Clara: Tell us a bit about Boyfriend in a Bottle.
Shona: Be careful what you wish for. It might come with an expiration date...
Josie’s well-meaning friends just don’t get it. It’s not that she’s overjoyed to be thirty-two and celibate since her boyfriend dumped her. She’d love to settle down, but she refuses to settle for just any man. After all, better single than a sucker. Nevertheless, she humors her friends and follows the instructions attached to the gift they’ve given her—a beautiful bottle from a new-age shop. Lick, and the perfect man will appear.
It works. The naked man she finds tied to her bed is everything she’s ever wished for. Except Mr. Perfect comes with a time limit.
Kede is tired of living life by the hourglass. Once, fulfilling the desires of the women who freed him was enough, but now it’s just another job. Josie is different, though. She sees him as a real man—a man she wants for all time.
Kede wants more than a moment. He wants a chance at life outside the bottle, and he wants a life with Josie. But he belongs to the goddess Inanna, and his time is running out…
Clara: Why did you choose to write something about genies?
Shona: At its heart the story is a simple wish fulfilment fantasy. And genies are all about wish fulfilment, so who better to embody a woman’s fantasy than a man who is there solely for her pleasure…of course when dealing with genies there is always a sting. In this case the time limit. The better he does his job the faster the sand runs through the hourglass.
Clara: A good fantasy, I'll say!
How long did it take you to do the research for this piece?
Shona: I tend to let ideas simmer before starting the story so I don’t know how long I spend building the idea.
The biggest part was creating a back story for how Kede, and his brothers, got into the bottles. I wanted to stay away from the traditional 3 wishes genie, or the cursed into the bottle story while still keeping the Middle Eastern origin. I have a large book on world mythology which is always a good starting point when I’m looking for inspiration. Inanna, the Sumarian Goddess of love and war, seemed like the perfect creator. Once I had her the story grew.
Like any world I had to create rules. I needed to work out how he was summoned, how he could be set free, and what would prevent him from ‘cheating’ and avoiding going back into the bottle at the end of his job.
Clara: Did you research the genie myth beforehand?
Shona: No, I didn’t research genies. In part because I wanted to create my own mythology—that’s the fun of writing paranormal romance. Taking a well-known creature, or idea and putting a new spin on it.
Clara: Why did you choose paranormal romance when you began writing? What about the genre called to you?
Shona: I grew up reading fantasy novels and watching TV shows like Dr Who and Buffy, so making up alternative realities seemed like the natural thing to do. All of my (very) early stories were fantasy. It wasn’t until I was an adult I discovered romance novels—in particular paranormal romance. As they say, the rest is history :)
Paranormals are so much fun to write and the only limits are set by my imagination…and yet at the core they are still about love and acceptance.
Clara: What is the best (and worst) part of the writing and publishing process, that you've found so far?
Shona: Writing and publishing are two different beasts. Writing is about creating and the love of stories. Publishing is business.
I love writing and making up new worlds and myths. The worst part is trying to work out why a story isn’t working, but my crit group will always give it to me straight and help find a solution.
The best part of publishing is still the offer of a contract (that never gets old), closely followed by seeing the cover art. The worst is the waiting…
Clara: How long does it typically take you to finish writing a story?
Shona: Hmm, that depends on the story. Generally I can get a story roughly plotted over a weekend and do a first draft in a week for a novella, or a month for a novel. Then I edit, and that takes as long as it needs. Some stories appear on the page as easily as breathing and require very few revisions before I send it off. Others have to be dragged kicking and screaming into existence and involve more re-writes that I choose to remember. My January release with Samhain, How to Breathe Fire, is one of these—but I loved the idea so I kept re-writing until it worked. It was worth the hard work, I hope readers love Matai and Camea as much as I do.
Clara: Do you have any favourites out of the characters that you've written?
Shona: I do (characters are not children, so I’m allowed to pick a favourite) but I’m not going tell :)
Clara: Fair enough. Let's move onto the next question, then.
Which writers (if any) inspired/influenced your work?
Shona: My love of fantasy definitely influenced my writing as that was what I started writing (I still write fantasy occasionally for a change of pace). Of course most fantasy heroes are either magical or sword wielding. I think I was 14 when I started reading Katherine Kerr’s Deverry series. Rhodry (also known as ‘the hot-half-elf’) was my first literary crush. Rhodry was a dishonoured soldier; a silver dagger riding the roads looking for hire. I still love a warrior hero (especially one with a dark past) as they have an edge and yet they are honourable.
Clara: Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?
Experiment with different genres and different types of heroes/heroines. Push yourself to try something new. Read outside your genre, read outside of romance. And most importantly have fun.
Thank you for dropping by today, Shona!