Posted by Susan Sey Jun 29 2012, 12:29 am in interviews, paranormal romance, sci fi, Susan Sey, tamara hogan, urban fantasy
Hello, Bandita Buddies! Today, for your reading pleasure, I’ve brought you Tamara Hogan. I first met Tammy in our local RWA chapter where we were both aspiring writers, nervously clutching our manuscripts and our dreams. Tammy sold the first three books of her Underbelly Chronicles to Sourcebooks following a Golden Heart final in 2009, & I’ve been gobbling them up ever since. She’s here today to talk to us about the second book in the series, CHASE ME.
Susan Sey: Hi, Tammy, and welcome! Give us the set up for your latest release in the Underbelly Chronicles, CHASE ME. This is Gabe and Lorin’s story, isn’t it? Both of whom we met in book one, TASTE ME?
Tamara Hogan: Millennia ago, when their ship crashed to Earth, hopelessly marooning them, extra-planetary species of all types settled secretly into our world, quietly going about their business with humans none the wiser. Self–ruling and careful to stay below the radar, their secret is almost exposed when Valkyrie Lorin Schlessinger makes a stunning archaeological discovery while on a dig in northern Minnesota. Her professional nemesis, werewolf geologist Gabe Lupinsky, is quickly dispatched to perform some damage control. Though they were both dating other people at the time, Lorin and Gabe shared a scene – and some sparks – in TASTE ME. Half a year later, away from the constraints of the office, neither is attached, and…well, you know what they say: What happens in Isabella stays in Isabella. Except when it doesn’t.
SS: I love it that your books are set in our beloved Minnesota! And northern Minnesota to boot! Isabella! Love that town. And speaking of setting, tell us about this world you’ve created with the Underbelly Chronicles. What particularly appeals to you about this particular take on sci-fi/urban fantasy?
TH: I’m a complete hoor for science—cosmology, theoretical physics, archaeology, computer hacking, astrophysics, science fiction and science fact. I can’t remember a time when space did not fascinate me: the ungodly distance. The long time horizons. How cute Mr. Spock was. I’ve long thought that sheer math supported the possibility that humanity isn’t the only intelligent life in the universe. As the character Ellie Arroway says in the movie Contact, “If it’s just us, it seems like an awful waste of space.”
So I got to wondering, what if the answer to one of our era’s defining existential questions—are we alone?—has already been answered, and humanity simply doesn’t know it yet?
SS: Oooooh, chills! That question alone could lead to hundreds of books! Tell us about how you answered it.
TH: In this series I crafted a backstory where a ship of extra-planetary beings—just going about their business, and en route to somewhere else—crashed here thousands of years ago. Their descendants have been sharing the planet with us ever since, with humanity being none the wiser. On the ship were a number of species who evolved on adjacent branches of humanity’s family tree, with some strengths and abilities that are not magical by any means, but which provided distinct survival advantages on their planets of origin.
In the world that I’ve created, incubi and succubi secrete luscious pheromones maximizing their sexual attractiveness, and must absorb emotional energy—particularly sexual energy— for sustenance. Sirens amplify emotional energy with their voices. The Valkyrie have hyperactive adrenal systems which makes them vicious fighters and aggressive lovers. Werewolves, the only shape shifters in my world, typically have amazing scenting abilities and a high level of visual acuity, but are starting to exhibit some genetic frailties as a species due to inbreeding. Faeries have stunning empathic abilities, and my vampires, allergic to Earth’s UV rays, drink blood for its hemoglobin, which has healing properties.
I also wanted to suggest that all is not necessarily well environment-wise on other planets. CHASE ME’s villain, the vampire Beddoe, is horrified to find that the locals use water—rare, precious water—to wash their bodies. Such wasteful use is a crime punishable by death on his homeworld.
SS: See, this is what makes me love your world-building! You do it in such an organic way. Same goes for the paranormal aspect of your work. The way you use the supernatural elements of the story to underscore the really human elements of the romance is fascinating. For example, Gabe’s failing vision feeds his insecurity about whether he’s an adequate match for Lorin, while Lorin herself struggles with whether her raging attraction to Gabe is love or just her Valkyrie appetites in action. Can you talk a little bit about how that works? Did you deliberately write it that way, or did it happen more organically?
TH: Crafting Lorin and Gabe with these specific character attributes was deliberate, but I never dared imagine how well these choices might drive the conflict, and pull together thematically. One of the things I wanted to try with CHASE ME was to flip the traditional paranormal/UF gender tropes upside down. It’s Lorin, the heroine, who’s the rough and tumble, sexually aggressive alpha badass, and Gabe, the hero, who’s more cautious and deliberate, who’s protective of his feelings, and who, ultimately, is not at all satisfied with the strictly sexual relationship Lorin proposes. I also wanted to explore the concept of masculinity and strength through the lens of a man who had chronic health problems. Let me reassure readers that Gabe is plenty alpha when the situation calls for it! ;-)
SS: Mmmmmmm. Yes. Yes, he is. Having read CHASE ME, I can attest to this personally. :-) And while I adore your heroes, I truly love your way with a villain. What can you tell us about the villain of CHASE ME?
TH: Ah, the sophisticated vampire Beddoe, wheeler and dealer, captain of the intergalactic pleasure cruiser TonTon. When the ship is underway, his word is law—but his boss, Lorcan, has an extremely long reach, having placed at least one spy on his bridge. He’s almost saved enough money to buy this remote mudball of a planet and its precious water outright when a homing beacon from the long-lost Arkapaedis unexpectedly pops on the planet’s surface, threatening to bring scientists, bounty hunters and all manner of profiteers swarming to the quadrant. Before it blips again, he has to shut it down, once and for all. The scene when Beddoe walks into a northern Minnesota dive bar looking for information while the locals watch the Stanley Cup was my favorite to write. What a blast to see this familiar setting through completely alien (ha!) eyes…
SS: I loved that scene. So what’s next for you? Another Underbelly book, or are you branching out?
TH: I’m just finishing the manuscript for the third book in the Underbelly Chronicles series. TEMPT ME, Bailey and Rafe’s story, is slated for publication in July 2013. Book 1, TASTE ME, is getting some love on the contest circuit, having recently been named a WisRWA Write Touch and PRISM paranormal finalist.
For anyone going to the Romance Writers of America conference in Anaheim in late July, Susan and I are doing a workshop called “Superbad: How Unleashing Your Villain Can Unlock Your Story” which— fair warning— will NOT be recorded due to its interactive nature. (And yeah, because there’s outside chance the language might get a little, erm, spicy.)
SS: Because we’re naughty like that. :-) I’ve had to clean up my language since I had kids, & I tend to cut loose when I’m on vacation. I’ll apologize in advance.
TH: If you’re there, please say “hi!”
Question for readers: Do you think humanity is the sole intelligent life in the universe? Why or why not?
Today, Sourcebooks is giving away paperback copies of CHASE ME to two lucky commenters! (Sorry, U.S. and Canadian street addresses only.)
Tamara Hogan loathes cold and snow, but nonetheless lives near Minneapolis with her partner Mark and two naughty cats. When she’s not telecommuting as a quality and process engineer for a global networking company, she enjoys writing edgy urban fantasy romance with a sci-fi twist. A voracious reader with an unapologetic television addiction, Tammy is forever on the lookout for the perfect black boots. Shopping, anyone?
Tammy’s first book, TASTE ME, won a Daphne du Maurier Award for Mystery and Suspense, and was also nominated for the Romance Writers of America’s prestigious Golden Heart® Award.
For more on Tamara and the Underbelly Chronicles, check her out on:
Her website, Facebook, Twitter or Goodreads
CHASE ME Buy Links:
(Amz | BN | Sourcebooks | Powell’s | BAM | Sony | Kobo | iBooks)
Read an excerpt!