Friday, January 8, 2010

Juggling Writing and Life--Chat with Cheryl Brooks

Back Cover Blurb:

When a Zetithian fugitive meets a beautiful Earth woman, their passion may cost them both their lives…

Manx is a Zetithian fugitive with a feline gene that gives him remarkable sexual powers. He has been in hiding in the remote jungles of Barada Seven ever since being marked for extermination by the violent Nedwuts.

Artist Drusilla arrives on Barada Seven, enticed only by the promise of finding a nature paradise there. But she discovers a wildlife she wasn't expecting when she encounters Manx. Reckless with desire for the beautiful Earth woman, Manx risks his life to win her as his mate.

It's only a matter of time until the Nedwuts find them, but it will take all of Manx and Drusilla's passion, skill, and ingenuity to survive.

I've been intrigued with Cheryl Brooks and The Cat Star Chronicles, ever since I first met her last winter. I immediately went to my bookstore to get a copy of her book and found...They didn't have them! Didn't have them? Why? (might I add, that has changed. Never underestimate a determined reader, *winking.) So I put in an order and got my first read, wonderful stories combining Sci-fi, which I love, and Romance. I haven't had the chance to read all of Cheryl's books but what I have read I've loved. They're imaginative, take place in a well built world, full of wondrous inhabitants, and a solid story line.

My Thoughts:

What I enjoyed about Fugitive was the well-crafted world she creates. Not only was it a *place* but it included a cast of characters that inhabited the world. At first glance these inhabitants seems rather ineffectual, harmless, defenseless but while they aren't advocates of violence (no weapons allowed) they are far from defenseless. I also like the day-to-day glimpses of their lifestyle and culture, and flora and fauna.
To me, especially in a sci-fiction story, this is the base on which the rest of the story must sit, so if that's not realistic, than the story doesn't matter. Cheryl does a wonderful job of giving you a real world in galaxy far away.

Cat Star Chronicles are about a race of feline humanoids called Zetithians. The Zetithians are a hunted species and have a bounty on their heads and some rather nasty creatures doing the hunting. Someone’s pulling the strings of the hunt, but we don’t know whom or why, but we do get clues along the way.

The Zetithians are highly sexual, have more than their share of sex appeal--in fact, the sirens of legend have nothing on these guys when it comes to drawing sexual partners. While they can and do have affairs, they are men who look for their mate, someone they can bond with for life. I like the way Cheryl presents this bond and the importance of it.

Manx is literally a fugitive on Barada Seven, hiding from bounty hunters, existing, if you will. When a lovely artist from earth comes to Barada Seven to paint her specialty, birds, the two of them, Manx and Drusilla, meet. Drusilla has also merely existed in her life, although she is a highly acclaimed artist. Meeting each other kicks in the romance of the story. What a romance. Very hot and sizzles. All I can say is wow! I love the way Cheryl brings these two to life. The awakening if you will.

The story is well paced and skillfully puts you squarely into this world. The pace is varied—some lingering with the romance here and there, letting you discover who these two people are as they learn about each other. You care about them. However, the tension is constantly building. Your heart pumps in fear for Manx when the off-worlders hunting him land. You worry about the danger Drusilla is being drawn into. Your heart also melts with the love developing between the two. Well, it’s not only your heart, lol!

I love secondary characters. They add depth to a story and my favorite in this one is Zef. He’s an old coot with language filled with colorful metaphors, but he has a heart of gold. He also truly cares for Manx and wants him happy. He also does a bit of match making which made me laugh. With Zef and Manx you see not only two friends but also you see the sense of humor both have and they play off each other. Which was fun.

This story can be read as a stand alone, but there is a mystery to solve, and those clues start in the first of the series and build a bit in each book.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. There wasn’t a spot that made me lose interest. I had to make myself put it down to do chores that needed doing and I made the time (putting off other things) to finish it in a couple of days. The story grabs you and doesn’t let go. If you’re looking for a good romance combined with good Sci-fi, this is the book to read. I’ll be reading all of Cheryl’s backlist and any future books. I’d recommend you do the same.

I was thrilled to be able to have a chance to, not only read Fugitive but talk with Cheryl a bit:

  • Did you have a good holiday? Do anything special?

    Hmm, let's see, would driving an hour and a half to pick up my puppy from the vet in Indianapolis qualify as special?

    Oh no! Uh, no, that's not my idea of a great holiday. Is she okay?

    She had surgery on Dec 18th and again on the 21st and finally came home Christmas Eve. She's doing fine now, as are all of my family, which is the best Christmas gift anyone could receive.

    You work full time as a nurse? So how do you balance your career and writing as prolifically as you do? Do actually sleep, lol?

    Yes, I work three twelve-hour night shifts per week in the ICU, but I'm not balancing it as well as I used to. When I was just writing for fun, it was a whole lot easier because all I had to do was write and there were no deadlines. Nowadays I'm promoting and writing and editing and proofreading and trying to work a full time job and take care of my home and family all at the same time! The thing that has disappeared is time for myself, be it riding my horses or playing my guitar. Watching television is pretty much a thing of the past, and thought I do actually sleep, there are times when it doesn't feel like it. I learned a very long time ago that sleep is a night shift person's best friend and most essential nutrient. Not enough sleep equals lousy writing and unsafe nursing.

    Given your work and writing schedule, what do you do to relax and recharge?

    I still have my horses, but riding is something I rarely have time for anymore. However, reading a little Harry Potter before bed makes everything seem better and has become the thing I look forward to the most. I recently got a treadmill, so I'm hoping to start writing and walking at the same time. Not sure how well that will work, but my body is sending me signals I can't ignore any longer!

    Your first three books were first person, and the fourth and fifth have been in third. What made you decide to go with third person?

    That was an editorial decision. Some readers really enjoy the first person voice, while others thought it was wrong for romance writing. I was asked to make the switch with book four, Outcast. By that time, the book was already about two thirds written and making that change was very difficult. I had never heard of head hopping until I was writing Fugitive, and though I did my best to avoid it, sometimes, you just gotta do what you gotta do! Hero, the sixth book was written after I'd learned the “rules” of writing in third person, so hopefully I'm getting better at it. I loved writing in first person, but I've also discovered that the inside of my hero's head is a very interesting place to be. Not only that, but you have the opportunity to explore the motivations of the villains, which is something you just can't do in first person unless your bad guy is given to monologuing.

    Your main character, Manx, is a Zetithian, which is an alien species of feline humanoids. Did you study cats to accomplish realistic characteristics? Or was it merely years of observation of cats in general?

    I've had cats as pets for a very long time, in fact, I can't remember when there wasn't a cat hanging around my house. Their sleek grace and their incredible eyes are very alluring, as is their purr, but you have only to watch some funny cat videos to know that there is humor in them, too, which, for me, is an essential component in the perfect hero.

    Mine too!

    What did you like about your main character? He’s quite something. Blatant, very sexy, and yet surprisingly he's very caring of those around him.

    I liked Manx's sense of humor the best. The fact that he's gorgeous and sexy and not inhibited about it doesn't hurt any. Plus, my heroes are not the alpha male type; they are gentle and likeable and treat women as equals, but when it comes to a fight, they’re the guys you want on your side.

    What was the most fun about writing this story?

    I loved putting myself in the place of an artist and then dreaming up all the ways she and Manx could interact—the “body painting” scene is one of my personal favorites. Drusilla's character was based on a friend of mine who tends to mutter pithy comments under her breath, and I had a lot of fun with that.

    What scene do you like the best in your story?

    The scene where Manx asks Drusilla to marry him is my favorite. I recently read it aloud at our RWA chapter retreat, and though it got some laughs, it choked me up at the end, which is just the way I wanted it!

    Cheryl, I really enjoyed your story. I have to say I have a favorite secondary character. Well two—Zef and Klog. Can you tell us a little bit about them?

    Zef is an eltran—a lake-dwelling amphibian indigenous to Barada Seven—who has a penchant for collecting curse words in a variety of languages. He always says exactly what he's thinking and plays matchmaker for Manx and Drusilla. Klog is the kind of droid you want running your house. He always knows what you want without being asked and, if you’re ever in a tight spot, he's got your back. He doesn't talk much, just communicates with beeps, chirps, and buzzes, but he makes a mean margarita!

    Okay, I really, really want a Klog for myself. I wonder how I can import him? Where did you say Barada Seven was? Lolol!

    I know you are hard at work on another story. Can you tell us a bit about it and when it will be released?

    The sixth book in the series, Hero, has already gone to the copyeditor and will be released in August 2010. The story is about Trag, (the other brother in Rogue) and a Zetithian female named Micayla, who was orphaned at a young age and was raised on Earth. She is ignorant of her background and even the name of her species, but when she and Trag meet, everything changes and sparks begin to fly! This is also the book where the person responsible for the destruction of Zetith is revealed, but what happens to him is a secret! The next project is called Renegade, but I'm not sure when it will be released—mainly because I'm not sure when I'll finish writing it!

    Personally, I'm all for the comeuppance of that person. I did enjoy the deduction session between the Nedwuts (which I keep wanting to call nedbuts, lol), and of course Jack and her crew's ideas as well. I love a puzzle and I'm madly trying to figure out who's behind it all. I still have a couple of your books I need to read. Maybe I'll get more clues there.

    I’m really looking forward to reading the next story. I also appreciate you taking the time to stop in here at Over Coffee.

    Thanks for having me here, Sia. As always, it's been a pleasure!


    Cheryl Brooks is the author of The Cat Star Chronicles. This series of erotic science fiction novels explores the lives of the last of a race of feline lovers captured in war and sold into slavery. Discover how the men of Zetith could make an entire galaxy of men jealous enough to destroy their race...

    Slave was the first of Cheryl's books to be published with Sourcebooks Casablanca. What makes it even more exciting is that they have asked for five more novels in this series!

    Cheryl is a native of Louisville, KY, and graduated from the Kentucky Baptist Hospital School of Nursing and then went on to earn a BSN from Indiana University. Horse crazy from the time she knew what a horse was, her family moved to rural Indiana in 1989. Since then, she's managed to accumulate four horses and five cats. Cheryl has been working full-time as a critical care nurse for more than thirty years, which can be exciting, but she's itching for a different kind of excitement!

    Cheryl's other interests include cooking, gardening, singing and guitar playing. "I'm really hurt that The Eagles got back together without me!"

    You can visit Cheryl at her website:
    . And catch her blogs at Wickedly Romantic and Cheryl Brooks Erotic Blogspot


~Sia McKye~ said...

Cheryl, welcome again to Over Coffee. Um, did you happen to bring any of your sexy Zetithians with you? *she asks wistfully

Help your self to the Coffee/Breakfast Bar. Since it seems everyone is facing a deep freeze outside their door, there is plenty on hot coffee and tea. I even have a nice electric blanket for your comfy chair.

I loved Fugitive. It was fun. I never even noticed, until we were chatting, your Manx wasn't an Alpha male. He's very strong and resourceful, incredibly sexy, a man I'd want on my side in a crunch, but he lingers in your mind. Not an easy man to forget.

Jessica said...

I found Cheryl's book Slave at a Library fund raiser, they were selling donated books. It took me all of one day to read it and fall in love with the characters and story line. I went back the next to look for any more of her books and came out with Outcast. Since then I have purchased the others including her latest Fugitive. My only complaint is I don't have a Zetitihan or a Klog of my own. So I make do with the books, over and over again. I am going to have a hard time waiting patiently for Hero in Aug. But I will find a way...following on her blog site is a hoot too! Come on over and see for the way, I like your site too.

Ana said...

Cheryl that would be amazing if you brought Cat. Or Leo. Or Tychar...Or Lynx...Or Manx....*Sighs happily*

Great interview though :D

Fugitive is awesome :D

Kat Sheridan said...

Oh YIKES, Cheryl, I'm going to have a squeeing fan-girl moment! I love, love, LOVE your books! I won the first one in my RWA chapter's raffle, devoured it, and went out and bought everything else available. You're one of my automatic-pre-order authors! SUCH hot heroes!

I've always wanted to ask. How does a sci-fi author come up with the names of planets, places, creatures, etc? Nedwuts? I always try reading names like that backwards, or look for anangrams or something that will give me a hint where the name came from!

Sia, great interview. As is usual with me, it's late, rather than early (or really early, depending on your point of view), but I'll take a cuppa coffee most anytime!

Cheryl Brooks said...

Good morning, Sia! Here I am, juggling work and writing yet again. Busy, busy night at the ol' bandage factory, as my Pa used to call it.

Let's see... Nope, no Zetithians here with me, but I will take some tea and scones from the breakfast bar. There is definitely a deep freeze here. That white, fluffy stuff is really piling up! *sigh* I wish I was on Barada Seven where the jungle is warm and Manx is warmer!!!

Cheryl Brooks said...

Hi Jessica!
It's funny the way people find my books. One reader found an ARC of Rogue next to her garbage can and was hooked. LOL! One woman's trash is another woman's treasure, I guess. Glad to have you on board as a blog regular. We're having so much fun it ought to be illegal!

Cheryl Brooks said...

Thanks, Ana!
I wish I had one of the guys here with me. I could use an hot-blooded Zetithian right now. Very chilly!

Cheryl Brooks said...

Hi Kat!
LOL! I love squealing fan girls!!!
Most of the names I come up with by doing this--hiovhkjvhihed--and then I go back and play around with the vowels or trim a letter here and there to make it more pronounceable.
Nothing fancy like spelling my grandmother's name backwards--although that's not a bad idea...
I sometimes combine names to come up with something new. For example, a friend's business card was staring up at me from the clutter of my desk, and I took his first and last names and blended them together to come up with Royillis, the purple vulture in Warrior.

diva donna said...

This was a fun interview. And interesting. I fell in love with Leo in Warrior. And that's all it took. He gave me Joy and Cheryl's books continue to give me joy. And I don't know of many authors that are as nice and generous with her precious free time as Cheryl and as funny. I have my ideas about who's responsible for the destruction of Zetith. I'm not sure if we shold hate him. He's given us the opportunity to fall in love with these gentle Cats. Meow!!!

Cheryl Brooks said...

Thanks, Donna!
You certainly contribute to the fun we have on the blogs. You keep us all laughing and the recipes you send are might tasty, too!
I know what you mean about the bad guy, but, trust me, once you meet him, you'll probably hate his guts!

Pelehini aka Lisa said...

Morning everyone! Great interview. Donna's right, there are not that many authors who take the personal approach with fans and we love you more because of it. I love the series and it's getting harder to have a favorite especially after just finishing Fugitive-having said that I am already drooling for Trag's story. Yay!

Olivia Cunning said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Olivia Cunning said...

I need to pick up a copy of your book next time I'm at a bookstore. It sounds like something I'd enjoy.

My first novel is scheduled to be released October 2010 and I can already tell that juggling a full-time career, family and all the stuff that goes with being a published author is going to be a challenge (to say the least). I guess I'll have to give up video games. sigh.....

Best of luck with your new release, Cheryl.

Armenia said...

I found Warrior at my favorite bookstore, OMG, I really enjoyed it. Now I'm on a mission to collect the rest of the Cat Chronicles.

Very nice interview. I'm looking forward to reading Fugitive. Congratulations on the release!!

VA said...

It is time for a foray to the bookstore. Cheryl, I forgot you were on my list last time as I trawled the aisles. Then again, the Borders near me doesn't always have all the books I'm looking for and not old, out of print ones. :(

Thanks Sia for being my book advisor, I know I can count on your judgment in all things yummy and hot.

~Sia McKye~ said...

No Zetithans? Sigh...

I do enjoy your imagination Cheryl. I find names for things in many a weird place.

With working full time and now having to meet deadlines, does it take away any joy from your writing? Do you find it harder to crank out the words and still seem fresh?

~Sia McKye~ said...

Vivian, this is one of the many reasons I love my blog. I do get to find all sorts of new authors to read. I'm glad to provide the service, lol! I figure I shouldn't be the only one to spend money on books. You know, share the desire, lololol!

Cheryl Brooks said...

LOL! You've been drooling for Trag's story for a while now, Lisa. I can't tell you how many emails I've received from readers just dying to read his story. *sigh* August isn't too far off... just seven months...

Cheryl Brooks said...

Thanks, Olivia! And, yes, video games will soon be a fond, but distant memory. Good luck with your writing!

Cheryl Brooks said...

I'm glad you at least found Warrior, Armenia. That one took a bit of a beating from the economic downturn, but it's bouncing back. I hope you enjoy the rest of the series!

Cheryl Brooks said...

Hi VA!
You might have better luck online or at Barnes & Noble because they keep the backlist in stock, and I'm not sure Borders does that. Happy Trawling!

Cheryl Brooks said...

Yes, Sia, I do find it more difficult to keep the imagination going because it gets crowded out by so many other things. Like I said, it's not just about the writing anymore--there's so much more to it than that. I'll be getting back to the writing more after this month is out and the promotions for Fugitive have wound down a bit, but I still find that my best "imagination time" is while I'm driving. I live a long way from anywhere, and the ideas have more of a chance to pop up.

Nancy Bristow said...

Hey Cheryl aka Cat Master...Another good interview. It seems that most of us that discover you (obviously in some rather creative ways:), we then go on to quickly fill in the back list. A testament to your talent; a feeling of connection to the wonderful characters you create and a thoroughly unique world building skill. Am I a fan-girl? You bet:)

I seriously doubt that I've pronounced many character names correctly but I don't care;)

I only have Rogue left to read. I don't know if I'll have a favorite but I do know that Fugitive rocked hard. Looking forward to Hero in August.

Cheryl Brooks said...

Hi Nancy!
Thanks so much for your support! You definitely need to read Rogue before Hero because Trag (the hero in Hero) is in both of them.
And don't worry about pronunciations. Most of the words look better on paper than they sound when you say them out loud!

Conda V. Douglas said...

Very interesting about first to third. Yes, I'd heard that first was "wrong" for romance, but nowadays I think it no longer matters (I've read plenty of good books in first person.). I think the book should dictate the voice--or of course the editor, the one who pays the money!

Cheryl Brooks said...

LOL! You just said a mouthful, Conda!