Welcome to Coffee Times Romance! How do you like your romance? Hot and steamy? Or a bit on the dark fantastical side? Modern contemporary or something more exotic? Swashbucking pirates or shapeshifters? Victorian England or the American West? Well, today you’ll meet a writer who gives you all of the above—in one book or another. I’m talking with Denyse Bridger. Welcome, Denyse!
Thanks so much! I’m delighted to be here chatting with you!
So—you are a lady of many and varied tastes and talents. How’d you get your “start” as a writer? Where’d you cut your teeth in the trade?
The start of my life as a writer came about in an odd way. You can blame it on my favorite television show from years back. I was very unhappy with the way it was going, and in my mind, I began rewriting episodes, then eventually I started making up my own. When one of those ideas woke me up in the middle of the night, and an entire story dropped on my head in about 10 seconds, I decided I’d attempt to write it.
I can’t honestly remember a time when I didn’t write in some fashion, but I hadn’t written a full length story in many years. I sat down with a notebook, my scribbled notes, and began to hand-write a story for this television series. Bear in mind that at this point in time, I had never heard of fan fiction, and had no clue it existed. Once I was done a couple of people read it and really enjoyed it. So, I sent it off to the actor I liked in the show, and thirteen days later he called me and told me it was better than what they were filming. He encouraged me to keep writing.
Another of the actors contacted me weeks later and told me to script it, sign a release, and send it to the producer. As these things go, the producers changed between the seasons, and the premise of the series shifted. The executive producer and I spoke several times again, but nothing more came of it. Still, I’d enjoyed the whole writing thing so much, I decided to stay with it… For the next 20 years I built a huge catalogue of fan fiction, and a following.
In 2004, someone suggested I enter a contest, the prize being a pro contract with a publisher. I’ve never seen writing as a competition, so I wasn’t overly interested. Again, one of those little “fate” things stepped in and 48 hours before the deadline, the story hit me… screaming to be written. I wrote the 12K historical, erotic romance in 24 hours, proofed it the next morning, and got it in with a few hours to spare. I didn’t expect it to place, but at least I’d given it a shot, right? Imagine my surprise a few weeks later when I got an email telling me I was one of the winners! So, that opened a career door and I haven’t stopped writing since then.
That’s one of those stories that’s a novel plot in itself! Absolutely fabulous! In March, you released Out of the Past. Now, I’m not one to post “spoilers”, but this book will particularly appeal to those familiar with (who are usually fascinated by) the Whitechapel Murders and Jack the Ripper. Tell us a bit about it.
Like many people, I’ve long been fascinated by the Ripper murders, and most things Victorian. That’s in part my Sherlock Holmes passion, of course. When I wanted to create something that would enable me to play in the streets of Victorian London, I reacquainted myself with Ripper lore and watched a few of those Sherlock movies to capture in my mind the atmosphere of the era. The atmosphere becomes its own character at times, I wanted it to be right.
When I decided to create this novel, I wanted to tie it to a contemporary story as well, so people would have a familiar base for events. That involved a spanning of time and what better creature to do that than a vampire? So, Damien Knightley was born, a man/vampire with a troubled past, ghosts that haunt him, and a determination to make amends. Introducing the third element of a wolf shifter who was the victim of Damien’s past was also irresistible. In the end, this novel is told in three distinct parts throughout, but each of the three storylines is key to the overall book, and all dovetail perfectly at the end when they merge into the book’s climax.
Atmosphere does indeed become a “character” in itself. Very frequently. And sometimes it’s exactly the thing that puts the reader in the book, makes them an interactive player. Your hero has a long past. What or who inspired Damien Knightley?
Damien was inspired by a television character from the 90s, a vampire cop from a late night series called Forever Knight. I was more intrigued from a writing standpoint with Noel, the shifter. Had never done one of them and it was interesting to make him a key part of the story’s climax. His lady, Shanna, was also fun because she’s a reluctant psychic. There could easily be a lot more stories about all of these characters, some that would bring them all back together, and loads of stories from Damien’s past!
I remember Forever Knight! Of course, Damien Knightley’s not the only mystery man in this novel. Talk about finding troublesome surprises on your doorstep! What or who inspired Noel?
I’ve never been sure what or who inspired Noel. I liked the idea of him, wanted him to be somewhat unique in that he’s a loner, not pack oriented. He has family, but a dark past, too. He is also not overjoyed that the doorstep he lands on, injured and vulnerable, is that of a woman who knows him for what he is. He doesn’t want her any more than she wants him, but hell, isn’t that the way many a great romance begins?? J
Yes, for sure it is! And as often in real life as in novels, too! Your publishing credits are incredible. Does any specific publisher handle any particular genre? Where can readers find you?
It was never a conscious thing on my part but several trends have come about over the last few years. My best-selling books are with New Dawning Book Fair, and they are also the hottest and most erotic of the stories I’ve done. Ménage, paranormal, and just outright decadent for the most part. I’ve tinkered a tiny bit with Dom/s in a couple of these stories, too, and readers have been very vocal about how much they love the books. I’ve had only contemporary stories with Ellora’s Cave, and Liquid Silver Books carries a mix of styles, historical, fantasy, and paranormal. XoXo Publishing also has a number of diverse titles, which will soon be transferring to a new company.
I have some really awesome stories coming in the next year or so, books that encompass many genres. I’m leaning more toward novels now, but only time will tell what happens.
As I mentioned at the start, you run the gamut and write a wide variety of fiction. Which books would you class as what? For example, which books would American Western fans be especially drawn to? Or fans of Victorian England? Fans of dark romance?
American Western fans will like Another Man’s Wife from Samhain Publishing, Winner Take All is one of my best historical westerns, and there’s a new one called Texas Heat that is my first contemporary western. Silver Bells was a duet I did with Brigit Aine for the holiday last year, my half of the book is historical western, and hers is contemporary. The two stories are generations apart, but center around a pair of silver bell earrings. We even have the earrings from the cover to give away in a contest. No one entered last year when the book was released. There’s also a short called Return To Love from Eirelander Publishing, it’s in ebook, but it’s also my very first audio book! I’m waiting for word about my newest historical western, too – Champagne and Chocolate.
Paranormal lovers, there are LOTS of those, both historically themed and contemporary. I’ve done a lot of vampire tales, some that span centuries. Even one that takes place during the last days of Pompeii has been very popular.
My contemporary tales often have an action/adventure theme, with mercenaries, spies, and those alpha types. Fantasy worlds have always been among my favorite things to write, as well, and there are a few really neat tales in those categories, too. The Books page on my website is broken down by genre thanks to my amazing webmaster, plus there are some really great Free Read downloads. Here on the CTR site, there is a short, super sexy vampire tale offered as a free read, as well. It was inspired by JR Ward’s Black Dagger Brotherhood character Rehvenge.
Since you roam so freely over past and present, lighter and darker, for your plot lines and settings – which heroes and heroines are your favorites to write? The “fantastical” ones, like shapeshifters and vampires, or the “real” ones like pirates and cowboys or modern businessmen? And do you have more fun when you’re writing in contemporary settings or historical settings?
I don’t know if I honestly have a preference. I have been learning to love my creations more lately. I’ve always considered myself more a fantasy author than anything, with romance as the backbone of most works. I also love the Old West and the Victorian era best for writing in. World building for fantasy is always fascinating and I really enjoy that end of it, too. Mostly it depends on what kind of story I want to write – pirates are a blast, and the dark fantasy creations like vampires and shifters. Mind you, my vampires are not known for being nice! I write them dark, decadent, and sensual, but with very little angst and conscience. They’re immortal beings, who enjoy their power. I think that’s the appeal in many of my paranormal tales.
Occasionally I write a pretty decent modern man, but mostly I find greater affinity with the cowboys, gamblers, and pirates of the past.
And don’t we all just love those bad boys? And what does Denyse Bridger do for fun and entertainment when she’s not writing?
Hmmmm.... I’m not a big TV watcher. In fact, for someone who wrote television fanfic for years, I am totally unaware of what’s on nowadays. I plan to look at things occasionally, and never do. Mostly, my passion is music. I love most music, and I have it on around me all the time. Late at night, to unwind, I will either fire up my Kobo and read, or pull out DVDs of the shows I used to love years ago. I am a huge fan of Have Gun, Will Travel, Lonesome Dove, Magnificent Seven... the flip being more espionage shows.
I also love to walk in the local park, 9 km of trails in the historical canal system. It’s a gorgeous spot. (I’ll attach a couple of pictures.)
The pictures are gorgeous! And oh, do those vintage television shows bring back memories! “Have Gun, Will Travel”. Paladin, the dark knight. Now that was one of the sexiest men ever to grace a tv screen. I do so agree on the music. Can’t tell you how many of my plot lines have developed out of a few lyrics that caught my imagination. Any ideas what’s next on the publishing horizon? Or is that always as much a surprise to you as to your readers?
I used to just go with it, but over the years I’ve become more focused and plan more than I used to. In the coming year my goals are two new fantasy novels, a handful of novellas, and the occasional short story. But the real focus will be the new novels. I want to work with two publishers very much, so maybe it will happen in the next 12 months or so?
There are always surprises, of course, because sometimes an idea just comes from nowhere and wants to be written, those stories are usually short and a lot of fun! (BTW, Paladin was my first true hero, too, and still is!! Richard Boone was an amazing man.)
Well, readers, there you have it! Something for everybody! And an absolutely fascinating glimpse into the mind of a multi-genre and exceedingly prolific writer! Drop back in at Coffee Times whenever you have a chance. The coffee’s always brewing over here at Coffee Times. And you never know who you’ll meet next!