I’m thrilled to introduce Lisa Medley, a new favorite author. That’s new, as in I recently read an advance copy of her urban fantasy novel Reap & Repent, and loved it. A five exploding star read! It’s funny, sexy and scary. New also applies to Medley’s writing career. Reap & Repent, a story about demon-fighting reapers finding love, is her debut novel and the start of her reaper series. Reap & Repent is available now as part of boxed set with other Harlequin E authors, and will debut as a single-title release June 3.
Cara Bristol: My understanding is that Harlequin Digital, your publisher, categorizes Reap & Repent as Urban Fantasy. I would call it supernatural with strong romantic elements. How would you describe it?
Lisa Medley: I agree. There are so many different definitions of Urban Fantasy out there. I think mine is more paranormal romance, but I’m not going to argue with Harlequin. They have about sixty-five years more experience in the publishing industry than I do, ha! I’m just thrilled to be a part of the new Harlequin E digital imprint which opens up new genres and opportunities for authors and beloved Harlequin readers. The Urban Fantasy genre is one of those new options along with Shivers (gothic romance), Fantasy, Erotic Vacation, Space Opera and many more! I think authors and readers will be surprised to see what’s available for them with the new Harlequin E.
Cara Bristol: Do you recall what inspired the idea for Reap & Repent? Have you always been interested in the supernatural?
Lisa Medley: I’ve loved creepy stories since the early 80s when I discovered Stephen King. The Stand was epic for me in both the length (I LOVE a good long book!) and the story. Then there was Pet Sematary. I think that might be the scariest book I’ve ever read. There’s just always been something compelling for me about the supernatural. I love the monsters. And now I help the monsters to love back. Reap & Repent came about from my desire to give some love to some of the lesser known monsters. Everyone loves the vampires and shifters, but what about the poor reapers? They need love too!
Cara Bristol: I loved The Stand. It’s my favorite King book and one of my favorite books ever. And the horror of Pet Sematary! Stephen King is the master of plotting. But forget about him. Back you to you. I never knew that one could use salt to fight off a demon. LOL. Your vision of demons, angels, Hell, Purgatory, reaping, was creative and detailed. How much of your creative world did you simply make up and how much did you research and apply what is conventionally believed?
Lisa Medley: Salt is a universally known deterrent for evil among the monster-loving/hunting set. Just ask Dean Winchester from Supernatural. Salt and burn, baby! Yeah, there are actually t-shirts that say that. The rest of it, I just made up after lots of long drives for my day job and asking “What if?”.
Cara Bristol: See, I didn’t know that. I’m totally unprepared to fight demons. Have you personally encountered an angel or a demon? Have you ever felt the presence of a reaper?
Lisa Medley: Not at all. I’m not sure how I’d react to that. Probably a lot like Ruth at the beginning. I’d run! I certainly don’t discount the supernatural as a possibility. I think there are definitely forces at work beyond what we see. Good and evil.
Cara Bristol: My understanding is that you pantsed this book, correct? Have you shifted to plotting now? Why?
Lisa Medley: I did pants this book. I just started writing and went where the story took me. My lack of structure however led me to have to rewrite the last third of the book. Same with book two. I’ve learned a lot in the three books I have written in this series and am happy to report no major rewrites for book three! About midway through book two I gathered up all of my Post-It notes and typed them into a logical order and suddenly realized…I HAVE A PLOT! With book three, I started that process at the very beginning. I’m working on an unrelated paranormal romance now and actually wrote a five page synopsis BEFORE I even wrote my first word and that story is cruising right along. It’s amazing how quickly you can arrive at a destination when you know where the heck you’re going!
Cara Bristol: Would you please share your road-to-publishing story?
Lisa Medley: Happy to! I actually just did a post on my website with a timeline. The short version is this. I wrote my first book in six months and finished January 2012. In September of that year I entered my first 5k into Harlequin’s So You Think You Can Write Contest along with more than 700 other writers across the globe. I made it to the Top 28 and was asked to submit my full manuscript. I did and then promptly lost. Thinking it was all over, I moved on and started thinking about who else I might submit to. An angelic editor, Mary-Theresa Hussey, at Harlequin who had read my manuscript asked if I would be interested in their new digital imprint. I didn’t know anything about it and stupidly didn’t pursue it. Mary-Theresa forwarded my manuscript anyway and in January of 2013 I got THE CALL and a three book contract!
Cara Bristol: Wow! She was an angel! But , if someone meets a demon, what you suggest they do?
Lisa Medley: Regular old table salt is the best deterrent. Throw it in their face and run away! Seriously, there’s no negotiating with demons. In my world, they’ve historically needed to be invited in to possess a human, but that all changes in The Reaper Series. No one is safe. Stay indoors and wait until Deacon and his crew can take care of business.
Cara Bristol: Please share a bit about your non-writing life.
Lisa Medley: I work for a regional Community Blood Center for my day job and have been there as a donor recruiter for the past fourteen years. Yes, I’m a vampire. Ironic, I know. I tell people I’m the talker not the sticker. I convince people to bleed for my living. Creepy, yes?
Cara Bristol: No wonder you write about monsters. LOL. What are you working on now?
Lisa Medley: After my first-ever ghost hunting trip with a local paranormal group, I got the idea for a paranormal ghost romance. My husband didn’t think it was a good idea to go. He said, “What if something follows you home?” Well, of course I went anyway and that sparked my idea for a hexed Civil War soldier, Tanner Dawson, who fought in Fredericksburg, VA. Tanner’s hex trapped him in his Masonic brotherhood ring for 150 years and when our modern day heroine Sarah Knight finds the ring during a ghost hunting adventure of her own, she takes it home and an unlikely romance begins. Only true love can break Tanner’s hex and return him to the mortal coil. No easy task when your true love doesn’t even know you exist! Or could. It’s a tricky storyline, but I am loving the challenge!
Cara Bristol: That’s funny. Men are always so concerned about little things like safety. Quick five:
Favorite article of clothing: My black microfleece jacket!
Favorite pizza topping: Cheese.
The last Halloween costume you wore was: A zombie mom.
Reach into your purse and without looking, pull out three items. What do you have? Compact, wallet, Burt’s Bees lip balm.
If you could have dinner with five famous people, dead or alive, who would they be? Jensen Ackles (Dean Winchester). Seriously Google him and you’ll see why! Charlaine Harris and Stephen King to talk writing. Joss Whedon, the master of all things writing and entertainment. J.R. Ward. Hmm, seems to be a theme here.
Reap & Repent Blurb
Deacon Walker is a burned out loner, whose two hundred years as a reaper have left him empty inside. But when he meets Ruth Scott, a gorgeous shut-in with unusual gifts, he’s forced to set his career complacency aside to train her for a destiny she never knew existed. Soon the two will face the ultimate test: a battle against demons determined to destroy humanity, one soul at a time
Reap & Repent Excerpt
What does a guy have to do around here to get some service? Deacon Walker marveled as he glared at the undulating queue of grotesque reapers in front of him.
For all that’s holy, move the hell along already.
It had been a long week, and it wasn’t over yet. He needed to make at least one more pass through the hospital circuit before he could call it a day. He could already feel the tug of a freshly departed soul. Again. People were dropping like flies lately.
He massaged his brow, trying to soothe his exhausted patience as the line inched forward at a snail’s pace.
He was worn thin. Over the past few weeks, three demon soul poachers had popped up in his fair city of Meridian like poisonous mushrooms after a hard rain. While it wasn’t unheard of for one to slip out from Hell every now and then, three was a nightmare.
When it got topside, a demon’s M.O. was to steal a human body, poach a few souls from the dead and dying, and then make its merry way back to Hell, taking its host’s soul along for the ride. The only way to save the souls a poacher was carrying was to behead the host with a scythe. Not a pretty thing to do, but the poor suckers were too far gone by then to survive anyway. No human could withstand the pressures of being ridden by a demon. And it was worth it to save a handful of souls, not to mention inconveniencing the demon.
Deacon refused to lose any souls from his territory. At all.
So far the score was Deacon, 3. Demons, 0.
As a reaper, carrying souls to Purgatory for judgment was his job and he wasn’t about to cede his territory to poachers who used up their hosts like they were disposable Tupperware. So now, in addition to his normal day job, he also had to keep an eye out for more demon invaders.
While demons burned through most human hosts in a matter of days, some in a matter of hours, they had discovered long ago that under the right circumstances they could ride a reaper. Of course, they couldn’t just worm their way in like they did with humans—they had to be invited. But once a deal was struck? They were in.
And reapers? Yeah, they could hang on for decades inside a reaper. Deacon knew that fact firsthand.
His stomach twisted at the thought, but he shook it off, looking ahead with a heavy sigh.
Seriously, this line? Still. Not. Moving?
God, he needed a freakin’ vacation. Extended. He dragged a hand through his hair in frustration as his mind flipped through postcard-esque locations of reapings past. He snarled at the thought of New Orleans in summer. He would definitely want to go someplace cool—cool as in frigid, not hip. He was sick of the heat, and it was only the beginning of summer in the semitropical Midwest.
Come to think of it, he was sick of a lot of things.
This place was high on the list. It was as hot as…well, Hell actually. Or at least what he imagined Hell to be, although he’d never actually been there. Thank God.
Steam rose from random cracks in the stone floor of the underground station, veiling the place in a humid sulfur stench.
He pushed forward, finally making his way to the front to deposit his cargo of souls. He didn’t bother chatting. In. Out. Move on. It was a motto that served him well.
Mission completed, he hustled through the crowd, forgoing the bar-side frivolity of some of the more socially inclined reapers and their small talk about their glory days in the field or—even better—the missteps of the newest reapers. Newbies often tested their limits to humorous if not disastrous effect at least once in their early careers. That was exactly why new reapers had mentors or at least worked in teams. From all the laughter, he could tell that the stories were good ones. It didn’t tempt him.
He slapped his palm against the black granite monolith and flashed out of Purgatory to what he prayed was his last stop of the day.
BUY LINKS: Reap & Repent is available in a Harlequin E Urban Fantasy/Paranormal Romance Box Set with the works of three other amazing new Harlequin authors! Reap & Repent will be available for single-title release June 2, 2014.
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