By Ian Walkley
2013 EPIC Award Winner Natalie Damschroder has just released her fifteenth novel, A KISS OF REVENGE, a romantic suspense that one reviewer described as “Wow—boy she packs a good one!” and another commends as having a heavy emphasis on action.
The story follows young bakery owner Reese Templeton who, after being widowed three times, wants to stop changing herself to be worthy of others’ love. She can’t be truly free to live her own life until she wreaks vengeance on the man who destroyed it. But will vengeance set her free, or become a darker trap?
Natalie’s novels span romantic adventure, urban fantasy romance, paranormal romance, and romantic suspense. In addition to her novels, Natalie has published short stories and anthologies. Her works have been published traditionally and translated into Greek, and the paranormal romance Soul Series is self-published. Natalie carves her day up into a million small increments to accommodate her fiction schedule, freelance editing, day job as a chiropractic assistant, and the needs of her family, dominated by the Anti-Teenagers, who make all of the above really easy. When everything goes right, she gets to top off the day trying to guess the plot twists of her favorite TV shows before her husband does.
Please tell us a little about A KISS OF REVENGE.
Reese has spent her life recreating herself to meet the expectations and needs of the people she cares about—and one by one, they’ve left her. When her husband’s partner decides to cut him loose—permanently—Reese is a loose end he also tries to cut. In doing so, he takes everything from her that she’d worked so hard to build. He’s not going to get away with it. Nor will she allow him to be a shadow over the rest of her life.
You describe Reese Templeton as a “human Taser.” How has this come about and how does it impact on her life?
The villain tampered with the small plane she was in. When they are unable to avoid a storm and the plane is struck by lightning, so is Reese. That, combined with the trauma of the crash, leaves her body an open conductor, attracting electricity and sometimes discharging it at very bad moments. Reese has learned some control over this, so it’s become an ability and even a weapon.
She hires a PI, Griffin Chase, to find the man responsible for her husband’s death. But he’s stirring up feelings that Reese is trying to resist. And the feelings are mutual. Is he going to get Tasered if they kiss?
Ha! Very good question! Only if Reese’s emotions are in turmoil at the time. And her emotions are in turmoil pretty much any time Griff is around, so…
Is there anything you can tell us about the antagonist, Mr. Shadow, without giving the game away?
He’s an opportunist who’s in it for the fun and the challenge as much as for the money, and he’s willing to do some pretty despicable things.
Natalie, your writing covers a cross-section of genres, all with an emphasis on romance. Are there consistent elements to the romantic novel, regardless of whether it’s paranormal or urban fantasy?
I think romance is a vital element in many kinds of novels, because whatever the stakes—stopping one bad guy or saving the world—falling in love makes those stakes personal. Having something to live for, someone you’d die for, can make you capable of anything. I love to explore that in many different ways.
When the world I’ve built is paranormal or urban fantasy, that provides a unique framework in which to develop both the thriller plot and the romantic conflict. All writers have the challenge of creating something fresh and exciting, and those are some ways I think we can do so.
Your novels sometimes have military men as the love interest. What qualities do the male love interests need to have in a romantic novel? Is there something about putting their lives on the line that makes military men more desirable?
Not necessarily MORE desirable, I don’t think, but maybe quickly desirable. We tend to invest military men automatically with traits such as loyalty, strength, bravery, and chivalry, and those are definitely things we want in a romantic hero. But those traits can be found in any type of hero, even one who doesn’t routinely put his life on the line.
As a romance writer, how do you balance the need to make the female protagonist a hero, with the more traditional elements associated with romance?
I was blessed (or cursed, depending on who you ask) with being raised by a strong single mother within a family of very strong women who had to fight hard for anything they wanted. I see every female protagonist that way: determined to run her own life and solve her own problems. The problem for strong heroines then becomes difficulty in accepting help when they need it, or letting other people suffer or make sacrifices on their behalf. In my books, as in many romances (and as is definitely the case in A KISS OF REVENGE), the goal by the end of the book is partnership; for the heroine to realize she doesn’t have to go it alone, and compromise and teamwork can be just as rewarding and fulfilling, if not more so.
You have also written some erotic short-stories. Is the boundary always clear between romance and erotica when you’re writing a novel (as opposed to a short story)?
Some of my older novellas and short stories were labelled “erotic romance” in the early days of the genre. They’re really quite tame compared to much of what’s being published today. What trips a story over the romance/erotica line is that the plot is driven by the sex. I haven’t actually written a novel-length erotic romance, because I like to have broader, more adventurous storylines in a longer work.
In addition to your writing, somehow you find time to be a freelance editor, chiropractic assistant, mother and wife and undertake volunteer work. Do you have a superpower you’d like to share?
I’d like someone to share one with ME. LOL I strive for overall balance among all of those things, and something always seems to get short shrift at one point or another. I’d definitely benefit from Hermione’s time-turner. Too bad they were all destroyed…
You’ve self-published as well as been published traditionally. What is your experience with both routes?
So far I’ve only self-published two books, but I do intend to do more. I’m very happy with both routes. With traditional publishing, I have partners. The publisher provides fantastic editors, publicists, and cover artists, as well as venues I can’t get into alone. Self-publishing allows me to sell works that have a more limited audience than a publisher can risk.
Do you write to enjoy the escapism of plotting a story, or because you enjoy knowing people are getting pleasure out of reading your work? How important is it to consider readers when writing a novel?
I write because that’s what I was made to do. I’ve been a book devourer since I was four years old, and have been defined by my love of fiction for my whole life. I write because when I read a really good book that stirs me, I’m driven to inspire those feelings in others. Since I have never written just to write, though, but always to have a career, then I think it’s vitally important to consider readers when writing a novel. Not to the extent of pleasing everyone, because of course that’s impossible. But keeping in mind reader expectations and preferences and striving to achieve the ideals they seek.
As a freelance editor, what are three tips that you’d offer other writers about the editing process?
- Let it go cold. Give yourself some distance from the material before you really try to edit it. You’ll be shocked when you’ve been away for a week or three and come back and can really see all the ways you can improve the story and the prose.
- If you want your final product to be really polished (and of course you do!), review it more than once and in multiple formats. I edit on the computer, then I transfer the file to my Kindle to read on that, and then I print it out to proof for the small stuff.
- Get a fresh perspective from someone you trust. Whether that’s the editor assigned by your publisher, a critique partner, or a proofreader you’ve hired, they will help you see things in a different way.
Natalie carves her day up into a million small increments to accommodate her fiction schedule, freelance editing, day job as a chiropractic assistant, and the needs of her family, dominated by the Anti-Teenagers, who make all of the above really easy. When everything goes right, she gets to top off the day trying to guess the plot twists of her favorite TV shows before her husband does.
To learn more about Natalie, please visit her website.