Join me in welcoming author Mercy Celeste! Mercy is the first guest here on my blog. She agreed to be the first ever to answer some of the interview questions I designed. I’ve given a lot of interviews now, and I get asked the same things. I’m hoping my questions will be a different way for us all to get to know authors, editors, cover artists, and reviewers, and for us all to have a great time doing it.
Mercy Celeste is the award winning, bestselling author of Behind Iron Lace, Beyond Complicated, and Any Given Sunday. She’s one of my favorite, all-time writers. Her latest release, Offside Chance, is the third book in her Southern Scrimage series.
I gave Mercy a set of questions, some about her, some about her craft. She selected the ones she wanted to answer:
1. Which genre are you most/best known for?
Contemporary romance but in the MM…what do we even call this, MM isn’t really a genre is it? I write contemporary romance but am most known for my gay/MM stories.
Wicked Game, Behind Iron Lace, and Six Ways from Sunday are my most popular books.
3. Do you have a ‘signature’ or a ‘trademark’ feature in your work? If yes, was it accidental, or intentionally developed?
I’ve been told I write sort of a modern Southern Gothic style if that makes sense. And yes very much accidental.
4. I love stories that feature classic heroes and/or sympathetic villains, but I particularly adore anti-heroes and reluctant heroes. Do you have a preference, or a fondness, for one character archetype over the others?
I seem to gravitate to the wounded hero. Doesn’t matter the gender, I have to have at least one character be emotionally damaged. I love the love conquers all trope.
I wrote romance novels in the style of the big name main stream novelists. I devoured their books and then copied their styles and what worked for them until I had my own style. I’m a mish mash of Nora Roberts and Johanna Lindsey…at least that’s what I tell myself.
6. Which aspect of your craft seemed to come easiest to you, early on? Has it changed with time and/or experience?
I love to tell stories. I’ve always told stories. Or written down stories. When I was a kid and couldn’t sleep I guess I did maybe an early form of fan fiction but without the writing. I’d put myself in my favorite TV show and worked out plots that involved me. That morphed into how I plot my books. In that time before sleep is when my stories come together. So the storytelling aspect always seemed to be there for me.
7. Which aspect of your craft was the most difficult for you to master? Do you still struggle with it? Is there a new aspect you find you need to work on?
I always say I’m a storyteller not a writer. I struggle with the mechanics of writing. Grammar and punctuation drive me batshit crazy because honestly I don’t care a thing about where commas go or if I ended a sentence with a preposition. I see this story in my head and I want it on paper before I lose it. All the rules and regulations of actual writing be damned. Even now people try to educate me on the basics and really it pretty much is like talking to a four year old, I’m still going to make the same grammatical and punctuation mistakes. Now I can afford to pay someone to go behind me and fix my shit. Works for me. Feel free to edit any of that out. Or the whole thing. If you’re not comfortable with what I said.
My most popular books, with the exception of Wicked Game are stories that I popped out in a few days to a couple of weeks. There’s very little depth to them yet they are beloved. And strangely I find that writing books like that to be the most difficult, usually I prefer to go deep into a story and drag out all of the blood, sweat, and tears I possibly can. I think that Beyond Complicated is probably my best published work. My favorite is In From the Cold. I feel like Nathan is to me like Lestat is to Ann Rice. So there, of all my characters I identify most with Nathan. But the book I’m most proud of isn’t even published. It’s a regular mainstream western historical romantic saga. I love that book but it’s highly flawed and needs way too much editing to ever see publication. I’d have to literally rewrite the whole book to purge all of the head hopping I did before I knew better and that is never going to happen. The book is around two hundred thousand words long so nope never going to happen.
9. Briefly describe the mechanics of your creative process.
Hahahahahahahaha…oh you’re serious. Well, there’s a great deal of…hmmm…crazy. Yes, I believe that’s the word that fits best. People start talking to me. Whispering just loud enough for me to hear the whispers but not the words. Then an idea forms….oh you want to be a cop…and you are a…what’s that sweetie I didn’t quite hear you? Oh you’ll tell me after we start…okay I’m pulling up a blank page now…so what’s your name? Uh surprise you? What am I a baby name dictionary? No you’re not a Carl or a Scott then pick a name….A Toby…well isn’t that nice. And Toby’s love interest is….Drexel. Well at least one of you knows your name. And it pretty much goes downhill from there. If I’m lucky there’s a real story with an ending. I have about fifty half started stories on a junk drive somewhere. I’ve finished around twenty books now.
10. While practicing your craft, have you ever experienced a ‘happy accident’? If so, what was it?
The 51st Thursday is my happy accident. I hadn’t exactly set out to write a MM story. I wanted to write a trapped during a hurricane story and was going through the whole where should I trap them discussion in my head. This was after Hurricanes Ivan and Katrina turned my whole region into a war zone and the very idea of having them trapped on one of the barrier islands made me queasy. I didn’t mean for it to be two guys. But I couldn’t stop thinking what if it was. At first they were supposed to be complete strangers fearing for their lives and acting out their deepest fantasy. It was supposed to be a onetime thing with no HEA. Hell, the original published version didn’t really have an HEA. I added the epilogue when I republished it. And three years later I think 51 is still one of my best stories.
1. My job during the Zombie Apocalypse would be_____?
I’d be the one with the to do list….did you remember to pack the AK 47…ah come on you had one job…I picked up everything else and bought the bungee cords all you had to do was get the freakin gun.
2. Which author got vampires ‘right’?
a. Bram Stoker
b. Anne Rice
c. Stephanie Meyer
___X____ b. Anne Rice
3. The monster of which I am most afraid is___? Why?
____X___ e. Humans
Humans are the most evil things on the planet.
4. Star Wars or Star Trek? Why?
Honestly, and seriously, I like both but don’t get the extreme fascination with either. If I had to choose, it would be Star Trek but I can’t really explain why. Unless we’re talking Episodes 1-3 of Star Wars and then me no likey at all. Lucas should have stopped after Return of the Jedi.
5. Anakin and Luke are classic character archetypes (The Hero & The Christ Figure), or just a couple of whiney brats?
Of course they’re the classic archetypes, but why can’t they be whiney brats too? No one goes into their destiny willingly. But Mooom I don’t want to save the universe today. Me and Han are going down to the space station to play Asteroid and then maybe join the rebellion while we’re there, have some fun, meet some chicks, blow shit up.
6. Griffyndor, Hufflepuff, Slytherin, or Ravenclaw?
Griffyndor all the way.
7. ‘Boy Bands’: Pop music genius? Or devil’s spawn?
Hiss…it burnses us precious…but One Direction is kind of cute and that one Harry can actually sing.
8. Madonna or Cyndi? Katie or GaGa?
Cyndi. Tho I’m more the Joan Jet, Heart kind of girl.
9. I’m not a hoarder, or anything, I just like to collect___?
10. You have a magic wardrobe that doesn’t necessarily lead to Narnia. Where does it lead?
Hmm, I’m not much into fantasy, but I’ve often wanted a version of Victorian London but with a modern sensibility. Maybe a bit on the steampunk side. A clean London but with all the fun clothes and no modern transportation. Fantasy Victorian era. Then I think about the pinching clothes and shoes and get over it. On second thought, The Blue Lagoon where clothes aren’t necessary with a whole bunch of pretty pirates…men…I meant men J
11. Bilbo stumbles across you in a subterranean cavern. What object is your Preciousssss?
My computer…touches it and you dies…what? It’s where I keep my stories and my porn.
Mercy Celeste’s Author Bio:
Mercy Celeste is the pen name and super hero persona of mild mannered MJ Colbert….which is bull, I’m not mild mannered. I was, in fact, raised in a barn- -or several. We even had grain silos. My motto growing up, anything a boy can do, I’m right behind him doing it just as well or better. I’ve broken too many bones to begin to count. Scraped, skinned or scarred pretty much everything that can be scraped, skinned or scarred. How I’m still walking and talking is a miracle.
So about the writing, well, I don’t really consider myself to be a writer. I’m a storyteller, and when I have a story to tell, it won’t rest until it’s twisted me up and purged itself. The result is at times comical or tragic, depending on the people who live in my head and what they have to say. Most days that’s not a lot of anything. Others I can’t shut them up. They especially love when I’m driving, oh, yeah, a drive across town is a lesson in how not to get myself killed or be pulled over for reckless driving. And those are the good days.
Welcome to my crazy world, if it’s boring now, wait five minutes, and don’t blink. Things have a tendency to get interesting around me.
For more information on Mercy:
BY MERCY CELESETE
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OFFSIDE CHANCE by MERCY CELESTE
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