Thursday, December 13, 2012

Interview with author Aliza Mann

Author Aliza Mann is visiting today to give us a glimpse into her new novel, Disarmed. She's just kicking off a virtual book tour and has a $50 Amazon gift card to give away to a lucky person. You can enter through the rafflecopter form below.

Aliza Mann has a familiar story in the world of authors – she has been writing since she was seven, created millions of worlds in her mind, and loves everything about literature. Her affair with paranormal began with her brother’s role as Aslan in an elementary school production of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. Everything about the story fascinated her and she has never stopped reading since.

Much to her mother’s dismay, Aliza would often skip going outside to play with friends in order to stay in her room reading. Her junior high school experience was not much different. She would spend all her time making up stories for her girlfriends, then spend all evening swapping tales with them over the phone. With high school, college and eventually her professional life, she found less and less time to dedicate to her writing.

In 2009, she decided to refocus on her writing career by taking courses and workshops to hone her craft. Her first short story, a historical fiction piece entitled “Anjani’s Song,” was selected for inclusion in Reverie – Midwest African American Journal, an Aquarius Press publication.

Aliza joined Romance Writers of America in 2010, as well as the Greater Detroit Romance Writers of America local chapter. She holds a Savvy Author membership and continues to participate in workshops and critique groups.

Today, she is the mother of two and works in the Healthcare industry as an IT professional. She shares her home with her 13-year-old son and her own personal Alpha-superhero-best-friend. Her daughter lives off campus at a college nearby. She has lived in Michigan since she was a small child and still considers her home state of Georgia near and dear to her heart.

Aliza loves paranormal and contemporary romances, leaning towards searing hot heat levels. Her favorite authors include Sylvia Day, Maya Banks, Lora Leigh, and Karina Cooper. She still reads excessively and works on too many stories at once. She wouldn’t have it any other way.

You may find her at her own blog, Aliza’s Garden or on the popular Heroes and Heartbreakers blog, where she occasionally contributes.

Welcome, Aliza. Please tell us about your current release.
My newest release, Disarmed, focuses on the struggles of Jessie Workings, a war hero, and his forced return home in order to deal with some of his demons, so to speak. Struggling with some of the recent actions in Iraq, he is coming to terms with his hero status and the loss of friends on the battlefield. Back in his hometown, West Memphis, he finds that things have changed and Jessie must find a way adapt. This isn’t something that he is quite ready to deal with, particularly his relationship with Mavis, his high school sweetheart. It’s really a story of how love can heal us, even when a person isn’t sure that he deserves to love and to be loved, as is the case with Jessie.

What inspired you to write this book?
Disarmed was really a labor of love for me. I was intrigued by the plight of veterans, really for as long as I could remember, and wanted to explore the difficulties of returning home after going through the unique and challenging situations that only a war can bring. Equally as interesting, the divorce rate among military couples is reported to have increased by about 42% during the Afghanistan and Iraq Wars. That is a startling statistic for any demographic group. To say that I was inspired by the horrors and aftermath of war feels wrong, but in a lot of ways, those are the things that prompted me to create this story.


            When he saw her walking up the driveway, he thought he was imagining things. Maybe a mirage, or a vivid daydream. But as she moved closer, he was overtaken with the smell of wildflowers. She had on a fresh perfume that intoxicated him.
            “Hi,” she said.
            For a moment, Jessie just looked at her. He tried to hide his anger with her. He had no right. He’d told her that there were no strings, but in that moment he wanted to wrap her up in them. Then to show up, adding insult to injury?
            “Hi, M.” God dammit, he hadn’t meant to call her M. That was for different times. When her body was pressed against his and her supple breasts were beneath his fingers. He told himself not to be angry with her. That he wasn’t and shouldn’t be pissed.
            “May I sit?”
            Jessie didn’t say anything, afraid that each word told a little more than he wanted. He just motioned with the bottle to the lawn chair that sat beside him. She followed his direction.
            “You didn’t call.” She spoke before he had to.
            “When I left the other day, you seemed to be too tired for talking. I wanted to let you get your rest.”
            “Really? I was thinking something else. Like you didn’t want to talk to me.”
            “Nah. I haven’t ever been that way toward you.”
            She looked at him, leaning forward to see his eyes. The last statement, Mavis seemed to have a hard time digesting.
            “I came because I needed to talk to you.”
            “Okay. Talk.”
            Mavis stood and walked directly into Jessie’s line of sight.
            “I need to know what to do here.” She was shaking. Her hands went to her hips, then folded over her breasts that peeked over the top of her coral colored halter top.
            “What do you want to do?”
            Looking off into the distance for a moment, she seemed to turn the question over in her mind, a wrinkle marring her delicate skin. She returned her attention to him, with resolve in her eyes. The white, flowing skirt that she wore pressed against her body as the wind blew. Her hair swished to one side, delicate strands wrapping around her neck and along her shoulder blades. Her hands fell to her sides. She looked as if she were surrendering. As he watched the fight fall from her body, his heart broke. He didn’t want to defeat her. He wanted her to accept that he could not give her the things she wanted more than anything from him.

What exciting story are you working on next?
I’m actually working on a paranormal romance about a vampire matchmaking agency. The owner is, of course, a vampire and his assistant is human. Not only are sparks flying between Anwar, the proprietor, and Delisa, the assistant, but there is a murder. Anwar and Delisa must figure out who the murderer is before the Supreme Vampiric Council decides to shut them down, in a more permanent way if the pair isn’t careful.

So far, it’s been a lot of fun. I think everyone will love Anwar. He’s more of a cool vamp with a heart of gold underneath his callous exterior.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
That’s a good question. I think I had to say it out loud ten or twenty times a day before it sank in. I mean, until you’re published, it’s difficult to fathom that you ever will be and once you finally get the acceptance letter (more like e-mail, now days) it’s still a bit unreal. I think I truly knew I was a writer during the 2011 RWA (Romance Writers of America) conference. We were hustling from place to place, exhausted from the sessions that run from 8 a.m.–5p.m. daily, and I looked around at all those others who were doing the same things: paying the cost of admission, taking notes, dedicated to learning more and becoming a better writer. That was the moment. When I realized that writing was the strongest desire that I’ve ever had, one of the hardest jobs I would ever love and the only profession that I could ever truly be happy with, even on the bad days, I knew I was 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’m not a full-time writer just yet. Aside from having a teenage son who can be pretty demanding with his football and show choir events, I work in IT during the day. It’s hard to find a balance. I end up writing in the quiet moments of the day, right after my son and guy turn in for the night. Otherwise, I would never get anything done. But because I love it so much, most of the time, I end up staying awake into the early morning hours. It’s a killer schedule, but it’s my passion. People will do anything for their passion.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
Hmmm. I’m loaded with them. I think one of the more prevalent quirks would be my insatiable quest for the perfect pen and notebook. I won’t write with a pen that has a fine point, nor any mechanical pencils that have less than a .7 point. It works a bit better for me now, since I mostly write on computer, but I always have a notepad and stash of pens and pencils nearby.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
As a child, I wanted to be a Dallas Cowboy cheerleader. It was one of those things that is very vivid to me from childhood. I was obsessed with them, their costumes, their boots, the choreography, just everything. That desire slowly changed to syndicated columnist (I read Dear Abby all the time) and I even called The Detroit News once to see what the requirements were for writing a weekly column.

Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
I am a secret baker. In the middle of the night, I often get a craving for sweets. Rather than trek out into the night, I have been known to back a cake or make a cobbler. My favorite cake is Red Velvet, most likely due to the rich taste and cream cheese frosting. Yum!

Thanks, Aliza. Happy writing! Folks, you can connect with Aliza through these online locations:


Unknown said...

Thank you for hosting today:)

Rita Wray said...

My daughter was always writing stories when she was young.
Great post, I enjoyed reading it.


Louise Wise said...

Good luck with the tour, Aliza.

Louise - Pit Crew.

Unknown said...

It's always great to learn more about an author.