Friday, September 20, 2013

Book Review & Interview: Heaven and Hellsbane by Paige Cuccaro

Heaven and Hellsbane
Hellsbane Series, Book Two
by Paige Cuccaro

Genre: Urban Fantasy
Publisher: Entangled Publishing

Our Review:
As the second full novel in the series, Heaven and Hellsbane continues the story of Emma Jane Hellsbane, and her wannabe-lover, Eli. And that’s where the simplicity ends. In this very complicated world of illorum and angles, demons, magisters and gibborim, a novice reader in this world could easily get lost among the varied relationships and histories. However, Ms. Cuccaro does a good job keeping everything straight and clear in the reader’s mind.
The story is fast-paced, and the author creates vivid imagery and action with her words. The only points of dissatisfaction I had were not with the writing, per se, but with the author’s tendency to over play certain moments, such as too much introspection by the heroine, Emma Jane, when she is in full battle mode, or Emma’s very persistent stomach woes when looking at something gross. In both cases Emma is used to fighting and the inevitable gory outcome, so why the hesitation and bile every time?

That being said, those two points are by no means show stoppers. This is a solid and exciting read and puts the other books in the series, Commencement (prequel novella), Hellsbane, and From Here to Eternity on my list of “must reads”. Well done.  -Cary Morgan Frates

Our Interview with Paige:
We are delighted to have Paige Cuccaro with us today to give us a little insight into her life and the things that make her tick.
Paige, where are you from and from where/who did your love for writing come from?
I’m from Pennsylvania originally. A tiny little town that was named for its stop on the Pony Express—Eighty Four PA. My family is pretty creative, both parents. My mother was a music teacher and my Dad was a draftsmen and a really good artist. I’m the only one who took their creative side in the direction of writing.

Can you say that your journey to publication was difficult? If so, what were the hardest moments to get through?
I don’t know if it was difficult, but it was long…I’m still on it. The hardest moments were getting those rejection letters. It’s hard to keep going when you get a letter every other day saying, “Nope. No thanks. Not what we’re looking for.” And of course, my insecurities read through the lines and saw, “No WAY do we want you. You write like a fifth grader. Why do you keep bothering us?” It took a long time to STOP letting my paranoia see something in the words that wasn’t there. I had to learn to read ONLY what it said, not what I thought they might mean by it.
Editors are very busy people. They don’t have time to play word games. They write what they mean. There’s no mystery to decipher. If they say, it wasn’t what they were looking for, then…it wasn’t what they were looking for. That’s it. And if an editor says, “If you have something else I’d be happy to look at it,” or, “Feel free to submit something else…” THEY MEAN IT. They’re not going to beg you, but there’s really no clearer way for them to ask for more from you. They’re not just being nice. They don’t have that kind of time. If you get that kind of rejection letter…send something else! They’re waiting! I can’t tell you how many opportunities I missed because I thought they were just being nice. Ugh…
The easiest way to get through it is to start writing the next thing. It’s so much easier to put that rejection letter to the side when you can tell yourself, “Okay, they didn’t like that one, but they’re gonna LOVE this one…” Then keep on writing!

How do you overcome i-suck-at this, that little voice in your head that tells you your writing isn’t good enough?
I don’t know. I still get that feeling from time to time. Before I was published, I told myself that if I was right, and I do suck, I’ll just keep writing, keep learning until I don’t suck anymore. I entered contests and got outside validation that way. And once I was published I could look at those books and say…somebody thinks I don’t suck. That feeling is just part of being a writer. We put our hearts on the page and then send it out to be read/judged. It’s easier to believe the bad stuff than the good, so one rejection, one bad review can make you doubt everything. You just have to shrug and tell yourself, even if it is total crap, I’m writing it anyway because I want to write it. In the end that’s really why we all write, isn’t it? Because we like to do it. So…do it. Whether you actually suck or not…doesn’t really matter.

What is your dream vacation?
A yearlong tour of Europe.

Describe your writing style in five words.
Brainstorm, Plot, write, re-plot, write.

What movies are you currently excited to see?
Enders Game, Thor, The Hunger Games, The Hobbit… Should I keep going? I <3 movies!

What are you currently reading?
Affliction, by Laurell K. Hamilton.

If you weren’t a writer, what other careers would you pursue?
I would’ve loved to have been a psychologist. I wanted to major in psychology when I first went to college, but the counselor talked me out of it. He said I’d never find work, but I think that’s because he couldn’t imagine anyone wanting to have some of the jobs that a psych degree would get you. I could. I should’ve ignored him and done what I wanted. But…then I wouldn’t have started writing.

If you could create a holiday of your own, what would it be called?
Un-holiday. A nationally recognized day where absolutely nothing is expected of you. No gifts. No special meals. No “traditional” events to be attended or preformed. Just a day off…from everything…with pay.  

For people who haven’t read your novel, how would you summarize the plot?
Emma Jane Hellsbane was born different, the child of Fallen angel and human—the child of sin. But Heaven has a way for her to make amends for her birth. Like others born of Fallen angels, she’ll work as their bounty hunter, rounding up the Fallen and banishing them to the abyss. The trouble is, the Fallen won’t go quietly and Emma won’t be done until she finds the one Fallen angel who created her.

What are two of your pet-peeves?
People who sit at green lights admiring the pretty color. It’s green folks. GO!

To you, what makes a good story?
Interesting realistically flawed characters who have clear goals. I like action, less introspection. And a slow burning love story where I’m as excited for the characters to finally come together as they are.

What usually turns you off about a story?
Whiny heroines. Or heroines who absolutely every male that comes in contact with them falls head over heels for them. And it drives me crazy when I read a book that promises something, a romance, or a goal and then doesn’t deliver it. That’s false advertisement. Tear jerker, lost love stories sold as a romance. – Turn off! Hot steamy—sex on every other page—book billed as an urban fantasy. – Turn off! I like tear jerkers and erotic romance, I just think an author should deliver what the genre promises.

If you could collaborate with any author, who would you choose, and why?
Anne Rice! That would be sooo awesome! I just love the way she writes and I’d love to work with her in hopes that a little of that talent would rub off onto me. LOL
Also, Jim Butcher. For much of the same reason, but also because he’s got a more current voice and a more male view point on the world. He’s got an amazing imagination and it would be such fun to be a part of that!

What is on your night stand?
A Boba fett alarm clock. A lamp with a built in nightlight. Box of tissues. A drink coaster and lotion.

What is your favorite book?
Interview with a Vampire, by Anne Rice.

Thank you, Paige! 

Amazon | BN 

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