When Gena Showalter set out to reinvent Pandora’s myth, she decided to pin it on the lads. It’s easy to forgive them, though: like The Darkest Craving‘s Kane, they’re all hot as hell.
Zola: From Pandora to the Titans, your Lords of the Underworld series gives Greek mythology a modern spin. This seems to be a current trend in YA/romance: Sarah McCarry’s All Our Pretty Songs and Meg Cabot’s Abandon trilogy have similar inspirations. Where does this fascination with mythology come from?
Gena Showalter: For me, it’s all about taking a familiar idea and twisting it. With Lords of the Underworld, I started with the grain of an idea. An immortal warrior is killed every night, only to wake up the next morning knowing he has to die again. After that, it was just a matter of sitting down and figuring out why he’s killed and how he recovers. I began to put the pieces together. I knew an angel of death-type would have to be involved. Pain would be involved. Death, Pain… they are evil things. And evil things were said to be in Pandora’s box. Once I made that connection, ideas started flying. But I didn’t like that a woman had always been blamed for unleashing the evil that was trapped inside. I decided to rewrite the myth… and blame men.
Zola: You’ve written dozens of successful YA and paranormal romances—clearly, you know how to tackle both genres. But which do you prefer writing, and why?
GS: I think it depends on whatever I’m writing at the time. I tend to fall in love with the characters I’m spending the most time with. I’m immersed in their world, surrounded by their thoughts and feelings and friends, so it makes sense. When I wrote The Darkest Craving, I couldn’t get enough of the hero and heroine. Josephina is an intriguing mix of old-world charm and modern sass. She’s sweet, smart, witty—and Kane would do anything to protect her. And by anything, I mean anything. When he falls for her, he falls hard. Fiercely, madly, deeply, passionately. He would die for her. That kind of dedication gets me every time!
Right now I’m revising the third Angels of the Dark book, Burning Dawn, and I’m reeeally digging adult romance. A brutal winged warrior with a tormented past has an insatiable need for violence… and there’s a beauty who stokes his darkest desires? Yes, please! However, I’m also writing the sequel to Through the Zombie Glass, hanging with a group of teen zombie slayers, and having a ball.
Zola: When asked about penning sex scenes in a Zola Q&A, author Kevin Baker spoke for many when he replied: “is there anything harder?” You seem to have it down to an art, though—any tips you might give your struggling colleagues?
GS: Let your characters guide you. It doesn’t matter what you like, or don’t like, or what you think your readers will like or not like. What fits the characters? When the scenes are organic to their thoughts, emotions and circumstances, there’s magic!
Zola: You are a USA Today/New York Times-bestselling author with millions of fans—millions of very verbal fans. When planning your books, do you pay attention to their online suggestions and reviews, or do you “do your thing” and trust they’ll like it?
GS: I go into a book knowing I can’t make everyone happy. What some people will love, other people will hate. So, all I can do is write the book the way I’m led and pray for the best.
Zola: You’ve said you don’t like revealing plot or characters ahead of time, but could you give us a taste of the next two books in the LOTU series without giving anything major away?
GS: Up next in the LOTU world is Torin, and I do have a heroine in mind for him. Hint: it’s not who everyone thinks it is. I have pieces of his story settled—they came to me yesterday, in fact—and his lady love is gonna be one bad-A chick. He’s not going to know what hit him.
After Torin, it’s either Cameo or William on the chopping block. I am head-over-heels in love with Cameo’s hero—he knows just how to handle her! But as longtime readers of the series know, William is my favorite character. I know he’s not demon-possessed, but it’s time that irreverent playboy got his due. A swift kick between the legs—followed by a happily ever after.
This article originally appeared on Zola Books.