Who is Monica Burns – give us the low down.
Well to avoid boring everyone, including myself, here’s the official blip off the radar. Monica is an award-winning author of erotic romance. She penned her first short romance story at the age of nine when she selected the pseudonym she uses today. From the days when she hid her stories from her sisters to her first completed full-length manuscript, she always believed in her dream despite rejections and setbacks. A workaholic wife and mother, Monica believes it’s possible for the good guy to win if they work hard enough.
Assassin’s Honor immerses us in the dangerous world of the Sicari – an ancient order of assassins that are fighting the evil Praetorians. What was your inspiration for this story? What kind of research was required?
Great question. I have to be upfront and say that I am a huge Xena fan (have all the seasons on DVD), Klingon lover from Star Trek and Joss Whedon fan. All of these and some other influences played a big role in creating the Sicari.
My actual inspiration for the Roman influence came primarily from watching HBO’s mini-series ROME. I love ancient Roman history. The show reflected such a rich, robust time period with Julius Caesar, Marc Antony, Cleopatra, Octavian, Cato and others. Beauty and bloodshed filled the era, and I was drawn to the dichotomy if those two pieces of Roman culture. The Romans for all their brilliance in the arts, engineering, warfare and other things were a bloodthirsty bunch. So I started asking what if questions. Things like, what if there were heroes descended from these Roman soldiers and they used swords in modern day times. What if they had a supernatural power? Those questions led to more questions and the Sicari were born.
I did extensive research for this book. I always do a lot of research for my books, this series required and still requires historical and present day research to be as accurate as possible. There’s always creative license taken with fiction, but I’m pretty good about mixing my creativity with fact. Some of the research I did involved watching The History Channel, internet research, personal knowledge of the Catholic Church and perusing the research books on my bookshelf. I’ve got about a half a shelf of books on Ancient Rome. Not as much as my Egyptian collection, but it was enough. *grin*
This book very much has an adventurous feel – with a treasure hunt, really evil villains and a very smexy romance. Do you do an extensive outline to keep everything in order, or are you more a write by the seat of your pants writer?
I am definitely a fly by the seat of my pants type of writer. It makes for panic during edits of follow up books, but I’ve kept pretty good notes, and I remember specific aspects of my world well enough that I know where it’s first referenced in a book so I can go back and find it. I think what I love so much about this world is that it’s coming to me just like it comes to the reader. I’m surprised time and time again when a character does something that’s completely unexpected. The blood bond was one of those things that came out of the blue, and I immediately thought I’d written myself into a corner. Turns out the blood bond plays a significant role in the Sicari culture with different signifiers.
I use Microsoft’s One Note software for keeping track of things. I tried to use a spreadsheet, but it just became a huge mess that irritated me. *grin*
Did any character in this book surprise you or demand more page time?
Absolutely. I fell in love with Lysander in Assassin’s Honor, and I knew his story would be told in Book 2 – Assassin’s Heart (09/10). Then there’s Ares’s god mother and the leader of the Sicari. Readers meet her in Assassin’s Honor, and her story is a sub plot in Assassin’s Heart.
It is unusual to find a paranormal romance where the hero and heroine are both mortal. Why did you choose not to make them immortal? Was it a hard decision?
It wasn’t so much a decision as it was Ares telling me they weren’t immortal. I think it makes the storylines even more interesting because you know these heroes and heroines can be killed. I think it makes the stakes that much higher. I also wanted the source of their powers to be thought of as magical, but it’s more like a genetic mutation as the result of the original ancestors drinking a potion Alexander the Great brought back from India.
Rome plays an important part in this series. Have you ever travelled there? Is there one place you have never been that you would love to visit?
I’ve never been to Rome, but would love to go. I told the DH that we’re going in 2012. He said, “Show me the money.” LOL My mom’s side of the family is full-blooded Italian and a lot of the influences in the book are based in my memories of growing up with Italian uncles and cousins working on cars on hot summer afternoons, or sitting in lawn chairs on my Aunt Nene’s patio. Ever heard Italians shouting over one another? LOL We’re a boisterous group.
There are lots of places I’ve never been and would love to visit, Italy being one. I would love to just travel the world in general. There’s so much to see and appreciate.
Many of the characters have special abilities – telepathy, telekinesis, healing. If you could have a power, what would it be?
My first response to this question was telekinesis because I’m lazy and when I want something it would be cool to just stretch out my hand and have the remote control fly into my hand. Then there’s the evil thought of being able to make someone’s tire go flat when they take my parking spot. But then I leave the dark side behind and I’d choose being an empath like Phaedra. I like helping people. It’s a good feeling to know you’ve made a difference in someone’s life. While it wouldn’t be pleasant taking on others pain, but healing others suffering would be very rewarding.
Lysander’s book is next – any hints on his story or where you see this series heading?
I just turned in edits for Lysander’s book, Assassin’s Heart. The book is probably the best book I’ve written. The book shows the reader how the Sicari and Praetorians came into being. There’s a past life twist to the book, and Lysander’s life mirrors that of a Sicari Lord in the distant past.
As for where the series is headed, there are some more treasures for the Sicari to hunt for, and if the books do well enough for Berkley to renew my contract, I want to delve deeper into the Sicari Lords. These are Sicari who possess both telekinetic and telepathic abilities, and while they’re not immortal, they possess greater strength than most mortals and they can often live to be twice the normal age.
What is the last book you read?
I’m reading Eloisa James An Affair Before Christmas. It’s been a while since I read her, and I’m remembering exactly why I love her writing.
Name three things you must have with you when you write.
Quiet or a personalized playlist (dependant on my mood and the mood of the book)
Comfortable temperature – cool, but not too cold.
What fictional hero do you lust after the most?
Sir Percy Blakeney the Scarlet Pimpernel. He is the epitome of the rogue and gentleman in the same body. Richard E. Grant in A&E’s production of the stories was the perfect portrayal of Sir Percy. (Smexy LOVES this Sir Percy!)
Chest hair – Smexy?
I prefer smooth skin. Hair rubs off when one’s hot and sweaty. LOL (EEW! Gross! :) )
Monica is offering up a copy of Assassin’s Honor to one commenter. To enter, tell us which super power you would like to have – Telepathy, Telekinesis, or Healing? Also, Monica will be available later in the day to answer all questions!
Contest will be open through Monday, May 24th. Contest open to all, with the following conditions:
Author Disclaimer: Drawing is open to residents in US and other countries. Void where prohibited. Shipping/handling fees for shipment of book outside the US is responsibility of winner. International winners may pay the required postage via PayPal. To ensure as many readers as possible have a chance to win a copy of the book, Monica awards only one book per reader, per household.
Monica Burns says
Morning everyone. I wanted to pop in here so I could get emails from the blog, and if time during lunch answer all of them. I have to go for training *snore* today. I really hate it when an organization talks down to you as if you're too stupid to get that a)stealing is wrong, turn people in b)you don't harass people sexually or ANY way, including yelling. c)or whatever common sense tells you.
Can you tell I don't want to go to this training session??? LOL
See you later today.
Deborah Nemeth says
Can't wait to read Assassin's Honor.
As to your superpower question: I'd choose healing. Telepathy sounds pretty cool but it could be annoying to hear thoughts best left expressed. While telekinesis would be fun, I'd most appreciate being able to heal loved ones and possibly prolong their lives.
I have this on my TBR. I have heard so many wonderful reviews of this book-I can't wait.
I'd want telekinesis as a super power. I think it would be so cool to have the ability to move things with my mind. Imagine, I'd never have to leave my couch again. lol
I'd like the power to heal. Assassin's Honor sounds very unique and interesting. I like that your hero and heroine are mortal.
I would like the power of healing as my first choice, telekinesis as my second. Love the cover on your book!
I would love to have the power to Heal! I could heal anyone that needs healing, it would make me so happy to help people.
Oooh, I love that cover! Ahem..
If I could choose, I'd be invisible so I could stalk Jake Gyllenhaal all I wanted!
Mrs. Hanson says
I love Sir Percy too! Makes me want to watch The Scarlet Pimpernel.
I would love to have the power of healing. How much good could be done in the world with that?
Thanks so much, Ms. Burns and Mandi! I'm looking forward to reading this series.
My pick would be healing, looking forward to the read! tWarner419@aol.com
Kelly M. says
Bonnie Jean says
I can hardly WAIT to get my hands on this book!!! *drool* Thanks for sharing, Monica!! And sorry about the crappy meeting :0/
I'd choose healing, we have a decent amount of health issues in my family, and plus think of how many people's lives could be changed for the better :D
great interview and I can't wait to read this one.
My choice, from those three, would have to be healing.
carolsnotebook at yahoo dot com
Jennifer Mathis says
i would choose telepathy.
Jacqueline C. says
Out of those choices, I would definitely pick healing. The other two would be fun (maybe) but unnecessary.
Fiction Vixen says
I enjoyed Assassin's Honor very much. I fell in love with Lysander too! I'm excited for his story.
This looks like a great book! Love the cover.
I'd have to say healing. It would be awesome to have the other two, but I think healing would be the most beneficial.
Hello Monica & Mandi! Great interview…I'm with Monica on the chest hair, smooth is better!
I'm hyped up about this series, love the covers.
I would have to say if I had a power it would be healing, maybe because I'm getting older LOL!
Carolyn Crane says
Hey! I love that you started at nine! Wow, good luck with this series. I hope you get to go to Rome in 2012!!
Hi Monica – you have some really smokin' hot covers. As for special powers, definitely telekinesis. It could be a great weapon and a great tool for helping – imagine all the help you could do in an earthquake torn area…
*adds book to tbr pile* I love that the TV show Rome inspired you for this series.
I would love to have the power to heal, so I could heal myself.
Great post! Heh – why leave the evil side? ;) As for which power I'd like… healing for sure. I feel like I'm constantly sick – but also, I'd like to heal other people too. I always feel so awful when someone is ill and miserable.
:X Otherwise as a random super power… I always say I'd like the power of teleportation. :P Or maybe shape shifting so I could eat what I want.
Awesome Interview, I Am Also A Huge Fan Of Xena, Worf (Who Is A Klingon), And Joss Whedon (LOVED Buffy The Vampire Slayer). Assassin’s Honor Sounds Like A Book I So HAve To Have. Definitely Going On My To Be Read Pile. I WOuld Love To be Entered into This Giveaway. Hey Monica What Are One Or Two Things We Wouldn't Normally Know About You? If You Were Not An Author What Would you Be Doing?
I Think I Would Like The Super Power Of Healing Especially Being Mortal I Think That Would Help Extend My Life Somewhat. Every Little Bit Helps.
Paranormal Haven says
Thanks for the great interview and the men on the covers are yummy. If I could have a super power I would pick healing so I could help others.
Cherie J says
Healing would be wonderful. It would be so great to save so many lives, especially those of little children.
Sounds like an amazing series!
Ava March says
Oh, Monica, I feel for you about the training. I hate those things, too. I once purposefully scheduled a dentist appt at the same time as a lame training thing so I could get out of it. Yep, I hate those things that much that I'd rather go to the dentist.
Fab interview Mandi and Monica! And I LOVED HBO's Rome, too. As for a super power, I'd go with telekinesis for the same reasons you gave – laziness and to torment people who steal my parking spot. :)
Healing would be the power I would choose. Your series sounds great.
I think I'd prefer Telekinesis. I'm lazy and would prefer things to come to me instead of me having to go to them. :)
Easy healing. I'm so tired of my own migraines and I'd love to heal others of their afflictions. I am so interested in reading this book!
Thanks for sharing, sounds like a great book and series. I am looking forward to it.
I think I would want to choose healing and help people with their suffering.
bacchus76 at myself dot com
Many of these abilities sound great and could be very useful in real life. After lots of thought, I'd choose telepathy. I could go on the World Poker Tour and get super rich from knowing the other player's hands.
joderjo402 AT gmail DOT com
I have heard a lot of good things about this book.
I would choose healing.
kissinoak at verizon dot net
Loved the interview! I enjoy history depicted in paranormal books, makes it fun and adventurous.
If I were to have a power, it would be healing. That way I could heal my kids when they were sick and put the co-pays towards lipstick and books. Cheers!
Sandy Jay says
Monica, this sounds like a really great series. I can't wait to read it. The power I'd like would be healing.
forwhlz at gmail dot com
I'd have to go with healing as well.. I gotta admit though that I would pick telepathy as well since it would be a helpful ability to have.
Sue A. says
This one's easy, HEALING! Until you loose your health, most of us take it for granted.
alternate email from blogger
magenta 2 red [at] gmail [dot] com
this is kind of a hard one cause healingw ould be the obvious choice but if i couldnt have teleknissi and healing id take telekenisis because healing if it got out i could heal people would make my life bad so yeah ill take telekenisis
Healing would be really cool but I would want telepathy.
throuthehaze at gmail dot com
Robin K says
Hmmm, I would choose healing. For obvious reasons. Too bad the power to enthrall or charm were not on the list. They are my favorites!
robin [at] intensewhisper [dot] com
I would also choose healing. Telepathy? No thanks. People don't think clear thoughts anyway, so it would be a big messy jumble. I think telekinesis would be great except it would only encourage me to sit around EVEN MORE. Healing would be an awesome skill!
Heather (DarklyReading) says
I loved this book and can't wait for Phae and Lysander's book! I'm looking forward to learning more about the Sicari – I think it was a great introduction to the order in Assassin's Honor.. and as for super power I would definitely go for telekinesis after reading what Ares could do with it *wink*
Great book Monica!
Barbara E. says
I think I'd like to have healing as my power as well. Not only would it be cool to help people, but it might be a great way to make a living.
I enjoyed the interview and I'm looking forward to reading Assassin's Honor.
Monica Burns says
OMG Look how many people have popped in here today. I'm so sorry that it's taken me so long to get in here. I tried to get in after the training session at 4:30pm but the boss demanded stuff, so I had to scratched that.
After a long, draining day of dry info, ya'll have made my day so much brighter! Thanks for popping in. I just home from shopping so I'll answer a few now, then come back to answer the rest. I'm just awed by the response here!
Deborah, I think healing is a wonderful choice. Helping others is something I enjoy doing.
Tori, Excellent point about telekinetics. One could be incredibly lazy. I know I would. LOL
LSUReader – Glad you like the sound of Assassin's Honor. As I told Deborah, healing would be a wonderful thing.
Kathybaug, Thanks for the cover kudos. I'm blessed that Berkley has such great artists who give me great covers
Emmagan – I like it when I help people too. Definitely makes me feel good.
Wendy – glad you like the cover, and invisible. THAT I would love to be able to do!! I'd know everything!! LOL
Mrs. Hanson, Oh isn't Sir Percy to die for!! I think he's my all time fav hero!
Tetewa – Glad you 're looking forward to the series
Kelly – Glad you enjoyed the blog post.
Bonnie Jean – Healing would be great particularly if I could have healed everyone and taken them out of that meeting! LOL Dry material just puts people to sleep. LOL But we did get some laughs at least, and one of my friends was totally sweet and found me a place to work during lunch.
Carolsnotebook – Glad you enjoyed the interview. Healing seems to be the power of choice here!
Jennifer — Telepathy. Interesting choice
Jacqueline C. Definitely healing is a good choice, and you're right about the other two being fun, but unnecessary.
Fiction V – I'm glad you enjoyed Assassin's Honor, and I'm excited for everyone too read Lysander's story. I love Lysander
Katie Glad you like the cover. Healing is definitely beneficial. Especially if you're a Sicari in a dog fight with a Praetorian
Lizzielvr – oooohhhh another smooth chest lover!! LOL
Monica Burns says
Carolyn Crane – And the only thing I've written since I was nine is romance! LOL And I hope I get to go to Rome in 2012 too! If only to say I told you so to the DH. LOL
Cybercliper – Thanks for the cover kudos. I love my Ares cover. It's totally him! Ben Afleck chin and all. And what a FANTASTIC idea about the telekinetics skill in an earthquake torn area. A cool take on that power!
Smokinhotbooks – glad you enjoyed the interview. I could watch James Purefoy over and over again, including the full nude shot! O-M-G LOL
Lucy – Heal thyself physician. LOL LOVE IT!! I would love to be able to heal myself too. I'm such a twisted soul. *grin*
limecello – glad you liked the post. It's obvious that romance and healing go hand in hand! And I keep dreaming of the day when I pay just a few credits to teleport from my front door to my BFF house in Cincy!
Skyla – We are SOUL sisters. Martok from DS9 was the inspiration for some of the Sicari characteristics. I LOVE the honor, and harshness of Klingons.
Let me see one or two things you wouldn't normal know about me…well, if you've not visited my website, then you might like to know that I collect swords. I have six of them at the moment, and I have a couple more I'm dying to get. Figuratively. LOL Two, I want a Sicari funeral (Rogalis) when I die, but I'm not sure VA will allow it. *sigh*
Monica Burns says
Para Haven – Always nice to hear that my interviews are interesting to read. I always tend to think I run off at the mouth, but that's the Italian in me. Oy! And I love my covers. Healing, a wonderful talent
Cherie J, Healing children would be wonderful. When my mom was dying of leukemia, I saw lots of little ones in the Peds Ward. God my heart just went out to them and their parents. Healing would be awesome
AvaMarch Yes the training was…how shall I put it…dry dock. It's sort of like no one has common sense any more. Fraud = stealing. Stealing = wrong. Wrong = report it! LOL I tried to get out with an appointment but was told I had to attend or else. I attended. Another soul mate for the lazy and parking spot stealers!!!
CrystalGB so glad you like the sound of the series
Catherine – I get being lazy, especially when watching tv. I have a wonderful hubby who waits on me (most of the time) or he gets the kids to do it for me. So telekinesis would definitely be handy!
Melissa – I so understand the migraines I had a friend who suffered terribly and felt back all the time. Healing her pain would have made me feel so good
Donnas – I hope you enjoy the book. Clearly healing is one of the more popular skills readers seem to want.
Joder ROFL Poker Tour Telepathy. All that would lead to riches – money to research and pay for cures. I think that's a great reason
Estella. I'm so happy that everyone is excited about this book. I love telling stories, and I hope readers fall in love with my Sicari
Mar – I love history, There's so much we can learn from it although we don't. OMG co-pays!! I can so relate. We met our deductible this year and don't have to pay any more co-pays so I'm slapping every doc appt I can get onto my schedule until time runs out!!! Of course, I'm still struggling to pay almost $1500 in med bills. I had a lot of sick kids this year, so I cuold have used that healing power myself!
Sandy Jay glad to hear you're looking forward to the series. Love, love your avatar! I'm a huge wolf fan.
s7anna – Having any of those Sicari skills would be pretty interesting, I've no doubt!
Sue A. You're right about taking health for granted. I alwasy did. I pushed, pushed and pushed more most of my life until 2 years ago I hit a brick wall. Haven't been the same since. I'm all for cloning if the body isn't sentient!
Monica Burns says
Sinn, yes with every special gift comes the double edge sword. That's how my heroine, Emma, in Assassin's Honor sees it.
Throuthehaze – wouldn't be nice just have ANY kind of power?? LOL
Robin K – Enthrall and charm…I like those because some people already have those abilities. They just don't know it or how to use it. My youngest is like that. She can charm the pants off of you, but I'm worried about her discovering she has that ability and then someone corrupting her — ME! LOL
Mepamelia – interesting take on telepathy. You're right that there's a lot going on in people heads. I think it would take a lot of discipline to manage that skill
Heather – I'm so glad you enjoyed the book. I'm already wishing it were SEpt. Trust me, Lysander will make you sigh. And wait until you read what Lysander can do with his abilities
Barbara E I'm glad you enjoyed the interview and hope you enjoy the book
Barb P says
Hi Monica! congrats on the new release. I can't wait to get my hands on it! In regards to the first question, I don't mind a little chest hair, just not on the back. In answer to the super power question, I think that I'd go with the healing powers. If I could do something to help a loved one or friend etc, that was sick or hurt, I'm all for it! email@example.com
I always thought that I'd want telepathy until I read the Sookie Stackhouse books and now I know I don't want that one. I'm a nurse, so I'd pick healing for sure. It would be great to help people that way.
As for the training – at least it's over. I had to do our yearly harassment training last week, but we were able to do it on-line in a couple of hours, so it wasn't as bad as sitting in a class.
Monica Burns says
Hi Barb, I'm with you on back hair. I think a lot of guys have it, but some are just a little too well haired for me. LOL I love the idea of being able to help a loved one or friend with healing power. Thanks for dropping in!
Hi JenM – I'm sure I'll be viewed as a heretic, but I've not read the Sookie books. I've just not had time. And healing powers would be a great way to help others.Thanks for popping in
Amy J - Book Addict says
The power I would want is Telekinesis. Aww, the power to clean my house without having to actually do it! Use my mind to move that mop, load the laundry, it would be wonderful!
Monica Burns says
Amy – don't hate me, but my personal assassin cleans house or gets the troops to do some of it for him. *grin* So telekinesis for house cleaning wouldn't work. Although it's interesting that you mention it because Lysander in Assassin's Heart is a bit of a neat freak! LOL
Cathy M says
I would love the power to heal all kinds of pain, physical, emotional and mental, and bring people a little peace. I wouldn't advertise it, just quietly share my gift where ever I could.
If I could have a super power it would be Telekinesis it would be great to be able to move things with your mind. It would be great if you needed something all you would have to do is think about it and then it would move to you.
Mitzi H. says
Hi Monica, can't wait to read your new series.
Which power to choose?….they all would serve a purpose, but I guess I would have to go with healing powers. How wonderful it would be to keep those we love living?
As a young girl I always wanted to have powers like Sam in Bewitched….how cool to wiggle my nose and make anything I wanted happen???
I'm a follower
mitzihinkey at sbcglobal dot net
Monica Burns says
Cathy M – keeping it quiet. AN EXCELLENT suggestion. If you didn't you might wind up in a military installation!
Sherry – Yes, that oh I want some m&ms from the candy jar over there…err…nope, I think I'll pass now that I've had more time to think on it. LOL
Mitiz – Glad you're looking forward to the series.Healing is definitely the most popular power here on the blog.
The power to heal any pain and illness without absorbing the pain and illness myself would be great!
Thank you Monica and Mandi for an interesting interview! Love the covers Monica and I like ancient Rome so will have to read an excerpt of your first book.
Oh, and please don't include me in the contest, but thank you :)
I would like the power of healing. To be able to cure the world of illness would be wonderful.
I look forward in reading The Order of the Sicari series.
booklover0226 at gmail dot com
I'd love to have the power of Healing.
Lisa R says
I'd like the super power healing?
It would be awful gratifying to cure young children of some of the horrifying diseases out there.
alterlisa AT yahoo DOT com
Ocher Velvet, firstname.lastname@example.org says
Hello Ms. Burns — I'm looking forward to reading your Assassins series. I've always loved ancient history, so I'm excited to see how you weave it into your stories.
Of the super powers, I'd choose telekinesis. A person could do anything from summoning the remote control to putting out forest fires. Trains on a collision course? No problem. Shuttlecraft burning up on reentry? No problem. Oil spill in the gulf? NO PROBLEM!
The possibilities are endless. And of course, a person could take care of mundane things, too. Laundry, cleaning house, pulling weeds, washing the car… Sounds fabulous.