Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Shades of Vampires and Jersey Tomatoes - ROCCO interviews Nina Bangs!

Nina Bangs is a frustrated cowgirl at heart who turned in her boots for a cloak and dagger love of mysteries and never looked back. Raised in the Garden State of New Jersey, (whose tomatoes she so desperately misses!) somewhere between California and Texas she grew addicted to romance novels and cats, admiring the cat's independent attitude (of coruse!)  Once she decided to try her hand at writing her own romances, she made sure a cat crept into each story (Yay!)
Now a permanent resident of the Lone Star State, Nina feels the "Texas" in her blood accounts for her attachment to strong men, fast horses, and wide open spaces.
She has no explanation for her love of cats other than her impeccable good taste.

And now...Nina in my hotseat! Meow!

R: Hello Nina and Welcome
N: thank you, ROCCO.

R: Tell us about your “Castle of Dark Dreams” series.  What was its inspiration?

N: I wanted a unique setting for the series, and for some reason I thought of Disney World. I realized if I did a theme park setting, it would have to be for adults only. Then I would probably have to narrow it down to one attraction. I wanted a sensual name for the attraction, and so was born the Castle of Dark Dreams. I set it in Galveston, Texas because the climate there would allow it to stay open year round. And since I lived near Galveston, I wouldn’t have to do a lot of research. Yes, I’m lazy. 
R: You’ve written several series – do you have a favorite?

N: I have a soft spot in my heart for the Mackenzie vampire series. I set the series in the Pine Barrens of New Jersey (I was raised in New Jersey and had gone horseback riding in the Pine Barrens) at the Woo Woo Inn. The concept of an inn dedicated to those who loved the weird and wacky appealed to me. Some of the characters that I created for that series are still favorites. I loved my harpy heroine and my heroine who shifted into a saber toothed tiger.

R: If any one of your books could be made into a movie, which would you pick? Who would you like to see as the main characters?

N: Wow, that’s tough. Even though most of my books have been light, I think that I’d like to see one of my three dark books on the big screen. ETERNAL PLEASURE, ETERNAL CRAVING, or ETERNAL PREY would all have lots of action as well as romance. Best of all? They’d have rampaging dinosaurs. Yes,  you’re getting a glimpse of my inner child.

R: You lived in good old New Jersey for many years. Anything you miss about the Garden State? What’s your fondest memory?

N: I miss Jersey tomatoes. Seriously. I’ve never tasted tomatoes that delicious anywhere else. I was raised in New Jersey, so all my memories of being young revolve around that state. I loved having four seasons—the leaves in fall, the snow in winter, and particularly the lilacs in spring. I can still close my eyes and remember how they smelled. My parents made a big deal out of holidays, and I look back at my childhood Christmases as magical times.

R: You were a teacher, and you’ve also sung folk songs in Irish pubs. What was that like?
N: I taught elementary school for many years. I loved the teaching but wasn’t crazy about all the paperwork and assorted pressures that went with the job. Some of my most satisfying moments came from teaching children to free their imaginations when they wrote stories.

A friend and I spent several years in Dublin, Ireland. We were young and didn’t have much money, so we supplemented our meager income by singing and playing our guitars in pubs and hotel lounges. We weren’t that great, but we were reasonably attractive and wore short skirts, so… I found it interesting that we were two Americans singing Irish folk songs in Ireland. Our audiences evidently didn’t see the irony. Those two years spent in Ireland were the most memorable of my life.

R: You’ve owned horses.  Were you fond of that animal in fiction?  How would you compare horses to a more domesticated pet like, say, a cat?

N: I was always horse crazy. I read all of Walter Farley’s Black Stallion books. When I was very young I played with plastic horses and made up stories about them. When I got old enough, I would save my money so that I could hire a horse for an hour at the local dude ranch. Finally, I started raising Arabian horses. I still think the Arabian is one of the most beautiful animals on earth. But as I grew older, I gave up my horses. They were very expensive, and I just couldn’t keep up physically. But I still miss them. Now I have a cat, and I love her just as much as I loved my horses. She’s small, compact, and my constant companion. Oh, and cats have worked well in my books. Anyone who has read my stories understands the attitude Ganymede brings to every scene.

R: Is there a writing genre you have not yet attempted that you would like to try your hand at

N: I’ve read a lot of amazing young adult novels lately. They’re edgy with lots of action and enough romance to keep me satisfied. I’d love to try my hand at writing one.

R: Every writer has an “agent” story. How did you get your agent, and what is your advice to aspiring novelists querying agents?

N: I wasn’t able to get an agent until after I’d sold my first book. Before that I was turned down by all of them. But I understand why. Paranormal romance wasn’t as popular as it is now. Anyway, a friend introduced me to her agent. The agent read my published book and agreed to represent me because she liked my voice. That’s when I realized the importance of voice. I’m still with that same agent. I’d advise aspiring novelists to hone their voices and make sure they have the best book they can write before querying an agent. And always remember that having no agent at all is better than having a bad one.

R: What book is on your TBR shelf you can’t wait to get to?

N: I have no books on my TBR pile because I read them as fast as I download them. I’m a voracious reader.  However, I am waiting impatiently for BEAUTIFUL REDEMPTION (the last book in the Beautiful Creatures series) by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl.

R: What advice would you give new writers just starting out?

N: New writers have to answer a few questions honestly. How badly do you want to be a published author? If writing will be a hobby that you go to whenever the spirit strikes you then you probably won’t be successful. How patient and persistent are you? I wrote for more than ten years before I sold my first book. I felt like giving up quite a few times. If your answers indicate you’re ready to commit yourself to your writing, I’d suggest that you join a local writers’ group (Romance Writers of America if you want to write romance), find a good critique group (there are online groups if no one near you wants to critique), and read, read, read. Read lots of successful recently released books in your chosen genre. And finally, check the market to see what editors are looking for right now.

R: What is the craziest thing you’ve ever done?

N: I was in my twenties when a friend and I decided we wanted to live in Ireland. I quit my teaching job. I had about six hundred dollars to my name when I arrived in Dublin. We rented a bedsitter (a room in an old Georgian house with only a fireplace for heat and a ghost to boot) and scrounged for work. Without a work permit (difficult for Americans to get), our jobs opportunities were limited. We worked at fish and chip places as well as singing and playing our guitars in pubs and hotel lounges. We hung in there for two and a half years before returning home. I don’t regret one moment of the time I spent there.

R: What do you most hope readers will take away from your work?

N: I want to entertain with my books. It’s that simple. You won’t find any deep and profound truths in my work. If Ganymede and Sparkle make you laugh, if my heroes and heroines make you sigh, and if you’re intrigued by some of the mythical beings I introduce, then I’m happy.
R: What are you working on now? What can we expect to see in the future?

N: Right now I’m working on my next Castle of Dark Dreams book. WICKED MEMORIES will be out in June of 2013. In this story, someone from Sparkle Stardust’s past comes calling, and he’s looking for revenge. I just finished a novella, “Ties That Bind,” for the anthology PREDATORY that will be out in May of 2013. I’m hoping that this will be the beginning of a new darker series.

R: Finish this sentence:  If I had just one wish, it would be

N:  to have a never-ending supply of great books and the time to do nothing but read them all. And yes, I know that sounds selfish. I should have wished for something like world peace. But since this is just a make-believe wish, I came down on the side of selfish.

R: Just for Fun:

N: My Favorite:

Book—too many to choose just one
TV show—any of the ghost hunter shows
Actor—Ian Somerhalder
Actress—Meryl Streep

Night or Day—day
Mountain or Lake—mountain
Hawaii or Alaska—Alaska (I live down near Galveston, Texas where it’s pretty warm all year round. I’d love to escape to a cooler climate for a while)
Book or Nook—Nook
Cat or Dog? (Or Horse???)—cat (Ah, good answer!)

Folks, interested in learning more about Nina and her books: Here’s where she can be found:


Her books are available in most major bookstores and online at Amazon http://tinyurl.com/98e9kho or Barnes & Noble http://tinyurl.com/8vr6jqg

Now for our giveaway!  Nina will give away a copy of WICKED EDGE and a $20 gift card to Barnes & Noble or Amazon to one lucky winner. You know the drill – leave a comment below with your email address ( no email addy means disqualification!) For extra entries, you can:
Follow moi on Twitter @RoccoBlogger
Follow Nina on Twitter
Friend myself or “the Human, ToniLotempio, on Facebook or friend Nina on FB
FB or tweet about this blog/contest (3 extra entries!)

Winner will be chosen at random using random.org.  Contest open to US residents only and will run through midnight Sunday, October 14, winner announced October 15th.

Get crackin!

The winner of our Sheila Bonehamgiveaway is: auditgirl2010!  Congrats!
Coming up – our “Spook Hop”…and Jessica Sims.
And in November…Janet Evanovich returns to the blog!
Next week...a visit from "Werewolf" creator VICKI LEWIS THOMPSON!



  1. I am glad she likes cats too and she certainly succeeds at making me laugh!


    1. I love everything about cats. Okay, maybe not the hairballs. Thanks for stopping by, Charlotte.

  2. Great interview! I love Nina Bangs and cannot wait for future books from her! Thank you so much for this giveaway.

    Followed on Twitter: @vadeluna07

    Followed Nina on Twitter: @vadeluna07

    Tweeted: https://twitter.com/vadeluna07/status/255692989320544257

    Liked Nina on Facebook: Veronica De Luna


    1. Wow, I'm truly impressed. Thank you so much, Veronica. And thanks for taking the time to comment.

  3. I love the Dark Dreams series and just finished Murmurs story I seriously wish it wasn't so long till the next one! But I will wait patiently because I know it will be worth it!


    1. I'm so glad that you enjoyed Wicked Whispers. I wish it wasn't so long to the next one as well. I hate that I can't write faster. But I've tried to speed up the stories and what appears on the screen isn't pretty. :-)

  4. Really great interview, Nina. Loved it!!


    1. Hey, Gayle! Thanks for stopping by. I truly appreciate your support.

  5. Love the Dark Dreams. I'm booking my next vacations there.


    1. Kitty, if you find it, make sure you send me the directions. I'm glad that you enjoy the series. And thanks for taking the time to stop by.

  6. Love all of Nina's Books!!! I have an addiction to books! Really good interview... Hope I win!!! I already follow Nina on facebook!

    1. Tony, thanks for the kind words. I understand the book addiction thing. And thanks for following me on Facebook.

  7. Great post. Love finding out about new to me authors. Love the fast question answers. If you live in the hot, why would you want to go to the cold. I live in the cold and would love to move to a warmer area.
    Nina is a new author for me. These books look great. Love series. Thanks for the great giveaway.
    christinebails at yahoo dot com

    1. Christine, I always thought I'd love living in a warmer climate, but it gets seriously hot down here near Houston and stays that way for a long time. Even though it's October, the temperature outside is in the high eighties. Thanks for taking the time to comment.

  8. [You know I am a subscriber and a Friend to Human;I'll share of FB]
    I see you found another cat-person,Rocco...or do they find you?
    I love the way Nina doesn't feel the need to be 'profound', just entertaining! Now I am going to have to put her on the dreaded tbr list, as I not only have cats but humans as well as my own writing going on. When I lived out west,I ,too , missed the four seasons but Spring and Autumn are often short where I am now.(Although someone in Colorado pointed out that there WERE four seasons but that they were interchangeable!You never knew what was coming over the mountains next and 40-60 degree temp drops were normal). Continued good luck to you,Nina.
    The Non-Humans here say,"Hi", Rocco!

    1. Tonette, thanks for stopping by and taking the time to comment. I'm rarely profound. And I find that many authors are cat lovers. My cat, Abby, is quiet and contemplative, exactly what a writer's companion should be. I've always wanted to live in the mountains to experience cool summers, fall colors, a few snow storms, and spring flowers. Instead I live in eternal summer on disturbingly flat land. Karma?

  9. Great interview. Cant wait to try out her book.

    Follow you on Twitter @donnas1
    Follow Nina on Twitter
    Like the Human, ToniLotempio on Facebook and Nina on FB
    tweet https://twitter.com/DonnaS1/status/255892257557839873

    bacchus76 at myself dot com

    1. Thanks for taking the time to stop by and comment, Donna. And thanks for following me on Twitter and Facebook.

  10. i have just finished reading your book WICKED FANTASY,and really liked it. Here in Australia, we are in spring and heading into summer.which is great. Certainly plan on reading more of your books.Have just subscribed to your E-mail list, so now I will be able to see what you are up to. annpa@gmail.com

    1. Ann, I'm so glad that you enjoyed WICKED FANTASY. And thanks for subscribing to my newsletter. Actually, I'm thrilled that we're heading into winter. It's the best season in south Texas--cool to warm temperatures with no hurricanes and lots of sun.