This month’s inspirational author is Bella Settarra. I met Bella at ‘Smut by the Sea’ and she was so inspired by the readings we gave and by the idea of writing a story set by the sea that she went away and wrote one! Her first ever book has just been released. Welcome, Bella. Tell us about yourself.
Hi Jennifer, I’m Bella Settarra and I’m a writer of adult romance books. I live in the English countryside with my wonderful husband and the youngest of my three beautiful daughters. I currently have a day job so all of my writing is crammed into my evenings and weekends, as well as the odd lunch break! I live in an old, haunted house – the bedroom isn’t the only place where things go bump in the night! The good part is that I never feel alone there, I always seem to have company even when no one else is at home. It won’t be long before I write a story based on my experiences there, but for now I’m working on Sirens and Sailors.
Tell us about your latest book
This is actually my first book. Last of the Sirens, is the first of a series called Sirens and Sailors, published by Siren Publishing (who else would I choose?!) The series is based on the Greek myths but set in the future. Earth has merged into two large continents with only one inhabited island left, Refrainia. While each continent has its own government and a very clean, modern way of life, Refrainia is still run by Poseidon, and its inhabitants, all women, live in small stone huts, with none of the mod cons of the mainlands. As soon as the women reach the age of twenty-one, they are expected to become Sirens, and go out onto Destiny Rock to lure the sailors of passing ships to their doom on the perilous outcrop. While one party of Sirens swim out to the shipwreck to steal whatever they can, the others entice the sailors to the rock where they seduce them before becoming sexually aroused, winged creatures and murdering them. One of the Sirens, Amaranda, watches a shipwreck and swims out to save a drowning sailor, Eban Gal, who she hides and then falls in love with. The book tells the story of their adventures as they try to escape and ultimately cause a massive change in the way the whole island is run.
(Yay! Up the revolutionaries!!)
What makes a good hero?
I love creating the heroes for my stories because I can let my imagination run wild. (And, boy, do I have a wild imagination!) They have to be handsome – that’s an absolute must! Honesty, integrity and loyalty are a given, but I hate the thought of a goody-two-shoes. They must be flawed in some way, they can’t be perfect. My heroes need to make mistakes to make them more believable, more human. They have to have some real emotion too, a bit of jealousy, anger or selfishness, as well as being the obviously loving, caring, thoughtful Adonis we all expect. I have a ‘thing’ for muscles too, so my heroes have to be big, strong men who like to remove their shirts to reveal their powerful, ripped bodies.
Do you have anything in common with your characters?
I have spent a lot of time convincing my husband and my grown-up daughters that I am definitely not my characters – they are total figments of my imagination. I wouldn’t let my girls read my books if they thought otherwise, that would just be wrong, who wants to think of their mother like that? (Ugh!!) Lol. I will admit though, that there will be something of myself in their characteristics - with my first heroine, Amaranda, I was adamant that she wouldn’t be beautifully slim and graceful, as one might imagine a Siren. I made her curvy, and a little self-conscious, and that’s where the similarity between us ends – honest!
Is there any trivia about your forthcoming story that you can share with us?
Well you might be interested to hear that I chose my characters’ names by their meaning. The women have Greek names; ‘Amaranda’ means flowery – the mythical island of Anthemoessa, which I renamed ‘Refrainia’, was traditionally described as ‘flowery’. Two of the Sirens, Kalliope and Ligia, have names which mean ‘beautiful voice’. Eban Gal, the hero, has Hebrew names; ‘Eban’ means ‘rock’ and ‘Gal’ means ‘wave’, befitting for a sailor, I thought.
When did you write your first book (and is it published)?
That’s an easy one. Last of the Sirens is the first book I ever wrote. I’ve written loads of short stories, but never attempted a whole book until now. I wrote it during the summer of 2013 and it was published in November 2013.
Who are some of your favourite authors?
Apart from Jennifer Denys – of course ! (Thank you, sweetie!) – I’m a big fan of Cherise Sinclair, Lexi Blake and Sylvia Day. However, I do enjoy the classics from time to time – Thomas Hardy’s ‘The Mayor of Casterbridge’ is probably my all-time favourite!
What are you currently working on and what’s on the horizon?
I’m about half-way through the third book in the Sirens and Sailors series, which has a sub-Dom relationship in it, so I’m doing loads of research to get that right. The second book in the series, Scourge of the Siren, is due to be published in February 2014. This tells the story of what happened next for Amaranda and Eban, the main characters from the first book. I think it’s quite emotional and has some great action!
Who did you dedicate your first book to?
My husband and my daughters – they’ve been so supportive of my writing and I love them all to bits!
What’s the hardest part of writing?
For me, it’s having to stop. I do a lot of my writing at night because I work full-time, but once I start I get carried away and don’t want to stop. I suffer from fatigue anyway, and with early morning starts for work I really need all the sleep I can get. Once I get caught up in a storyline, though, it’s hard to shut it down and go to bed before it’s finished!
(I SOOO know how that feels!)
Without knocking the three old hags burst into Amaranda’s neat little house.
“You’re coming with us!” Ophelie croaked as her bony fingers grabbed the girls shoulder.
Amaranda gasped, “What? I don’t understand!”
“You know what you have to do and we are just going to make sure you do it!” Solon grabbed her other arm, and they pulled her out of her own house and down the narrow path to the causeway.
“Minerva, please!” the girl pleaded, turning to the old woman who was bringing up the rear. “I don’t deserve this, surely?”
“It is not my decision, Amaranda.” Minerva sighed sadly. “You heard Hermandine. But if you undertake your duties on the Rock, it will bode better for the young man, I’m sure.”
“Where is Eban? Does he know about this?” Amaranda squirmed as she tried to face Minerva, but the two crones on either side of her held her firmly, if a little shakily!
“He knows. He is quite safe. We will determine his fate this afternoon,” Minerva said, nodding.
Amaranda let out a loud cry of anguish, which made Solon jump, though Ophelie was completely oblivious to the sound.
“Behave yourself, girl,” Solon snapped.
Ophelie, aware of the sudden jolt, looked around in surprise to see what was happening. Solon had a face like thunder. Nothing new there then! Amaranda was sobbing uncontrollably, shaking more than the two old dears put together!
“Hush, now.” Minerva moved around to stand in front of Amaranda, thus causing the other two to halt abruptly.
Amaranda looked up at her through a curtain of tears.
“I know this is hard for you, dear,” Minerva went on softly, “but you will get used to it. Just do it once and you’ll see—it’s really not so bad. You will get to enjoy it, I promise. It only hurts a bit the first time, but remember we were all virgins once.”
Amaranda sniffed and stared at her in surprise.
“But I’m not a virgin!” she said.
There was a collective gasp from the three old ladies, who looked like they would expire on the spot! Even Ophelie seemed to have heard what she said! This was utterly unthinkable!
“But–but you must be!” Minerva stuttered in astonishment, “How can you not be?”
“Well…” began Amaranda slowly.
Thank you for joining me today, Bella. Good luck with your writing. Next month is the turn of Tanith Davenport.