An Interview with J. Rose Allister

J. Rose Allister lives halfway between the dramatic backdrop of LA and steamy Palm Springs, where she tends to dream up stories while either lying in bed at night, sitting at her desk at work, or anywhere she happens to be at the moment. She finds it exciting to watch plots unfold, especially when a character says or does something unexpected. Luckily, her characters have such a take-charge attitude that this happens quite a lot. When she’s not busy playing chase games with her hunky yet smart-aleck muse, she enjoys spending time with her family, watching good shows, and editing her nine-year-old’s video blog. And oh, yeah, she also happens to like reading awesome books, and as such is frequently guilty of buying more than she’ll ever likely wade through. She rarely goes anywhere without her Nook or tablet, but if she does, she can still read on her phone. (Insert maniacal laughter here.) If she can take an e-reader with her when she goes, you can bet she will. There’s too much left in her TBR pile!

Q: Quite a few of your books have involved werewolves and other paranormal elements. Why do you think the paranormal lends itself so well to sexy, exciting romances? Is there anything about this subgenre you feel especially drawn to or inspired by?

A: I definitely like to “play” in the paranormal realm—especially when supernatural aspects have erotic context. As for werewolves, well, there’s such a delicious, raw hunger to work with. Werewolf heroes have an innate, animal sexuality that oozes from their pores. It is apparently as irresistible to me as a writer as it is to the partners they lure to their beds. I find the whole bad boy/alpha thing quite inspirational. Oh, yeah.

As for the paranormal subgenre, I think one reason it lends itself so well is that hot, sexy romance is in and of itself something of a paranormal phenomenon. An interesting parallel forms when characters are put in that whirlwind at the same time they are dealing with otherworldly forces. That’s probably why most of my paranormals involve a main character who was previously unaware such things existed—so they are faced with two life-altering revelations at once.

Q: One of the strengths of Peter and the Wolf is that it includes a lot of fascinating, thorough information about werewolf traits, mythology, and culture. How did you think of these details? Are they a product of your own imagination or perhaps a new take on traditional werewolf myths?

A: Many of the details I include about werewolf mythology arise out of necessity when I want elements that either aid the romantic/erotic relationship or get in the way of it. They’re the most fun bits of lore to write! For instance, in the Lone Wolves of Shay Falls series, virgin mates can be subjected to quite animally aggressive “deflowering” without any pain—just so long as it is their rightful mate doing the deed. In Peter and the Wolf, the appearance of a werewolf’s mate has negative consequences, and that becomes an obstacle to Jarred’s acceptance of his powerful attraction to Peter. Then there are other factors, like glowing eyes and super strength, that I adapted from popular werewolf mythology simply because they’re downright cool and sexy.

Q: Peter and the Wolf focuses on a romance between two dominant personalities whose built-in conflict certainly makes for a lot of sparks. What was the inspiration for this interesting and unusual romance?

A: I had no idea Peter and the Wolf would involve a dual-alpha dynamic when I first started writing it. The inspiration came when the title, a play on the classic tale, popped into my head as a concept for a werewolf ManLove story. However, I’d originally envisioned Peter as this submissive type who gets bowled over and dominated by a larger-than-life alpha male. Characters often have their own ideas, however, and I soon found Peter behaving much more aggressively than I pictured. I could have rewritten things at that point, but I usually find the results far more satisfying if I let characters have their way. Peter’s determination to alpha a man who starts off as the much more intimidating figure added an intriguing facet to an already complicated romance. I hope readers are as pleased with the outcome as I was.

Q: Do you have any plans for a sequel to Peter and the Wolf? If not, can you give readers any hints about upcoming books they can look forward to?

A: Peter and the Wolf is a standalone tale (tail?), but you never know when that world’s lore might pop up in a later story. In the meantime, I’ve got quite a few other projects lined up. I’m wrapping up the Lone Wolves of Shay Falls books, my werewolf ménage series with romantically involved heroes. I also have more ManLoves in the works, including a BDSM contemporary involving a hunky med student, an all-new werewolf story, and a popular fairy tale given a naughty male twist. It’s shaping up to be a busy year!

Q: The narration in your books often has a witty, edgy quality that gives a strong sense of each character’s personality. Can you tell us about your writing process? How do you get into a specific character’s head when you sit down to write a scene from his or her perspective?

A: I get asked that question a lot, and I can tell you it’s pretty darn funny trying to explain my writing process to someone who isn’t a writer. I watch their eyes widen, and they begin slowly edging away from me while I tell them, “I listen to the voices.” Other writers totally get it. But I guess you can’t talk about “the voices” to just anyone!

Crazy as it sounds, that is what I do. I deliberately daydream—a lot—so I can hear characters talk to one another and to themselves. There are other tricks I employ, but this is what offers me the best insight into who a character is and where the next scene in my book is going. On the other hand, this technique gives me a glazed, out-there look that tends to worry a lot of people. It can be risky business, daydreaming in public.

Q: What’s the biggest thing that you’ve learned about/from writing that you didn’t know when you first started?

A: I didn’t know when I first started fiction writing how much the creative process would build on itself. I started off by penning a short story here and there, and back then I couldn’t begin to fathom how authors managed to write one full-length book, let alone many over a career. Soon, however, I found my story ideas growing increasingly complex, and eventually they were becoming too elaborate to tell in short story format. Now, most of my work is full-length or close to it.

Interestingly, I’ve watched my husband discover the same thing with his writing. He started penning flash erotica a couple years back, swearing all the while he could “never” do anything longer. But he’s gradually been getting ideas for bigger concepts, and he wrote his first complete novel during NaNoWriMo in November. He’s already got plans for two more. The fiction-writing bug is a force to be reckoned with!

Q: Tell us something we don’t know about you that might surprise us.

A: My very earliest forays into fiction writing involved penning skits for competitive stage costuming (performing brief skits on stage while competing in costume contests). I found myself getting far more jazzed over winning skit presentation awards than those for the costumes themselves. I eventually realized this was because the writing aspect appealed to me far more than costume construction or performance elements.

Q: If you could be any of your characters, who would it be and why?

A: Honestly, I put my characters in such confounding circumstances that I’m not sure I’d want to trade places with any of them! But if I had to slip into someone’s literary shoes right now, I’d have to vote for Peter Andrews from Peter and the Wolf. He definitely faces some painful, outright frightening circumstances, but he comes out a far more powerful, interesting individual in the end. And he has explosive enough passion with a gorgeous, seductive werewolf to literally shake (and break) the walls. Grrrowwwl!