Since signing with Siren-BookStrand, prolific author Anitra Lynn McLeod has penned five series—Twin Pines Grizzlies, Rough River Coyotes, Sold!, Trinity Pines Grizzlies, and her newest addition, Seven Brothers for McBride. We had the chance to chat with Anitra about her favorite characters, her most rewarding moments, and what readers can look forward to in her new series.
Q: The dystopic future world of Seven Brothers for McBride is really unique and interesting. Where did the ideas for the setting come from and what was your favorite aspect to build on and incorporate throughout the series?
A: The original nugget for the idea was a play on the title of the musical Seven Brides for Seven Brothers. I twisted that around and then got to thinking what the series would be about. I took the idea of Gone With the Wind and mashed that up with the television show Oz. After whirling all that around inside my head I came up with a world loosely based on prisons and plantations. It’s set in the far distant future where all women, horses, and dogs have been wiped out by a virus. Oh, and there are vampires, too, who have a complicated hierarchy. Incorporating my unique take on vampires was the most fun and challenging part of the series.
Q: Each Morgan brother gets his own book and happily ever after, but the love story between Caleb Morgan and McBride is developed throughout the series. What was it like keeping the romance going between Caleb and McBride without getting to explore their relationship too much until Caleb’s own book?
A: Those two wanted to get together right away, so holding them apart for seven books kept me on my toes. What amazed me was that Caleb and McBride genuinely cared about one another and would do almost anything to protect each other. The real trick was standing back and letting them make their own mistakes but also allowing them to set things right in their own way.
Q: Is there a favorite character in the series or a character you wish you could have spent more time with?
A: Caleb. He was so dark and tortured. In the first few books he was painted with a wide, mean brush, but later on his true character is revealed. I think he and McBride are two of the most complicated men I’ve ever written. I could happily write more tales just about those two.
Q: What was your vision for the world in the Sold! series, and what were some of the joys (and difficulties) of creating it?
A: I really love sci-fi. I grew up reading Niven, Asimov—all the biggies—and I wanted to do something that was an homage to them but also true to who I am as a ManLove author. So I took the classic abducted-by-aliens scenario, mixed it with the kink of sex with unique aliens, added a dash of either spice or sugar (not all the books are harder edged), gave everything a good spin in the blender of my head, and served it up.
The most difficult aspect of the series is defining the aliens. I strive to live up to my tagline “Unique Twists, Unforgettable Romance,” so I really had to work overtime to make the aliens different but still relatable. The world building is there, but accessible and easy to understand. For instance, I don’t spend pages with them struggling to communicate. Instead, they have a translator implanted. Poof! All the fun without the hassle.
Q: What’s the most rewarding moment you’ve had writing ManLove romance?
A: When I got my first gushing fan letter. She loved the Twin Pines Grizzlies series but desperately wanted to know if Dylan got his own tale. What made that even sweeter was the next several letters from more fans asking me the same thing! I had no idea Dylan was going to touch so many readers. What’s striking me right now as I write this is that Dylan is an awful lot like Caleb from Seven Brothers for McBride. Dylan is dark and tortured with a fascinating backstory. I guess readers love to read those men as much as I love to write them.
Q: What’s the biggest thing that you’ve learned about writing that you didn’t know when you first started?
A: How much work goes into a novel. And I don’t just mean me sitting at the computer banging away for sixteen hours a day. I mean the editors, the cover artists, the sales department—a lot of people go into making the finished product. So when people think it’s all me I have to tell them differently. Without all the behind-the-scenes people working just as hard as I do, I wouldn’t be able to do what I love, which is telling the stories I think are fun, interesting, and romantic.
Q: What qualities do you think are important for the hero in a romance? Are there types of men you prefer to write about?
A: I’m beginning to realize I love the dark, tortured guys! I love complicated characters who aren’t always what they seem at first. It’s easy to label Caleb as a violent troublemaker, but once that’s peeled away and you find that romantic soul underneath…ah. That’s the moment you really fall in love with him and he sticks with you forever.
Q: Who do you look up to? What are some of their qualities that you strive to possess as well?
A: I admire anyone who has followed their dream no matter what. And I don’t mean people who are celebrities. I’m talking about everyday people who work a day job to support their weekend painting habit. Or a dad who channels his desire to be an actor into reading stories to his kids. That impresses me. Not everyone can be what they wanted to be when they grew up. We’d have a bunch of teachers, nurses, firemen, cowboys, and super heroes. We need people who have the courage to fall in love, get married, have kids, and still find time to indulge those dreams. The sexiest guy I ever met was a firefighter on the weekends because he worked during the week as a lawyer to take care of his family.
Q: Tell us something we don’t know about you that might surprise us.
A: I have a plan to rule the world but I’m not going to enact it because I really don’t know what I’d tell everyone to do. I trust that people will figure that out on their own.
Q: What is your biggest fear?
A: You mean besides spiders? Um, interviews. They scare me because I never know what people will think. But then again, that’s okay. I realized a long time ago that not everyone is going to like me, and that’s fine. What I focus on instead are the people who do like me because I generally like them back.