Susana: How long have you been writing?
Mariana: I’ve been a professional writer almost twenty-five years, writing fiction since 2009.
Susana: What advice would you give to writers just starting out?
Susana: Do you ever suffer from writer’s block? If so, what do you do about it?
Mariana: I tend not to get writer’s block, because I am well-used to switching among projects and formats and genres. On the rare occasions when I do, I typically switch to marketing work for a while.
Susana: What comes first: the plot or the characters?
Mariana: Characters, with plot not far behind. The first draft is almost always the characters filling me in on the story, before I fictionalize [what they think are] their nonfiction accounts.
Susana: Are you a plotter or a pantser?
Mariana: Panster. Full stop. Even in nonfiction, I almost never start with a plan, and if I do, it gets tossed out the window very early. The work evolves.
Susana: Tell us something about your newest release that is NOT in the blurb.
Mariana: There are two heroes, three villains, and two sidekicks in this short novel. I am told I managed to pull it off.
Susana: Are you working on something at present that you would like to tell us about?
Mariana: I am working on a series of three prequel novellas connected to my first novel, Royal Regard, the first of which will appear in the Bluestocking Belles’ holiday box set. In ‘Tis Her Season, Charlotte and Alexander start their life together; in Shipmate, readers will learn how Bella ended up with her first husband; and in the unnamed third book, Bella’s brother, John, meets his wife, Rose.
Susana: What did you want to be when you grew up?
Mariana: I wanted to be a musical theatre star.
Susana: What is one thing your readers would be most surprised to learn about you?
Mariana: I am not—in the least—a romantic (not even a little bit).
Susana: What would we find under your bed?
Mariana: Dust. (Cats, if there are other people in the house.)
Susana: Do you write in multiple genres or just one? If just one, would you consider straying outside your genre?
Mariana: Thus far, I have only published Regency romance, but next year, I will release Blind Tribute, a mainstream historical about a Civil War newspaper reporter with divided loyalties. I am currently working in non-fiction on a marketing book, and I have already released a book-length epic poem about the Mayan underworld. As far as fiction, though, I don’t foresee straying from some form of historical.
Susana: What is something you’d like to accomplish in your writing career next year?
Mariana: I’d like to release all three Royal Regard prequel novellas, and I would like Blind Tribute to be on the verge of publication by this time next year. I wouldn’t mind having a good start on Book One of my Regency family series.
Susana: When was the moment that you knew you had to be a writer
Mariana: During the same week, in my third year of college (the first time around), I was offered an internship at the Denver Post, and was also approached by the Music Department chair to try for an audition at the National Musical Theater Conservatory. I decided writing was a more stable career path. Largely, I was correct.
Susana: Describe the “perfect hero.” What about the “perfect hero” for you?
Mariana: I am the perfect hero (and heroine) for me.
About La Déesse Noire
Sired by a British peer, born of a paramour to Indian royalty, Kali Matai has been destined from birth to enthrall England’s most powerful noblemen—though she hadn’t counted on becoming their pawn. Finding herself under the control of ruthless men, who will not be moved by her legendary allure, she has no choice but to use her beauty toward their malicious and clandestine ends.
When those she holds most dear are placed in peril by backroom political dealings, she enlists some of the most formidable lords in England to thwart her enemies. But even with the help of the prominent gentlemen she has captivated, securing Kali’s freedom, her family, and the man she loves, will require her protectors stop at nothing to fulfill her desires.
Mayuri had done her no favors, preparing her for the worst. Fitz had no reason to be gentle, she had been warned, no cause to concern himself with her wishes, desires, or fears. No matter how handsome, how charming, how solicitous in the drawing room, Mayuri had said, there was every possibility he would be driven entirely by his own lust, disregarding even the most basic courtesies. And no matter what he did, Kali was to pretend she had never been more excited by anything in her life.
She turned away to stare into the corner of the garish red-and-gold room, wishing it felt less like a cheap brothel, fingers tripping over the buttons of her dress, trying to speed things up to be finished that much faster.
She couldn’t help glancing at the bed, with a frame as large as a farm wagon. Piles of pillows in shades of rose, bed curtains of garish silk velvet, and a red satin eiderdown quilt nearly as thick as the feather-filled mattress. As comfortable as it all must be, she glared like it concealed a hungry crocodile.
He tugged the shirttail from his waistband and unbuttoned it over his broad chest, then came to her and held her hands motionless, kissing her fingertips.
“I will not hurt you, my sweet, I promise. No more than a pinprick, as with any woman’s first time. Mayuri explained?”
She nodded again, trying to bring her voice back under her own control. “Yes, my lord.” She’d known exactly what to expect for at least ten years.
“My name is Fitz,” he said, recalling her attention to his face, “not ‘my lord.’ I cannot bear such formality from you, Kali. Can you indulge me?”
“Much better,” he said, kissing her cheek, then her earlobe, murmuring, “Now then, I prefer a woman who would invite me to her bed for the enjoyment, so I plan to ensure it. May I bring you pleasure, sweeting? Will you allow it?”
She had no right to deny him anything he wanted in bed, nor anywhere else, truth be told, and she probably knew more than he—theoretically—about the pleasures of the flesh. That he was asking her agreement and treating her as an innocent predisposed her to look past her fear.
“It is my fondest desire to please you in all things, my lor…” She trailed off when she saw his frustration at the pat response. She struggled to salvage the moment, but had no untutored words. She tried to explain this inadequacy with her eyes as she offered, grasping his hands more tightly, “Perhaps I might dance? Or indulge your… more exotic pleasures.”
She had been trained to expect anything and to use every part of her body, her mind, her wardrobe, and myriad implements to enhance any sexual act he chose. She had been told of every possibility before she was fourteen, then experienced all but the final act of coition at the hands of another, older tawaif, or the castrati who staffed Mayuri’s house of male delights.
She had not been trained in how to explain she was frightened, that she couldn’t remember how to put either of them at ease, that she was afraid of what he might ask if he kept her, but petrified he would find her wanting and send her away. It would be much simpler if he threw her across the bed and took his pleasure like a rutting dog. If, in the morning, she could remain indifferent.
About the Author
Mariana Gabrielle is a pseudonym of Mari Christie, a professional writer, editor, and designer with almost twenty-five years’ experience. Published in dozens of nonfiction and poetry periodicals since 1989, she began writing mainstream historical fiction in 2009 and Regency romance in 2013. In all genres, she creates deeply scarred characters in uncommon circumstances who overcome self-imposed barriers to reach their full potential. She is a member of the Bluestocking Belles, the Writing Wenches, and the Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers. Her first Regency romance, Royal Regard, was released in November 2014.