"Seductive, intoxicating, and completely enthralling"
"Was amazing and beautifully written....the poetry and the angst the love story and the metaphysical and the spiritual aspect of it all."
"A beautiful love story"
"Sweeping love at first sight!"
"A beautifully written paranormal romanceunlike any I have read. The superb writing ties in classic literature, poetry,humor, and philosophy, to a fascinating supernatural romantic storyline."
"A beautiful and passionate love story."
From the Author
Q. This is a passionate and unique story. How did it first come to you--through a dream, an idea, or an emotion?
A. I've always loved the story of Beauty and the Beast, ever since I was a little girl. There was something about the Beast that fascinated me. He was just so human. He was not perfect by any means but somehow lovable. I wanted to make Cristien that kind of mixture of attractive yet scary, bad yet good, cursed yet blessed. I did not want Cristien to be perfect but someone who desires to be "good," but feels too human and flawed to forgive himself for being human and flawed.
Q. Why is your book called The Innocent? Is there a special significance to the title?
A. The word refers to a lot of things in the book: to Alexa's youth, her lack of sexual experience and her views of life.The title is actually taken from a poem by Byron called, "She walks in Beauty." It is quoted in the book. The poem is about a girl who is a mixture of shadow and light and yet is pure and innocent. The last line refers to "A heart whose love is innocent," and I thought that the whole thing fit Alexa perfectly. It also refers to the stage in life we all go through,monster or not. We were all once new in the world. We all walked around with rose-colored glasses until someone knocked them off our faces and made us see the world as it is, full of grey. The novel also explores the destruction of innocence, specifically the ones who through their cruelty show us that life is not all roses but also full of thorns. Do we hate them for hurting us or thank them for teaching us a valuable lesson? That is very much a question that Cristien struggles with through most of the book.
Q. What was your inspiration for The Innocent?
A. I was inspired by the myth of Cupid and Psyche. It's supposed to be this light story about how Psyche becomes a goddess, but it is really about growing up and becoming the hero of your own life. Some really terrible things happen to Psyche. She is kidnapped, has sex with a thing she cannot see, is abandoned and left to wander until she is enslaved by a Goddess who only wants to destroy her. Psyche is kept in the dark or innocent, like my character Alexa, to the true nature of her lover. Psyche assumes with the help of her sisters that Cupid is evil. When Alexa finds out what Cristien is she is petrified out of her mind. I liked the idea of mistaking a god for a devil, for confusing good and evil because it shows how our interpretation of an event or a person can be wrong. I also liked the suggestion that we don't really truly know the people we love. We think we do, but we are always surprised by something and it is the reaction to this knowledge that determines how well or badly a relationship will go, for a while at least.
Q. Do you have a favorite character?
A. I love them all, but I am especially fond of Lance. He makes me laugh. He's always so calm. He's nothing like me. Then there is Chandraswami; his very Indian attitude toward life is quite enlightening and a thing to aspire to.
Q. What was the most challenging aspect of developing this story?
A. Well, the story is a kind of a masala. It starts out like a paranormal romance. A girl goes out on the town and meets a monster, but then it becomes something else entirely. It takes you down the rabbit hole of love,into the good, the bad and the obsessive. The monsters are real in the story,but they are also mythic, meaning they are stand-ins or allegories for those shadowy or rejected aspects of ourselves. Those parts that don't fit our perfect dream of who we are supposed to be. Alexa changes dramatically in the story because none of us are perfect. I wanted her to have a bit of darkness in her. I didn't want her to be so good and Cristien so bad that they were opposites. I wanted them to be each other's mirror reflections. I wanted them to see the other in themselves. I wanted Alexa to learn that she isn't perfect either. In that way, in accepting her own imperfections, she could forgive Cristien's and help him forgive himself.
Q. Is there an emotion that you had to spend a lot of time with that made you uncomfortable?
A. The scene when Alexa is attacked was one of the hardest I have had to write. It remained a sketch for a long time. I finished the whole novel and edited it before going back to fill in the details of that scene. This isn't a fantasy fight where she wins against impossible odds. She loses. Knowing she loses and that she is a victim is very hard for me. I have been a victim of abuse. It was difficult to be on the receiving end of violence again even in my own imagination. What happens to Alexa is unfair. It is wrong, but I wanted to take the reader into the unfairness of life. I wanted them to confront it. I wanted them to see how the different characters respond to it for better or for worse.
Q. What's the one true thing you learned from your characters in this novel?
A. Well, the book explores the nature of what we call "evil." It explores how we can define ourselves by this term thus making it a self-fulfilling prophecy. If we think we are bad then we feel we don't deserve good. We sabotage our own happiness. We think people are better off without us. So, we end up alone. But the truth is we all want to be loved no matter what we look like,what we believe, what race, gender or orientation we are. We want to be forgiven for our failings and loved for ourselves. I still believe, as I always have, that in the end (even if it takes trillions of years,) love will conquer all.