Shara Azod is one of the many authors who have inspired me to write romance stories, so you can just imagine how honored I feel that she’s taken time-out to visit me on my blog today. I’ve read many of her books, but I’m particularly enthralled by her Chevaliers of New Orleans series. Remy Goes to Therapy was my favorite of them all.
Today, Shara will tell us about the authors she’s collaborated with and what she wants her fans to gain from reading one of her books. And you’d be surprised by the worst pick-up she’s ever received and how it has impacted her life. It bothers me too, especially as I’m also a dark-skinned woman.
So let’s get started.
I’m delighted to have you here. Let’s begin by telling us, who is Shara Azod, and why did you decide to write?
I’ve been writing for as long as I can remember. It has always been an escape for me. I can’t think back to a time when deep down I didn‘t want to write. Over the years many people have told me to hang it up, writers starve, etc. etc. but if you have something in you, like really in you, you should never let that go. I mean even if you really have it in you to be a singer and you can’t hold a tune, take lessons, get a voice box or auto-tune or whatever. If no one digs it, fine but live your dream. It is so much better than always wondering, What if?. As far as who I am, well that can be argued over after I’m gone. Life is a journey, who you are today may not be who you are tomorrow. I am still figuring it out.
Which authors have you collaborated with? Give us some insight into the dynamics of writing a story as a team.
I am currently collaborating with Nikki Winter, I have written with RaeLynn Blue, Eve Vaughn (who I am also currently collaborating with), Laura Guevara who is recovering from cancer so send up some prayers and always my road dawg Marteeka Karland. Writing with someone is a give and take. It can be hard especially if you have two distinct “voices”, but I truly believe I grow and learn when writing with others. It opens you to possibilities as long as you are careful not to be too stubborn or opinionated. Lord knows I can be both, but thankfully each one of those ladies can smack me down with love.
Do you write full-time?
I have a full time job, I write pretty much every day if I can and I publish.
How do you balance family life with your writing?
What is this thing you call balance? My kids are A type personalities. It is simply not possible to ignore them. They will always come first, so I make a way.
What’s the worst pick up line ever used on you? Have you ever incorporated it into any of your books?
I swear some guy actually told me I was pretty for a dark skinned girl. When I failed to reply (I was dumbfounded) he felt the need to explain dark skinned women were not usually attractive. I have never used that line because I found it insulting and I wouldn’t want to insult anyone else like that. I told him the third amendment gave me the right to categorically rebuke him (we were in a military club) and I walked away. Never forget it though. Him, I have forgotten, the words haunt me to this day.
Tell us something interesting about you not many people know.
I am really not all that interesting. I am boring. Except I collect knives, which is kinda weird I guess. And I obsess over great military battles. Especially Napoleon’s.
Have you ever based your characters on real people?
There are some characters in the whole Chevalier series that are based on real people. Not saying who because they might kill me. Oh and Georgie’s Beau was based on real people. Stories I heard as a child mixed with crazy scenarios my cousins and I would make up to fill in the gaps. I figured why not flip the script and give these people a happy ending?
What do you want your readers to gain from reading one of your books?
I consider books a work of art, like a painting. I am NOT a great artist by any means, so let’s not get that twisted. But I never want to preach. I try to stay as true as possible to a fictional story. Just do not expect it to be too real because in the end it is fiction, how we wish life can be. But each person will take what they want from it, or be unintentionally touched. That, I think, is the best; to be shocked by a new understanding or see things in a different point of view.
Do you listen to music while you write? Are there any other rituals you do?
This is weird but I love to have the news on in the background when I write. Truth is often stranger than fiction, you would not believe the ideas that comes from 24 hour cable news. Never a certain network, but CNN or MSNBC or even Current and sometimes BBC. People are really weird. I sometimes make soundtracks. I used to have contests to give them away but participation has dwindled so much so I stopped.
What advice would you give to new or aspiring authors?
Just write. Use your own voice, never try to imitate anyone. Write from the gut. Haters you will have always. So stay true to you. And most of all there is no such thing as taboo in fiction. Give fair warning if you are going to go there, up front and in bold, but if it is in you write it. The biggest mistake I have ever made is listening to others who would have me write what THEY want me to, not what is inside me. That kills creativity.
What can readers expect from you for the rest of 2013?
I am going back to my roots. I will be writing more Chevalier kids but only when they speak to me. I think the rest of the year I will concentrate on military and ménage stories because that is where my heart is really and I have neglected that. I want to explore my borderline stalkerish military heroes.
Now on to A Marine for Selah (w/Marteeka Karland).
Selah Gooding has devoted her life to being the consummate good girl, never willing to disappoint her mother or send the tongues residing in their small Oklahoma town wagging. Her mother’s diner, church meetings, and a very unsociable lifestyle have all become the things that make up Selah’s day to day routine. At least until she finds herself ensnared in the magnetic pull of one extremely charming, extremely gorgeous Marine. Now Selah has to make a choice. Continue to be a consummate good girl…or admit that every now and again it’s okay to be bad. Particularly when you have the soldier of your dreams backing that decision…
Once inside, the door securely locked, Justice rested his head on the cool wood, trying to get a handle on his raging libido. Maybe prolonging the anticipation hadn’t been the best idea he’d ever had. The entirety of his body hurt with wanting her. But he knew he had to take this slow.
“Justice?” The soft, sweet music of Selah’s voice called to him, wrapped around his heart and squeezed. “Is everything all right?”
“Perfect, Selah.” He faced her, unable to stop his gaze from devouring the sight of her. “Absolutely perfect.”
With deliberate slowness, she moved toward him, her hips swaying with every step. “I wanted to be cool about this, but I’m not a very good seductress. You’re going to have to help me a little.”
Swallowing, Justice sagged against the door. He was so fucked. “Tell me what you need, Selah,” he whispered. “I’ll give you anything.”
She reached him, placing her hands on his chest and running her palms over the wide expanse, her gaze following her hands. “I need you to make love to me. I want to know what it’s like to have a man like you, even if it’s only for this one night.” She met his gaze then, uncertainty in her eyes. Justice knew it wasn’t uncertainty about the act, but about how he’d take her request.
“You know you can do better than me, right?”
She blinked rapidly several times before answering. “I don’t want to do better than you. I just…” She swallowed. “I just want you.”
Shara is the first one to admit she is a little off. Her favorite movies are Steel Magnolias and Apocalypse Now, with a little Godfather and Animal House thrown in for fun. When not planning to take over the world, she can usually be found having deep and meaningful conversations with her kids about the meaning of life or trying to talk her husband into buying her weapons — just in case of Armageddon.