I'm very excited to welcome my good friend Cheryl Brooks to the blog today. Cheryl is the author of the Cat Star Chronicles, and the fifth installment, Fugitive, is out now! Cheryl's books combine science fiction, romance and fantasy for a steamy, erotic read. When she's not penning her latest novel, she works the overnight shift as an ICU nurse and lives in Indiana with her real-life hero Bud and their two sons. Welcome Cheryl!
Marie: The thing I love best about your books is the amazing world building. Tell me, where in the WORLD do you come up with these interplanetary settings?
Cheryl: Hmmm, world building, huh? To tell you the truth, I have no idea where these settings come from. It's like they're just there in my head. I can see them as clearly as if I were watching a movie. Like the road through the jungle in Slave or the snowy woods in Warrior, I see things, people, places—all of it in my mind. The hard part is describing it so someone else can see it as clearly as I can. It's sort of like a mental story board. I decide what kind of climate and terrain I want for the story and can visualize it immediately. For Outcast I wanted a setting like central Africa, but though I did some research, it didn't alter the mental image I already had of it. Fugitive was set in a house by a lake surrounded by jungle, but there again, I can see it. I know distances and terrain, and I even know which way is north!
Marie: Do you feel like you have an exceptionally vivid imagination? You must have some sort of special gift to come up with a more fabulous feline hero in every book. What inspires the men in your stories? They are quite. . . um. . . . something!
Cheryl: I never considered my imagination to be all that vivid until I shared those imaginings with other people--some who claim to have no imagination at all. But I think anyone could do it if they made the attempt. For my heroes, it just takes answering the question: If you could create the man of your dreams, what would he be like? Would he be tall or short, thin or muscular, alpha or beta... the list goes on. I gave them feline characteristics because the thought of having a man who could purr appealed to me more than a man who could growl.
What makes my heroes different from one another is their background. When you explore a character's history, their personality naturally evolves. Cat, the hero of Slave, was based on a real person in some respects, but most of him came from my own little brain—his sensual nature, his sense of humor, and his determination to stay with Jacinth whether she was willing to recognize the attraction between them or not. Leo (Warrior) was a slave who had been passed from one owner to another and had learned to enjoy the pleasures that came his way without question. Manx (Fugitive) has been on the run for most of his life, but he's managed to survive on his own wit and talents. Tychar (Rogue) was the slave of a queen and became a favorite with the court by being a sweet-talking charmer. Lynx (Outcast) had been a harem slave and knew more about pleasing women than any man alive, but being used by them made him bitter.
Their sexual abilities came about as I let my imagination run wild to create the ultimate lover. I'd explain that in greater detail, but since this is a "family show," perhaps I'd better leave it at that!
Marie: Okay, I'll bite. Finish that thought about the ultimate lover. . . (running to hide in my bunker).
Cheryl: Okay, Ultimate Lover Description
#1 He smells good.
#2 He tastes good.
#4 He's got a nice-sized yummydoodle with a ruffle on it. Not too long, not too short, not too thin, not too thick. Just right.
#5 He can move said yummydoodle in any direction.
#6 He has only to catch a whiff of your desire to get it up and can keep it up for as long as you like.
#7 He can purr.
#8 He's a real sweetie and puts out lots of deliciously orgasmic body fluids.
#9 He likes to give as good as he gets.
#10 He can make me forget that I'm overweight, over fifty, over worked, and underpaid.
Marie: You forgot number 3. Is that not allowed on a family blog?
Cheryl: #3 He doesn't have a beard, therefore will never leave any painful scuff marks anywhere on your body.
Marie: Okay, phew. I was a little scared there for a minute. I’ve gotten out the fan and I’m waving furiously. Things have never been quite so hawt on my little old blog. I admire your ability to really “put it out there” in your books and on your blog, but I happen to know, as your cyber-pal, that you are really quite shy in real life. How do you explain these two sides of Cheryl?
Cheryl: Actually, with people I know well, I'm not shy at all. I will answer any question very frankly, so be careful what you ask me. I can write a book on my computer, but I don't particularly like to talk—email is much easier for me than the telephone. I have a tendency to say very little at parties or in a group of strangers unless someone asks me a question. I'm not very good at small talk, and having to chat with total strangers is very difficult for me. However, when I'm writing, shyness doesn't enter into it since I'm essentially talking to myself: I can tell myself anything, therefore I am not shy. It was a problem at first when my friends were reading what I had written, but when you write such things, a funny thing happens: you start hearing other people's stories—most of them true—which are even more intimate than any love scene I could possibly write.
Marie: You mentioned how people love to tell you personal details since you became the Cat Master. Got any good stories about things you wish you didn't know about the people in your life?
Cheryl: They really aren't things I wish I didn't know, and one of them was very useful when I wrote Outcast. I was in the process of looking for a motivation for Bonnie's character when I heard a friend say she would give her right arm for a decent, moral man. I took that and ran with it. That's the sort of thing I hear the most; not the good steamy stories of how great the sex is, but the sad stories of how bad it is—or the lack thereof. The wild rumors that men are insatiable sexual beasts is just that: a rumor. I hear more tales of woe from women who aren't getting any—but would love to—than I hear from women who are pestered to death by their partners. Other times I hear about sexual encounters that were long anticipated, but fell short of the fantasy. Men rarely live up to our fantasies about them, and I'll have to assume that women don't live up to men's ideals, either. I think if our culture encouraged us to be more frank about our expectations, that might change.
Marie: I think you're absolutely right about that! Let's talk about Fugitive, book 5 in the Cat Star series. Tell us all about it!
Cheryl: LOL! If I tell you EVERYTHING, there would be no reason to buy the book! Let's just say that if you've ever had a fantasy about finding a hunky naked alien man in the jungle while visiting a strange new world, this is the book for you. As with all of my books, there's a bit of action/adventure, a healthy dose of humor, some fun supporting characters, a strong heroine with an otherwise satisfying life that is a bit lacking in the romance department, and, of course, some highly erotic love scenes. Manx is as hot a hero as anyone could wish for, and not only that, he can purr!
Marie: And after Fugitive comes Hero, right? What can you tell us about book 6?
Cheryl: Yes, Hero is next and is the story of Trag, the "other brother" in Rogue, and Micayla, a female Zetithian who was orphaned at a young age and was raised on Earth, ignorant of her heritage. She learns what she is and where she comes from just prior to encountering the the man ultimately responsible for the destruction of Zetith and its people. The trouble is, he knows that she knows and is out to get her. After a wild chase through Orleon Space Station, she and her computer geek friend, Windura, land on the ship that Trag is piloting. The remaining Zetithians and their mates band together to go after the bad guy, but exposing a wealthy political figure will not be an easy task, and the mission doesn't go according to plan—and neither does the love affair between Trag and Micayla!
Marie Looking forward to seeing all six on the shelves together! What has been the most rewarding part of being a published author?
Cheryl: The interaction with my readers and other writers. I have friends all across the country now, and most of them I've never even met! That is one thing I definitely couldn't have said before being published. My books have been read by people around the world, too, which is so incredible, and it makes me realize that the world really is getting smaller. Now if we could just stop trying to blow each other up, we might actually get somewhere as a species.
Marie: It's pretty darned cool, isn't it? I had a reader in Australia tell me my website wasn't working when I got hacked recently. Before I had the "oh my God I got hacked" thought, I had the "oh my God, I have readers in Australia" thought. LOL! This has been really fun! Do you have any parting words?
Cheryl: Yes, the Australia thing surprised me, too, particularly when Rosemary of Rosemary's Romance Books (who won the bookseller award at RWA) asked me to send her some signed labels to stick in my books at her store. I'm like, Wow, they're reading my books in Australia! The first live chat I ever did, I offered a free book to the first one to email me with their address, and I wound up sending that book to Singapore! Freaked me out a bit, but it actually didn't cost all that much to mail it.
Do I have any parting words? Hmm, let me see now. . . . This could actually be turned into a subject for an entire blog post, but I never dreamed that my writing would affect people's lives the way it has. I have readers who visit my blog just to chime in with the others and have fun. The network of friends that has developed because of it amazes me. They care about each other, and that is just too cool. I never thought of writing as being anything like nursing, but maybe it is. You can help people in ways that aren't as obvious as giving them their antibiotics or pain meds. I give my readers a chance to escape from their troubles in the real world—or a chance to talk about them—which is something we all need now and then, just as we all need a little romance.
Thanks so much for your time and for sharing your insights with my readers, Cheryl. If you want to read more about Cheryl and her Cats, visit her blog. It's so hot it comes with a warning!
Cheryl and I want to know what qualities make your ultimate lover list. She'll give away a copy of Fugitive to the most "inspired" comment. Let em rip!
Buy Fugitive here.