After naming Sylvia Day's Bared to You a 2012 Best Book of the Year in Romance and devouring Reflected in You, we've been anxiously awaiting the release of the third book in Day's scorching Crossfire series, Entwined with You. To whet our appetites and make waiting for the book's arrival a little easier, Amazon Romance expert Alyssa Morris spoke with Day about what's next for Gideon and Eva, her upcoming collaboration with Harlequin and Cosmopolitan, her all-time favorite romance novels, and much more.
Alyssa Morris: Now that you've had a bit of time to absorb the success of Bared to You, does it feel real? Or are you still surprised?
Sylvia Day: I'm still surprised! I'm glad I'm a veteran and that I've been publishing for close to 10 years, so I had some experience under my belt as far as dealing with it. But on the other hand, there's no way to anticipate writing something that becomes a global phenomenon, you know. I don't know about other writers--I didn't even dream about anything like that. I always figured that it just happened to the Stephenie Meyers and J.K. Rowlings of the world. So, yeah, I don't think I'll ever get over being surprised that I had a series that struck such a chord.
AM: It just hit such a moment in our culture, where all of a sudden this is what everyone wants to be reading. It's an interesting confluence.
AM: Do you have a favorite moment in the Crossfire series so far?
SD: You know, I really loved the weekend that Gideon and Eva spent in the Outer Banks. These poor guys. When they're alone, they're fine. Life is perfect when they're alone. Unfortunately, they don't get a lot of time alone. [Laughs] So I just love that. I love seeing them together away from all of the distractions and intrusions and everything else that's going wrong in their lives.
I can't talk too much about Entwined with You because it's not out yet. And that's so hard, because I so want to talk tabout it! But there's more alone time with Gideon and Eva as we move forward in the series and they grow stronger, so I'm really enjoying that as a writer.
AM: Can you tell us a little bit about what we can expect to see next for Gideon and Eva? And is Entwined with You the last book in the series, or it might continue farther?
SD: Yes. It's definitely continuing, so I can say that for sure. I was not able to wrap up the entirety of the storyline into three books, and I was absolutely adamant that I was not going to try to rush or cram the third book to try to make it fit. And I was fortunate that my agent and my editor they both agree that it would be a big disservice to the series to not let it play out the way it needs to, so there will definitely be future books.
The first book was really the introduction to Gideon and Eva. That's where we first become familiar with their flaws and their issues, which are of course very prevalent in the first book. The second book they were really apart most of that book. They were mostly broken up through that whole thing. It was very angsty and dark. The third book is very different. Eva's in a different place. At the end of Reflected in You, Gideon has made a pretty large sacrifice for her. Her big issues had been insecurities, concerns about other people and other women particularly in Gideon's life. It's hard to have those sorts of fears and self-doubt after somebody makes a huge sacrifice, like Gideon did for her. So she's in a much more stable place as far as her comfort level with the relationship and being able to accept the depth of his commitment to her.
Gideon, however--what he's done, there's a lot of ramifications. Not just externally, but internally. So as she grows stronger, he's actually struggling with more. That said, she's really the anchor for that relationship. She has been from the beginning. So with her being stable, it brings new stability to the whole relationship, and readers will see a lot more moments of calm and connection between the two than we have seen in the previous books.
AM: Awesome. So this is sort of a pet question for me: Will Cary ever get his own book?
SD: You know, I'm not sure. At this point I'm so wrapped up with Gideon and Eva that I haven't really gone into tangents with the secondary characters. Now of course, Cary's story continues through the course of the book, but in a lot of ways he's more messed up than the other two are [laughs], and he's juggling these two relationships. He also has some pretty pivotal things happen in Entwined with You that readers will see that have a very enormous impact on him and his growth.
Can I finish his story along the course of the Crossfire series? I mean, it's possible, especially considering that I'll be going into more books, but then again because he has so much more work to do, it's possible that he could have a spinoff series, if I can't fit it in around Eva and Gideon. That was another reason why the series is continuing, because all of the secondary characters have their own stories that are going on.
AM: Yeah. Eva's parents"¦
SD: We've got Eva's parents, we've got the Stanton issue, we've got Cary, we've got her work issue, and of course Gideon's got his whole family relationship. His whole family dynamic is just a mess, so you know all of those things are progressing along with Gideon and Eva's relationship. So, I'm sure some of those things, a lot of those things will get resolved because Eva and Gideon are not going to be in the place where they need to be to reach their happily ever after when everything else around them is in such flux. On the other hand, bigger issues might have to go into a separate series, and while I don't rule it out, I'm not planning on it right now.
AM: I think that that's part of the reason why the Crossfire series has caught on so well: all of the characters and all of the secondary characters have so much depth.
SD: Right. Actually, after Lionsgate picked up the Crossfire series for development, one of the biggest things I've heard from readers is "I'm so glad that it will be on television rather than a motion picture because you'll lose all of those secondary characters if you try to fit it into an hour and a half to two hours," and I absolutely agree. The investment is in their whole group, their whole family dynamic and friend dynamic, and you really can't lose any of that without losing them.
AM: Can you give us any updates about the status of the Lionsgate project? Is it definitely going to be a TV show? What's your involvement?
SD: As far as whether it's definitely going to be a TV show, I'm not sure. Lionsgate has both the television and motion picture rights, and it's their decision to go one way or the other with it. So far, we're on the same page as far as television being probably the best medium for telling the full breadth of the story and really getting to explore all of those secondary characters and their impact on Gideon and Eva. I'm in talks with the producers, so they're very definitely keeping me involved. I'm an executive consultant on the project, and I'll be working with them in terms of script development, so hopefully, because it's more of a collaboration rather than a complete takeover, I hope that we'll be able to hang on to the things that made the series as successful as it is, while still making that adaptation to the different medium that works in that regard too.
Other than that, there's a lot of it that I'm not allowed to discuss! My poor husband gets to listen to me ramble on and on. I'm like, "You're the only person I can talk to about any of this." It's very exciting, and I know that they love the series for the way it is, so that's always a good thing.
AM: That is exciting! I think a TV show would be a really interesting format for your series.
SD: I do, too. Of course, their story is so psychologically based that it's their flaws and their damage and their histories that make them who they are and make the series what it is. If you couldn't explore that, you run the risk of it falling into just "This is a highly charged sexual relationship." And while that's a large part of the series, that's not its core. And of course in order for us to care about these characters having sex, we have to care about them as individuals. So I'm definitely glad that we're working to keep that integrity, the character integrity and the story, so it can be sexy still and still be that depth of story that readers connected to.
AM: So what can we expect to see next from you outside of the Crossfire world? I know that you have Afterburn and Aftershock with Harlequin and Cosmopolitan.
SD: Yes, I'm really excited about that, too. Exploring new frontiers has pretty much always been a part of my career. I started publishing ebooks back in 2005, and of course there was no Kindle or Nook at the time. People were just buying the files online and reading them on their computers.
AM: I definitely did that.
SD: I couldn't understand the appeal of that myself, but of course I was working at the computer all the time, so I didn't want to do my leisure time there, too. But I knew it was going to be an expanding medium. My New York publishers were not digitizing books at the time, but I thought this is exciting, this is fun. And I had a lot of writer friends at the time who were like, "What are you doing? Ebooks are like where you go when New York won't publish your stuff!" And I'm like, "You're missing it, guys, I'm telling you this is going to be it, this is going to be the future" --and of course look at it now. So to do a collaboration with a magazine, I thought, "OK, this is taking it to a different level." I find that really exciting.
The series is actually one story following one couple across both books, Jackson and Gianna. It's a contemporary story set in New York, Gianna's the narrator, so Crossfire readers will have a certain comfort level with it because of that, but it's a totally different story and they're totally different characters. It actually took me a while to get into it because I was so stuck with Gideon and Eva that it was like trying to fall in love with a different couple, but they won me over, and now I love them, too. I can't wait until it comes out. Again, because it's a digital first release, we can get it out quickly. I don't have to wait a year, or a year and a half as we would have in the past. The collaboration with Cosmo is really fun.
AM: You're obviously a very prolific writer. You've had several books come out in the past year, and several more coming out next year. How long does it take you to write a novel? Do you work on them all simultaneously?
SD: At the start of my career, I used to be able to work on multiple projects at once. I can't do that anymore. For a full-length novel, it takes me anywhere from 4-6 weeks to write the initial manuscript, and then of course there's editing and tweaking and so on and so forth. About a month to a month and a half for a full length book. I do a lot of novellas and short stories. I really enjoy the format, and those can take me anywhere from a week to three weeks"¦. Sorry, my husband just walked into the room carrying an award for me which apparently just came in the mail.
AM: That's exciting!
SD: Yeah! It's actually really pretty. Ah! It's from the Australian Romance Readers Association. Favorite Erotic Romance of 2012, Bared to You. Nice!
SD: Thanks! He came in like Vanna White. He has it balanced on one hand. [Laughs]
AM: When did you start writing? I know that before you started writing full-time, you were US Army military intelligence, so that's a big switch, career-wise.
SD: Well, you know, when I was 12, my mom handed me my first romance novel and said, "I want you to find a man like this." I read it, and I absolutely just loved it. It was this sweeping saga sort of romance. I got to the end, and I just wanted to go back to the beginning and start all over again. And I was like, "I wanna do that. I wanna write stories that people don't want to end." That same week, I had an essay that was due for my English class on what we wanted to be when we grew up. My essay was on how I was going to be a romance novelist, so that was always my career choice.
But then of course there's school, and then we had Desert Storm and I felt like I needed to contribute, so I joined the Army. It turned out that I had an aptitude for languages, so I was offered the opportunity to go to the Defense Language Institute and learn a different language. Of course I jumped on the opportunity. And I went and learned Russian, and that was a marvelous experience. I'm so glad that I did it--so much so that my sister, who's 12 years younger than I am, ended up joining the Air Force and becoming an Arabic linguist, just based on my stories of how much I appreciated and how much I got out of my time in the military.
So when people are like, "How do you go from being a linguist to being a writer?", it was actually that being a linguist was a detour from my dream of being a writer, because I decided on that when I was so much younger.
In 2003, I had 2 very small children, and one day they were down for a nap, and all the laundry was done and the house was clean, and I was sitting here going, "You have this me time right here, these next few hours while the kids are asleep. What are you going to do?" It was the perfect opportunity for me to start doing what I had always wanted to do, which was write. I told myself, "I have three years before my kids start going to kindergarten," so really, "Three years, you can try to get published, and then after that, if it doesn't happen, you can go back to work, no harm, no foul." I had no idea how unrealistic an expectation three years to publication was. I had no clue how difficult it was to break in, and I think it's probably great that I was so green, because if I had listened to all of the advice I got afterwards, I don't know if I would have gotten off the ground.
As it was, I sat down in October of 2003 and wrote my first novel, which turned out to be Ask for It, which is a historical romance. I finished that by November, and then I started another book that turned out to be In the Flesh, which was released as Livia Dare later on. I just kept writing and writing and writing. Lori Foster had the Lori Foster Brava Novella contest because at the time she was writing for Brava, and you submitted three pages of a novella to her and she chose 20 finalists and then there was a reader's choice and an editor's choice. The editor was Kate Duffy. Via the course of that which I entered in June and in December of 2004, which was just a little over a year after I started writing in October of 2003, I got the phone call from Kate where she offered to buy the book, which became Bad Boys Ahoy, now being retitled as Scandalous Liaisons.
During that whole year, I had been submitting. I was already writing erotic romance, though I'm not sure we were calling it erotic romance then. It was just sexier romance, sensual romance, and the only places that were really publishing that at the time was Brava of course, and Red Sage, and Virgin Books had their Black Lace, and of course there was Ellora's Cave, which was digital. So I submitted to Black Lace and Ellora's Cave. Within two weeks after I got the call from Kate, Ellora's Cave picked up the story I submitted to them, and Black Lace picked up the story I submitted to them. And it was kinda like when it rains, it pours! Over the course of about a two week period, I ended up selling four or five different things to multiple publishers and it was just like, wow. Ok! I guess I've started!
Of course you don't realize that the hard work doesn't actually begin until after you go to sell all your other stuff.
AM: That seems to be a theme in your career. Things happen really quickly, and then you do a lot more work, and sitting down, and then there are these big periods of excitement and change.
SD: Yeah. Really, that's true. You go through a couple years where it's just heads down and get it done, and then something happens, and it's like "Wow!" and "Yay!" And then head back down and write more.
But I'm grateful all the time, because the hard part is selling the next book. And I've been fortunate that I've always been able to sell the next book.
AM: Can you give us an idea of some of your favorite romance writers and some books you're looking forward to reading?
SD: My favorite romance novel is a book called The Fifth Favor by Shelby Reed. It's just one of those ones where I could not stop reading it, and when I got to the end I was so devastated it was over. Oh man, I could have just kept reading this story for like ever. I love Lisa Kleypas. I love her historical romances. I'm a huge fan of Nalini Singh's Guild Hunters series, JD Robb's In Death series. Oh! Another one of my favorite books is The Search by Nora Roberts. I really love that book. The hero was so grumpy, and I just loved him. I absolutely loved him all the way through. He's just a classic Nora Roberts hero. And of course you have the search dogs. I just thought the whole thing was beautifully done. Of course Nora doesn't do anything that's not beautifully done.
I love Patricia Briggs's Alpha and Omega series. I think she writes romance so well.
AM: I've just been reading the Mercy Thompson series lately and they're so good. I don't know what took me so long to find her.
SD: She's just fabulous, she really is--I love her stuff. Those are the ones I always rattle off the top of my head because I follow them so religiously. I still love Lora Leigh. She's not releasing books really a lot right now, but I love her stories. Karen Marie Moning. Love her. I fell in love with her for her Highlander series, but of course I've followed her since then.
AM: Thanks so much for taking the time to talk with us, Sylvia!
SD: Thank you!