2018 releases

Hell's Bell
Scent of the Jaguar
His Outback Nanny
The Queen's Game
366 Days of Flash Fiction
On the Horizon: Simple worlds of speculative adventure
Lusting the Enemy

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Darklight On...Denise Rossetti: Q&A

Today's Darklight On... is with Denise Rossetti. Welcome Denise!

How did you come to write speculative fiction? What attracted you to the genre?

I started reading fantasy as a teenager and was blown away by C. S. Lewis and Tolkien. Then I branched out to Science Fiction and that was it - gone. I really enjoy creating my own worlds and societies. It's the ultimate power rush. Delusions of grandeur, anyone? It also means that as long as I'm consistent with the rules of magic and re-made physics, I don't have to research anything unless I really want to.

I also love to use magic to explore themes that interest me in a way not possible in the real world. For example, in The Flame and the Shadow, I thought about how impossible it would be to be at war with yourself - literally. So I created a man who embodies that internal conflict in an external, physical way. Imagine seeing the worst part of your personality rise up, manifested as a dark copy of yourself. The idea sent shivers down my spine so, of course, I had to write it. Grayson, Duke of Ombra, is a sorcerer of shadows. His shadow, a dark entity he calls Shad, has an independent life of its own. Much more than Gray's mortal life is at stake. He and Shad are fighting for control of his sanity and his soul. By the time Gray meets Cenda, a fire witch struggling with a crushing burden of grief, he will do anything to win the battle - anything at all.

In Thief of Light, I explore the idea of whether absolute power corrupts absolutely. What would you do if you had the power to command anyone to do anything?

Your next book, The Lone Warrior, is due for release in May – can you tell us a little about this?

I loved writing The Lone Warrior because the dynamic between Walker and Mehcredi fascinated me. He’s an earth shaman and master swordsman, one of those guys so cold and scary the whole room goes quiet when he walks in – but not Mehcredi. Abandoned as a child, she has no concept of human relationships, no reserve and no fears, with the result that she walks through Walker’s barriers as if they were mist.

Poor man. Heh heh.

It’s poignant, compelling and on occasions, funny. At least, that’s what I intended. *crosses fingers and rolls eyes*

The Lone Warrior is the third in the Four-Sided Pentacle series, after The Flame and the Shadow and Thief of Light, but it can be read as a stand-alone. I hate waiting for a couple’s HEA, so you don’t have to either. *grin* Each book centres on one couple. I’ve just started The Dark Rose, the last book in the series. Fantasy crossed with steampunk crossed with Science Fiction and erotic romance. Yeehah!

You can read the whole first chapter of The Lone Warrior here.

You have been blessed by the cover fairies with all your books. In your Magic Thursday post (see here), you gave us a look at the cover art for Thief of Light. Do you have any say in the covers at all?

Not much. *grin* I'm always asked for my cover concepts and descriptions of characters and settings and I make sure that the artist (James Griffin) has all the information he needs. After that, it's all up to Jim and his incredible talent. I still say I must have been awfully good in a previous life!


Who are you favourite authors?
Hoo boy, it's a strange mix! In no particular order - Georgette Heyer, Lois McMaster Bujold, Barbara Hambly, Joey W. Hill, Christine Wells, Emma Holly, Josh Lanyon, Jet Mykles, Linda Howard, Jennifer Crusie.

What are you currently reading?

Natural Born Charmer by Susan Elizabeth Phillips and Writer's Guide to Character Traits by Linda N. Edelstein

Do you have a favourite spec fiction movie or tv series?

I blush to confess I don't watch much TV and I'm not much of a film goer. I seem to have a problem being in front of the TV at a particular time or remembering to set the recorder! Which I guess is because I'm either reading or writing. Though DD did manage to organise me into watching NCIS - love Mark Harmon! Also Glee - all that teenage angst set to music! And I absolutely adored Babylon 5 and Serenity/Firefly.

These days, I'm making a conscious effort to catch up with popular culture by watching DVDs. I've discovered Supernatural and Dexter and am truly deeply impressed. Oh, and I thought West Wing was beyond brilliant. As for movies, I enjoyed the hell out of the visuals in Avatar. Wonderfully inspiring for a fantasy writer. *grin* I'd really like to see The King's Speech, but I'll probably end up waiting for the DVD. 

Are you a plotter? Pantser? Or somewhere in-between?

I used to be a complete pantser, but editors are funny with stuff like that - they want something in writing before they'll cough up with the advance dollars. *sigh* I've since discovered, somewhat to my own astonishment, that having a synopsis can actually help. Now I work from an outline or a synopsis, but I always leave loads and loads of wriggle room. If it's too detailed, I feel as if I've told the story already, and where's the fun in doing that for the second time? I never, ever, want to be bored, because then the reader will be too.

Do have a favourite of your characters?

This is a trick question right? It's like asking a mother which child she loves the best. I guess the easy answer is it’s the one I'm writing about right now, but it's not that simple.

I love writing alpha heroes, but that's mainly so I can torture them (with help from the heroine). The tougher they are, the harder they fall - like Walker from The Lone Warrior.
My personal favourites are the beta guys, especially when they're intelligent and funny into the bargain. Trey from Gift of the Goddess is still my sweetie, in part because that was my first published book. Then there’s Griff, the circus acrobat from Strongman (male/male). That was a romance without magic, feathers or fur. It was a dream to write, which doesn’t happen to me often. I’m also partial to Shad, Gray’s cheeky uninhibited shadow from The Flame and the Shadow. I thought it was pretty cool concept, having a shadow with its own existence.

Among the women, I'm especially fond of Fledge from Tailspin. Life's knocked her around and she's so scared, but she gets through to her HEA on sheer guts. It would be an honour to be her friend.

What are you currently working on? 

I'm up to 76k in a menage for Ellora's Cave, the fourth in the Phoenix Rising series. I'm having so much fun I couldn't resist giving my newsletter folk sneak peeks. (Join here). The heroine is Liseriel the Gray, Jan's cool as ice second in command. Her heroes are Daxariel the Burnished, Mirry's huge country cousin, and Michael, a human. Michael's the original bad boy. He grew up as a slum rat and now he's a master thief with no morals whatsoever. If they had on motorbikes on Phoenix, I'd give him a Harley for sure - and the black leather to go with it. On the other hand, we've reached the stage where the relationships are so convoluted, my eyes are almost permanently crossed. but I'll get there in the end, I always do.

What can we expect from Denise Rossetti in the future?
I'm thinking about a return to urban paranormal, perhaps with the Kaminski Family, perhaps with a new series. I'd also like to write another male/male romance someday. That was fun! I'll be continuing to write vignettes for my newsletter and for the Free Stories section on my website.There are lots of goodies there already!

The best way to keep up with what's going on in the World of Rossetti is to subscribe to my monthly newsletter.

Do you have advice for emerging writers?

Write, write, write! Then put that book away in the sock drawer and forget about it. You learn to write by doing it, so write another book and another - and another, and so on ad infinitum!

Join your local writing association, whether it's Romance Writers of Australia or America or whatever. You'll make great friends and get to talk with the similarly obsessed. Find critique partners and listen carefully to what they tell you. Keep only what you can use and discard the rest without fear. Enter competitions and do the same with feedback you receive. But if more three or more people make the same comment, pay a whole lot of attention! Make sure that you always have 'something out there' whether it's a submission or a contest entry. That way, when the inevitable rejections arrive, you will still have hope. This one really works, by the way!

Read a lot - and keep on writing!

And lastly, remember that good storytelling is good storytelling. Sex should never be gratuitous, even in an Erotic Romance. Sensuality, on the other hand, is obligatory in every romance. It's all about character, character, character. No one will care about who’s doing what to whom if your people are cardboard cut-outs living boring lives.

What is your favourite part of the process of writing?

Dorothy Parker said, "I hate writing, I love having written." I'm not quite that negative, but the bit I like most is the tweaking and polishing after the fact. Everyday I reread what I wrote the day before and fiddle with it until I'm in the mood again, so I basically only do one draft. Writing's hard work for me. Words don't flow in a sparkling stream from my fingertips - I have to dig for each one and place it just so.

If you were a fly on the wall in my study, you'd hear something like - clatter, clatter, CLATTER! Argh! *looong silence* Clickety-click while I play Solitaire. *looong pause* Clatter, clatter, bang! Oh god, I need a cuppa... *sigh*

Don't forget to catch The Lone Warrior when it's released in May!


  1. Denise, I loved your answer about being a panster but now you're evolving into writing a synopsis because your editor needs it.

    I identify with this so much! I sort of expected I was going to have to do something like this as well and now, you've given me hope it can be done! LOL Thanks!

    As always, a fascinating interview - I love reading about how another author works and hearing about what's coming up in their book list. Woohoo!

    Can I do a bit of the fan girl thing and say I have a very soft spot for Strongman? Didn't think I'd enjoy reading a m/m romance but I loved the whole book. Griff and Fort are fantastic characters and your world-building is incredible. I think I've now read that book half a dozen times. :-)

  2. Hey Denise,

    I saw you post here about the differences in your trade and mass market covers and hopped on over to amazon to order the first 3 in this series (cuz the covers where just beautiful)! I LOVE them! I am in the middle of Thief of Light after finishing The Shadow and the Flame (which was awesome! I mean, i have never even read anything with that concept befor, with Gray and Shad...well done!!) I am looking forward to finishing Thief this weekend and i have a loooong wait til May for the Warrior. Which i am glad it is about Walker...he was very intense! Good luck with your upcoming release!

  3. Aw, Kylie, thanks for the warm fuzzies. Really glad that anything I've said actually helps. I hate to say it, because I've always been pretty committed to my pantser status, but I quite like having an outline. I've wasted a lot of time writing up to the edge of the 'mist' and then waiting for inspiration to strike and tell me what happens next.

    As for Strongman, well, your comment just made my day! And re-reading too! *beams* I know I love Fort and Griff to the point I've had trouble letting them go. Go to http://www.deniserossetti.com/stories.html to see two free stories about them. And of course, my newsletter family see everything first. Join here - https://app.expressemailmarketing.com/Survey.aspx?SFID=79564

  4. Practimom, you are a total sweetheart - also a woman of taste and intelligence. *grin* Thank you so much for buying my books and I'm so glad you're enjoying them.

    And yes, you're spot-on about Walker. He's waaaay intense, also focused and absolutely lethal. Mehcredi does a real job on him, the poor man and I enjoyed it enormously.

    I know you've subscribed to my newsletter, but in case you didn't realize (and for everyone else out there), you can read the first chapter of THE LONE WARRIOR here - http://www.deniserossetti.com/lone.html

  5. LOL Denise re question about the favourite character. I've never thought about that before. Great point that it's like asking a mother to say who the favourite of her children are. :)

    And let me say again how much I LOVE all your covers. The Lone Warrior is another gem.

  6. Hi eleni,

    Oooh yeah, the favourite character question is HARD! And yep, I totally squealed when I saw he Lone Warrior cover. It's like the artist read my mind. Brilliant.