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Interview with M.L. Philpitt, author of The Hunt in Elusion

Welcome to another edition of Author Spotlight on Literary Inspired, where we shine a light on talented indie romance authors and their captivating stories. This weekly series aims to celebrate the vibrant indie romance community while providing readers with a platform to discover diverse and captivating romance books.

I am thrilled to present M.L. Philpitt, a USA Today Bestselling author known for her enthralling dark romance and paranormal romance novels. M.L. Philpitt’s writing transports readers to intriguing worlds where fairy tales collide with the gritty reality of the mafia. Her unique blend of genres takes classic stories and infuses them with a thrilling and morally grey twist.

M.L. Philpitt’s book, “The Hunt in Elusion: A Cinderella Mafia Romance.” is the first instalment in the “Fractured Ever Afters” series, a captivating tale that challenges the traditional notions of happily ever after. Set in a world where fairy tales and reality collide, we follow Della Lambert, a maid who defies her stepmother to attend a party and steal secrets, only to find herself entangled with Nico Corsetti, a callous Underboss seeking vengeance. Will real life prove to be just another tale of control and betrayal? Find out in this dark and gripping mafia romance.

M.L. Philpitt skillfully weaves captivating narratives, exploring complex characters and delving into sensitive topics while maintaining an immersive and thrilling reading experience. If you’re a fan of dark romance and paranormal romance with a twist of the forbidden, M.L. Philpitt’s novels are a must-read.

Can you tell us a bit about your writing journey and how you got started as an indie romance author?

I’ve been writing books since I was about 13-years-old. It started as Tinkerbell fanfiction in a notebook, and when I was 14, turned into YA romance. This hobby carried into high school, and given my obsession with reading, I knew then, I wanted to be a published author. In my world, that meant one thing: traditionally published, so I stuck to that dream for a long time. After high school, I gave writing up for a bit because I got busy working full-time. When off in university, I never seemed to have the time, until finally, mid-2020, I got back into it and felt right. By this point, indie publishing was well known and most of the authors I read seemed to be indie. So I made the decision to just go for it, wrote Cure Bound, which became my debut novel, released it in May 2021, and never looked back.

Your series, Fractured Ever Afters, takes classic fairy tales and adds a dark mafia twist. What inspired you to blend these two genres together?

I’ve always loved Disney and mafia romance is one of my favourite subgenres. One random day, I got struck with an idea of a Beauty and the Beast inspired mafia romance, in which the heroine was the “beast” from being scarred, rather than the male character. This later became the concept for The Beauty in Scars, but then, thinking mafia family structures as well as all the different fairy tales out there, the concept expanded into multiple books. As for where did that original inspiration strike from? Not sure. My ideas always seem to just pop in my head one day, but certainly, my love of both Disney and mafia romance, as well as my drive to try to create plots/characters that stretch the norm are huge factors in how Fractured Ever Afters came to be.

The Hunt in Elusion, the first book in your series, explores a Cinderella-inspired story with a mafia backdrop. What drew you to write about a morally grey Cinderella character and a callous mafia prince?

My callous mafia prince, Nico Corsetti, is the underboss of his family, slowly taking more and more control in his ascent to becoming the family’s Boss. As such, he was designed from the initial idea to be very driven to do best by the organization. For him, nothing will harm his family or stand in his way to protect them. He’s driven, focused, and certainly, of all his siblings, the most cold-hearted. As for Della, my morally grey character, she as designed to be a fighter. Protecting herself and her sister, she’s fighting what she’s unable to control and strikes a deal with her stepfather involving getting close to Nico. In the traditional fairy tale, Cinderella went to the ball to meet the prince. As mentioned above, I enjoy creating characters to defy the norm, and in this case, I didn’t want her sneaking in to fall in love with him. With her goals and reasons, she went in with malicious intent, creating my morally grey female main character. She doesn’t bow down to Nico and the two are equally matched.

Your books often contain triggering content. How do you approach handling sensitive topics in your writing while still delivering a compelling story?

Research, research, research, and even more importantly: openness. Ensuring my readers are aware of the sensitive topics within the book’s pages. No story will ever be compelling if the readers feel unsafe with me because they were unaware of the sensitive content, and I strive to ensure no reader feels unsafe with my work. As such, I keep a content warning list available on my website, and it’s linked into all my books. Given my day job as a therapist, I see the outcome of trauma and my worst fear is triggering a reader for something I created. As for the balance between the sensitive topics and creating compelling stories; that comes down to balance. Sensitive topics are everywhere in life, so translating these into fiction in a realistic, trauma-informed, meaningful way helps readers connect with the story and characters, topics aside.

Your bio mentions that you also work as a therapist. How does your background in therapy influence your writing, especially when it comes to developing complex characters and exploring emotional journeys?

My books took such a positive change once I finished my degree and got into the therapy field, and I can trace the exact book it happened in too because any books released pre-degree do not explore mental health as well or at all. Now, I enjoy incorporating my knowledge and experiences into creating complex character backgrounds that make for more realistic characters that readers can connect with. Human beings are complex with many experiences that design their past, present, and future selves. For characters to be realistic, this notion needs to translate to them as well.

I don’t necessarily strive to incorporate such complexities into every book, but it’s definitely reflecting as such, and honestly, it’s been so enjoyable to explore emotional journeys and the characters progress. Sometimes, it takes many sessions for a client to begin noticing their own progress, so it’s fun to see the same thing in the course of a novel.

It began with one view of trauma in Vicious Texts, where my female character, Teagan, is a very multifaceted character stuck in survival mode, and then transitioned into the next book of the same series, Burning Notes. Willow, the female character, goes through a healing story with more typical trauma symptoms. In Fractured Ever Afters, I explore (across the entire series): anxiety and panic attacks, trauma, selective mutism, grief, anger, depression, etc.

What kind of research goes into crafting the mafia elements in your stories? How do you ensure accuracy while maintaining the fictional aspect of the romance genre?

Thankfully, fiction always has some leeway, but I initially conducted research into Montreal’s mafia history, since Fractured Ever Afters’ setting is in Montreal, Quebec, Canada (my home city.) Then general mafia structure, and pulling on my own knowledge from the numerous mafia romance novels I’ve read. My assistant has also been a huge help in dissecting the organizational structure with me.

The Craving in Slumber is the second book in your series, featuring a mafia Sleeping Beauty. What made you choose Sleeping Beauty as the inspiration for this particular instalment?

Once the characters and the Corsetti family began their construction, the storylines fell into place. The Craving in Slumber is a forbidden romance between the newly returned mafia princess, Aurora, and her bodyguard, Rosen. Given the fact that Aurora was sent away as a child, this is in line with Sleeping Beauty. In Sleeping Beauty, the character went behind her godmothers’ back and met up with the prince in the forest. The similarities kind of wrote themselves at this point.

The Beauty in Scars is a Beauty and the Beast-inspired romance. How did you approach putting a mafia twist on such a well-known and beloved fairy tale?

I enjoy flipping the norm with my books and when readers assume I’m headed in one direction, I go the other. From the initial idea, I liked the idea of making the female character into the beast rather than the male. Once I got writing, the Beauty in Scars, Isabelle also became the bookworm character with scars, and Rafael had a beastly attitude, so it blended the ideas. And then, just sticking to all the fun Beauty and the Beast references we all know and love.

Can you give us a sneak peek into your upcoming release, The Freedom in Captivity? What can readers expect from the fourth book in the Fractured Ever Afters series?

The Freedom in Captivity is the fourth book in the Fractured Ever Afters series, and it’s darker and grittier than the others. Rapunzel-inspired, and the characters are designed as such. The female main character’s family history is inspired by the traditional tale of Rapunzel. It looks at the organization’s captive, Rozelyn De Falco, who is the daughter of their enemy and the woman who poisoned Aurora Corsetti, Nico’s sister. She’s captured for answers as to her father’s whereabouts. The male character is Flynn Rhodes, the organization’s enforcer, and, learned early in the book, someone from Rozelyn’s past, unknown to each other at the time of capture. For Grade 12, Rozelyn had convinced her parents to attend a public school for a year, and in her time there, got into a secret relationship with Flynn. She broke it off when forced to, said goodbye to him, and broke his heart. Now, eleven years later, the two are thrown together. Rozelyn has a reason for every one of her actions, which is slowly coming to light, as she’s forced to survive through a horrible life, and previous emotions between her and Flynn are trialled and tested. She’s trying to make it through and get vengeance on her father, and he’s battling the limits between his loyalty and his feelings for her.

To learn more about M.L. Philpitt and her captivating works, you can visit her Amazon page, her official website, and connect with her on Goodreads, BookBub, Instagram, Facebook, and TikTok. Don’t forget to join her Facebook group for exclusive updates and discussions.

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