Today, I’m hosting author Loren Rhoads. She’s here to talk about her latest series release she co-authored with Brian Thomas As Above, So Below, a paranormal romance. Don’t forget to enter the Rafflecopter giveaway.
How I became an author:
My mom was a firm believer in naps. When I was 5, I didn’t really need to nap, but my 3-year-old brother walked in his sleep and the doctor suggested maybe he was overtired. So my mother brought us both into her big bed and laid down with one of us on either side of her. She’d fling an arm across my brother and a leg over me to hold us still until naptime was over.
Unable to sleep or even to wiggle, I told myself stories to pass the hours. My favorite book at the time was Peter Pan. I hated Wendy, who sucked the fun out of everything, but I idolized Princess Tiger Lily, who would rather be tied to a rock and drowned than betray her friends. In the stories I told myself, I was Tiger Lily’s best friend, standing up to Captain Hook and flying off on adventures with Peter. I still like those strong female characters.
Something quirky about me:
I love to visit cemeteries. In addition to my novels, I’ve written two books about visiting cemeteries around the world: 199 Cemeteries to See Before You Die and Wish You Were Here: Adventures in Cemetery Travel. Brian Thomas (my co-author) and I managed to write 3 cemeteries into Angelus Rose: Forest Lawn, where they have a huge stained glass replica of Da Vinci’s The Last Supper; Westwood Memorial Park, where Marilyn Monroe is buried; and Angelus Rosedale Cemetery, which served as a backdrop for the first season of Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
If I knew I would die tomorrow:
If I knew I would die tomorrow, I would go out to breakfast at Louis’ Restaurant overlooking the ocean. I’d get a table by the window, where I could watch for whales swimming by. I’d order waffles drowning in syrup and get all hopped up on coffee, then I’d walk along the Land’s End trail to the Palace of the Legion of Honor, which stands on the grounds of the former City Cemetery. The headstones were removed in the 1920s, but most of the bodies still lie under the grass. I’d sit on the bench in the sunlight and gaze over the mouth of the San Francisco Bay at the Golden Gate Bridge. I’d just enjoy the beauty with my husband and kid. That would be the perfect day, whether I was going to die soon or not.
What can we expect in the future:
My first novel, still unpublished, was about a young witch named Alondra DeCourval. I’ve written a bunch of stories about her traveling around the world and encountering magical creatures from a siren in Venice to a fox spirit in Tokyo to the monster that lives under the Golden Gate Bridge. I’ve collected the stories into a couple of short ebooks on Amazon, but I would like to publish some novels about Alondra’s adventures. I’ve got 3 books in various states of done, but I’d like to settle down and finally tell her story.
About the characters in the As Above, So Below books:
The hero is an angel named Azaziel, although he prefers to be called Aza. The succubus who falls in love with him teases him about his name. She thinks there ought to be an ‘El” in there somewhere. He’s missing the honorific that denotes his Heavenly origin.
Azaziel’s backstory in our novels was inspired by a play by Lord Byron called Heaven and Earth: A Mystery. In that story, Azaziel falls in love with Anah, one of Cain’s granddaughters. When God sends the Flood, Azaziel tucks Anah under his wings and flies away to another plane.
My co-writer Brian Thomas asked what would happen if Azaziel outlived Anah but wasn’t forgiven — not necessarily for loving her, but for stepping away from his duties to be with her. Basically, Aza was faced with a no-win situation: save the woman he loved or let her drown. He’s never forgiven himself for making a choice. It gave us some juicy stuff to play with.
Our heroine, the succubus Lorelei, was inspired by a woman I knew at university. Kimmy lived across the hall from me in the dorm. She was beautiful: large very dark eyes, long mahogany hair, heart-shaped face. She wasn’t very tall, but she was seriously curvy. I wasn’t surprised to find she’d done catalog modeling in high school.
Mostly what I remember about Kimmy was her presence. She made everything more fun. When she came into a room, every head turned toward her, but she wasn’t obnoxious about it. She didn’t seem to crave attention; she just accepted it as normal.
Kimmy was always ready for anything. When Playboy came to town, looking to photograph Girls of the Big 10, she considered it. When she met another girl who had been contacted by a Greek millionaire who was looking for pretty girls to come lounge around on his yacht in their bikinis, she considered it. I think her curiosity about that lifestyle was matched by a small-town naivety that didn’t really guess what that kind of deal would demand in return. In consequence, I felt protective of Kimmy. I didn’t want her trusting nature to lead her into a situation she couldn’t charm her way out of.
Lorelei came directly out of that feeling. I wanted to explore the possibilities laid out in front of Kimmy, but know that Lorelei would survive them. I wanted to give Kimmy a happy ending and a boyfriend she wanted just as much as he wanted her. And I wanted to guarantee she’d never lose her fearlessness or sense of fun.
How did we come up with the title:
The working title of the original book was Hex Vex Sex. I had a long-sleeved black t-shirt that I’d bought on Haight Street with the slogan written down its sleeve. Brian thought the phrase summed up our story, from Lorelei’s initial seduction of Aza, to Aza’s possessing Lorelei with a mortal girl’s ghost, then their eventual Happy For Now ending.
Along the way, the book’s title changed to As Above, So Below, which we took from the old magical texts. In fact, the first novel was originally published under that title in 2013. When we got the rights back, we changed that novel’s title to Lost Angels, which is the name of the bar where Lorelei works in Los Angeles.
The second book is called Angelus Rose. We talked about changing it a couple of times, but never came up with anything we liked better.
Title: Lost Angels
Series: As Above, So Below Book 1
Authors: Loren Rhoads and Brian Thomas
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Blurb: When the succubus Lorelei sees Azaziel across Lost Angels, she knows he’s been kicked out of Heaven, but is not yet Fallen. She resolves to do whatever it takes to bring the angel down.
Unfortunately, Lorelei doesn’t realize that Azaziel has an agenda of his own. Taking her back to a burned-out church, he forces a mortal girl’s soul into the devil girl’s flesh. Then the succubus needs to find an exorcist who can cast the ghost out of her.
With all the supernatural warriors of Los Angeles looking on, neither the angel nor the succubus can imagine how love will derail their plans…
Lorelei follows Azaziel home
excerpt from Lost Angels by Loren Rhoads & Brian Thomas
Aza tugged a handful of keys from his coat pocket and unlocked a rolling metal door. Lorelei was curious to see an angel’s lair. Perhaps he’d insisted she take mortal form for her own protection, to allow her to enter: possible, though doubtful. He’d accepted her company, but took no responsibility for her. Yet.
She followed him into the warehouse. When he rolled the door closed behind them, darkness crowded the building. She took a step simply to hear her heel ring against the cement. Long, narrow, the echoes said.
The angel grasped her elbow. She leaned against him for safety’s sake. He didn’t push her away. The building seemed to hold its breath.
Several paces in, he unlocked another door and eased her across the threshold.
With a rush of wind, a legion of candles burst into light. They clustered in knots on every flat surface. Creamy golden beeswax had pooled around their bases.
On the eastern wall, he’d built a shrine. Shards of mirror formed a starburst. A small casket hid his ritual implements from her gaze. Traces of myrrh lingered in the air.
In the corner lay a single futon on a frame made of loading pallets. The bed had neither sheets nor pillow, but a couple of blankets spilled over its foot. She wondered why he wasn’t living in one of the better hotels downtown. The Biltmore was reputed to have several angels in residence, since its façade was inscribed with their names and images. What was Aza’s story that he didn’t rate a room there?
“Make yourself at home.”
As the angel shrugged off his coat, Lorelei stole a glance, but saw no wings. Pity. It would have made a nice bit of show. She stepped out of her shoes and perched on the edge of the futon to rub her feet.
Aza hung his coat on a simple wire hanger behind the door. Beneath the coat, he wore a clean white button-down shirt, worn chinos, and boots that needed a shine. Did he always dress like Nondescript Man, or had he spiffed up to go out tonight?
Ignoring her, the angel knelt before his shrine, resting his hands on the casket.
Lorelei stretched out on the futon, feeling chilled, and pulled the blanket over her.
The angel got himself right with his Maker and came to lie beside her, also fully clothed. He didn’t share the blanket.
“I’m cold,” she said.
“Hold your hands out,” he answered.
She pushed them out from under the covers, expecting him to rub them warm. Instead, he caught her wrists. In an unexpectedly swift movement, the angel swung his weight over her, pinning her beneath him, entangled in her shroud. As she struggled to claw at him, he snapped a metal cuff around one wrist. He dragged her toward the head of the futon, wound the handcuffs around a bare pipe there, and cuffed her other arm.
As she tested the strength of the handcuffs, the pipe, and her flesh, he draped the blanket over her. He stretched his legs out along hers, then laid his arm across her midriff.
“Sleep,” he commanded.
Cursing him, she did.
Title: Angelus Rose
Series: As Above, So Below Book 2
Authors: Loren Rhoads and Brian Thomas
Genre: Paranormal Romance
If Romeo had wings and Juliet a barbed tail, could they find happiness in the City of Angels?
Blurb: After their escape from the ashes of Lost Angels, the succubus Lorelei and the angel Azaziel want nothing more than to enjoy each other’s company. Unfortunately, Asmodeus, the Demon Prince of LA, has threatened to devour Lorelei’s new-grown soul if she doesn’t bring about Azaziel’s downfall. Meanwhile, Aza is keeping secrets of his own that threaten the tenuous peace between Heaven and Hell.
Three archangels come to town to try to set things right, but friendships are fracturing. The demon in charge of fallen angels is sniffing around. And Los Angeles is about to be caught between a devil and the deep blue sea.
excerpt from Angelus Rose by Loren Rhoads & Brian Thomas
Outside the church, the night lit up with the sound of singing. A lone male sang a quiet lullaby. Lorelei froze, riveted by the maddeningly familiar voice. Then a slow smile crept across her face. Azaziel. Right on cue. Lorelei wondered what little honey her angel was crooning to now.
Desperate to distract her, the priest asked quickly, “Call you about Yasmina? That’s your whole message?”
Lorelei stalked toward the window. Joseph wrestled out of the bedclothes behind her, but hesitated before his hand closed on her arm. Lorelei could feel his heat at her back, his breath on her hair, but ignored him. What didn’t Joseph want her to see?
She peered cautiously around the window frame. Outside, a winged angel stood in the center of the fenced playground: without a doubt, her Azaziel, clad in a pair of 501s and a button-down blue chambray shirt. Above and around him like traces of a molecule’s orbit, swirled the souls of children. A multitude of souls, she saw, hundreds. Lorelei cataloged them instantly: none of them saved, many of them swinging toward the light, a few of them still shadowy with unshed mortal grievances.
Aza offered his lullaby to the souls of unsaved children.
Lorelei struggled to wrap her mind around what she saw. Her angel hoarded souls, children’s souls: to what purpose? Demons collected the damned and sent them on their way; angels scooped up the saved. Devils consumed the remainder, removing them from the wheel of life. Very few mortal souls—those who had withdrawn from the eternal battle—had the determination to stick around as ghosts. What were these children doing here?
Behind her, Joseph dropped his bible on the floor. The noise resounded in the little room, magnified far louder than the action justified. Outside, the angel immediately stopped singing and manifested his sword and armor.
“You’d better go,” Joseph warned.
Lorelei worked up a vicious grin. “I’m here to see Aza,” she reminded.
“He might not be alone.”
“I’ve been ordered to work my way around to his friends.”
Before the priest could answer, she stepped up onto the window ledge and sprang out.
Aza’s face lit up, thrilled once again to see her. His armor evaporated.
But Lorelei was too angry to fully appreciate his welcome. No wonder the angel had come to her exorcism with a Childbed Angel. Lorelei wondered how many of the other sixty-nine guardian angels had come to LA to protect Aza’s ill-gotten flock.
Like a cat scattering pigeons, Lorelei’s appearance shattered the precise geometry of the children’s adoration of the angel. Their souls shrieked and fled the devil. She noted that they seemed trapped within the confines of the chain-link fence.
Lorelei reached out for a young man—Erik, all gothic doom and gloom—and trailed her talons through his soul. She found lust there, drooling admiration for the devilish charms straining her yankable black dress. That one she caught in the reflection of the buckle of her purse.
Aza put his sword away. He jumped upward, opening his wings as he leapt toward her. “Come away from here,” he ordered.
“We’d better go somewhere we can talk,” Lorelei answered. “You have some explaining to do.”
Loren Rhoads is the co-author (with Brian Thomas) of the novel Lost Angels about a succubus who sets her sights on an angel and ends up possessed by a mortal girl’s soul. The sequel, Angelus Rose, came out in February 2020.
Loren is the author of The Dangerous Type, Kill By Numbers, and No More Heroes, a space opera trilogy set after a galactic war has wiped out much of humanity.
She is also the author of 199 Cemeteries to See Before You Die and Wish You Were Here: Adventures in Cemetery Travel. She blogs about graveyards as travel destinations at CemeteryTravel.com.
You won’t be surprised to know that she likes long walks in the moonlight and old graveyards.
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