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Interview with CJ Raine author of The Reaper Awakened

Welcome to another exciting edition of Author Spotlight on Literary Inspired, where I bring you closer to the extraordinary talent within the indie romance community. This series is my way of creating a vibrant platform where readers like you can explore the diverse and captivating world of romance fiction while connecting with the authors who pour their hearts and souls into crafting these love stories.

Today, I am delighted to introduce you to a remarkable indie romance author, CJ Raine, who resides in the sun-kissed landscapes of South Florida. CJ has a knack for weaving tales that span the spectrum of romance, from the sweet and heartwarming to the spicy and, at times, even the dark and mysterious. Her writing promises to take you on an unforgettable journey, where love, passion, and intrigue collide.

In this spotlight, CJ Raine has chosen to feature her book, “The Reaper Awakened”, a novel that beckons readers to a world where desire, power, and independence reign supreme. This gripping tale explores the boundaries of submission and love in a kingdom where the heroine bows to no one, demanding everything or nothing from those who seek her.

Now, without further ado, let’s delve into the depths of CJ Raine’s creative mind as we uncover the inspiration behind “The Reaper Awakened,” her experiences as an indie author, and her plans for the future. This promises to be a captivating interview that will give you an insight into the author behind the words and the enchanting world she’s created.

Can you tell us a bit about yourself and how you first got started as an indie romance author?

I am a wife and mom to my fur baby.  I have made my career in healthcare and though I love what I do, it is often stressful and exhausting.  My routine to relax is a hot bath and a good book.

I discovered Wattpad and became obsessed, but when the plotlines started to become redundant, I set out to write what I wanted to read. Then it just evolved from there, I started off with Wattpad and eventually mustered the courage to self-publish.

 What inspired you to write The Reaper Awakened? Could you share some insights into the world and characters you’ve created?

I am an avid fan of anything supernatural. I grew up watching Charmed and Buffy the Vampire Slayer, so naturally it became my favorite genre. Once, I joined the book community, I nose-dived into dark romance and the mafia sub-genre. I thought to myself, why not combine two of my favorite things? Paranormal mafia wasn’t a widely explored sub-genre, so I was happy to contribute to it. My characters are all strong women and identify as such, but are proudly bisexual. I wanted to create a regime where they reigned supreme despite the sexism depicted in many mafia romances. There are elements of the very real Italian mafia and the fanaticism of vampires. I found the juxtaposition to be most titillating as I had to research the real elements and create the type of vampire that thrived in a world like this.

Your book’s synopsis suggests a blend of romance, fantasy, and elements of darkness. How do you balance these different aspects in your storytelling, and what draws you to these themes?

I love for my characters to experience trauma and to grow from it, so I do lean toward the darker spectrum, but I like to write it all. It will depend on my mood, but sometimes love is hard, so I like my books to showcase that.  And though I may use some world building or supernatural creatures, they always have realistic features. I feel this makes the books more relatable rather than living in the high fantasy clouds.

As an indie author, what challenges have you faced in getting your work noticed and building a readership? How have you overcome those challenges?

Marketing as an indie author is a fulltime job! But, with each release, I am learning what works best for me and how to expedite the process as much as possible. I have made the greatest friends in this community, and honestly their guidance and engagement have made all the difference. My second release was a completely different experience than my first, and I am hoping that it only goes up from here. Honestly, my readers mean the world to me and I’m so grateful to those who stick with me while I try to navigate this journey.

The protagonist in your book sounds fierce and independent. What do you think makes for a compelling female lead in a romance novel, and how did you develop your main character?

She is definitely that! I endeavor to write characters who are the opposite of damsels in distress; in fact, they are the knights in shining armor whether they rescue their partners emotionally or physically. To me, the woman that opens herself up to love rather than helplessly falling makes compels me to read a book. Carina is a goddess who knows what she wants sexually and professionally, but she has experienced self-doubt and hurt. In the end, it made her stronger.

Your book is available for free download on Kindle Unlimited. Could you tell us about your decision to make it accessible to a wide audience, and how it has impacted your readership and engagement?

While KU does not turn a profit for me, I understand that this is the best way for readers to consume the most books. I am a KU user myself, and while I appreciate and prefer physical books, there is no way that I can buy everything on my tbr. So, I will continue to allow this option, so that readers have access to my work. Most of my engagement does come from KU, so I see no need to change right now.

What are some of the most rewarding aspects of being an indie author? Is there a particular reader response or feedback that has touched you deeply?

One of my readers told me that she saw my growth from the first book to the second book. That made me cry because I felt the same way. I set out to create a short, fast paced smutty read that actually had some plot, and I feel like I succeeded with that. The readers have been shouting for more, and that’s the best part of all of this. I love that there are people who actually care about the stories I tell besides myself.

In your writing journey, have there been any books, authors, or experiences that have influenced your style or inspired you? How have they shaped your approach to writing romance?

I absolutely adore Laurell K Hamilton. She is an icon in my genre, but I love that her writing evolved as she did. Some readers weren’t happy with the changes, but I am a firm believer that you should want to read what you write before anyone else does. So, being true to who you are is important.

 As an indie romance author, what advice would you give to aspiring writers who are just starting out and hoping to make their mark in the genre?

To build your community. Support others and they will support you. Some of my biggest cheerleaders and fans are other authors. They will be the ones to help you navigate this journey and are sources of a wealth of information learned through experiences that you just don’t have yet.

Lastly, could you give us a glimpse into your future plans? Are there any upcoming projects or releases that your readers can look forward to?

The response to The Reaper Awakened has inspired me to jump right into Sarita’s story called The Fury Unleashed. That will be early next year, but before that, I am working on my first full-length dark contemporary novel which will release at the end of the year. You can catch a sneak peek of it in Ageless Love: An Anthology, which was released on the 19th of July. I will also be a part of one other anthology this year that focuses on fairytale retellings and let me tell you, I was not prepared for what came out of my head. An Aladdin/Sleeping Beauty/ Beauty and the Beast Mashup is like nothing out there.

I hope you enjoyed this captivating interview with CJ Raine, the talented indie romance author behind “The Reaper Awakened.” To stay updated with CJ’s latest works, you can visit her author website and follow her on Amazon, GoodReads, Instagram, Facebook and explore her writing on Kindle Unlimited.

If you’re an indie romance author with a story to share and would like to be featured in our Author Spotlight series, don’t hesitate to reach out. Simply fill in the form found on this page: Author Spotlight Submission Form. Your story could be the next one to shine on Literary Inspired, connecting you with avid readers who are eager to embark on your literary journey.