Eleri Stone’s new book, REAPER’S TOUCH, just came out yesterday, and she stopped by today to talk about the new book, and more!
Congrats on your new book, REAPER’S TOUCH! It’s already got some great buzz! Will you tell us a little bit more about it and what inspired you to write it?
Sure! REAPER’S TOUCH is a wild west meets bio-plague apocalypse story. In the early 1700’s, a water-borne parasite infects people around the Gulf of Mexico. Most people don’t survive but, in the ones who do, the parasite takes over their nervous system turning them into Reapers—violently aggressive, nearly impossible to kill, flesh-eating monsters who can pass the infection by bite. REAPER’S TOUCH takes place about two hundred years after that initial outbreak and the world is a considerably different place from the one you might read about in a history book. The plains are nearly deserted and most people live as far north as they can get or in the mountains because cold kills the parasite. They’ve adapted to use airships to travel between the eastern and western mountain ranges. They’ve figured out how to identify people who are immune to infection and require that those people become Rangers to defend the border towns and the food supply. The original “what if” question that inspired me was— What if early explorers to the Americas discovered the fountain of youth, but found that immortality came at a terrible price?
But it strayed from that pretty quickly.
What is your favorite thing about Abby and Jake, and why do you think readers will connect with them?
What I love best about Abby is that she never gives up, not on a fight and not on the people she cares about. I love Jake because he’s sooo messed up. He’s been infected for nearly two hundred years. The parasite is still inside him, but he’s gained enough control that he’s (mostly) able to manage it. That he knows exactly how screwed up he is makes him interesting to me, and I think it will make him interesting to readers too. He doesn’t want to be a monster.
Have you always wanted to be a writer? Will you tell us more about yourself and your background?
I’ve always loved to write, but I didn’t consider doing it professionally until my youngest started pre-school and I had some precious free time on my hands. Up until then, I had a bad habit of starting stories and never actually finishing them. I set it as a challenge to myself to finish a novella-length story while the kids were at school. That was MERCY, a paranormal romance about a lost city in the Amazon, later published by Carina Press.
You already have a few paranormal romance titles under your belt! What do you enjoy most about the genre?
I grew up reading fantasy and didn’t pick up my first romance until I was an adult. I love fantasy because of the way it so fully engages your imagination. I love romance because of the strong female protagonists and guarantee of a happy ever after. All of my stories are some combination of speculative fiction and romance.
What is your writing process like? Are you a plotter or a pantser?
I used to be pantser all the way, but then I tried plotting one year for NaNoWriMo and that changed the way I work. Now, I usually start with an outline and a handful of scene sketches. While I rarely stick exactly to the outline, it does help to keep me organized.
You have three kids-is it a challenge balancing your writing with having a busy family life?
Sometimes it’s overwhelming, but less so now that they’re a little bit older. I think it helps that they all love to read, so if I say I’m working on a story, they have respect for that.
What are a few of your favorite authors?
Oh, that’s such a hard question! Patricia Briggs, Ilona Andrews (The Edge series more than Kate Daniels), Guy Gavriel Kay (The Lions of Al-Rassan is my fave of his), Karen Marie Moning (Fever series), Shane Abe (Drakon series, esp. the first few), Lois McMaster Bujold (Chalion more than Sharing Knife). I could really keep going…
What do you like to see in a good book, and is there anything that will make you put a book down, unfinished?
I like new and interesting worlds, but the characters are make-or-break for me. I really only ever walk away from a book if it’s boring. Pretty much anything else I can deal with.
If you could experience one book again for the first time, what would it be?
Hmmm… I wish I could go back in time and read The Witch of Blackbird Pond or LOTR as a child again. What I really would love to re-experience is the moment that I first discovered the magic of a good story.
What’s something that not a lot of people know about you?
I come from an enormously big family. Both of my parents were one of eight children. I have four siblings and 31 first cousins.
How do you like to spend your free time?
With family. We’re kind of outdoorsy, at least during the summer. We like to camp and kayak. Most of my extended family still lives on the coast so we make a yearly pilgrimage to the ocean too.
What’s next for you?
I have a short story coming up (in a few weeks!) set in the Reaper world, about a pair of semi-reformed airship smugglers. My next full length book, GUN SHY is out in September.
About REAPER’S TOUCH:
Abby is a Ranger, part of an elite group who defend the border against Reapers-humans infected with a parasite that turns them into mindless cannibals. Rangers are immune to Reaper infection, and as one of the only female Rangers, Abby is expected to settle down and breed more Rangers-a fate she’s keen to avoid. When she’s ambushed on the plains, she’s ready to go out with guns blazing-until a mysterious, handsome cowboy rides to her rescue.
Jake has his own motives for helping Abby, beyond aiding a damsel in distress. He’s a Reaper, and while he’s learned to wrest control of his mind from the parasite, the effects won’t last without a permanent cure. And he needs Abby to get it.
Abby and Jake are natural enemies and unlikely partners. But when their search reveals a conspiracy between Reapers and the rich industrialists who own the mountain cities, they must work together to find the cure-or lose the border, and each other, forever.