Friday, April 27, 2012
Welcome Guest Author Rosanna Leo!
Hello friends of romance! I’m so excited to be here!
My debut novel, For the Love of a God, is released April 23! You can find it at www.liquidsilverbooks.com
If you love a sexy paranormal, full of love-starved Greek gods, then this is for you! My story was inspired by a trip to the local museum where I fell in love with a statue of one of the Greek gods. It was so beautiful, so manly, and I couldn’t help wondering what might happen if Greek gods were real.
I live near Toronto, Canada and am passionate about mythology (although I’m also partial to vamps!) I just love it when the geeky, awkward girl gets the hot guy, and I’ve made it my mission to see this happen in my books as much as possible. Please check out my blog at www.rosannaleo.blogspot.com
STEPH: Welcome, Rosanna! I don't know much about For the Love of a God. What's it about?
ROSANNA: My debut paranormal romance is about a statue conservator called Maia. She's always been a little geeky, a little awkward. Museums are her work and her life, but her true passion is Greek mythology. She's never told anyone but she has always had a crush on Eryx, Greek god of love. Her favorite past time is to tend to his handsome statue and dream of her fantasy man.
Maia's ordered museum world comes to an abrupt halt when a new director arrives, a man known for his slash-and-burn style of administration. Her true amazement begins when she sees her new boss. The mysterious stranger looks just like the Greek god Eryx, or at least like his statue, and like the sensuous image that haunts Maia's dreams.
As her new boss turns her world upside down, Maia is faced with some truths she'd never thought to believe. She is also confronted by a faceless threat. And with a passionate love which makes her question everything.
STEPH: How long did it take to write?
ROSANNA: For the most part, For the Love of a God was written in a few months. The idea had always been in my head, haunting me. I found that when I finally put pen to paper, the ideas just flew out of me. I love the world of the Greek myths, and find an endless supply of inspiration in those archaic tales. And I fell in love with the romance between Maia and Eryx, so everything just seemed to fall into place.
STEPH: Where did you get the inspiration for the story?
ROSANNA: I got the inspiration for this story at the local museum here in Toronto. There, in the Greek artifact gallery, is a beautiful statue of the god Dionysus. He is portrayed as a young man, with a head full of curls and a strong torso. That statue has always taken my breath away. It occurred to me one day that things could get very interesting if the statue could come to life! For my novel, I substituted the god for the fictional Eryx, made him my Greek god of love, and my story was born!
STEPH: Did you have to do a lot of research for the story?
ROSANNA: I did a fair bit of research on the statue conservation process. Luckily, there is info available on the web as well as at the local library (the best resource for any research!) I researched what someone like Maia would be paid, what her work environment would be, and even what sorts of materials she would use on a daily basis.
I would like to say I researched the love scenes, but they were all figments of my over-active imagination! :)
STEPH: How does the cover reflect the story inside?
ROSANNA: The cover, by Amanda Kelsey, made me so happy because it is a perfect reflection of the novel. I love that Maia is the focus, and that Eryx is the dreamy, statue-like figure drifting somewhere over her shoulder. I love that the museum is represented at the bottom, with all the marbled walls and columns. I mention a mist in the story, and Amanda managed to get that in there too. And the stars reflect the mythical aspect. I couldn't be happier with my cover!
STEPH: Eryxis the hero. What are his strengths? Weaknesses?
ROSANNA: Eryx is an ancient god, but one with flaws. On the outside, he is gorgeous and buff, everything you'd expect a Greek god to be. He can be arrogant, sometimes enjoys provoking mortals and thinks he's seen everything. However, when he falls, he falls deeply and does everything in his power to keep Maia safe. Being the Greek god of love, he has many powers. The one he enjoys using most is his exceptional talent for making love!
STEPH: Maia is the heroine. What does she find appealing about the hero?
ROSANNA: At first, Maia is gobsmacked by his incredible appearance. The man is perfect, after all! She loves that they both adore the history and culture of Greece, and that they can talk about it like a couple of geeky grad students. She loves that he makes her feel safe, which becomes an increasingly bothersome concern. Once she realizes exactly who and what he is, she falls for his story too. His history is a tragic one, and it binds Maia to him in empathy and love. And, let's face it, he curls her toes like no one ever has!
STEPH: How long have you been writing? Why did you choose romance?
ROSANNA: I've been writing seriously for about 10 years now. Although I didn't always fancy myself a "romance" author, I always knew my stories would be about love. Since first reading Jane Eyre as a kid, I've been spoiled for anything other than romance! I want to be swept away! To me, there's no feeling like getting caught up in a wonderful, heart-wrenching romance!
STEPH: Are you a plotter or a panster?
ROSANNA: I'm a bit of both. I always have a basic outline, one which I flesh out as I go along. However, I always leave myself leeway to add or take away. I like to be open to fresh ideas, so I could never work from a full outline. Sometimes, the best ideas come to me half way through!
STEPH: Do you have an ebook reader? If so which one and what do you like about it?
ROSANNA: Believe it or not, I don't! Ack! But I hope to get one soon! (hint, hint hubby)
STEPH: Tell us a little about the state/country you live in. What appeals to you about it?
ROSANNA: I was born and raised in the beautiful city of Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Yes, I love Tim Horton's coffee and have a big crush on Sidney Crosby, even though I'm old enough to be his mom. I love the vibrant suburbs and that the country is never more than a short drive away. I'm very fortunate to be here! But mostly, it's just about the Tim Horton's coffee!
Conservator Maia Douglas is an expert on ancient Greece and its mythology. She would never tell anyone at the museum where she works, but she's always had a secret crush on the mythical Eryx, Greek god of love. There is nothing she loves more than to tend to her favorite statue of him, and her nighttime dreams are filled with luscious images of Eryx making love to her.
One day, the peace at Maia's beloved museum is shattered when a new director arrives. A man who looks exactly like her image of Eryx. As Maia watches, he manages to upset her ordered museum world, at the same time he inflames her with unwanted desire.
Maia does not know that her new boss is actually the god Eryx, disguised as a mortal so he may work in antiquities. Although he is the god of love, he has forsaken his sexual nature because of a curse that has killed any woman he's dared to love. Though he fights it, Eryx is drawn to Maia with a force he's never experienced in a thousand years. But can he convince her of his true identity? And can he protect her from a vengeful goddess who seeks her destruction?
Toronto, Present Day
Maia Douglas woke with a start. She looked around, disoriented. Then she remembered. She’d only put her head down on her desk for a minute. Her brown eyes bleary, she peered toward the clock on her office wall. Seven o’clock. “Dammit. Naps at work. Bad idea.”
It may have been after hours and the last tourist may have already been long gone, but she knew she was playing a dangerous game. One of these nights, she’d sleep right through and wouldn’t get her work done.
It was her fault for insisting on working late. She could work during the day like a normal person, but she loved the tranquility of the museum at night. Besides, she hadn’t been sleeping well lately anyway. Might as well work through the night.
She rubbed her eyes and gathered her wits. She took a sip of her cold coffee and stared at the wet spot on her blotter where she’d dribbled a little. “Ugh. Real dainty, Douglas.”
She pushed away from her desk. As foggy as she was, she knew it was the perfect time to do her preliminary inspection. She hated doing her work when people were milling about anyway. She gathered up her collapsible stool, a notebook, and her Holly Hobby satchel, the one containing her pencils and various tools of the trade. Thus armed, she stumbled out of her office.
Maia looked around the conservation office. All the other conservators were already gone for the day. No surprise there. She was the only one who kept such ungodly hours.
Taking the stairs up to the fifth floor, she made her way to the new Gallery of Greece. This part of the museum wasn’t open to the public yet, and the entrance was still shrouded by opaque drop cloths. She knew it wouldn’t open officially until it passed muster with the new director.
His Lordship was due any minute, and everyone at the Toronto Museum was nervous. There was a reason for it. Eric Lord’s reputation preceded him. He was from a family of museum experts, although she’d never met him in her travels. She’d read articles by his grandfather--—another Eric Lord--—when she was a student, and had been impressed with his keen insight into the ways of ancient Greece. But the current Eric Lord was known the world over for his slash-and-burn style of museum administration. She’d heard he was a downsizer, a ruthless one. Why, last year he’d eliminated a whole department at one museum in New York for their so-called inefficiencies.
Maia sniffed. “Well, Eric Lord’s not the only museum royalty around here. And no one knows this place like I do.”
Maia’s father, Dr. Jim Douglas, was the famed archaeologist whose work formed the basis of the Toronto Museum’s Greek collection. Maia had basically grown up within its walls. So if Eric Lord was planning a cull in Toronto, he’d be a fool to get rid of her.
Pushing aside the cloths at the entrance, she entered the Gallery of Greece. One of the cleaners was just finishing up in the gallery. She made sure to sashay around the trail from his wet mop. “Hey, Wally. How’s business?”
The older man looked up. “Miss Douglas, what are you still doing here? It’s Saturday night! How come a pretty girl like you doesn’t have a date?”
“Tonight, I have a date with Poseidon’s testicles.”
Wally pulled a face.
“They’re about to fall off,” she explained. “The statue, I mean. Poor guy has some nasty cracks on him. I’ve got to fix him up for the big opening.”
Wally just waved her away with a smile. “I’ll leave the fun stuff to you conservators. I’ll stick to my mopping.”
Maia made her way through the empty gallery, wondering why every word out of her mouth always seemed so awkward. But as she pulled out her collapsible stool and placed it in front of Poseidon and his cracked gonads, she didn’t worry. Staff at the museum had long ago ceased their speculation about Maia’s quirks. After all, she was Jim Douglas’s daughter. She was excellent at her job, which rendered her many quirks negligible.
She knew the collection of Greek antiquities so intimately they could have been siblings to her. Quiet, somber siblings. Certainly there was nothing she valued more. She was an expert conservator, specializing in marble sculpture. After she’d completed her studies, the Toronto Museum administrators had been falling over themselves to offer Maia the job. Sure, there had been enticing job offers from as far away as the Hermitage and the British Museum. But she knew she’d never leave her beloved museum. It was her second home.
It was her life.
Before she began her inspection of Poseidon, she walked over to one of the other sculptures. It was the statue of Eryx, the Greek god of love. She stood before him and sighed, letting her appreciative eyes rake over his nude body. Absorbing the warmth he created in her. Feeding off his beauty.
This was her ritual and had been ever since she was a little girl. Ever since her father discovered the perfect statue in a long-hidden cove in Greece.
She remembered her dad’s excitement after the find. He’d led her through the museum after hours. She could still hear the sound of her Mary Janes clicking on the marble floors. The museum had been shrouded in darkness, but Maia didn’t mind. Even at five years old, she already knew every square inch of the place.
“Come, sweet pea,” Dr. Douglas had said as he walked with her. “I have something new to show you.”
Green lollipop in mouth, she’d scrambled after him. She’d always loved these night-time walks. As a curator, her dad often brought her to the museum at night when the tourists had all gone home. He showed her all the ancient gold jewelry and terracotta pieces and told her wonderful stories full of myth and magic. To the little girl, being with her father was the greatest adventure on earth.
Especially since mother had left them.
“Is it a big statue, Daddy?”
“Life-sized. And in amazing condition. It’s as if he was just waiting in the cave, hoping to be found.” He motioned toward the entrance of the Greek gallery. “And he’s right through there.”
Little Maia had spotted him right away. The sculpture was the new centerpiece of the gallery and had been given a prominent spot. Her jaw had dropped open and her lollipop had tumbled to the floor. Jim had grinned and picked it up, glad his little girl shared his passion.
She’d stared up at the statue of the man. He was so handsome. The way the sculptor had angled his head made it feel as if he were gently smiling down at her. Maia had smiled back, immediately smitten.
Jim walked up to her and placed a hand on her back. He spoke in hushed tones. “He is the god Eryx, son of Aphrodite. He was in love with the mortal priestess of his temple. And she was…?”
“Chloe, silly. I know that,” she’d replied. After countless bedtime stories, she knew all the myths.
“Good girl,” he’d smiled. “And do you remember the story of Eryx and Chloe?”
“The bad goddess Nemesis killed Chloe because she was jealous.”
“He was sad. Forever.” She’d rubbed her little tummy. “Daddy, I’m hungry.”
He’d laughed. “Of course you are. It’s late, sweet pea. Let’s get you some dinner. We’ll come back and see Eryx again.”
Maia’s face had fallen. As much as her belly was rumbling, she didn’t want to go. She liked the statue of the beautiful, smiling god. Even though, all of a sudden, he looked a little sad.
What happened next, Maia had never told her father. Never told anyone.
As she had followed her dad out of the gallery, she’d turned to look at Eryx one more time. Because she was five, and because it had seemed like a fun idea, she’d poked out her green-stained tongue and wagged it at him.
The statue had winked at her.
Now, as an adult, she knew the wink was probably just the overactive imagination of a precocious, little girl. Perhaps the fleeting shadow of one of the pigeons haunting the window ledges of the museum. But it had felt so real at the time. And now, every time she came to work in the gallery, she made a pit stop before the statue of Eryx.
Just in case…
“You’re such a spazz,” she told herself as she pulled her long brown hair into a messy ponytail on top of her head, affixing it with two crisscrossed pencils. “Get to work.”
She turned and seated herself before Poseidon and let out a sigh. With a gentle hand, she cupped the water god’s balls and inspected the extent of the cracks. She’d have to fill them in a little, as well as beginning a general cleaning of the statue. He was starting to show his age.
Soon, between conducting her inspection and making notes, she was lost in her work, oblivious to everything else around her. Once again, she gingerly touched Poseidon’s testes.
“How about inspecting mine?”
Maia jumped when the deep voice whispered in her ear. She snapped her head around, almost wrenching off the statue’s balls in the process. “Who’s there?”
There was no one. Beyond the entrance, Wally was still mopping, but had headphones on now and was mopping to the music on his iPod. He hadn’t heard her cry. The gallery was empty, peopled only by the many statues.
And right in front of her stood the statue of the god Eryx, still bearing the same grin as when she first saw him years ago. The grin which now appeared decidedly randy from her perspective.
“You,” she breathed, feeling her heartbeat regulate after her scare. “If any of you old rocks could find a way to talk, I should have guessed it would be you.” Dismissing the voice as a symptom of overwork and stress over the incoming director, Maia turned back to Poseidon.
Even with her back to Eryx, she felt a warm sensation along her spine. As if she was being watched.
Doing her best to ignore it, Maia continued her work.
Within minutes, she knew it wasn’t working. Her back was burning.
She should have expected it. She felt the same way each time she was in the presence of the Eryx statue. It wasn’t just her love of antiquities making her heart palpitate each time she saw him. Ever since she’d thought he’d winked at her all those years ago, she’d developed a ridiculous crush on the gorgeous statue. In a way, she thought of him as her own.
Of course, he’d always been her favorite of all the Greek gods. She loved the stories about him and couldn’t help falling a little in love with him from an early age.
The statue merely enforced the feeling. She loved the perfection of it. The way his curls fell about his strong face. The clean lines of his muscled abdomen and legs. Even the enticing length of his marble erection, as if the sculptor had wanted him captured in a state of eternal arousal.
He was the sexiest goddamn statue she’d ever seen. Michelangelo’s David was an effeminate pansy by comparison.
She shook her head. It was pathetic, how she mooned over him.
She could never tell anyone Eryx was one of the reasons she’d chosen to remain with the Toronto Museum, rather than working for another. Since the first time her father showed her the sculpture, she’d felt oddly connected to it. It had been her inspiration as she planned her education and career. She looked forward to seeing him every day, even took extra shifts whenever she could. Just to keep an eye on him and make sure no other conservators got their mitts on him.
Let administration think she was just a devoted worker. She’d keep her strange infatuation a secret.
Frowning, she turned back to face Eryx. He looked so proud on his pedestal, so vibrant. As if he might simply walk off it. His shoulders were squared, and his face angled down toward the viewer. Although he was made of white marble, Maia had no trouble picturing what he might look like in color. Somehow, she just knew those thick curls would be honey blond. Those flashing eyes would be green and his nude body would be tanned. His generous penis could fill her, stretch her … a velvety pillar of lustful strength.
“Oh, man, I need to get out more.” She ran a hand over her hot forehead. “This place is playing tricks on my mind.”
She heard a deep, manly laugh.
Automatically, her eyes shot back to Eryx’s statue. Why was it the laugh seemed to come from his direction?
“Okay, I’ve had enough. I’m outta here.” She folded up her stool and walked right up to Eryx. “You don’t fool me, buster. I know you winked at me all those years ago. Now you’re talking to me? Maybe I am losing my mind, but if you have something you need to say to me, just get off your perch and say it. Stop messing with me.”
Then, feeling foolish for admonishing a piece of marble, she turned on her heel, and left.
For the Love of a God, available April 23 through Liquid Silver Books at www.liquidsilverbooks.com