Kalliope lives with one purpose.
As an immortal muse, she doesn’t have any other choice. It’s part of how she was made. Musicians, artists, actors—they use her to advance their art, and she uses them to survive. She moves from one artist to the next, never staying long enough to get attached. But all she wants is a different life— a normal one. She’s spent thousands of years living lie after lie, and now she’s ready for something real.
Sweet, sexy, and steady, Wilder Bell feels more real than anything else in her long existence. And most importantly… he’s not an artist. He doesn’t want her for her ability. But she can’t turn off the way she influences people, not even to save a man she might love. Because in small doses, she can help make something beautiful, but her ability has just as much capacity to destroy as it does to create. The longer she stays, the more obsessed Wilder will become. It’s happened before, and it never turns out well for the mortal.
Her presence may inspire genius.
But it breeds madness, too.
Cora Carmack is a twenty-something writer who likes to write about twenty-something characters. She's done a multitude of things in her life-- boring jobs (like working retail), Fun jobs (like working in a theatre), stressful jobs (like teaching), and dream jobs (like writing). She enjoys placing her characters in the most awkward situations possible, and then trying to help them get a boyfriend out of it. Awkward people need love, too. Her first book, LOSING IT, is a New York Times and USA Today bestseller.
Interview with Cora Carmack:
What made you decide to write a Paranormal Romance?
You know, before Losing It, most of the things I wrote were in the fantasy genre. The first full length novel I ever finished was a YA fantasy (it’s now hidden away in the recesses of an old computer, never to see the light of day again). I’ve always enjoyed writing speculative fiction, so when I stumbled into writing Losing It, it was a happy accident. I really enjoy writing contemporary romance, but I’ve also really been itching for the New Adult genre to expand. To hit the current NA audience, which may or may not be ready for speculative fiction, I decided the wisest choice was to go with a story that while fantastical is grounded in the real world with a heavy romance focus.
Where did you get the inspiration to write this series?
I can actually tell you the exact date that I first had the idea for INSPIRE. Whenever I get a new idea, I usually jot it down in the notes section on my phone (let’s just say I have A LOT of notes in my phone). I looked back through and found the first time I wrote anything about INSPIRE, and it was Christmas Eve 2013. So, just shy of a year ago. I remember I was home for the holidays, sitting at my mother’s kitchen table and I was talking with my mother and my sister about a celebrity that had recently committed suicide. I starting thinking about artists, and how unforgiving their lives can be. Constantly putting pieces of yourself on display for the general public, and making a living based on someone else’s opinion of your work - it’s brutal. And the scariest part about being an artist is that even when something we’ve created isn’t well received (which is a nice way of putting it), we just jump right back in. Rather than protecting ourselves from that kind of harm, we make ourselves dig deeper. It’s masochistic!
I might have been in the middle of writing a book at the time, rushing to meet deadline, so my own thoughts on the creative process took a turn toward the dark all too easily.
I’m not entirely sure how those thoughts of “Dude...being an artist can really suck sometimes” became conjoined with the idea of modernizing a piece of Greek mythology. I had been thinking about writing a New Adult paranormal or fantasy novel for a while at that point, but was struggling with what was the right story with which to make that leap. Maybe someone mentioned the word muse or it just came to me, I’m not sure. But I can remember typing the idea out on my phone, thinking about what it must be like to have a front row seat for the magic and mayhem that is inherent in creative expression. There have been plenty of books about the tortured artist. But I’ve never seen one about the torturer. The personification of creativity. The muse. The back cover summary for INSPIRE is eerily close to what I wrote in my phone that day. I had to change very little of it. And from the moment I had the idea, I knew that this story was the one I wanted to be my foray into speculative fiction (for the masses anyway. Like I said, Ive worked on fantasy stories before, but never had one published).
What kind of research did you do to get inside the minds of your characters?
I sort of feel like my whole life has been research for this book. Haha. I’ve always had a fascination for all mythology, but Greek especially. Theatre was my first love, and since it started with the Greeks, I studied their culture intensely in high school and college. Then I even taught theatre for a few years, so I got to know it even better lecturing about it for multiple classes in a row. I’m also a frequent sufferer of insomnia, and when that hits me, I often find myself reading about obscure myths from various cultures online.
All that being said… I didn’t concern myself too much with getting every detail of the myths correct in this book. In fact, I took a lot of liberties. For a long time, the myths were passed down only through word of mouth. So they were embellished and changed as they were told. Then they were changed further as they were written down and dramatized for entertainment. So using that concept, I kept aspects of the myths that made sense for my story and abandoned others. It is fiction after all, and I don’t want people to be able to know everything about my character from a little reading on Wikipedia. I had to make Kalliope my own.
How much of yourself and your real-life experiences do you put into your books?
I find a lot of inspiration from my own life, and the lives of people around me. Sometimes I’ll be out with friends or family and someone will say something and I’ll immediately write it down so I can use it in a book. Everyone says to write what you know, and I know a lot of very funny, very quirky people - so that’s what I like to write about. As far as Inspire, a lot of the locations around Austin are real, places that I have been to frequently. There’s a Christmas party scene that is kind of reminiscent of a holiday party my friends and I had in college.
If a reader has never read any of your books, what book would you recommend they start with and why?
Well, I stand by any of my books, and feel confident that all of them (except the novellas) can stand independently from the rest of their series. That being said, I would always recommend starting with the first book in whichever series appeals to you. The Losing It series is set in the final year of college and the year after. It’s more light-hearted and follows a group of quirky theatre friends. The Rusk University series is like Friday Night Lights set in college with lots of kissing and a focus on issues students face.
But to be specific: if you like your romance with a whole lot of funny, go with LOSING IT. If you like your book boyfriends to be the good guy (but still hella sexy), go with ALL LINED UP or FAKING IT. If you like your book boyfriends dark and broody, go ALL BROKE DOWN or FINDING IT. And if you like your romance with a side of intensity and the supernatural, go INSPIRE.
What book are you currently reading?
I’ve been listening to Cinder by Marissa Meyer on Audible (I’m in love with audiobooks - like legitimately, I would marry an audiobook if allowed. Is that weird?) and IT’S SO GOOD. I’ve had the Lunar Chronicles on my to-read list for ages and I am kind of kicking myself for waiting this long. I was listening to it while Christmas shopping and ended up loudly gasping “NO!!” in public.
If you were a heroine in a romance novel, what would your ideal Prince Charming be like?
It’s funny because I am actually the LEAST traditionally romantic person in the world. When guys do romantic things or say sweet stuff to me, I usually have to fight not to roll my eyes. But my ideal Prince Charming would be able to meet me toe to toe. I have a strong personality. I’m competitive and stubborn and always want my way. My ideal guy would hold his own with that. Basically, he needs to be bad ass. If you know of someone like that… email me. ;)
If you could switch lives with anyone for a day, real or fictional, who would it be and why?
J.K. Rowling. Duh. And I would look through all her notes about Harry Potter and scour her hard drive for anything she’s working on. And I would read it ALLLLL.
If someone were to write your biography, what would be its title?
Oh Lord…probably something like, “Why Am I So Effing Awkward?: The Cora Carmack Story.” Or alternately: “Why am I still awake?” which is a frequent question of mine.
Which authors inspire you as a writer?
J.K. Rowling is my queen. Always has been and always will be. I am also incredibly fond of The Awakening by Kate Chopin. It’s on my regular re-read list. Other authors that have had a significant impact on my reading and writing life are Libba Bray, Jennifer Donnelly, Markus Zusak, Jessica Shirvington, JLA, Rae Carson, and Kristin Cashore.
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