Friday, September 2, 2011

Interview with Nara Malone, Nara's Nook Mystery, and a Giveaway

Hello all, welcome back to my blog where we get a chance to interact with the Weird, the Wild, and the Wicked!

Today is my birthday and I’d scheduled an interview of a very special guest, Ellora’s Cave author Nara Malone, a cool lady who writes about Shifters, BDSM and virtual worlds. She has a new release coming out October 12th from Ellora’s Cave entitled Snatch Me and she was all set to talk to me about it, but she has disappeared and we can’t find her anywhere.

So to make up for her unusual absence, her good friend Master Bond has graciously agreed to answer questions on Nara, her upcoming release, and the virtual world in which Snatch Me takes place (and if we’re really lucky he might be willing to share a recipe. Here’s hoping!)

SM: Welcome, Master Bond. Thank you for taking the time to speak with me on such short notice.

Bond: It is my pleasure, Ms. Siobhan.

SM: (Grins) Yes, well, let's talk about Ms. Malone. When and where did you meet her?

Bond: We met the usual way, yes? One day a character wanders into an author’s imagination and if the fit is right, we stay. Me, I stay longer than most, but I don’t think I wear out my welcome.

Ah, that day we met! You would not believe, mes amis.  Thanksgiving Day. Nara is not the best cook, so she agrees to let her nieces cook. Mon Dieu! They wore the smoke detectors out. The turkey pan (cheap foil thing) sprung a leak-- grease fire. Homemade apple pie spilled over the rim of the pie plate – sugar fire. And this thing you have…what is the name…sweet potato casserole? Charcoal bricks! I see all this and know this woman needs me.

SM: If she couldn't cook, what convinced you she was the right one to tell your tale?

Bond: Nara, she is a good listener. And she say this to me when the story is done, there is something about my voice that she could not pry herself from. I don’t know. I am not a writer, but she tells it to me this way-- she hears voices. Characters start talking and it is the sound of their voices in her head that compels her to write.

Lately she has been complaining, there is no muse to whisper in her ear. No voices in her head. She says it is like going deaf. I think that is what got her into trouble. I think she took a risk she shouldn’t have to get her voices back.

SM: How many stories has she written?

Bond: Let me think. Hmm. The first was The Tiger’s Tale, a shapeshifter ménage. Next was mine, The Dungeon Gourmet, a BDSM romance. She just finished Spirit Walkers: Curse of the Cypress Witch, a G-rated paranormal video game with romantic elements. That project was with Orchid Games and targeted for what Nara says is an underserved a female audience.

SM: Do they all have BDSM aspects?

Bond: I would say while not all is traditional BDSM, there is a flavor, the spice of that BDSM edge in every novel she writes.  Her characters have that craving for love with teeth in it. Their love games have rough edges.

SM: I've heard she has a new release at Ellora's Cave coming out on October 12th, called Snatch Me. Has she shared the story with you? Can you tell us a little about it?

Bond: Snatch Me is Jolie’s story. I think you met Jolie. She’s trying to help me through all the technical details in the hunt for Nara. This is the blurb for Snatch Me:

From the moment Jolie discovers the Quarterz, a virtual post-apocalyptic world for capture role-players, she can’t resist the challenge. She’s chosen a hard game, where sexual submission to a captor is expected, demanded, no quarter given. She uses the challenge to escape real life and feels a sense of kinship to a world like the Quarterz, a society too broken to fix.

Mack created the Quarterz and took a gamble when he secretly lured Jolie there. He suspects he and Jolie share sexual interests that neither can admit in person. Now he has to hope that time in the Quarterz can help Jolie cope as she struggles to rebuild her life. He has to stand back and allow her to find her way in a game where he is not always the captor. But when the game is over, he’s determined to be the one who wins Jolie for real.

Jolie’s story possessed Nara. For a month Nara would wake up, grab a notebook before she got out of the bed, and start writing. She wrote until 8 each night, sometimes longer. She was so driven. There was something about Jolie that Nara connected to. I think because Jolie told Nara she felt a kinship to the Quarterz—a world too broken to fix. Well there is something about Nara that has to fix anything broken she comes across.

SM: How does their meeting in a virtual world affect the interaction between Jolie and Mack?

Bond: Nara was worried about how the two worlds would affect interaction. Nara had to do a little writer magic to help readers make the leap from one world to the next. She uses a shifting viewpoint. First person in the virtual world and third person, deep POV in the real world-- all told through Jolie’s eyes. Because readers might not be familiar with virtual worlds, Nara used the  first person viewpoint to make those portions of the story feel more intimate, accessible.

Nara, she may not be so great in the kitchen, but she’s like a chef when she mixes up a story, always experimenting with new ways to give her tales a new texture or spice.

SM: What prompted Ms. Malone to write about this kind of virtual game world?

Bond: It is difficult to convey how quickly a person identifies with and becomes their avatar. There is interesting scientific research using avatars to help people overcome trauma. Virtual reality is used to help soldiers cope with PTSD.  It can be used to help individuals overcome phobias, such as fear of heights or flying. Infinite Reality by Blascovich and Bailenson is an excellent book on virtual reality and its uses. So her fascination with avatars and the increasingly virtual aspect of our lives planted seeds in her mind.

Nara believes interactivity is the future of the book, the means a writer can use to make readers co-protagonists in a story. Author Tibby Armstrong encouraged Nara to try virtuality, because –as she said in a recent tweet, “Virtual worlds are the interactive e-books of the future.”

Perhaps this is so. Today we're here to recruit help to find Nara in a hunt that will take readers across six virtual world to find her. An interactive story? Readers as co-protagonists? Nara would love this.

SM: Have you ever participated in a virtual game world, Master Bond?

Bond: I don’t go out into the virtual game worlds and interact with unsuspecting avatars. I make friends with Nara’s friends who know who I am. You can find me as LeMarquis Luv in Second Life. Nara likes to do her world building there and walk her characters through the scenes as she works them out. When I’m doing my Cook Naked blog for (that’s a cooking philosophy not a fashion statement) I work in a virtual kitchen at Nara’s cottage in Second Life.

SM: I understand Ms. Malone had a contest/giveaway planned before she went missing. Do you know what she had in mind?

Bond: She set up a little interactive mystery/scavenger hunt to introduce people to virtual worlds. Not just her readers, but anyone who is curious, but intimidated by the big sites like Second Life. The learning curve at those places is an obstacle for so many. So Nara made little worlds and a little game to make exploring them interesting. The worlds are designed around the worlds in her stories. Pantheria from the Tiger’s Tale. A swamp, Quarterz city, and the Wasteland from the Snatch Me. I believe having readers visit me at my kitchen was also on the agenda.

SM: Do you have any idea where she's gone or who took her?

Bond: I only know it has something to do with Shakespeare’s quill pen. One of the bunnies left it on her desk, told her it would get her past this writer’s block she’s been battling. I told her don’t mess with that. Magic always has a price. She listened to me at first. She didn’t for three days. But then I looked in on her yesterday morning--Nara and the pen are gone. There’s a rabbit track on a page that fell from her journal. She has the kind with loose pages that tie up the cover with a leather string. Pages are always falling out.

SM: If the pages are always falling out, they could be used as a clue. Especially now when the readers need to find Nara, right?

Bond: Sadly, yes. When I get my hands on those plot bunnies it will be rabbit stew time! Forgive me, I am a vegetarian, but I know a few carnivores who will love plot bunny stew.

SM: I suspect the readers can help Jolie decipher the clues to find the plot bunnies and Ms. Malone. How do they start?

Bond: To start, go to her blog and leave a comment under her post about the rules. Even though Nara is not here, we will carry on with the contest and award prizes just as she intended. We don’t know what Nara hid, so we’re changing the focus. Think of the prize drawings as a reward for bringing more readers to the search and for finding clues.

SM: What sorts of clues will they need to look for?

Bond: We don’t know exactly. I imagine anything important will be guarded by a bunny. If it were me, I’d look for bunnies and wring their secrets out of them. Hopefully, we’ll find some of those loose journal pages. I think her journal will be the key to unraveling this twisted Plot Bunny’s Tale.

SM: How do you earn points in the game?

Bond: This explanation is from Nara’s Rulz Page:

Earning Points
Now how do you earn points? Some points are very easy to earn. If you look at the bottom of my blog you'll see a BigDoor toolbar. That will be the easiest way to earn points. You log in there with your Facebook account (this is one of the reasons you need a Facebook account to play). The more times you log in there during a day, the more points you get. Interacting with my author page on Facebook gets you points, sharing through Twitter or Facebook earns points. If you share a link to my blog on Facebook or Twitter and someone clicks it to visit, you get influence points.

It may be possible to get to the next level with the toolbar alone, but you'll get big points if you log into the virtual world and find clues. Forty points for each clue and another fifty when you unlock a chapter. It's more challenging to acquire points in the virtual worlds, but more rewarding, so hopefully you'll give that a try. You need a Facebook ID to log into the world too.

SM: How do you know you've made it to the next level in the game?

Bond: Every two hundred points takes you to the next level. Do not worry, points add up fast.

SM: How long was the scavenger hunt for her journal supposed to go while Ms. Malone was still here?

Bond: If we find her before the six weeks is up, then of course we will finish the hunt in the way she planned.

SM: Will you be joining the hunt, Master Bond, or coordinating HQ?

Bond: Facebook does not allow the unreal to have an account. Jolie and I can’t get into the world to look for Nara. This is why we’re asking readers to help us.

SM: Thank you, Master Bond, for talking to me and good luck in finding Ms. Malone and her journal.

Bond: Again, it is my pleasure, Ms. Siobhan.

SM: Mr. SM and I really enjoyed your Toasted Peach Ice Cream in The Dungeon Gourmet and I'm so honored to have you here on my birthday! Do you have a moment to share one of your succulent recipes with the readers today?

Bond: I am always happy, mes amis, to share such things with you. Joyeux Anniversaire, Ms. Siobhan.

SM: (Blushling) Thank you! (Huge Grin) If you would like to read more about Master Bond, you can read his story in The Dungeon Gourmet by Nara Malone from Ellora's Cave Publishing.

Now for the giveaway, Nara is offering a copy of The Dungeon Gourmet to one lucky reader from my blog who joins the Nara's Nook Contest. The grand prize in the contest is a NookColor and there will be weekly drawings to award gift cards. So there are lots of ways to win. All you have to do is:
  1. Become a follower of this blog.
  2. Leave a comment and a valid email address in the comment text (if you don't want to show your email address to the public,  email me HERE)
  3. Skip on over the Nara's blog and join the scavenger hunt - the rules for Nara's Nook Contest are there, too.
  4. Be sure to "like" Nara's Facebook Page and follow her on Twitter. Bond and Jolie will be tweeting hunt status updates as well as taking turns manning Nara's Twitter account: @LeMarquisDeBond and @snatch_me_jolie
  5. Keep checking back at Nara's blog to maximize your points and check your status.
  6. Have fun visiting this brave new world and good luck! :)
The book giveaway will be open until Friday, September 9th so you have all week to comment! The winner will be announced on Monday, September 12th. Nara's Nook Contest runs the whole month of September and winners will be announced on Nara's blog each Thursday. Grand Prize winner will be announced on October 13th. You can read an excerpt of Snatch Me HERE. Good luck and happy reading! :)

And now, the recipe. Enjoy! 

Le Bête Noire

       Who doesn’t love that racing heart, wobbly-knee feeling you get tiptoeing into a dark basement, at the mouth of a mysterious cave, or just inside the dungeon door? The dark calls to us and frightens us at the same time. Thanks to a recipe Kelly Jamieson sent to me, we take a journey to the dark side this week, stir the dark beast. This dish, she drips sin. 

       Now, Nara likes to break writing rules. In her honor, we break some rules today. A cake with no flour, this must break some culinary rule. And like love on the dark side, this dish relies on a bittersweet balance. We don’t want syrupy sweet, but sweet with a bite — romance with an edge. This tempts the tongue and the imagination.

       We begin with preheating the oven to 350. It is always good to let the heat build slowly, like the anticipation of a lover’s touch. Now the ingredient list. As always, you can’t take measurements as gospel. Use your senses to guide you as you prepare.

       The list is short and simple. Buy organic and buy quality. If you are going to sin, sin extravagantly.
  • 3 eggs plus one yolk
  • 9 oz bittersweet chocolate (70% cocao)
  • 1 cup water
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 and 1/2 sticks of butter
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp salt.
       So we start by making a sweet syrup, pour half cup water in the sauce pan, add sugar, salt, vanilla, add a couple more tablespoons of water there as it heats to a boil. We want nice clear syrup, the sugar dissolving like a lover’s will under the heat of desire.

       Now that your lover has greased and sugared the pan, we put him/ her to work breaking the chocolate to pieces in a big mixing bowl. 

       While she is busy we simmer the syrup. This is how flavor finds its shape. You take her to the boiling point and then you back off, let her hover, bubbling at the edge without going over. The timing is crucial. You have to learn when is too long and when is not long enough. You hear it in the tone, the soft hiss and murmur the liquids make.

       Now, I tip the syrup, drizzle it over the chocolate bits and use the wire whisk too– What is the word we want? Beating? No, no..whipping, I think. Whipping the batter.

       You whip up a thick black sauce — liquid sin. The sight, the scent so rich it makes your tongue twirl, tie itself in a knot.

       Then we have to add the butter, in small pieces, about the size of a pat. *wicked grin* I like patting.

       Now, while we have been cooking the eggs were sitting out, coming to temperature. We don’t want chilly eggs, they won’t be pliant enough to blend smoothly into the warm syrup.

       Whip briskly. Whipping action is all in the wrist, use fluid, supple strokes.You know she is whipped enough when everything has a nice uniform color, no stripes. For the dark beast, we want thick, glistening black batter. When you inhale you should be able to taste sin pooling on your tongue. We can’t taste this with raw egg in the batter, but you breathe in the taste of this one. Like a lover it will tell you when it’s time.

       You pour the batter in the pan and use the spatula to scoop and smooth. My technique with the spatula is much like the tennis motion, a quick swipe with the forehand and a slow return stroke. Hmm…I can think of other places that technique works well.

       Bake this around 45 minutes to an hour until it has a uniform jiggle, no one part jiggles more than the other. Hmm. You have to appreciate a cake with jiggle. And when you take her from the oven you have perfection. You can tell she is ready by the soft ripe texture, the fragrance has a decadent zest. She is a moist, dark jewel ready to be tasted. You look at her and you want to press your lips to her glistening skin and savor her warmth.

       Now the dictionary definition of bête noire says it is repellent, the thing you least want. I ask you, when you sink your fork into this, let her dissolve on your tongue, are you repelled?



  1. I hope you enjoy your birthday, cherie. Thanks for helping to get the word out.

  2. Hope that you have an amazing Birthday! I truly enjoyed the interview.


  3. Great interview! Congrats to Nara! and HAPPY BIRTHDAY!

  4. Thank you, Master Bond! :)

    I'm glad you liked it, Joe! Please tell your friends!

    Thanks, Morgan! We hope to find Nara soon so she can celebrate, too!


  5. Truly cannot wait to try this recipe. It's so decadent, and I squirmed in my seat just reading the recipe, lol.

    Fun interview with Monsieur Bond, and I look forward to reading Nara's tales.

  6. Fun interview with some great clues for Nara's contest and a bit more help on navigating the virtual world. The recipe sounds really yummy to and pretty easy for someone that doesn't bake a whole lot.

    joderjo402 AT gmail DOT com

  7. Happy Birthday & it is great of you to have such a nice chat with Monsieur Bond. I would like to thank him for the recipe provided as well as for talking about Nara's various writings. Tiger's Tale sounds right up my alley...absolutely love shifters (in particular felines)& menage & WOOHOO a twofer.

  8. Happy Belated Birthday!! It's not a party until there is great food :) I'm not much of a cook, but the recipe sounds simple and do-able. I also have all but one or two of the ingredients so who knows maybe I'll give it a whirl.

    Cambonified (at) yahoo (dot) com


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