Welcome to my weekly Author Spotlight. I’ve asked a bunch of my author friends to answer a set of interview questions, and to share their latest work.
Today, Bellora Quinn, a Tampa-area MM writer Mark and I met at Rainbow Con. We enjoyed spending time with Bellora, who writes the Aura series with our own Angel Martinez.
Thanks so much, Bellora, for joining me!
J. Scott Coatsworth: How would you describe your writing style/genre?
Bellora Quinn: I don’t know what the technical term for it would be, but if I had to try and describe my writing style I’d say it’s…balanced. I used to write heavily character driven stories. It was all about how they thought, felt, reacted and how much crap I could put them through. I still like to write very tangible characters but I’ve learned and grown a lot as a writer and now I put more effort into the plot and more clearly defined scenes. It’s made the difference between writing soap operas and writing novels.
Genre is always hard for me to define because I tend to write across genres. Urban fantasy, contemporary, and romance are all stickers you could put on the box.
JSC: What was your first published work? Tell me a little about it.
BQ: I’ve published fiction on various websites for many years, some of which are still available and some of which have vanished into the ether. My first contracted published novel was Quinn’s Gambit which came out in March 2015 and is co-authored with Angel Martinez. We actually started writing Quinn’s Gambit in early 2012, then we both got busy with life and other projects and it sat gathering dust for probably a year and a half. I still liked the story though and eventually we got around to doing edits.
Quinn’s Gambit is set in an alternate reality where a magical accident has caused holes in the fabric between dimensions, which occasionally open wide enough to bring beings from other worlds into our own. Of course once the initial shock of having elves and trolls dropping in wore off bureaucracy took over and an agency was created to deal with those crossovers.
JSC: What’s your writing process?
BQ: It’s a little weird for me to think about having an actual process. When I started writing I was very much a ‘pantser’, meaning I just wrote whatever came into my head. Nowadays I do a little more plotting and planning. I love suspense and I love horror and I really wanted to bring more suspense into my own writing. That necessitated learning more about how mystery writers plan their books and I’ve had a great deal of fun with outlines. How nerdy does that sound? Really though, I thought I would hate it, that it would kill my creativity, and it’s turned out to be just the opposite. I’m so glad I overcame my initial reluctance to outlining.
My writing process is probably a little different than most writers because I write collaboratively most of the time. One of us will have an idea and we’ll talk about the idea, there is a lot of ‘what if this happens’ going back and forth, and we get each other excited about the idea. Then we work out any snags and we start writing the scene. When I write alone I do the same thing, but the conversation goes on in my head and it’s not nearly as much fun.
JSC: Tell me one thing hardly anyone knows about you.
BQ: Bullying in some way or another is often something I write about, but I find it extremely difficult to watch a movie or read a book that has bullying themes in it. I wanted to read Let Me In so bad. I managed about five pages and had to put it down. Not because it was in anyway bad, but because I was literally sick with dread.
JSC: What was the first speculative fiction book (sci fi, paranormal, fantasy, horror) that you ever read? How did it influence you?
BQ: I honestly can’t remember if I read Anne McCaffery’s Dragonflight, Anne Rice’s Interview and a Vampire, or Jean M. Auel’s Clan of the Cave Bear first. They were all right about the same time when I was about twelve. I do remember all of them influenced me and turned me into an avid reader.
JSC: If you were stuck on a desert island all alone with only three things, what would they be?
BQ: Well, since you didn’t put any limitation on it… A working military grade satellite phone, a machete, and one of those portable water desalination/filter things so you can drink mud puddles without getting dysentery. Hopefully the first one will mean I don’t have to use the other two.
JSC: Which of your own characters would you Kill? Fuck? Marry? And why?
BQ: Seeing as how most of them are gay it sorta limits my choices but… I’d fuck Xavier because, well I really don’t need to explain why if you’ve read anything about him. Angel calls him omnisexual for a reason. For any of you that haven’t read Xavier’s stories you can find them on either one of my blogs, eroticspiceblog.com with Angel Martinez or berminghamquinn.com with Sadie Rose Bermingham. Which would I marry? They are all pretty messed up so I don’t think any are good marriage material really, but if I had to pick one, probably Jake. He’s the most down to earth. Readers can meet Jake very soon, he’s one of the MCs in the Elemental Evidence series.
I can’t kill any of them or the HEA people will sting me up. Okay okay, it would have to be Sage I think, because he seems the most likely to get himself into a situation where he’d end up dead. You can find Sage in book two of the AURA series, Flax’s Pursuit.
JSC: Do you have any strange writing habits or superstitions?
BQ: I used to very much believe that if I stopped writing for even a day I’d never be able to do it again. I’ve since mellowed slightly and panic less if I have to take a day or three off.
JSC: 9) Are you a plotter or a pantster?
BQ: I very much used to be a pantser but when I decided I wanted to start writing a detective series I had to change my ways. The United Pantser Society Against Knowing Where the Hell This is Going (UPSAKWHTG) has sadly revoked my membership card. What? Of course it’s a real organization.
JSC: 10) What are you working on now, and when can we expect it?
BQ: I’m currently working on two series. The first is a brand new detective series called Elemental Evidence written with Sadie Rose Bermingham. It’s set in London and features Jake Chivis, an ex cop from Detroit who happens to be a Fire Elemental. He meets an Air Elemental who is a human interface that puts ordinary hackers to shame. Ilmarinen Gale is tall, blond, sexy and just about all Jake can handle. Together they get involved in uncovering the mystery of a colleague’s missing brother. Did I mention Jake can see memories by touching objects? He can. It comes in handy when trying to find the truth. Too bad it doesn’t always work.
We have just submitted book one to the publisher so we don’t have a release date yet. Hopefully it’ll be out early 2016.
The other series I’m working on is the third book in the AURA series with Angel Martinez. Kai and Tenzin fans will be happy to know they make an appearance, along with a few other characters from the first two books. We’re still diligently working on this one so I don’t want to give too much away just yet. We’re hoping this one will be out early 2016 as well.
And now for Bellora’s latest release, Flax’s Pursuit (Aura Book 2):
Quinn and Valerian have come through the trials of facing an undead lich queen and the perils of falling in love. Now they work to restore AURA to its previous strength and efficiency while navigating their new life with each other. Fortunately, they’re not in this alone.
Kai Hiltas has taken over as the head of the research department at AURA and has become everyone’s favourite workaholic, everyone except his lover Tenzin, who has had enough of his late nights and broken promises. As Kai tries to salvage his relationship, he finds a teacher for Quinn, who also happens to be one of Valerian’s new officers, Flax Wolfheart, a sexy elf with trouble written all over him.
Flax has motives beyond simply teaching Quinn to control his magic. He’s trying to recover from his own losses and failures, but he has a plan. The two newest elvish crossovers, Ash and Sage, are sizzling hot and might even like him. With them as backup as he tracks a deadly stone mage and figures out how to teach Quinn, Flax sees his chance to impress Val and snag a place by his captain’s side. On the hunt for both danger and redemption, Flax’s pursuit leads him ultimately down trails he never expected.
“Here kitty kitty. Here kitty kitty.”
The old woman called softly, gently coaxing the tomcat with the matted coat. It had rained earlier and the puddles in the alley glistened from the streetlights, sheened with oil rainbows the old woman thought were pretty, despite their source and toxicity. Many things in this city were covered in grime and graffiti and considered by most to be just another sign of squalor and decay, but she had lived within this concrete and asphalt sprawl her entire life. She found beauty where she could.
The tomcat crept slowly from the deeper shadows cast by the dumpster and heaped up piles of cardboard and other debris, lured less by the coaxing call than by the smell of food.
“That’s it. There’s a good boy,” the woman cooed, setting down the can of cat food and backing off a couple of steps. Feeling the back of her neck prickle, she glanced around quickly. Living on these streets did not grant immunity from attack, no matter how well honed her sense of preservation. It was even less safe since the world had started randomly spawning creatures and beasts that should be found by rights only in fairy tales and fantasy books.
Even so, she was less afraid of muggers or goblins than she was of angry landlords and restaurant owners who would chase her away. Or worse, animal control officers who would get her in trouble. If it came down to a choice, she would rather meet up with a goblin in a dark alley than an animal control officer. A goblin might make sport of her, bully and try to intimidate, but a goblin would have no interest in taking away her babies.
She looked around once more, but all was still and quiet beyond the low rumble of traffic on the street. She looked down and the orange tom she had been hoping to tame enough for her to pet tonight was almost finished gobbling the can of food.
Slowly and carefully, she crouched down, trying to keep her long skirt from getting too wet. Nights were growing colder. It was nearly Halloween. Keeping dry and warm were never far from her mind. Hesitantly she reached out a hand to pet the slat-sided feline, noting as she did that he was scarred and his left ear was nearly split in two.
“Oh, that looks like it hurt! Tch tch, who have you been scrapping with, hmm? You shouldn’t fight with others, deary. Forgive and forget, I always say. Well, all except Officer Perell. Him? Doesn’t deserve forgiveness, not ever.” She sniffed. “Not any of them that took my babies away, but especially not him. You could scratch and bite him all you wanted, but you be nice to Momma Cats, hear? She bring you some nice food and is gonna give you a nice warm place to stay just as soon as we can find somewhere.”
Her fingers brushed fur and for just a moment, the cat looked like he might accept this and possibly seal his fate, but then he bristled, his tail fluffing like a bottle brush and a low growl in his throat.
“Oh, now, what’s all this? Be nice!” Momma Cats scolded. “Be a nice kitty.” But the orange tabby was not growling at her, was not even looking at her, but behind her. She tried to turn quickly, but she was crouched down and her reflexes were not what they once were.
She never saw who or what the notched-eared tom growled at. She only felt the touch on her shoulder and the pain that spread down her arm. She gasped and cried out, the pain rapidly moving to her chest and up her neck and the side of her face.
“Help! Help me… Oh, kitty, run!”
Those were her last words, but they were spoken to an empty alley. The notched-eared tom had much faster reflexes than Momma Cats and had already disappeared into his kingdom of trash, leaving the old woman to die a horrible—if mercifully swift—death alone.
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Originally hailing from Detroit Michigan, Bellora now resides on the sunny Gulf Coast of Florida where a herd of Dachshunds keeps her entertained. She got her start in writing at the dawn of the internet when she discovered PbEMs (Play by email) and found a passion for collaborative writing and steamy hot erotica. Soap Opera like blogs soon followed and eventually full novels.
The majority of her stories are in the M/M genre with urban fantasy or paranormal settings and many with a strong BDSM flavour.