Elena Gaius is Hixyl’s most heralded gladiatrix, catching the Emperor’s eye with her unspoiled beauty and fiery temper. Determined to let no man have her, he forces her into a life of unwanted accolades—for slaughter in the Games. With independence out of reach, Elena knows each day could be her last.
Cassius Antonius is a former general hired by an underground secret order to assassinate the Emperor. When he refuses, they take away the only thing precious to him—his freedom. Forced into servitude, he meets Elena and manipulates her into helping him, forming a shaky alliance and a searing romance.
The two become unwitting pawns in the struggle to save Hixyl from the Emperor’s tyranny. But plans spin out of control with the discovery of their secret tryst, and for their ultimate act of betrayal, the Emperor demands one last entertainment—to be pitted against each other in the Games in a fight to the death.
Michelle Miles found her love of writing buried in the fantasy books of Patricia A. McKillip and the beautiful romances of Victoria Holt. It wasn’t until her high school years she decided to take up the pen and try her hand at writing. She created faraway lands, space adventures, and even princesses who just wanted to be saved. Never learning to plot, she always believed that jumping in feet first was the way to go and has since become a self-proclaimed Pantser, writing sexy contemporaries, sizzling paranormal and sweeping fantasy.
A Native Texan, she loves hockey, baseball, drinking coffee, cross-stitching, and shopping for shoes and Coach handbags. You can read her daily antics at her blog, Ye Olde Inkwell. Michelle is also a regular contributor to Pop Culture Divas and Plotting Princesses.
Also by Michelle Miles
Talk Dirty To Me (Samhain, 2006)
Nice Girls Do (Samhain, 2007)
A Bend In Time (Samhain, 2006)
A Break In Time (Samhain, 2007)
Sex, Lust & Martinis (Cobblestone Press, 2010)
The Coffee Wars (Cobblestone Press, 2010)
One Knight Only (Ellora’s Cave, 2011)
Entangled, A Paranormal Anthology (2011)
Self-Published Short Stories:
The Soul of Sharah
An Interview with Michelle Miles
By Holly Hewson for The Romance Studio
HH: Michelle, thank you for talking with us at TRS. Your featured book is Phoenix Fire. First, where did the idea for this breath-taking romance come from?
MM: Thanks so much for having me! I actually dreamed this book. Not exactly from start to finish but the climax of the book where Elena has to fight Cassius to the death. It was so clear to me when I dreamed it I knew I had to write the book. I immediately sat down and wrote a bare bones synopsis. It certainly wasn’t the easiest story I’ve ever written. It evolved over several drafts to become what it is but I’m happy with the final product.
HH: What do you like about Elena and why will readers relate to her?
MM: Elena is tough and hard as nails. She’s been through hell and all she wants is freedom and a life of peace. Readers will relate to her because she’s strong and strong-willed. She doesn’t fit into any mold. She believes in right and wrong and fights for it. She protects the weak. In Elena’s world, things are black and white; there are no shades of gray. Until Cassius comes along. ;)
HH: What do you like about Cassius and why will readers love him?
MM: I like Cassius because he’s honorable and wants to do the right thing. In his world, there are shades of gray where good blends into not-so-good. Readers will love him for his strength, his need to do the right thing and his need to help Elena. He’s the man every woman wants to be rescued by.
HH: How did you bring their world so convincingly to life?
MM: Great question! This was a hard book to write. It’s a complex story with complex characters. I studied a lot about gladiators but then I decided to take it to another level by adding the fantasy elements. I knew the story, though, had to develop organically and Elena’s world had to be organic to her, so I allowed that to develop as I wrote it. Even thought I wrote a bare bones synopsis, I rarely stick to those. I’m more of a “Pantser” than a “Plotter.” Not so much because I don’t want to know every detail but because that’s the way I work best and the way the story develops best. It’s more of a violent book than anything I’ve written or have written to date.
HH: What makes this book unique compared to what readers have seen to this point?
MM: I think the thing that’s most unique about this book is that it features a heroine who is a gladiatrix who falls in love with the man hired to assassinate the Emperor. And when their secret tryst is discovered by the ruler, he forces them to fight each other to the death.
HH: What else do you have in store for lucky readers?
MM: I’m wrapping up the sequel to ONE KNIGHT ONLY (Ellora’s Cave, 2011) which is proving to be longer than I anticipated. I’d love to be able to revisit Elena’s and Cassius’s world, though.
HH: How much of your life is spent on your writing career?
MM: Every waking moment. *grin* I work full time, so not quite every moment in the day but close to it. I write on my lunch hour and spend a lot of time in the evening doing writing-related things (blogging, interviews, answering emails, etc.). So it takes up a lot of my time but I love it and I can’t give it up.
HH: What does it mean to you to be a writer?
MM: I’ve always said if I wasn’t a writer, I’d be in a straightjacket – how else could I explain the voices in my head? ;) Being a writer is something I’ve long been passionate about. I can’t say I’ve wanted to be a writer since the day I picked up my first crayon, but the bug to write stories and create fantastical worlds struck me when I was a teenager. It took me over ten years to really get serious about it. I’m glad I did. I love writing and weaving stories. I probably couldn’t breathe if I didn’t do it.
HH: What would we find in your to be read pile right now?
MM: Way too much! But currently I have waiting: A Storm of Swords by George R.R. Martin, Storm’s Heart by Thea Harrison, Cast in Ruin by Michelle Sagara, The Body Finder by Kimberly Derting, The Iron King by Julie Kagawa. Plus I’m looking forward to the next Karen Marie Moning book.
HH: What plans do you have for the summer?
MM: The husband and I have been trying to figure out a summer vacation. We know we want to drive to a state that borders Texas, we just haven’t figured out where (do we drive ten hours east or west?). So far, we like the idea of Hot Springs or Santa Fe. :)