Sep 3, 2015

Authors Jacey Conrad and Gia Corona Character Interview and $50.00 Amazon Gift Card Contest LIVE Here!



From Russia With Claws by Gia Corona and Jacey Conrad
While we absolutely adore the sexy, drool-worthy werewolf heroes in our books, what made co-writing this project so much fun were the scenes between Galina and her sister, Irina. So we sat down to talk about our process, female friendship and Gia’s attempts to make Jacey reveal embarrassing personal information on the internet.

From Russia With Claws by Jacey Conrad and Gia CoronaHow much of your own personalities are found in your characters? Gia: None. I am a shrinking violet who never says a raunchy word or steps foot out of line.
Jacey: HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!
Wait, ahem, just one more.
HAHAHAHAHA!
Gia’s about as shy and retiring as a bag full of honey badgers. A lot of her take-no-prisoners, badass strength made it into Galina’s personality. And while Gia does claim that cartoon birds braid my hair every morning, I am not nearly as nice as Irina. But yes, some of my tendency to smooth feathers and natural reluctance to hurt feelings was the basis for her personality. And their snarkiness – hush, totally a word – came from both of us.
How do you feel about how the sisterly bond between Galina and Irina is portrayed? A lot of novels focus on the divides between women and set them at odds with each other. Why did you choose to have such a loving and supportive relationship front and center?
Jacey: I’m close with my younger sister and I think we’re pretty accurate in portraying that protective, supportive, “Call me at two am and tell me we gotta bury a body and I’ll be there, no questions asked” relationship. Galina and Irina faced so many obstacles, internal and external, they needed a “safe place” in each other. They formed their own pack within the Sudenko family, on their own terms. Without that core relationship, they wouldn’t have had much to fight for.
Gia: I love the dynamic of Galya and Rina. They are sisters—the only two women in a testosterone laden household (and culture). They had to stick together, but what’s even better is they really like each other. They are friends as well as sisters. I think that level of closeness really bolsters the two characters and allows them to be as strong as they are. They know they have each other’s love and acceptance and support.
The same goes for integrating Franny into the dynamic. She fits in so well with the main characters. In fact, there is very little female competition in the FROM RUSSIA books. Why did you choose to go that route and keep the conflict male driven?
Gia: I get really tired of women always being at odds in novels, especially in romance books. Women are lovely—and I have a wonderful bunch of female friends who are always deeply supportive and give me a kick in the ass when I need it. I wanted to see more of that on the page. It’s also why I think it is important that the obstacles to Galina and Andrey’s relationship are class and society based rather than it being competition with another woman. It’s nice to see the ladies sitting around talking to each other and being awesome friends and saving the relationship drama for the outsiders.
Jacey: So much of their world is male-driven. It just made more sense to anchor the story in the business problems that Galina wanted to take over, rather than having her fight for the little corner she was “allowed.”
Competent female characters often get called Mary Sues (in ways that characters like James Bond and Bruce Wayne don’t). Do you think Galina or Irina are Mary Sues? Why did you choose to write them this way?
Gia: I think calling either Galina or Irina a Mary Sue does women a disservice. I know a lot of women who have advanced degrees, own their own business, have high powered jobs, are wives with kids (and without!), know how to shoot guns, practice a martial art (or two), and strong and smart and gentle and kind. To say that a character can’t be all those things because it isn’t believable is to say a woman can’t be all those things. I don’t believe that. Women hold multitudes inside of them. I wanted to show that there are different ways to be a bad ass. Galina is one way, Irina is another.
Jacey: Well, who wants to read a book about a woman who has no life skills? Competent people are much more interesting. I think a Mary Sue is a character that has no weaknesses or flaws. They know exactly what to say or do in any given moment and never make a misstep. And our characters have flaws and missteps out the ying-yang. They tend to be a wee bit over-protective of each other. They’re make rash decisions and leap without looking on occasion. And they have sex in public places with an alarming frequency. I think we found a happy balance between flawed and functioning.
The conversations between Irina and Galina are fairly…blunt. Do you and your friends really talk to each other like that?
Jacey: Ha! The conversations between our characters could be taken word-for-word from the conversations we have with each other. We are terribly, terribly blunt with each other. I say things to Gia that I could not say to anyone else, because she knows that when I express an opinion, it’s not because I’m judging her – I honestly want to help her see something from a different perspective. And I want her to do the same for me. We need people in our lives that we can trust enough to do that. And, we’re funny as hell. There’s a weird snarky energy that builds the longer that we’re left unsupervised.
Gia: Oh my God, we are worse. So. Much. WORSE.
Jacey: It’s possible we are worse.
While writing the dialogue, do you ever feel like you should delete portions because you’ve gone too far?
Gia: I should probably have felt that way, but I have no shame and even less filter, so I’ll let Jacey answer that for me.
Jacey: There were times when I wrote a particular word or phrase and sort of recoiled back from the screen, as in, “Oh, man, am I really allowed to write that?” A lot of that comes from my genre romance background, where there are limits to which words you can use. Also, knowing that my mom may go rogue and read this.
There are lots of ways to be a strong woman. In what ways is Irina strong? What drew you to writing a character like her? Like Galina?
Gia: Irina is incredibly strong on the inside—she’s got a core of steel. It takes a lot to go through an abusive relationship and reclaim yourself when you come out the other side. And the way she handles her family and finally makes peace with everything that comes with being the “sweet human” in a family of supernatural creatures was just really awesome to see and write. Irina has quiet strength—it’s a lot less showy than Galina who is basically just a cannon blast waiting to go off in someone’s face. Which is a helluva a lot fun to write but Galya’s a lot more obvious with her “talk shit, get bit” attitude.
Jacey: Galina is strong in a lot of outward, obvious ways. She’s difficult to intimidate. She’s outspoken. She’s fiercely protective of her loved ones. She moves well in areas that are uncharted by women. And she’s a freaking werewolf, so physically, she’s scary strong. She’s so different from any other character I’ve ever written/co-written. And it was very freeing, writing some of the badassery that comes out of her mouth.
Irina is strong in a much quieter way. She’s put up with a lot of crap in the name of protecting her family. She sees the needs of her loved ones and she does whatever she can to make sure they’re met, even if it means sacrificing her own happiness. And when she finally hits her limit, she draws the line in a very definite way and goes about learning the skills she needs to protect herself and her loved ones. It was a challenge to write Irina without turning her in to a martyr. She really had to walk the edge between being a loving person and a wimp.
Irina clearly toughens up over the course of the book, do you think Galina takes on any of Irina’s personality?
Jacey: I wrote a good portion of Irina’s “toughening up” process, so I’m going to pass this one to Gia.
Gia: I don’t think Galina takes on Irina’s personality as much as she learns that it’s okay to be soft and to rely on other people a bit more, especially Andrey. I think seeing how Irina navigates the world they are in shows Galya that she can be in love and still have her independence and that softness does NOT equate to weakness.
Have you ever had sex in places/situations like the ones you put your characters in?
Jacey: I’m not answering that! My husband is a police captain in a very small town! I’m not confessing to public nudity!
Gia: The funeral home. JUST KIDDING! I do have some boundaries (very few). But yes, some of what I wrote regarding the sexual encounters did come from personal experience. My ex-husband was achef, after all, so restaurant kitchen hijinks were a thing. Also car sex (although it was not in a Maybach, more’s the pity). There may have been some other instances of public teasing on a really unhealthy level, but I’ll refrain from providing details of that.
Jacey: I KNEW some of those scenes in the FACILE restaurant series were a little too realistic! I. Knew. It.
Buy a print copy of From Russia with Claws from Amazon by clicking here.
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Books in the From Russia series in the order they should be read:
From Russia with Claws
From Russia with Fangs

About Gia Corona

Author Gia CoronaAuthor Bio:
Gia Corona loves boots, boys, and bourbon, not necessarily in that order. When she’s not actively stalking Michael Fassbender and his abdominals, she’s watching questionable television or reading comics.
Connect with Gia

About Jacey Conrad

Author Jacey Conrad
Author Bio:
Jacey Conrad is a sushi-loving, pop culture nerd living in the South with her high school sweetheart. She delights in horribly made mutant shark movies and watching Sean Bean die in his various cinematic incarnations.
Connect with Jacey
CONTEST INFO: Open to readers worldwide, except where noted.
Prize 1: 2 – $25.00 Amazon Gift Card
Prize 2: 2 – Print copies of From Russia with Claws (US Only)
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