When my first book was published in 2006, Zoe Archer debuted her Lady X's Cowboy with Leisure Books as well. It felt like we were classmates of a sort and Zoe and I have kept in touch since then. Zoe's exciting new offering is THE BLADES OF THE ROSE, a historical/paranormal/adventure series from Kensington (also coincidentally my new publisher!). I think you're going to love it.
Zoe and I sat down over a cup of cyber-joe recently. Here's your chance to listen in:
Emily: Zoe,you hold an MFA in writing. How do you think your academic achievements have contributed to your publishing success?
Zoe: Though it wasn’t easy to get an agent, mentioning my MFA in my query letter definitely helped open some doors. Of course, once the door is open, it’s the quality of the writing that ultimately lands you representation, so I can’t say that the degree made it possible. The MFA program I attended is extremely competitive, and to come from that kind of environment, where writers begrudge someone else’s success, to the world of romance fiction, where the writers are genuinely supportive was a big shock. A welcome shock, but it still amazes me how truly pleased romance writers are for each other when they succeed. At the Golden Heart ceremony at this year’s RWA, people were sobbing—myself included—as the winners came up and wept with joy. You would very seldom find that kind of camaraderie in other genres.
Emily: I know exactly what you mean. Romance writers are the most supportive people in the world. I think it's because we write about love. You've written a wide variety of romance genres since your historical debut in 2006. How did you get from the sedate England of Love in a Bottle to Zombies?
Zoe: Seriously, though, I always knew that I could never write the more traditional historical romance. Even my so-called straight historicals were kind of out there. I reached kind of a crisis point in writing romance, and I decided to go for broke, and write the kind of romance that I’d always wanted to read but had never found on the shelf. Thus, the Blades of the Rose were born.
Emily: Tell us more about your Blades of the Rose series.
Zoe: The books are set between 1874 and 1875. The British Empire is growing larger and stronger, and there are brutal men calling themselves the Heirs of Albion, who will stop at nothing to ensure Britain’s global supremacy. Unbeknownst to most people, actual magic exists in the world, concentrated in physical objects known as Sources. The Heirs seek out and enslave this magic to help the cause of empire building. Enter the Blades of the Rose, a global secret organization comprised of men and women who protect Sources from exploitation. The odds against the Blades are great, but that never stops them from fighting for their noble cause.
It was wonderful to write the Blades books. For one thing, I was able to set them in some really unique locations: the Mongolian steppes and Gobi desert, the Aegean Sea and the islands in it, the Canadian Rockies, and locations in England not often seen in historical romance (as well as a special location that I can’t reveal yet!). I honored the classic adventure narratives, and added mythology from all around the world. Plus, I threw in a touch of steampunk. The books are also very, very sexy, and that’s a good thing!
Emily: Wow! That's what we call "high concept!" And I love that you're taking us on adventures in some really unusual places. I can't wait to read WARRIOR now! Speaking of very sexy, what will we love about your hero?
Zoe: Captain Gabriel Huntley is utterly delicious. First of all, picture him as a cross between Sean Bean and Daniel Craig. Give him the rough accent of John Thornton from North & South. Then make him a thirteen-year veteran of the British Army, an enlisted man more comfortable with action than words. He hates unfair fights and always sticks up for the underdog. He’s uncomfortable around delicate English ladies, preferring to use his sharpshooting and tracking skills rather than engage in tea table chatter. When WARRIOR opens, Gabriel is returning to England for the first time in over a decade of foreign service. He thinks he wants to settle down and lead a quiet, ordinary life, but when given the opportunity to travel to the other side of the world and have a dangerous adventure, he leaps at the chance—little knowing he will find his perfect woman in the middle of this adventure.
Emily: Yummy! Please describe your writing process.
Zoe: I always start out with a fairly detailed outline. Writers are supposedly divided into plotter and pantser camps. I am definitely a plotter. With complex adventure stories, it’s really important for me to know where I am heading and what needs to happen. There’s room for change, and I have certainly diverged from the outline when necessary, but I never sit down to write actual pages without the outline. I write in 3-chapter blocks, then give the chapters to my critique partner (who is, incidentally, my husband! He’s also a writer.), then revise, give him the whole manuscript when it’s done, get another round of notes, then send it to my agent for her notes. It’s a thorough, deliberate process. Nothing capricious or whimsical about it. I mean business!
Emily: You inspire me to try plotting again. What's next for you?
Zoe: I just sold a new 3-book paranormal historical romance series to Kensington called THE HELLRAISERS. It’s about a group of wild 18th-century rakes who inadvertently free the Devil from his prison and literally raise hell. It’s going to be dark and sexy and I can’t wait to get started on it! Of course, if the Blades books take off, I’m perfectly willing to write four more. *wink*
Emily: I'm perfectly willing to buy every word you write, my dear!
Bio: Zoe Archer is an award-winning romance author who thinks there’s nothing sexier than a man in tall boots and a waistcoat. As a child, she never dreamed about being the rescued princess, but wanted to kick butt right beside the hero. She now applies her master’s degrees in Literature and Fiction to creating butt-kicking heroines and heroes in tall boots. Her BLADES OF THE ROSE series—featuring dashing men and fearless women—will be released Fall 2010. Zoe and her husband live in Los Angeles.
Here’s the link to the Warrior excerpt: http://www.zoearcherbooks.com/Warrior_Excerpt.html
Learn more about Zoe here:
Buy links for Warrior:
Barnes and Noble
Zoe is giving away a signed copy of Warrior to a random commenter so be sure to leave a question or comment for this very talented lady!