And don't rush off! There's an excerpt, some additional information, and don't forget to leave a comment! Follow Fiona on her tour, read all about her, and chat with her all along -- the commenter with the most posts will win a prize!
And here's Fiona!!!
All in her own head.
In life, she is an author of kickass, action packed, steamy romances, possesses a brown belt in Tae Kwon Do and blue belt in Aikido, a web developer, scared to death of heights, loves jazz piano, can bench-press about 20 pounds — with effort, speaks English and Russian fluently, and when not plotting murder and mayhem enjoys steamy romance novels, sexy spy thrillers, murky mysteries and movies where things frequently blow up.
MH-- Hi, Fiona! Welcome to Alien Places. Thank you for stopping by my corner of the universe. Please take a seat and make yourself comfortable. Congratulations on the release of your new book!
FJ-- HI Masha - thank you for having me! I'm thrilled to be here at Alien Places.
MH-- First of all, I have to say that your bio had me all a-twitter. You could be my twin, or my clone, because I'm the same person on the inside! Well, maybe I'm not a jazz singer but a musician who plays a dozen instruments... All in my head.
FJ--OMG too funny!
MH-- And Yay! for the talent for languages.
You did say you're fluent in Russian, and I noticed that the heroine's name in Cold Victory is Zoya. Now that is a very Russian name. What can you tell us about your linguistic knowledge? Is is school-learned or a heritage? And how much do you use, or does it influence your writing?
FJ-- I was actually born in Russia - lived there till I was 11 when we moved to the United States. (Talk about a culture clash!) You could say its both school learned and heritage - since I went to the proper Soviet school, I did take Russian Lit classes - we read Pushkin, and ... Well I can't remember who else, but I remember Pushkin cause I really liked him. Still do actually. And since my family and relatives still continue speaking Russian around me, I continued speaking it by heritage. I actually have a "mental switch" - while I understand both languages equally, I have to mentally switch from one to another in order to speak. So half the time I'll have conversations with my mother where she is speaking Russian and I answer in English.
My knowledge of Russian influences my writing in a lot of ways actually - if I need an exotic word, I don't have to dig very far:) As far as Zoya being the name of my character - I wasn't even thinking Russian much, it just seemed right to me!
MH-- That's amazing and weird all at once. I'll confess that I speak Russian to my mother as well, but I definitely never dared respond to her in anything but Russian! Well... no one, and I mean NO ONE contradicted my mother.
You also admit to a brown belt in Tae Kwon Do. I image this knowledge helps write action scenes. Or does it? Have you found now and then that knowing how actual sparring works has confused your fight sequences?
FJ-- Knowledge of martial arts is a bit like a double edged sword when it comes to writing action scenes. (And I DO love to write fight scenes!) It helps to know fancy terms - spin kick, hook kick, backfist. It helps to know weapons - I LOVE swords, sai, kamas, nunchucks. I have rubber nunchucks - which often hit me in the head. It also helps to have access to people who could help choreograph a fight scene depending on what angle you are approaching it - streetfight, military fight, cop vs suspect, etc.
Side story - when I was about 17, and just starting to dabble in writing, I asked one of my instructors how to seriously damage an opponent. "What would you do to have someone go down, instantly, by your bare hands?". So he gives me a really strange look, pulls me into the office and asks me if everything is okay in school. You can imagine the look of relief on his face when I told him it was for a story!
In all reality though, writing fight scenes that remain somewhat realistic can be hard. A real fight doesn't last that long, and no one does all the fancy footwork we see in the movies. I love writing kickass heroines - but I also worry about giving the wrong idea about safety to my readers. Its great to be Buffy, but the reality of it is that it's always safer to try to walk away from a situation, or try not to put yourself into a situation in the first place, no matter how badass you are.
MH-- Why do we have to "mother" all our readers? Some days I wonder if it wouldn't be easier to be a male author...
Your inner self goes mountain climbing, but your real self is afraid of heights. How does that contradiction translate into your writing? Or have you ever had the occasion to write a mountain climbing (or any kind of climbing) scene? Could you picture it, in that case?
FJ-- Actually that contradiction is especially great for my writing. Similar to flying a spaceship - I can barely tell left from right, but I sure as heck can fake being a hot-shot pilot from research. (Now I got an idea of a character - a hot shot rock climber with a deep dark fear of heights lol). In this case I'm very much an outsider - I catalogue all my experiences to use in writing, but I rarely actually participate. So I might go to a rock climbing class and interview the people who do it, but you wouldn't find me scaling the Alps:)
MH-- All right. I have to ask. How did Cold Victory start? Where did the idea come from?
FJ-- Well, it started with a scene. I had a scene in my head for a long time, and I couldn't figure out how to fit into anything I was writing at the time -it demanded its own story. The scene involved some semblance of technology - and I knew it was some sort of a military operation. Cold Victory pretty much stemmed from that one scene.
MH-- Do you usually start with characters, a plot, or just a situation?
FJ-- I usually get a scene in my head which dictates the rest of the book. So I would have to guess the answer here would be a situation. Usually the scene is pretty dramatic - which then leaves me with the fun and grueling job of figuring out what comes before and after.
MH-- Hah! So I'm not the only one!
What is the most difficult part of the actual writing? And which part do you dislike the most (are they the same)?
FJ-- For me, the most difficult part of the actual writing is the second draft. My process requires three full drafts and then post critique polish. The first draft is really me spewing words on the page - just raw emotion. The second draft is where it all has to make sense. The third draft is where I question my sanity, my chosen career as an author, and the small semblance of talent I may posses.
MH-- Oh, I hear you. I think you have more fortitude than I, because I question my sanity every time I sit at the computer!
So how do you write? Do you plan? Do you plan on paper or think out your stories? Do you just write your books as they come and re-write until they're just right? Do you use some magical software to help your process (I wouldn't mind a “make novel” button myself)?
FJ-- I'm an avid plotter. I used to be an avid pantser, but I would continuously get stuck. I usually do a lot of preplotting before I even start writing - I need to have a full outline before I begin the first page. (It all changes of course, but this way it's not near as painful as it used to be). As far as magical software LOL. I wish. But I could recommend the writing blog which I run with my good friend Lacey Savage - tipsandwips.com. We talk about our processes (Lacey is an avid pantser), snippets from writing books, anything really writing related.
MH-- Thank you for stopping by! Best wishes for the rest of your tour and for a resounding success of your book!
FJ-- Thanks so much for having me, Masha - it was a pleasure!
Blurb for Cold Victory:
Intergalactic warfare has not been kind to humans. Convicted pilot Zoya Scott has the chance to avenge her family, redeem an act of desperation with that of sacrifice. She’ll end this war if she betrays the man whose touch burns through her soul, the man whose ship and crew she must destroy. The man who is her bloodmate.
Commander Galen Stark never expected the convicted pilot on his ship to be anything more then a good looking inconvenience. A small brush of their hands grips him with vicious lust, a need he can’t control. She is his bloodmate – a biological reaction burning through his veins.
Except she carries an explosive. And Stark may have to give the order to destroy them all.
"Excuse me, Commander.” Those gold eyes flared. “Perhaps you were misled about their skill level. Most of them never had field experience. Their battle skills were taught in hologames.”
Stark had to get away from her before his damned glands forced him into doing something stupid. Like kissing her. Fucking her breathless. Feeling her shuddering around him as she came. “So noted.”
“Right.” A bitter smirk. Those eyes went dull again, as if he were responsible for leeching out the light inside them. “Your job is to give orders and coordinate attacks. You don’t know who is out there dying.”
He couldn’t breathe without taking in her heat, couldn’t think beyond the words she hurled at him. “You’re right, I don’t. I don’t know their names or anything about them. They’re just soldiers. They’re trained to follow orders.”
Before he knew what he was doing, he roughly pulled at the sleeve of his undershirt, exposing neat rows of tattoos. “I don’t know them.” He shook his head, battling arousal, emotion, and frustration. “I just count their deaths.”
Silence. He was an idiot to lose control like this, to share the part of himself which he’d always kept hidden. He was an idiot to need her to understand the only way he could grieve. He was an idiot to feel this raw, sexual pull toward her.
“I’m-I’m sorry.” Her voice thick, her eyes shattered, Zoya lightly touched the dots on his upper arm.
Shock rippled on his skin, pinpricks of heat and vicious, coiled lust. He nearly staggered, fighting the dark urge to cover her lush mouth while his body primed to take, to feast. Her eyes flared wide, yet she didn’t pull her arm away when his fingers closed around her wrist.
“You shouldn’t touch me.” Her pulse beat hard under his fingertips, her skin like warm, smooth silk. He gave her time to back away, to rip her arm away, say something cutting. Yet she did nothing, simply looked up at him with hot, unguarded eyes, her mouth vulnerable and soft, seconds from his.
Flashes of skin, hot gripping palms, moist hungry lips. Stark didn’t know when he pressed her against a bulkhead, when her hands clutched his shoulders, when her ragged breaths became his own. He couldn’t get enough, couldn’t take a breath, couldn’t tear himself away from ravaging her lips, plunging into the sweet depth of her mouth.
Her scent was like a potent drug pumping into his veins. Lips fused, tongues mated, he kissed her like a starving man, as if both their lives depended on it. Cupping her head, he held her steady for his onslaught, fighting himself, fighting against the soft, hitched breaths she made against his mouth. Even as someone screamed inside his head about duty and protocol, the beast inside him wouldn’t let him stop.