Monday, October 4, 2010

The Goldilocks Zone

Win a copy a new erotic series of sexy warriors and magical heroines.

My guest is historical romance author, Christina Phillips. She hails from Western Australia (by way of the UK) and writes about sexy Romans and Druids.

The road to being published is not an easy one. Somehow there is the thought of you write a book, query it, and it's published. The reality is much different. It's fraught with many rejections, perfecting your writing, and finding a story that excites both you and publishers. 

Christina tells us a bit about her road.

Thank you, Sia, for inviting me to Over Coffee today!

I was very excited to read the other day that a possibly habitable planet has been found orbiting a nearby star. Well, nearby in astronomical terms – twenty light years or roughly 190 trillion kilometers away from Earth. So I don’t think we’ll be visiting any time soon!

The scientists had been observing the red dwarf star Gilese 581 for eleven years before they discovered this planet in the system, which they’ve called Gilese 581g. With a hundred billion stars in our galaxy, and having studied in detail a couple of thousand stars, I can only imagine the excitement when a planet was discovered with the capability of having water on its surface – a prerequisite for life as we know it.

Two other planets had already been discovered in this system – one too near the sun so it was too hot to sustain life and one so far away it was way too cold. Gilese 581g is just the right distance away from its sun – in the so-called Goldilocks Zone.

Eleven years. That got me thinking. It was eleven years ago that, after immigrating to Australia from the UK, I decided to get serious about my writing. I started off without a clue about the craft, my efforts boomeranging into deep space (aka the slush pile and form rejections). After a few years I graduated to personal rejections on my work and then onto revisions. The black hole receded. I was finally entering a solar system!

But like so many solar systems in this breathtaking galaxy, just because it looks right and feels right doesn’t necessarily mean it is right. My efforts at writing contemporary romance hovered in the cold zone. My paranormal romances caught the attention of several agents, but ultimately none led to representation. I like to think of these as incinerating in the too hot Zone!

Eventually, after nine years, I sold two erotic novelettes to a small e-press. I had written them as an experiment to stretch my writing muscles, but it was as if a mini-supernova illuminated my muse. I discovered I loved writing the darker, erotic stories. I would write a full length erotic romance with the aim of hooking an agent!

Vampires, demons and bad-ass angels were hot. I would write an erotic paranormal romance. And into my imagination stormed a Roman warrior searching for his Druid princess lover.

Uh, what? No, that would never fall into the Goldilocks Zone! But it was no good. My hero, Maximus, refused to leave. And within five minutes I didn’t want him to leave, because who on earth was this Roman Centurion and why would a princess – a Druid and, as such, one of Rome’s bitterest enemies – have fallen in love with him?

It took me nine months to write FORBIDDEN, my debut ancient historical romance and a genre I hadn’t written about since high school. There was an honorable warrior, a brave princess and an insane villain, and threaded throughout a fantasy element involving vindictive gods and goddesses.

I loved writing this book. I knew it was a long-shot because of its unusual time period – AD 50 – its protagonists – a Druid princess and Roman Centurion – and even its setting – ancient Wales.

But within a month of first querying agents, I was offered representation. And while I know signing with your dream agent and discovering a possibly habitable planet are hardly comparable, I’m not convinced the scientists who found Gilese 581g could have been much more excited than I was the night I realized I had finally found my very own Goldilocks Zone :-)

  • What about you? Have you had an idea storm into your imagination and not want to leave?
~ * ~ * ~
Forbidden Blurb

He was a master of seduction - but no match for the magical allure of the woman he wanted most...

Carys knew from the moment she first spied on Maximus in his naked barbarian glory that he was a dangerous Roman centurion - his taut, battle-scarred flesh marking him as a fearless warrior. But her desire for him was as undeniable as it was illicit.

Charged by his emperor to eliminate a clan of powerful Druids in Britain, Maximus never expects his mission to be thwarted by the clan's ethereal princess, Carys, his daring voyeur. Falling under her spell, he doesn't realize her true heritage - until he captures her heart as well as her body.

As Carys's loyalties are twisted, and freedom is no longer her single-minded obsession, an avenging former lover threatens to crush Maximus's people into oblivion. Now Carys and Maximus must overcome the devastation of war and face the ultimate sacrifice if their forbidden love is to survive. EXCERPT

"Set in the time of the Roman Empire, Phillips' wonderful story of the romance between a Roman soldier and a Celt is more than entertaining"
Romantic Times Review, 4 Stars

Christina Phillips has always loved writing, and while her efforts in eighth grade usually involved space ships, time travel and unfortunate endings, as soon as she discovered romance novels a whole new world opened up. She now writes ancient historical romances about strong heroines and gorgeous warrior heroes who, no matter how torturous the journey, are guaranteed their happily-ever-after. Christina was born in the United Kingdom, but now lives in sunny Western Australia with her real-life hero and their three children.

Visit Christine:  BlogFacebook, Website 


~Sia McKye~ said...

Welcome to OVER COFFEE, Christina! Since you're in Australia, I put the post up a bit early so your fans in Europe can check in too.

I have plenty of treats on the virtual coffee bar and that also includes a fresh pot of tea, if you prefer. :-)

I loved the idea of a Roman Centurion and a Druid Princess.

Christina Phillips said...

Hi Sia! Thank you so much for having me. I'm a complete coffee addict, so coffee is good!! (although I also love Earl Grey first thing in the morning!)

~Sia McKye~ said...

I'm thinking most of the writers I know are coffee addicts. I'm drinking a cup before I go to bed--caffiene doesn't keep me awake. My husband does Earl Grey too, with honey.

What's the time zone differences? I'm central US. You're western Australia, over 12 hours I know. Since I forgot the providence you're in, it's kinda hard to figure, for sure. I know Perth is something like 13 hours ahead of us. It's 1:00 am here. I have a friend in London and one in Manchester, UK and I know it's 6 hours difference.

International guests are fun, but boy, you guys have lots of work to comment here in the States.

So,you're continuing your series set in 50 AD? I noticed another book coming out soon too.

Exciting times for you! Congratulations, by the way.

Christina Phillips said...

Perth is 12 hours ahead of New York and 7 hours ahead of London at the moment, until the Daylight Saving kicks in :-)

CAPTIVE is the second book in this series, and is the story of Carys's best friend, Morwyn.

I would love to continue this series, but have just finished revisions on another book that will hopefully kick off a new series (still an ancient historical but set in a later century)

Thsnkd for the congratulations!

tonya kappes said...

Hi Christina and Sia! Goodmorning. My hot cup of coffee is steaming! Oh Christina, I definitely have a TON of great ideas floating in my head...unfortunately my DH sometimes doesn't think tearing down a wall is a great idea;-)
BUT with writing, it takes me a while to process some of my ideas. I first write down the idea and make some major points I'd like to see happen. I let that sit in my brain for a few weeks and see if any characters decide to bite.
Excuse me, I need to go fill up.

Christina Phillips said...

Hi Tonya! LOL my husband feels the same about some of my ideas :-)

I like to know the major turning points before I start writing, and I also like to know (in a very vague way) what's going to happen towards the end. I'm never entirely sure how everything will tie up in advance, though, which causes me some stressful moments!

Kat Sheridan said...

I'm not sure what time it is where you are, so I'll just say hello! I lvoe historicals, especially ones set in unusual places or time periods. This one sounds wonderful! I believe if we write what we love, it shows in our work, and publishers and readers can't help but see that. And I love the idea of the Goldilocks Zone! Wishing you every success with this!

VA said...

First, I just love the name Perth. Otherworldly sounding. Don't ruin it for me Christina and tell me there's traffic and horribly ugly buildings. I'd rather live with the illusion.

Great time period to write about. Other than the obvious English connection is there something in particular that drew you to it?

Olivia Cunning said...

I love ancient time periods! Sounds like my kind of book. I'm not fond of the regency era and that seems to be the only Historical romance coming out these days. Great to see something different landing on shelves.

~Sia McKye~ said...

Olivia, I do too. I've always loved early Briton, in the time of the Romans, Druids, Celts. Aw heck, I love history.

I'm with you though, I am heartily tired of Rengency. I used to love it but there's such a glut it has to be an exceptional book for me to pick it up.

I'd like to see more books in the later Victorian era too. Such a fascinating time period fraught with so many discoveries and quests.

~Sia McKye~ said...

Kat, you and I have had conversations on historicals.

I admit, I miss the sagas too. They were so rich in details and stories were more layered.

Christina, will this story you just revised be medieval or prior to William the Conquer?

Christina Phillips said...

Hi Kat, thanks so much for the good wishes! Berkley have been wonderful about taking on more unusual time periods/settings just lately, so hopefully that will continue :-)

Christina Phillips said...

Hi VA, oh dear all right I won't ruin your illusion of Perth!!! Actually we live south of the city, five minutes from the beach. It's absolutely gorgeous with golden sands and sapphire sea!

Honestly, it would never have occurred to me to write about the first century AD if Maximus hadn't invaded my mind that night. I've always loved history, and always been fascinated about the Roman, Viking, Saxon and Norman invasions. Growing up in the UK we had evidence of the rich history all around us, so it's always been a part of me.

Christina Phillips said...

Hi Olivia! I love the different time periods too. Unfortunately, they can be a harder sell. I've an article up on my website I did recently for the Australian RWA newsletter, which discusses this and highlights some more unusual historicals hitting the shelves at the moment.

Christina Phillips said...

Sia, historical romances set during the Victorian age seem to be rising in popularity now, especially with steampunk.

The book I'm working on now is set prior William the Conqueror, during the mid-ninth century and I'm very excited about it, although I can't say too much about it at the moment!

~Sia McKye~ said...

yah, I know steampunk is popular and I can see why.

oooh, this one sounds good, Christine. I'm going to be watching your books, ma'am. I have a feeling I'm gonna love the historical periods you write in.

I'm glad Berekley is accepting different time periods. There's lots of us out here that love periods other than regency and are starved for historicals other than the same ole same old.

~Sia McKye~ said...

Besides, there are a lot of beliefs of the time that lend itself to stories. Some rather obscure things too that just beg to have a story set around them.

Mine has a starting point of reference about three centuries before William. Research is fascinating. Just tickles my soul.

So will Morwyn's story be released Stateside too? And if so, when?

~Sia McKye~ said...

Ooops, scans are about to start. Trying work with one going tends to make for difficulties. So, this girl is heading to bed. Funny, that. You probably just finished lunch and I'm heading to bed.

Christina Phillips said...

Sia, that's what I love about the earlier time periods, the different belief systems. I love incorporating ancient gods and goddesses into my stories. I can spend forever on the research side :-)

Morwyn's story is set to be released on 1st February in NA (and online at all the usual bookstores!)

Anonymous said...

I have ideas storm into my head all day long. Usually involving wormholes, parallel dimensions, bad ass spirit beings moving back and forth locked in combat. Stuff like that.

Stephen Tremp

Houston A.W. Knight said...

WOW, love this interview...

Christina you're book sounds awesome...I will have to get this one you know! I love furturistic, Sci Fi and paranormal and a blending of them together in one form or another. Parallel realities, and fourth dimension grab my interst every time!

Sia...I adore you...great post..thanks for always finding such interesting people and books to talk about over coffee!

Big Hugs

~Sia McKye~ said...

Hawk, ya know I love ya! I'm glad you liked the post.

Hugs right back atcha!

Christina Phillips said...

Hi Stephen, I love exploring parallel dimension ideas, it's such a fascinating subject!

Thanks, Hawk! I enjoyed blending a touch of the paranormal into my ancient world :-)

Houston A.W. Knight said...


(((HUGS))) You're such a sweetie!


Houston A.W. Knight said...


You've got me...I will be buying this book...I loved the cover anyway and would have got it just for that, BUT now I know there's a great story inside as well! WOOHOO!

Oh I'm all for the combo of genre, makes for a more interesting story don't you think?

Girls...this was an awesome interview! Thank you both for taking the time to do it!

Big Hugs