Clean NA, street teams and ST Bende: an interview.


It’s interview day, so today I’d like to introduce you all to my good friend ST Bende. You might remember the hero in her NA Urban Fantasy, Ull Myhr. We went a little crazy over the smokin’ Norse God of Winter back in June when we advocated him for the NA Crush Tourney. But today, it’s his ‘maker’ as ST refers to herself (yes that’s totally a True Blood reference) that I’d like you to meet.

Hei hei, Aussies. Thank you so much for hosting me again. Y’all were so kind to me (and so brilliant with Ull!) during the NA Crush Tourney, and I’m really happy to be back visiting with you!

You have two books released now. Tell us a little about the series.

The Elsker Saga follows Cardiff University student, Kristia Tostenson, as she meets and falls in love with the Norse God of Winter, Ull Myhr. As if navigating first love wasn’t complicated enough, Kristia has to contend with meeting Ull’s parents (God of Thunder, Thor, and Goddess of Beauty, Sif), dealing with her own haunting visions, and figuring out where she fits in the world of the gods. Sometimes finding your destiny means doing the exact opposite of what The Fates have planned.

For the record, I love Norse myth and think you did a wonderful job weaving into the Elsker books. There are a lot of different beliefs, what drew you to Norse Mythology?

I’ve always loved mythology, and the Norse tales are particularly fanciful. Throw in a fantastic Norwegian teacher whose stories painted a world I wanted to jump right into, and I was hooked.

That makes me smile. I’ve heard you speak of the real Oolag before. As is the case with most writers, your career was in an entirely different field. What inspired you to start writing?

For me it all came down to a cup of coffee. Crazy, right? I was on a road trip along the Oregon Coast when I pulled into a drive through coffee hut on the side of the road. A pretty, college-aged girl popped out of the hut and welcomed me to Nehalem — the city that eventually became Kristia’s hometown. It had 250 residents, one blinking stoplight, and heaps of charm. I wondered what the coffee-hut-girl’s life was like, and what it would be like if something bigger than all of us dropped in on her world. When I got home, I started writing a story in my journal. It grew and grew, until Really Long Journal Entry became what’s now Elsker and Endre.

Wow, writing really is a calling for some of us. Speaking of writing, I love that Elsker doesn’t fit into a square hole, it’s the round peg. Your books are what I like to call ‘clean NA.’ How do you find being a minority is a newly emerging category?

The great thing about NA is that because it’s just emerging, it’s not completely defined. Those of us over at @NALitChat love that about the category — it gives us so much room to carve out niches as New Adult develops. While a lot of the popular titles in NA seem to be steamy contemporary romances, I think within a year we’ll be seeing a lot more diversity. Maybe even more ‘clean’ fantasy/romances like the Elsker books. 😉

I hope you’re right, I love steamy contemp as much as the next person, but different is nice. There’s obviously a market for NA without sex because Elsker it doing really well and you have a whole street team supporting it. For those of us not familiar with street teams, what is it and what are the benefits?

Thanks so much! Elsker’s street team is headed up by Aussie Owned’s very own Miss Stacey Nash. Our team is a group of readers and bloggers who like the Elsker books, and want to help spread the Ull love. They host blog tour stops, spread the word about new releases, and help shape the future of the series. This summer they rallied together to choose Kristia’s wedding gown. They made videos, wrote poems, did whatever they could think of to get votes for their favorite dress. The final vote was so close that Kristia ended up with two dresses for her big day — one wedding dress, and one going away dress. We had a blast!

Leave a comment if you want us to loop you into the team Facebook page. We’ve got Ull and Gunnar POVs over there, and we’re always excited to make new friends. The more the merrier!

Speaking of the street team, I have a big question everyone over there is dying to know the answer to … will there be any more books in the Elsker Saga? Or better yet a book featuring Gunnar and Inga?

A Gunnar and Inga book would be so much fun, wouldn’t it? They just crack me up. I had a great time writing the Gunnar POV for the street team, and it would be nice to do more with him. I guess for now, my answer is . . . maybe? I do have a third Elsker book mapped out, but a whole new Norse god came along and stole my attention away. I’ve been working on his story, and I’ll see where things go when it’s finished.

A new story? *flails* I can’t wait to meet your new Norse God! Ok, let’s end it up with a few fun questions. What’s the weirdest thing you’ve ever done in the name of writing research?

I got to meet Alexander Skarsgard a few months back, and I asked him to sign my copy of Elsker. I pictured him when I was writing Ull, and it was literally a dream come true to see him holding the book.  He’s just lovely.

DSC_2142 (4)

ST Bende looking all shy when she met Alexander Skarsgard

Who is your all-time favourite literary character and why? If it’s not Eric Northman I’ll be amazed!

Benedick, from Much Ado About Nothing. He’s stubborn and stoic, a war hero who’s sharp as a tack. But it turns out he’s a total sentimentalist, and completely in love with the woman he pretends to loathe. He finally gives in to the idea of dating her because, “the world must be peopled!” How fantastic is that?

*swoons* Yes, Benedick is a wonderful character. Spill, if you could co-write a book with any author, who would it be?

JK Rowling. It would be a master class in world building. *sighs*

It sure would. She’s a master craftswoman when it comes the world building! Ok, You find a magic lamp on beach, rub it and a genie appears. He offers to let you live someone else’s life for 24 hours. Who would it be and why?

Fun question! I’d be Hermione from Harry Potter. I’d love to see Hogwarts in real life!

ST Bende (3)

The stunning ST Bende

Before finding domestic bliss in suburbia, ST Bende lived in Manhattan Beach (became overly fond of Peet’s Coffee) and Europe… where she became overly fond of McVities cookies. Her love of Scandinavian culture and a very patient Norwegian teacher inspired the books of The Elsker Saga (TUR, ELSKER and ENDRE). She is an audio co-host of #NALitChat, and helps compile indie new releases for the USA Today HEA blog. She hopes her characters make you smile and that one day, pastries will be considered a health food.

Find ST on Twitter, her blog, or send her an e-mail. She’s also on Goodreads and Pinterest. While you’re at it, introduce yourself to @UllMyhr — when he’s not saving the cosmos from dark elves, he loves meeting new friends. Especially the human kind.

 
 
 

Endre (3)

Book 2 of The Elsker Saga.

Sometimes, finding your destiny means doing the exact opposite of what The Fates have planned.

Winning the heart of an immortal assassin was a dream come true for Kristia Tostenson. Now she’s knee deep in wedding plans, goddess lessons, and stolen kisses. But her decision to become immortal could end in heartbreak — not only for Kristia, but for the god who loves her. Because while Ull would do anything to protect his bride, even the God of Winter is powerless against the Norse apocalypse. Ragnarok is coming. And the gods aren’t even close to ready.

Goodreads| Amazon |Kobo| B&N

Book 1 – ELSKER

Goodreads| Amazon |Kobo| B&N

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Stacey Nash (3)

 

It’s true. Stacey Nash does have a soft spot for Ull Myhr and heads up the Elsker Street Team. You can catch Stacey on twitter, facebook or at her blog.

4 Comments

  1. That’s great! I love the idea of street teams, and, as an NA writer myself, I know what it’s like navigating a new genre. I definitely feel pressure to add at least something sexy to my prose because of the sexual-NA assumption.

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    1. First of all, what a gorgeous name! I love Alexandrina. Second, I hear you on the NA assumption. When I send Elsker out to reviewers I always warn them it’s “clean”, because I think people see “NA” and expect it to be racy. How do you deal with the pressure to add heat to your NA books? And what’s your heat preference in NA titles?

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      1. Hehe, thank you *blushes* 🙂 It’s not as unusual a name as people think!

        In a way, I’m glad of some of the assumption; after Pitcharama, I noticed that Soul Mate Press, one of the publishers from which I got a request, had some raunchy titles (in this end, this was probably the main reason I turned down their offer of publication; I don’t really want to publish with a press where a large portion of their books are adult romances). I definitely experienced an inner pressure to add heat when polishing my novel for submission to them. This, though, helped me to add more emotive spice, as opposed to heat, to some of the more romance-based interactions.

        On the other hand, I don’t want to [look like I’m] conform to the genre expectation. I find the balance difficult. At the beginning of the book, my MCs are engaged and already sleeping together, so they’re bound to be a little racy with each other, but I’ve never felt the need to have more than passionate kissing.

        Well, I guess I don’t read that much NA simply because I’ve not found the time to pick up newer books (I’m not even sure if the term ‘New Adult’ is acknowledged yet in the British industry). I like a bit of heat… To be honest, I’m fine reading a sex scene as long as it is appropriate. I wouldn’t touch Shades of Grey with a ten-foot pole, and I wouldn’t read something that sounds like it’s going to turn brutish.
        In short, whilst I don’t think it’s right to define NA as a raunchier side, I’m fine if writers use heat wisely – then again, I’d apply the same rule to YA books.

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