Tina has always had a passion for romance and anything paranormal. And even in school, was encouraged to put her writing skills to good use, but always with the admonishment to ‘stop writing the weird stuff and tone down the sarcasm.’ But what fun is that?! So, in 2003, she finally decided to try her hand at writing a novel, but still firmly embracing the ‘weird stuff and the sarcasm.’ Her first book, Into a Dangerous Mind, won the award for Romantic Times Best Small Press Contemporary Paranormal for 2006.
If you’re not familiar with the name Tina Gerow, then perhaps you’ll know her best as Cassie Ryan. Since 2006, Tina has published several books under her penname Cassie Ryan, including the popular Maiden series, the Seduction Series for Kensington’s Aphrodisia line and the upcoming Sisters of Darkness series with Berkley.
Tina/Cassie is an Arizona State University alumnus and a member of the Romance Writers of America. She served as past president of the local Valley of the Sun Romance Writers Chapter and is an active member of the Desert Rose chapter. She’s an active speaker on a variety of subjects including promotions, character creation, goals & motivation and more. She lends her expertise to other RWA chapters as well as the Romantic Times Booklovers convention where she serves on paranormal and erotic panels.
Tina/Cassie lives in Arizona with her husband Jon, her son Darian and two feisty tabby cats. When Tina isn’t spending time with her family, she’s usually writing, or participating at some various and sundry writer’s conferences, workshops or meetings.
DRose: Hi Tina! We’re so glad you could join us. Let’s start by telling us a little more about you. Where are you from originally? When you were young, what did you want to be when you grew up?
Tina: I was born in Ohio, but grew up in Phoenix and have been here most of my life minus a ten-year stint in Houston after college. I always wanted to be a teacher, and then when I got so involved in band starting in the second grade, I wanted to be a band director, which I actually did for a while before I got pregnant with my son. But then life happened and I ended up a writer J and I absolutely love it!
DRose: Musicians often note the musicians who influenced them. What authors would you say have been your biggest influences?
Tina: This would be a very long list if I answered in full, so I’ll just give the highlights. When I was younger I read authors like Anne McCaffrey, Piers Anthony and anything else I could snag from my brother’s bookshelf. He was big into reading sci-fi and fantasy and I found that I loved it, too. As a normal teenage girl I did go through a phase of reading some of my mom’s romances, but the big thing at that time was the helpless heroine and lots of forced sex – I kept yelling a the books, “Kick his ass! You don’t need his help! Save yourself!” so that phase didn’t last long for me. I replaced those with an eclectic mix of books like memoirs, popular fiction and classics like Shakespeare, Jane Austin, Poe & Dickens. Basically anything and everything I found interesting. Then as I got older I found Nora Roberts who brought me full circle back to the romance genre. Her heroines were strong women who wanted partners, not domineering men, they were smart and funny and I enjoyed reading about them, as well as about the very strong men who were a match for them. (The Born in Series I still read once a year!) Then in my early writing years I read writers like Cheyenne McCray, Jennifer Ashley, Lora Leigh, Christine Feehan & Sherrilyn Kenyon. Every one of those writers and the many I’ve discovered who aren’t listed have influenced my work. I think every book you read becomes part of you…and all those wonderful authors’ works are now part of me.
DRose: Do you have a favorite book or series?
Tina: This changes depending on what I’m reading and my mood. I would say I should attend reader’s anonymous – but it’s a habit I don’t ever want to be rid of!
DRose: Tell us more about your book. What's it about and what inspired you to write it?
Tina: My latest release is called Trio of Seduction. It’s the third book in the Seduction Trilogy through Kensington Aphrodisia. The trilogy is about two races of otherworldy witches who use sexual energy as life force. There’s a civil war on their utopian world and the losing faction is banished to earth, but not before stealing the crown princess, who is just a baby. Book 1 (Ceremony of Seduction) is about the prince of her erotic dreams finding the princess and bringing her back home to try to save her planet. Book 2 (Vision of Seduction) is about the Seer who tells what must be done to institute an ancient ritual to bring their world back to full health – and also her romance with a very hunky prince! Book 3 (Trio) is the culmination of the story as well as the romance between the Healer and her very own hunky prince. It’s a very fun, sexy, smoking-hot read and it was a blast to write.
DRose: Anyone who has set their sights on a career as a writer knows how difficult it can be. How long did it take for you to get published and what was the journey like?
Tina: I started writing for publication in August 2003. It took me eleven months to write (and rewrite 11 times with the help of my critique group), Into a Dangerous Mind, which went on to be a Romantic Times Reviewer’s Choice Winner in 2006. After 69 rejections, I got “the email” in October 2004 from a small press who published that book and several others. Then in 2006 I got “the call” from Kensington about a little partial I sent them that had turned into Ceremony of Seduction. And now currently I’m writing for both Sapphire Blue Publishing as Tina Gerow and Berkley as Cassie Ryan.
DRose: You’re quite the busy writer. I can almost imagine you chained to your chair for days on end. Would you say you’re this disciplined as a writer?
Tina: I don’t have that kind of time. I have to take writing time where I can get it, which I do suppose takes a lot of discipline. That and I have to stop every hour or so and do something else – even if it’s just a bio break and walking away from the computer. As well as writing, I’m also the Co-Owner of Sapphire Blue Publishing, which takes up a good chunk of time, and I work 20 hours a week at Starbucks so we can have health insurance. That and, it’s a really fun job that gives you free caffeine! J So, life is a constant juggle to keep all of those, as well as time with my family and downtime, in balance. But it allows me to write and work within the industry I love, so I’m very thankful.
DRose: Do you plot your story before you write it or do you sit and let it flow?
Tina: I’m a combination pantser/plotter. I usually sell off proposal, so I have to come up with an idea, then a synopsis, then the first three chapters. If that sells, I usually have a general idea in mind as well as the ending, but it’s far from plotted. I definitely eek more onto the pantser side of things J
DRose: Do you consider yourself eccentric as a writer? Is there something you must have or do before writing?
Tina: I wish I had some fun, eclectic answer for this. But I can write anywhere and at any time. I grew up in a rather noisy and boisterous household and now I have a 15 year old, so I can tune out the world (much to my husband’s frustration). Although in a perfect world – I’d love to have a nice hot, venti chai J
DRose: Do you write to music or the TV?
Tina: I have several movie sound tracks with no words. (If it has words I end up typing the words…lol!) On my current play list are Harry Potter (all), Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, Mummy (all), The Rock, Pirates of the Caribbean (all) and Van Helsing. I’m always looking for more – but those are great “mood” music.
DRose: Are there any current projects you're excited about and can share with our readers?
Tina: I recently signed a two book deal with Berkley for another Seduction Series J This one is about four succubus in Hell’s version of the Witness Protection program. The first book in the series is called Seducing the Succubus and is due out November 2010. The second book, which I’m currently writing and doesn’t have an official title yet is due out April 2011.
DRose: When you're not writing, do you have any hobbies or interests?
Tina: Writing used to be my hobby/interest and then I turned it into a career J Lately I’ve been a bit too busy to do much in the way of down time. But I’d say reading, travel, time spent with friends and family and some occasional hot baths with a book are my biggest stress relievers.
DRose: They say you can learn a lot about a person by their surroundings. What does your work area look like?
Tina: Lately it’s either a squishy chair at Starbucks with a hot chai beside me and my headphones in, or it’s me in my recliner at home, a glass of ice water next to me and whatever chaos-state my house is in around me. I use an online thesaurus and dictionary so I don’t really have a lot of “stuff” I need to write other than my laptop.
DRose: What do you consider your guilty pleasure?
Tina: Watching TV – shows like Dr. Who, Torchwood & American Idol J
DRose: What can you tell us about the workshop you’ll be presenting at the Desert Dreams Conference?
Tina: My workshop is an Erotic/Paranormal workshop. When they asked me for this subject, they said, “Since you sell well in both genres, this might be a great topic for you.” J So, I’m going to be speaking on some general things to keep in mind in those genres as well as some tips & tricks. Although I think the questions are always the best part of any workshop – because you’re answering what they really want and need to know.
Thank you so much for spending the day with us, Tina.
You can learn more about Tina and Cassie and her works at her websites.