Today I'd like to welcome author, M.J. Schiller. Today is launch day for your new book, TAKEN BY STORM. Tell us about your book.
MJ: TAKEN BY STORM begins as the darkly bitter Grand Vizier, Lord Boltar, is about to claim what he believes belongs to him, the rule of Avistad. The King of Avistad’s son, Prince Tahj, has just returned from a trip and senses the unrest even before his best friend and captain, Radeem, warns him. Radeem has heard rumors and suspects that the King’s advisor is planning to overthrow the crown. Just as Tahj discovers a “gift” from Lord Boltar, a young girl bound and gagged on the prince’s bedroom floor, fighting erupts. Tahj, Radeem, and the captive girl, Bashea, escape the castle in a hail of arrows. Born from the fire of a coup, Tahj and Bashea’s relationship burns with a passion that neither of them quite understands. The pair is drawn closer together as they face various perils, Boltar’s soldiers, a screaming panther, even the scathing winds of a desert storm. But after what she had been through at the hands of Boltar’s men, Bashea is afraid to trust and her fiery nature is both what appeals to Tahj, and what drives him crazy. In fact, when Bashea’s brother, Bagrat, informs Tahj that Bashea means “lips of the gods,” he retorts, “Are you sure you don’t mean tongue of the devil?” It takes a long separation to bring them back to each other, but when Tahj does return, it is once again during a battle with Lord Boltar. But now the overlord, who has been forced beyond reason by Tahj’s success in retaking the throne, is an even more dangerous threat than before. Reunited, Tahj and Bashea must be strong enough to defeat their twisted and powerful enemy.
Galen: What was the inspiration for your Taken by Storm?
MJ: Troy, although I know that makes no sense as it is about Ancient Greece. I’d also have to say it is a little bit of Prince of Persia, and The Prince of Egypt, all three smashed together.
Galen: What started you on the road to writing romance?
MJ: Hmmm…that’s a good question. I think I would have to say my dad. He was a very positive thinker and I think he helped to foster my desire for happily-ever-afters. He was also a great natural storyteller, whether it was just a little snippet about his day, or the funny stories he made up for my sisters, brother, and I when we were little.
Galen: Are you a pantzer or plotter?
MJ: Total pantzer. I don’t know what’s gonna happen until it happens.
Galen: Do you remember the first romance book you read? If so, who was the author? What made it stick with you?
MJ: Oh, boy! That would have been many moons ago. In high school I used to read romances so much that my algebra teacher nicknamed me “Harlequin.” (I even worked that into a book!) I didn’t do a lot of reading after my triplets were born, (other than reading Curious George and the ilk to them and my two-year-old), but I began reading again when they were in school. The first book I remember from that time frame was Anita Shreve’s The Pilot’s Wife.
Galen: If you could have any other job, (not your current writing or day job) what would it be?
MJ: Honestly? I would love to be a book cover designer. That would satisfy both my love for books, and my creative design urge. I’d have to learn a lot, though. Either that, or a rock star.
Galen: Where would you like to travel to if you had to research an area?
MJ: Mmmm…this is fun! I’ve been to Ireland once, but I’d love to go back. The people were charming and the scenery absolutely breathtaking! Other than that, the one area of the country I’ve never traveled to is the Northeast, Maine, or thereabouts.
Galen: Describe your workspace.
MJ: Uhh…it’s a mess. It often contains my cat, a cup of hot chocolate, and the kids’ school papers. I do most of my work from the dining room table, but I’ve been known to take my laptop to Starbuck’s, or write in the car, or even, to my children’s horror, to the midnight showing of Batman: The Dark Knight Rises. If I’m going to be sitting there for an hour in order to get a good seat, I’m bringing my laptop.
Galen: What are the three books you’d have if you were stranded on a deserted isle?
MJ: Oooh! …The Bible, A Tale of Two Cities, and The Great Gatsby…I think….
Galen: Name two blogs you read every day.
MJ: I don’t get to them read them every day, but I like Write in Color and Daily Writing Tips. And of course, The Ladies in Red.
Galen: What’s your favorite line from one of your books?
MJ: “Even through blood-shot eyes, Michael could tell she was different.” –from Damage Done, not out yet.
Galen: Did you sell the first book you wrote?
MJ: No. It is a sci-fi/fantasy romance and it is a little long by traditional standards; but it consists of three books I may put out separately as novellas.
Galen: What do you do when you are not writing?
MJ: Wish that I was writing. Oh, wait, that’s probably not what you were looking for. I like to do P90X (exercise program) and walk, read, of course, and karaoke (see “I want to be a rock star” reference above).
Galen: Best and worst part of being a writer.
MJ: Now this one’s easy. Best thing- creating characters that come to life, but who usually do what I say, unlike my children.
Then getting to watch those characters develop on the page, fall in love, and get their happy ending! Worst thing- having to market my writing to individuals. I had an office job that turned into a sales job once and I hated it. I’m just not a pushy person.
Galen: What was the best piece of advice given to you?
MJ: Oh, my gosh. There are so many! I think it would have to be Nickelback’s “Don’t take the free ride in your own life.” You’ve got to work to achieve your dreams, and that’s why we’re here, to make use of our special, God-given talents.
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