Monday, May 5, 2014

Author Post: Into the Wind Blog Tour with Shira Anthony

Welcome Shira Anthony to the Smoocher’s Voice blog!We want to thank Shira for taking the time to answer some questions about herself, her writing and her EA world. The second book in the Mermen of Ea Series, Into the Wind, releases today, May 5 on Dreamspinner Press. 

We are super excited for Shira to be kicking off her blog tour for Into the Wind with us. At the end of the post there will be a link to her rafflecopter give-away which will run until 5/31. There will also be links and dates to the other stops on the tour. 

Shira Anthony is a complete sucker for a happily-ever-after, and rarely reads or writes a story without one. Never a fan of instalove, Shira likes to write stories about real men with real issues making real relationships work.

In her last incarnation, Shira was a professional opera singer, performing roles in such operas as “Tosca,” “Pagliacci,” and “La Traviata,” among others. Her Blue Notes Series is loosely based upon her own experiences as a professional musician.

Shira is married with two children and two insane dogs and when she’s not writing, she is usually in a courtroom trying to make the world safer for children. When she’s not working, she can be found aboard a 36’ catamaran at the Carolina coast with her favorite sexy captain at the wheel. She’s given up TV for evenings spent with her laptop, and she never goes anywhere without a pile of unread M/M romance on her Kindle.

Jodi: Welcome Shira. Tell us a little about yourself.

Shira: “I’m a former opera singer and longtime bookworm who started but never finished any long stories until about eight years ago, when I discovered the MM genre.”

Jodi: How long have you been writing in the MM genre?

Shira: “I’ve been writing MM romance for about 8 years now, and had my first book published with Dreamspinner Press in 2011. I got interested in writing MM when my good friend and fellow author, Venona Keyes, suggested we write a story about a conductor and a violinist. That short story became the inspiration for my book, Prelude, part of the Blue Notes Series from Dreamspinner Press. I’ve never looked back. I love writing MM and can’t imagine writing anything else!”

Jodi: Who are some of your favorite authors?

Shira:“My all-time favorite author is Marion Zimmer Bradley. Her Darkover series inspired me to write fantasy and, in particular, the Mermen of Ea Series. She wrote sweeping stories that bridged the sci fi and sword & sorcery genres that included loving heterosexual and homosexual relationships. I also love J.K. Rowling and her Harry Potter series. I grew up on Isaac Asimov, John Brunner, and Robert Heinlein. But I think my first favorite author was E.B. White (and my first favorite book, The Trumpet of the Swan).”

Jodi: The Blue Notes series is very realistic and based on your personal experiences, what made you decide to write a fantasy series?

Shira: “I read fantasy before I ever read contemporary romance, but the world-building involved seemed so daunting. I had written a few Blue Notes Series books in a row, and I really needed a mental break from my angsty musicians, so it seemed like the right time to tackle fantasy. I’m so glad I did! It’s been a lot of fun (and it’s been as challenging as I expected it would be).”

Jodi:  Why mermen? Tell us a little about this world?

Shira: “The idea for the Mermen of Ea Series started out as a pirate, captive/captor romance set on the high seas. In fact, I wrote the first three chapters of Stealing the Wind thinking that’s just what it would be. No mermen in sight. But after a vacation where I went scuba diving in the Caribbean, I kept imagining what it would be like to breathe under the water (without all the heavy gear). That’s about the time my character, Taren, told me he wasn’t a human being (sometimes my characters are pretty assertive!). I knew then that he was a merman, and I loved the idea that these mermen could shift in and out of merman form and pass as humans. That’s how the world of the Ea was born.

The Ea (mermen) in my series are survivors of genocide by humans who sought their power. They live hidden from humans and are extraordinarily distrustful of them. They make their home on land and have a navy to defend themselves. Over time, some of the Ea decide they wish to live alongside humans again, and this causes a huge rift in Ea society that leads to civil war. The stories take place about 20 years after that war.”

Jodi: There are various mythological and religious themes in this book (reincarnation being one). Is the EA world based on a specific mythology?

Shira: “Yes and no. The term “Ea,” also known as “Enki,” comes from our own ancient mythology, and describes a half man/half fish god (and a very virile one, which may explain why my mermen are very sexual creatures!). The rest of the mythology is pretty much my own. I love the idea of reincarnation and the existence of “soul mates” who are fated to find each other when they’re reborn. It’s an incredibly romantic concept. There are some biblical themes in this book, as well, although there is no Judeo-Christian faith in the alternate universe I’ve created. The Ea worship a goddess who shapes their lives and guides them to their destinies.”

Jodi: What kind of research did you do to come up with the EA world?

Shira:  “Since the book takes place in an earthlike place, but isn’t our earth, I was free to create much of the Ea history myself. I did, however, research ancient sailing vessels and sailing battle strategy, since I wanted the book to take place in an age of sail that mirrors our own. Even though my husband and I have a large sailboat and my husband’s an excellent sailor, I had a lot to learn about sailing in the heyday of pirates and privateers!”

Jodi: So, what type of research did you do to determine the biological constructs for the sex scenes?

Shira: “Ea, unlike some merfolk, are not fish at all, but mammals. I decided to base their physiology on that of dolphins. You’d be surprised to discover how many dolphin sex videos there are on the internet! Apparently they, like humans, enjoy sex and use it in a social way. The thing that made me laugh the most was that these videos are often taken by parents of young children at aquariums. Having a five year old ask his father, ‘What are those dolphins doing together?’ and watching the father squirm is so funny!

“All joking aside, though, dolphins have mating rituals. I studied these and tried to adapt them to my mermen. The merfolk, like dolphins, have sex organs that are sheathed inside their bodies (a merman penis is much like a dog's in that way – it is hidden until it’s needed for sex). I can’t tell you how much fun I had writing the mermen sex scenes! I knew when I created the Ea that I needed to write them having sex in their shifted (Ea) form.”

Jodi: In this second book we are introduced to a new, strong character who is enchanted with Taren and causes some strife with Ian. Did was this new character planned when you wrote the first book or did he just come into being as you planned for the second?

Shira: “I did plan this new character when I wrote the first book (there’s a mention of him at the beginning of Stealing the Wind, in fact). Of course, in writing Into the Wind, he took on a life of his own, with his own distinct personality and personal history. That part of him developed as I worked through the second book.

Jodi: Why did you permit Taren and Bastian to seem so accepting of the roles of being slaves? Why is Taren so determined to continue to serve Rider, even after it is clear he is not a traditional slave?

Shira: “Taren and Bastian really knew nothing more than their lives as slaves/indentured servants, and slavery is accepted by the humans in their world. Much as in our own past, many sea-faring men were sold into servitude by their families to pay debts. Pirates in our own history took slaves from ships they plundered, as well, so I drew on this history in the world I created in these books.

“As far as why he is determined to fulfill his contract with Rider, Taren is an incredibly loyal man. He comes to love Rider (he was always attracted to Rider, but that attraction grows into a non-romantic type of love), and Rider treats him well. Taren feels he owes Rider his service, since Rider saved him from a terrible life at Raice Harbor and shows him the joys of sailing (and of sex). With Rider and Bastian, Taren feels accepted, cared for, and even loved.”

Jodi: Do you have a favorite character in this series?

Shira: “I knew you’d ask that!  Ack!  I have a hard time choosing, so let me just say I have several favorites (how about that for dodging the question!): Taren, Ian, Bastian and the new character who appears in Into the Wind for the first time.”

Jodi: Does writing in third person point of view provide more opportunities to explore each character’s personality than it would if the books were written in first person?

Shira: “Yes! Definitely. I prefer what we call “close third person” point of view because I love getting into multiple characters’ heads, rather than a single character. I usually write characterizations first, plot second. To me, the plot is a framework for character growth, and what better way to show how a character grows and changes than to let the reader peer into the character’s mind. First person point of view is more limiting. Sure, there are books that lend themselves to that style, but I haven’t written one yet that’s screamed for it.”

Jodi: There is one more book in this series and another Blue Notes book coming out this summer. Do you have any more fantasy books planned?

Shira: “I have a vampire series of books in the works, and I’m considering a spinoff series to the Mermen of Ea. I’m pretty sure I’ll be writing more fantasy, though, if only because I’ve enjoyed writing this one so much!

Jodi: Thank you so much for taking the time to chat with me, Shira.

Shira: “Thanks for taking the time to interview me, Jodi! It’s been a pleasure.”

Blurb:  Since learning of his merman shifter heritage, Taren has begun building a life with Ian Dunaidh among the mainland Ea. But memories of his past life still haunt him, and as the threat of war with the hostile island merfolk looms ever closer, Taren fears he will lose Ian the same way he lost his beloved centuries before. Together they sail to the Gateway Islands in search of the fabled rune stone—a weapon of great power the Ea believe will protect them—and Odhrán, the pirate rumored to possess it.

After humans attack the Phantom, Taren finds himself washed up on an island, faced with a mysterious boy named Brynn who promises to lead him to Odhrán. But Taren isn’t sure if he can trust Brynn, and Odhrán is rumored to enslave Ea to protect his stronghold. Taren will have to put his life on the line to find his way back to Ian and attempt to recover the stone. Even if he does find it, his troubles are far from over: he and Ian are being stalked by an enemy who wants them dead at all costs.


Medium Length Slightly Sexy Excerpt:

TAREN CHASED Ian through the surf, the water flying about him as his bare feet slapped the sand. The warm autumn sun on his shoulders and the salty tang of the water made him smile.
“You’re too slow!” Ian called from halfway across the beach.
Taren laughed and dove into a wave, swam in his human form until he came upon Ian, grabbed him around the ankles, then knocked him into the water. Ian spluttered and transformed, planting his powerful tail. He paused for only an instant, then pivoted and swam against a wave that crested and broke near shore.

Taren looked around, trying to sense Ian. During the time they’d spent together at Callaecia, the powerful sensations he shared with Ian had only grown in their intensity. Even though he couldn’t see him, Taren felt Ian’s heart race as he swam, felt his pleasure, heard his lungs fill with water, and knew he was nearby. He didn’t see Ian until he surfaced in a spray of foam, took Taren’s hands, and dragged him down, forcing him to transform as well.

You cheated! Taren wriggled away from Ian and took off for one of the underwater caves near the cliffs. He flicked his tail harder when he sensed the movement of water behind him. Ian was the stronger swimmer, although in the months Taren had lived amongst the Ea at Callaecia, he’d learned to use his Ea body to its greatest advantage.
Ian caught up with Taren a moment later, swimming beneath Taren before encircling his waist with his powerful arms, capturing him in his embrace.

I yield! Taren laughed and allowed Ian to pull him closer. Besides, you’ve long ago captured my heart. He nipped at Ian’s neck, eliciting a low rumble he could feel in his belly more than hear with his ears. Taren still marveled that in his Ea form he could hear so much under the water. He’d asked Ian once why the Ea didn’t choose to spend their lives in this form, so taken was he with the joys of his Ea body and the beauty of the sea. Ian had just shrugged and told him that the Ea viewed their transformation as a gift from the goddess that set them apart from humans, but that they believed they were meant to live on land.

They swam out from land as they held each other, tails beating the water in tandem as they spiraled in a dizzying dance. More than anything, Taren found the Ea mating ritual a beautiful thing. Ian’s Ea body was also beautiful. In this form, Ian’s chest was broad and the muscles of his belly and arms more powerful. As a human, Ian was strong. As an Ea, he possessed strength and surprising grace few others did. Taren loved to watch Ian swim, watch the sinews of his body ripple as he moved his tail, watch his hair twist in the current. More thrilling, perhaps, was the knowledge that Ian was his, that Ian desired him above all others, that Taren held Ian’s heart.

Ian released Taren as they glided over the sand at the bottom. Large schools of silver fish followed the contours of their bodies, calling to mind the shimmer of moon across the waves. Here, many feet below the surface, the pressure of the water created a warm cocoon around Taren and drove the warmth in his chest to his extremities, making his fingers more sensitive.

Taren flicked his tail to propel him around so that he and Ian swam toward each other, arms extended, then moved upward as they laced their fingers together and floated perpendicular to the sea floor. They kissed and their tongues entwined. Ian tasted of the ocean and of the promise of Taren’s new life. Their former incarnations, Treande and Owyn, had been equals in everything. Partners, friends, lovers. Taren both relished and feared the power of his connection to Ian and the unexpected turn of fate that had brought them together, as well as the revelations of their past.

With a grin, Taren spun around so that he faced Ian’s tail. He rotated his arm so that the sharp tines that ran from his fingers to his wrist grazed the slick surface. He’d learned how to retract the barbs so they would not injure; he’d also learned that if used properly, the gentle scrape of the barbs was a sensual treat Ian could not resist.
“Goddess!” Ian shouted in his mind. “Is it your wish to render me completely helpless with lust?”

Taren repressed a chuckle as he continued to stroke Ian’s body. He might not be able to best Ian with his physical prowess, but he knew he held a stronger power over Ian. He relished the thought that he possessed Ian’s heart and soul, for it made his own uncontrollable hunger to be near Ian bearable.


Buy Links:


Contest starts 5/5 (release day) and ends at midnight on 5/31.

Prizes include:

Grand Prize: Handmade Merman Tail Fluke Pendant

1st Prize: Mermen of Ea Goodie Basket (includes autographed copy of “Stealing the Wind” paperback, t-shirt, and lots of other fun stuff)

2nd Prize: $10.00 Dreamspinner Press Gift Certificate

3rd Prize: Paperback copy of “Stealing the Wind” (Mermen of Ea #1) – or for non-US winners, a $10 Dreamspinner Press Gift Certificate

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Blog Tour Participants:

5/5 Release Day – Smoocher’s Voice  (Interview with Shira)

5/8 Mrs. Condits and Friends (Merman Sex 101)

5/9 Tali Spencer’s Brilliant Disguise (Series and Worldbuilding: Recreating the Merman Myth)

5/10 Prism Book Alliance (Character Interview with Ian Dunaidh)


  1. I am so excited this book is finally out! I absolutely loved the first book, and fell in lust with both mermen.

    1. Thanks, Kirifox! I hope you enjoy Taren and Ian's continuing adventure. -Shira

  2. Just started Stealing the Wind. It's very different than the Blue Notes series but just as good. I look forward to the rest of the blog tour!

  3. Awesome interview. I love this series so much and cannot wait to read book two.

  4. i love this series so much. I cannot wait to read the next installment and this was a great interview giving more insight into the world of the boys.

  5. Sounds really good. Haven't read anything by Shira yet. Thank you for the giveaway.

  6. Looks wonderful! I can't wait to get my hands on it! Oh, and thank you for the giveaway and interview!

    1. Thank you Jennivie! Glad you stopped by!

  7. This looks like an amazing series! A few of my friends were just discussing with me how there are not many books available with seahorse shifters.... that's okay, we'll take mermen too! They are much sexier anyway! Thanks for the giveaway and interview. :D

    1. Thank you Carly! I happen to know an author who just wrote a short seahorse story... Keep an eye out on Andrew Grey. <3

  8. Love the Blue Notes series, and I know I need to get into this one!

    Trix, vitajex(at)aol(Dot)com


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