Monday, April 21, 2014

Deborah Cooke author interview-Abyss-Review

I'm so pleased to welcome back a favorite author and friend Deborah Cooke. She's here today chatting about her finale to her urban fantasy Prometheus Project/Eyes of the Republic series, Abyss.
Claire's alter ego Deborah Cooke has her 10th Dragonfire novel Serpent's Kiss, coming out next week too so be on the lookout for it.

  • ISBN-13: 9781927477229
  • Publisher: Deborah A. Cooke
  • Publication date: 1/31/2014
  • Pages: 184


At the beginning of the 22nd century, humanity has survived a challenge to its survival and has commenced the task of rebuilding. An elite corps of fallen angels called the Watchful Host remains in the earthly realm to help-but someone is hunting them.
Once the angel Turiel, Tupperman chose to remain in this realm after his mission was completed in order to aid the Watchful Host. When he is framed as the person behind the deaths of the soldiers, Tupperman knows not only that he will be sacrificed next, but that it's time for his final quest

Kara was despondent. She’d run out of credits and run out of time. She would return home a failure, condemning everyone she knew and loved.
It was all because of the Watchful Host.
Although Kara had some less flattering names for them.
She marched through the train station of New D.C., not caring one bit for convention. For three weeks, she’d walked with mincing steps, kept her voice low, dressed modestly, conducted herself quietly, and followed the Sumptuary & Decency laws to the last detail. It had gotten her nowhere. She’d finally lost her temper on this, the last possible day she could try to meet the Oracle, and those angels had tossed her out.
The only mercy was that the publicly released vid of the incident was so poor. No one would identify her from it, especially since she’d left her best dress behind.
She was fed up with the Republic and its so-called defenders. All she’d asked was to talk to the Oracle. All she’d needed was a small bit of assistance. But the angels had treated her like a criminal, for daring to ask. She was more than ready to be home, with the solid earth beneath her feet and people she could rely upon on every side.
Even if their trust in her had been misplaced.
Kara winced at that truth as she strode down the train platform. She’d had two goals in coming east and had failed to achieve either. How could she have failed in both of her objectives? She hadn’t been sure she’d be able to persuade the Oracle to help her people, but she’d never imagined she would be denied even an audience.
Kara sighed. It was embarrassing to recall how easy she’d believed her other goal would be. How hard could it be to seduce a man, any man, with green eyes? How hard could it be to conceive a child to fulfill the prophecy, before it was too late?
Impossible, apparently. She hadn’t relied upon the revulsion that Caucasian men felt for women with brown skin. She’d thought her willingness would be enough. She’d never imagined that the prophecy’s demand that the union be a willing one would become a problem.
She could have paid for an interval in the pleasure zones otherwise.
She’d taken old herbal remedies to ensure she could conceive while she was here. She’d been ready to do anything, to say anything, to promise anything to achieve her goal. It would give her people such hope if the prophecy showed signs of fulfillment.
Hope could make all the difference in the world.
But the only thing Kara had to show for her efforts was aching ovaries. Sore feet. Wounded pride. The knowledge that she was a failure.
The Republic had won.
So-called civilization was filthy and noisy, unsettling and false. Kara couldn’t wait to escape it.
She wanted to be barefoot, to be able to take a deep breath because she wasn’t wearing a corset. She wanted to let her hair blow loose. She wanted to smell the wind and feel the earth’s rhythm. The end of the world was coming, and she wanted to savor the few days that were left.
Instead, she’d just make it home in time.
The station in New D.C. was filled with steam and sparks of electricity as the trains were recharged at other platforms. There was a loud hum of running engines and the shouting of the men who serviced the trains. The station was dirty and crowded, people rushing in every direction and porters bellowing to each other. There were beggars and vendors mingling with passengers and children. There was baggage everywhere, it seemed.
Kara’s train had arrived from New Gotham moments before and the gates had just opened for new passengers to proceed along the platform. There was some shoving as people hurried to get to the appropriate cars before the train’s departure to the west. An overhead clock ticked down the seconds, timing them all. Or chiding them all. Conductors called from the ends of the cars, their voices competing with the vendors who were selling food to passengers through the windows of the train.
There was a loud hiss as the train’s engines were slowed for recharging, then a shower of sparks when the engines were connected overhead to the station’s power sources. The engines began to throb at a steady beat, as if the long stainless snake of the train had a heart. Kara could see the darkness beyond the end of the platform where the tracks ran shining into the night.
How far would the train have to travel before she’d be able to see the moon? It would be nearly full. At home, it would be visible everywhere, inescapable, but Kara didn’t trust the Republic not to find a way to hide it.
She watched a flock of pigeons flying through the terminal, enjoying the sight of some free creature in this place. When she turned, she caught a glimpse of a man with a familiar profile in the crowd behind her.
The crowd heaved, and he was swallowed by the throng as abruptly as he had appeared.
“Derek!” Kara retraced her steps, pushing through the people like a salmon swimming upstream. She got to the place where she thought she had spotted her husband, but there was only a porter there. He wore a coat of the same color as the man she’d glimpsed. She spun in place but couldn’t see another likely candidate. The platform was emptying behind her, the rush of passengers hurrying toward the train.
“Help with your bags, ma’am?”
“No, thank you. Did you see a man here?”
The porter smiled. “I see thousands of them, ma’am.”
Of course. Kara nodded and retraced her steps toward the train. She’d thought she’d spotted Derek a dozen times or more since arriving in New D.C. It made no sense. Her husband was dead, and she had no desire to see him again. She couldn’t imagine he would want to see her, or that he would ever come to a place like New D.C. He had disliked cities even more than she did.
But if he was a ghost, it did make a kind of sense that he would haunt her now. Derek had always reveled in her failures, and this was a big one. Kara hefted her bag and shivered before she marched on. Even a false glimpse of him could send a bolt of terror through her.
Soon, she’d be home. A failure still, but one with honest earth beneath her feet, surrounded by those she loved and knew she could trust.
It wouldn’t be too soon.
She climbed the stairs to her car, heading for her assigned seat, declining assistance on every side. Her annoyance mounted with every offer that implied she was weak and incapable of taking care of herself or a single piece of luggage. She was taller than most of the men who spoke so condescendingly to her, and she was sure she could win a fist fight with any of them.
The prospect of starting one improved her mood.
Even this last twenty-four hour train ride to New Mexico was too long to spend in the social embrace of the Republic and its rules. Kara was tempted to tear off her veils and let them see the face of a woman. She doubted it would tempt men as much as the Republic believed it would, and wanted to publicly show the rules to be wrong. She wanted to shout or do something outrageous, just to see their dismay.
She wondered what they would all think if she ran naked down the length of the train. The mischievous idea made her smile, even as the boarding passengers came to a sudden halt in the aisle.
But then she’d end up in jail and might never get home.
In fact, that kind of impulse had gotten her tossed out of the residence of the Oracle.
She just had to survive this chaos for one more day.
The line wasn’t moving, so Kara peeked down the car. A woman halfway down the car was stowing her luggage while everyone behind her waited. She did appear to be incapable of dealing with one small piece of luggage. Several men rushed to help her, ensuring the task took four times as long as it should have. The woman’s veil was so sheer that it didn’t disguise her fair coloring and pretty features. Kara thought her appearance explained a great deal.
She could have found a dozen men to help her conceive a child, right in this very car.
Kara fought her frustration, tapped her toe and checked her seat assignment. She scanned the numbers on the bulkhead and located her seat just a few rows ahead. It was empty, which was a relief—she wasn’t in the mood for an argument or a messed-up reservation—but the man sitting in the adjacent seat made her heart stop cold.
He was the most handsome man she’d ever seen.
Kara stared, unable to even think of doing anything else.
From this point, she could see only his head, but knew he must be tall. His features were sculpted in their perfection, his nose straight and his chin square. His lips were surprisingly sensuous. He was a man, not a boy, and one who looked commanding. Kara liked him on sight—and wanted very much to see more. His hair was cut so short that she couldn’t tell whether it had been blond or silver. It caught the light around his head, looking for all the world like a halo.
She really did have angels on her mind.
She’d forgive him the association. She hated angels, particularly the Watchful Host of angels incarnate, but wouldn’t condemn a gorgeous man for the illusion of a halo.
Just then, he glanced over the line and she saw that he had eyes of clearest green.
Suddenly all that had gone wrong was turned to rights. Suddenly there was a purpose driving her choices and hope for the future. Green eyes! Kara had been lost in the darkness of despair and failure, but here was a chance.
She could achieve her second goal before arriving home, against all expectation.
This man’s presence—and his seat assignment—couldn’t be a better sign of providence. It gave Kara a hope beyond expectation and made her heart pound. She eyed him as the line of passengers began to move again, and hoped she could make the most of this chance to fulfill the prophecy.
All she had to do was get his attention, and then seduce him. If he was resistant because of her ethnicity, she had to overcome his objections. She had to accomplish this. Kara gripped the handle of her bag more tightly. She didn’t dare let this opportunity slip away. The express train would take twenty-four hours and she needed to make every moment count.
Even after her failure in New D.C., Kara could taste success.
Excerpt from Abyss ©2014 Deborah A. Cooke

Hi Deb welcome back to The Reading Frenzy
Hi Deb! Thanks for the invitation.

Tell my readers about your Prometheus Project/Eyes of The Republic series and especially about the finale Abyss.
When I first “met” Lilia Desjardins, I wasn’t at all sure what kind of story she had to share - I just hopped on the back of her motorcycle and followed on her adventure. (The first scene that fell out of my fingertips was the beginning of Chapter One, when she visits Gotham. That scene changed very little before publication, and you can read it on my website.) On one level, it was a mystery with a romance subplot - in searching the truth about her estranged husband’s death, Lilia falls in love with a cop trying to solve the same mystery. It wasn’t that simple, though. The book is set in a dystopian future, which added one unusual element, plus there are fallen angels hidden in this post-nuclear society, trying to save humanity from ourselves. I was fascinated by the world Lilia showed me and really enjoyed the research necessary for the worldbuilding. The first version of the book, however, was too hybrid-genre for any publisher to be interested. I rewrote it, inverting the balance so that it was a romance with a mystery subplot (a romantic suspense). That brought Montgomery into sharper focus, which I liked a great deal. (The last thing I wrote was the prologue, which is also on my website.) In that format, the book found a home, although the house said they’d prefer a linked trilogy. As is pretty typical of my work, that first book, FALLEN, introduced not just a world but a number of characters whose stories I wanted to explore, so it was easy to create that linked trilogy.

Each of the Prometheus Project books features a hero who is a fallen angel - the angels volunteer to shed their wings to take on a specific quest in the mortal realm - and the woman who steals his heart away. They are romances, so it’s not a spoiler that each book has an HEA - the heroes always decide to stay. They also each have a different take on the mortal realm and the pleasures of the flesh, and explore a different section of the Republic. Lilia and Montgomery appear as continuing characters throughout the series.

As for ABYSS, by the time I’d finished writing REBEL (book #3), my original concept for the trilogy was complete. The world had been saved and the Republic had been set on a corrected path for the future. It troubled me that one character, Tupperman, hadn’t had his HEA. In fact, I’d thought he was going to get his wings back and leave this realm in REBEL, but Joachim changed his mind as I was writing that particular scene. It’s good when characters run away with the plot and change the story, but sometimes it leaves me in a quandary! It took me a few years to figure out Tupperman’s story, and also to see what hadn’t been resolved in the world of the Republic by the end of REBEL. It was a treat to return to the world of the Republic, and take things in a bit of a different direction again with Kara.

There’s always a bit of fantasy in your novels even in your historical romance.
What’s the fantasy draw for you?
Fantasy was the first genre that I read avidly. I like to read romance, too, so books in the fantasy section of the bookstore often felt a little short in terms of the exploration of emotional relationships. As a reader, I like to be immersed in the world of the story, and sometimes, a little fantasy element can help me slide into that universe more easily. Writing romance with fantasy elements is to me the best possible combination - call it chocolate and caramel, all in one delicious bite

Deb you’ve become über involved in the entire aspect of your novels from writing to publishing.
What’s the thing you miss most from the brick and mortar publishing house days?
Probably the thing I miss the most from “the good old days” is as a reader: I miss the way bookstores used to be and how numerous they were. Bookstores were always magical places to me, much like libraries but often with more atmosphere. There were literally thousands of stories and authors there, waiting to be discovered, as well as enthusiasts working there who could help you find anything (including books you didn’t even know you needed to read). I could and did spend hours in bookstores, leaving lots of money behind.

Now we have three kinds of bookstore: big box, small indie and online booksellers. I don’t particularly like big box bookstores, as they feel more like warehouses. They don’t have the intimacy of the bookstores I love. They also don’t have the focus: the last time I visited one, at least half of the floor space was kitchenware, stationary, toys, and electronic devices. It seemed more about “entertainment” (and coffee) than books. The smaller independent bookstores where I live tend to stock literary fiction and not commercial or genre fiction. While I read literary fiction, it’s not the only thing I read, so I tend not to visit these stores. There is one great sci-fi/fantasy indie bookstore in Toronto that I like to visit when I’m there - Bakka-Phoenix Books. In the end, I tend to shop online, which is a good way to find what you already know you need, but not always so good for discovering those books you will need but haven’t even heard of yet. I still prefer print books, which makes me a bit strange in this current market, but after a day in front of my computer screen, my eyes need a break.

As far as changes in publishing from the author’s perspective, there is always a mix of good and bad in every publishing relationship: the worst relationship inevitably has some good features, and the best has some weaknesses. My favorite situation is feeling that I’m part of a team, and that each member is not only skilled at his or her task, but working to make the book and its publication the best it can be. Because of that I’ve been steadily building my own team for my books and am pleased with the progress so far. There’s always room for improvement and new ideas (especially in a changing market) but each new title from me goes out into the world a little more smoothly. I don’t think it should be relevant to my readers how my books are published, but that they should know that their expectations (of the story and the book’s quality) will be met. Right now, I’m indie, but that may certainly change. My quest is to find the best way to get my books into the hands of my readers, period.

Deb, Serpent’s Kiss is due out in April and it’s the 10th in your award winning Dragon Shape Shifter series.
Why did you choose dragons for your heroes alter egos in this series?

Dragonfire came about as the result of a lunch I had with a fellow author. We were talking about the business, and laughing about the fact that we were writing paranormal romance when it wasn’t very popular (in the late 1990’s). At the time we had lunch (2005), paranormal romance was hugely popular and neither of us were writing it. How dumb was that? We laughed, then looked at each other as the penny dropped. We both went home to write paranormal romance proposals, and both subsequently sold those proposals.

When I first came up with the idea for Dragonfire, the most popular heroes in paranormal romance were vampires. The problem was that I’ve never been much for vampires. I always liked dragons and I like shape shifter stories - although at that time, shifters were more prevalent in the fantasy section. A dragon shifter hero sounded to me like the best of both worlds: loyal, beautiful, strong, protective, long-lived, smart (they solve riddles), probably rich...what’s not to love about that combination? There also are stories about dragons in most human cultures, which gave me lots of myth and legend to work with, which is one of my favorite things to do. I really like writing these stories and am pretty much taken with my dragon heroes. I anticipate that I’ll be writing about them for a while yet.

Serpent’s Kiss was a fun book to write because it features Thorolf. Thorolf loves all the pleasures of the world, and doesn’t always focus on improving his dragon shifter skills. He’s easygoing and not without his charms, but I knew he had hidden depths. (So did Erik.) I enjoyed fleshing out Thorolf’s personal history, and finding him the perfect mate, the one who could incite him to be the best dragon he could be. Chandra is huge fun because she isn’t afraid to either challenge Thorolf or kick his butt - yet Thorolf turned her world inside out. The sparks really flew between these two. Maybe you can tell that I’m pretty excited about this book!

Deb you have another passion besides writing, knitting.
What knitting project are you working on and what do you do with all your knitting creations?
Deb, you’re assuming that I finish my knitting projects! What characterizes my knitting is a very bad case of start-itis: I launch into a project, hit a complication, put it aside and start another. My joke has always been that I save my little bit of discipline for my writing. I have so many things on the go that, this year, I’m determined to finish up as many as possible. (I’ve made this resolution before, so we’ll see how I do.) Most of the sweaters I knit are for myself or Mr. Math, so when they’re finished, they’re used. The lace shawls I knit tend to get folded up and put away, although one of my knitting friends has challenged me on that. I’m trying to wear them more. I also knit mittens for charity. Those get done, and head off to the food bank each fall.

You’ve written under three names, Claire Delacroix, Claire Cross and Deborah Cooke.
Why the different names?
Do you only write under Deborah Cooke now?

Some marketing people believe that the author name should be a brand, and that it should be tightly focused on a certain genre or subgenre. Then there are others who believe that all of an author’s work should be under a single brand, regardless of the genre or subgenre. You can argue it either way, because there are pros and cons to both strategies. I wrote originally as Claire Delacroix because my first publisher required authors to use a pseudonym. Subsequently, I wrote as myself (Deborah Cooke) because my publisher wanted to distinguish the Dragonfire paranormal romance from my medieval romances. In recent years, I’ve been trying to build awareness among readers that I’m both Claire and Deborah. There are some readers who only read one area of my work, but others who follow me across genre. I simplified things when republishing the Claire Cross books, and reassigned the author brand on those eight books, but will continue to write both as Claire and as Deborah. My rule of thumb is that Deborah’s books are contemporaries while Claire’s are set in other times (historical and future-set.)

Deb, you were the writer in residence at the Toronto Library in 2009.
What exactly did this entail?

The Toronto Public Library was hosting a writer-in-residence about every 8 months at that time, focused on a different genre each time. I was chosen for their first residency for the romance genre, which was 8 weeks long. During that period, I created a blog for the library about about the romance genre, including guest posts from other writers. (I’m not sure if it’s still on their site, but there are links on my old blog at I also arranged several events for the residency at the library - an opening event and introduction to yours truly, and a closing event with a panel discussion between myself, an agent and an editor. There were also some interviews to do for publicity, including couple of radio interviews on the CBC. The main thing I did was read romance manuscripts submitted by library patrons. I met with about two dozen of the writers whose work I thought was most promising, in order to discuss their work. I really enjoyed that process, and was delighted when subsequently one of them sold a book to Harlequin.

Deb you and your husband, Mr. Math, live in an old house.
What’s the latest restoration project?

We’re taking a deep breath this year, Deb, and tidying up some odds and ends. We’ve been here long enough that there are rooms that were “done” that need to be revisited, as well as small jobs that didn’t happen at the time. The garden took a hit last year with various jobs being done - and I’ve yet to see what didn’t survive this cold winter - so I’ll be moving plants, reorganizing beds and getting my hands dirty.

Deb one last question then I’ll let you get back to your knitting or writing.
Do you have a special writing nook in your home?

I claimed one of the bedrooms as my office, Deb. After years of writing on the kitchen table, and packing everything away every night, it’s wonderful to have the space to leave my notes all spread out. I also have a bookcase behind my desk with copies of all of my books, and a wonderfully crowded bulletin board. The room is often a disaster area - books, notes, cds, knitting wool! - but I can shut the door.

Thanks for taking the time to answer a few questions. Good luck to the novelist and the artist.
Thanks again for the invitation to visit, Deb! Happy reading to you and all your followers.

Connect with Claire/Deborah - Website - Claire's Facebook Page - Deborah's Facebook Page 

My Review of Abyss (reprint)

The world has gone through cataclysmic changes since Tupperman voluntarily gave up his wings to aid mankind. He and his fallen angel brethren have sacrificed much to save the humans and some have received blessings in return.
Four years ago when society came out of the darkness, Tupperman once again chose to stay on earth to help the progress of this new world order and convinced many more to shed their wings to help.
Now someone is killing off the angels he persuaded to stay and he sits on a train bound for New Mexico a fugitive for those crimes journeying to what maybe his last mission when an intriguing woman sits down next to him with a proposition.
Karas mission to see the Oracle about fulfilling her peoples prophecy has failed, shes been literally tossed out on her bottom by the angels who refused to grant her an audience. So shes boarded the train back home to New Mexico a failure in one mission but as she sits next to a handsome man with the purest green eyes she realizes she may just be able to fulfill another.

Clair Delacroixs finale to her urban fantasy romance series is fantastic, shell take readers down terrifying dark alleys, wide open spaces and fill the air with angelic voices with her always fluent, sometimes frightening and visual narrative. Her selfless hero and determined heroine are perfect for each other and are perfectly portrayed as they dodge bad guys and fall in love. Shell catch readers up on her co-stars past happenings as she weaves the intricate web of her current Angel tale.
Novels are best read in order for maximum understanding and enjoyment.
Claire youve taken me to turret towers, dragons lairs, from the Middle Ages to the present and into the future and you can be sure that wherever youre bound next my bags are packed. Brava!

Bestselling author Claire Delacroix sold her first romance, a medieval called THE ROMANCE OF THE ROSE, in 1992. Since then, she has published more than fifty romance novels and numerous novellas. She has also written under the names Claire Cross and Deborah Cooke. THE BEAUTY, part of her successful Bride Quest series, was her first book to land on the New York Times List of Bestselling Books.
She has an honours degree in history, with a focus on medieval studies, and is an avid reader of medieval vernacular literature, fairy tales and fantasy novels. She makes her home in Canada with her husband and family. When she isn't writing, she can be found knitting, sewing or hunting for vintage patterns.

The other Prometheus Project Novels:

The April 30th Dragonfire novel:

The complete Dragonfire Novels in Order:


  1. Oh Debbie! This sound right up my alley! I can't believe I've never heard of it. Thank you.
    Fun interview as always. I need to run audible right away :)

    1. Loupe, I LOVE Deb's novels she's one of my all time faves.
      Hey I hope you had a fab vacation!

  2. Hi Deb - Thanks for doing and posting this interview! I'm so glad you enjoyed Tupperman's story!

    (Let's see if Blogspot eats my comment today.)

  3. OOo I love her books as Cooke! I haven't read her as Delacroix yet but so plan on it. And gah the bookstore thing. Yes. I'm with that. I wouldn't mind the big box stores if they'd get some focus back. I don't remember them always being like that but now days it's amazing how few books they really have in their doors.

    1. Hi Anna, she started out writing historical romance with woo woo ad Delacroix they're timeless
      I think the whole publishing industry needs to step up to the plate and remember what's really important
      thanks for the comment

  4. Oh, I love fantasy and her books sounds so good. I have no idea, how I never read any of them, but I'm adding them now. I loved the interview. :)

    1. Hey Isabelle, Hi! I Love her urban fantasies and her storytelling is unmatched!