Posts tagged with: Ancient Rome

Christina Ashcroft and the Archangel

I always love hosting a personal friend in the lair. Today’s guest Christina Ashcroft and I met way back in 2004, well before either of us was a published author, at the Romantic Novelists Association conference at Leicester in the U.K.

Christina, originally from England, now lives in beautiful Western Australia and we’ve been lucky enough to meet up since at various Romance Writers of Australia conferences (although not as often as I’d like! Perth is a long way from the east coast where most of the conferences are held).

I’ve long been a fan of Christina’s hot, dramatic, passionate books set in Roman Britain written under the Christina Phillips name. I’m delighted now to introduce her as Christina Ashcroft, a new star of paranormal romance, with her debut Archangel Of Mercy. Here’s the blurb:

When Aurora Robinson attempts to open a rift between dimensions to embrace her true heritage, an arrogant Archangel is the only one who can save her from the jaws of hell. And while she owes Gabriel her life, she’s determined not to fall at his feet-despite the desire she feels whenever they’re together.

After his wings were brutally destroyed millennia ago, Gabriel has no compassion for humans like those who ruined him and betrayed the ones he loved. But when he inexplicably finds himself defying ancient protocols to rescue a woman from a fate worse than death, he is shocked by the searing attraction he feels for a mortal.

As the ancient forces that seek to punish Aurora for her actions close in, Gabriel offers the tempting woman protection at his private sanctuary. But as they both succumb to their desires, they discover an even deeper connection-one that threatens to consume them.

You can find out more about Christina’s dual writing personalities at her websites:

http://christinaashcroft.com/

http://christinaphillips.com/

Christina, absolutely lovely to have you in the lair! Congratulations on the release of the first book in the Archangel series, Archangel Of Mercy, which is out from Berkley Heat this month. Can you tell us about this story?

Hi Anna, thank you so much for having me back in the lair! It’s always so much fun in here!

I’d love to tell you about my gorgeous Archangel, Gabriel. He’s one of the Fallen, but not in quite the way you might expect. He and his fellow Archangels used Earth as their playground millennia ago, and of course some of them fell in love with mortals. But the consequences of what happened in the past haunt Gabe today and he protects his shattered heart and guilt riddled soul behind a tough façade.

Aurora is a typical girl-next-door—except she has a unique heritage, and by trying to discover her roots and help her mother she unleashes an ancient force who are determined to punish her for her actions. As a consequence of this she is the catalyst that causes an Archangel to fall from the heavens… and into her arms.

What were the inspirations behind this book?

Ever since I was a child I’ve been fascinated by the Mayan prophecies that December 2012 marks the End of the World. The mathematical precision of their calendars are mind boggling and their ancient knowledge of the heavens phenomenal. As I got older I discovered the Mayans hadn’t discovered this knowledge themselves. It was handed down to them from a far more ancient civilization. And suppose this knowledge had been handed down previously from an even more ancient race of people?

I’ve also always loved the myths and legends that surround Atlantis. But what if that wasn’t merely a legend? What if a lost continent had once existed and been home to a technologically advanced civilization that rivals our own today?

It was only when I began to uncover the distant, mist shrouded past of the Archangel Gabriel that I began to understand the immortal he was today, and that was when he finally opened up enough to let me share his story.

Can you tell us about the Archangel series as a whole?

Each book is a stand alone romance between the Archangel and his heroine, so although it doesn’t matter if the books aren’t read as a series it would give a richer understanding of the world and background if the books are read in order. There is a thread that runs through the books that involve the ancient (and rather nasty) alien species, the Guardians.

What can we expect from the second book?

The second book, Archangel Of Death, is Azrael’s story. At the end of Archangel Of Mercy Azrael is horrified that Gabe has fallen again. He can’t understand why any Archangel would want to put themselves through that kind of torture because all too soon mortals die. And when they do, a part of the Archangel’s heart dies too.

Well, who could resist that kind of attitude? I knew straight away that Azrael was going to be my next unwilling hero! And who better for his heroine than someone from a race he has always despised and done everything within his power to eliminate?

Rowan is a dhampir and Azrael truly doesn’t stand a chance from the moment they meet. Because Rowan is nothing like the dhampirs Azrael fought nine hundred years ago when he saved the life of a legendary phoenix. In fact Rowan is nothing like any woman he has ever met. I loved writing this book and can’t wait until it hits the shelves!

As you know, I’m a huge fan of your sexy Christina Phillips historicals set in ancient Britain which involve forbidden love between the locals and the Roman invaders. You can imagine how thrilled I am to hear that books 3 and 4 in this series will soon be out. Can you tell us what’s going on with your Romans and Druids?

Thanks Anna, I was absolutely delighted when Ellora’s Cave picked up the next books in the series, Betrayed and Tainted.

Betrayed is Tacitus and Nimue’s story. Nimue, an acolyte of the moon goddess, appeared right at the very end of the second book, Captive, and she immediately fascinated me. While trying to protect the Briton queen she is captured by her bitterest enemy, but soon discovers the Roman tribune who’s enslaved her is far from the brutal barbarian she imagined. As for Tacitus, he’s never met a woman like Nimue before and has trouble accepting that this beautiful, ethereal woman could possibly be a warrior—let alone one of Rome’s deadliest enemies. I had a lot of fun tying these two up in knots!

In Tainted I mixed things up a bit, and have a Roman noblewoman, Antonia, who falls for tough Celt warrior, Gawain. Antonia’s had a hell of a life with her brutal former husband, and arrives in Britannia determined to make a new start without the complication of a man telling her what to do. Then she meets Gawain, and makes the decision to embark on a brief liaison. Gawain, of course, is more than happy to accommodate her since he doesn’t do commitment and is trying to stir rebellion against the Roman Legions. But as I’m an evil author and love torturing my hero and heroine, nothing goes according to their plans and they fall in love. Rome is not amused!

I also notice that we’ve got a novella called Bloodlust Denied coming up from you soon. Wow, I’ll be wallowing in delicious Christina Phillips/Ashcroft lusciousness. Can you tell us about this novella?

I’ve always wanted to write a lush Regency Romance and a few years ago an idea came to me of a tortured Regency duke who had lost the only woman he had ever loved many years before. Well, once I started thinking more about the story I realised this was no ordinary duke and he hadn’t lost his beloved a handful of years ago. No, my twisted imagination turned my sexy duke into a very bad ass vampire indeed, and any sense of morality he had once possessed had died along with his wife over two thousand years before. In Bloodlust Denied Alexius meets Morana and despite himself is fascinated by the way she shows no fear of him. Unfortunately for Alexius, Morana is no ordinary human either – she’s a Maiden of Death, pledged to rid the world of vampires.

 

Thanks, Christina! Wow, lots happening with you.

 

I have a copy of ARCHANGEL OF MERCY and some gorgeous swag to give away to one lucky commenter. The contest is open internationally to wherever The Book Depository delivers. Just leave a comment on the post or, since it’s nearly Christmas (or The End of Days if we’re going with the Mayans!) let me know who you would love to find stuffed in your stocking on 25th December (or, alternatively, who would you love to find brandishing awesome weapons in order to fight the Apocalypse!)

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Be sure to come back to the Lair on December 13 when we kick off the annual 12 BANDITA DAYS OF CHRISTMASPrizes and recipes every day!! Roosters. Starbucks goodies. Books. Dragons. Books. Cookies. Godiva. Books!! (By Banditas and friends like Dianna Love, Miranda Neville, Annie West, Sabrina Jeffries, Liz Carlyle, JD Tyler, Deb Marlowe, Marquita Valentine, Addison Fox, Lydia Dare and many more!) You know you want the cookies, for sure, so come home to the Lair for the Holidays! Who knows, you might win something, and you’ll be guaranteed to have fun!!

When in Rome, Do Something FORBIDDEN!

by Anna Campbell

I first had the great pleasure of meeting today’s guest, Christina Phillips, at the Romance Novelists’ Association Conference in Leicester in the U.K. in 2004. We were the lone Aussies (well, Christina was born in the U.K. but currently lives in beautiful Perth, Western Australia) and immediately formed a bond. We’ve stayed in touch since, although sadly because Perth is on the other side of a huge continent, we haven’t actually met up again until this year at the Romance Writers of Australia conference in Sydney. When I was so happy to give Christina a big hug and congratulate her on her fabulous debut sale to Berkley.

I’ve read Christina’s FORBIDDEN, a very hot and emotionall complex tale of the love between a Roman commander and a Druid Priestess in Roman-occupied Britain. Nothing like a couple of small impediments in the way of a couple’s happiness, snork! It’s fantastic and I highly recommend it!

You can find out more about Christina and her books at her website: http://www.christinaphillips.com/

And watch out for her next release CAPTIVE in February, 2011!

And don’t forget if you click on the cover of FORBIDDEN, it takes you right to Amazon! Or you can order Christina’s book post free to anywhere in the world from The Book Depository in the U.K. http://www.bookdepository.co.uk/book/9780425238080/Forbidden


Welcome, Christina! As you know, I was utterly blown away by your debut historical romance for Berkley, FORBIDDEN. Congratulations! Can you tell us a little about this story?

Thanks, Anna! I was so happy you enjoyed FORBIDDEN!

The story is set in AD 50 Britannia. My heroine, Carys, is a Druid princess and acolyte of the Goddess of Wisdom, Cerridwen. As the Roman Legions sweep through her beloved land, she and the rest of her clan escape into a magical enclave and are waiting for a sign from their gods before they attack their enemy. They were only supposed to remain there for a short time to rebuild their defences, but their High Druid has other plans.

My hero, Maximus, is a Roman Centurion, a patrician and loyal to his Emperor and Rome. When he discovers Carys spying on his bathing ritual (a scene I quite enjoyed writing!!!) he’s instantly captivated. Who is this woman, and why hasn’t she been seen in any of the villages the Legion has vanquished?

Maximus has been charged by his Emperor to eliminate all Druids. And Carys has sworn to rid her land of the barbarous invaders. Yet despite everything that conspires against them they are irresistibly drawn to each other.

Well, just between you and me and the doorpost, I enjoyed READING that scene of him bathing! In the lair, we love call stories. Will you share yours with us?

I’d love to! I love call stories too. I’d been writing for nine years when, at the encouragement of my CPs, I wrote my very first erotic romance. It was very short, very dark – and it sold to a small press. I was so excited by this – OMG a real live editor loves my writing! – that I decided to write a full length erotic romance.

FORBIDDEN took me nine months to write, I queried twelve agents, and a day to the month later my agent offered representation (not that I’m obsessive or anything but she actually offered representation at 11.30 pm on a Friday night and I didn’t sleep at ALL that weekend!!) Three months later we had a two book deal from Berkley Heat.

FORBIDDEN is set in Roman-occupied Britain. This is an unusual (while fascinating) setting, to say the least! Can you tell us a little about the rewards and challenges of writing in such a non-Romancelandia time period?

For me, the rewards of writing in this time period come from the mystery that surrounds the whole Druid culture. While I researched and used known fact as much as possible there are still huge gaps in our knowledge. So I improvised and wove a world where the goddess culture still predominated and women held equal status to men.

The biggest challenge was the setting and the time period. I knew that even before I started writing the book, but this book was one of those that I just couldn’t ignore. I had to tell Maximus and Carys’s story even though I knew it could be very difficult to place in the market. Thankfully I not only found an awesome agent who loves my world as much as I do, but also an amazing editor who believes in my Roman/Druid stories as well.

FORBIDDEN is hotter than July in Florida (yeah, I went to the RWA conference and I cooked!). I’d love to know how you approached the love scenes and how you kept the sensual and dramatic tension so taut while your hero and heroine were so…uh, busy!

I look at the love scenes as emotionally charged action scenes, essential for the growth of my hero and heroine as well as ratcheting up the tension in the overall plot. Although they may be getting naked physically – getting down to the action! – it’s really about what’s happening to their emotions, their pre-conceived convictions and in the case of Maximus and Carys, the prejudices they’ve held their entire lives about each other’s culture and heritage. So I don’t really approach the love scenes in a different way than I approach any other scene in the book. I do tend to write in a sensual manner in any case and I find the sensuality naturally heightens and heats up when my hero and heroine get, um, busy!!!

Can you give us a glimpse into your working day?

After the school run, shopping and the usual boring chores (which I do my best to put off until the last possible moment) I go into the spare bedroom which is now my official office *happy sigh*. Checking emails is an obsession and I need to get that out of the way before I can even think of opening my current document. This is not always a good move since I often get caught up in riveting online conversations and before I know it, it’s lunch time (but don’t tell anyone!) I tend to give myself lots of short term deadlines, i.e. five pages a day, finish chapter xx by the weekend, and so long as I meet them I seem to muddle through OK!

Do you have any advice for unpublished writers?

Not advice as such. Every writer’s path is different. But one thing I’d like to share about my own journey is this – sometimes trying something completely different can be the turning point. Eleven years ago I started out by targeting Harlequin Mills and Boon Presents, was told by a lovely editor my voice fit the Romance line, but still couldn’t sell. I then tried chick lit and then paranormal romance. It wasn’t until I attempted the one sub-genre I always maintained I would *never* write (because it was far too hard!) – erotic romance – that everything fell into place. And of course you have to enjoy it – happily I discovered I absolutely *adore* writing about hot sexy warriors!!

Christina, it’s been fascinating getting a glimpse at your debut book and your writing life. Thanks for swinging by today!

Thanks so much for having me in the Lair today, Anna! It’s been so much fun. I’d love to give away a signed copy of FORBIDDEN to one commenter. Which is your favourite unusual historical time and setting? What kind of smoky, sexy warrior is your secret fantasy – and who would you love to see play that warrior in a movie? (See what I did there – brought the conversation round to hot guys again!!!)Thanks a bunch!!!!!

Hot guys? That always gets the gals talking (and the cabana boys blushing!). Good luck, people!