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, Sadie Rose Bermingham – Sadie’s another one of the great authors I met at Rainbow Con, and quite possibly one of the sweetest people I have ever met. She’s also quite a lot of fun. Don’t let the serious face fool you.
Thanks so much, Sadie, for joining me!
J. Scott Coatsworth: How would you describe your writing style/genre?
Sadie: I started out writing High Fantasy and I don’t think I’ve ever really grown out of that kind of classic style of storytelling. At the moment I write mostly urban paranormal but I do like to have a kind of heroic thing going on with my central characters. Even the most down to earth characters have this little grain of epic-ness down deep inside them that owes a great deal to writers like Tolkien and C.S. Lewis, who were my early influences in the fantasy genre.
JSC: What was your first published work? Tell me a little about it.
SRB: It was a story in a school magazine and I can’t even remember the title of it but it was about a soldier travelling across Europe by train to meet his sweetheart in Austria, who’s every move was shadowed by a mysterious little old lady that kept telling him the city where his girlfriend lived had been bombed to oblivion and that he should come to Berlin with her instead. It owed its existence to a film I’d seen when I was about 12, and I have never seen it since so it can’t have been a very good one. The ending was open, we never did find out if his sweetheart survived. (I was averse to writing happy endings even at the tender age of 12!)
Later, I released the Rayne Wylde stories through the medium of Literotica.com; the continuing adventures of a reluctant vegetarian vampire rock singer, his band, Whipsnade, and his various lovers and adversaries. A few people have even read them and bothered to tell me that they liked them, which is gratifying.
JSC: What’s your writing process?
SRB: In one word? Chaotic. Probably.
I tend to start with an image rather than a full story, so the process can be inspired by something I’ve seen or heard, it can be a face in a crowd, just a snippet of something that makes me ask questions. And from there a character grows and develops until I have some idea of what their backstory is. It always starts with the character. Almost always.
I love character and world building far more than the actual bricks and mortar of storytelling. Storytelling is fraught with tension for me. Will it be exciting enough? Will the characters be loveable enough? Though once the story is in gear I relax about it and let the characters take me where they need to go. I tend to edit as I’m going along so I can make notes, because my memory is awful, then read back through once the document is completed and do a final (tidying up) edit afterwards.
JSC: Tell me one thing hardly anyone knows about you.
SRB: I once – for a brief time, when I was 17, because my attention span is that short – stalked the actor Rupert Graves (Maurice/A Room With A View) when he was appearing in a play on the London South Bank. He wrote me a letter which I treasured for at least three weeks. His middle name is, apparently, Simeon.
JSC: What was the first speculative fiction book (sci fi, paranormal, fantasy, horror) that you ever read? How did it influence you?
SRB: In the realms of children’s fiction it was probably The Moon on the Water by Nina Warner Hooke which is a fantasy fairytale about six carousel horses who wish on the Moon to be brought to life when the carousel is about to be broken up for firewood. It tells of their individual adventures and is desperately sad. I wept buckets of brother and sister Rudolfo and Rudolfa; when she broke a leg and had to be shot, he wished on the Moon to be turned back into a wooden horse and was found by a family who took him home and made him into a rocking horse. I never looked at rocking horses in the same light again.
When I was about 9 or 10 I read The Power of Three by Diana Wynne Jones, the story of a tribe of Marsh People who hide their existence from humankind but are threatened when three of their children are discovered by three human children who steal a magical torque from one of them. It started my love of tales involving magic and alien races.
JSC: If you were stuck on a desert island all alone with only three things, what would they be?
SRB: It would depend how hostile the island was. Probably a laptop, a generator and a satellite dish, otherwise I would go crazy with boredom. If there are dangerous natives/beasties, then a generator, a tablet device with built in satellite communication tech and a fully loaded AK47.
JSC: Which of your own characters would you Kill? Fuck? Marry? And why?
SRB: Hahah… I love questions like this.
I have no qualms about killing characters off, on the whole. Occasionally I get a pang of regret and go back and resurrect them, but not often. In book one of my fantasy series, Legacy of the Moon, there was a character called Jared Greybane, who was so spectacularly nasty that, having casually killed him off once, I invented a reason why he didn’t actually die in order to kill him again later, properly.
Who would I fuck? Probably Rayne as he’s bi and he’s quite an attentive lover. Most of my guys are gay and woudn’t be interested.And Rayne gives great head.
Marry? Hmm, I’m not married and not particularly interested in getting married but if I was going to marry a character it would probably be Lord Dominic Warren from the Rayne stories. He’s not especially interested in (sleeping with) women either but he’s a good sport, a loyal friend, he likes to travel and he has a very nice house in West London and another in Cheshire. Not that I’m a material girl at all.
JSC: Do you have any strange writing habits or superstitions?
SRB: Not superstitions really, I’m not a superstitious person on the whole. I like to write a scene in my head before I put it down on paper. I see it like a clip from a movie and roll it backwards and forwards getting the details and emotions right. Some of my best ideas happen either late at night or in the morning when I’m in bed, with no disturbances or distractions.
JSC: Are you a plotter or a pantster?
SRB: I only discovered this was a thing in the last year or so. Up until recently I’d have said I was absolutely a pantser. I tend to let the character tell the story then go back and edit the mess. Plot structures just disrupt my creativity. But writing this new series – Elemental Evidence – with Bellora Quinn we were very strict about how the story was going to unfold, since both of us are used to writing sprawling fantasy soap operas for web publication, with no nasty rules about word count or plot pointers, and bizarrely it’s worked quite well. We gave ourselves guidelines which we only deviated from ever so slightly (yay, us!) and actually got book one down in rough draft inside of two months.
JSC: What are you working on now, and when can we expect it?
SRB: Bellora and I have just wrapped up Book 3 of Elemental Evidence (Book 1, Breathing Betrayal is set for digital publication in May next year and print publication in June) and we are now wrestling with the plot of Book 4 which is giving us some nightmares.
We’re also playing with the idea of a fantasy novel, as yet untitled, about a mismatched pair of bounty hunters, set in a medieval style, post apocalyptic world where magic is the new science.
I am writing a novel called The Darkest Eye for NaNoWriMo about a tornado chasing journalist and a chaos mage who creates storms.
And now for Sadie’s forthcoming book (with Bellora Quinn): Breathing Betrayal (June 2016):
Jake Chivis is a part Native American Fire Elemental and ex Detroit cop who uses the gift of Psychometry to see into the past. Air Elemental, Ilmarinen Gale is a doctor of Information Sciences and one of only a handful of known human/cybernetic interfaces in the world, able to surf communications networks with just his mind. Both men have come to London to participate in a program at University College measuring the abilities of Elemental test subjects.
When the brother of their coordinator, Professor Weston, goes missing he enlists the help of this unlikely pair to try and find him. After getting off to a rocky start, when Weston’s brother shows up dead the Elementals must work together to find out who killed him.
And in the midst of their investigation their feelings for one another begin to grow…
Breathing Betrayal, the first novel in the Elemental Evidence series by Sadie Rose Bermingham and Bellora Quinn will be released in digital formats by Totally Bound publishing on 10th May 2016 with a print edition available from the 7th June.
There was a small park only one street over from where he lived, and several right around the University but they were little more than decorative green space, compact garden squares, hemmed in by the tall, dark facades of houses and office buildings, nice for a picnic maybe but not big enough for a run. Fortunately Regent’s Park was fairly close to where he lived and the paths and trails there were perfect. The park was never truly empty but this early in the morning, especially on such a wet grey day, only the dedicated were out. They all had little earbuds or headphones on and eyes fixed forward, everyone in their own private bubbles. No one stopped to say good morning. No one drew him to one side to ask if he could touch their grandmother’s wedding ring and tell them if she’d hidden cash somewhere in the attic. It was great. It was almost perfect, except for one thing.
There was one other person from the University that liked to run the same route as he did and while Jake didn’t see him every morning, it happened often enough that he’d started looking for the guy while he ran. That annoyed him. Running was his time to clear his head. It was meditative. He could tune out and think of nothing. Or at least he could until he started paying more attention to the people he passed than he did the simple rhythm of putting one foot down in front of the other. Now during his morning runs he was distracted by looking around to see if he’d catch sight of a particular slender figure whose long legs ate up the distance like the wind.
Jake told himself that he was only looking so that he could avoid him, and thereby avoid having to make polite conversation. It definitely wasn’t because of the way the ridiculously tight lycra leggings he wore outlined every muscle in his lean thighs or the way his perfect ass looked so tasty in them. No, not at all.
Jake never had been very good at lying to himself. Even so, admiring that sexy little derriere from a distance was all he would do. He had learned his lesson about getting involved with co-workers. Anyway, it was unlikely he’d see him today given the dismal weather. He could stop looking around and just concentrate on pushing himself.
The park was usually Mari’s first call of a morning, though he sometimes gave his running a break when the weather was this grim. Today the rain was that fine, persistent drizzle that evaded umbrellas and invaded just about all items of clothing that weren’t a wetsuit. He was used to it, having spent almost the last three of his twenty seven years here, at UCL but after the sunshine of his previous job in Barcelona it was still kind of a comedown to walk out of his front door on a morning like this.
Fortunately the park was just around one corner, and the University campus just around the other, one of the perks of living in town. Papi had wanted to pay for a place out in the countryside, arguing that it would be more peaceful but his Mama would hear none of it. The London house had been her grandmother’s and then her father’s. He had been renting it out for years whilst the family lived abroad but now it was finally useful, even if the reason behind its new purpose was a less than happy one. Plus, Mama argued successfully – because no one, not even Papi would dare to fight with her right now – it was also a short cab ride to the hospital, not an ungodly trek through the suburbs every time she had treatment or saw her oncologist.
He pushed those thoughts away, determined not to dwell on what might be, knowing she would not thank him for it. She had not wanted him to come to London at all, but on that point he had dared to defy her and anyway, he’d already been offered and accepted the post at University College London. It was a decent job, even if London was not Barcelona.
There was no one quite like Tomas here, but maybe that was a good thing too.
Mari put his head down and pushed on into the clinging miasma of the chill London rain. Tomas Arregui was something else he would rather not think about right now. With the clarity of hindsight, perhaps it had been for the best that the job came up with UCL when it did. Given longer to chew over the frustration of his on-again/off-again lover he might well have been driven to do something he would most certainly regret.
Damn it, though! The memory of Tomas was like a persistent tic that wouldn’t let go of his hide once its nasty little fangs had sunk in.
He was glad of the distraction presented in the form of another early morning loper and his spirits perked up even more when he was able to make out the familiar form and easy gait of the new guy who was working with the Web Security Team. Mari had spotted him striding through the park before, though they had never spoken. Lester in the print room said he was American, though Mari thought there was a slightly Hispanic look to his rough-cut, thick black hair and darkly handsome features. Maybe Romani even? He couldn’t be sure.
He was well built, without looking chunky, except when he was bundled up in several layers of damp running gear, and almost as tall as Mari’s six foot two inch frame, which was a plus. It got embarrassing trying to flirt with men who were forced to look up at him all the time.
Not that he had any idea if Mr Tall-Dark-and-Handsome was even that way inclined! But that never stopped him trying. Alicia in his department said that one day some guy was going to punch his lights out for coming on the way he did, as if every man in the world was hot for him.
He made her laugh with his horrified response. “You mean they aren’t?”
Jake had just gotten in the zone, hitting his stride in a ground eating but easy pace when he spotted him. The guy he had seen in the research room at the Uni, the same one he’d seen a few times in the park. Fuck. If he stopped it would screw up his chi, or whatever you wanted to call the buzz he got from a good run. If he just kept going without a word he’d look like an asshole. Sure, he had seen him running before but it had always been from a distance, or going in opposite directions where a civil conversation wasn’t really expected. He was coming down a path that joined up with the one Jake was on and they would probably reach the intersection at just about the same time. Should he stop and say hi? Should he pretend he hadn’t recognised him?
Before Jake had fully made up his mind the other runner came around the corner heading in his direction and raised his hand with a wave and a friendly smile but didn’t slow down. He kept right on going. Jake barely had time to lift his own hand in awkward acknowledgment before they were past one another. Well, that was a relief. No really, he hadn’t wanted to stop and say good morning and try and come up with some idle chitchat while he huffed and puffed and tried to catch his breath. That’s what he told himself as he craned his neck around to get a glimpse of that perky backside.
His opposite number was turning his head around too, a knowing little grin on his face. Jake flushed and almost tripped over his own feet before he whipped his eyes forward again, glad that the path curved and took him out of sight. Great, just fucking great, now Blondie knew he’d been checking him out.
Mari counted to three after they had passed on the turn back into the Broadwalk and he forced Mr Dark-Damp-and-Hunky to acknowledge his wave. Boy, he was shy for a Yank! Mari had always figured most Americans in Britain stood out for being forward but this guy didn’t even seem to know how volcanically hot he was. Such a waste.
He turned a fraction from the hips and looked over his shoulder on three. Shy or not, the cutie was already glancing back too and Mari restrained the urge to stop in his tracks and do a little dance. So that answered one question. Hot, cute and most assuredly gay. Or at least Bi, which Mari figured he could live with. Scratch that, he knew he could.
As he turned back to the path ahead, not wanting to run into a tree and ruin the moment, he debated finding a way to loop back around and cross the new boy’s route again but common sense prevailed.
“Patience, Mizz Gale,” he told himself. “Go home, get dry, make yourself beautiful. You’ll see him at work in less than an hour.”
He pushed himself a bit harder on the short run back to the house, but the smile was still on his face when he got there.
Jake usually finished his run with a fast walk back to the apartment to cool down but he was in no mood to stroll through the rain now. Besides, he didn’t think any amount of walking was going to take the heat out of his cheeks, so he just kept running all the way home. How embarrassing. The cute blond obviously knew he was hot and now that he’d caught Jake looking he’d probably give him patronizing looks every time they saw each other. Just what he needed.
By the time he got back to the apartment Jake was soaked through from the rain and sweat. Actually he’d been soaking for some time, he just hadn’t noticed it as acutely as he did once he stopped moving. One nice thing, even though the shower was as economy-sized as the rest of the apartment, it had good pressure and hot water, lots of it. He blasted some of the chill out of his skin as he soaped up and replayed that brief encounter in the park over and over.
How had the blond known Jake would look? Was he putting out some kind of ‘vibe’? He’d never put much stock in Gaydar. He figured if a guy came out and hit on him, that was his clue. It couldn’t have been how he was dressed, he was definitely not the trendy type when it came to running gear. He couldn’t think of anything he’d said or done that would have tagged him as queer.
Jake got out of the shower, wrapped a towel around his waist and wiped his hand over the mirror so he could shave. He stopped and gave his reflection a critical look. Same square-jawed face. Same mid-brown eyes. Same dark, unruly hair that badly needed a cut. Nope, he couldn’t see anything that screamed flaming homo.
Maybe he would just ask him.
Yeah…how would that go? “Say, I know you saw me checking out your ass and I was just wondering if you could tell me if I’m giving off some kinda gay vibe that told you I would look?” No, that wouldn’t be weird or insulting at all. Fuck, his head was a mess.
Jake finished shaving and got dressed. He was going to have to grab something to eat on the way if he didn’t want to be late.
Sadie Rose Bermingham is the creator of the long running Rayne Wylde series of erotic vampire tales on Literotica. A storyteller since before she started school, she also enjoys reading, photography, live music and long walks on the beach. Sadie has worked as a bookseller, a pedigree editor for the racing industry and a local and family history researcher. Originally from the north of England, she has been working her way across the UK ever since. She currently resides on the south east coast with her long term partner, where she hopes to buy a mobile home and establish a whippet farm.