It is my absolute pleasure to introduce Narcisse Navarre, author of steamy erotic novella, The Olive Grove. First, let's take a good long look at the stunning cover and the blurb: Seeking to escape her unfulfilling life in NYC, Gia impulsively books a vacation to Italy. Wandering lost in an ancient olive grove near the ruins of Hadrian’s Villa she is found by a mysterious stranger. Carried away to a secluded grotto, Gia is spellbound by Oviello, a lover beyond her wildest fantasies. Caught in a world between myth and reality, Gia wonders if her enigmatic captor is the man of her dreams or just a fantasy.
Continue reading to find out how YOU can score a copy of The Olive Grove!!
*stares dreamy eyed* ahem...sorry, phew! That cover is...hot. Now, if I can peel my eyes away from it for a moment, I'll get on with the interview.
First, Narcisse, you have such a mysterious presence on Twitter and Facebook, particularly your enigmatic poetry. Tell us a little bit about yourself.
Thank you for having me on your gorgeous blog Keri!
I was born in Havana, Cuba and grew up on a farm devoid of most major forms of media. I lived a relatively idyllic existence and was safeguarded from the scariest parts of Communism by my loving parents. From a very early age my father instilled in me a love of literature, magic and the fantastic. I didn't grow up with the constant noise of the television or radio or any of the incessant distractions many of the kids have today. I was pretty much a wild child. When I wasn't in school, I was climbing trees, playing make-belief in the woods, riding horses, swimming in the river, reading, and counting stars.
At age four, my mother taught me how to read and write and soon after I developed an interest in poetry. I would spend the days writing silly poems and drawing, tucked deep in the fruit orchards that bordered our stone farm house. My mother tells me I'd stand on the kitchen table and perform a new poem every night. Luckily, my artistic expression in all forms was encouraged and allowed to blossom. I'm fussy and can be a bit of a perfectionist when it comes to editing and writing prose but poetry just flows. I don't try to bend the words or force it. I don't usually edit poems nor do I delete, erase or rearrange words. I think poetry is part of the most primal me–the wild and carefree soul that grew up in that tiny piece of heaven.
From my father I acquired a love of dreams. He dreamed of one day leaving Cuba and raised me to be self sufficient and critical of my surroundings. Years later, I realized just how hard he had to work to undo the brain washing of the Communist system. It took my father eighteen years to see his wish fulfilled but he did it. In 1984, with the Cuban Army breathing down our backs, we left our country. It was one of the most traumatic periods of my life but also one of the most formative.
Because of my family's courage, I was one of the first people in my family to go to college. Free to pursue my own dreams, I focused on my creativity. I went to school for film and art history, taught myself graphic design and now I'm pursuing a career as a writer and publisher. Needless to say, I have my family to thank for my appreciation of literature, my keen interest in science, travel, art and my indomitable love affair with freedom.
I am one of the most grateful people you will ever meet. If I seem a little strange it's probably because my context is slightly different.
Wow! Your story is incredibly fascinating. An example of resilience following a traumatic period, as you mentioned. And proof that with hard work and focus, dreams can be achieved. What inspired you to write The Olive Grove?
As you can surmise by now, my father is a very positive influence in my life. Growing up I was influenced by the fantastic stories he used to tell me about the Greek gods. A lover of mythology himself, my dad took time every night to point out constellations and weave the wondrous tales of the gods. I was spellbound by the struggles and the hubris of these formidable beings. It was in this climate that I developed a fascination with magic and fantasy that continues to this day.
I am not sure when it happened but somewhere along the way I developed a small obsession with Dionysus’s children–satyrs. I have scoured the web for erotic satyr fiction and have often come up empty. The few stories and novels I have downloaded have been interesting but have invariably left me wanting.
I didn’t set out to write The Olive Grove, the story sort of wrote itself. In June 2011, my husband and I went to Europe for two weeks. We started our trip in Rome and visited France, Croatia and Bosnia before heading back to Italy. Since we had already explored Rome, we decided to stay in the outskirts of the city and visit off-the-beaten path sights and small hill towns.
On the third day of our Italian explorations we found ourselves in the dilapidated ruins of Hadrian’s Villa near Tivoli. While the ruined villa was beautiful, what captivated my imagination were the olive groves along its periphery. Everywhere we went were these ancient, gnarled olive trees that stretched in all directions. It was nearly ninety degrees on the day we visited and I had sweat pouring down my back. An hour into the visit I was soaked and perhaps the heat played a trick on me.
I could have sworn that I saw them–satyrs of old darting between trees. I imagined them frolicking, feasting, dancing in some other parallel world kept alive by the ancient magic of the grounds. Certain places have mystical energy that, I believe, transcends time. Hadrian’s Villa with it’s sprawling galleries and baths and three hundred acres worth of Roman greed certainly did. It was almost as if the blood and sacrifice of the slaves and workers that toiled on it had seeped into the earth. The feeling was uncanny.
Almost immediately after our departure I began writing. During the next few nights, as we sat drinking wine in the gorgeous, frescoed galleries of Villa Grazioli (our hotel) the story took shape. By the end of the third day I was possessed with the tale of Gia and her mysterious abductor. About eighty percent of the story was finished by the time we boarded the plane home.
Your father sounds like an amazing individual! I love Greek mythology and reading about the gods. And I can attest, the pictures of your travels to Hadrian's Villa, posted on your blog, are gorgeous. A must see for readers of this interview (see below). What was the most challenging part of writing this piece?
The Olive Grove just sort of happened. I didn’t have an outline or a structure or even a plan. I was sort of writing by the seat of my pants. As a result, it took me nearly two months after having written the bulk of the story to find an appropriate ending. Wrapping up the tale into a novella-sized piece that wouldn’t disappoint or short-change the characters was the biggest challenge.
I'm the same way when I write. I pretty much just dive right into the story without much planning. What have you learned by writing The Olive Grove?
The Olive Grove popped my publishing cherry so to speak. As my first published work it was very daunting to put it out there. I had no idea how it would be received. With the help of my co-author, Marzio Ombra, I had to learn all the steps associated with self-publishing an eBook across various markets.
The novella has been invaluable in terms of getting my ducks in a row for future works. I’ve had a few hiccups with the book in terms of timing, marketing and formatting but I’ve learned from these mistakes. What I would tell self-published authors from my own experience is:
- Do a soft launch and announce your release date three weeks from the soft launch date. That way if there are issues with the book you will have plenty of time to correct them across any and all platforms before your announced release.
- If you feel that the cover is not working don’t be afraid to try something new. I did and I’m quite happy with the results. The new cover is turning heads.
- Stand by your writing and turn a half blind eye to negative reviews. If your writing is good more than likely a bad review just means your book missed the target audience. I recently received a lackluster review from a romance reader. Luckily she was fair enough to say nice things about the writing in spite of the fact she didn’t like the subject matter. Reviewers like this are rare. More than likely when someone doesn’t like the subject matter they slam the whole book. Don’t let great reviews and bad reviews dictate how your day goes. Do your thing and just keep writing.
As it stands I still have much to learn about self-publishing and The Olive Grove is certainly helping me do that. I’m always open to any and all advice other successful authors have regarding self-publishing.
Fantastic advice and I couldn't agree with you more. It doesn't matter how much you read on the topic, everything seems to fall together and make sense after you've published your first work. And I think the novella was a great introduction into your publishing career. Also, good advice about negative reviews. There isn't a product in existence that hasn't come without a negative review. Who is (are) your literary influence(s)? What book could you read over and over?
I have a never-ending curiosity when it comes to all things magical and scientific. Recently I’ve developed a keen interest in theoretical physics so I’ve been devouring books on the holographic nature of the universe, zero point fields and other oddities. I’ve also been reading my share of history books like The Dream and the Tomb, Guns, Germs and Steel, The Assasins and the history of Byzantium. As far as influences I have quite a few. I love the magical realism of Marquez and the heady thickness of Suskind. As you can imagine I’ve read Bram Stoker’s Dracula many times over as well as The Hobbit.
As I said before, a very intriguing mind... I happen to know that you are a fellow demon aficionado. What do you think makes these beings so enticing to some women?
Demons….Mmmm….where do I begin? The demons in the books Marzio Ombra and I are writing are more akin to the Greek daimons then they are to their cloven-hooved, satanic counterparts. They are a race of immortal beings of extraordinary beauty, power and grace lacking our Judeo-Christian values. Our demonic societies exist on planes bordering the prime-material world and tend to be extremely draconic. I really despise cookie cutter characters and so we’ve painted our demons in brilliant shades of gray. Dante’s Inferno is so last year! Who needs these unbendable concepts of good and evil? I think what makes our demons sexy, and ultimately irresistible, is the power they wield coupled with their humanity. Pure evil doesn’t turn anyone on. Give a supremely powerful character a dirge of a conscience and watch them draw the crowds!
Gray is a beautiful color! I love multi-dimensional characters that charm readers into falling in love with them by the end of the story. What is your writing routine? I noticed that you have a magnificent writing nook *jealous* Do you use music when you write?
No one said self-publishing was going to be easy right? Even with my formidable magical skills of accomplishment I have my hands full. The writing routine is something I’m desperately working on improving. I’ve built a nice escritoire that is quiet but the second part of the equation, of course, is time. Like most self-published authors just starting out, I have a career. Four out of seven days a week I get to the gym around seven, work out half hour and get home around eight. Between eight and nine thirty I get to shower, eat dinner and spend time with my husband. It’s only around ten or so that I sit down to write, blog, tweet, work on artwork and run my freelance business. Yes, I know, I’m insane. I usually get to bed around 1AM and try to sneak tweets and blog posts between the 9-5 hours.
Originally I had set a goal of writing 1000 words a day but this soon fell to the wayside. There are days when I can sit down and write 5000 words and some when I can only do 200. The 1000 word-a-day plan wasn’t working for me psychologically. I started giving myself a lot of guilt when I didn’t meet that goal in spite of the fact that I had accomplished a great many things that day (like launching web sites, doing blog posts, working on cover art, etc.).
On occasion I do listen to music but it’s not a constant. Unlike my husband who can’t fall asleep without the TV blaring, I prefer silence. I don’t seem to need background music or noise but if it’s there I can easily tune it out. Music is a source of inspiration but not always while I’m working.
To be perfectly honest, I need to develop a better plan for writing my novels. The Books of Lirios is looking like six books and I need to get cracking. Somehow, I need to find a way to do more. Now where did I put that portable pocket dimension thingamajigger? Hmmm. I sure do hope it turns up soon!
*slowly slips portable pocket dimension thingamajigger into pocket, careful not to rouse attention* Yikes! I thought I kept crazy hours. You're a machine! What are you currently working on? Do you intend to self-publish again?
The Khajj project has evolved significantly since its inception two years ago. Marzio and I wanted to present a radically different self-publishing experience. The trilogy will be accompanied by a musical soundtrack (Music of the Dreams) and an erotic coffee-table art book featuring scenes from the novels. We are still debating whether the art book will be interactive (iPad), print, or both. We've had incredible success working with extremely talented artists like Mark Blanton, Gary Martin, Lucas Pandolfelli and others in terms of capturing the essence of our dark fantasy.
You can listen to a short 30 second clip of Music of the Dreams here:
February 2012 will see the release of a vampire novella titled An Endless Hunger. It is not romance or erotica but a very deep and dark work of psychological horror. Following An Endless Hunger, towards the latter part of 2012 we are hoping to publish the first book in the Khajj series titled The Soulbinder’s Covenant. Assuming the world doesn’t end, 2013 will see the release of Z.H.E.N.N. a hard-edged sci-fi thriller and the second book in the Khajj series (as of yet untitled). Future projects in the pipeline include a Steampunk erotica book titled Nahja and more. We’ve been busy!
Amazing things happen when artists collaborate! I'm so looking forward to reading An Endless Hunger in February. And you can be sure the Soulbinder's Covenant will be on my TBR list. Where can readers get their hands on a copy of The Olive Grove?
They can find an excerpt at:
Inspiration for The Olive Grove and pictures of Hadrian’s Villa:
BONUS QUESTION: If you could create a portal that would transport you anywhere and to any period of time you wished, where would you go and why?
One of the joys in my life is the ability to travel. Knowing me, I’d like a portal to the portal maker so that I could finagle a few more. Since I have just one, however, it would have to be Veronica Franco’s Venice. I have been to Venice four times and each and every single time I am convinced I belong there. I would jump at the opportunity to see it in its heyday with the courtesans dangling their wares over the Rialto. By the 1500’s Venice was the most powerful and populous Italian city–a veritable stronghold of trade, art and culture. The pageantry and decadence of Venice at this period is something I can only begin to imagine. Experiencing it in person during a time of such prosperity would be the ultimate treat. My little black book would be filled to the brim with appointments. On my notable “to do” list would be posing for Titian, coffee with Giorgione, saucy debates with Franco, masked revelry with Dürer and sensuous feasting with Bellini. Look closely at Bellini’s Feast of the Gods. Just where do you think that satyr is taking that wine anyway?
Hahaha! And I should have set some rules...like no creating portals to the portal maker! I've never been to Venice, but you have effectively made it sound like a place where I'd like to have a secret portal - not merely meant for visiting, but experiencing!
Want to know more about this fascinating author and her writing?
Check out her website at http://www.khajj.com/
Now if you'd like to win a copy of The Olive Grove, Narcisse has generously offered 3 copies to give away!
**WHAT DO YOU HAVE TO DO TO WIN?**
1. Sign up to her blog. Just click on the link below and enter your email address (easy peasy):
2. Leave a comment below. Tell me what sexy supe you'd like to frolic in the olive groves with...vampire, werewolf, satyr, demon?
Be sure to include an email address when posting your comment.
Winner will be drawn at midnight on Monday, February 6th.