TTS: The Top Shelf would like to welcome Gracen Miller to the blog! Tell the readers a little bit about yourself and your book Pandora’s Box, book one Road to Hell Series.
Gracen: Thanks for having me, Misty! It’s a pleasure to be here. Pandora’s Box is about a mother who is trying to save her son from paranormal forces she doesn’t understand. The medical profession offers her little hope beyond a suggested stint in a psych-ward. Dedicated to finding a cure for her son, she refuses to give up on him. The book opens with her desperate to find help for her son, so fraught that she seeks paranormal assistance even though she doesn’t believe in the supernatural. She stumbles upon a group of hunters called Sherlocks who are convinced a demon is the cause of her son’s murderous tendencies. Nothing could’ve prepared her for the world she’s about to step into or the forces that threaten more than her life, but her very soul. Ultimately, it details the love a mother has for her child and how far she’ll go to save him, even if the odds are against them. Pandora’s Box also showcases that her life is nothing as she thought it was, but is a life borne from dark forces with demonic intentions.
TTS: How did the idea for this book come about?
Gracen: The Road to Hell Series was spawned from a nightmare where a demon/ghost was gunning for my kids. After I woke up and began to realize it was just a dream, I got to thinking. The worst nightmare any parent can endure is when their child is harmed. Especially when it’s something you cannot control nor do anything about. The absolute helplessness of this is crushing. I’ve endured this type of debilitation with my eldest son when he began to suffer grand mal seizures.
But the nightmare got me to thinking “what if” it was something paranormal and not medical affecting her child? How would she deal with one crisis after another, realizing there is nothing she can do to change what he comes from within? To what lengths would she go to save her child? And that was the inspiration behind the Road to Hell series.
TTS: I like to ask this question of every author I interview because I find character creation interesting. How did you name your characters and did you shape them after people you know in real life?
Gracen: In the Road to Hell Series, the hero, Phoenix “Nix” Birmingham, received his name when I saw a billboard for Phoenix University. I knew immediately it was the perfect name for him. I’m from Birmingham, Alabama, so that’s why he received his last name. The bad boy in the story, Micah, was named for the meaning of his name… “Who is like God.” You’ll discover why he has this name in Pandora’s Box. And the heroine, Madison, was named after a gal I knew who died much too young from breast cancer. I called her “Madz”, so I even had Nix give my character the “real” Madison’s nickname, with a slight spelling difference…“Mads”. The first book in this series is dedicated to the real Madison. This was my way of honoring her memory and giving her a bit of immortality. The name is the only attribute they share, because after that, they’re nothing alike. I have never shaped a character after real people.
TTS: Did you have the storyline all planned out when you sat down to write or did it take a life of its own beyond the initial paragraph?
Gracen: Ha! I’m such a pantser. Dom—my wicked muse—would nix any effort to outline anyway. Even when I think I know which direction the story line is going, Dom loves, loves, looooves throwing monkey wrenches into the story at the oddest, most random moments. I think he finds perverse satisfaction in doing this to me. These unexpected directions always improve the storyline, but a little heads up would be nice on occasion. lol
TTS: When you sit down to write a story do you use an outline?
Gracen: Nope. I know the beginning and end, everything in-between I learn from my characters and Dom.
TTS: Where there ever moments where the story didn’t go the way you planned or personally wanted it to go? How did you deal with that?
Gracen: Ha! All the time. But, as I mentioned above, when Dom goes in a different direction than I’d planned, it is always for the best. I can’t argue with improving the story.
TTS: What led you to writing?
Gracen: I began writing in sixth grade when my English teacher gave us a writing assignment for homework. I groaned and complained about having to use my imagination. Oh, the horror! Talk about melodramatic teen years. LOL I had no idea how much that one assignment would alter my life. I found a love for something I was good at. Like a drug, writing dug its claws into me and I have forever been addicted to creating worlds, characters and romances that are all written from my soul.
TTS: Are you planning on sticking to one genre or are you going to branch out into others?
Gracen: Every time I’ve tried to branch off from the paranormal genre, something supernatural creeps back into the story. I figure I’ll stick to writing what I’m good at. I’ve had a fascination with the paranormal for as long as I can remember and crafting new monsters and demons is so much fun. I don’t think I’d be nearly as good at working with a real-world model. So, nope, I’m not planning on branching out into other genres, but I won’t say I’ll never do it either.
TTS: What do you like to read?
Gracen: Paranormal/Gothic romances.
TTS: What are you reading at the moment?
Gracen: Nothing. I’ve been busy preparing for the release of Hell’s Phoenix, book 2 in the Road to Hell Series. But on my Nook I have the newest witch book by Anya Bast. I can’t wait to get started on it, but I know if I start it now, I will get nothing else accomplished. It’s my treat to myself once I’ve completed my release tour.
TTS: Do you think what authors read influence what they write?
Gracen: Hm…I don’t know. I do think authors read what they like to write.
TTS: Can you tell us a bit about what you’re working on right now if you’re working on anything at all?
Gracen: I’m writing on Genesis Queen, book three in the Road to Hell series. I have a completed book in a new series—the Kiss series—and I’m halfway through the second book in this series. It is a cross between paranormal/horromance. It’s not as graphic in the horror aspect as the Road to Hell series.
TTS: Once again, I would like to thank Gracen for taking the time to be here! I would love to have you back again sometime!
Gracen: Thanks so much for having me with you, Misty!
Gracen is a hopeless daydreamer masquerading as a “normal” person in southern society. When not writing, she’s a full-time basketball/football/guitar mom for her two sons and a devoted wife to her real-life hero-husband. She’s addicted to writing, paranormal romance novels and movies, Alabama football and coffee…addictions are not necessarily in order of priority. She is convinced coffee is nectar from the gods and blending coffee and writing together generates the perfect creative merger. Many of her creative worlds are spawned from coffee highs.
Gracen has offered up an e-book copy of Pandora’s Box for one lucky winner here at The Top Shelf! Isn’t that awesome? I thought so! Anyway, all you have to do to enter is comment and leave a valid email in the email box. A winner will be chosen by random.org on Friday February 24, 2012 at 9 PM Eastern! Good luck! Want some more info on the book? Check out below. I’ve shared not only the blurb for Pandora’s box but a cool snippet from the sequel, Hell’s Phoenix! 🙂
Synopsis: Where does the road to Hell begin?
What happens when your son turns homicidal overnight and your husband disappears on his way to work? Do you cower in fear or fight for your life? Madison Wescott fights against the odds. Distrustful of a God she doesn’t believe in, she finds herself face-to-face with a world she didn’t know existed and discovers her own soul is darkened with demonic connections.
With good intentions? Or by demonic design?
Phoenix Birmingham bursts into Madison’s life in a whirlwind of sarcasm and sexual appeal. A hero for the masses—and for her jaded heart—but few will ever know the sacrifices he has made or the sacrifices to come. Discovering her entire life has been influenced by multifaceted paranormal beings, Madison is determined to defeat the apocalyptic blueprint fate has decreed, but only one man dares to challenge the supernatural forces manipulating them. Even with Phoenix’s aid, can destiny be denied? Or will demonic design prevail while they pay the crucial price with their souls?
In a small, sleepy Alabama town the battle for mankind’s liberty has begun…
Hell’s become more than just a playground for the wicked…
Going to Hell was supposed to save Madison, but knowing she’s dead because of his failure leaves Nix with only one thing to live for. Revenge. With Micah’s help he learns to use his Messianic power. Anything for Mads has become his mantra, even if it means killing innocents to gather the power he needs to succeed. A tsunami he unleashes on a Gulf Coast city is stopped with magical interference, and Nix is more than surprised to feel Madison in the opposing magic. Can he and Micah set a trap to lure her out?
Pandora’s Box…once you open it, there’s no turning back!
Madison has done the unthinkable, opened Pandora’s Box to save Nix from Hell. And failed. She’s willing to risk her own life to rescue Nix, but she worries about the welfare of her accomplice in the mission and leaving her son behind. Following up on a lead, she’s ambushed by Nix and Micah. Shocked and hurt to discover Nix has become a willing participant of Hell, she’s more certain than ever she won’t escape the demonic fate her husband outlined for her. While in Hell, she discovers denying the emergence of her succubus is futile, which means getting Nix out of Hell after embracing her inner demon just became a very real dilemma…
You’ll heal her promptly,” Micah growled, shifting back into his human persona, as he offered his legs as a pillow for her head. She’d have pushed him away if she could’ve managed to contort her body to that angle.
Madison gaped at the blood darkening her jeans and spreading down her thigh. “That hurts way worse than I thought being shot would.”
“I need to get your pants off, Mads, to heal you.” Nix’s fingers went to the snap of her jeans.
She knocked his hands away. “You’ll heal the others first.”
“He shot the main artery in your thigh, Madison. You’ll bleed out before he finishes with them.” Micah compressed his lips together and spoke as if he ground his teeth together. “I’ve lost you twice. I will not lose you again.”
“Death would at least grant me freedom from you!”
Micah’s mouth flattened in displeasure. “Phoenix, I would ask you to do as she requests.”
“Goddamnit, Mads, I swear I’ll heal them immediately after I take care of you.”
Madison glared at Nix. “E kawoja ciok tauqelv.” I refuse your healing. Nix spewed curses in Xapil. “Impressive, you’ve learned how to curse in demon.”
Nix scowled. “Stubborn.”
Madison clenched her teeth in silent mutiny. Nix cupped the back of her head, tugged slightly and kissed her hard on the lips. Excitement zinged through her system. Her attraction to him always presented itself at the most inappropriate moments.
“I find that stubborn trait sexy, baby.”
“Flattery gets you nowhere, Nix.” She winced at the tug against her wounded flesh as he rested her against Micah’s thighs.
“What does?” Nix jerked the hem of one pant leg up and tugged the blade strapped to her ankle out of its harness.
He brandished the knife he’d given her for her thirtieth birthday and grinned. “Does healing them count?”
Nix rolled to his feet and leveled her with his stare. “You’re a hard woman to please.”
“Cease the flirtations with my wife.” Micah’s grip on her shoulders intensified. “Heal those bottom-feeders, and then heal her.”
Buy it now at:
Amazon ( Kindle) $5.99
Also Available at Decadent Publishing (Multiformat) $4.99!