Hey, all! Thanks for joining us here on The Novel Approach Reviews. Today, Genre Talk is pleased to bring you DSP Publications author Chris E. Saros who’s come to chat about opinionated characters, different kinds of love, and her debut Mystery & Suspense release Semblance. AND she’s generously brought you a GIVEAWAY! So let’s get right to it, shall we?
Drake isn’t looking for justice. He’s not interested in doing what’s right. He’s after one thing and one thing only: revenge. That means taking down the Boredega drug cartel—and the shadowy, seemingly invincible man who heads it—even if he goes down with them.
Drake plans to destroy the cartel from within, and he uses his nightclub, Semblance, as a front for money laundering and drug trafficking. He’s sacrificed almost everything to complete his mission, and just as he’s getting close, he’s derailed by flirtatious bartender Scotty, who offers Drake a glimpse of the happiness he’s missed by pursuing a personal vendetta. Scotty might be irresistible, but Drake has come too far to turn back now. He’ll have to find a way to keep Scotty safe, fend off persistent prostitute Natasha, feed tips to the authorities, and edge his way closer to the upper echelon of the cartel, where he can finally strike. He’ll need to do it all while keeping his intentions covert—and he’s not the only one at Semblance with secrets.
Available now from: DSP Publications, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Google Books
Carole: So, Chris, thanks for being here, and congrats on your debut novel. :) Why don’t we start with the usual—tell us about your genre.
Chris: I don’t know if I have a specific genre I write in. I can say that I enjoy mystery, suspense, and thriller types but I have an appreciation and a love of romance, fantasy, science fiction, and horror, as well. I grew up reading a lot of vampire books and hold vampires near and dear to my heart, but I have yet been able to write a decent, not completely cliched vampire character. I’m working on it though!
For this particular book, I really wanted to focus on the dark side. I do like to delve into the depths of tragedies and bad circumstances. I find it fascinating to discover how people react in those complex situations. It is cathartic. It’s a way for me to experience hellish conditions without ever leaving the comfort of my home. The same reason so many of us read dark tales or fantasy romances. The difference between writing it and reading it is I create the scenario and I have more control over the situation. Until pesky characters get involved and tip everything up on its head.
Originally, Jacob wasn’t even in the book. Well, originally, he was an old silent mob doctor with a certain set of skills (if you know what I mean). He didn’t have any lines except for a maniacal laugh and he only did as he was told. But nothing was reading right, and I felt there had to be so much more to him. Amazing how characters change as stories evolve.
But to get back on point, I’ve always been fascinated with the dark life has to offer and I appreciate being able to glimpse it and visit it through reading and writing.
Carole: We totally agree with that sentiment! So tell us more about Semblance in particular.
Chris: I have said it in other blogs, but this book was a puzzle to piece together. I’d had different scenes written out thinking they were for different works but then one day I put them together and it all started to fall into place.
I also had a really hard time with Scotty and Drake’s relationship at first. They were the closet bros to ever bro for the longest time. I mean, people feel very close to their friends, and some friends become family, but I couldn’t get that dynamic to work with Drake and Scotty. Them being in love with each other was such an awakening to me. And just like with the two scenes coming together, all the pieces started to fall into place. It was amazing how the subtleties of their relationship completely changed the emotional quality of the story. They had loved each other before they were a couple, but the best friend “love” and the lover “love” are two very different animals.
I feel like it is also prudent to put out there that originally Semblance had a totally different ending. It was an ending that I really would have appreciated, as I tend to favor stories that break the norm and don’t follow the HEA or HFN guidelines. It was tragic and lovely and just the thought of it had me crying snot into my pillow… But, research kept telling me people like their happy endings or at least hopeful endings. It dashed my hopes of writing my epically tragic end but didn’t stop me entirely. I kept the feels as dramatic as possible but brought the book to as happy of an ending as I could manage.
I had a lot of fun writing Semblance. It’s dark and has quite a few twists and turns. Some predictable, and some that hopefully come as a surprise. I wanted to keep my readers on their toes, because that is how I like to be when I watch or read something. I like to always be wondering what’s around the corner. I hope those of you who have the same type of preference pick up a copy and enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it!
Carole: We have no doubt they will, Chris! So now, we here at Genre Talk are all about diversity, in all forms. Tell us how you define “diversity” in your writing, and how you explored it in this book.
Chris: As I had mentioned earlier, I hadn’t originally had a gay relationship in this book. It was originally two very close friends. However, once my characters were gay and not heteronormative, I wanted to make sure that the story and their lives didn’t revolve around their sexuality. So many LGBTQ books focus on the sexuality and the issues around not being what society would call “normal” but I didn’t want to do that. These guys didn’t have issues with their sexuality. Drake’s life was already a disaster and being gay, or bi as I believe he more closely identifies with, wasn’t really adding too much more tragedy to his life. He was beyond the petty arguments of gay vs. straight and way beyond caring what anyone thought about it. His story, his attention, his life, was focused on the cartel and I wanted to make sure that that was the story being told.
I think it is important to have coming of age stories and people coming to terms with their lives, as well as stories of the hardships and friendships that come with diversity in any form. But for this particular story, I wanted to make sure it was not a main focus but only a single element in the overall construction.
Carole: So many good points, but I want to take it down a notch and get to the lighter side. Can you tell us what you do for fun?
Chris: I am a very low-key kind of person. I mean, I like to go out dancing and hang out with friends on occasion but what I really enjoy, what makes me giddy to think about doing on the weekend, is watching movies and reading books. There is nothing better than a super relaxing bubble bath and a good book. That is my perfect Saturday evening. Maybe even a glass of wine to go with it. Sounds totally divine.
I have always been a fan of films. I went to college and studied English, but I did a concentration on film studies. It was during this time that my love for Bollywood flourished. If you haven’t watched a Bollywood film, I highly suggest it. But you can’t go in thinking it’s going to be like a Hollywood film, it is not. It is absurd, and insanely long, and there are so many songs and dances that don’t usually even help the story progress but it’s amazing. I don’t know if I sold that the way I wanted, but I really want more people to watch Bollywood movies and talk to me about them. I love them. I love Shah Rukh Khan and I want everyone else to realize the amazingness that is Bollywood and King Khan. I may even attempt to write a Bollywood-esque themed novel in the near future.
Carole: OMG, how awesome does that sound?! :D But now that you’ve stepped into my web—I mean, now that you’ve brought it up, what projects are you working on now and what’s coming next from you?
Chris: I have two more stories within the Boredega Cartel universe percolating. I haven’t had anything concrete on paper yet, but I have the run down about what is going to happen. So watch out for those. I am working on a young adult series, mostly because my niece and nephew really want to read my books and I don’t feel comfortable with them reading Semblance at their ages, I would say the YA style is in the realm of Teen Wolf. I am probably about a quarter through the first book but have the first two completely outlined. I am also working on some novellas in different genres to put out there. Keep an eye out! I will hopefully have more for you to read very soon!
Carole: Wow, that’s quite a workload to be getting on with! We’ll all be looking forward to more coming from you soon, Chris. Thanks so much for being here, and thanks so much for the giveaway that we’ll get to very soon for our impatient Awesome Readers. For now, though, let’s enjoy an excerpt from Chris’s brand-new Mystery & Suspense novel, Semblance.
“Oh, it’s a stick shift,” Scotty said, sliding his seat forward so he could reach the pedals and move the mirrors.
Drake watched him in horror. “Yes, it’s a stick. What the hell are you doing?”
Scotty shot him a quick look. “What do you mean?”
Drake gestured frantically at Scotty, who was still messing with the seat. “You’re changing all my settings. Do you have any idea how hard it is to get your seat in exactly the right spot?”
“I have to be able to reach the pedals and use the mirrors if I am going to drive you.”
“You don’t touch a man’s seat settings! Now it will never feel right again.”
Scotty rolled his eyes, shifting the rearview mirror a touch more, mostly to get more of a reaction out of him, Drake figured, before turning the key in the ignition. “Oh, you’ll get used to it again, just like you did the first time.”
Drake sat back in a pout, arms crossed. “I can’t believe that you did that.”
“Get over it. I’ll change it back, and you’ll never even know that it was moved.”
“Of course, I’ll know it’s moved! I just watched you move it. And there is no way that you could possibly get it back exactly how I had it.”
Scotty tilted his head toward Drake with an amused smile, “Jeez, are you always this whiny?”
Drake’s frown deepened. “No, I save it for annoying pricks that mess with another man’s seat settings.”
“Did you call me a prick?”
“I believe I did, yes.”
Letting out a laugh, Scotty shook his head. “I don’t think I’ve heard that one in a while.”
“Really? I can’t be the only one out there calling you a prick, when you so obviously radiate the characteristics.”
“So, this is the kind of treatment I get for driving you home?”
Drake sat back, enjoying the banter. “Hey, I didn’t ask you to. You volunteered all by yourself.”
“What was I thinking?”
“That you can’t get enough of me.”
“Ha! You wish that were the case.”
“I know it is.”
Scotty sat silent for a moment, his eyes on the road. The silence, such a difference from the bickering banter back and forth, was unsettling, and Drake shifted so he could watch Scotty covertly from the corner of his eye.
He was as handsome and alluring driving his car as he was pouring drinks. Not that it mattered. As much as Drake wanted him, longed to touch him, to feel his skin ripple under his fingertip, his heat sink into his flesh, Drake had to remember that his life was not conducive to relationships. He didn’t have the right to bring anyone into this life. That’s why he’d always stuck with one-night stands, and most of those he’d had with people already involved in the dark underbelly. It was too dangerous to bring in an innocent bystander.
About the Author
Chris E. Saros lives in the beautiful Mitten State, surrounded by the exhilaration of the Great Lakes. In her free time, she enjoys swimming, reading, ministering to her cats’ needs, and watching TV. An avid traveler, she loves immersing herself in different cultures, discovering new foods, and meeting new people. Always game for a new adventure, she covets stimulating experiences such as working on locally filmed movies, coaching students in after-school activities, and spending time spoiling and sugaring-up her nieces and nephew to keep her status as “the fun aunt.” Though ideally an optimist, Chris E. is intrigued by the darkness life has to offer. Using writing as an outlet for her darker nature, she loves constructing characters and tossing them into dangerous situations, just to see what happens.
Where to Find Chris Saros: Facebook, Goodreads
Where to buy Semblance: DSP Publications, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Google Books
And now for the GIVEAWAY! Chris is generously giving away one ecopy of Semblance. The random winner will be chosen in one week. So click on the Rafflecopter widget below and enter now!
a Rafflecopter giveaway
And that will do it for us this week. Thanks for joining us, everyone! If you’d like to keep tabs on Genre Talk and never miss a post, hop on over and like our Facebook page, join our Facebook group, and check out our web page.
On behalf of me and Co-pilot Extraordinaire Elizabeth Noble, thanks for spending some time with us, and have a great week!
14 thoughts on “DSP Publications Presents: Genre Talk and a Giveaway with Carole Cummings and Chris E. Saros”
It’s always so much fun to hear about characters hijacking their roles, lol. Thanks for sharing and good luck on the new release!
It is amazing how much control character’s can have… sometimes more than you’d like. :) Thank you so much and if you choose to read, I hope you enjoy the story!
I love the chat format you have going, it feels welcoming and fun :). Good luck with the book!
Thank you very much!
Thank you for the great interview and the excerpt. Now I’m really intrigued by this story!
Thank you! Should you choose to read, I hope you enjoy!
Thanks for the excerpt! BTW, if you go see a Bollywod film in England in one of the more diverse cities, you can get poppadoms at the concessions stand instead of popcorn.
OMG – That is now on my bucket list! I need to do that!
It was great learning about the process for your book. It’s interesting that your characters’ relationship and the ending are so different than what you envisioned, but the book still came together for you. Thanks for sharing!
It was a very fun ride. Amazing how everything can change! If you choose to read, I hope you enjoy!
Thank you for the excerpt and interview!
great interview, sounds like a great story
What an awesome giveaway for an awesome book!