Welcome, today we are talking with Renee Rocco! I would like to thank you for taking time out of your busy writing schedule to answer a few questions. First, let’s delve into who you are. Some of the questions may be untraditional but you’d be surprised at what readers connect to, and sometimes the simplest ‘I can relate to that’ grabs their interest where nothing else can.

Can you share a little something about Renee Rocco that’s not mentioned in your bio on your website?

Absolutely, but please first let me thank you for the opportunity to reconnect with Coffee Time Romance after coming being behind the scenes for so many years! I still feel like I’m regaining my footing as an author. Hmm… Let’s see. Well, here’s a fun fact: I’ve watched Avengers: Infinity War about a billion times. It’s like, become a problem. At this point, I’ve memorized most of the movie, and absolutely adore Rocket and Nebula.   

When did you know that you wanted to be a writer?

I never had an epiphany moment. It was something I’ve always loved and always wanted to do for as long as I could remember. 

How long have you been writing?

I was ten(ish) when I began writing, so roughly thirty-eight years. Yes, I’m that old. 

What have you found most challenging about it?

The discipline to stay focused with life happening all around me. I have an 11-year-old who was diagnosed with type one diabetes a year ago. Obviously, that occupies a huge portion of my mind. Even when she’s at school, I’m worrying about her. So, for me, that’s become my greatest challenge. 

Writing Wraith brought you out of a thirteen-year writing hiatus, can you share with readers a little bit about that?

What now feels like a million years ago, I wrote under a pseudonym. I’m someone who loves to take chances, so when the opportunity to open a small press presented itself, my husband and I launched Lyrical Press in 2007 and I went into author-retirement. In 2014, we sold the company to Kensington Publishing, and it’s where I currently work. To bring this back to Wraith, though… In 2018, I heard “Blue On Black” from Five Finger Death Punch, literally, all the characters the from Masters of Mayhem were just…there…in my mind. Their voices were so loud. Their personalities so vivid. That’s when I realized it was, maybe, time to try writing again.

What does writing do for you? Is it fun, cathartic, do you get emotional?

One of the reasons I stepped away from writing was because it stopped being fun. Back then, I was a new mom and suffering from severe, undiagnosed, depression. When I began Wraith, I did it with an understanding that I would enjoy every moment of this process. From writing to marketing. The entire package. So, although I write dark romance and weave much of my own somewhat traumatic experiences into the stories, I’m having fun this time. And if the day comes when it’s no longer fun to be a storyteller, that’s the day I know have no more stories to tell. 

Describe what your writing routine looks like. Are you disciplined with a strict schedule, or do you have to be in the mood?

I literally write when I can, which is usually at an ungodly hour of the morning. I also spend most of my Sundays at the computer. Thankfully, I am married to the most amazing man who handles half the household chores. This allows me to get the stories out of my head and onto the page.

Did you go into writing thinking that it would be a hobby or a job?

Yes. LOL It was a hobby I dreamed would one day be my job.

What inspires you?

Music. The right song can create an entire world inside my mind.

Let’s move on and give readers some insight into your personal life.

 What is your favorite:

  • Animal – Giraffes
  • Food – The perfect cheeseburger
  • Movie – Avengers: Infinity War (see above LOL)
  • TV show – Mayor of Kingstown
  • Singer – Korn (sorry, have to go with a whole band)
  • Author – Julie Garwood

 What are your pet peeves?

I have two, and both are driving-related. People who don’t use turn signals and people who drive slow in the fast lane.

 Who is your hero?

William Wallace. 

Give us one thing on your bucket list.

I dream of visiting an English castle, although I probably never will.

What would readers find surprising about you?

I often get told my TikTok videos look effortless. They’re not. I’m painfully awkward and it takes me, like, a million tries to make them because I’m that nervous looking into the camera.

If you could go to heaven, who would you visit?

My brother—and I wrote this without any hesitation. I miss him so much. He was killed in a hit and run in May 2005. 

Any bad habits?

Many. But mainly, every other word out of my mouth begins with F and ends with K. 

Now that our readers know who Renee Rocco is let’s get down to the business of your book, Wraith, book one of your Masters of Mayhem. Please tell us a little bit about, Wraith.

When I started Wraith, it began as a different book that developed into a slightly dystopian dark romance about childhood friends who never got the chance to become more. We meet teenagers Wraith Shaw and Jamie Ellis. An unfortunate event forces Jamie to leave the town of Mayhem. She stays gone for eight years. During this time, Wraith becomes one of the most feared Enforcers for a gang known as the Unholy. The story picks up eight years later when Wraith is taken captive and made to fight as a modern gladiator by Jamie’s sadistic husband, David. But, of course, like all strong heroines, she has a plan. It’s up to her to get Wraith out. All she needs him to do is stay alive long enough for her to set her escape plan in motion. Problem is, her husband wants to, literally, torture Wraith to death. So, it becomes a race against time for her to save both of their lives.

What was your hardest challenge writing this book?

I started Wraith right before COVID hit. Finishing it during the height of the pandemic. I had to help my daughters navigate remote learning while working from home myself, all while worrying about my husband who is a mail carrier, and out among the public. I still don’t know how I finished the book with my sanity intact.

What kind of research did you have to do?

Thankfully very little. Given the story’s slight dystopian setting, I was able to bend reality a bit.

What in your opinion makes good chemistry between your leading characters?

It depends on the characters. Some people didn’t like that Wraith and Jamie have instant attraction. They wanted more of a buildup. But for these characters, I felt it worked. They were in love when they last saw each other, so those emotions were still there eight years later because there was no conflict to change their feelings for each other.  But take my other characters, Jester and Faith. He messed up, so he had to earn her love back. The chemistry between Wraith and Jamie is that their damaged souls speak to each other. For Jester and Faith, it’s their fire and banter that makes them work so well. Each set of characters have their ‘thing’, you just need to find what it is and bring it to life.

How many books do you plan to write in this series?

Four (Wraith, Jester, Havoc, Discord). I’d initially planned five but scaled it back—for now. Maybe in the future Malice will finally get his book as well. And maybe Ferryman. We’ll see. It depends on if this series picks up steam or not.

Any other works in progress?

Yes! I’m returning to my paranormal roots, and have other dark romances planed.

Any advice for aspiring authors?

If something isn’t working, try something else. I’m shameless about changing my covers and blurbs if they aren’t connecting with my audience. I can also be halfway through a book, but if something about the story is off, I’ll scrap the entire thing and start over. Oh, and be fearless. That’s what I’m teaching my daughters. It’s a lesson I’m still learning myself.

Final words?

It took a lot for me to publish again after spending so many years behind the scenes. One of the things that terrified me was stepping into a completely changed environment. The warm welcome I received from the romance community made me wish I did this so much sooner. I’ve missed it here.

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