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Get Enthralled by Tamara Hogan’s ENTHRALL ME!

I’ve been a Tamara Hogan fangirl since way back, so when I got the chance to take a sneak peek at the new Underbelly novel and host her release party here at the Ruby blog, I jumped at it faster than you can say sexy vampire lovin’ENTHRALL ME, the latest installment of the Underbelly series, definitely had that, but like all of the books in the series it was so much more than just chemistry and fangs.  But don’t just listen to me, let’s talk to the creator herself and get the inside skinny on all things Underbelly.  Though first, let me introduce you to the book that gave me ALL THE FEELS.  (Seriously, you guys, sooooo good.)

ENTHRALL ME by Tamara Hogan

They say that opposites attract, but this is ridiculous… 

Vampire journalist Tia Quinn is young (by vamp standards), curious (even by reporter standards) and sitting on some information that could threaten civilization as she knows it. She’s honor-bound to share it with the Underworld Council’s chilly Vampire Second, an ancient vampire more powerful than she can imagine…and who’s hotter than hell. He’s also burdened by duty and taciturn to the point of grimness but when a stalker breaks into her house, Wyland insists on keeping Tia close until the perpetrator is caught.   

Wyland’s life is exactly the way he likes it — solitary, calm, predictable. Then Tia moves in, turns his staid bachelor household upside down, and wakes his libido from its hundred-year nap. She’s too alluring, too damn young, and hell on his self-control—especially when she cheerfully informs him the attraction is mutual. But the last time he let his heart overrule his head, his people paid the price. He can’t make the same mistake again.     

As they work together to neutralize the threat, Tia and Wyland soon realize that not only do opposites attract, but that the end result can be positively magnetic… 

So magnetic!  The chemistry!  But I digress.  It’s interview time!

VIVI: When you have a romance between a three-hundred year old vampire and a young vamp only a few decades old, the age difference is definitely going to come into play. He has emotional baggage older than she is!  Did you enjoy writing a romance between two people who grew up in such different times?  Did it change your approach to characterization at all? 

TAMARA: Wyland DOES have emotional baggage older than Tia! LOL. Though Wyland and Tia are both vampires, ENTHRALL ME is very much a classic “opposites attract” story.  He’s private, she’s not. He’s risk-averse, she’s not. He’s a powerful leader, she’s not. He’s celibate, she’s not. Though equally attracted and equally ethical (in their own ways), the age issue rather naturally ended up being my primary factor for character development, and for relationship conflict.  A thirty-year-old, free-wheeling American who’s never known a world without computers is going to have a very different outlook on life than a Georgian-born Brit responsible for leading his species, or an elderly vampire who survived the Black Death.   

VIVI: So true! Wyland really is too noble for his own good.  It makes the reader adore him and want to smack him at the same time. 🙂  I think part of what makes a three-hundred-year-old vampire perspective feel so real is the way you incorporate real history and the real world into your world-building.  Whether it’s the state fair or the civil war, you seem to have thought of how your paranormal characters would have interacted with our world.  Do you have any world-building tips to share?  When did you know that Bram was going to be part of Wyland’s story?

TAMARA: I’m fascinated by history, and by long time horizons. It was a blast trying to figure out how much of ‘our’ history older vampires might have experienced, or even catalyzed without humanity knowing it. As soon as I decided Wyland was born in England, and lived there from the early 1700s to the early 1900s, I thought…wow, which aspects of human history has he experienced first-hand? Which rulers might he have counseled? Has he noticed a change in Earth’s climate? Why couldn’t Wyland have been friends with Bram Stoker, and why wouldn’t he wonder whether his own careless, dick-addled behavior inspired Bram’s vampire novel, putting his people at risk? Creatively, I’m kind of an aggregator. I look for real-world events, then try to fictionally twist, reinterpret, or mash up those events to suit my own purposes. “What if…” are two of my favorite words in the English language. And yes, there IS a copy of Dracula on my keeper shelf.  🙂  

VIVI: I love it. 🙂 You’re also excellent at amping up the sexual tension and making the reader want them to just KISS ALREADY!  Do you have any tips/secrets to share with authors looking to replicate that edge-of-the-seat sexual tension? 

TAMARA: One reason I love writing in deep third person point of view is that I think it lends itself to an exquisite level of sensory detail. A friend once told me that, while my books are really hot, they actually contain very little explicit sex. My love scenes are very much a slow burn, with a lot of focus on actions and reactions, and what a character reveals vs. what they choose to conceal. This internal struggle, this fight against oneself, really ramps up the tension. When ignition finally comes, the reader is so ready for the characters to JUST KISS ALREADY that it really doesn’t really require much explicitness on the page. (Not that there’s anything wrong with that.)  

VIVI: I love that way of looking at it. Your characters were very vivid. So often I felt like I could see them.  Do you envision your characters as certain celebrities?  Did anyone inspire/influence your writing of Wyland and Tia?

TAMARA: When I first started writing the series, I envisioned Wyland as a lanky, long-haired blond, but a more specific physical template appeared in 2011, when contemporary composer Eric Whitacre gave his now-famous “Virtual Choir” TED Talk.  Simply put, I think Whitacre is one of the most beautiful men on the planet. His eyes. Those cheekbones. That voice. * swoon * Physically, Wyland is pretty much Eric Whitacre, with long hair. Tia, on the other hand, sprang entirely from my imagination. A walk-on character in TASTE ME—Tia’s the journalist who gives Lukas a hard time after Scarlett’s concert—I envisioned her as a street-smart, curvy blonde. She’s still the first two things, but my previous book, TEMPT ME, also featured a blond hero and a blonde heroine, so I decided that Tia changes her hair color for fun. Bonus: It confuses Wyland immensely.       

VIVI: I know the villain’s POV is an important part of your process.  I always love how your villains are always very real, conflicted people in their own right and not just one thing. In this book again, the antagonist has sympathetic traits (even villains love their baby sisters).  How did you approach the antagonist point-of-view in this book? 

TAMARA: In this book, I was interested in developing a younger antagonist who, while under a hideous amount of stress, does something very stupid to try to prove his worth to trusted elders. His threat to expose the paranormals’ existence to humanity forces Wyland and Tia to work together to neutralize the threat. I wanted to explore how Dominic’s early confidence dissolves, and then how he struggles, when he discovers his elders’ teachings aren’t nearly as pure, or as black and white, as he’d previously thought. I found it useful to develop a fourth POV character—Mila, a love interest—to more thoroughly explore Dominic’s arc. Mila ended up having a fascinating arc of her own, which bulked up the story’s page count.      

VIVI: Your antagonist is part of a young extremist sect of werewolves, vampires and other paranormal creatures.  Do you feel paranormal romance provides a particular opportunity to touch on sensitive topics in modern culture as a metaphor?  Do you feel an author’s primary responsibility is to entertain or is there a social responsibility as well to speak to the state of the world we occupy?   

TAMARA: As I mentioned earlier, I’m an aggregator, and one can’t live near Minneapolis/St. Paul without hearing about the techniques being used to recruit local Somali youth, and radicalize them as fighters for ISIS. Exposure to that kind of news coverage, and watching documentaries about other types of extremist groups, provided a painful crash course in the ways in which people can become indoctrinated to believe, and act upon, a great many illogical things. While I believe a genre novelist’s first responsibility is to entertain, I feel exploring grittier, real-world themes can make our fiction deeper, richer, and more resonant. The Genetic Purity League (Dom’s cause) received a single, almost throwaway mention in TASTE ME, but the organization has become a continuing source of societal and interpersonal conflict in this series.     

VIVI: It’s fascinating and very deftly handled. Though the book does touch on heavier themes and you have some very powerful moments, there are also lots of giggles and laugh-out-loud moments.  (I lost it when Wyland’s centuries-old vampire mentor started using modern slang.)  How do you find that balance between levity and the powerful emotional resonance?  Do you have any favorite comic-relief moments in Enthrall Me? 

TAMARA: I think there’s always room for levity in our work—if not as an emotional break, then as a way to flesh out characterization. (What a character does or doesn’t find funny can be quite revealing.) One thing I’ve observed in my own family is that elderly people sometimes say, do, or wear things younger people might not dare. There’s more than a whiff of my own Grandma Lipstick in the elderly Vampire First’s way-out wardrobe. Being a Star Trek geek, one of my favorite moments of comic relief comes when another older vampire character, Thane, confuses Star Trek’s villainous Cardassians with reality TV’s Kardashian family. It’s a completely self-indulgent joke, but hey—it is my book.  🙂

VIVI: As a fan of the series, I love that you brought in the couples from previous stories so we got to see how their lives would continue to develop (a siren/incubus pregnancy? This we had to see!), but you didn’t info-dump a bunch of updates.  Was it a goal of yours to make sure previous characters interacted with this story in a natural way?  Was it a challenge at all?

TAMARA: The Underbelly Chronicles has a large cast of recurring characters, with each book featuring one couple earning their HEA while working together to solve a crime or mystery. The characters are a close-knit crew—they live, work, and play together—so it makes complete sense to me that we get a glimpse now and then of what’s going on in former hero and heroines’ lives. They’re still involved in later books’ plots, so why not take the opportunity to sprinkle in a few details to reassure readers that couples from previous books are still going strong? Wyland is Scarlett’s doctor, and Tia is Scarlett’s friend, so it seems natural to me that we’d get some insight into her pregnancy in this book. And if Lukas experiences some sympathetic morning sickness along the way? Just a world-building choice. 🙂   

VIVI: Throughout the book, secrecy and trust are powerful themes. The paranormal beings must keep their existence a secret from humanity, but you make a reference to a time when humanity might be ready for them.  I don’t want to ask for spoilers, so I won’t ask if they will be coming out to the humans in future books, but I am dying to know what’s next in the series!  Do you have another Underbelly book coming for us?  Who’s next?

TAMARA: Next up is INTOXICATE ME, Jack and Sasha’s story, which finds Sebastiani Security’s human managing partner, Jack Kirkland, fighting his attraction to his boss’s sister, succubus Sasha Sebastiani. One thing that’s always struck me about Jack in previous books is that he seems so smooth and urbane. In INTOXICATE ME, we learn that his reality is much messier under the surface. 

VIVI: Oooh! I can’t wait!  And now, Tammy has a giveaway for us!

Tammy mentioned that The Underbelly Chronicles has a large cast of characters. How many named characters currently appear on The Underbelly Chronicles’ Master Character List? Tammy will give a copy of ENTHRALL ME to the commenter whose guess comes closest. 

Get your copy of ENTHRALL ME:

Kindle ::  Kobo ::  iBooks ::  Nook

Paperback: Available 10/9/17!

18 responses to “Get Enthralled by Tamara Hogan’s ENTHRALL ME!”

  1. Great interview, Ladies! Tamara I would love to hear more tips about building sexual tension. I so love a book who has that slow burn instead of repeated rapid fires.

    Off to put Enthrall ME on my TBR pile.

    The number 19 popped into my head.

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    • I love that resistance too! So much more intense than insta-lust. And Tammy’s so good at it! 😀

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    • Tamara Hogan says:

      –> I would love to hear more tips about building sexual tension.

      Great question, Autumn. Have you ever heard that old adage that humans’ biggest sex organ is the brain? For me, what tips a love scene from “wham bam thank you ma’am” into slow burn territory is using deep third-person POV to expose the POV character’s THOUGHTS and EMOTIONS in addition to their physical actions and reactions.

      What’s going on mentally? Does the character have reservations or doubts? Mixed feelings? Guilt, or a complete lack thereof? Does the character feel their reactions make them weak, strong, both? How much of that do they choose to expose to their partner, or even acknowledge to themselves? There’s so much opportunity for internal conflict.

      Maybe it’s just me, but I feel the most satisfying sex scenes are both physical AND mental, and that a slow burn love scene spends a LOT more time in the brain than in the body. 🙂

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  2. Hope Ramsay says:

    Congratulations on your new release, Tamara.

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  3. Excellent interview, ladies! This makes me want to scoot Enthrall Me to the top of my TBR list. Love the Cardassian/Kardashian tongue in cheek joke. 🙂

    Hmm…how many characters on your master list… I’m going to go with my own experience with an otherworldly cast and shoot for 39.

    Happy newest release!
    Jenn!

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  4. Congratulations on the new release, Tamara! So glad to see this series continue!

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  5. Cynthia Huscroft says:

    Among other things, am currently reading and enjoying CHASE ME. Looking forward to reading Book 4! Just reading the part in the interview about Cardassians v Kardashians made me laugh.

    Great interview, Vivi!

    Congratulation on the new release, Tamara! And as for my guess…15

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  6. Kris says:

    As a reader, I love, love, love this series and am delighted to have a new installment to savor! I’ve already bought my own copy, but I’ll be interested to see the master character count.

    Happy book birthday!

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  7. Congratulations on your new release! I’m guessing 12!

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  8. Tamara Hogan says:

    How many named characters do YOU think appear on my Underbelly Chronicles Master Character List?

    You have until 11:59 p.m. Central time today, Tuesday, Oct. 10, to guess!!

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  9. Tamara Hogan says:

    And the winner of a copy of ENTHRALL ME, with a guess of 39 named characters, is Jenn Bray-Weber!

    The answer? 104.

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