Join us as we chat with Elise Marion, author of Tempted, on Blog Talk Radio this Wednesday, May 2nd, at 3:30 PM PST.
Hey, Elise! It’s so good to meet you. Can you tell us a bit about yourself?
When I was a kid I loved to read…don’t most authors say that in these interviews??? Well, it’s true! I started reading at 4 and have had my nose buried in a book ever since. I wrote my first piece of fiction when I was twelve. I was obsessed with Olympic figure skating; Michelle Kwan was my hero. I wrote a novel called ‘Tiffany’s Dream’, about a girl’s figure skating dreams. My mom loved it! Twenty-one years later I’m still at it and love my life as a stay-at-home mother of two and full time author. I’m also very passionate about cooking and food. I love to watch Food Network and learn new techniques and recipes. I like having people over and feeding them; it allows me to show off a bit. I’m also a movie freak. If it’s in the theaters I have to see it. If it’s new on DVD, I have to have it! I just love getting lost in other stories and other worlds. Other things I love: coffee, fashion, music, and Coca-Cola.
How do you carve out time to write?
It’s definitely not easy in a house with two kids, two dogs, and a husband who might as well be a kid. I write when my kids are asleep, so naptime and bedtime are my friends.
What started you down the path of being a novelist?
A few years ago I wrote a Historical Romance set in a kingdom of my own imagination. The story was so strong in me that I began to have hopes that it would resonate with others as well. After putting the finishing touches on it, I immediately started submitting queries and sending sample chapters to agents and publishers.
A year later, disappointment had me ready to toss the whole thing into the nearest trashcan. I couldn’t believe that no one seemed to believe in what I’d done as much as I did. Publishing is a business, and at the end of the day I was basically told that they didn’t think they could fit my book into a marketable category. Well, I’ve never been a ‘in the box’ kind of girl, so I set about looking for eBook publishers and stumbled onto information on how to publish yourself. It was the best move I could have ever made. I have complete independence and artistic license and my voice is my own. What was even more rewarding was the response my first novel, and the ones that followed, received from readers. It turned out that I was right to believe in my work after all. That’s what’s kept me going through this whole experience: the readers that write me and tell me they love what they read or write a review singing a book’s praises. It’s made the whole thing worth it.
Tempted is the second book in the ‘Angels Among Us’ series. In the world between heaven and earth, angels come and go and often interact with humans. There are rules to be followed, one of them banning intimate relationships between angels and humans. The messenger angel Sarah has always thought herself above human emotion and love. She does not understand it and does not understand how angels can risk losing their wings over it.
Enter Jackson Bennett, the scared Iraq veteran who has lost his way. When their paths cross, he finds in her the life he’s lost. Sarah finds in him the love she never understood. She will learn that she is not as strong as she once thought. He will learn that he was stronger than he ever imagined.
What inspired this book?
The entire series was actually inspired by the movie ‘City of Angels’. Something about the forbidden love really spoke to me, and I found myself intrigued by love stretched across different worlds. I wondered how difficult love could truly be if people were separated by the rules that govern heaven and earth. Angels are pure, untouchable creatures. By having them interact with humans, I hoped to bring out a side of them that felt more real.
‘Tempted’ is the second book in the series and the inspiration came purely from my husband and his time spent overseas in Iraq. The hero of the book, Jackson Bennett has been through a lot and his scarred by his past. Death has shaped who he is and after a chance encounter with an angel he learns that even in his weakness there is a strength yet untapped. This particular story felt very real to me because I have seen soldiers deal with survivor’s guilt. I wanted to portray that struggle and what it takes to come out of it. In the midst of all that there is a love story between Jackson and an angel named Sarah. Sarah is one of the most dedicated angels and thinks herself above the temptations that have caused those around her to fall. When the two come together there are three wars being fought; one for love, one in the mind of Jackson, and one in the heart of Sarah.
Tell us something about your characters that we wouldn’t be able to figure out by reading the book.
Jackson Bennett is almost a carbon copy of my husband (not physically but emotionally). In the book there are several flashback scenes depicting battle in Iraq. My husband and I worked very closely together to perfect these parts and make them as realistic as possible. Of all my written heroes, Jackson is the closest to my heart because of where he comes from.
Is there a book 2 in the works? Can you tell us a bit about it?
Tempted is the second book in the series, and the third and final installment entitled ‘Redemption’ is currently in the works. The hero of ‘Redemption’ is introduced in Tempted. We witness his fall from grace because of his love for a human. This book will take us into something untouched by the first two books: Is there redemption for an angel now cast into darkness? I am really excited about this one as we enter a world not written about in the first two books: hell.
Aside from book 3, I am also contemplating a short prequel featuring a warrior angel also portrayed in Tempted. His story is much more tragic and I am trying to find a way to shape it in a way that won’t disappoint but that portrays the reality of the world I’ve created. It’s definitely something I’m working on very carefully.
Where can readers purchase your book?
May we read an excerpt from the book?
This is my absolute favorite moment in the book. Enjoy!
Jackson shook himself back into reality at the sight of a white light streaking across the sky. A shooting star. Sarah.
As it neared, he couldn’t deny the urge to meet her on the roof. Not only did he owe her a serious apology, but he just knew that seeing her face would make everything else seem distant. He wasn’t sure how it had happened, but somehow Sarah had become a lifeline, a symbol of hope for his life. She represented goodness and faith and everything that was right in the world. Being near her was like coming up for air after being trapped in a dark cave.
Raindrops plopped onto his head and shoulders as he stepped onto the roof. Sarah stood a few feet away from him, her palms stretched out to catch the water drops. Her eyes were closed and her face was tilted back to the cloudy sky. Jackson watched, his jaw slack, as she twirled in a slow circle, extending her arms to embrace the coming storm.
His heart pounded in his chest, and his conscience nagged him for intruding on her private moment. Yet he couldn’t look away from her. She looked like the angel she truly was, bathed in moonlight, her arms and legs bare in the thin sundress she was wearing, her face tilted to the sky. His stomach clenched and his blood raced. He took a step toward her.
She opened her eyes and turned toward him slowly, lowering her arms. As she moved toward him, he felt time slowing around him, and realized he’d felt this sensation before so many times. He’d never bothered to pay attention to it, chalking it up to childish fantasy on his part, blaming it on too many slow-motion filled action movies. He would never have attributed it to the power he'd always possessed. A power he'd never known he had.
But as Sarah walked toward him through the rain, he soaked in every detail. It was as if his mind wanted to remember everything; the flow of her dress’ skirt around her knees as the breeze tugged at it and the curling sable waves made damp by the rain, every water drop that rolled down her face. Every detail stood out in sharp clarity, until nothing else existed for him.
“I’m so sorry,” she said, breaking the silence. Her wide eyes were filled with tears that mingled with the rain running down her face.
“No,” he interjected, reaching up to grasp her upper arms gently. “I’m the one who should be sorry. I took my fears out on you, and you didn’t deserve that. You didn’t ask for this job, and you sure as hell didn’t ask for me. I told you to run, to leave me alone, but you stayed. No one stays for me, Sarah. No one ever stays.”
“Your father…” she trailed off lowering her eyes. “I know who he is.”
Jackson’s heart dropped into his stomach. “You do?”
She nodded. “After you left, Vivian told me all about him. He left your mother because he was charged with guarding one of the few portals between earth and hell. He knew he would be putting you and your mother in harm’s way if he stayed. Guarding portals is a dangerous job. There are Oracles, demons, and even some humans who are constantly searching for them. They would not hesitate to hurt the family or friends of a Guardian in order to get what they want.”
Jackson felt his head spinning with the sheer magnitude of what he was hearing. All this time he’d thought his father was an arrogant, heartless bastard. He’d never known anything about him beyond the day he left. While he was still hurt and angry at his father’s abandonment, he couldn’t help but feel pity for him. Much like Jackson, he’d stood on the precipice, facing a choice that could change his life forever. It had cost him his family, but contributed to a greater good beyond anything Jackson could have ever fathomed.
“Did you know that Vivian raised me?”
She shook her head, a frown marring her forehead. “No. What happened to your mother?”
“She ran off with some boyfriend of hers a few months after my father left. His leaving changed her, and she never had time for anything but herself after. I don’t think she knew about my father’s assignment.”
“People have been leaving me my whole life, Sarah,” he said. He wasn’t sure why he was saying these things to her. He only knew that it felt right, even good to share it with her. It was a part of him he’d never even shared with Rochelle. “I do things to chase people away.”
“No!” she protested, stepping more fully into the circle of his arms. Her hands reached up to his face and she forced him to look down into her eyes. “No, Jackson. You didn’t chase your parents away. They made their own decisions.”
“Rochelle,” he said with a half-hearted shrug. “I was so broken after Iraq that I chased her away too. And now I’m doing the same thing to little Jack that my father did to me.”
“No,” she said again, shaking her head. Her wet waves clung to her face and neck. “You are not alone Jackson, and you are not broken. You have a calling now, a purpose. Accept what you’ve been offered and fulfill your destiny. You don’t have to make the same choices your parents did. You don’t have to be afraid or run or abandon the people in your life.”
“I just don’t want-“
Her grip tightened on his face, silencing him. “You will not have to do this alone, Jackson. That’s why I’m here. I won’t leave until I’ve seen this through. I don’t care how much quicksand you think you’re standing on, I won’t abandon you.”
Silence stretched between them as he allowed her words to sink in. I won’t abandon you. As he looked down into eyes that were incapable of lying, he believed her. He believed it like he’d never believed anything else in his life.
He brought his hand up to her cheek, resting it there as his eyes caressed her face.
“You know, I was wrong about you,” he said.
“You were?” she asked. Her lips parted and he felt her rapid breath against his wrist; it pulsed with the same rhythm as his pounding heart.
“Yes, I was. You’re beautiful.”
Her breath stopped, suspended between her parted lips. She trembled as his arm came around her swiftly, bringing her body up against his. Fear and indecision flashed in her eyes briefly, but by the time his lips pressed against hers it was gone.
Her lips were soft and pliant against his, but chastely closed and still as if she didn’t know what to do. Of course she didn’t, he thought as he brought one hand to the back of her head; she’d probably never been kissed.
The sweetness of it, the purity of the moment touched him in ways he would have never thought possible. He allowed his lips to linger over hers, gently accustoming her to the intimacy of his mouth pressed to hers. As his fingers caressed the back of her neck, he gently coaxed her mouth open with his. She trembled against him as the inside of her mouth met his; warm, moist, heavenly. Her hand came up tentatively against chest, burning his skin through the wet fabric of his t-shirt. Her touch burned its way across his chest until his entire body was heated by it.
She became bolder by the second, angling her head and returning the bold caresses of his lips with her own innocent kisses. A primal satisfaction flared through him at the knowledge that no other man had touched her. No other man had kissed her. At that moment he held a pure, untouched piece of heaven in his arms.
He pulled her more tightly against him, molding her against him. He felt every inch of her through the wet fabric of his clothes. She shuddered against him, reaching up with both hands to grip his shoulders tightly. He wrapped both arms firmly around her, one hand at her hip and one at her back. He feared if he let go, she would fall at his feet.
When he’d nearly stolen her breath away, she pulled away slowly and stepped away from him reluctantly. Somewhere in the back of his mind he realized that the rain had stopped. His eyes remained locked on Sarah.
She took one step away from him, and then another. Her eyes were lowered, her lips tinged pink and parted. Her chest heaved as she struggled for air. She raised her fingers to her mouth as she gazed up at him, her expression of carnal bliss melting into one of pure horror.
“Sarah,” he said gently, stepping toward her slowly. She shook her head and took another step back.
He reached one hand out for her, but before he could touch her she was gone. Her footsteps echoed across the roof, the skirt of her sundress fluttering behind her. Jackson was rooted to the spot, too numb to follow her. Seconds later, she disappeared from view, leaving Jackson staring off into darkness. Alone.
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