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Interview: Sweet Fire, by Sarah and Shannen Brady

Sweet FireQSFers Sarah and Shannen Brady have a new paranormal book out in their Gifted universe, their first MM title:

Between Homeland Security’s Gifted Agenda and the bigotry of a fearful populace, having paranormal Gifts is a dangerous thing. Pyrokinetic Aaron Flores knows firsthand how difficult it can be to control his power. Still, he runs his bakery and never gives up on finding his Happily Ever After. When Aaron’s cousin asks him to check on her former EMT partner, Aaron’s chance has finally arrived. He’s determined not to let anything stop him from catching (and keeping) his man.

Ramón Del Rio spent three days at the tender mercies of HOMSEC agents when his former partner was taken. He wants nothing to do with a Gifted guy, but Aaron is nothing if not persistent. He’s a pastry chef after all, and the way to a man’s heart really is through his stomach. The physical passion they share is the icing on the cake. Just when Ramón decides that having Gifts might not be a deal breaker, someone close to Aaron decides his fire needs to be put out—permanently. Ramón will have to face his fears to save them both.

We did an interview with the mother-daughter team:

Thanks so much for hosting us. We’re so excited about the release of our first m/m book, Sweet Fire.

QSF: Tell me a little about Sweet Fire.

Sarah and Shannen: Sweet Fire is a paranormal romantic suspense. It’s book one of our Gifts of Fate series and we have at least 2 more books coming up in this series. Our protagonists are Aaron Flores, a Pyro-kinetic with his own gourmet bakery and paramedic Ramon Del Rio. In our world, having paranormal Gifts is a dangerous thing, with threats from both Homeland Security and bigoted, fearful neighbors. After a terrible experience with Homeland Security when his Gifted EMT partner was taken, Ramon wants nothing to do with a Gifted guy. Aaron believes that Ramon is the Happily-Ever-After he’s been looking for all his life and nothing is going to stop him from catching, and keeping, his man.

QSF: You said the book was a spin-off of a related MF series – what made you decide to write an MM novel? And is this your first in that genre?

S/S: We didn’t set out to write m/m at all. First we wrote Healer, a m/f paranormal that is book one of The Gifted series, and we have three more of those novels plotted and ready to write. Aaron was a secondary character in that book. He turned out to be fun and bad-ass and we both fell totally in love with him. He wanted his Happily-Ever-After so much and we wanted to give it to him, even if it meant getting sidetracked from our original plan. Ramon was also a secondary character in Healer. We hadn’t planned on him for any of the other novels we’d plotted out and he was just too sexy to leave alone. I’d gotten bored with reading het romance and had been reading m/m for a while and Shannen is active in the LGTBQ community in her college town so it wasn’t as much of a stretch for either of us as you might think. No harder than writing the straight man’s point of view in our het novel. We decided to write a love story for a beloved character. The rest was just details.

QSF: How did you research your book’s MM relationship?

S/S: I’ve been reading m/m for years. Shannen lives in a very progressive college town and is active in the LGBTQ community there. She has a lot of friends willing to beta read for us and make sure we stay on track but, other than the mechanics of some of the m/m sex, there wasn’t much to research. I felt like I knew those characters so well that once we worked out the outline, the characters wrote themselves.

QSF: Are your characters inspired by anyone in particular?

S/S: I found that Ramon in particular started taking on characteristics that I see in my husband, especially in the way he wants to take care of Aaron and protects him without even thinking about it. That happened mostly by accident. Ramon just wanted to be that way.

For Aaron I got obsessed with Adam Lambert for a while, even though it’s Ramon who’s the singer. Adam is obviously, overtly gay and masculine and powerful and super sexy and he has both the physicality and the attitude that I wanted Aaron to have – the one that says “I know who I am and I like me. I hope you like me too but if you don’t, I’m not losing a minute’s sleep over it.” Shannen thought my little obsession was really weird and funny. Aaron’s name is a nod to my husband’s uncle, who struggled all his life for acceptance by his own family. Neither of us knew him very well or realized what was happening there before he died and I will regret that forever.

QSF: You’re a mother-daughter writing team, right? Writing teams are rare enough, and this is the first time I’ve heard of one like yours. How did that come about?

S/S: I don’t think anyone’s heard of one like ours. We started to feel downright notorious at the last mainstream conference we went to in Seattle. Everyone wants to know how on earth we can do it.

I always was (and still am, I suppose) one of those over-involved moms. When Shannen studied Irish step dancing for twelve years, I made costumes, did fund raising, and produced shows. My son studies and teaches martial arts and I sew little school logos on all the black belts. Ridiculous, I know. When Shannen quit dancing and moved away to college I found myself with a gaping hole in my life. I’d lost not only my kid but my friend, my social circle and my creative outlet, all in one go. Early in her second year she came for a visit and said, “Mom, we should write a book.” I’ve always thought I would be good at fiction writing but felt I was missing that original creative spark. What in the heck could I write about? Turns out Shannen had all sorts of ideas but didn’t know what to do with them. Now she has to talk to me several times a week no matter how busy she gets with school and work and boyfriend and dog and her new grown up life. It’s a Win-Win.

QSF: How is it collaborating on a book like this?

S/S: The collaboration has been great fun. It helps that I am a plotter to the point of neurosis and Shannen and I have years of practice following each other down creative rabbit holes. When we have a new book to put together we just sit down and tell each other a story. We can put together a rough plot, including principal characters with critical bits of back story, action arc, romance arc, beginning to end in about 2 hours. We’ve learned to do most of this in private because we can get really loud and it drives the rest of the family bugnuts. We should be good at it though. We’ve been arguing about on thing or another all her life.

Once we have the main story worked out, I make a bare bones scene-by-scene outline and we trade that back and forth, layering in more and more details. Once we have about a 10 page document and each scene as a thick paragraph laying out everything that scene has to accomplish, one of us writes the first draft and the other edits. Our voice is very similar, so there’s no writer’s block for us. If one of us get stuck, we just send up an s.o.s. and gets a push start from the other. It’s working really well so far. In two years we’ve gone from “Maybe we should write a book.” to two contracts with two different publishers and we have rough plots and character bios for five more books. Fun times.

QSF: Anything else you want to tell me about the book?

S/S: I thought seriously about self publishing this book just because I was so very attached to it that I was afraid to give over control of it to a publisher. I got so focused on these characters and they felt so real to me that I even had a hard time moving on to the next book in the series. It felt disloyal somehow to write about anyone else. Yet another thing for Shannen to think I’m weird about. I could only have given it over to Dreamspinner Press and they have been really great about cleaning it up without messing with our vision. We’ve moved on to work on book two for both series but I guarantee that one of these days I’ll be coming back to Aaron and Ramon, perhaps for a short holiday story for an anthology or something. I love them too much to leave them behind forever.

We’ll be doing a release party on the Dreamspinner web site within a day or two of our release date (tentatively scheduled for 1/2/15) so feel free to pop in and see several excerpts and other goodies about the book, including a recipe for Aaron’s signature chocolate cream puffs. He’d be the first one to tell you, the way to a man’s heart really is through his stomach.

Buy Links

Dreamspinner (paper):

Dreamspinner (eBook):


Author Bios

Shannen and Sarah BradyShannen Brady lives in Western Washington with her boyfriend and their child, a high-spirited corgi named Chubbers. When not writing her latest sexy story, you can find her hiking, watching terrible SyFy movies and avoiding cooking of any kind. Shannen writes both m/f and m/m paranormal romance with her mother Sarah—yes, she writes romance novels with Mom.

Shannen started writing in early 2012 after she went off to college, and persuaded her mother to join the adventure. She and Sarah have published two books since then, with further series in the works. Now graduating from college, Shannen is simultaneously learning how to navigate adult-land and writing feverishly.

The first novel Shannen co-wrote took second place in the 2014 Daphne Awards.

Sarah Brady lives in Eastern Washington State with her husband and teenage son, dividing her time between her real life and the crazy voices in her head. She writes both m/f and m/m steamy paranormal romance together with her grown daughter Shannen and enjoys the shocked reactions of readers and other writers. (“You write THAT with your daughter?!”)

Sarah got inspired to write in 2012 after Shannen went away to college and they found that writing was something they could still do together. Before that Sarah spent her spare time creating ridiculously elaborate Irish dance costumes and meddling in the lives of her children. (That last one, she’s still doing.)

Sarah has thrown herself into the bizarre world of romance writing with her usual headlong enthusiasm and lack of anything resembling restraint and her first novel co-written with Shannen took second place in the 2014 Daphne Awards.

They love to hear from readers and other writers, so visit them on their website at, like them on Facebook at SBradyBooks, or follow them on Twitter, @sbradybooks.


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