Character Interview with Lucius Asper

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Character Interview with Lucius Asper

I’m a member of the Goodreads group Kiss & Tell, who recently held a convention of sorts featuring character panels and other fun stuff. Below you’ll find the moderator’s transcript of her interview with my character, Lucius Sempronius Asper.

Enjoy!

*****

A hostess guides me to a table under the Café Du Monde’s distinctive green awning where the scent of freshly made beignets and roasted chicory fills the outdoor seating area. This is my first time in New Orleans, and I chose the iconic coffee stand as the location for my interview with former gladiator Lucius Sempronius Asper.

I’ve known the author, Rachel Chanticleer, my whole life but I’ve never met any of her characters. She does her thing, I do mine, and you could say our paths don’t cross that often. But luckily, at the very last minute she finally agreed to facilitate this meeting with Lucius. Ms. Chanticleer explained Lucius is in town with the dark witch he’s bound to. Power hungry and cruel, she’s held him under a curse for centuries, forcing him to act as her own personal assassin. Her magic and threats of torturing her targets left him no choice; bring her victims in to grant them a quick and painless death, or watch as she allows others to do unspeakable things to them.

He’s back in the Big Easy to finish a job he failed a few years ago. He was tasked to bring his master a woman she saw in a vision while scrying–a young witch who hadn’t yet learned of her abilities but would someday become quite powerful. The dark witch wanted that power for herself and Lucius would bring her this Bethany Hayes so that the draining ritual could be completed. Ms. Chanticleer said Lucius let Beth go the night he first came for her, but now that he’s back in her city, the author fears his master may get what he denied her several years ago…

Just when I think Mr. Asper probably stood me up, I jump as a large hand pulls out the chair from the other side of the table. How I missed his approach is beyond me. Over six feet tall with striking blue eyes and deep brown shoulder length hair, this man should stand out in a crowd. Instead, he managed to sneak up on me in broad daylight, almost like a predator stalking his oblivious prey.

To say that I found it unsettling would be an understatement.

“Mr. Asper,” I say, reaching over my notepad to shake his hand as he sits, “thank you for seeing me today.”

He scans his surroundings, nodding once. “Lucius is fine.”

“Great. Okay, well, I’ll get right to my questions then. What is your occupation?”

Head tilted down, those pale eyes lock onto mine and I contemplate making a run for it.

“You know what I do.” His voice isn’t quite a warning, but I’m certainly not going to push him.

“Right. Okay.” I draw several lines through that particular question and soldier on. “Where did you learn most of your skills and other abilities?”

“I learned how to kill in the stinking, blood-soaked amphitheaters of Rome, if that’s what you mean. Not that I’d call it a skill,” he adds. “My knowledge of certain things related to magic and the occult, I picked up from the witch who has me bound.”

“I see… What’s the most evil thing you’ve ever done?”

Lucius cants his head just slightly to the side. “This year?”

I take a gulp of the ice water the waitress brought earlier, the combination of NOLA’s humidity and the conversation with the lethal man in front of me giving me a cold sweat. Rehydrated, I straighten my back and continue the interview.

“Where do you most want to travel, but have never been?”

He breaks the intense eye contact and leans back with folded arms. “I’ve been most everywhere by now, so it’s not as much where I wish I could travel, but when.

“Alright, I’ll bite. If you could time travel, would you go to the past or the future?”

“The past, without a doubt,” he answers quickly. “I’d go back to the day of the Saturnalia Festival when I was rescued from a slave’s death by the woman who would later enslave me for her own purposes. I’d throw the fight in the arena instead of becoming the victor, make sure I was dead before she came for me that night.”

I raise my brows at his candid response. “Do you care what others think of you?”

Lucius considers the question a moment before answering.

“Not everyone.”

Seeing a potential chink in the armor of this hardened assassin, I push for specifics.

“Who or what, if anything, would you die for (or otherwise go to extremes for)?”

The corner of his mouth lifts in amusement and he leans forward. “Next question, please.”

I return his smile. “Fair enough. What do you have in your pockets?”

“Pockets? Not much. But…”

Lucius reaches a hand around to the small of his back for a carved, three-sided dagger. He gives it a flip and offers it to me handle-first. I turn the intricate weapon over in my hand before returning it.

“What kind of metal is it made of?” I ask as he slips it back in the horizontal sheath attached to his belt.

“It wasn’t forged by man,” he explains. “It’s made of meteorite.”

“It’s quite beautiful. Does it… Does it perhaps have any unique properties?”

His silence speaks volumes.

I sigh. “Lemme guess. Next question?”

Smiling, Lucius nods. “Next question.”

“How about… What is your favorite memory?”

That warm smile broadens. “I once owned a home in Calabria, where I lived in between… In between missions. Right off the coast where I could see waves in the distance and walk through fragrant orange groves. Sometimes, if I catch a hint of citrus in the air, I’m taken right back.”

“That sounds lovely Lucius, and it brings me to my final question. What’s the one thing you would do, if you were able to do it?”

Clenching his jaw, a flash of defiant purpose darkens his features. “Something I should have done years ago. Something I plan to do tonight.”

*****

Want to read more about Lucius? Check out the short story The Hunter and the Witch, available free in the US at the eBook retailer links below. It’s also a Smashwords freebie if you’re an international reader. Book 1, a longer follow up, is currently in the works.

The Hunter and the Witch is free at the following US retailers:
Amazon
Barnes & Noble
Kobo
iTunes

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Rene’s Playground

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Memorial Statue, Bonaventure Cemetery in Savannah, GA

Last year, I collaborated with a talented group of indie authors on a romance horror short story anthology, each story featuring one of the seven deadly sins. My story about greed, The 49th Floor, can be found in the (free!) collection on Smashwords here: Seven Deadly Sins – Romance Horror Anthology From The Fringe While you won’t find any HEA’s in these stories, there’s chills and thrills aplenty—perfect for a dark and dreary October night. 😉

But before you go, here’s a short horror story I wrote about envy that takes place in one of my very favorite (and very spooky) cities, Savannah.

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Enough with comments about “bodice rippers,” please.

“Romance is not about wilting heroines who can’t think for themselves and who need big, strong men to help them cut their meat.”

Well said Ms. Leo!

Rosanna Leo

The other day, an author pal of mine shared a comment that she’d received on a review about her romance book being a “bodice ripper.”

Seriously, folks. It’s 2016.

I’m done with these comments. Honestly, can’t people think of another way to describe romance novels?

First of all, I have read this friend’s work and although she writes historical romance, in no way, shape or form could her books be considered the same as the traditional interpretation of a bodice ripper.

What exactly is a bodice ripper? It’s an old-fashioned, pejorative term for romance. Early plots often featured heroines who were “gently coerced” into sex. In other words, the sex becomes consensual after a time, the heroine falls for her swashbuckling hero who looks like Fabio, and they go off and make lots of babies.

Honestly, very few people write this stuff any more and most of us modern romance…

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Indie Pride Day 2016

Indie Pride Edit 2016 copy

 

This Indie Pride Day, I wanted to showcase some indie reads that I’ve enjoyed recently. Here I am (dark under eye circles and all, sheesh) with some great books published by independent authors. #IndieBooksBeSeen

Starting from the top left and moving clockwise is Assassinated Love by Veronica Del Rosa, a prequel novella to the Enforcers and Coterie series. This sexy Paranormal Romance is a well-researched and lush account of ancient Egypt that spins a very cool re-imagining of the Egyptian god of regeneration and the goddess of nature.

The next is another PNR, Blood in Fire by Heather R. Blair. The second in her Celtic Elementals series, Ms. Blair ups the game of weaving elements of a culture’s myths and legends along with her own voice, and pretty much creates a brand new epic hero’s tale in the process.

TOWY is an anthology featuring a gripping, eclectic mix of genres and voices all tackling one heavy, twisted idea. Post-cost proceeds of this collection are being donated to suicide prevention charities. So while the subject matter is anything but light, sales of this book do benefit a good cause.

Dawn’s Keeper, the third book of Ms. Del Rosa’s E&C shows how this series just keeps getting better and better. It had been a while since I was so impressed by the sizzling chemistry between a hero and a heroine. The sexual tension and the playful banter between Dawn and Elijah were so well done.

A sexy diversion I read during lunch featuring a couple of cute (and very naughty) characters, Sinsual Delights is a short story by Cinnamon Sin. This one reads sort of like a companion piece to a larger series, but was still a fun time on its own.

Finally, Cash: Angel, Demon, Rock Star is my current indie read. I’ve read M/M Romance by Jae T. Jaggart before and loved it. Needless to say, I’m looking forward to this one as well.

There are fantastic indie books out there in Romance, Horror, and every genre in between. Take a look at everything that independent publishing has to offer; I’d love to see your favorite indie reads next Indie Pride Day. 🙂

 

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Themes in Writing: Introducing Future Couples

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Introducing Future Couples

Third person point of view Paranormal Romance series featuring a different main couple in each book is my jam. Maybe it’s because I don’t like staying in one character’s head for too long. I also tend to steer clear of first person POV so I don’t have to hear the hero or heroine talk about themselves throughout the entire book. 😉

But perhaps the biggest reason I like reading about a new central couple each time are the encounters you sometimes get to see between the characters and the hope they’ll eventually get their own book someday, too. Whether the sparks are there from the start or they’ve got an enemies-to-lovers thing going on, I love seeing their interactions, even if they seem insignificant at the time. It very well could be my excitable little shipper’s heart, always looking to match up lonely souls. Or the guessing game of “Who will end up with who?” before the series is over.

Whatever it is, I say to authors: Keep ’em coming. Great characters are often the driving force behind how much I’ll like (or dislike) a romance novel and the little teases you throw in there of potential relationships always keep me reading. 🙂

Other favorite themes of mine can be found here.

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Reviews for Indie Romance Reads

KH ReviewsKaleidoscope Heart Book Reviews: Supporting indies, one review at a time.

My buddy and fellow romance fan Kat created and runs KH Reviews, a fantastic indie-centric review blog to which I occasionally contribute. Kat is an avid reader and all around cool chick and you can tell she really puts her heart into maintaining this awesome romance blog.

Reviews are so important for authors and even more so for the average indie author, making grassroots sites like KH a haven not only for writers, but also for readers looking for something fresh. Several new blog contributors recently joined us and it’s so great to see all the reviews posted throughout the week. Self publishing is more popular than ever, but having dedicated indie review sites like Kaleidoscope Heart Book Reviews makes it easy to find those gems to add to your To-Read Shelves.

Give Kat some love, eh? 😉

Kaleidoscope Heart Book Reviews | Like KH Reviews on Facebook

 

 

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Subway Snippets | When in Rome (Post #5)

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When in Rome (Post #5)

The back of him burned from heels to head against cold metal. Sebastian leaned shackled to a silver-coated standing gurney, multiple gunshot wounds to his thigh paralyzing his major muscle groups. They had stripped him down to his boxer briefs before locking his arms and legs into thick silver manacles fixed to the table. He made a point to make a pass at each of the goons who handled him, successfully getting a rise out of one along with a cheekbone-cracking punch to his face.

He chuckled; watching the guy flush red from his neck to his ears was worth it.

“Well fellas,” he drawled and spit some blood to the floor. “What do you have planned to keep me entertained tonight? Something kinky, I hope.”

The henchman glowered at him, all business. They were human, well trained and outfitted in military-grade body armor, black tac gear, and an impressive array of weaponry. The place where they held him was dark, dank, and underground. Rows of soaring columns stretched the length of the cavernous area and connected in sections of vaulted ceiling–likely housing a forgotten Roman cistern. This vast stone structure which once held water for the city’s ancient citizens now seemed to serve as a base of operations for whoever the hell these idiots were.

Well, Sebastian thought as his “bait” descended some makeshift stairs to their level, the men straightening upon her arrival and avoiding eye contact when she passed. Not all of them are idiots, he decided. The girl’s clingy dress and ridiculous stilettos were gone, replaced by a dark tee, cargo pants, and thick-soled boots.

His smile would have shown fang were it not for this unavoidable contact with the silver; they usually came out to play when he was itching for a fight or otherwise aroused. It was probably for the best though–for whatever reason, his mere existence really happened to irritate this woman.

“Better,” he noted, eyeing her up and down.

Her eyes narrowed ever so slightly, a barely there microexpression pulling at the tiny muscles of her eyelids. Had he not been vampire, he probably wouldn’t have caught it.

“I’m not taking the piss, you know. You look good.”

This Paranormal Romance/Urban Fantasy story is an exercise in writing without an outline, written during my daily commute. Other Subway Snippets can be found here: Subway Snippets Series

Thanks for reading!

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