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, Sarah Madison, one of my Rainbow Con buddies. :).
Thanks so much, Sarah, for joining me!
J. Scott Coatsworth: How would you describe your writing style/genre?
Sarah Madison: I don’t know that I have a style! I’d probably be better off if I did. ☺ I’ve written in so many different genres: sci-fi, paranormal, mystery, historical, contemporary… I wish I could write a straightforward contemporary romance, but I always have to give the story some little twist to grab my interest. My favorite thing is to pose a ‘what if?’ question: what if a vampire wanted to live a normal life? What if gargoyles came to life every night, or there was a shifter so unique no one knew his origins? What if a normal guy comes into contact with a strange artifact that grants him special powers? Would that be a good thing or a bad thing?
My tag line is “Hot Men in Hot Water.” That’s how I think of storytelling—I like to put my characters in hot water and see how strong they are. Like tea bags, only sexier.
JSC: What was your first published work? Tell me a little about it.
SM: Oh dear. Well, it is a now-unavailable short I wrote for a submission prompt about a one-night stand with a celebrity. Yes, I went there. The publisher accepted the story, but then wanted me to cut 25% of it. I did it, but I didn’t think much of the end result. I was so pleased that my very first submission ever had been accepted that I didn’t question it, though. If I had to do it over again, I would have probably done everything exactly the same. Getting published gave me the confidence to send out more manuscripts, and much to my surprise, they were accepted too!
JSC: What’s your writing process?
SM: Not nearly as organized or consistent as it should be! I work long hours at a physical and emotionally stressful job. It’s too easy to let three to four days slip by without writing anything, and then when I do sit down to write, I have to spend too much time refreshing my memory and getting back into the story. When I’m on a roll, however, I might write anywhere from 3-5 K words a day. If I could just be consistent, I could cut down on the wasted time.
Two things have helped me tremendously: the first is that I creating a writing cave in my garage. I know, sounds weird, right? But the garage has a wood stove for the winter and AC in the summer, and best of all—no Internet. I can work out there for 2-3 hours uninterrupted by the animals and my own tendency to start answering emails or comments online, and when I come back inside, I’m ready to interact with the world again instead of yelling at everyone to go lie down and leave me alone.
The second is joining a critique group. I work with a couple of very talented people who keep me on my toes. We meet every couple of weeks via Skype and critique each other’s work, and this keeps me working even when I’d rather flop on the couch after work and marathon something mindless like the first season of Friends. They are also incredibly encouraging when I get down about my work, and don’t let me get away with crap, either. They have made me a better writer. I owe them so much.
JSC: Tell me one thing hardly anyone knows about you.
SM: I do a kick-ass impression of Yoda. No, seriously, the next time you see me, ask me to do it. I have to contort my face in order to get the voice right, so you get to see me look like an idiot, too.
I also do an impression of dueling cats so realistic that I can’t enact it anywhere where live animals might be present, as it has been known to trigger fights. Yeah, a useful skill to have, right? ☺
JSC: What was the first speculative fiction book (sci fi, paranormal, fantasy, horror) that you ever read? How did it influence you?
SM: That’s a tough one because I began reading at such an early age and read so much! Almost easier to say which one made a lasting impression on me. I think it would have to be the Dragonriders of Pern series. It was the first time I’d read a fantasy story with a female protagonist, and I was totally enamored with the idea of impressing a dragon that would be your lifelong companion and partner. I tried going back and reading the series again as an adult, and it wasn’t as magical for me as it had been as a pre-teen. But it founded a serious passion for sci-fi/fantasy stories. My first car was a little white two door sedan, and I named it Ruth, after the White Dragon.
JSC: If you were stuck on a desert island all alone with only three things, what would they be?
SM: A knife, a fishing hook, and a magnifying glass (to start fires). There wouldn’t be enough paper in the world to keep me satisfied as a writer, so I’d write the stories in my head and play them out like little movies over and over again. I did that for years before actually putting words to paper. I used to think there was something wrong with me because of this habit, and at times, would try to ‘break’ myself of it. I thought being an adult meant living a life of dull responsibility, without passion. I’m glad I finally found my voice again. Now you can’t shut me up if you tried…
JSC: Which of your own characters would you Kill? Fuck? Marry? And why?
SM: Hmmm. Interesting. I’ve never played this with my own characters before! Then too, there’s the issue of not being their type… But I’d kill ‘Bas’, the villain in the soon-to-be released Truth and Consequences (book 3 in the Sixth Sense series). He is seriously one bad dude, and no one is going to be safe until he bites the dust. He’s just so powerful, I haven’t figured out yet how to break him yet! As for fucking, John Flynn (Sixth Sense). In a heartbeat. The man is just so damn sexy. He’s the ‘freebie’ your boyfriend gives you because, yeah, who can resist? But he doesn’t open up for many people, and I wouldn’t be someone who could reach him. He’d sleep with you and make you fall for him, but if you’re not the right one for him, he’ll walk away. There aren’t many people who can put up with his crap.
As for marrying, it would be Tate Edwards from Crying for the Moon. Why? Because he is so darn cute and accommodating. And he makes me laugh. There are worse reasons to marry someone!
JSC: Do you have any strange writing habits or superstitions?
SM: Fortunately not too many, but I am very careful not to outline a story too heavily or it becomes a story-killer for me. I wish that wasn’t the case. I envy people who are more organized and disciplined than I am. I think it’s partly because the rest of my life has to be so organized that I love being able to be more organic in my writing. I think people tend to fall into two categories when it comes to creativity: carpenters or gardeners. Both can create exquisite pieces of work, but the way they arrive at the end result is greatly different. I’m a gardener, but I suspect the carpenters are more productive. Most days I feel as though I just happen upon a story. ☺ The thing is, it works in a weird fashion for me, and I’m afraid of shutting down the process if I push it too much. I let 20 years go by without writing because I thought it was a game for children and one I should put aside to focus on career and family. I am so very glad that one day I stumbled upon fanfic for a favorite show, and I began writing my own stories again.
JSC: Are you a plotter or a pantster?
SM: Definitely a pantser. I plot more than I used to—you can’t write a series and NOT make some sort of over-arching plan—but see point number 8 above. Every time I’ve extensively outlined a story, it felt as though I’d already written it, and my interest in it simply shriveled and died on the vine.
JSC: What are you working on now, and when can we expect it?
SM: I just completed Truth and Consequences, Book 3 in the Sixth Sense series. It’s in final edits now, and should be released sometime in October 2015. I’ll be doing a Twitter Takeover for @dreamspinners on Tuesday, October 13th, from 7-9 pm EST to promote it, so if you have any questions about the Sixth Sense series, drop by then and fire away! I’m also beginning a revision on The Boys of Summer, my contemporary/WW2 historical story. I was fortunate to receive an offer from Dreamspinner I couldn’t refuse, so I’m hopeful it will be available before the end of the year.
Truth and Consequences picks up right where Walk a Mile leaves off (the details of which I have to keep a little hidden, as it’s kind of a spoiler for the previous book). I’m a little nervous about the reception of Truth and Consequences because I changed POV from limited third to first person in that book. I know a lot of people dislike first person POV, but it really was the best way to go for a number of spoilery reasons. 🙂
The Boys of Summer was previously released as an indie effort on my part. It’s a personal favorite of mine and I’m excited to be placing it in Dreamspinner’s capable hands.
I’m currently working on a new M/F series about secret agents forced to pretend to be Ward and June Cleaver by day while investigating paranormal events by night. It’s set in the 1950s, and I refer to it as Leave it to Beaver meets the X-Files. ☺ I am having a ton of fun doing the research for this one, as well as getting to know my new characters. Bishop Takes Knight is still in the early stages, and will be released sometime in 2016 under the pen name of Madison Dean.
Thank you so much for hosting me here, Scott! It was a lot of fun!
And now for Sarah’s latest release, Walk a Mile:
Six months after starting their hunt for a serial killer who is still at large, FBI agents Jerry Lee Parker and John Flynn are partners in every sense. But Jerry has serious doubts about their relationship and whether they would even be together if not for the way Flynn changed after touching a mysterious artifact in a museum.
Flynn hates the extraordinary power bestowed on him by the artifact and wants nothing more than to have a normal life again. Jerry fears that without the unusual connection they forged, Flynn will no longer want or need him. Chasing after a similar artifact takes them back to Flynn’s old stomping grounds in Washington D.C., where his newfound abilities uncover long-buried secrets, the kind people would kill to protect. But they aren’t the only ones looking for these powerful relics, and what they discover will threaten their relationship—and their lives.
Book Two of The Sixth Sense Series
Flynn was waiting in the middle of the room.
Jerry had no idea how long he’d been there or what he might have picked up on as Jerry had showered. He had a rumpled look about him that went deeper than usual. His expression on seeing Jerry come out of the bathroom was bleak, almost angry. Jerry couldn’t shake the feeling that he’d been waiting impatiently, however. Expectantly. Almost needy.
Jerry pulled up short at the sight of him.
Not taking his eyes off Jerry, Flynn tugged at his tie until it came loose. “I need you to fuck me.”
Jerry gaped at him for a second, and then plunged all thoughts into the soundproof booth as he rapidly processed them. Flynn rarely bottomed—not that Jerry minded. He often thought he was getting the better deal. But even when they’d been going at it like rabbits, Flynn had never asked for sex. It had just happened. Like spontaneous combustion.
Jerry felt his eyes narrow as he fought to keep his thoughts hidden. Flynn looked exhausted. His hair and clothing were damp—he must have been walking in the rain. He seemed to want to be punished for some reason, and he had chosen bottoming as the means of achieving self-flagellation. What that said about his feelings toward sex with Jerry wasn’t to be thought of right now. What mattered was giving Flynn what he wanted the way he wanted it without ever having spoken about it before. Jerry had only one shot at getting this right.
“Fine,” he said, when he’d found his voice again. Frost chilled his words. “Strip.”
Flynn raised an eyebrow.
“You heard me.” Jerry spoke in the clipped tones he reserved for the truly stupid co-worker. “I’m not going to ask twice.”
He buried the internal sigh of relief when Flynn shrugged out of his jacket and began unbuckling his belt.
“Yeah. That’s it.” Jerry felt an astonishing rush of power come over him. His cock approved, slowly filling to tent his towel. Flynn undressed carelessly, his underlying anger causing him to tug at his shirt buttons in a manner that normally would have pained Jerry to watch. This time he felt a simmering excitement at the knowledge that Flynn was pulling roughly at his clothing at Jerry’s command.
For once, he was in goddamned control. Unexpected confidence surged through him and he cast aside his towel. He planted his feet firmly and stood as though he expected to be worshiped, and by God, for once he felt as though he should be worshiped.
Flynn watched him with flattering attention, to the point that he fumbled with the buttons on his fly.
“Stop.” Jerry infused the word with all the authority he’d developed from years as an agent and was gratified when Flynn froze and looked up in confusion.
“You can’t take your pants off before your shoes.”
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What kinds of stories do I like to write? I write primarily about m/m relationships. I like to write long, plotty stories with a lot of angst, bright splashes of humor, a little drama, some action (sex or otherwise), and for the most part, I believe in happy endings.
I’m a huge fan of mysteries, science-fiction, and fantasy–these are my favorite stories to read and write. I love to hear from my readers–please don’t hesitate to contact me: akasarahmadison at gmail dot com