Monday, July 18, 2011

Denise K. Rago

Interview with author Denise K. Rago

Steps away from Central Park, among careworn books and paintings, the vampire Christian Du Mauré quietly watches over two modern mortals. Amanda and Ryan are the last two descendants of a painful affair Christian had more than two centuries ago with a mortal aristocrat in Paris. On the eve of revolution, he made a promise to his dying lover that he would secure their safety without ever involving them in his own twisted world.

When Immortal Obsession begins, Christian’s promise is intact; his young ancestors suspect nothing of their origin. Amanda's life is happily predictable: she landed her childhood dream job working for New York's monolithic Metropolitan Museum of Art, where she unites her fascination with Revolution-era Paris and her abiding love of art. During one especially late night at work, Amanda is roused by an unexpected phone call. Her brother Ryan (and only living relative) needs her help urgently; can she come right away? Against her better judgment, she rushes to meet him in Central Park—and unwittingly becomes entangled in a world she never imagined was real.
1. Why did you decide to start writing Immortal Obsession? Your website mentions a chance encounter. Can you elaborate?

Let me start off by saying thank you so much for giving me the honor of an interview. Immortal Obsession was inspired by an otherworldly experience I had in a New York City diner one night five years ago, when my path crossed with that of a beautiful, unusual stranger who sat down at a table behind my husband and I. He was very tall, with waist-length blond hair and dressed entirely in black. When our eyes met and he said hello, he felt familiar to me as I fell into his dark eyes.
That weekend I began writing Immortal Obsession and when my husband and I talked about this mysterious stranger, I realized we saw two very different people that night. The experience was unnerving, yet exciting. This stranger was the inspiration for my main character, the vampire Christian Du MaurĂ©. I have since learned that this being is someone I have known from a past life. He continues to guide me as his role in my writing and my life continues to unfold. He is my muse. 

2. Amanda's love for art shines through as you read Immortal Obsession. Is this something you have in common with her?

Very much so. I have always dreamt of working in a museum so I continued onto graduate school and obtained a Masters’ Degree in Museum Professions. I did my internship at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in Manhattan which is one of my favorite art museums. I have been going there since childhood and like Amanda, it is one of those places that I love and feel at home.
3. If so, what kind of art mesmerizes you? Amanda seems to be particularly fascinated with Parisian art.

Amanda is drawn to anything to do with the French Revolution, a period that I love as well. I love all types of art really, from all periods of time. I am also fascinated with non-western cultures as well as their material culture. I love paintings, decorative arts and especially sculpture.

4. What was the inspiration for Amanda, Christian, Michel, and any of your other characters? Do they represent anyone in your own life?

I did mention my inspiration for Christian and I also talk about my resemblance to Amanda. Tony, who is Christian and Michel’s human servant, is loosely based on the mailman at one of my previous jobs, a young, blond haired fellow named Anthony who was really warm, funny and without guile. He said what was on his mind and he always stuck with me. When I imagined a fellow who would admire and yet stand up to two vampires, Anthony came to mind. I changed his name to Tony.
One morning while perusing a magazine I came across a black and white photo of a male model and said to myself, ‘this is Michel.’ His personality is a bit trickier for on the surface he seems to be the exact opposite of Christian in every way, but Michel is much deeper than he lets on. On the surface he is much more outgoing and funny, but underneath he is a pained soul. He just hides it a bit better than Christian.
5. Which of your characters resembles you most? Why?

Amanda and Christian probably resemble me the most, with their love of art, books, antiques, history, New York City and Paris. They are both solitary figures with a rich inner life. Christian loves to read and Amanda loves being in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, hobbies I love as well. They both see beauty in nature and in the man-made world as I do and they both have an element of a sixth sense. Amanda has the gift of psychometry, which is the ability to obtain information from touching an object. This information may be in the form of music, words, sentences or images. Christian’s gift’s come from another place which will be revealed in future novels.
6. Why do you enjoy writing? Are there any parts of your novel that you enjoyed writing most?

I love creating, especially when a chapter comes together and suddenly two and three chapters fall into place and the story takes off and the characters are talking to me, leading me in a particular direction. I wrote many drafts of Immortal Obsession that never made it into print but I still enjoy the process. I think I enjoy writing the romance the most.
7. Besides writing, what other hobbies do you have? Are you a thrill seeker with a passion for sky diving and extreme snowboarding?

No, I am not a daredevil in the least. I love the beach, reading, visiting museums and antique shops. I have a teacup collection as well.
8. Is there anything else you would like to share (about you, your novel, or the art of writing)?

I am working on the sequel to Immortal Obsession. I envision three novels in this series which is tentatively called The Enchanted Bloodline Series. I love to hear from readers, as I especially love their perceptions of a character or their interpretation of events. Sometimes I am too close to my characters and it takes a reader to point out something so obvious that I missed completely!

I plan to attend the Self-Publishing Book Expo in Manhattan on Saturday, October 22nd, 2011. Please stop by if you attend as I would love to meet writers and readers.

I would love to share my website link which is Please visit me there to see portraits of some of the characters from Immortal Obsession; reviews, interviews and guests posts.    

    I just want to take a moment to thank Denise for the great interview! She was kind enough to answer all of my questions so thoughtfully and everything. Hopefully everyone will enjoy getting to know this author a bit. Her novel, Immortal Obsession, was an interesting read. My review is here, if anyone is interested. Again, thank you so much!


Saturday, July 16, 2011

Book Blogger Hop (July 15-18)

Book Blogger Hop     This week has been amazing! I was able to attend a program at Sewanee: The University of the South. The campus is absolutely beautiful and the food was scrumptious! All said and done, it was a very rewarding experience. I am so ready for college now, much as I will miss my family.

Question of the Week:
     How/Where do you get your books? Do you buy them or go to the library? Is there a certain website you use like paperbackswap?

     My friends and I are all avid readers. So, whenever one of us gets a new book, it ends up getting passed around. That is where I get a good deal of my books, but I also recently got a public library card! I have a feeling that I will be going there much more often. Of course, my school library is fairly well stocked too.
     Additionally, I've been supremely lucky to have received books for review from authors and publicists. It gives me a chance to widen my horizons, so to speak.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne

     The Scarlet Letter follows Hester Prynne as she learns to cope with the conspicuous letter A sewn on her clothing. The letter symbolizes the adultery that she committed in having borne Pearl, her baby girl. Hester refuses to give up the man with whom she committed her sin with.
     Hester raises little Pearl on her own, away from the prying eyes of the extremely conservative Puritan settlement of Boston. She grows as a person throughout this time and eventually becomes someone that people are no longer wary of.

     Before we actually started the novel, our English teacher wanted to give us a taste of what the novel was about by showing us part of the film with Demi Moore. So, I was expecting something much more romantic than what I found The Scarlet Letter to be.
     The novel starts with Hester's imprisonment and her embarrassment upon the scaffold. I felt so bad for her. The crowd was jeering and the Ministers were prying. I would have wanted to be swallowed by the Earth if I were her.
     As the book continues, I kept waiting to learn more about what really happened. I already knew who Pearl's father was from the movie, so I kept expecting him to step out and relieve Hester. He didn't, of course.  I began to dislike this man; he was a coward in my eyes. When the book finally started describing more about his situation, I finally understood. He was a good man. He cared about Hester more than one might believe.
     Then there was Pearl. The girl kind of annoyed me. She seemed to take pleasure in giving her mother a hard time. Though, if I'm to be honest, she wasn't a terrible child. She just didn't seem to actually care!
     The person I absolutely could not make any excuses for was Roger Chillingworth.He was cruel and malicious. His only concern was for vengeance, and even that was misplaced.
     Most of my classmates didn't enjoy The Scarlet Letter, which I can understand. Hawthorne is a bit long-winded. Nonetheless, I found it to be an interesting book. It didn't drag on too long, nor was it seemingly pointless. I cannot say, however, that the ending did it for me. It just wasn't what I wanted to happen.
     Rating: 6.5

Monday, July 11, 2011

The Art of Rereading

     Rereading. It's something that some say they despise. After all, they've already gleaned everything they can from that particular piece. Others say that they find more to love upon their second appraisal.
     So what exactly is it that pulls some of us back to a book? Is it the characters? Does the plot draw us in that well?
     I think it's something a little more than that. Everything about a book pulls us back. The plot, the world itself, the characters, and the writing all make or break a book. What really makes us pick it up again though is how the book impacts us, as individuals.
     People pick up an old favorite because it feels right. It takes them back to the first time they read it. For me, rereading helps me find parts of myself that I had almost forgotten. For instance, last November I read The Velveteen Rabbit again after about a decade. It brought back so many of my childhood memories, things that I hadn't thought of in too long.
     Maybe I'm just being too philosophical, but I really do think that reading books more than once helps us find ourselves. Those little pieces that make us who we are get lost in the hustle and bustle of life. Sometimes it really is good to remember.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Love, Meg by C. Leigh Purtill

     Meg is just your average teenage kid. Or, rather, she wants to be. Lucie, her sister, stood in the way of that ordinary life by moving them around a lot. What else could she do since they had no other family and she needed a job?
     When Meg finds out about Lucie's long kept secret, her world flips upside down and inside out. She travels to New York to meet the family she didn't know existed and along the way she discovers some things about herself, Lucie, and where she truly belongs.

     I half expected this to be the same old parents die, sisters left to struggle through the world together kind of story. It wasn't really. There were more twists in the plot than that. I was also expecting it to be a light, summery read. Again, it wasn't really. At least, not light in the way of emotional baggage that Meg carries. Although, it wasn't a bad read for the summer...
     Meg is a bit of a snarky character and I love her for it. She's had it rough what with the constant moving. It would be hard for anyone: having to go to a new school, make new friends, and impress new teachers. So, she kind of builds a wall. Meg doesn't really let herself get close to anyone. I can't really blame her because Lucie isn't such a wonderful role model. In fact, I disliked her throughout the majority of the book. Then Meg goes to New York.
     There she meets the perfect guy, Juny. He is smart, athletic, and completely adores her. I admire Purtill for creating such a realistic character. Juny doesn't fawn over her obsessively, but he does care. Nor is he one of those mysterious guys that seem to be in quite a few YA books. You know, the ones who the heroines know little about and yet fall for instantly.
     Meg also finally finds some friends that she seems to be herself around... and they accept her. My favorite part of the book is when Meg goes to Nikki's Christmas party. Of course, she also meets her family. They leave something to be desired, to put it kindly.
     The plot is way better than I had thought it might be. It really had some depth to it. The author did a wonderful job of writing in Meg's voice. I could relate to her. Her worries, ambitions, and experiences became mine as I read.
     Rating: 6.8

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Book Blogger Hop (July 8-11)

     Oh, dear. I was afraid this might happen. You see, I've been meaning to do so many reviews! Much as I know I ought to get them done while I can still remember details, the piles of books I have sitting in various locations around the house are so much more appealing. So, I've had to make a little calendar on my dry erase board and delegate time to posting, reviewing, getting things ready for my school newspaper's relaunch (I'm copy editor!), and everything else I must do. I never realized that I would be so busy over the summer (I never was before), and I still have to find the time to sift through all of those piles of college mail... Yikes!
     There is one thing that has allowed me the time to breathe, of course. Last weekend my mom took me to the bookstore and the library! All of this in the same day, I might add. So, I finally got a library card! You see, last summer there was somewhat of a fiasco concerning me and my promised library card...but that is a story in and of itself. Either way, I now have a lovely, shiny little piece of plastic that entitles me to as many as 30 books at a time.
Book Blogger Hop

Question of the Week:
This week’s question isn’t a question at all! I thought I would do things a little differently this week and give all of you a chance to promote a giveaway (or two!) from the blogosphere.
The catch?
You have to find another blogger who is having a giveaway and promote their giveaway for them! If possible, promote a giveaway from a blogger doing the Hop (hey, you are visiting other blogs anyway, right?). Have fun with this one! It’s not an easy task this week! :)

     Well, this is not really an answer, but what else could I call it? It seems foreign for my Hop posts to take any other form than a question and answer. ;)
     Lisa at Badass Bookie is hosting a nifty giveaway of Inside Out and Outside In, both by Maria V. Snyder! Plus, for her international followers there are bookmarks and other swag. Cool, right? Well, what are you waiting for? Enter here! The giveaway ends July 31st.
     Then we have Misha and Maxine at My Love Affair With Books who are giving away a signed copy of Settling by Shelley Workinger! Get there fast because it closes on July 14th.
     Ellie, yes the very same who runs Musings of a Bookshop Girl, is hosting a fantastic giveaway as well! As part of her Page to Screen event, she is having a giveaway in which the winners will be able to choose a book that is supposed to make it to the big screen this year! It will last throughout her feature, so make sure to enter!
     Of course, there is also Carol at Carolina Valdez Miller who is hosting several giveaways! On the list are Wildefire by Karsten Knight, A Scary Scene in a Scary Movie, Personal Demons, Original Sin, Bad Taste in Boys, and Texas Gothic. Be sure to enter these amazing contests!
     A contest that I am particularly excited about is at Little Miss Becky's blog, Stories and Sweeties! She has reached over 1000 followers which is quite a feat and is filling a box with...BOOKS! Enter here by July 31st, lest you miss out on a chance to win some possible ARC's and more.