (I'd ordered my copy pre that so didn't get a chance to see them). So cool.

Christina Phillips said...

Eleni, is The Plan the prequel? It's ringing bells, maybe there was a clip at the end of the last DVD. Oh I loved that ending sooo much but it was a wrench to say goodbye!!

Tracey, thank you! And thanks for stopping by when you've been busy at your book signing today!

Eleni Konstantine said...

Christina - it's actually covers what was in the first two seasons of BSG but from the Cylons POV. So can't wait to see how it worked out. You know the beginning lines "and they have a plan".

Caprica is the series set 50 years before BSG. And I think that is now underway filming. Finally.

Authorness said...

Chiming in a little late to say hi to Eleni and Christina!

Christina, congrats on graduating from apprentice author to published author! You're an inspiration!

~ Vanessa

Christina Phillips said...

OOOH!!! *THAT* plan!!! *wriggles on seat* is it out on DVD yet???

Vanessa! how lovely to see you, thanks for popping in! And thank you soo much for the congrats!!

Eleni Konstantine said...

Hi Vanessa - not late. Christina's here till the 5th...well I'll just let her out for bathroom breaks ;)))) Glad you could drop in.

Christina - yes that Plan. I don't know. Haven't had a chance to check it out. Soon....

Emmeline Lock said...

Hi Christina
Great story - and congrats on your sale Berkley. Your stories sound really fasctinating...

Hey Eleni,
*wobbly bottom lip*. It's October 31st. Can't tell you how much I loved the Elenifest. Super, super work!

Off to tell hubby nanna naps are good for writers... :)

Eleni Konstantine said...

Hey elove - there there now, it's OK. *pat hand*. :)) Thanks very much for your support during Eleni-fest. There's still some comments closing later in the week so I'm not completely done with it yet.

Christina Phillips said...

Hi elove, thank you for the congrats!

Eleni, I better go and Google!

Sussan Marz said...

Christina, I've been stalking (ahem) you for a while now and find your publishing journey fascinating. Congrats on the 2 book deal with Berkley Heat. I'm unbelievably happy for you, and we've never even met. BTW, Foretaste of Forever was an enjoyable read.

Er, did someone mentioned a golden Adonis?

Eleni Konstantine said...

Sussan - yes we do have a golden Adonis for the first commenter, in this post it was Christina!

Hey Christina, I think I'm missing my golden Adonis....

Eleni Konstantine said...

Thanks everyone for commenting and making Christina feel at home in the taverna.

Congratulations to Tracey O'Hara for winning a copy of either of Christina's Rosettes.

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