We first met author Carolyn Crane in 2007 when her unique blog, The Thrillionth Page, arrived online. It was there that Carolyn revealed her sometimes-quirky sense of humor, showed her appreciation for her readers, treated us to a variety of, um, colorful eclectic art forms and made us aware of her love of animals. Then in March 2010 Carolyn’s scathingly brilliant, imaginative urban fantasy Mind Games, the first novel in her Disillusionists trilogy, hit the stands and was greeted with rave reviews. Carolyn has delighted us with a number of creative stories since and, much like Angel Ramirez, the heroine from her new dark and sexy romantic suspense, Against the Dark, she has been known to travel with accomplices, namely, Little CJ and Miss Doreen (who isn’t interested in reading about ménages). 😉 We are delighted that Carolyn has agreed to spend time with us today to talk about her penchant for the dark side, The Thrillionth Page, Little CJ and Miss Doreen and Against the Dark.
Lea: Welcome to HEA, Carolyn. Did you bring Little CJ or Miss Doreen along for your a visit today? LOL.
Carolyn: Hah! I did not bring Little CJ and Miss Doreen. They are really on the backburner these days. In fact, Little CJ is in the basement now.
But, I just want to thank you so much for having me! And, for your lovely introduction, I think I will be grinning like a fool all night from that “scathingly brilliant” bit!
Lea: Can you share with readers who Little CJ and Miss Doreen are?
Carolyn: Little CJ is my childhood portrait painted by an elderly aunt. My husband always hated that picture — he thought her eyes followed him around whatever room she hung in, so I had her in my office. Somewhere along the line I started using her as a character on my blog, like she was a co-blogger. She would say things that Carolyn Crane would never say.
And Miss Doreen was another made-up character, all prim and proper … Yet darkly obsessed with cowboy ménages. I have been so bad about blogging lately. Maybe I need to put Little CJ and Miss Doreen back to work.
Lea: What was the impetus for the creation of The Thrillionth Page and does your blog’s title have significance?
Carolyn: I wanted a place to have fun and talk books and just connect with other readers and writers. Writing can be so isolating. It was back before I even had an agent, and I didn’t know anyone else who read the books I was reading.
With the Thrillionth Page name, the idea I had was that page numbers stop meaning anything when a book gets really, really good. It’s just the “thrillionth” page. But a lot of people still see it and think it says trillionth. But, that’s OK, too!
Lea: Did The Thrillionth Page help you build a readership with readers before the publication of Mind Games?
Carolyn: My blog friends were so happy for me and supportive when I got my agent, and then a contract. And it was so much fun to go through having a book come out with my online peeps. I think maybe some people saw me as more of a blogger than a writer, but still, I loved those early blogging days. There were some very wild and fun things happening — I know you remember!!
Lea: I do remember. It was so much fun, addicting and wonderful to establish lasting online relationships with bloggers and authors.
Over the last year I’ve seen authors move away from blogs to other available forms of social media such as Facebook and Twitter. You are a regular tweeter now and you have a Facebook page. Have you noticed a decline in your blog readership, and do you think author blogs will eventually become passé or will they continue to have a place?
Carolyn: I don’t think blogging is over — some authors really are amazing bloggers. I do think it’s all in how you use it, though. I’ve been a terrible blogger lately, but for a long time my energy has been going to guest posts elsewhere. Though, that’s hardly an excuse. I totally mourn not being a better blogger! I love the idea of blogging even when I’m not doing it.
Lea: It heartens me to hear you say that, because I do feel blogging continues to have a place for authors who enjoy it and find it a good medium to connect with readers. However, we all have very busy lives and understand you can stretch yourself too thin participating in too many different forms of social media.
In reality, you are quiet-spoken and genuine, a darn nice person. Do you dream about your imaginative dark worlds and conflicted, richly formed characters or is your muse inspired during waking hours from a variety of sources? What draws you to a darker form of expression in your writing?
Carolyn: There are so many dimensions to people, and sometimes the nicest ones have the darkest demons. And sometimes killers can do something heartbreakingly kind. I just so love that. I think I’m more drawn to complexity than darkness, though I think complexity can be more about darkness than lightness.
All my work takes place during the day (though I certainly wouldn’t mind getting a dream like the one that inspired Twilight for Stephenie Meyer!). I actually get a ton of ideas while I jog. I take a piece of paper and pen with me, hooked onto my running bra. I’m sure it looks weird when I stop running and pull a pen and paper from my bra, but it sucks to get a good idea and then forget it.
Lea: LOL! Maybe you’ll start a new running trend!
Do you like film noir and do you see readers relating your novels to that cinematic form? The reason I ask is that I’ve always felt your books have a film-noir feel, a cruel, evil antagonist and a cynical lead character. While not overtly erotic, there is an undercurrent of sensuality. And strange, vulnerable characters like hypochondriac Justine Jones from Mind Games.
Carolyn: You know, the other day I was surprised by how much I use light and shadow as a way of giving my descriptions punch, and that is a movie thing, especially in film noir. Actually, I’d never thought of the cynical lead character as being a film-noir thing — that is a really good point, and I suppose it is. I wouldn’t consider myself an expert on noir, but I do love the old mysteries. Also, Packard was inspired in part by Rick, the bar owner in Casablanca, a film many consider to be noir. He refused to get involved over and over until he finally felt compelled to make a stand.
Lea: Angel, our heroine from Against the Dark, is a former safe-cracker who abandoned her life of crime and established herself as an in-demand interior designer. She straddles a fine line between leading an honest life and succumbing to the temptation of the thrill provided by her former life. Why must Angel step back into the eye of the storm and become involved in an extremely dangerous heist? Who is Walter Borgola?
Carolyn: You know what I love? Westerns where the former gunslinger is itching to hold a gun just one more time. That is something I had in mind with Angel, a former bad girl who is really trying to make a go of being a good girl. She loves safe-cracking, but hated hurting the people she steals from, and she hated upsetting her family, too. But after five years she goes back for a good cause — to get the ransom for an elderly woman who was like a second mother. And Walter Borgola is a super-sleazy criminal, and the person Angel and her gal pals must rob.
Lea: What is Angel’s “bad boyfriend” radar and who activates it while she and her accomplices are establishing their cover before the burglary?
Carolyn: The Jane Goodall of badasses — that’s what Angel’s friends sometimes call her. They like to tease her that if they need to find out if a guy is bad news, they just have to check if Angel is attracted to him. So, at this sleazy party where they are going to steal diamonds, she locks eyes with Cole Hawkins, bad-news undercover agent, and her radar goes off like crazy!
Lea: Cole is working undercover as one of Borgola’s henchmen. You reveal enough to make him enticing to readers, but you do maintain his aura of mystery, too. He describes himself as a “secrets man.” Why is that? : ).
Carolyn: Cole is a kind of badass math nerd; he figures out the secrets of criminal organizations through logistics equations. But when he meets Angel, he can tell she has secrets, too. He knows she’s no normal party guest, and it really gets his attention and makes him curious … Which is bad, because he’s on a dangerous mission.
Lea: A snippet from Against the Dark:.
She knew he’d kiss her before he did it. Like it came from outside of them, pre-ordained by the universe. Wild energy danced in her chest as he drew in; at the last moment, he paused, letting her feel his heat, his energy. Then he closed his lips over hers. His kiss was light and heavy at the same time, like summer fog, rich with mysterious magic. There, then gone.
You create sexual tension between Angel and Cole that is palpable. It makes a reader really want them to act on the attraction. Is it a case of opposites attract between Angel and Cole or do they have more in common than they realize?
Carolyn: Hey thanks! And, both Cole and Angel are addicted to the high wire, the thrill of danger, and they both have nerves of steel. Angel never knew how to use her “talent” for anything but crime, whereas Cole uses his abilities to save people. But there is definitely an opposites thing going on — Cole is gregarious and humorous, and Angel is much more subdued, though a bit snarky. He is kind of a dog to her cat. So they balance each other.
Lea: Is Against the Dark part of a series? If so, whose story is next and when can we expect its release?
Carolyn: Yes, this is part of a series. The Association is made up of badass agents who use their expertise in nerdy things like logistics and optics — as well as plenty of muscle and firepower — to fight international crime. So every book follows one of these men or women. The next book is about Macmillan, a linguistics expert. He actually appears in this book as a side character. I’m writing it right now and I’m really excited about it. That one will be out this summer.
Lea: What can your readers look forward to coming next?
Carolyn: I have a story in Fire & Frost, the anthology I’m putting out with Jill Myles and Meljean Brook. That should be out this month. It contains Conjuring Max, the prequel to my paranormal mash-up, Mr. Real.
Off the Edge (Macmillan’s story from the Associates, which was formerly entitled Lethal Liaisons) comes out this summer. And a third Associates book will be out this year.
Lea: Carolyn, thank you for visiting with us today, Against the Dark is an awesome read. Good luck with it and your future publications.
Carolyn: Thank you so, so much for having me! This has been so much fun!
To find out more about Carolyn and her books, you can visit authorcarolyncrane.Com. You can also connect with her on Facebook and Twitter (@CarolynCrane).
Lea Franczak cannot remember a time when she didn’t have a book in her hand. She’s read and enjoyed multiple genres but is especially partial to contemporary and erotic romance (with or without D/s themes), dark gritty romantic suspense and paranormal romance. Lea also writes reviews at Book Lovers Inc. And is active on Goodreads.