It was a strange combination, actually, of eating chocolate and thinking about an actor who I’d enjoyed watching. I wondered what kind of role he could get (he’s a kind of obscure actor) and it just all came together.
What kind of paranormal elements do you incorporate into the book and how does it complement the mystery?
Magic runs through this book…the main plot is driven by the idea that a spell chooses who you will marry and spend your life with. Magic also plays some role in trying to figure out what happened, but not so much that it becomes a Dues Ex Machina. One of the fun parts about writing this book was writing about Tasmin’s interactions with the wind sprites…how does a woman interact with a barbaric little tribe of intelligent beings who are invisible?
Have you ever had a paranormal experience?
I have a very over developed imagination, so I can’t really tell. I was convinced that my house was haunted, but the sounds…boots being scraped and the floor creaking as someone crossed it…faded when we restored the house and added on to it, so I don’t know if we scared the ghosts away or if we changed how the house shifted by making it larger and more stable.
Did you have to do a lot of research writing The Chocolatier’s Wife? And, if so, would you share some of your favorite research books/sources?
I read tons of chocolate history books…I read much more about chocolate and chocolate making than actually ended up in the book, because I wanted to understand thoroughly what William would end up doing in a day. What were the steps that would go into making chocolate? Was it a single day process, or something that he would have to tend to over several days? What would chocolate look like in the Regency (even though the story is set in a different world, I mentally based some of its feel in the Regency era.) I needed to know because I wanted to know how much freedom William had to go off and investigate while trying to rebuild his business. I also wanted to know what the shop itself would look like…there is always so much you need to know that, even if you don’t (and should never) relate the facts per se to the reader, you should be able to have all the information you need to create the look and feel for your readers.
Can you tell us a little bit about your latest release?
My newest release is the first book I ever wrote, titled Unbalanced and is a paranormal romance set in a world where an agency, Balanced, tries to keep the peace between mages, vampires, and werewolves. A woman is found murdered at a party, and Andromeda Pendragon, an agent of Balance who has just moved back into the area, has to figure out who killed her and why.
Do you plot your stories out or do you just start writing?
I tend to just start writing. Scenes come to me and I write them down so I don’t forget them…and if the main outline of the plot comes to me I write it down for the same reason. I am a bit by the seat of my pants.
In addition to The Chocolatier’s Wife, you also rewrote some fairy tales. What prompted you to change these classics and which is your favorite retelling?
I feel that stories can always be seen in a new light, especially the old stories. Fairy tales are rich and complicated but also very simple. We don’t always know the motivations or thoughts of the characters unless it directly relates to what happened. We don’t always know what these people were really like, or what happened after the “Happily ever after” line. One of my favorite retellings is my first, because it came to me so simply…it was a re-telling of Charles Perrault’s “The Fairies” where a girl is rewarded for her kindness by being bespelled so ever word that comes from her mouth is a pearl or a flower of a diamond. And immediately I thought, “That could really be unpleasant.”
Which of your characters is most like you and which is least like you?
This is a hard question to answer because I think they are all a little like me…like any parent, I can see what they inherited from me. A character that you’ve not heard of yet…Minerva Corvae…is the most like me because sometimes I feel like she’s me with the courage to say what she thinks. I have a feeling that, by the time she reaches publication, she will have come into her own self, and won’t be much like me at all. Sometimes my characters have traits that I would like to have…I wish I was as calm as Tasmin.
Which came first the plot or the characters?
It depends. Mostly the characters, and I wonder, “Why are you in my head? What should I do with you?” That’s how it happened with The Chocolatier’s Wife and Unbalanced. For Blue Moon, the plot came first.
Have you ever gotten stuck while writing a scene or chapter? How did you overcome it?
Patience. I really believe that every story is just sitting in the back of my mind, writing itself, composting all the things I see and read and do and mixing things up and pulling things out. If I get stuck, I do write something else, and eventually I will have a revelation as to where I went wrong…for example, for Unbalanced the revelation was that Andromeda wasn’t a vampire after all…and I’ll be off and going again. Or, sometimes, the next scene finally comes out of the quagmire that is my brain.
Where can readers find more about you and your books?
My webpage has links to my Facebook and excerpts. You can find my books on Amazon and pretty much everywhere books are sold online. http://www.apenandfire.com
Cindy Lynn Speer is only half joking when she says she’s a swashbuckler. Dividing her time between writing stories and learning historical sword fighting, she is secretly preparing for the pirate apocalypse. Sometimes she manages to squeeze in some reading, gardening and sewing.