Estimated reading time: 10 – 17 minutes
Hey, Everyone! So glad you could make it to Sharon Cramer’s awesome interview and fantastic giveaway! She’s here today to talk about her book “The Execution” and to give one paperback copy to one lucky winner and one ebook copy to a second lucky winner! Giveaway details will follow after the interview so let’s get to it!
What was your goal in writing “The Execution” and do you feel you’ve met it?
In the deepest way, I want the reader to feel something, more than anything else. I want them to experience bitter hatred and scaldingly raw love. If I have done this, I think I have met my goal. It is meant to entertain, painfully and beautifully. I believe I have done this.
Was there any one event or feeling that led you in writing this story?
I believed I could capture the experience of love and lost love. I felt challenged to do this. I never realized how challenged I ultimately would be. I toyed with the idea of this beautiful story for a long time, but a tragic event finally plunged me into it.
What has challenged you the most about “The Execution”?
What most people don’t know is that I am an identical twin. This story deals with identical twin brothers and the differences in their lives that shape them, simply because they grew up under very different circumstances.
I lost my twin, at the age of 38 yrs. She died of unknown causes in her sleep. She knew this story–I’d told it to her, but I hadn’t penned it at the time of her death. It was, therefore, imperative that I represent the characters faithfully, to do justice to her memory of it. She very much believed in the flawed loves that are represented in the book, and it was sometime painful to remain true to this. In the end, I’m happy that I did.
Initially looking over “The Execution” it would seem that it is a male audience-oriented tale. What would readers who actively look for dark romance/erotica find most addicting about your book?
An initial glance might give this impression, but look closer… While there is an abundance of action, there is not a single scene that is not intimately tied with the emotions of love, hate, or sorrow. True, the main characters are both male, but the women they fall in love with are so very critical. As a matter of fact, Nicolette is probably my favorite character in the entire story, and she is not introduced until the last third of the book. I tried to have the reader lose the concept of gender, to be able, even as a female, to step into the shoes of the male characters. I think it is unusual to have the primary character of a love story male, however.
Most addicting about the book? I believe you will be drawn in so deeply, you will feel you are there–right there, in the dungeon, in the 14th century, in the arms of 14th century love and on the gallows of 14th century death. You will taste, breathe, live, and struggle with what your characters do. That is the most common response I get to the book, and I love that!…next to complaints that my readers stayed up much too late finishing it.
Do you believe perfect love exists?
Mortally? No. I believe that love is fatally flawed. I guess I believe that love can be as perfect as you are willing to make it. And that is a never-ending journey. I am amazed at the mistakes I have made, in my own past loves, and pull a great deal from those mistakes to try to avoid them now. However, I must be clear–I believe that in all its imperfection, NOTHING is as perfect as love is. Therefore, humanity will always seek it and mourn it beyond all else when they lose it.
Who would be the ideal audience for “The Execution” and why?
This is not a weekend read. It is a very literary novel, and because it is really two stories, told in flashbacks, it has been described as an intellectual read. It takes about three chapters to set the story in place, and then avalanches upon the reader for 37 more chapters. I think it is well beyond YA, meant for a more mature audience who is not afraid to feel pain. Not to be entered into lightly, but if you do, will break your heart in a most exquisite way.
What is your favorite moment and/or scene in the book?
Oh wow…you would ask that. Uhm…there are so many beautiful and tragic moments in this book. The reader will closely identify with at least one, in their own lives. So, not wanting to spoil anything, I think I am most drawn to the scene on the river. You will know it when you read it. Oh, and Nicolette’s wedding night. I reread it even now and it blows me away!
Given the dark subject matter, how did you get into the zone to write this book?
I live in Washington state. This is a beautiful state to live in when you are an author of dark subject matter. “Why?” you ask… It is because we have crappy weather. The best dark authors come from climates with bad weather. Look at the Swedes! They rip your heart out in a most exquisite way!
So, at this very moment, it is storming outside, I am in my second floor studio, and rain is smattering my window. Trees are swaying darkly in front of me even though it is only 4:30 in the late afternoon. All I would need to do now is Pandora a favorite “dark” radio station (epic movies like Last of the Mohicans is a good one) and, voila! Perfect writing conditions! Oh…and if it’s going well, leave the coffee on cause it’s gonna be a marathon until I bleed dry! (Kahlua optional and highly suggested for those difficult chapters).
Being someone who appreciates the darker side of love, who is the most unconventional romantic couple you adore? (This can come from a book, movie, TV show, song, etc.)
Unconventional romantic couple? I would have to say they come from the movie Castaway on the Moon. It is unlikely you have seen this movie–it is Korean, but simply stunning. A young man’s failed suicided attempt strands him on an island on the Han River, right under a freeway. He cannot swim to the city, so close but so far away. An agoraphobic girl with a long range telescope is the only one to see him. Nothing can really prepare you for what you will feel when you watch this movie. It is true love, and yet they have never met. And, it, they, are so beautifully flawed.
What is the dark romance you hold closest to your heart? (This can be a book, movie, TV show, song, etc.)
I would have to say The Interview with the Vampire, by Anne Rice, is very close to my heart. I was sixteen when I read the first release of it in 1976, and it reshaped my beliefs and ideas on eroticism quite a bit. Considered to be goth or horror, I think it is really a transgendered love story. I KNOW it defies the swill that is the current interpretation of a vampire love story.
What set you on the path of dark romance?
I don’t think it was a choice, really. Nothing set me this direction, it more or less drew me. I love the idea of imperfection. I don’t like my characters, even my heroes, to be perfect, and I don’t like my story to be tidy. Give me flaws and wounds and broken hearts any day! You’d laugh at me because I’m very happily married.
In your opinion, what makes a dark romance?
There are certain elements that must be present. Not all of these have to be there, but consider…
Forbidden love is a wonderful twist for a dark romance.
Set it in a clandestine environment. This is very sexy.
Pull the reader into the story in graphic detail. Make the sex real. Please don’t make your women swoon or your men have stern visages. That’s just lame. And don’t make your sex into a porn movie either. It’s not real and will only insult.
Allow your character’s hearts to be made of glass. And then break them. It doesn’t mean the love isn’t still there, it is just beautifully shattered. ALL readers will identify with this.
What is your favorite guilty pleasure?
Ha Ha! I’m doing it right now! I have a quiet home to myself and I’m writing. I also consider reading a guilty pleasure. I don’t get to read near as much as you might think I do. This is because I’m very affected by what I read. Then, when I write, I have three chapters by Stephen King instead of me and it pisses me off. I have to have serious down time to be able to enjoy reading, and that is rare for me. I envy my friends who read all the time. But, ah well…I cannot not write. It is not only a guilty pleasure, it is a divine curse!
What are the top three books one could read to get a glimpse into Sharon Cramer?
The Modern Prometheus (Frankenstein)- Marry Shelley
Black Beauty- Anna Sewell
The Phantom of the Opera (Gaston Leroux)
What would you like the audience to know that has not already been asked in this interview?
I get asked if there is a sequel to The Execution. Yes there is, and I will start that in January of 2013. Probably release it on Valentine’s day of 2014.
The second question I get asked is, “What are you writing now?” I have just finished the first of a six book series. It is called The Cerulean Star. Beautiful tale about childhood love…
Thank you so much, Sharon, for the interview and sponsoring the following giveaway. So are you all ready for a chance to win? Here’s the details:
A young, tormented priest must see those to be executed. It is a thankless job, one D’ata dreads. Nevertheless, he does it kindly, giving them a chance at eternal life, listening to their confessions and offering absolution before they go to the gallows. But tonight, nothing can prepare him for what he finds when he goes to the dungeons to see the last one, the mercenary—the murderer. On this night, he is forced to recount the design of his own torment and fate. His own redemption is at stake and the sins he’d tried so desperately to forget are laid naked before his grief-stricken eyes. When morning breaks, he has a decision to make…
Set in fourteenth century France, it is an epic, two-sided tale, woven amidst the cataclysms of that magnificent and wretched time. Cramer is superb at taking your heart into her hands. Gripping and poignant, this story will surprise you, making you remember what perfect love and absolute hate truly feel like, for what is the cost of true freedom?
1. The contest is open to U.S. and International readers. Woo-hoo!
2. Contest runs from October 24, 2012 to October 31, 2012.
3. One randomly picked first prize winner will receive a paperback copy of “The Execution” via mail from Sharon. I will contact the winner via e-mail for mailing information. If a reply is not received within 5 days, another winner will be picked at random again.
4. One randomly picked second prize winner will receive an ebook of “The Execution” via e-mail from Sharon. I will pass the winner’s e-mail to Sharon. She will then take over the delivery of the ebook.
How to Win
Please comment below (make sure I can reach you by e-mail!) and tell me how dark do you like your alpha men in fiction: light, medium, or ultra-dark?
***Giveaway closed. Congrats to Carolyn for winning the paperback prize. Congrats to Jay for winning the ebook prize.***
Paperback prize results.