Stella: Hi Alexia, welcome to Ex Libris! Can you please tell us a bit about yourself?
Alexia: Thanks for having me here! I am paranormal, romantic suspense writer. I am very much into science and because of my scientific background I love trying to dissect the paranormal to see if I can find a scientific explanation. When I’m not writing, I’m either cooking/baking or cat wrangling.
Alexia: Hunting the Shadows is a dark paranormal romance with a serial killer plot line. Readers can expect to read about a group of individuals who’ve been changed at birth and trained to be specialized agents with the ability to do things that aren’t of the normal psychic range.
Stella: What inspired you the idea for Hunting the Shadows? Any specific moment which triggered the setting/any of the characters?
Alexia: I am addicted to video games. When I was younger, I was obsessed over Medal of Honor and Final Fantasy. While I was playing these games, I used to brainstorm. While doing this, J.C., Amy, and Stefan were created. The rest of the story sort of evolved around them. I suppose these games inspired the military, more paranormal/fantasy feel of the book.
Stella: How would you describe the world of Hunting the Shadows in simple terms?
Alexia: I’ve always described it as Dark Angel meets the Pretender.
Stella: Can you introduce to us J.C. and Amy, the hero and heroine of Hunting the Shadows?
Full Name: J.C. Nikolaiev
DOB: April 26th
Hair color: brown
Eye color: amber
Scars: on back
Abiltity: Manipulates matter at the molecular level
Occupation: specialized agent. One of the lead scientists and team leader.
“To look at me, I would probably look just like any other person. Take away my lab coat or uniform and I’m like any other man you’d probably pass on the street without a second glance. But what you probably don’t know, what you couldn’t know, is that I’m not normal. I’ve been changed, psychically enhanced to be a specialized agent with abilities to help protect the world you live in. As part of the secret government, I was trained to be a ghost, to walk in the shadows.
I live at the Centre, a military-base compound deep in the mountains; and train with my squad, a group of 7 highly enhanced individuals. We are a team, but more than that, we’re a family. We don’t always get along, but we care about each other. Even when the shit hits the fan and everything is at its bleakest.
I am Jaegar-Caleb Nikolaiev, son of two scientists who created the virus that gave us all these abilities. I followed in their footsteps, working my way up to lead scientist at the age of sixteen. I wanted to help the other kids, those who are just starting to learn their abilities but it’s never as simple as that. These abilities aren’t always stable and sometimes, there’s disastrous results. I do what I can but after so long of seeing just how fragile the human body can be, I gave up.
I got angry and did something in hindsight, needed more planning: I tried to blow up the labs. But I was captured and brought back to the Centre for sentencing. And through it all, despite all this, if I had just listened to the voice in my head, the one that’d been stalking me for awhile, I might have succeeded.”~ J.C.
Full Name: Amy
DOB: June 7th
Hair color: brown
Eye color: blue
“I’m not like the other agents here at the Centre. I know that. I’m different…maybe a bit weird to their standards. You see, at age 3, I was taken away from all the other kids. I couldn’t be around them, my mind not protected. I couldn’t build shields to stop the thoughts and emotions of everyone and my body overloaded from the stress. From that moment on, I only really knew the room they put me in. For over 20 years, I stayed there in that room with special shields, unable to interact with others. Unable to even set foot outside…to live any kind of life.
And the staff…well, they were all too afraid of me and what I could do. No one wants their privacy invaded. They all thought, I couldn’t hear thoughts…but I could. The wards only helped so much.
What would you do if you could see…read the thoughts of a killer? One no one can seem to catch? One whose kills you dream about? And what if no one would believe you?
I did the only thing I could do. The moment I found the one person who could hear me and communicate back, I made sure he listened.”~Amy
Stella: The characters of Hunting the Shadows are enhanced humans, does everyone have their own special powers? What kinds, types of talents exist?
Alexia: In J.C.’s squad, each character has their own specific ability. There’s always going to similarities within the whole Centre, but for J.C.’s squad, these abilities balanced out nicely.
J.C.- can manipulate matter at the atomic level
Amy- telelpathic-empath (although she can do things like copy memories, etc)
Stefan- manipulates energy (his specialized attack is to tear old cellular wounds to the surface)
Ajay- she can manipulate time and manipulate light
Davan- manipulates the shadows
Stella: And which power would YOU like to have? :-)
Alexia: Freezing time would be nice. Especially when it comes to the weekend. I never have enough time! Especially to write.
Stella: Is Hunting the Shadows the first instalment in a series? How many more stories have you planned in this universe? And will J.C. and Amy be the main characters in the next book(s) as well or will the h/h change in each novel?
Alexia: Hunting the Shadows is the first of a series, although how many, I’ll have to see (I have an idea in mind, but that can easily change). There will be a different hero/heroine for each book, but, J.C. and Amy will always play an important part in the books. The characters will all interact in one way or another.
Stella: You are a lover of all things paranormal. What attracted you to this genre? Do you remember what introduced you to this world? (For me it was Buffy :-D)
Alexia: You know, I never watched Buffy until a few years ago. We had very limited amount of channels. I think my first taste of the paranormal was Dark Angel, to be honest (other than Goosebump books!).
Stella: Hunting the Shadows can be categorized as a paranormal, sci-fi, romantic suspense novel. How would YOU describe it? Also, in your opinion in romantic suspense novels what is preferred ratio between the suspense and the romance parts?
Alexia: Definitely dark. I categorize it as paranormal because of the psychic abilities but the suspense also because of the serial killer plot. It’s a contemporary, modern world, however. In this book, I wanted to focus mostly on the Centre so the reader doesn’t get a look outside in the world, but in the next books I”ll be broadening that focus.
Ratios are always so hard. I think it should be at least 60-40% I guess. It really all depends on the story.
Stella: The technical aspect of the special talents and the experiments featured in Hunting the Shadows appear quite complex. What kind of research did you do and what parts of the medical details are fictional, a creation of your imagination? Any funny research story you could share? What was the weirdest thing you had to research?
Alexia: To be honest, a lot of the abilities you can’t really research for. I read a lot of science books and I love viruses. I tried not to get too technical while talking about how they created the psychic abilities, just because I didn’t want to bore/confuse the reader too much. I did look up cell memory, however and study up on that a bit. It always interested me. In Hunting the Shadows, most of the abilities is made up. However, book 2, I get into it more. I try to explain the “vampirism” and even shapeshifting.
Oh I look up weird things all the time. lol. I swear, I must be on the governmental watch list. I look up weapons and…terrorist groups (book 2 talks about the enemy). Ability-wise however, it’s really hard to research that. So I’m always asking people how’d it feel to move the earth with your mind…and whatnot.
Stella: What was the most challenging about Hunting the Shadows? Any part of the story which gave you more thought than the others?
Alexia: The most challenging aspects had to do with describing the abilities. It’s so hard to picture it and try and to figure out a scientific way to explain it.
One of the hardest was the scene where Amy copies J.C.’s memories. I knew what I wanted but I didn’t really know how to write the scene. I compared it to being like a computer, but other than that, how does it feel…what are the consequences of taking someone’s memories into your own head? That is all up to me.
Stella: Oh, I loved that scene, and that ability of Amy, such a unique and complex power and the way she does it quite effortlessly tells the reader how powerful she really is.
Can you tell us any behind the scenes secret of Hunting the Shadows? (it can be related to the writing process, a scene that got deleted, a friend who makes a cameo, some tidbit about the characters that didn't end up in the final version etc. anything)
Alexia: Hunting the Shadows has been through a lot of rewrites. I started the original book when I was in grade 9 and kept changing it over time. So a lot has changed plotwise and character-wise. One thing I did edit out was that J.C. used to have a black lightning bolt tattoo on his neck, just under his jaw. In an old version (one of the first drafts), he was brainwashed and they erased ALL his memories in the past. His first memory he remembered when he broke conditioning was of watching a thunderstorm with his parents when he was a kid. That got edited out.
Stella: If Hunting the Shadows were made into a TV series, who would you like to play the characters?
Alexia: Oh that’s hard. I really don’t know! When I needed to find pictures for J.C. and Amy, I didn’t choose any actors. They’re just random pictures! (see above at the introduction) J.C. is some model and the picture above of Amy is a close version (although Amy’s hair is shorter).
Stella: What shall we expect from you, what is next on your schedule? When will we be able to read the following books in the Shadow Ops series?
Alexia: I’m working on book 2 at the moment and preparing to send it to my editor. Hopefully I’ll have news to share soon about it! I’m plotting book 3. I’m also writing a zombie book (more science!).
Stella: Can you share with us some little secret trivia, something that not many people know about you?
Alexia: 1. I guess something not many people know about (at least on the net), is that growing up, I lived in an old house that used to be a restaurant. My grandparents bought the house and moved it to where it is now on awesome farm land (I love all the space). When I was young, I used to hear things in my room. Heavy breathing noises that used to move about my room late at night. Sometimes cold brushes along skin. It used to freak me out. I would hide under my blankets or turn on my flashlight, etc.
Now, I know what you’re thinking. It’s an old house so there’s going to be drafts…and it was probably my brother or parents snoring. For awhile, I wondered that. I still sort of do. Except that the sound moves. I got up one night and followed it around my room. Sometimes it’s in front of me, sometimes in my closet…sometimes behind or even under the bed.
My mom once said that she heard something in my room late at night one day while she was getting up to go the washroom. She got a bit freaked and ran by my room. LOL. Um yeah, thanks!
There’s also a story that when my aunts were growing up, they saw a shadow that came from the wall and lowered itself onto their desk and would always knock things off.
Now, still, all stories…who knows right? I moved away for University and my parents did renovation to the attic beside my room. I thought it was all gone. For years I didn’t hear that breathing noise. Except it’s back. I went at Christmas and stayed in my old bedroom. My dad was working night shift that night and my brother was now sleeping downstairs. My mom and the dog were elsewhere. I was the only one upstairs. And what do I hear? That same breathing noise. Lol
So whatever it is…I can’t account for it but it’s there and yeah, it does freak me out a little.
2. One more story: When I was little, I dreamt one night about what I call the chicken massacre. I was being chased by a huge beast with dead chickens glued to its body. I had a pet chicken at the time and it was attached to its head…and the rooster was there. I knew they were dead.
I told my mom about it that morning but we thought nothing of it. That afternoon, our neighbour’s husky jumped the chicken coop fence. ¼ of our chickens were killed. Another ¼ had to be put down. Including my chicken. :-(
Stella: Ooh I see you have only spooky stories to share! Thank you so much for stopping by Alexia, and congrats on the release of Hunting the Shadows! :-)
When not writing and reading, Alexia paints, and is the caretaker to two neurotic cats.
You can find Alexia on her website, Goodreads, Twitter and Facebook.
Hunting the Shadows by Alexia Reed
Book #1 in the Shadow Ops series
Amy has spent her life in isolation. Locked away in the Centre, a secret government facility where children with extraordinary abilities are raised as highly skilled fighters, she longs for a normal life. A life where being around people doesn't overload her sensitive telepathic mind. A life where she can't see through the eyes of a murderer as he hunts down his next victim...
J.C. Nikolaiev was a top researcher, but when his conscience got the better of him, he tried to destroy his work and free his subjects—and was imprisoned as a traitor. To save himself and prevent more people from dying, J.C. must catch the serial killer stalking the halls of the facility. But his only leads come from a woman whose thoughts have invaded his mind...
Finally out of the psych ward, Amy joins forces with J.C. to find the killer before he closes in on them. Can their growing attraction withstand the truths they uncover?
All you have to do is leave a comment and answer Alexia's question: Do you read paranormal romances? What do you wish you could see more of?
Giveaway is open worldwide and ends on 15 May 2012!