I have the great pleasure (pun intended) of interviewing R.E. Hargrave while she tours the World Wide Web for her amazing book from The Divine Trilogy, A Divine Life.
As some of you know, I have been given the opportunity of being by this author’s side before and during the release of all of her books so far. So, with that in mind, and also because we’re best friends, this interview is a little different (I hope)
I’ll give you the normal summary and details first and then we can get on with the fun!
Over the past year of being Jayden Masterson’s collared submissive, Catherine O’Chancey has worked through the mental terrors left behind by her old Dom — she thinks. To celebrate their collar-ing anniversary, Jayden organizes a special day, during which her final limits and fantasies will be realized. Will it prove to be more than she can handle? Can she endure the erotic onslaught her mind and body will experience and survive unscathed?
While Catherine faces dark shadows and pleasurable highs, Jayden finds his own inner strength being tested. He has come to realize that, somewhere along the way, Catherine has taken possession of his heart, mind, and body. Now he faces his biggest challenge ever; he must let go of all his submissives but one: his jewel, Catherine. Can he leave his philandering ways behind? Has he made the ultimate mistake by putting his jewel into the hands of others?
“So, how does that work? I mean, how does one draw the line between Master and husband?” Was such a complicated relationship possible? Could Jayden see her that way? Just thinking his name caused a funny feeling in Catherine’s chest. Her thoughts continued, now on overdrive . . .
No. Master didn’t do personal relationships. He’d said as much when they’d first signed their con-tract together. They’d both agreed to the understanding that this was nothing more than a sexual relationship. Hell, he was fucking two other people besides her that she knew of. If there were a chance that he wanted something more with her, he wouldn’t have handed her over to complete strangers today. Would he? Oh, God. Sir Jonathan’s offer to take Catherine on repeated itself in her memory, along with the knowledge that she had more sessions today with an unknown number of Doms. Was that what today was? Had the ‘inspection’ Sir Jonathan performed not been part of the scene? Was Sir Jonathan looking her over as a potential acquisition? What about Miss K offering to take her on back in February? Catherine’s stomach soured again.
“No. No, please, no. I — I can’t,” Catherine mumbled and began to shake.
Her world began crumbling around her, and panic took root. Catherine gasped for air, wrapping her arms around her mid-section.
“Erin! What’s wrong?”
Paige’s shriek snapped Catherine to attention, and she raised her watery eyes to meet her new friend’s.
“Paige,” Catherine started to cry. “He figured it out. I tried to be so good, so careful. He knows, and he’s going to get rid of me!” She thought she’d done so well at hiding her secret over the months, protecting her heart.
Paige had wrapped her arm around Catherine and was rubbing slow circles on her back. With a wince, Catherine became quite aware of every lash mark from Sir Jonathan’s whip. They now burned to her core when Paige’s soft hands brushed over them. Catherine flinched away from her.
“Shh, Erin,” she said in a calming voice. “Who knows what, sweetie? What are you talking about?”
Turning wide eyes on her, Catherine choked out, “Jay . . . Master. He knows I’ve fallen in — in love with him. I wasn’t supposed to. He found out, and now he’s interviewing me with strange Doms to get rid of me. I broke the rules and he —” she swallowed a sob, “he doesn’t want me anymore!”
JC: Close your eyes to the state of the place, but I’m not organized when it comes to paperwork in my office! These plot bunnies go crazy!
JC: So, now I get to have some fun with you . . . Finally! lol
RE: Should I be scared?
JC: No, not at all hun. Okay, so you have a choice on where to sit, hard school chair, comfy corner couch or a bean bag on the floor.
RE: *looks around at options* Sod the hard chair and I’m too old to sit on the floor... I’ll never get back up. *settles into bizarre, cool couch*
JC: It’s colorful, right?
Now, we both know that I all but dragged you in here, kicking and screaming with giggles, but I really want your readers to get to know the woman I do. All you have to do is not to try and edit anything I type until the end, okay?
RE: *hides red pen down bra* I’ll do my best.
JC: I saw that!
Anyway, I’m going to start off easy, so you can breathe for a little while, okay?
RE: Uh huh, sure. Okay, babe, do your worst! I’m an open book.
JC: That’s what I love about you, did you know that? You’re so open and honest with people, always there for them ((hugs))
RE: Careful, you’ll cause my makeup to run. Oh, wait, I rarely wear the stuff!
JC: We are way too similar and that scares me! lol.
RE: I love it!
JC: So do I, but it is a little scary sometimes when we type the same thing into Skype at the same time! lol.
So, to start off with, should we tell your readers a little about you as a person? *rubs hands together*
My first question.....
People that know you on facebook know that you post many pictures of your veggie garden and of course, your amazing food. What’s your favorite thing to cook when you’re stressed out?
RE: Stressed out cooking? Oh, dear lord! Um, that would probably be baking … because nothing fixes stress better than sweet goodies.
JC: So no tenderizing meat or kneading dough and thinking it was someone’s body or head? *hehehe*
RE: No, I show better restraint than that, or else there’d be nothing left to cook when I was done.
JC: You have better control than me ;)
Okay, second question...
What is your ‘throw together’ meal when writing or do you delegate to someone else?
RE: LMAO. My husband has probably cooked more meals in the last year than he’d care to. Good thing the kids like burritos and nachos. However, a throw-together for me is usually spaghetti. Or, it was before I started making my own pasta and now have to plan for pasta nights. So, I guess the current answer would be breakfast for dinner.
JC: Homemade pasta sounds amazing and I could certainly live on breakfast stuff for dinner lol.
So, talking about your writing, what are your must haves next to you when you’re writing?
RE: Must haves are Enigma and ice water. Quiet is a nice addition, but I don’t get that very often. So I have to make the best of it.
JC: I feel your pain there about quiet times. So ice water and Enigma. Why that type of music is that?
RE: Enigma and I go way back to my early dating days with my husband (who happens to be my highschool sweetheart). Sadeness from their MCMXC was “our song” -- he dedicated it to me on our local radio station, and we even had the MCMXC tattoo’d on our spines as 18th anniversary gifts to each other because it represents the album name and the year we met: 2000. The short answer though, is that it’s relaxing music that doesn’t distract you with lyrics.
JC: You see, this is why I love you and your hubby! You are just amazing together! :)
So we have your music and your ice water, but how tidy is your working space? Scraps of paper and piles of pens? Or do you have several word documents with notes in them?
RE: Bwahahahahahahaha! Excuse me while I compose myself. Currently my “work space” is sat squarely in the middle of my bed with my laptop!
JC: So you don’t have any books with bits of paper sticking out of them with notes, or post-it notes stuck to things? How on earth do you stay organized?! *glares at my desk*
RE: I do carry one spiral notebook around with me wherever I go. Sometimes I jot down ideas, other times I manage to handwrite several pages (this is usually when I hit a block and staring at a computer screen isn’t helping me). All my ideas that I want to pursue and develop get their own word docs started.
JC: Now this leads me onto my next question (readers, I swear R.E. Hargrave had no idea what I was going to ask her, this is just us!)
How do you spend your day writing? Do you have set hours or do you just write and write until you collapse in a heap?
RE: (facepalm) Okay, I write in fits and bursts. Some days I’m lucky to get 200 words down. Other days are more productive and I occasionally make it to 2000. Those days are few and far between, however; they tend to happen when I can get my arse into a WC. As for when a line or an idea will strike, I never know, hence the handy, dandy, notebook!
JC: A lot of authors do ‘WC’ing’ with other authors. Care to share what this means?
RE: Sorry, I forget not everyone knows our shorthand verbage. A “WC” is what’s known as a writer’s circle or a writer’s chat. It’s concept is to get together with one or more authors, dictate a set amount of time in which everyone agrees to just write. No Facebooking, getting a glass of water, checking email, etc. You sprint write and then compare notes at the end. It’s quite useful.
JC: And this goes to show that I’m not a proper author yet, because I always thought WC either stood for a ‘water closet’ (an English toilet) or ‘Writing Challenge’ . . .
RE: Challenge could work too, the above is what I know it as. And we won’t go into American English versus British English . . . though I knew what a water closet was!
JC: No, we won’t go into our mixed up words, because we’ll get into another round of arguments lol.
Okay, next one for you . . .
When you go to bed, do you find it hard to switch off because plot lines and characters are still on the go?
RE: All. The. Time. How often do you scold me for being up at two or three a.m.? If I could wake up, get a drink of water, empty my bladder, and go back to bed that would be great. Reality? Wake up, stumble into bathroom, brain kicks into gear . . . three hours later I’m going back to sleep.
JC: Most nights I see you liking posts on facebook lol. It’s a good thing that I’m six hours ahead of you and can tell you off and send you back to bed! lol
RE: Because you’re a good mum.
JC: Aww, thank-you *blushes*
Have you ever had an ‘ah-ha’ moment for a story in the middle of somewhere inappropriate, like the doctors or school and had nothing to write something down with and prayed you got home before you forgot?
RE: Yes. Hasn’t every writer? The last time was when I was trying to sort out logistics for a slash piece I’m working on. My characters decided they wanted to tell me their names and backgrounds … at the same time. I was in the car, driving. First stop light, I was grabbing notebook out of my purse and speed writing before the light turned green. Those ‘Baby On Board’ signs? They should make one that says ‘Author on Board’ as fair warning to everyone around.
JC: Lol, bless, I could make you one, if you wanted :)
RE: That’d be cool! Of course, you do way too much for me already *coughs*
JC: Oh, shush, it’s what friends are for, now back to you . . .
Now, you have mentioned before that you let your characters talk to you and you don’t really have a plotline sorted out, or a timeline to your story. Has there ever been a moment when you’ve written something and you look back and think ‘really?’
RE: I’d have to reference a fanfic one shot that I did to answer this one. I’m still not sure where the idea came from or how I even managed to write it: Slots.
JC: *Shudders* I remember that one . . .
RE: Yeah, and you couldn’t even read it in full!
JC: Hell no! I’m a wimp and will gladly admit it lol.
RE: Haha! In case anyone is interested, the piece in question is posted on twcslibrary.com (if you are a fanfic reader).
JC: I love your fanfic stories and that leads me onto my next question . . .
Now, me being me, I’m going to drag up the ‘thing that should not be mentioned’ and ask you about Fan Fiction. I know, I know, it’s like a dirty word to some, but who cares, right? Anyway, in previous interviews you openly talked about it, so I’m going there, too. :D
Now, we know how you came about Fan Fiction and what got you started writing it, but what I want to know is what you have personally gained from the Twilight fandom.
RE: I’ve gained so much. Friends have come and gone, and the really good ones have stuck by me even though we’ve never met in person. My self-image has improved in what I now believe I can do.
JC: A lot of authors have pulled their Fan Fiction stories and changed them to ‘originals’ to publish them, but you can still see so much of the Fan Fiction characters and places etc in them. The Fan Fiction story of the To Serve is Divine trilogy is so different from the version we have now. Can you explain the process you went through to add and change the Fan Fiction version of this trilogy?
RE: Went through? Ha! I’m still going through it. The third book in the trilogy has yet to be written. I began this task with a story and a set of four outtakes. Book one of the trilogy incorporates one of those outtakes, but the rest was written from scratch to cover my main leads’ first year together. A time that is referenced in parts of the original story, but not delved into. Book two will be what fanfic readers knew as the original story, but with scenes removed and changed, and the overall story enhanced and made to flow with book one. Book three will incorporate the epilogue from the original story and the remaining outtakes, but that material will only get me through about a third of the book.
JC: So a huge overhaul then?
RE: I’d like to think so! From the reviews that have come in on book one (by readers who read the fanfic as well), they all seem to agree my efforts are apparent.
JC: And they’d be right. I have watched the story grow more and more with each little bit you’ve added and I’m proud at what you have done :)
RE: Thank you! You’ve been a huge help in keeping me going forward on it.
JC: Likewise with you, lol.
RE: Right, what’s been the hardest step you’ve had to go through as an author so far?
Learning to self-market. When I went into this new venture, I thought, “Oh, writing and editing, I can do this no problem.” Then I found out about “homework.” I’m nearing forty for crying out loud! Alas, blogging, tweeting, facebooking -- these are the bread and butter for an Indie author and must be done.
JC: Age is just a number! :D
RE: Hm-mm. Sure it is. I still have to write essays for blog tours! But, while I gripe, in the end I love it.
Now we’re going to talk about the trilogy a bit more . . .
As some people know (or put two and two together) I made the covers for the first two books *gulps* and I never even thought about the flowers. So, why the orchids and not a rose or a lily? Do they symbolize something with you?
RE: Have you ever seen the movie ‘Adaptation’? It’s weird, really, but at the heart of the story is this rare orchid. I saw it several years ago, and the fate of that orchid stuck with me more than the movie itself. They can be a finicky flower. Gorgeous when taken good care of, an intoxicating fragrance, but so very easy to break and ruin. Can you think of a single, inanimate object that grasps what a submissive is?
JC: An orchid.
I see it now. I love flowers, but I can kill plastic ones if given the chance. I never would have thought about an orchid having so much meaning and looking at it now, I really see why you chose that for Catherine.
RE: *giggles* I’m not entirely innocent with that choice of flower, either. Take a good look at it. It’s visual presence is poetic.
JC: It’s, erm... yeah, point proven . . .
What’s the most bizarre conversation your characters have had with you with these books? Do they tag along when you’re shopping or busy with something? *imagining a scene between Jayden and Catherine while in the pet food aisle*
RE: O.O You don’t want to know what just flashed in my head when you suggested the pet aisle . . . all those leashes, collars, and muzzles!
JC: Come on, back to the question before I get all hot and bothered and plead for an outtake . . .
RE: Hehe, well, you know how I like to write impromptu scenes with household items ;)
JC: *coughs* Yeah . . . The question? Lol
RE: Oh, yes, the question . . . *ducks and blushes* They talk to me during intimate moments with my husband. Things like, “Oh, why haven’t you let US try THAT?”
JC: *snorts* Poor husband, hehehe.
RE: Yeah, he’s miserable. Poor sod. (This is you rubbing off on me, by the way! Who says sod!)
JC: Ha! You do, now lol. And you love how I talk, with all my British slip ups and strange sayings lol.
RE: That I do, love.
JC: Next! lol
As you’re two thirds of your way through the trilogy, is there anything you would change in To Serve is Divine or A Divine Life to set up the next book better? Any little tweaks you wish you’d done?
RE: That is the one beautiful thing about this whole pull to publish thing. I had my chance to fix what I wanted. As hard as it was to write the first book so that it would line up with what I knew was coming in the second book, I still had the power to change what I wanted in BOTH books. I’m happy with the outcome so far.
JC: That’s great! :D
Now for a little tricky question *hehe*
Now, while we all love our leading man and woman, I know that there are some readers out there that wouldn’t mind a little more of some of the other characters. Would there ever be a possibility of a little spin off book or two with regards to the other characters?
RE: Oh, there’s always a possibility. I know Micah has some fans that would love a closer look at his life. In the same vein, Landon (and thereby Paige) would be a good side story to tell.
JC: Got to ask, any chance of Micah and Landon? *puppy dog eyes going*
RE: LMAO! I’ve never considered that take on it (hmmm . . . if the Trilogy ever makes it to a point where there’s a *gasp* fandom formed for it, it would be interesting to see the combinations that come from it!)
JC: I’ll get on that right away, who do I have to contact? :D
RE: Not a clue, babe.
JC: *Makes a mental note to start researching*
Now this might be a difficult one . . .
The books in the trilogy are centered on a realistic BDSM lifestyle. What made you decide to go into such depth with it? The reason I ask, is because there are so many books out there and very few of them have gone to such lengths to make it ‘real’ and while they scratch an itch, they have been quite . . . bland? Is that the right word? Don’t get me wrong, they’re good, but . . .
RE: Vanilla? *giggles* Yes, my books are going to be more intense than what a lot of readers are used to, unless they are Lifestylers themselves. My interests in the Lifestyle started, I thought, in fanfiction, but it wasn’t until after I’d been reading/writing the genre, that it clicked in my head. I read The Beauty Trilogy and Exit to Eden when I was a teenager, among other things, but had filed it away. Making my way through the various fanfics, recalling the earlier stories, I soon realized things didn’t match up. In an effort to figure out what was ‘real’ and ‘not real’ I started researching. I won’t go into detail here, as I've done that in other interviews, but I will say my research included personal, internet, and conversations with those in the BDSM lifestyle who could share firsthand experience with me.
Does that answer your question, or have I rambled?
JC: I like you rambling. :D
So do you think that someone has a natural disposition to that type of story, lifestyle or nature? Or do you think it’s a matter of just liking what you read?
RE: From what I’ve seen and the people I’ve met, I think there’s a natural disposition. The most avid supporters of the D/s genre are those who live it, or are very interested in experiencing it.
JC: This actually leads me onto my next question.
Catherine loves her pain and some readers find that hard to relate to, because it is extreme and it does seem harsh sometimes. Could you explain to them the pleasure Catherine gets from feeling pain and why you wrote her like that?
RE: Because I like a challenge? Seriously, though. I set out to write a story that could show that the BDSM lifestyle is complex. Different strokes for different folks, and all that. Catherine is a pain slut, but Samantha is not. Jayden likes to inflict pain, but only if his submissive is enjoying it, becoming sexually aroused from it. He’s far from a monster that ‘beats’ women.
JC: And it comes down to trust and respect, which a lot of people don’t seem to understand about the lifestyle.
RE: Exactly. Outsiders may think it looks harsh and strict, but what so many people miss is that both parties WANT that. Safe, Sane, CONSENSUAL. I’ve said it before, when its no longer consensual, then it becomes abuse, but not before then. As long as it's consensual, its two (or more) people expressing their feelings and emotions for each other in a way that makes them happy. What’s wrong with that?
JC: Nothing :)
Now, stepping away from the heavy talk. *hehe*
If you could have a date with Jayden for twenty four hours (with the hubby’s permission, of course), what would you do and where would you go? Would you like the romance from him, or the Dom? *hehehe*
RE: Oh, wow. I think Catherine would be more understanding if I borrowed her Dom for a day. ;)
JC: Lol, so no idea or plenty of them, but you’ll be keeping your lips shut *facepalm* wrong choice of words... sorry....
RE: PMSL! You have seen my inspiration for Jayden, don’t tell me you don’t have your own ideas! http://pinterest.com/rehargrave/boards/
JC: *sighs* Yeah . . . Oh the things I would do . . .
RE: Point proven. Anything else, love? *giggles*
JC: If Jayden permitted his girl to spend some time with you on a girl’s day out, what would you talk to Catherine about?
RE: *thinking* Honestly? I’d want to get my hands on her maimeo’s hand-written recipe book! I’m a geek, I know.
JC: Ha! Okay, I wasn’t expecting that, not at all!
Okay, one last question before a quick game! lol
RE: Game? *gulps*
Yep, now, reviews play a huge role when buying a book, and they really help out authors, especially self-publishing authors or authors from smaller publishing houses. What’s been the best review that you’ve had so far and why? < Now don’t kill me for using the same word three times in a sentence!
RE: This is going to seem silly, but I think my favorite one so far came from Annmarie (http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/506620540) because she was my first GIF review, and it made me laugh. They’ve all been lovely, however; every last one bringing a big smile to my face.
JC: Aww! I loved that review, especially the GIF! :D
Game time? *claps hands*
RE: *bites nails*
JC: Pfft, I’ve read what you’ve written, this isn’t scary in the slightest! lol
Okay, I say a word and you tell me the first thing that comes to mind.
RE: Okay, sounds safe enough.
RE: The Phantom Tollbooth
RE: Carnival < JC sniggers at this answer :)
JC: See, that wasn’t too bad! Nickleback and Animal? Going to fill me in on that later?
JC: Ohh! I wouldn’t mind wrapping my fingers into that hair! *blushes* I just typed that, didn’t I?
RE: Yep! Nice to know I’m in good company.
JC: Yeah, but you’ll never let me live that down . . . hehehe
Okay, so that wraps up this ‘interview/chat’ and it still bugs me that we can chat for ages and write 3.5k in a doc, but get nothing when we open up our stories, what’s up with that?
RE: Get out! We have not broken 3k?! Wow, okay. I just have so much fun with you!
JC: Uh, yes we have, actually. Over 3646 words! It’s been great! Thank God we kept it tame. Could you imagine if we let your readers into our Skype chats! O.O
RE: *snorts* Well, if they’ve read any of this trilogy, then they know what my mind is capable of, and it’s certainly not tame! I’ve had a blast, thanks so much for having me stop by.
JC: I’ve loved having you here, babe, as always and I love getting inside your mind. It’s scarily similar to mine, which I don’t know if it’s a good thing or not, but hey, it’s fun and that’s the main thing lol.
Got anything to say to your readers before you go and leave me to tidy up my office?
RE: I say it over and over, but it’s never enough: Thank you. Happy reading, darlin’s!
JC: *I love it when her southern drawl comes out*
Skype in ten, Rach? hehehe.
RE: You betcha ;) *tips hat*
So now that we’ve seen a little more of what goes on inside R.E. Hargrave’s head! It’s a lovely place, right?
Thanks for reading and make sure you grab a link from below to get your copy of A Divine Life!
R.E. Hargrave lives on the outskirts of Dallas, TX where she prides herself on being a domestic engineer. Married to her high school sweetheart, together they are raising three children from elementary age to college age. She is an avid reader, a sometimes quilter and now, a writer for Renaissance Romance Publishing.