Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Debut Author: Teresa Frohock

I have never purchased a book solely based on the cover, until I stumbled upon this one:



The killer cover art intrigued me immediately, along with the title since I knew the meaning. I had to know the story about the man kneeling and why the dark-haired woman glared at him with such hatred or mistrust. Not to mention everyone had a sword and their shirt on, which to me was a good sign there’d be more plot than sex.

After I bought it, I read the blurb, then went straight to my Kindle to start reading. And I’m so glad I did. This is going on my list of favorites for the year.

I loved the richly drawn characters, the unique world, and the layers of conflict that kept me turning the pages. I’m ecstatic the talented Teresa Frohock agreed to come on to discuss her complex and compelling debut novel that captivated me from start to finish.

IR: In 50 words or less, how would you describe Miserere?

TF: Miserere is an adult fantasy about Lucian, a man who betrays his lover in order to save his sister. When Lucian finds that his lover Rachael is dying, Lucian overcomes his fear of his sister so that he can find Rachael and destroy the demon he unleashed on her soul.

IR: What inspired you to write this particular book?

TF: A dream, actually. I had this really cool dream where a tall, Slavic man in medieval garb talked to a boy dressed in modern clothing. Beyond the city where they stood was a dark forest and in the forest was a sign nailed to a tree that read: Jesus Saves. Beneath the sign was a fender from an older model car and on the fender was the bumper sticker: Nobody Saves You More Than Winn Dixie.

That juxtaposition of the religious and the secular intrigued me. I love reading and writing fantasy, so I thought about ways to examine those concepts and Miserere slowly evolved out of that initial framework.


IR: How many agents did you query for this book before receiving an offer of representation? And how did you deal with rejection/criticism?

TF: I queried four agents before I signed with Weronika and every rejection, no matter how kindly worded, was like a kick in the gut. I don't believe you ever become inured to it. Of course, I understood that it wasn't me they were rejecting, nor was it my writing. It was just that particular novel. Still, every rejection was a slap. Then the feeling would fade and I would send out the next round of queries. I knew Miserere would be a tough sell because the story could easily be mistaken for Christian fiction even though it is not.

IR: How long was the book on submission with editors before you received an offer? And how did you maintain your sanity while waiting?

TF: Miserere was on submission for about six weeks before it was picked up by Night Shade Books. I maintained my sanity like all writers do, by checking my email every twenty minutes for the first five days. Then I realized nothing productive was coming from that behavior, so I resorted to researching my next novel and writing a synopsis for it.

IR: You created such a unique world or should I say Woerld with a fascinating mythos. Your evocative storytelling and rich descriptions brought the characters and environment to life. What research did you do for this novel?

TF: Oh, man. I read a lot of Eastern Orthodox texts that had been translated to English to acquire the tone I wanted for Lucian's voice. I've always had an interest in religion, but it wasn't until I started working on Miserere that I realized how little I actually knew about Christianity. I had what I call the sound-bite education—that is where all my information came from the snips and bits that I heard online or while I was growing up.

When I started really researching the roots of Christianity and how Christian beliefs were formed, I developed an entirely different appreciation for the religion, especially for women's roles in early Christianity. I wanted to capture those early beliefs from the days before Christianity became mired in wealth and politics and intertwine them with good old fashioned fantasy magic.

I also read about Slavic vampire lore. One excellent source for me was The Darkling: A Treatise on Slavic Vampirism by Jan Louis Perkowski. The Slavic vampire was more of a sexual predator, and I tried to reflect that in Catarina’s character.

In order to learn about exorcisms, I read several sources, but really enjoyed Armando Maggi’s Satan’s Rhetoric: A Study of Renaissance Demonology. I’ll stop there. I could go on for paragraphs. Research is one of my favorite parts of writing.


IR: Although this is not a horror book, some scenes, especially the ones depicting possession were wonderfully eerie. What scene or chapter was the hardest to write?

TF: Believe it or not, anything with the kid. Lindsay was the hardest character for me to write, because I don't remember what it was like to be twelve. I'm more like Rachael in that respect and trying to write someone young and innocent really threw for a loop. My agent, Weronika, was super about pointing out what needed to be fixed with Lindsay and she really helped me ratchet down on that kid.

Oddly enough, the more violent scenes were the easiest for me to write. I really enjoyed writing Lucian’s walk through the Ierusal Barren and the exorcism scene. Those were my favorites.


IR: Did you have any doubts or concerns about the marketability of this novel with the religious/spiritual aspect at the center of the story?

TF: Oh, yeah. I still do as a matter of fact. A lot of people see "Christian" and their brains shut off. They don't give the story a chance, so they don't realize it's not a novel about religion, but about a man. Justin Landon really discussed this frankly in his review of Miserere at his blog Staffer’s Musings and he said it the best: “Miserere while grounded in Christian myths isn't really about religion.”

I didn’t even start out with the Citadel being Christian; it all stemmed from Lucian and the character biography I created for him. Given that he was from Wallachia in the twelfth century, it was almost certain that he would Eastern Orthodox. I could have twisted things around, but it wouldn’t have been Lucian. I just knew in my gut that this character was Christian and if I wrote him any other way, it would be a betrayal to the character and the story I wanted to create.

I had resigned myself to the fact that if the Christian character meant the novel never sold, then so be it. I will write other novels, but there will be only one Lucian and his story was not about religion but about the redemption love can bring. I figured if people were too dense to see that, then I had no business writing.

I’ve been so wonderfully surprised at the reception to Miserere. A couple of reviewers haven’t understood the novel, but an overwhelming majority of reviewers have, and they have given Miserere marvelous reviews.


IR: What can we expect from the sequel without you giving too much away?

TF: We're going to Hell.

No, really. Most of the novel will take place in Hell.

I’m not being evasive, but that’s about all I can say without giving too much away. Dolorosa: A Winter’s Dream will be more about Rachael and her point of view. She hasn’t taken Lucian back; she has only offered him a chance to win her trust again. There are other men who are equally interested in winning the attention of the fiercely intelligent Rachael. Everything is up for grabs and Lucian knows it.


IR: What message/theme do you want readers to grasp?

TF: I think everyone has been taking something a little different from Miserere and I don’t want to ruin that. Romance readers have loved the romance between Lucian and Rachael; young-adult readers are a little confused, because they tend to identify strongly with Lindsay, who has a very small role this novel [Lindsay’s time will come in the third novel, Bellum Dei]; genre fans like the horror and world-building; and people who don’t normally read fantasy have really enjoyed Lucian’s story of redemption.

I wanted to write a novel about redemption. If people take more away, that’s wonderful. My biggest goal was to make readers forget their troubles while they fell into Lucian’s story, anything after that is icing.


IR: Do you use critique partners and/or beta readers?

TF: Absolutely. I need the feedback, especially in the early stages. Once I roll into the climax of the novel, I feel like I have the story under control, but those first chapters are killers for me.

IR: When is your next book coming out? And what are you currently working on?

TF: Currently, I'm writing on spec, which means I am not contracted for another novel with anyone. I'm working on a novel that is tentatively entitled The Garden. Going back to the concerns about Miserere, I didn’t think it would be wise to start a sequel to a novel that people might not like. So I decided to work on a different novel while we were waiting to see what happened with Miserere. I enjoy writing The Garden; it's kind of a perverted Beauty and the Beast story, and it's about acceptance.

IR: Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?

TF: Write. Write and remain teachable. Those are the only two things I can tell someone. I read anything I can get my eyes on regarding story and plot. I read in and outside my genre, and I’m always willing to try new things.

Most importantly, have fun, because you will never be rich doing this.


IR: Okay, two final, fun questions. If money wasn’t a factor, what would be your dream vacation?

TF: SPAIN! I would live in Spain for a year. Then I would travel all over the world. I’d love to see Eastern Europe and the Middle East.

IR: What is one daring thing you’ve done in your life or something about you that readers would be surprised to learn (if you don’t mind sharing)?

TF: Hmm, must be legal … I was a real hellcat when I was a younger woman, and I loved to drive fast cars. I’m invoking the Fifth on everything else.

Thank you so much for inviting me for this interview, Isis! Your questions were a lot of fun.


Thanks for coming on!

Teresa will GIVEAWAY AN AUTOGRAPHED COPY TO ONE LUCKY COMMENTER. The winner will be announced on Friday.



Raised in a small town, Teresa Frohock learned to escape to other worlds through the fiction collection of her local library. She eventually moved away from Reidsville and lived in Virginia and South Carolina before returning to North Carolina, where she currently resides with her husband and daughter.

Teresa has long been accused of telling stories, which is a southern colloquialism for lying. Miserere: An Autumn Tale is her debut novel.

Teresa can be found most often at her blog and website. Every now and then, she heads over to Tumblr and sends out Dark Thoughts, links to movies and reviews that catch her eye. You can also follow Teresa on Twitter and join her author page on Facebook.


Miserere: An Autumn Tale

Exiled exorcist Lucian Negru deserted his lover in Hell in exchange for saving his sister Catarina's soul, but Catarina doesn't want salvation. She wants Lucian to help her fulfill her dark covenant with the Fallen Angels by using his power to open the Hell Gates. Catarina intends to lead the Fallen’s hordes out of Hell and into the parallel dimension of Woerld, Heaven’s frontline of defense between Earth and Hell.

When Lucian refuses to help his sister, she imprisons and cripples him, but Lucian learns that Rachael, the lover he betrayed and abandoned in Hell, is dying from a demonic possession. Determined to rescue Rachael from the demon he unleashed on her soul, Lucian flees his sister, but Catarina's wrath isn’t so easy to escape. In the end, she will force him once more to choose between losing Rachael or opening the Hell Gates so the Fallen's hordes may overrun Earth, their last obstacle before reaching Heaven's Gates.

Read the FIRST FOUR CHAPTERS of Miserere FREE here

You can also check out the book trailer here.

62 comments:

  1. Thanks again, Teresa, for sharing so much in the interview! One more question. Did you make your book trailer or did Night Shade books?

    BTW readers, Night Shade Books looks like a great publisher for those writing fantasy, science fiction, and horror. However, I do believe they only take agented manuscripts.

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  2. Nice to meet you, Teressa. This sounds fascinating. I, too, have a novel that people assume is Christian fiction but it is actually a mix of biblical and mythological facts blurred and twisted for the purposes of my story. Those first chapters are killers. I have the same issue. :)

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  3. Hey, Isis,

    I did make the trailer for Miserere. I love Powerpoint, and in Office 2010, you can convert a slideshow into a movie file. So I created the slideshow, and my daughter helped me pick the right music and time the slides with the music. It was a real learning process and took me a whole weekend to put together, but I was really pleased with the end result.

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  4. This is not a book that I'd usually pick up, but this interview and the trailer have me very interested. The artwork in both (cover and trailer) is stunning. I love stories of redemption.

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  5. Since you guest blogged for me, I had to come on here and try to win an autographed copy. I want this book badly. It was great working with you and I wish you the best of luck in your future sales.

    -Nora
    http://norabpeevy.blogspot.com
    nora at norabpeevy.com

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  6. Thanks for the interview! That really is killer cover art.

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  7. Wow, what an awesome cover and premise! Four agents querried and six weeks until it was picked up by an editor? Holy crap! Just goes to show what an awesome story this book must be! Congrats!

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  8. @Ciara: Good luck, Ciara. It's a hard sell and a difficult balancing act. You didn't say what genre you write, but I can give you another good one to read if you want to see another genre author mix it up: Stina Leicht's Of Blood and Honey. She mixed up Celtic and Christian to come up with a really unique novel.

    @Brinda and @Rain: Michael C. Hayes did the artwork for Miserere. When Jeremy Lassen, Night Shade Books, sent it to me, I just cried--it was so perfect. Michael captured the story in their faces and I LOVE the fact that my girls are wearing real armor, not brass bikinis. ;-)

    @Nora: *waves* Thank YOU for the opportunity to talk on your blog! It was a lot of fun. I'm so glad to see you here too and good luck!

    @Creepy Query Girl: Thanks! ;-)

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  9. It is a cool cover! And wow she found a publisher fast.

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  10. I wouldn't worry too much about the religion stuff. Whenever someone writes or reads a 'paranormal' novel about vampires and demons and angels, it's based on religion too. This is not really my type of genre but I agree with Isis, I love the cover. Thanks for the review and interview.

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  11. Teresa!! A familiar face!

    It's so nice to see you making the rounds. I've been very excited about this book since I interviewed you at OWW.

    Christian mythology has always intrigued me and this sounds right up my alley.

    Congratulations, again. This is one of the most exciting premises I've seen in a while.

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  12. Blimey, LOVE the cover. Congratulations :)

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  13. @Alex: Hi, Alex, and thanks for stopping in!

    @Clarissa: I'll be doing a longer post on my blog soon about why I did a lot of the things I did in Miserere. I think it will answer some questions some folks have been generating about how I handled certain aspects of Christianity.

    @Maria! HELLO! I found you and followed and friended you all over! Thank you for hosting that wonderful interview on OWW. It was so much fun! I'm so happy to "see" you here.

    @Eve: Isn't it just awesome? I told Michael that no matter what I saw before, I will now always see my characters exactly the way he drew them. ;-)

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  14. It's not my usual fare, hell and demons taken into consideration. The thought of all the research that went into creating the story does make it intriguing.

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  15. Oh my gosh. I. WANT. THIS.
    I had heard of it because I've seen Weronika's posts in the past, but the cover rocks!!! I'm not a huge fantasy person but I am a Christian and I love delving into some of the deeper roots of things. This book just sounds fascinating. I'm so glad I stopped by today. Please enter me! jessica_nelson7590 at yahoo (dot) com

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  16. WOW! Fabulous interview and review. I was hooked by the cover as well, but this book sounds A.MAZ.ING! I would love to get my hands on it. So glad you shared today. I will be crossing my fingers. :)

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  17. Isis...you seriously have never bought a book exclusively because of the cover before this one? O.o

    This does look like a fabulous book. I shall have to add it to my tbr pile for sure.

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  18. I've bought books based solely on the cover and usually been disappointed, but sounds like you hit a winner, Isis. Very intriguing story. And you're right, shirts on is a good sign. :)

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  19. The cover is great and the book sounds fabulous. Great interview, Teresa makes it seem so easy, even though we all know it's not! Love the advice to new writers - write and remain teachable. Excellent all around. Can't wait to read the book!

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  20. @J.L.: I have had a few people who don't normally read this genre tell me they enjoyed the story. I think they are the ones who really enjoyed Lucian's story more than the flash and magic. ;-)

    @Jessica: Weronika is awesome! I'm so glad you stopped by.

    @Abby: Hi, Abby, thanks! Isis gave me the most interesting questions and plenty of time to answer them. She's super!

    @Michael: I'm like Isis, I've never bought a book just for the cover art either, but I'm finding a lot of people do. Excellent cover art really makes your novel stand out from the crowd though.

    L.G.: I laughed out loud when I saw Isis' statement about shirts on. ;-)

    @Tameri: No, it's not easy, but it's wonderful fun. For me, winding all the characters and plotlines together is like putting a puzzle together. ;-)

    Thanks to all of you for stopping by to comment!

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  21. Fascinating interview. This is one I'd love to read.

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  22. Great interview! This sounds like an interesting book!

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  23. Very interesting - and it got me interested, too. And I'm not one to read fantasy!

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  24. Great cover. All success to Teresa.

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  25. Great interview and introduction to Teresa. Best of luck on what sounds like a fantastic book.

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  26. I gotta read that book.

    Awesome interview! :)

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  27. Isis: Fabulous job on the interview. I felt like I was sitting there listening in.

    Teresa: Congratulations on publishing your debut novel! Your cover is one of the best I've seen. I love that it actually reflects the tone and content of the book, which is certainly not a given. I tend to buy books based on the blurb (and yours sounds intriguing), but a well-done cover helps seal the deal.

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  28. I've been curious about Miserere and so this interview was a fantastic thing for me. Definitely goes on my TBR list!

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  29. Nice to meet you, Teressa. This sounds fascinating and the cover is beautiful!

    Congrats on getting it published!

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  30. It is a killer cover. I already have "Miserere" on my reading list. It looks absolutely amazing.

    marypres(AT)gmail(DOT)com

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  31. I will have to add this to my TBR. The cover is definitely eye catching - something I love - and the blurb is rich with tension all on it's on. Leaves one wondering, "what will happen" and demands that reading must happen to find out. Thanks to both of you, Isis and Teresa, for this interview.

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  32. Interesting interview, and this book sounds very intriguing :-)

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  33. Hi Teresa, its great to meet you!! Good luck with Miserere and hope you have lots of sales during the holiday season!

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  34. @LD, @Stacy, @M Pax, @Carol, @David, @Daniel, @Lydia, @Romance Reader, @Marybelle, @Angela, @Sarah, and @Stephen: THANKS! ;-) (I hope I didn't leave anyone out!!)

    On the cover art: Once I saw the cover and found the artist, I emailed Michael, because I was curious about his process. He told me that Night Shade Books told him which characters they wanted to see on the cover. They gave him a synopsis and the novel. Michael read the book, and I think that's why he was able to draw them so beautifully.

    He captured their expressions and the essence of each character. I had one critique partner who said that was exactly how he had pictured Catarina (on the left), and as far as I'm concerned, Michael nailed Rachael right down to her eye on Lucian.

    Michael totally got the Knights Templar feel that I wanted for the Citadel (you can see that reflected in their armor). Then he drew the Citadel walls behind them. I am always amazed by paintings, but Michael's work gave me an entirely new appreciation for artists, especially those who are do cover art.

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  35. This sounds fantastic! And what an interview, this will definitely join the TBR pile. Thanks!

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  36. Thanks for sharing the review and interview. Adding to the TBR pile. :)

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  37. I love Teresa's advice "Write and remain teachable." I think that is the key to success in all avenues. Isis thanks for hosting Teresa. Best of luck on your exciting book. Julie

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  38. What a well-done interview! That book cover would have caught my eye as well. It looks so intriguing. I love her advice for aspiring authors - being rich should never be the goal, because then writing will never be truly fulfilling. I love it. Thanks so much for sharing this!

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  39. Not only would I love a free copy, but I'll also review it.

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  40. A lot of great literature has Christian themes and roots in the religion. I believe dreams can be a great source of material for writers.


    Lee
    A Faraway View

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  42. Fantastic interview, ladies! Teresa, thank you for sharing. Your cover looks fantastic. Best of luck with the book!

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  43. Super interview! Theresa it is great to meet you and I have to say that I am hooked on Miserere already and am off to get my copy. I hope it garners you huge success. That is wicked cool cover art. ;)

    Isis, thank you so much for spotlighting this amazing author and book. You are an excellent interviewer. :)

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  44. Thanks so much for stopping by: Julie F, Tina, Julie (Empty Nester), Julie D, Tim, Arlee, Scout, Talli, and Melissa.

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  45. Wow! Thanks so much everyone! This has just been awesome!

    And thank you, Isis, for giving me space on your blog this week!

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  46. see i'm such a cover whore - I often buy based on the cover alone. I need to do less of that though because then you could end up with ....some not so good stuff. Not usually though.

    Pabkins @ Mission to Read

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  47. Thanks for the interview. Looks like a good read!

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