I’m pleased to welcome Lisa Hendrix, author of the Immortal Brotherhood series, to Fiction Vixen today.
FV: I know from reading your bio on your website that you are married with children and pets, living in Southern Oregon “where only the hardiest survive” and that you have had a variety of interesting jobs including research assistant on the Bering sea. Can you tell us something we don’t know about you?
LH: Back in my younger, skinnier days, I was a belly dancer. I danced with a troupe in Juneau, Alaska, that performed at local festivals and at the Southeast Alaska State Fair in Haines.
FV: Tell us about the third book in your Immortal Brotherhood series, Immortal Champion.
LH: Well, you’ve already given everyone a taste of the story, so I’ll just admit a secret: two months ago, I was worried about this one. I mean, really…a medieval were-bull? I was concerned people would have trouble getting past that. But then the reviews started coming in, and it’s clear readers are seeing Gunnar the way I see him…as an ordinary man caught in a terrible situation, doing the best he can. His grit and gallantry made me sigh all the way through, and I’m really proud of how his story turned out.
As for the launch itself, I’m doing a few blog visits, an extended book tour from San Diego to Portland, OR (some formal events and as many drive-by stock signings as we can fit into a thousand miles), and my first ever book launch party, sponsored by a local consignment shop/latté stand where I wrote some of Immortal Champion. As part of all this, I had some beautiful bookmarks printed up, and any reader who would like an autographed one can send an SASE (self-addressed, stamped envelope) to me at PO Box 8092, Medford, OR 97501 USA (Overseas readers should send their address and an IRC).
FV: I really liked Eleanor, the heroine of the story. She was a smart, cunning and very clever yet understated. She really kept me on my toes throughout the story. Was she a challenge to write?
LH: Thank you. I liked her too, and really, it’s no wonder Gunnar falls for her like a rock.
Eleanor was clear in my head from the outset. Her part of the story unfolded very naturally, with few surprises. The only challenge was in seeing the computer screen through the tears during a couple of the scenes.
FV: Gunnar the Red’s character is a cursed warrior who is full of angst (Hello Mr. Bull, *waggles eyebrows*). I think you just can’t go wrong with a bull shifter in paranormal romance. How did you decide what forms the warriors would take when they were cursed?
LH: The Norse believed every person has a spirit companion, a fylgja (pl. fylgjur) that follows him or her throughout life, usually taking shape of an animal when it’s visible. Once I discovered this concept, I decided the curse must have been worked using the fylgja amulet each man wore. Thus he would take that beast’s form.
The next part of the puzzle was coming up with nine animals that Viking warriors would have known about in the mid-9th century, that wouldn’t stick out too much in England—no polar bears, or ice bears, as the Vikings called them—and that were “sexy” enough for a romance hero—no boars, for instance, even if the Vikings did consider them to be brave and warlike. And no lemmings or weasels, either.
That didn’t leave a lot of choices, and it was inevitable that a few of the guys were going to end up on the fringes. Ari is a raven not just because he’s clever and talkative, but because of his inborn magic and the fact that ravens are Odin’s special messengers. One of the warriors you haven’t met yet is a hart (a stag)
And poor Gunnar turns into a bull, not because of his physical strength or his (ahem) size, but because emotionally, he’s a bit of a lunk. He’s not quick-witted like Ari, or a born leader like Brand, and he tends not to think things through before he charges into a situation. He’s stubborn and fearsome, , yet he has a tender, hopeful side that just makes me go awwww…and his courage makes Eleanor fall in love with him from the first moment.
FV: The Immortal Brotherhood series is a paranormal historical romance series. In your notes in the back of the book you mention your research and how complicated it became. I imagine writing a historically correct romance is challenging enough but you chose to add in paranormal elements as well. Have you been presented with any specific challenges in writing a historical paranormal series?
LH: Only the challenges I’ve set for myself. My goal is to set these cursed men down in the middle of the real world of their time, a world where most people either didn’t believe in magic beyond the Church or feared and persecuted those believed to traffic in it. As much as possible, I’m surrounding them with real history, places, and people—and the very real danger that being discovered would present to such men in such times.
On top of that, I decided to set every book in a different time periods. I’ve always thought it was pretty far-fetched that a group of immortals would live through century after century and then all find true love during the same summer. So while the first few books were set in medieval times, there were 100-200 year gaps between them (1096, 1290, and 1407-15). The remaining books will follow the warriors up to the present time, with stories set in Elizabethan times, the Restoration, and so on. All will be as historically accurate as I can make them. And all will delve into legend and myth along with the history.
FV: Vikings are sexy, it’s a well-known fact. But what is your favorite type of romance hero to write?
LH: Honorable, courageous, true, sexy, and quick-witted. A guy who can deal with a bad guy, and then knock you off your feet with a steamy look or a bon mot.
FV: You’ve suddenly been thrust back in time. Which one of the warriors would you have ‘discover’ you and become your protector?
LH: LOL. That depends on which book I’ve just finished writing. I fall for all of them. So right now, Gunnar. But I have to say, I have a very soft spot for Brand and can hardly wait to get to his book. And since he’s the captain, he absolutely has to be the best.
FV: Besides coffee, (that’s a given) what three things do you absolutely need when you settle down to do some serious writing?
LH: A block of time. An environment that doesn’t demand my attention, i.e. without kids/husband and with music that fades away. And access to food that I can eat one-handed in front of a computer, some of which must be chocolate.
FV: What are you currently reading?
LH: Shakespeare’s As You Like It, as research (both for the Elizabethan voice and because it’s one of the underlying “legends” I’m using in Immortal Defender). I’m not reading fiction right now because I’m on deadline. I don’t read fiction while I write, unless I’m having a problem and need to take a break. I’m also about to go on tour for Immortal Champion, so that means I’m really short on time. However, I have several books lined up for when everything settles down, including The Snow Globe, by my good friend Sheila Roberts and The Iron Duke by Meljean Brook.
FV: I assume each of the warriors will get their own book, is this correct? Are you working on anything else or will you focus on this series until it’s complete?
LH: Yes, every man will have his happy ending, culminating with Brand in present time. As for other work: I’d love to do other books or novellas in between these, but it doesn’t seem likely at this point. I admire folks who can manage several projects at once, but I haven’t figured out how to do it yet.
FV: Thanks so much for stopping by to chat today, it was fun.
He faces a future of cold uncertainty, until her warm embrace…
Part of a Viking crew of warriors cursed by an evil sorceress, Gunnar the Red must toil through eternity as half-man, half-beast, living out his days as a great bull, while his nights are spent in human form. And though he keeps mostly to the wilds, his heart yearns for the simple comforts of man—and the chance to redeem a tragic past…
Seeking refuge from a bitter winter in the welcoming hall of Richmond Castle, Gunnar rescues two maidens when a blaze erupts—and his destiny is forever altered. For one of the young women is Lady Eleanor de Neville, who is immediately entranced by her rescuer. Her kiss of gratitude—the brief touch of her lips against his cheek—awakens a longing in her soul. And even when she is betrothed to another, Eleanor never forgets her courageous knight.
When Gunnar rides back into Eleanor’s life, she is consumed by undeniable passion. And though his body surrenders to her every touch, Gunnar’s heart remains imprisoned by the curse—and only the magic of the truest love can save him…
Lisa Hendrix would like to give away signed print copies of two of her back list books, winners’ choice. Open to anyone, anywhere that mail is delivered. Giveaway is open until January 18, winner announced soon after.
To enter, leave a comment here telling Lisa what your favorite historical setting is and what were-beast you find most appealing in a paranormal romance.