In Sonja Foust’s debut short story, “Love in Shadow,” a tomboyish fairy named Shadow realizes she loves her boss, Lon.  Five years ago, Lon’s wife was killed by a band of gypsy fairies.  Shadow feels immense guilt for what her people did, and has trouble reconciling her guilt and her love.  (Read the full-length review.)  NOTE: “Love in Shadow” is an adult romance, with content that would earn it a movie rating of PG.  Language and sexuality are both less intense than in many YA novels, such as Holly Black’s Tithe.  I would be comfortable recommending this story to any reader age 14 or up, and mature readers younger than that.

Sonja recently joined me for my very first author interview here at

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What’s the first story you remember ever writing?

I think I’ve been writing stories since I learned how to write. To me, it always seemed like a practical application of that whole writing thing. Probably the earliest things I wrote were these epic poems in iambic pentameter (before I had any idea what iambic pentameter was) all about our Barbies. My sister and my two brothers and I would set them all up in the living room and write a long 30-verse or so poem about what they all were doing and then perform it for my parents or whatever other victims might have been around. My mom STILL thinks it’s hilarious and she’ll tell anyone who will listen all about her children’s elaborate playtime.

Why did you decide to make the fairies in “Love in Shadow” wingless?

Originally, there were no fairies in “Love In Shadow.” In fact, “Love In Shadow” was a futuristic sci-fi at its birth. That wasn’t working for the story, so I put it in a historical setting. As I’m lazy and don’t like being historically accurate, I eventually decided it would be a fantasy instead. Since it was a fantasy, Shadow had to be a fairy, duh. (I don’t know exactly why. She just did.) But I didn’t want to do the same-old same-old fairy thing, and I needed another device to add conflict in the story, so the wingless gypsy fairy seemed like the way to go.

Shadow is a fish-out-of-water in two ways: she’s a fairy among humans and a tomboyish woman in “proper society.”  Would you describe a time when you felt out of place?

Um, how about most of my life? Seriously though, I’ve had quite a lot of experience feeling out of place. I won’t even mention the hell that was middle school, because I’m pretty sure middle school just sucks for everyone.

Right after middle school, the summer before my freshman year of high school, my family moved from one coast (California) to another (North Carolina). The culture shock was something, especially for a socially inept 14-year-old. But I decided that 9th grade was my opportunity for a fresh start, and that idea was my life preserver.  I held onto it with all my might. When I’d come home after a tough day feeling like I’d never ever make any friends, I’d remind myself that this was my new beginning and I could be whoever I wanted to be and I would be that person again tomorrow. It was tough that first year, but eventually I found a lovely group of friends and began to feel like I had a place again. The last two or three years of high school were awesome because of those great friends. I made a lot of happy memories in those years.

Having a place is wonderful, but the lesson I learned was that sometimes it’s GOOD to be out of place, because then you get to make a new and better place for yourself.

Let’s play Casting Director.  If “Love in Shadow” were being made into a movie, what actress would you cast as Shadow?  Who would you want to play Lon?

Hands down, no question, Julia Roberts would be Shadow. I’ve had her in mind since the very beginning. She’s one of my favorite actresses, and she does “spitfire” so well.

Lon’s a toughie though. There aren’t a whole lot of “tall, dark, and handsome” types in Hollywood right at the moment. Colin Farrell might be a good match, if he could manage not to be so smarmy for a while. 

The whole time I was reading “Love in Shadow” I imagined Nathan Fillion as Lon.

Nathan Fillion would indeed make a good Lon. Good call.

The prejudice Lon’s relatives have against fairies is similar to many prejudices apparent in the modern world.  How do you think fantasy settings affect authors’ and readers’ interactions with universal themes like prejudice?

I think fantasy is a great way to explore touchy issues in our society. One of my favorite examples of this is Star Trek: The Next Generation. That series touched on so many modern issues like sexism (including GLBT issues), abortion, racism, war, and capitalism, and since they did it in a fantasy setting, they could get away with saying a lot of things no one else would say. Some episodes were VERY thinly veiled allegories for current events. The fantasy setting gives a little bit of distance from the actual situations and lets you think about the issues themselves without all the baggage from the specifics. It’s a great vehicle for expanding your universe to include ideas you might not have thought of if they hadn’t been presented in such a clean, unattached way.

Can you tell us more about your other works?

Both Lying Eyes and Home are “finished” manuscripts. Both need quite a bit of editing before I send them on their next set of rounds to editors.

Lying Eyes is a story I wrote last year about a student learning to use her psychic abilities, with the help of a local (super sexy) police officer. It’s a romantic suspense, which is my all-time favorite genre to read AND write. I’m working on tightening up the characters’ motivations to make them more believable and to ratchet up the tension.

Home is actually the first full-length manuscript I ever completed. It’s about a pair of high school sweethearts who find their lives colliding again in their early thirties. I’m fascinated by reunion stories, probably because I feel like I’ve changed so much since my younger years, and I wonder how my old friends who haven’t seen me in a long time would feel about me now. The manuscript needs a fairly major rewrite which will affect plot points, so it’ll be a while before it sees the light of day again!

Writing is so much about editing, and that’s something I’m learning the hard way. “Love In Shadow” sat in my unfinished manuscript drawer for years before I gained the right set of skills to turn it into something publishable. I hope it won’t take years for these other two manuscripts, but I’m beginning to accept the fact that editing is a LONG process!

My next story, which isn’t up on my website yet because I haven’t written a blurb for it yet, is an 11,000 word short story, tentatively called “In a Cat’s Eye.” It’s a paranormal romantic suspense set in my old home town of Redlands, California and it involves a sexy shape-shifting were-cougar. I’m going to start pitching it around to some editors this week, so I’ve got my fingers crossed that it will get picked up and into the pipeline really soon! Keep checking my website for details.

Do you feel like your degree in English prepared you to be a romance writer?  If so, how?

My knee-jerk response is, “Ha!” I had to overcome a lot of English-degree-induced prejudices about the romance genre in order to become a romance READER, let alone a romance writer. For some reason, English professors as a whole seem to think that anything with a happy ending does not count as literature. In fact, they claim, anything with a happy ending turns the reader’s brain into a silly, sentimental pile of mush. Well, I’m here to tell you it’s not true. My brain is significantly less mush-like since I started reading romance novels because, oh my, I’ve discovered that I actually ENJOY reading again! So hooray for romance novels and boo for uppity types who scoff at the romance genre as a whole.

That said, my English degree DID give me a base of knowledge that has been most helpful in my writing. It’s hard to be deep and meaningful if you’ve missed some of the classics like Homer and cummings and Hemingway and Shakespeare and, yes, even the Bible.

Plus, now I can claim that I am actually using my degree, unlike so many liberal arts survivors.

What are some of your favorite books?

Oh my goodness, there are so many. If you’re looking for a tear-jerker (and I mean soul-clenching sobs tear-jerker), go with The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger. If, like me, you can only handle about one of those tear-jerkers every year or so and you’ve hit your quota, anything by Sabrina Jeffries is a sure-fire winner. My most recent favorite of hers is Only a Duke Will Do, but when her next one comes out, that one will probably be my new favorite because I fall in love with all of her books as soon as I read them. If you’re looking for a good, old-fashioned, whodunit suspense with a heavy dose of romance, try Carnal Innocence by Nora Roberts. The one and only Nora is my favorite suspense writer, but then, she does EVERYTHING really well.

Your birthday is coming up in just two weeks.  How will you celebrate your first birthday as a published author?

Wow, thanks for remembering! I’m going to be 26 this year. I’m sure I will spend a great deal of my day marveling at how lucky I am to be doing what I love to do (WRITING!) at such a young age. Sure, I’ve got a long way to go– someday, I want this writing thing to be a full time gig– but I’m on my way and I feel so blessed!

Sonja adds:

I love hearing from people, so if you have questions about me, my stories, the publishing world, or writing in general, please feel free to drop me an email at sonja@sonjafoust.com and be sure to check out my blog (blog.sonjafoust.com) and website (www.sonjafoust.com ). Both are updated frequently with all the latest news and a lot of silly, fun stuff too.

Shadow is a fairy, formerly a gypsy highway robber.  Lon is her boss, who runs a cargo transport business.  Five years ago, a band of fairies jumped down from the trees and killed Lon’s wife, Misty.  Now, Lon and Shadow are visiting Misty’s family as a detour on one of their cargo runs.  In the five years since Misty’s death, Shadow has found her emotions for Lon changing from the loyalty of an employee to the warmth of a friend, and perhaps even to something more.  She wants him to return her feelings, but at the same time thinks that they can never be together because of the tragedy her people brought him.  Before she can have the love she wants, Shadow first has to come to terms with her people’s crimes.

In “Love in Shadow,” Sonja Foust quickly establishes the characters of Lon and Shadow and their relationship dynamic.  They are a sweet, funny couple, even if they won’t admit to being paired.  On one level, “Love in Shadow” is a sweet, quick read that will leave your heart smiling.  Don’t suppose, though, that just because it is only 21 pages long, this story won’t make you think.  “Love in Shadow” deals with larger themes of prejudice and guilt.  The best romance stories have love as their central theme but not as their only theme, and that is true of “Love in Shadow.”  “Love in Shadow” is charming, thought-provoking, and fun, all at once. 

Book: Love in Shadow
Author: Sonja Foust
Publisher: Wild Rose Press
Original Publication Date: 2007
Pages: 21
Age Range: Adult
Source of Book: Purchased from Publisher Website
Other Blog Reviews: Odds and Ends
Links: My Interview with Sonja Foust

This is a reading blog, and my friend Sonja Foust is an author.  She’ll be published on Friday, the same day as the new Ninja Turtles movie comes out.  I think she should be flattered to share the spotlight with some of the greatest characters known to comics, TV, movies, and merchandising.

Sonja is first and foremost a romance writer, and her short story “Love in Shadow” is being published by The Wild Rose Press. I can even recommend it whole-heartedly here, as it was rated PG by ECataromance (sadly no actual cats). It also got 5 STARS. Her dog Sydney, who I’m pretty sure is not a double agent, did not enjoy it as much.

Still, my friend is a published author! I am totally cool by proximity, because we went to high school and college together and we live in the same city. And she’s coming to my show Saturday.

I’m awesome.

Someday, I will have an achievement that is my own.

1. The lovely blackholly aka Holly Black, one of the co-authors of the Spiderwick Chronicles, solicited help creating Latin for her book Care and Feeding of Sprites. I caught sight of it while I was on my medicine run at Target today and flipped through.

You see, I’m something of a Latin expert, what with having a Master’s degree in teaching it and a couple years of experience under my belt with the teaching aspect, plus another 10ish years of reading it. At least, my friends tell me it’s okay to consider myself an expert, so I do. So when blackholly put out the call, slayground sent me her way and her mine, or something, and I did indeed provide her with some scientific names for her Sprites. I’m not sure how many of mine she used. I checked my records and I know at least the Glowing Toadfly and the Little Blueberry Sprite have scientific names I found for her. (The process was: she gave me English names. I used my knowledge of grammar, which dictionaries are good, and what specific connations are to come up with the Latin. Then I sent it to her.) I think she used half of the name I gave her for the Dancing Pondneedle, but only the dancing part. I think.

As you can imagine, it was very exciting for me to see in a store a book to which I had, in some way at least, contributed. (I suppose I contributed an interview to Joss Whedon: The Genius Behind Buffy as well. Every time I see that in a store I about have a fit.)

2. A quick plug for Sonja Foust, as well! Sonja has been my friend since we were baby high school freshmen, and the most exciting thing has happened. She’s going to be published! Her e-book romance short story Love in Shadow will be published by the Wild Rose Press. I feel compelled to warn you that this is a romance, with all that entails. I can’t be held responsible for Sonja’s text!

I’m off for a nap, after which I hope to be up to posting the earlier promised post on blogging, writing, reading, and other stuff.