Reckoning (The Cure Trilogy)
Nothing can erase his desire for love and justice…
Banding together is the safest, most successful path to freedom.
The killing of an allied researcher, sends quarter-vampire geneticist, Rick Hartman, and his soulmate, Eden Freberg, into a spiral of desperation. Compelled to relocate to Norway with his young family, Rick infiltrates the Sub Rosa compound, determined to free the persecuted and unjustly imprisoned vampires.
With Rick, Eden and their six-month-old twins in renewed and immediate danger, can he find a way for the warring Jade and Violet vampire clans to work together and help him set them and his family free, finally bringing Sub Rosa to justice for their lifetime of sins?
TWENTY QUESTIONS with exciting romance author, Sandra Carmel
LAK: What inspired you to start writing?
SC: In around 2004, I went through this classic romance phase, reading Jane Austen, Elizabeth Gaskell and Charlotte Bronte and started toying with the idea of writing my own romance manuscript. I ended up crafting this contemporary, reverse character Pride and Prejudice, which I now affectionately refer to as my training-wheels novel.
LAK: When did you start writing?
SC: I had a thing for writing angsty poetry as a teenager, which then morphed into short story writing and evolved into composing novels and novellas. I didn’t get serious about writing a novel-length work until 2007.
LAK: What advice would you give a new writer, someone just starting out?
SC: Don’t isolate yourself. Attend writing events and engage in the writing community and writing craft training, online and in person. I completed a couple of Immersion courses facilitated by Margie Lawson and they revolutionised my writing. But you need to scope things out and find what suits you. Find a writing group that works for you too. I have attended one that predominantly has a romance focus, for the last four years, and have not only learned heaps about writing craft and the writing industry but also it’s helped support me and make me accountable. The other key thing I’d say is if you love writing, have a passion for it, then do it. Fit it into your lifestyle, even if you can only write for fifteen minutes a day. Something I’ve never forgotten from a lecturer at a writing course I did several years ago, was that talent will only get you so far. Persistence is essential in order to successfully meet your goals. Oh, and develop a thick skin. Get used to criticism and rejections. Not everyone is going to like or appreciate your work.
LAK: How do you handle writer’s block?
SC: I’ve found writing at certain times (early morning works best for me) and in various spots using my laptop has trained me to be able to produce some words. Mind you, they’re not always great! But that’s part of it: allowing yourself to just get words out without trying to edit too much. The more you censor and try to make things sound perfect, the harder it is for words to flow. You can go back at another stage and edit to your heart’s content. Sometimes if I’m a bit stuck, I’ll reread some earlier bits of my work in progress to inspire me, give me a bit of impetus. I’ve also found that having some plot ideas (doesn’t have to be a full-on outline) and knowing your characters helps.
LAK: What, in your opinion, are the most important elements of good writing?
SC: Being certain of the goal, motivation and conflict for your characters and your story. Without good conflict, there’s nothing to encourage the readers to keep reading. I’m also a fan of using deep point of view to immerse readers into the characters and their thinking. One thing that I’m not keen on is head hopping. I find it really distracting and it can be quite confusing. I’d rather stay with one character’s point of view and change to another’s via use of a scene break.
LAK: How do you come up with the titles to your books?
SC: They have to fit the theme and/or link to a character in some way. For instance, Reckoning, book three in The Cure trilogy, is about my lead two characters getting justice. And the overall trilogy title, The Cure, refers to research into and development of a cure for vampirism and the moral and ethical implications.
LAK: Are you on social media and can your readers interact with you?
SC: Yes, social media is my friend, so please come and have a chat!
LAK: Do you have a favourite character that you have written? If so, who? And what makes them so special.
SC: I have a soft spot for a secondary character, Hugh, from Discover, book two of The Cure trilogy. He’s a full caste, Violet clan vampire, with violet eyes and black hair, who’s quirky, resourceful and a real sweetheart.
Hugh is born in the Middle Ages and is changed when he nearly dies while out fishing. He roams the earth helping others, and in search of his elusive soulmate.
Around the time of the second world war, he’s captured and imprisoned in a human-run compound called Sub Rosa, and is subjected to years and years of experimentation. But he never gives up hope. In the mid 1990s, he escapes with the help of a sympathetic researcher and hides out in the Tasmanian wilderness, where he meets a full human named Indigo.
Hugh knows she’s the one when his eyes tear up, a special trait that no other full-caste vampires he’s come across possess. But can there be a happily ever after when Hugh’s a fugitive who can be found at any moment, and Indigo discovers he’s a creature of the night? Find out what happens to Hugh and Indigo in Reckoning.
LAK: You’ve written in the paranormal romance genre and contemporary romance genre. Do you have a preference?
SC: The Cure trilogy was my first huge, intricate, epic paranormal romance project and I loved writing and editing it! However, at this stage, all my subsequent ideas have been in steamy contemporary romance. Given that, my follow up works will most likely be in the steamy contemporary genre. Though, the one crossover in my work is the erotic element. So expect to see that no matter what I write!
LAK: Can you share a snippet that isn’t in the blurb or any excerpts?
The prickle of budding tears burned her eyes. “What if things don’t work out how they’re supposed to?”
“We’ll deal with it then. There’s no point worrying about something that may or may not happen. I swore to keep you and the kids safe, first and foremost, and that’s one thing I won’t compromise on. Plus, even if you could safely go in my place, I wouldn’t allow it—those brown contact lenses sting like fuck. It feels like having shampoo constantly dripping into your eyes. And I wouldn’t want you to ruin your makeup.”
She laughed, sending a tear rolling down her cheek.
“Actually, that reminds me. I better go and put them in.” Rick swiped away the teardrop that had rolled onto her cheek, pressed a swift kiss to her lips and disappeared into the en suite.
Within seconds he stood in the doorway, the light glowing behind him as though he was some sort of angel…or superhero. “You’ve got to see this.”
She followed him into the compact bathroom and he pointed to a tissue on the vanity, containing what remained of the brown contact lenses he’d taken out the previous night. He’d never gotten a chance to put them in the bin, not with her impromptu blow job.
Delicious memories of him coming in her mouth, then lifting her up, throwing her on the bed and returning the favor surged into her mind. She indulged, just for a moment, then forced herself to stop and focus on the lenses.
They looked thin, cloudy, patchy, like mini jigsaw puzzles with pieces missing. A bit like their memories.
“I realize they’re disposable but…what happened to them?” Eden asked.
“Either they’re really bad quality, which would explain the price, or my body chemistry has caused their erosion. Probably a bit of both, though I’m thinking it’s more my body chemistry.”
LAK: What was the inspiration for the story?
SC: I had gotten into the whole Twilight saga thing back in the day and as I read through it, I started picturing my own turn of events, my own characters and alternative endings. So I began jotting down ideas and low and behold, The Cure trilogy was born.
LAK: What is the key theme and/or message in the book?
SC: The importance of persistence and fighting against injustice. That majority isn’t always right. How ignorance creates fear. Love through adversity. And how circumstances can impact on people’s moral compass.
LAK: What was your favourite part, and your least favourite part, of the publishing journey?
SC: The writing and editing were and still are my favourite part of the publishing journey. And I must admit, I was pretty excited when I finished Capture, book one in The Cure trilogy and started pitching it to publishers and completing and sending submissions to publishers and literary agents. The rejections weren’t so much fun. But like with Cinderella, the Prince kept searching until he found the woman whose foot fit the slipper. It’s a bit like that in publishing too. You need to find the publisher who’s the right fit for you, and you for them!
LAK: Your story is set in Tasmania, Australia, and Norway. Why did you choose those as the setting for your book?
SC: I’ve visited Tasmania a few times and just love the place! It has some stunning landscape. Plus it tends to be on the colder side, temperature-wise, which perfectly suited my vampires as they thrive in cooler conditions. I haven’t made it to Norway yet, but I aim to. It looks amazing and it just seemed to tick all the vampire-origin boxes – isolated, low human population, cold yet incredibly beautiful.
LAK: What were the key challenges you faced when writing this book?
SC: It’s more like a saga, so although there are two key protagonists featured across the trilogy, some secondary characters also have sections in their points of view. So keeping track of their stories and how they fit and worked in together with the broader storyline and ensure I tied up all the loose ends, was quite a challenge! Also, I have a day job as an Occupational Therapist based in a community health setting, and two needy purr babies and husband at home that I need to work around! So it can be challenging to fit in regular writing times.
LAK: Are you working on anything at present you would like to share with your readers?
SC: I’ve started on a first draft of a steamy contemporary romance with a BDSM theme. I’m thinking it might end up as a series linked by characters (e.g. all standalone books that focus on two new characters involved with the same BDSM club).
LAK: Do you have any new series planned?
SC: I’ve written a steamy contemporary novella trilogy called Intertwined Love that I hope to have traditionally published.
A perilous journey to the peak of love…
Cole, a cutting-edge game software company CEO, stands up his long-term girlfriend, Hope, on Christmas Eve, the night he planned to propose, when he is left paralysed in a mountain climbing accident. He cuts her out of his life without explanation, determined not to burden her, but misses her like crazy. Can he confront his fears, pull himself back together and rekindle a relationship with the love of his life?
Game for Intimacy
Are you game?
While playing a sexy virtual reality game, Brody, a wheelchair-using gamer whiz makes an unlikely connection with Beth, the woman of his dreams. As they become more intimate, he learns her perfect facade hides demons deeper than his insecurities around his physical disability, putting a huge strain on their relationship. Can he help her break through her defensive walls and create an everlasting love?
The male protagonist, Brody, is Hope’s younger brother in Last Hope.
Dance of Love
An unexpected dance into virgin territory…
Jeb, a sexy rare-breed, late-twenties virgin plagued with guilt and a history of heartache, falls for Issy, his open, passionate physio patient who is travelling overseas in a month to advance her dancing career. When they both finally acknowledge their attraction to each other, and he tells her his story, she offers to teach him how to be an excellent lover before she leaves. During the process, he develops strong feelings for her but with time running out, can he convince the woman he loves that they’re meant to be together?
The hero, Jeb, is Cole’s good friend and physio in Last Hope.
LAK: What are you reading now?
SC: A Seal’s Vow by Cora Seton.
LAK: What books or authors have most influenced your own writing?
SC: Some of the authors I really enjoy, who have influenced my writing are:
- Laura Kaye (especially her Blasphemy Novel series)
- Serenity Woods
- Jodi Watters
- Allyson Lindt
- Sierra Cartwright
LAK: Favorite book when you were a kid?
SC: It’s a toss up between The Ordinary Princess by M.M. Kaye and The Faraway Tree by Enid Blyton.
Other Reads: To get the most out of The Cure trilogy, I recommend starting with Capture, book one, then moving onto Discover, book two, and then finishing with Reckoning, book three. They are definitely best read in order.