Jan 14, 2011

Posted by in Interviews | 34 Comments

Interview with Zoe Archer plus Giveaway!

I am not a reader of historical novels. But I noticed the covers for this new series here and there back in September and thought the images were beautiful. Then I read a couple of blubs and reviews about the first book Warrior and decided to give it a try. And boy am I glad I did. These The Blades of the Rose books are not your typical historical book. They are more like Indiana Jones movie but in paperback. Filled with adventure and fun, I looked forward to each book. And when I finished the series, I wanted to know more about author Zoe Archer and what went into writing this engaging series. She agreed to answer my questions…and here she is!

Thank you so much Zoe for agreeing to answer my plethora of questions about your Blades of the Rose books.

For readers who have yet to pick up your spectacular series, can you talk a little bit about your The Blades of the Rose books?

Unbeknownst to most of the world, magic is real. It’s concentrated in physical objects known as Sources, and they are scattered all across the globe. There are those who know about the Sources, and want to steal and hoard them for their own selfish, power-hungry purposes. But there is a small, dedicated band of men and women who protect the Sources. They are the Blades of the Rose. Their code prohibits them from using magic that isn’t theirs by right or gift, but they do have courage, intelligence, and some very clever mechanical devices—all of which come in handy when battling for the freedom of the world.

Where did the name “The Blades of the Rose” come from?

The Blades all carry a Compass, which is one of the ways they can identify each other when out in the field. The Compass is not only a useful directional tool, it also represents their global mission. On each Compass, the cardinal directions are indicated by different swords. Thus, the compass rose symbolizes both their willingness to fight as well as their dedication to mercy and justice. And the word “blade” also means a dashing, daring person.

Each member of the Blades carries a compass. It’s their most prized possession. What made you decide that a compass would be their emblem over, let’s say, a fun pair of socks?

Hee. See the answer above. I admit a small bit of calculation on my part. When I was conceptualizing this series, I wanted to create an identifying image or logo so that a reader could immediately tell they were reading a Blades of the Rose book. The compass seemed perfect, since it leads to thoughts of travel and adventure, which is definitely what this series is about! Socks wouldn’t looks quite as cool on the spine of a book.

The Blades consists of four books. Each of these books takes place in a very different locale. ‘Warrior’ takes us to Mongolia, ‘Scoundrel’ (my personal favorite) brings us to Greece, ‘Rebel’ we’re in the great Canadian North (Woo Canada!) and ‘Stranger’ takes us to England.

The way you describe the landscapes and how you write about the local customs is incredible. While reading, I assumed that you’ve lived in these places and that’s why you knew so much about them. But you haven’t! You are just a research queen! Tell us about your research.

Never underestimate the power of a good university research library! I maintain my University of California alumna status not because I have particular fondness for my undergraduate years, but because it allows me to check books out of UC libraries. (Wow, can you imagine a dorkier reason to be an alumni?) So, I did a lot of reading. I watched films and television programs set in the locations, and listened to music. And the internet is actually a phenomenal research tool. After that, it was up to my imagination, which is fairly expansive.

The Blades of the Rose is an action adventure historical romance series with paranormal elements mixed in. (So basically name it, it has it). I have to tell you I really thought the action parts were very well written. You can really picture exactly what’s happening during those scenes in your head.

Do you have a method to writing your high adrenaline action scenes? Do you act them out with your family using foam swords and a big dog as the enemy before putting the sequences to the page?

A huge part of the credit has to go to my husband, who is also a writer (Nico Rosso, author of the sci-fi romance TAKEN TO THE LIMIT, hint). He is key in helping me plot out and choreograph the action scenes, and often draws diagrams so I know who is where and doing what. I love action sequences, but they can be confusing to read and write, plus he’s a dude with years of experience watching ‘80s and ‘90s action films. Between the two of us, I think we’ve come up with some pretty awesome action scenes.

The characters in these books are all so different yet complement each other exceptionally well. All the men are yummy and all the women are really kick ass! I love, love, love that the lead female characters are all strong women who crave a chance to be themselves and not what 1875 society thinks they should be.

Did you find a certain character easier to write than the others? Or the opposite, did you find one a little trickier to have come to life?

Writing convincing kick-ass chicks in historical settings is not easy. I didn’t want to make them anachronistic, but, fortunately, the Blades welcome difference in their ranks, and so I figured these would be women who operate outside of conventional society. London, the heroine of SCOUNDREL, was a bit of a challenge because, although she has an unusual interest in linguistics and language, she comes from a very traditional, and very oppressive, background. So she doesn’t start out as a kick-ass chick, but grows into one. That was challenging, but fun. I kind of love how much of a badass Astrid (the heroine of REBEL) is. She does not mess around.

Any word if there is going to be any more Blades books? If so, are we going to see some of the characters we’ve come to know in future books?

Thus far, there are no plans for future Blades books, but I surely hope so! Depends on how well the series sells. (Imagine me now staring meaningfully at readers.) If I do get the go-ahead to write them, I will have them set 20 years later, in 1895, so we may see a few characters we’ve already met, but we’re on to a new generation. I do plan on having a book for Aurelia Graves, the inventor Catullus Graves’s niece, as well as another book for Charles Reed, the son of Sam and Cassandra Reed (the couple from the Blades prequel “The Undying Heart” in HALF PAST DEAD). For Charles, let’s just say that if your father is dead and then brought back to life, and then gets your mother pregnant with you, there’s bound to be repercussions.

*Julie now stares meaningfully at readers*

You have a new series, The Hellraisers, in the works and book one, ‘Devil’s Kiss’, is expected in stores in December of this year. Can you tell us a little about your new project?

Ooh, the Hellraisers! I love these guys. Eighteenth century bad boys, on a grand scale. The Hellraisers are a group of rakes who inadvertently free the Devil from his prison. Each Hellraiser receives a magical gift from the Devil which allows them their hearts’ desires. Of course, there’s always a price to pay when dealing with the Devil. The Hellraisers themselves have a price to pay, but when you unleash the Devil into the world, things are going to get ugly. And dangerous. These books are very different from the Blades. They’re darker, which is to be expected when the heroes are the villains. Expect some sexy good times with some yummy men and seriously kick-ass chicks.

*runs to write Devil’s Kiss in book planner* That sounds like it’s going to be a super fun series!

Alright, flash four time…

Flash four questions about books and writing ~

How long, from start to end, did it take you to write all four Blades books?

I wrote WARRIOR in about seven months, and then I was given a year to write the other three Blades books, so SCOUNDREL took four months, as did REBEL. STRANGER took a little longer because I took a break in the middle to write “The Undying Heart,” and by then we also knew that the books’ release date was pushed back a little to ensure proper placement in the market. So I think it took about five months, maybe six. Also, STRANGER was pretty epic in length, as you well know, so that added time to its writing.

Did you see yourself being a writer as you were growing up?

Yes. I went through different phases where I thought I was going to be an illustrator, or a costume designer, or an academic, but it always came back to writing. I started writing as a little kid and never stopped.

In what room of your house do you write from?

Our second bedroom, which functions as an office for Nico and me. We also have crammed in here our elliptical trainer and my research books, so it’s a pretty crowded room. Especially when it’s Nico, me and our two cats.

Do you tend to come up with the title for your book before you start writing it, while you’re writing it or when it’s all done?

All of the above. I don’t like writing something without a title. But the title I come up with isn’t always the one that the editor ultimately settles on.

Flash four questions about random things ~

Sweet or salty snacks?

Sweet, but if I can have chocolate-covered salted caramel, then I am very, very happy. Caramel and butterscotch are two of my favorite flavors.

What color is your toothbrush?

Right now, I think it’s pink. We replace them every couple of months.

Your high school experience: good or bad?

Both. I got involved with my HS theatre department, and had a lot of great experiences that way, but there was the usual adolescent angst. Frankly, I was grateful to leave high school behind and get on with the business of being an adult. My twentieth reunion is this year (dear GOD), and I’m still on the fence about going.

What do you like on your pizza?

Mushrooms, red bell peppers. And I’ve gotten used to ordering it with less cheese, so when I get normal pizza, it feels a little too gooey and I wind up peeling off the cheese. (Incidentally, Peeling Off the Cheese should be the title of a book.) LOL

Thank you very much Zoe for answering my questions. Your The Blades of the Rose books are like nothing I’ve read before and I thoroughly enjoyed each and every one of them. Thank you for sharing these wonderful characters and their stories with us.

Thank you for having me, and enjoying the books!

Not only are Zoe’s books awesome, Zoe is pretty remarkable too. She is giving away not only Warrior, not only Warrior and Scoundrel, not only Warrior and Scoundrel and Rebel…but Warrior AND Scoundrel AND Rebel AND Stranger to one lucky commenter! That’s right! Zoe Archer is going to be giving away her entire The Blades of the Rose series to one of YOU! All you have to do is leave a comment below by midnight on Friday, January 21st 2011 EST. That’s it. One lucky winner will be chosen by random.com and will be announced on my blog shortly after.  Open to US and Canada only.

Let’s all say THANK YOU ZOE! *puts hand by ear waiting to hear you all say it, nice and clearly so Zoe can hear you*

  1. Great interview, and review in the other post 😀

    I have book 1, yay! Will read it soon and see if I catch the big.

    Not entering since I from a land far far away

  2. What a fun interview! Thanks for stopping by Zoe. Great job Julie.

    Don’t enter me for the contest. I have the books on my Kindle waiting for me to show them some love. =)

  3. I loved all your interview questions. Flash four about writting was my favorite part and

    Do you act them out with your family using foam swords and a big dog as the enemy before putting the sequences to the page?

    Hilarious! I often wondered the same thing.

  4. Elise Hepner says:

    These books sound really intriguing. I’m always willing to break from the norm a little with my books and Zoe is a great author.

  5. I don’t know how I can read so much and still have missed your books!!!!! I will certainly correct that immediately. Thanks for a very stimulating interview.

  6. I have heard so many great reveiws about these books. They have been on my wish list for awhile now and would be pretty stoked if I could win! Great interveiw today and thanks for sharing with us!

  7. Wow what a giveaway! Thank you for the post can contest. Can wait to start reading!

  8. Thank you, Zoe! That was a great interview. I checked out Warrior and Scoundrel from the library, so I’m dying to read the last two, and I would love to have my own copies of all of them. I’m really looking forward to the Hellraisers (I love it when heroes are also the bad guys), and I hope that you’ll get to write more Blades of the Rose books, too.

  9. I was introduced to you by another author and have been dying to read these books, trying to bring my very long TBR list down to add these. Great giveaway! Awesome interview.

  10. Michelle in Colorado says:

    I love this series so far.

  11. Great interview. The covers of all the books in the series are eye-catching.

    I think it’s wonderful both you and your husband are writers.

  12. I’m one of Zoe’s biggest fans. I absolutely love the Blades. Great interview Zoe!

  13. I haven’t read Zoe yet but I have her in my list of authors to explore. This would be the ultimate method of doing the above. Thanks for the fantastic contest.

  14. Lovely interview ladies. I’ve yet to start this series. Looking forward to this though.

  15. I am so excited to read this series. I only became aware of Zoe Archer within the last two weeks via Twitter of all things (maybe via Stephanie Draven? I forget). Makes me wonder what else I missed by not getting on the Twitter bandwagon until late in 2010. These books look incredible. And boy are you a fast writer! I can’t wait to read them. Thank sweet heaven for editors and agents who pick up what others would think are risky. Again, can’t wait to get them all and read them for myself!

  16. Candi Wall says:

    What a wonderful interview! From both of you.

    I loved the questions and have to say Zoe has such an engaging style here! Makes me wonder how I don’t have this series yet, although I have funny feeling my son has them.

    Great job. You’re now headed to the top of my wishlist!

    Keep it up.

  17. Danielle (lush26) says:

    What a great interview ladies!! I’m so exited to start this series 🙂 Zoe you are amazing! Hope you had a great anniversary 🙂 xo

  18. Cybercliper says:

    Wow, I’ve read some great reviews on this series – a little historical, little steampunk, and a lot of action! Been on my ‘want’ list for awhile now.

  19. What a great interview! I look forward to reading these books very soon, but would LOVE to win them.

  20. Nice interview. The Blade of the Roses series sounds good. I love kick-ass heroines. Thanks for the contest.

  21. Jana Goodwin says:

    You absolutely rock…… I love all your books that I have read and can’t wait to read more…… 😉

  22. I’ve read warrior and loved it. I would love to win a copy of each book in the quartet!

  23. Dianne Barskey says:

    Thanks for the great interview. I cannot wait to read these books.

  24. I loveloveloved these books and am looking forward to reading them again. Since reading them I’ve set several of my friends to reading them as well 🙂

    Thanks for the informative and entertaining interview!

  25. Kelly Thrash says:

    Thank you Zoe!!! 🙂 what a fun interview!! I’ve yet to actually read Zoes work but I love her posts on facebook…does that count? Lol 🙂 Congrats on all your releases I’m sure you will get to write more blades books!!

    Kittykelly28 @ hotmail.co

  26. Sam and Cassandra (“Half Past Dead”) had a son? I was wondering if Cassandra could have conceived when Sam was still a zombie but I think the question is a bit too icky to ask.

  27. Julie – I swear to the Lord above that I posted a comment on here the day that you posted this, when you twittered me to make sure that I checked it out! *Sniff Sniff* I don’t know where my comment went and it said so much about the interview and I can’t even remember it all. *Sniff Sniff again*. 🙁 It ate my comment… It went something like this…

    That was an awesome interview Julie! I love how your questions just hit the right spot and I’m sure answer a lot of questions other readers of this series also wonder about! Zoe thanks for taking the time to answer all of these questions so that your readers can have another chance to get to know you and understand where your writing comes from. Julie, I especially love the flash four questions you ask all the authors because it is away to get to know them more than just their books.

    I had noticed the cover of Stranger on your side bar and I do, also, really enjoy the covers. They pop right out at you! Thank you both for this awesome opportunity to win ALL FOUR BOOKS!

    *Crossing Fingers* (Can they get stuck if you keep them crossed for a whole week?! LMAO!!!

  28. KokoKatze says:

    Great interview! I look forward to reading these books. The Hellraiser series sounds great too!

    Now after meaningfully staring at my computer screen reading this review, I have the curious urge to buy all the books… 😀

  29. I LOVE finding new books and this inerview certainly makes me want to read this series. Of course, it would be even better if I win tem!
    digicat {AT} sbcglobal {DOT} net

  30. Tanya Maxemow says:

    Wow! This series sounds awesome. Don’t know how I haven’t heard of it before now. Can’t wait to sink my teeth into it. Thanks for the great giveaway!!

  31. The books sound intriguing, I love reading about different cultures and/or times so I’m definitely going to keep a look out for them. Always excited to find new literature 🙂

  32. Danielle Gorman says:

    This series looks really good. Will definitely be putting it onto my wishlist. Thanks for the chance to win all three copies. I can’t wait to start reading.

  33. This series has been on my radar for a while & I would love to not one but all of them! YAY! Please enter me!

  34. Read Scoundrel with the SBTB book club, and was surprised at the depth of knowledge in the book. Really great, and fun!! Would love to read the rest of this series.

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