WGW author liason, Deb Meredith's in depth interview with Rhyannon Byrd
Rhyannon, welcome to Leah’s Literary Lair/Deb’s Book Nook. We are so happy you could take time to chat with us.
Thanks so much for inviting me. :) It’s an absolute pleasure to be here!
Please tell us a bit about yourself. Your background, family, etc.
My friends tell me that I have wings on my feet because I’ve always moved around so much, especially in the last few years. Growing up, I spent my time going back and forth between the Deep South and Southern California. Then, I married a Brit, and we’ve not only done a lot of hopping around America, but back and forth between the States and England as well. We moved back to England last year, and have fallen in love with our new hometown so much that we never want to move again. So I think we’ll be here for a long time to come. My husband and I have two adorable children who constantly keep us on our toes, and who love all things Star Wars, Twilight, and Harry Potter. We also have two mischievous dogs—a Rottweiler and a Beagle—who not only think that they’re human, but in charge as well. Our house is always a little crazy…and never quiet, so I spend a lot of time working with my headphones on, listening to my iPOD while I write. Music has always been a big part of my inspiration, and my writing playlists currently include a lot of Tori Amos, Kings of Leon, Pearl Jam, Laura Marling, and Jason Mraz.
For our readers unfamiliar with your books, please tell us what kind of books you write.
I would say that I write deeply sensual romances in a variety of genres, but I think there are certain elements that all of my books have in common. For one, they are always very character-based, with the romance working as the central element. Emotion also plays a vital role in my work, as well as a strong buildup of sexual tension…and when the moment hits, the love scenes are sure to be high on the heat scale. I love writing about tough, sexy Alpha males who find their heads spinning, and their hearts tumbling when they meet that one special woman who can make them complete. And while I often enjoy creating worlds that are dark and dangerous, I also get a kick out of adding a certain element of humor now and then. It’s great to keep readers on the edge of their seats…or reaching for the ice water, but it’s also a wonderful feeling to know that you gave them a laugh as well.
You have a fantastic new series, Primal Instinct, that’s just been released with Harlequin. There are three books in this new series, and the first, EDGE OF HUNGER, just released in April. Please tell us about this exciting new series and how it came about. I’ve loved what I’ve read so far!
Thanks, Deb! When I first began working on the Primal Instinct series, I knew that I wanted to take this world a step beyond anything I’d ever written before. I still wanted the main focus to be the romance, since that’s what I truly love to write, but I also wanted to create a supernatural world for these characters that was rich in action and suspense, which in many ways was new ground for me. I’ve always enjoyed paranormal world-building, but I really wanted to use this series to push myself and see just what my imagination could come up with. I began with a familiar paranormal concept, saying that shape-shifters and vampires do live hidden among us…and then took it a step further, asking myself, “But what if there was something more?” And once I asked that question, others quickly followed. What if these familiar paranormal characters were only a small part of a past that included a whole collection of races that were something “other” than human? What if some of these races still lived among us, under the watchful eye of a secret organization? What if others stayed secluded in remote parts of the world, hidden away from our curious eyes? And what if some of the bloodlines were now dormant, waiting for the day when they might be reawakened? But the question that fascinated me the most was what one of us would do if we found that the blood of one of these ancient races dwelled within our own bodies. How would we react if we discovered that we were something so much more than human? That’s the question that Ian Buchanan, the hero in EDGE OF HUNGER, has to tackle, along with the other members of his family. The series is definitely dark and edgy, but it’s also rich with a variety of characters and relationships that lead to a truly emotional experience.
The second book in the series, EDGE OF DANGER, has just released on May 1st, and I understand that the third book, EDGE OF DESIRE, will be released in June. How exciting to have these released so close together! Can you tell us about these two books and how they connect with the first book in the series, EDGE OF HUNGER?
The great thing about writing a trilogy is how closely you can tie the books together, easily weaving from one intricate storyline to the next. This first trilogy in the Primal Instinct series tells the stories of the three Buchanan siblings, with Ian’s story starting things off in EDGE OF HUNGER. In Book 2, EDGE OF DANGER, the storyline continues with Ian’s sister, Saige, while Book 3, EDGE OF DESIRE, gives us their brother Riley’s story. I love writing about families, exploring the way related characters can be so alike, and yet so different from one another, and this was so true of the Buchanans, who find themselves going through life-altering changes during the course of the trilogy. Though they each experience their own awakening of the primal, ancient blood that lives within them, the way they handle the changes in their lives are unique, each experience affected not only by their personal demons and beliefs, but by the circumstances that have shaped their lives.
Your previous Nocturne series, Bloodrunners, was fabulous and received rave reviews. I know I loved it. Tell us a bit about this series and is it still available for purchase?
Thanks so much! I’m having such a wonderful time with my Bloodrunners and can’t wait to give the supporting characters stories of their own. I have nine books in all planned for the series, so there will be three separate trilogies. The next trilogy is going to be about the Drake siblings and their mates, and hopefully readers are looking forward to who’ll be paired with who. ;) The last trilogy will take place a few years down the road, allowing some of the younger characters in these first books to get a bit older before having their own stories. One of the things I’m most excited about is giving readers a glimpse of the original characters in these later books, which should be a lot of fun!
Although the books have sold out in the States, they’re available in print again, through the Mills & Boon Intrigue line here in England. Readers can actually order the Mills & Boon editions through Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk. The books are also available in eBook on the Harlequin website, as well as at Fictionwise.
How did you get started in your writing career? Was this something you have always dreamed of or did it evolve gradually? Are you a full time author now or do you work an outside job too?
Writing is something that I always wanted to do—and I even studied literature and writing in college—but it wasn’t until I was staying at home with my children that I finally stopped “talking” about writing a book and actually did it. My kids are older and in school now, and I’m wonderfully blessed to be able to write full-time for a living at home. I’ve always been an avid reader, and I think that’s why I became so interested in writing stories of my own one day. Writing romance was a natural choice for me, because I’m one of those readers who can completely lose themselves in the pages of a love story, crying and laughing right along with the characters. To me, the intense emotions and the compelling characters that you find in romances have always been fascinating, and writing my own stories became a natural extension of my love for this genre.
How long did it take you to become published? What was your first published work and when did it come out?
The first publishing house I ever submitted to was Ellora’s Cave, and I was extremely lucky to have them take an interest in my work so quickly. My first title, WAITING FOR IT, released back in March of 2004, followed immediately by MAGICK MEN I: A SHOT OF MAGICK that April. It was such a wonderful, supportive environment to be a part of, and I learned so much from my fellow EC authors, who are a truly remarkable, talented group of writers.
Has anything been different than you expected since you have been published? The promo, signings, anything? Is there anything you would change on your road to publication if you were doing it again?
I think one of the biggest surprises for me has been how easy it is to get out there and interact with readers. I’m horribly shy, and was truly TERRIFIED the first time I ever went to a booksigning. It was just a few months after my first book had come out with EC, and I thought I would sit there frozen with anxiety, but it ended up being one of the most exciting things I’ve ever done. And as far as anything that I would change on my road to publication, I think the main thing would be to start earlier. I spent a lot years “thinking” about writing my own stories, before I actually found the courage to do it.
How many books do you have out now and are they all with the same publishing house? Please tell us what books you have with each publisher.
When I read this question, I’m embarrassed to say that I had no idea of the answer. LOL. But after having gone to my website, where I counted the titles, I can tell you that I’ve written 17 books for HQN Books, Harlequin Silhouette and Ellora’s Cave.
Edge of Craving, April 2009
Edge of Hunger, April 2009
Edge of Danger, May 2009
Edge of Desire, June 2009
Harlequin Silhouette/ Nocturne line:
Last Wolf Standing, March 2008
Last Wolf Hunting, April 2008
Last Wolf Watching, May 2008
Half Wild (written with Madison Hayes)
Alpha Romeos (written with Madison Hayes)
Horn of the Unicorn
A Little Less Conversation
Down & Dirty anthology ~ Second to None
Magick Men II: A Bite of Magick
Against the Wall
Magick Men 1: A Shot of Magick
Waiting For It
How many different genres do you write and do you have a favorite? If so, what about that genre appeals to you?
I’m currently writing paranormals for Harlequin, but I’ve also written contemporary erotic romances, as well as erotic fantasy and futuristic titles that are co-authored with the brilliant Madison Hayes. If I’m working on a series, I love to do paranormals, and I would say that paranormal romance is my favorite genre. I think that what I really love about paranormals, aside from the darkly sensual heroes, is the freedom that comes from dreaming up new, intriguing worlds for my characters to live in. This is such a great genre because it allows an author so much freedom, not only with the world-building aspect of a story, but with the dynamics of the characters themselves. I’m currently working on the 4th book in the Primal Instinct series, which is about a gorgeous, cynical, human-hating shapeshifter who finds himself falling head-over-heels for a very human, very shy kindergarten teacher. When I think about how much fun I’m having with these two star-crossed characters and their passionate love story, I realize how lucky I am to be able to do something I love so much for a living.
What kind of writer are you? An organizer plotter and outliner or a bit more relaxed in your writing style?
I’m trying to be more organized in my approach to writing, but it definitely doesn’t come naturally to me. One of the things I’ve learned is that every writer has their own style and way of approaching a project, and though it always helps to keep things as organized as possible for your sanity, you really have to work in the way that’s best for you. For instance, I never sit down and start a book on page one, then power on until I’ve reached the end. When a story comes to me, the scenes unfold themselves more like a movie in my mind, and I rush to get down as much of what’s “playing” as I can before it disappears. I usually end up with a bare framework of chapters—which are often significant scenes of dialogue between the hero and heroine—and then go back through and add to each chapter in layers, building the story through a series of passes.
How do you keep up with the pertinent details of your books? They are so rich in details and I would have a terrible time keeping them all straight. Do you use a notebook or spreadsheet to keep all your facts straight?
I’m hopeless with spreadsheets, but can easily confess to having a large collection of notebooks! LOL. I have notebooks where I write down names that I love, as well ones for my different series, where I keep track of everything pertaining to the world and the characters. While I’m writing a book on my computer, I’ll usually have stacks of paper surrounding me, and will constantly be jotting down notes to myself so that I can keep everything straight.
Have your characters ever taken off in a direction you hadn’t planned and what does that do for your story? Do you let them get by with it?
I think this probably happens a lot, and I always try to go with the natural growth of a character. Creating my characters is one of my favorite aspects of writing, and I especially love to see how they grow through a story as they interact with the people around them. It’s often the surprises that come along that can truly make a character compelling, so I try not to fight them when they decide to take things in a new direction. And sometimes it’s not until you’ve invested some time in a character that you truly begin to understand exactly what it is that makes them tick. I think it’s always fun at the end of a story to look back at what a character was like in the beginning and see how the events of the story have changed them.
What do you do for fun? Do you have a hobby or collection you would like to share with our readers?
Since we’ve moved to England, I love just getting out and visiting places that I’ve never been to before. We do a lot of sight-seeing, but still have so many places that we want to visit. I’m desperate to go to Italy and France, and I’m also looking forward to spending some time up in Scotland. Luckily, my husband and kids love to travel as well, so it’s something that the whole family enjoys doing together.
When we’re at home, I’m usually working, but I’ll always take a break to catch an American football game or a Formula-One race. I’m pretty much a football fanatic and actually have a life-sized poster of Peyton Manning on the wall in my living room and a signed photo on my desk. They were birthday gifts from my husband a few years ago, along with a Manning jersey that I absolutely love, even if it does come all the way down to my knees. LOL.
Are you a big reader and do you find time to read with your busy schedule? Please share some of your favorite authors and books with us.
I’ve always been an avid reader and consider my books one of my most prized possessions. Every time we move, there are boxes and boxes of books because I can’t stand to let go of any of them, and I often go back and reread my favorites again and again. I’m notorious for doing this with Linda Howard titles, and if I had the time, I think I could hide away for days with my favorite books. The busier my writing schedule becomes, the less time I have for reading, but I still make time for my favorites, and I’m lucky enough to have some wonderful critique partners, like the truly incredible Madison Hayes, whose books I can simply never get enough of. Madi’s Calendar Girls series at Ellora’s Cave is one of my absolute favorites, with some of the hottest, most lovable heroes around! I also love Patrice Michelle and Shayla Black/Shelley Bradley, who both write amazing paranormals.
What are you working on now and do you have a release date yet?
I’m currently working on TOUCH OF SEDUCTION, shape-shifter Aiden Shrader’s story, which is the 4th book in the Primal Instinct series. Aiden is a dark, cocky, complicated hero, but it’s been a blast watching him fall for Olivia, a human kindergarten teacher who’s been pulled into Aiden’s dark, dangerous world. The book will release in April of next year, with the 5th and 6th titles coming out in May and June. These books will be the second trilogy in the Primal Instinct series, and each one will be about one of the shape-shifters that are introduced in EDGE OF HUNGER.
What was the best piece of advice you have ever been given as a writer?
The best advice I’ve ever been given is to just keep writing, whether the words are flowing easily or not. The worst thing you can do as a writer is to stop putting words on paper. If a story isn’t working for you, follow your muse and work on another project for a little while, until everything clicks back into place—but you must always keep yourself going!
If you had one piece of advice to give to a new writer, what would it be?
To be true to your style and your voice, and to write the stories and characters that you love, rather than what might be the “hot market” at the moment. If you write what you love, and what truly matters to you, it’s going to show and that’s what will draw others to your work!
Rhyannon, thanks so much for chatting with us. We have really enjoyed it! Please come again soon!
Thanks, Deb! I had a wonderful time! :)