First, a bit about Alisha:
Alisha Costanzo is from a Syracuse suburb. She earned her MFA in creative writing from the University of Central Oklahoma, where she currently teaches English. She's the author of Blood Phoenix: Rebirth, Blood Phoenix: Claimed, and Loving Red, and co-editor of Distorted. Underwater, her new anthology, is undergoing serious edits for its 2016 release. In the meantime, she will continue to corrupt young minds, rant about the government, and daydream about her all around nasty creatures.
Welcome, Alisha. Please tell us about your current release.
Loving Red is a fast-paced, alternating third-person point of view of the kidnapping, escape, and battles between the Celampresians and the Assetato focusing on a newly budding romance between a shifter wolf and a human. Kaia is a strong female protagonist who can hold her own, and Severins is a tough yet sensitive male who defines what it means to be a soldier. Together, they fight for their lives while trying to protect a missing Assetato agent, a shifter bear, the man who broke Kaia’s heart.
What inspired you to write this book?
Severins Bouvier was literally made for Kaia Skarin...on Facebook. Four years ago. For a long while, I was a role-play addict. My second role-play character was the charismatic, perverse bear named Dev Peltier from Sherrilyn Kenyon’s Dark Hunter series. I loved him. Being him. Unleashing the sex-crazed man in my head. And the females didn’t know what hit them.
I was merciless. (Which is fitting, since Kenyon’s novel featuring him is entitled No Mercy.)
Worse, when Dev met Kaia—Little Red—one of my best friends and writing partners, we created a ton of character couples together. Man did we have chemistry.
He couldn’t fall in love with Little Red, but he did. And a private romance brewed between them that was all too obvious when they flirted on post to the dismay of not only fans, but his mate from the novels.
The solution was Sev, a male fashioned in part after Dev (hence their similar names, look, and general attitude, which I suppose will become more clear in the coming books rather than this one) and in part after my former soldier husband, who makes a cameo in the novel as Private Webb.
Their on-post romance flashed quick and hot without much trouble other than the approval of his four-year-old daughter, Shawna. Much of their book came from outside the posts, but their characters were deep and developed before I tossed them into craziness.
Excerpt from Loving Red:
From Chapter Eight:
Sev’s scent grew stronger before he moved. His soft groan moistened the back of her neck. Hitting a bump jarred Kaia’s head, making her hiss when it met the floor of the trunk.
“Are you alright, beautiful?” Moving behind her, Sev’s arms came around her, settling her ear and cheek against the meat of his forearm.
“I’d say not. I’m trapped in this trunk with you.” Although if she thought about it, Sev tried to save her, or that’s what she assumed. “How did you know they were after us?”
“After you. I just happened to be in the way.”
“Well, how did you know they were after me?” Of course he’d have to correct her. She didn’t let this fluttering overcome her common sense, although she finally understood why women stayed with abusive men. Some kind of compulsion pushed her to sink back into him.
“I could smell them.”
Right. “Is that some type of intuition?”
“You can call it that.”
“Well, can you smell where they’re taking us?”
“Doesn’t work quite like that.”
Harrumphing, more turns shoved and slid them around the trunk. Her life had been pretty boring before Sev found his way into it. How could she be sure this wasn’t his doing? In fact, why wasn’t he trying to escape? Instead, he seemed more focused on making her comfortable.
“Why did they leave your arms bound in front and mine are tied behind me?” The cuffs around her wrists warmed against her skin.
“For speed, I presume. You can never tell how well a sucker punch will put someone down. Here, let me see if I can get you out of yours.” Sev shifted behind her, taking his arms back and following the length of hers with his hands.
Goose bumps bloomed in the wake of his touch.
Get it together, Kaia. You don’t want anything to do with this man.
His fingertips found her cuffs, but he jerked back.
“Well, they certainly covered their bases.”
Shifting, Kaia leaned toward him, although the darkness kept her from seeing more than the outline of his form. “What do you mean?”
“They used silver.” His pause gave him time to find her chin; his thumb traced the dip below her lower lip. “I’m highly allergic.”
A loud bang reverberated through the trunk. “Mate on your own time,” a light and airy female voice called back.
Mate? Did they think she’d get naked and fornicate in a trunk? Well, maybe if she’d been there on her own volition, but not when she’d been kidnapped.
Kaia rolled again, giving her back to Sev. Taking a deep breath, the reality of the situation dawned on her. She lay in a trunk with an abusive man, bound, and awaiting what she could only assume to be torture at best and death at worse. Eyes closed to the darkness, anxiety strangled Kaia, sending her into the type of panic attack she hadn’t succumbed to in decades.
Chest heaved. Breath stalled. Choking on fear.
There had to be a way out of this. Her family had money—not loads, but enough to pay a million dollars. Or she could school them in money laundering if that’s what they needed. She certainly had the skills. But God, what if it wasn’t enough?
A sharp breath punched her in the gut and sent her gasping. Sev’s hands found her shoulders and neck, sweeping away the hair at the nap and leaning in to plant a kiss. His arms circled her once more, and her back met his chest.
“Breathe with me. Feel my chest. Match my rhythm. In. Out. In. Out,” Sev’s whispers repeated, coaching her back to a shallow but calm pace. “There you are, beautiful. Nice and calm.”
What exciting story are you working on next?
Book three in my Blood Phoenix series, which explores the connection between Ria, my vampire-phoenix hybrid, and my super tall, Scandinavian leprechaun, Boden. This gives the novel it’s namesake: Imprinted. After Ria killed a young man she’d pulled into her terrifying paranormal world, she has to continue to prove herself worthy of her vampire status by hunting a pack of wolves. She works to balance her love for the three men that make her stronger, for her best friend’s safety, and for a new renegade she wants to help so badly but can’t. And finally, her quarrel with Felix comes to a head.
When did you first consider yourself a writer?
It’s funny. I’ve been writing for a long time. My friends and I used to have stacks of stories that took over a complete shelf in my closet. I started my first novel when I was seventeen and rewrote it four times. I spent ten years in college focusing on art and communications and writing, of course. But I didn’t actually think of myself as a writer, a real writer, until I spent a semester editing my thesis for my MFA. The time I spent on tweaking and reading and tweaking and shifting and tweaking taught me how long the process takes and how far beyond the fun, inspiration of discovering a story I must go to advance my narrative. It was work. A lot of it. And I finally felt like a writer.
Do you write full-time? If so, what's your work day like? If not, what do you do other than write and how do you find time to write?
I do not write full-time, unfortunately. However, I do work with writing full-time. I’m a writing professor at the University of Central Oklahoma, and I teach freshman composition, but not that boring, dull stuff. I like to focus on pop culture and satirical cartoons/stories (South Park, Family Guy, Futurama, Doctor Who, and more), and I have a lot of fun developing my students’ skills. My job is rewarding, and I’m thankful for that. Outside of school, I also have a small press that I run as the editor-in-chief. So I’m engulfed in writing every day.
I tend to write during the summer when I’m not teaching classes, and I participate in NaNoWriMo’s July Camp. This lets me hammer out a novel, edit a novel and an anthology, and weave in some short stories during the span of a year. Carving out time during the year can be difficult, but the stories just won’t let me put them off for long.
What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I’m such an academic hippie, and it shows. I comment on the environment and the flaws of humanity as a species, which plays into my major satire-love, so I tend to incorporate references to others’ creations as well, like Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Twilight, and Dracula, and some less popular allusions that only true vamp geeks get.
As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I actually wanted to be an art teacher. I suppose I didn’t veer too far off course.
Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
I appreciate and absolutely love connecting with you. Thank you.
Thanks, Alisha! Happy writing.