Thursday, February 16, 2012

Author Q&A + Contest with Sabrina Benulis

Today I have an interview with Sabrina Benulis about her debut novel, ARCHON which was recently released!  Isn't the cover gorgeous!! Sabrina was a student at Seton Hill University when I attended - I graduated before her but we SHUers are a close knit group :)  I will admit I haven't read ARCHON yet (my bad!) - but it sounds fascinating and a copy is on the way.

Sabrina is also offering a signed copy of ARCHON to one commenter - please include an email addy so I can get in touch with you - the contest ends midnight EST Feb. 23rd 2012 - US/Canada readers are only eligible for the book.  However international readers who leave a comment will be able to win a signed cover flat from one of my novels (a rare collector's item :).  Please let me know if you are not in the US/Canada in your comment. 

Here's the cover copy: There are some things worse than death . . .

For years, Angela Mathers has been plagued by visions of a supernatural being—an angel with beguiling eyes and magnificent wings who haunts her thoughts and seduces her dreams. Newly freed from a mental institution where she had been locked away for two years, Angela hopes that attending Westwood Academy, the Vatican’s exclusive university, will bring her peace and a semblance of normality.

But Angela isn’t normal. With her stain of dark red hair and alabaster skin, she is a blood head—a freak, a monster, and the possible fulfillment of a terrifying prophecy. Blessed with strange, mystical powers, blood heads hold a special place in the Academy. Among them, one special blood head is more powerful than them all: the Archon, the human reincarnation of the dead angel Raziel. And when the Archon arises as foretold, it will rule the supernatural universe.

Barely in control of her own life, Angela has no ambition to conquer an entire universe, not when she’s suddenly contending with a dangerous enemy who is determined to destroy her and a magnetic novitiate who wants to save her. But the choice might not be her own . . .

Take 10 with Sabrina:

1.) Why this book? What made you want to write this story?

I first developed the idea for what would be the Books of Raziel series in my last semester of college, which was about six years ago now. I had always wanted to write a very unique story about angels and demons. At that time, angels were practically non-existent in fantasy fiction, and most of what had already been done had been done to death. So really, it was my desire to write about angels, to write about them differently, and of course to write about all the characters in my head that finally forced me to sit down at my computer and get to it.

2.) Is ARCHON your thesis novel from Seton Hill University? Tell us about your experience with SHU – did the program help with writing ARCHON?

Yes, ARCHON is what you could call the first third of my thesis novel from Seton Hill. However it has gone through significant changes since then, and even the rest of the story--though the same in its essence--will be very different from what I initially wrote. But the spirit is there, and that's what's important. Being at Seton Hill University was a great experience and taught me an incredible amount about writing, about myself as a writer, and about the publishing industry in general. It was also a great opportunity to meet and make friends with other authors and writers!

3.) Why did you chose a paranormal element? Is there something special about angels that called to you?

I've always loved reading about the paranormal and the supernatural, and I especially loved reading about mythology and other religions of the world. That definitely influenced me into writing fantasy and paranormal fiction. As far as angels are concerned, I was fascinated by angels as they were in "reality"--that is, alien and superior beings to humans that could be both so beautiful and so terrifying at the same time. It was that otherworldly, haunting kind of danger to them that spurred me into writing about them in such a unique way. I say unique because most people either know angels as pretty women with wings, a la Touched by an Angel, or as attractive, brooding guys with wings, as seen in pretty much everything else. Very few people are willing to tackle the fact that they are essentially inhuman and most likely would not think or behave as humans do.

4.) What do you find most interesting about Angela Mathers?

Angela Mathers is fascinating to me because she starts off in a very dark place in her life, yet she will ultimately have a choice to either go even darker or work her way to an unimaginable summit. She is far from a Mary Sue--Angela has real and gritty flaws. But when you're the candidate to be a dark messiah, your life will most likely not be roses, and it would only be logical that she would have issues that might push her in one direction or the other. But besides the flaws, Angela also has an incredibly strong sense of loyalty and determination, as well as a surprising vulnerability. In the second book, as she becomes more and more attached to the people in her life and the idea of what is right and what is wrong, I think readers will be astonished both at her transformation and her destiny as a character.

5.) What else do you enjoy doing besides writing? Interests? Hobbies?

Well, I suppose it goes without saying that I love to read! I really enjoy good Japanese anime and manga, and watch and peruse it whenever I have spare time. I also love video games, especially the old-school Super Nintendo fare. Other than that, I am a rather ordinary woman--shopping, eating out, hanging out with friends and sneaking naps when I have the time.

6.) Did you have to do any special research for this book? What did you learn that you didn't know before?

I did do quite a bit of research on angels, demons, and jinn before I wrote the book. You might be creeped out to know how accurate some of these views on angels can be in ARCHON. I say this in a general sense, of course! Paranormal research books can be somewhat scary, and I recommend reading them with a light on. Perhaps the number one rule I learned is that if someone claims they talk to angels and know so much about them, they are usually talking to quite the opposite . . . Anyway, most people also don't know there is a real Book of Raziel. Whether it was written by Raziel or not is up for debate, but I do know you can buy versions of it online. haha

7.) How did you become a writer? Is this what you saw yourself growing up to be? Or did it take you by surprise?

I'm one of those rarities where it took me completely by surprise. Until college, fiction writing was a hobby for me and little else. It took encouraging words from others to push me into realizing that it might be my true calling.

8.) Do you have a writing routine? Talk process for a moment, how do the words get on the page?

My writing routine is very simple, and it mostly just involves visualizing at least the first few elements of a scene, and then sitting down at my computer and typing, typing, typing. The most important part of that process is being in what I call "the zone", where I am just a channel for the words and the characters. So when people tell me it all seems so magical, I am actually inclined to agree with them. I can't believe I'm writing these books either! It is essential though to have some kind of schedule for your writing. When I'm working on a first draft of revision, there's a lot of gritting my teeth and sitting down to work--even when I'm very tired.

9.) Office? Closet? Corner of the living room? Do you have a set place to write? A favorite?

I have a little office of my own right now to write in. I'm currently in the process of remodeling it--taking down old wallpaper borders and the like--so it's nothing fancy at the moment. But it has a chair, a desk, a lamp, and my laptop, and that's really all that matters in the end. I need a space like that, sequestered from the world and mostly in silence. How people can write otherwise is beyond me, but hey, everyone has their own talents!

10.) What are you writing now? What's coming out next?

I am currently waiting for editorial notes on the second book in The Books of Raziel trilogy, with the manuscript having the tentative title of COVENANT. I'll be honest, I think people are going to be surprised at where the story is going. ARCHON is merely an introduction. Book 2 is where we begin the real meat of the story and characters.

Other than that, I am tossing around two separate ideas for a new novel series and I have the dilemma of choosing which one of them is actually novel worthy. With any luck, shortly in the future, you'll find out! ;-)

Links for Sabrina:


Facebook Author Page:


Amazon Link (hardcover currently priced at $15.53):


  1. This book is beautiful! I saw it at B&N and I fell in love with the cover! Thanks for the giveaway :)


  2. the front cover looks fantastic, it caught my eye straight away and the storyline sounds good!
    thanks for the giveaway xxx
    (i am from the uk)

  3. Gorgeous cover. <3 I've seen this book a couple places online and am really excited to read it. Wishing you much success, Sabrina! Thanks for the giveaway!

  4. Cover is great - I'm alway looking for new books to add to the collection so I will have to check this one out thanks :-)

  5. The cover is Awesome, I especially love the models dress, the angel and the, well all of it really! The storyline sounds really good and quite different to all the other angel books I've read recently. Anyway my email is
    Thanks for the giveaway! ;)

  6. I haven't read this one either, but the cover is soooo appealing! I am seeing it quite a bit it seems! Would love to get a chance to read it!


  7. This has been on my wishlist for months. The cover is definitely alluring. The premise has me hooked. I'll for sure be reading this one in the future.

    deadtossedwaves at gmail dot com

  8. I love this cover! Thanks for the giveaway!


  9. It's always wonderful when friends become published authors. I know a lot of girls in my writing support system totally deserve to be published, so I can understand your feelings of pride.


  10. I've heard great things about this book and I love the cover! I'm not from US/Canada so I'm international! :) Thank you so much for the giveaway!

  11. Go SHU! I'm so excited for Sabrina. I think I saw this at B and N and didn't even connect the name. So excited for her.

  12. Beautiful cover!


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  14. This book sounds really intrigueing!
    I'm in for the international competition :)

  15. I checked it out.
    Hardcover: 400 pages
    Publisher: Harper Voyager (December 27, 2011)
    What a great sounding book. Just my type! Yeah Sabrina! (Thanks for the interview, Maria.)

  16. Your idea of a "blood Head" is quite intriguing and I wonder how you came up with the idea?

    Thanks for the interview and giveaway!


  17. This sounds amazing! Can't wait to get stuck in! Thanks for the interview :)

  18. Wow. Another book that just hit my must read list, this sounds exciting.

    Thanks for the interview:)

  19. Thank you to everyone who has posted a comment so far! I am so happy to see how interested everyone is in the book, and I'd like to thank Maria for this fun opportunity for a giveaway! Good luck everyone! If you have any personal questions you'd like to ask me about the book, feel free to email me at Thanks!

  20. I am Khulan Davaadorj and I'm writing from Canada.And yes I live here :)

    I am so much excited for the give away :))))))
    Thank you to the greatest author for this opportunity.

    My email address:

  21. I haven't heard of this book before now. It sounds really cool thanks for the chance to win a copy.

    Findjessyhere at gmail dot com

  22. The cover is so eye catching and beautiful.

  23. This comment has been removed by the author.

  24. This book is on my personal reading list. It sounds very interesting. I love hearing about new authors and how they got their start. I've also just begun my first year of college and have found that fiction writing is a a hobby that I would like to work on(I'm a nursing major so it's pretty unusual for people to hear that I want to write fiction). It's inspiring to hear about people who have done it.

  25. the cover is very intriguing, & sometimes that is how i find my favorite books!

  26. This sounds so interesting! Can't wait to read it!~


  27. Hey Maria :) This book sounds great, and its definetly on my to-read list! Btw i dont live in US or Canada. Heres my email:
    I REALLY want to win the Signed Flat Cover.

  28. Thanks for such a great interview, Maria and Sabrina! ARCHON sounds amazing and the cover is so eye-catching.

    jennblogs (at) gmail (dot) com

  29. This is the way I learn about how exciting this genre can be and the authors that are out there. Thanks for sharing, next stop Sabrina's website, I would love a copy!

  30. I haven't been reading because of school, but I want to get back on track; I think this will be the book to help me! Haha, thanks :)

  31. I'm from the UK, so this is an international entry. I would love to win the signed cover flat.


  32. Fantastic interview. We have similar processes. Except I don't have a set time or place to work. Oh well, I've got my dream office mapped out: An outlet on each wall, a desk with a swivel chair, a bean bag chair in the corner, and the walls made of a whiteboard material so that I can draw/plan/map-out timelines/doodle all over them while working on a project. XD

    This book sounds interesting, and definitely unique. I'm glad someone is taking this perspective on angels.

  33. I'm sure you got some looks when doing "paranormal research". It doesn't seem to matter where I buy a book or what library I go to - I always get that stare out of the corner of their eyes when I pick up something like that!
    - Jessica @ Book Sake

  34. The winners have been notified and I'm happy to announce that Vivien won a signed copy of ARCHON!! Woo Hoo!! Congrats Vivien!!

    And Annabelle from the UK won a signed cover flat! Congrats Annabelle.

    Thanks to everyone for commenting - check out my post "A girl with a sword..." There's a chance for everyone to win a signed copy of INSIDE!

  35. Thanks everyone for the great comments! I see we have a winner too! :-)