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Hello, my name is Valorie. I have a Master's Degree in History and a license to teach-- I have been both university professor and public school teacher. Currently, I am a middle school social studies teacher. I love horror movies and spooky things. Every day is Halloween. I am also a passionate book blogger.

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Sunday, May 17, 2009

Blog Tour & Interview: Outcast (The Cat Star Chronicles, #1) by Cheryl Brooks

I'd like to thank Cheryl Brooks, author of the Cat Star Chronicles to Epeolatry. She was generous enough to let me read and review book 4, Outcast, and was also kind enough to stop in answer answer a few questions for me and you, the reader! For more information about Cheryl Brooks and her books, check out her official home page.

Interview with Cheryl Brooks
Q: What do you think draws readers to the paranormal/supernatural? What draws you to the paranormal/supernatural?
A: I think most readers who enjoy paranormals are interested in pure, escapist entertainment and have a strong liking for the "what if...." questions. I like it because it puts the fewest possible restrictions on my imagination.

Q: What made you choose to write your characters as inhabitants of outside planets? Why not Earth?
A: We already know what Earth is like, and though the Earth of the future is fascinating to consider, as Star Trek illustrates so well, the greatest adventure is “to boldly go where no man has gone before.  So far, my heroines have all been from Earth, or at least human, and I think any woman who enjoys science fiction has wondered what it would be like to have an alien lover. Alien men represent the vast unknown, which is intriguing, though sometimes dangerous! Setting the books on other planets also gives my imagination the freedom to create new worlds, and those planets determine what kind of novel it will be. For Outcast, I created the newly colonized world of Terra Minor, which gave me the opportunity to write about a pioneer woman and her hired hand, giving it a slightly historical feel, as was the case in Warrior. There was more "planet hopping" in Slave, which is more like Star Trek, and Rogue is about a woman traveling to a distant and very different world to take a post as a piano teacher.

Q: What do you do to prepare to write? What is the process that gets you ready to sit down a lay out a story?
A: When I begin a story, I usually have at least one scene in mind. It could be when our lovers first meet, their first romantic encounter, or the world they find themselves on. Either way, that one scene creates the characters and makes them real for me, and the rest of the story develops from there. In Slave, I had the vision of a male slave on the auction block in chains who was bought by a woman who only needs him for one task, but they turn out to be perfectly matched. In Warrior, I envisioned a young witch living alone in a forest cottage to whom an alien slave is brought for healing. In Rogue, already having developed the Zetithians as a species, I tried to imagine just how hard it would be for one woman to choose between two brothers. With Outcast, I took a man who had been so used up by women that he wanted nothing more to do with them, but then meets the one who can redeem him.
How much of yourself do you put in your characters? Are they extensions of you, or are they independent creations that take on a life of their own after coming from your imagination?
Jacinth, in Slave, is the same kind of no-holds-barred independent space trader that Han Solo was, but she is saddled with some of my own insecurities, as are all of my heroines. They share some of my strengths as well, but though there is a little of me in all of my heroines, they become different people as I develop them. Bonnie, the heroine in Outcast, has elements of my own personality along with the kind of dogged, independent spirit that I see in my sister.

Q: Okay, so they are making a movie of The Cat Star Chronicles. Who would you choose to play the main characters? What actors or actresses could you see playing your characters?
A: I usually reply to this question by saying that I think it would have to be some unknown actors because I don't know of anyone I would choose, but, in reality, my books are much too erotic to be made into mainstream movies. For that reason, I've never given any thought to who might play any of the characters, but some of my heroes were inspired by specific actors. For example, Tycharian in Rogue is based on Jack Davenport (Pirates of the Caribbean) and I had a young Jeff Goldblum in mind when I created the character of Manx in the upcoming Fugitive.

Q: Which of your characters would you like to spend a day in the shoes of?
A: I can probably relate more to Tisana, the witch in Warrior, than any of the others because she is a healer, and in my other career, I'm a critical care nurse, but the one whose shoes I'd most like to be in would be Kyra in Rogue. I've always admired anyone who can play the piano well, and I'd like to know what that feels like, not to mention her experiences with two sexy Zetithian brothers!

Q: What is the most valuable piece of knowledge that you've picked up after becoming a published author that you wish you knew from the start?
A: I had no idea just how much extra work being published would entail. At first, you imagine that you write the book and then someone else handles everything else, from editing, to cover art, to promoting. But in reality, while you're in the midst of writing a new novel, you must also promote the one on the shelf by doing interviews, guest blogs, book signings and other promotional activities. Then there is the work to the one that is already finished, but not yet published, which includes revisions—which can sometimes be fairly extensive-- proofreading, and reviews of the copy-edited and page-formatted versions. In addition to that, there are websites to maintain, blogs to write, and emails to be answered, and all of this on top of another full-time job!

Q: What is one thing you've never done but would love to do?
A: Now, don't laugh, but I would dearly love to be the lead guitarist in a rock band. This isn't something that will ever happen-- and it's not because of the resultant fame or anything like that, either; it's the being able to do it and do it well that interests me.

Q: What would your "theme" song be on the soundtrack of your life?
A: I have absolutely no idea, unless there's a song about a woman who is constantly doing something and finds it very difficult to relax.

Q: Finally, could you share with all of us a quote that you love?
A: This is from Mary Stewart's Merlin trilogy-- specifically from The Crystal Cave.
"The gods only go with you if you put yourself in their path. And that takes courage." 
This is so true for an author. If you don't take the plunge and submit that manuscript to someone, you'll never know if being published is a possibility or not.

My review of Outcast

Title: Outcast
Series: The Cat Star Chronicles
Book Number: 1
Genre: Romance - Sci-Fi 
Finished: May 17, 2009
Outcast by Cheryl Brooks is book four in the Cat Star Chronicles series. In this installment, Zetithian Lynx has been stolen from his planet at its destruction and sold into slavery. A slave of slave women, Lynx is made to share his special intimate talents with 50 harem women. At first, he enjoys the constant lovemaking, but after a while it begins to wear on him and he loses the ability to feel arousal. Kicked out of the harem, he travels on his own to find work, to earn enough money to buy land and live quietly. After his bad experience with the harem women, Lynx wants nothing to do with a woman ever again. Imagine his upset when he comes to work for Bonnie, who is with child by her ex-boyfriend, a man who stole her money and ran off. As an honest and hard worker, Lynx decides to stay, though he has no interest in even being Bonnie's friend. Despite the unfriendliness that Lynx displays, Bonnie tries her hardest to live with him peacefully even though the two of them can barely get along. Lynx is nothing short of rude and dismissive, even a bit mean at times. After a while though, Bonnie begins to love Lynx. Despite his attitude and her knowing he wants nothing to do with women, she can't help but fall prey to his good qualities. However, Lynx has no interest in loving her back. Yet. 
In Outcast, Cheryl Brooks creates a very realistic world. I have to praise her creativity for not only thinking up good characters, but also in the creation of unique planets and alien species. I am not usually one for science fiction-y type things, but I loved the setting for Outcast. The entire "here we are on an alien planet" thing was so casual that you slipped right into the reality of it as if it were quite simply so. Brooks really drew out the tension on this one, too. Outcast didn't have the lead female and sexy male hero fall instantly into each other arms. The conflict between the two was great, even if main character Bonnie DID fall in love with Lynx awfully quick. I can't blame her, though, because a cute guy is a cute guy. It was truly sweet the way that the two of them fought, and how different Bonnie's perception of Lynx was to how he really felt. Yeah, he had a chip on his shoulder and it showed. But, in any good romance/erotica book, the steadfast female soon enough melts the ice of the cold, distant man's heart in no time. Outcast is creative, humorous, emotional, and sexy. It was my introduction to sci-fi erotica and romance, and I have to say that I enjoyed this one very much. I haven't read any of the other Cat Star Chronicles, but I plan to go out and get a copy of 1, 2, and 3 as soon as possible. It was unbelievable fun to involve myself in the personal world of Bonnie and Lynx.

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