Monday, October 15, 2012

October Book Discussion: Talking Trained For Seduction with Mia Downing

Hello Chicks!!! It's October 15th which means it's time for our October book discussion. 

This month our book is an erotic romantic suspense....

I've been very lucky to get to know Mia via email since I read this book. She's incredibly sweet and agreed to do an interview for us this month, so I thought that would be a good way to start off the month's discussion. Keep reading too, because at the end, Mia has a discussion question to ask you all about the book this month. 

For everyone that comments, you will be added into a drawing for an e-book version of book #2 in this series...Spy Games: Lethal Limits

First of all, thank you for being here and joining us this month. You already know I am a HUGE fan of the book. I know that Mia Downing is a pseudonym. Is there a story behind where the name came from?
Thank you so much for having me, Christi and Chicks, and thank you so much for reading Spy Games: Trained for Seduction this month! I’m very flattered and I hope you enjoyed reading it. 
Actually, yes, there’s a story behind my name, but it’s fairly simple. My editor, Diana Carlile, named me. We had discussed pen names, and she said, “I know what will be perfect for you!” And I agreed because I had used my one pen name idea for editing. Since Diana ‘names’ all of my books, it makes sense she would name me, too. Trained For Seduction (TFS, it’s easier) went under the working name of Undercover Lovers. Lethal Limits (Jake’s book) was sent in as Jake, and all of my books go in as the hero’s name. Yes, I’m a brat, but I’m also realistic. I suck at titles, and she’s not going to like whatever I name it anyway. So we brainstorm, I hate everything and she cajoles me into believing it will be a great title and I’ll love it (and she’s always right, damn her. LOL) 

How long have you been writing in general? Writing erotica? Writing suspense?
In general… My first book was a sequel I wrote in 4th grade to Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH because I didn’t like the ending. I remember I got forty pages down in a spiral notebook. We moved right after so it’s probably gone, but it was fun! I won a bus trip to Boston to see the Alexander the Great exhibit at the art gallery with an essay written when I was in 7th grade. 
Writing erotica…I had done the contest scene with contemporary and historical romances and did well, but went into technical writing to make some money. I have many, many ghost written books, articles and blog posts floating out there. I think that helped me learn to be concise with word choices. I started editing erotic romance after burning out of technical writing. It just seemed smart to write a genre I loved to read and edit. 
I love being able to use a sex scene to build conflict or show character development. For example, Chase was so much fun in this book because I got to show how his conflict was affecting him. As Kate’s mission grew closer, his need for dominance and control filtered into the bedroom. On Kate’s side, it was interesting to show how she began to see these changes in him and how she realized she’d need to accept the boss side of him as well as the man if she wanted to remain in his life. It was her choice. She could have walked out, but she chose instead to go the extra step. 
Suspense…I don’t know if you can really say I write suspense, not like some of the big authors. I dabble in it, because I like books to be interesting and I think the missions in each book show character growth. Kate was stronger than she thought she’d be. In Jake’s book, Tia’s mission shows her how a life without limits can be lethal. And Charlotte’s mission just sets everything on edge. 

How did you get started writing? 
I started writing my first book, a historical, when I was in college. I did so much research I could grow cotton in my back yard if I wanted. The book went on to final in some contests after I learned a lot more. I did the writing contests when I started writing romance in 2000, and always got split results. Judges either cried or hated me. I grew a thicker skin and decided it was a good thing to draw either response. If everyone thought, “eh, that was good,” I wasn’t destined to write. 
I started writing again in 2000 when my son was born. I had been diagnosed with Lupus since 1997 and found I really needed a rest period to make it through the day. So when my son napped, I started writing. It was more noble than watching soaps (which is a huge guilty pleasure. I love Young and the Restless!) I wrote during nap times and after they went to bed. 
On January 1, 2012 I decided I was going to finish the book I had started (Exceeding Boundaries.) I have, since that day, written 3 full length novels, 2 longer novellas, 2 short novellas and I have a new one started (30K in.) A full-length book is about 80-100K words, just so you guys can get an idea of how much I’ve written. The total approximate word count is 474,000 words. And yes, I work part time in a few different jobs. My house has dust elephants and we all live out of laundry baskets, but they’re very proud of me. 

Where did the idea for this series come from?
My husband snores, so I would lay awake at night and my favorite sleep story was Kate, Chase, and Jake (they all had different names though, I have no clue what they were. LOL) It was sort of a Six Million Dollar Man scenario, with Kate and Jake being more like Steve Austin and Jaime Sommers (yes, I’m old.) Usually, Kate ended up with Jake, and Chase was just the boss and older, sort of the Oscar Goldman figure, but it didn’t work for me. One night Chase became younger, and I wondered why that couldn’t work? So basically, the story was written in my head before I went to the computer. It took a month to write it, and two more weeks to layer in an additional 40,000 words after I wrote Jake’s book. 

Kate is “crazy-smart” and an expert at bomb making. Do you share these traits with her? If not, how much research did you have to do about bomb-making and to come up with the phrases she uses to get Chase hot?
Actually DH is the bomb maker and gun slinger of the family though I have shot the shotgun a few times. (No, we did not research the gun shooting scene. LOL) I am quite smart in a creative, language, book way, and as a kid my dad hated that I was smarter than he was. So I learned to hide it, just as Kate learned to hide her smarts. 
The phrases for Chase’s smart fetish were actually fun to research. I spent many evenings going over different explosive chemicals, the Periodic Tables and theories in Physics. The idea for her weight triggered bomb was actually in a news article I had read, and I adapted the technology to work for my story.
I loved the idea that Chase, as gorgeous as he is, didn’t love her for her looks even when she was less attractive as Emma. Right from square one he was drawn to her brains, which says a lot about him, I think. It sort of reminded me of how excited Gomez Adams got when Morticia would speak French to him. Who doesn’t love a quirk like that? It made Chase different and fun, and it gave Kate a way to best him at times. As dominant as he is, it’s nice to know he has a weakness. 
I did have a friend comment on the plastic surgery Kate had to have because she was very angry they would do that to her. I honestly hadn’t thought of that aspect. So my response was, yes, she had a boob job, but most of the surgery was to hide her identity or to rebuild damaged parts of her body after her plane crash. I honestly don’t think Chase would have cared either way what she looked like. He was already in half smitten the moment he read her file and saw she had a 170 IQ and knew all those languages.

There is a really unusual relationship among the three main characters that I love. Did you know from the very start the way it would all play out and that Jake would have his own story later?
Actually, yes, I knew where Jake’s book, Lethal Limits was going for the most part (Jake’s one trait he feels is an asset but Chase hates is that Jake is impulsive. You’ll see in his book.) One of my goals for TFS was to see if I could write a ménage, and the only way I could envision myself entertaining one is if I loved the two men fiercely, as Kate loves Chase and Jake. I also have a hard time believing anyone being that close isn’t going to suffer some sort of repercussions from the arrangement despite how close the two guys are. I’m sure there are people that live that lifestyle and it works for them, but all relationships take work. Jake’s book is about repercussions. 
While I was writing TFS, the first vision I had for Jake’s book was him bound to a bed, gagged and being tortured in a sinfully decadent way by a black-haired beauty. Of course I had to know who she was, and why she needed to tie Jake up. He’s a man whore. Usually you don’t need to tie them up, right? So I was intrigued. 

Why did you give both Chase and Kate their split personalities? (Chase/boss; Kate/Emma) Were these characters this way from the beginnings of your imagination or was it something that came from a need to show their inner conflicts?
Living a double identity as a spy would mean you have many identities because you can’t say, “Hey, I’m a spy,” to the ones you love without consequences. Kate was easy to give dual personalities since she was forced to evolve from one persona—innocent, shy and soft as Emma, to become Kate—hard, kick-ass and worldly. It was interesting to see her grow as a character and become more confident in bed and out and how at times she warred with the more innocent side of her. 
Chase’s split personality evolved more in the second rewrite. When I signed the contract for TFS it was 63,000 words, which is just under the length requirement for getting a print book. I thought there was no way I could add to it, but after writing Jake’s book (Lethal Limits) I had a much better understanding of Chase and who he is because I got to craft him from a totally different point of view. I went back in and deepened his inner conflict and made him struggle a bit more with both sides of himself. 
I think how the characters see/interact with Chase is one of the aspects I loved about writing this series. All of the main characters have a relationship with Chase, and they all see him differently. Tia, Jake’s heroine, is terrified of him. Charlotte worships the ground he walks on until her book, when she begins to see him more as a man than an entity. Aaron, Charlotte’s hero, is at first a little intimidated by Chase but as he becomes comfortable with his more dominant skin he stands up to Chase. And of course, both Jake and Kate love him unconditionally, despite the fact that his dominance crosses many boundaries. 
I know there are more books coming…share what’s on the horizon for this series.
The next full-length novel, Lethal Limits, is out on Amazon now and the wide release date has been moved to 1/11/13. Lethal Limits is Jake Anderson’s story and his quest to find a woman of his own to love. 

His Blurb: Secret Agent Jake Anderson would rather have the measles than love his best friend's wife. So when she gives him a mission--to find his own woman to love--he knows just the woman to target. Exotic beauty Tia Richards--his new partner--is wild, twisted, and has no limits when it comes to adventure, in bed and out. She's perfect for him. Now he just has to get Tia and his heart to agree.
Sexy spy Tia Richards has a problem, and the solution is Jake. The last time they hooked up, he left her bound and begging, unfulfilled, so close to finally getting the fireworks she deserves. But Jake loves his former partner, and Tia refuses to be second best. Will she listen to the ache in her heart that whispers she has what it takes to be first in Jake's life, or will lethal limits separate them forever?
For fun, I wrote two novellas to go in between TFS and Lethal Limits. Birthday Games is out now on Amazon and is a snippet of Jake’s birthday ménage with Chase and Kate. The ménage, as you’ll discover in Lethal Limits, was sort of a wake-up call for Jake. There’s also information that leads into book three, sort of a behind the scenes, this is what the spies are doing. 

The blurb: What do you get the spy who has everything for his thirty-fifth birthday? A ménage, of course. Secret Agent Jake Anderson can't believe his good fortune. He's always had the hots for his best friend's blonde bombshell wife, but Kate is also his partner and he knows better than to cross the line unless Chase gives the word. But all lines are erased for a night of sinful pleasure with his best friends, and even better, Jake gets to be in charge. Since Jake loves nothing more than missions that end in gun fights and car explosions, he's gearing up for one smokin' hot birthday party.
Novella Goodness: 
Because the Spy Games series is so much fun, and because there are so many elements to expand on but I didn’t have time, I came up with the idea to write several novellas to take place in and around the Spy Games series. They’re not necessities to read, but they give insight to events that happen in the core books.
Birthday Games: Spy Games 1.5
Birthday Games is a short, erotic story featuring Chase and Kate Sanders and of course, Jake Anderson, spies from the Spy Games series by Mia Downing. This sexy, hot read gives eager readers a glimpse of what happens between books 1 and 2. There is nothing revealed that you won't learn eventually, but sometimes having advanced knowledge is half of the fun! 
Mind Games: Spy Games 1.7
I have no clue why it’s 1.7, but it does happen the weekend after Birthday Games. This is an erotica adventure of a weekend of Chase’s delicious tortures and games he plays with Kate to blow off steam (and believe me, he has steam building!) If Chase were real he’d be very upset that Jake gets so much attention, so I gave him a novella of his own. 
Other Novellas in the works:
There will be a short novella between Lethal Limits and Endgame, too, which will include more Jake, and an intro for Charlotte and Aaron. Lastly, there will be a short novella at the very end of the series. It will be a male/male book because Jake’s brother, Paul, is gay and needs love. But this one is going to be a little different. It will take place on Jake’s family’s ranch and will be stand-alone, because I don’t want readers who aren’t fans of m/m to feel they’re missing something. The core of the adventure will be competed in Endgame, but the characters will appear in this last book.
Spy Games: Endgame Book 3
Lastly, Spy Games: Endgame is the last of the series and features Charlotte, Jake and Chase’s collateral damage from one of their first missions together, and Aaron, Jake’s actor brother. 
Blurb: Sexy assassin Charlotte Smith doesn't go by the code name Dragon Queen because she's sweet and cuddly. She's cold, hard, and mean and has been training for the past five years to take down the men who destroyed her soul and left her burning for revenge. But when she meets her next assignment at a wedding, her body protests there's much more to life than kicking asses and taking names. Actor Aaron James is witty, hot as hell, and he smells divine. But women with suicidal endgames don't indulge in casual sex, and they definitely don't fall in love.
Since meeting Charlotte at his brother's wedding, Aaron's life has been nothing but trouble. He's plagued by memories of the kiss he stole from her, and he senses underneath her aloof nature and frosty glare is a woman with passion and fire. When Charlotte is assigned as his bodyguard after a botched kidnapping attempt, he's psyched. What better way to get in her panties than have her pretend she's his girlfriend? Until Aaron realizes too late he wants more than her panties... he wants Charlotte's heart.

And you know me…I’m a fan. What do you have coming that isn’t part of this series?
I’m so flattered that you’re so into my writing! It really means so much to me, so THANK YOU!
My next story out is an m/m (male/male) under contract and in edits, and we’re fighting over titles, but I think Diana has me convinced that Just Ask would work nicely. It’s a gay for you set on an island resort in the Fiji Islands, and Jordan has just inherited half of said resort. His mission is two-fold: release his uncle’s ashes somewhere on the island, and meet his new business partner, Ryan. Ryan was devastated by the death of his business partner and best friend, and is now terrified Jordan will sell his half of the island to developers who will ruin the quaint charm of Bendura. His goal is to meet Jordan and persuade him not to sell, doing whatever it takes. He just doesn’t expect to be attracted, nor does he expect Jordan to reciprocate the feelings! 
Lastly, I’m working on an independent project that is for a GoodReads challenge. It’s very different than what I have written so far and I’m very excited about the possibilities of it becoming my next series.

Like I said at the beginning, Mia has her own discussion question for the Chicks. Give her your thoughts, and you will be entered a random drawing for the e-book version of Book #2 in the series... Spy Games: Lethal Limits (Jake's book). (At this point in time, this book is only available in the Kindle format.)

Some of the reviews complained about insta-love on Chase's side. They wanted to see him fall, too. How did you feel about that aspect of the plot? What did you think of his decision to not allow her to love him, and could you understand his reasoning? 

Mia's answer: I didn't want it to be insta-love. Really. The first draft of the book had Chase falling just like Kate, but when I hit his discussion with his uncle, I realized he had to love her enough to come up with a different plan or the book would end with her dead and him alone. So once he fell for her, his conflict actually became deeper and more complex, I think. There's also a year's time that passes between when he meets her and when he becomes her boss. Though it's not shown on the page, he's had time to know more about her through following her training and also listening to Jake talk about her constantly. I would love to have heard some of those conversations! 



Christi Snow said...


Mia Downing said...

Thanks for having me, Christi and Chicks!

Christi Snow said...

Now that I have some caffeine in me, I wanted to come on here and talk about the discussion question.

I just don't see this as a case of insta-love. He's watched her for over a year as she's learned to adjust to this new life. She may not have known he was there, but he's obviously been very close at hand to know the person that she is. And from their one night together, he knows they have amazing chemistry.

I could completely buy Chase falling for her that way. And personally, I LOVE the fact that he didn't leave her side while she was recovering from her life-threatening injuries from her plane crash. That fact just makes my heart melt every time I think about it.


Kim Muhl said...

Awesome interview! I love learning more about an author (especially when the books are so amazing)! Thank you, Mia!

Thank you for picking this book, Christi! I LOVED it so much, LOVED Birthday Games, and am currently reading Jake's book (and don't want to put it down). I am officially a Mia fan and plan on scooping up more of her stuff.

I like to believe that Chase's love wasn't an instant thing. For me, he was intrigued and attracted to her, but fell more in love with her between the first encounter and Kate's training. I imagine his turning point to be when he sat by her bedside while she recovered from the surgeries/crash. *swoon*

Brooke said...

What a fabulous, insightful interview!! Thanks so much, Mia, for taking the time to chat with the Chicks! We certainly appreciate it. :)
First off.. I am loving TFS so far... (about half done with it at this point...) cannot WAIT to see how the mission plays out, along with the relationship between Chase & Kate.

As for your question, I don't feel that Chase does have insta-love for Kate. I think the feelings are all there, somewhere inside of him, and in a sense he does fall. It is a different situation for him because he interacts with her in two different settings, first, as Emma, and then as Kate. He doesn’t fall for one girl or the other, but a combination of both. I like that even after Emma’s identity has been changed, and the plastic surgery has been done, Chase still remembers and appreciates her for how she looked and what she was like before the crash. He has to get to know her all over again, as a completely different woman. Even though his feelings are strong all along, and he knows in his heart this girl means something special to him, he still develops the actual LOVE as the story proceeds.

I can definitely understand why he doesn’t want her to love him. She is going into a dangerous situation, where the outcome is questionable, and it is partly his doing, as her boss. He is hoping if that rift of “all business, no love” is there, it will make everything easier.
Do I like it? Not. One. Bit. LOL… of COURSE I want them to have a mutual love and happily ever after right off the bat, but that just doesn’t lend to a great storyline. I am glad that struggle is presented, even if it makes the reader uncomfortable when he is telling her she CAN’T love him, it will be that much sweeter in the end, when it all works out between them.

Ashley Nguyen Newell said...

WOW! I can't believe an author gave an interview for our little bloggy book group! How cool! I haven't read the book yet (I'm down with a kidney infection) but I'm hoping to get caught up before we stop discussing it.