Tuesday, 3 January 2012

Welcome prolific author Tori St. Claire/Claire Ashgrove!

So thrilled to have you here today, Tori! We have spoken quite a lot via the The Wild Rose Press loops and especially Twitter so it's great to host your latest release.

I know you are horse mad and write like a demon so there is little left to do but leave my readers to discover for themselves just how good a writer you are!

Let's start the questions... :)

1) Who is your favourite author and why?

My favorite author is Steve Berry. Beyond his ability to create edge-of-your-seat suspense, he weaves in speculative fiction, and as a history addict it fascinates me. To be completely honest, it’s very hard to pick up one of his books and not jump to the very back where he lists the historical tidbits and how he altered them.

I don’t think I’ve picked up a book yet that hasn’t left me wholly satisfied and just a little amazed. He blends everything so smoothly that it always makes for a fascinating read.

2) When did you first consider yourself a writer?

I’ve always been a writer, always loved to write. It wasn’t until early 2008, however, when I was at-home with my infant son and sat down to write and pass the time, that I decided to turn a hobby into something professional.

I joined RWA the same month, finished two other books through the summer, and then in the fall wrote SEDUCTION’S STAKES, which became my first published novel. It was contracted in December of the same year.

3) Describe your writing space?

Usually absolute chaos. I fell into the habit someplace along the line of writing at the dining room table, and right now, with the holidays here it’s fairly clean, amazingly. Usually I have a pile of papers on my right, notes and portions of outlines that haven’t made it into the laptop. Some collection of snacks to my left – jar of pretzels, sack of chips, warmed-over coffee. And I’m surrounded by critters: cat in the lap, another cat on the table, dog in the chair beside me, dog at my feet, and four other dog bodies scattered around my dining room floor snoring soundly.

My actual desk in my office is immaculate. That’s because I never touch it.

4) What are you reading now?

I just finished Karin Tabke’s BLOOD LAW.

5) How many books have your written? Which is your favourite?

Oh gosh…

I write under two pen names: Tori St. Claire and Claire Ashgrove.

As Tori I’ve written STRIPPED and the second book in the Black Opal series, LIE TO ME.

As Claire, I’ve published five full-length contemporary novels, two contemporary novellas, three paranormal novellas, and a total of four in my paranormal series, The Curse of the Templars.

There’s also a handful of stories that are written and sitting with my agent.

6) What comes first, plot or characters?

That totally depends on the story. With STRIPPED, Natalya came before all the others. Then Brandon. Then I had to work in the plot, which brought the other characters to life.

LIE TO ME worked pretty much the same. I knew who I wanted to write about, had a bare-bones idea for his personality, and knew my heroine rather well. I had to make how they fit together, how they would clash, and the suspense surrounding them, mesh with their differing personalities.

Actually now that I think about it, everything I’ve done with the Black Opal series has been character first.

Not the same for the paranormal works or my contemporaries as Claire Ashgrove. The vast majority of them were/are plot first.

7) Do you ever suffer from writer’s block?

I wish? It might be a little more quiet in my head if so.

Truthfully, I’m very prolific. Both in idea and end result. I have files of outlines that maybe I’ll get to, maybe I won’t.

8) What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

I’m a horsey-gal – I like to spend time with my horses, though I haven’t ridden in a long, long while. I spend time with my friends, lots of time with my family and my sons. Really though, as much as writing is a career, it’s my hobby too. So I write for the pleasure as often as I’m writing for a deadline.

9) Tell us about your latest book?

Well, I’m here today to talk about STRIPPED, my debut erotic romantic suspense.

STRIPPED is a dark, edgy erotic thriller that introduces the Black Opals, an elite, deadly team of CIA Operatives. Natalya Trubachev has been under cover, working for the Russian mafia and engaged to mob-boss, Dmitri Gavrikov. Dmitri is trafficking women for a sheikh in Dubai. Natalya’s sister is Dmitri’s next target.

Determined to stop him, expose the human trafficking ring, and save her fraternal twin, Natalya goes to Las Vegas, where she meets Brandon Moretti, an undercover cop investigating a string of murders on the Strip. Everything unravels as passion enters the game and Natalya struggles to keep both her secrets and Brandon from being exposed.

Here’s the official back cover blurb:

Body of secrets…

As a member of the CIA’s elite, Black Opals, Natalya Trubachev must live a lie, working undercover as the lover of Dmitri, a Russian mob boss. His business is trafficking vulnerable Las Vegas strippers overseas for twisted sex games. Natalya’s business is to blow the ring wide open and bring down Dmitri and his American contacts. But the stakes are raised when she learns that the next target is her own sister Kate, a dancer in the famed club Fantasia. Only now does Natalya realize how personal her mission has become, and how far she’s willing to go to complete it.

Body of lies…

The manager of Fantasia is Brandon Moretti, an undercover detective who keeps a close eye on his girls, and an even closer one on his sinfully sensual hire. For Natalya, working the club could be the break she’s been waiting for. But for Moretti, Natalya is a possible link to a killer. Only he never counted on her being so lethally seductive or so dangerous to get close to. As every forbidden pleasure between them is stripped away, his own secrets threaten their security, but it’s Natalya’s that could destroy them both.

STRIPPED differs from traditional erotic suspense in the sense that my characters are very dark people, with even darker histories. When you cut through all the paperwork that makes a Black Opal legal, they are deadly killers, specialized for their jobs, and elite players in the world of international security.

10) What’s next for you?

Well, LIE TO ME is coming up around the corner. That’s the only concrete work. I have proposals in with my editor – including more Black Opals – that we’ll have to wait and see which will fly.

Otherwise, as Claire, I’m continuing work on the series, The Curse of the Templars, and my paranormal short series, Inherited Damnation. Through 2012, Inherited Damnation will come to a close, so all of those will be available.

Thanks for hosting me! It’s been a lot of fun!




I am giving away a $25 Amazon GC to one randomly drawn commenter during the tour and to the host with the most comments. Please follow the tour and comment; the more you comment, the better your chances of winning. The tour dates can be found here: http://goddessfishpromotions.blogspot.com/2011/11/virtual-book-tour-stripped-by-tori-st.html

Excerpt from Stripped...

“Tell me what you want, beautiful.” His breath rasped over her cheek. Featherlight kisses accompanied the whisper, trailing across her skin in a taunting path toward her mouth.

Kiss me. She turned her head in search of lips she instinctively knew would be warm, the words on the tip of her tongue. Kiss me until I don’t care whether I live or die.

Honesty. Just once.

He caught her lower lip with his teeth, the nip nowhere near gentle. But the lazy stroke of his tongue soothed the stinging bite. She parted her lips, dipped her tongue out to touch his.

Brandon’s body tightened like a whip. The pressure in her lower back increased as his fingers curled into her skin. Their breaths mingled. The tips of their tongues met in a slow, sensual dance. As another spasm of ecstasy threatened to send her tumbling into his solid chest, she braced her hands on his shoulders.

And then Brandon was gone, the magic of his fingers disappearing as he stepped back and set both hands on her waist. His gaze scorched in to flood her body with tingles. He waited, his question unspoken, but hanging between them.

Tell me what you want.

Clearly he intended to make her admit she wanted to feel him deep inside her. Wanted to experience the slide of his bare skin against hers. And God, how she wanted to kiss him. To taste the desire that burned in his gaze and the indescribable flavor of hot, aroused man.

Confessing might lead her to an early grave, but for once, her conscious would be clear. She swallowed hard and dug deep for the courage that had kept her alive these last three years. His gaze followed the sweep of her tongue as she moistened her lips.

“Kiss me.” Her senses honed in on her whisper, amplifying it and the ragged fall of their mutual breathing. She became aware of every minuscule sound as she waited for Brandon to either dip his head and honor her request, or shove her aside with a wicked sneer.

He took a step closer, bringing their bodies in contact from chest to toes. One arm wrapped around her waist, then slid up her back to offer support between her shoulder blades. The other tangled in her hair, tipping her head back. Putting her where he wanted her—subtle dominance that thrilled her in places she hadn’t known existed. Her womb clamped hard, sending another rush of moisture through her pussy.

His mouth descended. Warm lips played against hers, drawing her into the spell his body wove. Pulling her in so deep she struggled for air.

The sudden, brassy ring of her cell phone jolted her out of hazy desire. She froze. With Kate and Sergei due to arrive at Fantasia any minute, there could only be one other person calling at this time of day—Dmitri. It would be almost one in the morning in Moscow. The time Dmitri put aside his work and crawled into bed. He’d want to talk before he slept.

“Don’t answer that,” Brandon whispered against her mouth.

Damn if those lips weren’t compelling. She’d had his mouth on her breast, knew the incredible magic his tongue could create there, but had yet to experience the tantalizing slide of his tongue against hers. The need to feel his mouth on hers, to get lost in his potent masculinity pressed her to ignore the ringing tones.

Duty, however, rose up screaming. If she didn’t answer, Dmitri would get suspicious.

“I have to.”


Tori's bio:

Tori St. Claire grew up writing. Hobby quickly turned into passion, and when she discovered the world of romance as a teen, poems and short stories gave way to full length novels with sexy heroes and heroines waiting to be swept off their feet. She wrote her first romance novel at seventeen.

While that manuscript gathered dust-bunnies beneath the bed, she went on to establish herself as a contemporary, historical, and paranormal author under the pen name, Claire Ashgrove. Her writing, however, skirted a fine line between hot and steamy, and motivated by authors she admired, she pushed her boundaries and made the leap into erotica, using the darker side of human nature and on-the-edge suspense to drive grittier, sexier, stories.

Her erotic romantic suspense novels are searingly sensual experiences that unite passion with true emotion, and the all-consuming tie that binds -- love.

Tori can be found at:


Twitter: @claireashgrove

Great interview, Tori - I have a confession to make...after reading the blurb of Stripped, I realized I judged the opening chapter of this in a RWA contest. I am pleased to say I gave it a very near perfect score, lol! Congrats on it publication :)

Over to you guys for questions & comments!


  1. Hi, Tori.

    I enjoyed the interview; it was really interesting.

    I love Stripped's cover. Did you work closely with the cover artist/photographer?

    Tracey D
    booklover0226 at gmail dot com

  2. Laugh! Oh how funny -- small world isn't it? I only entered it in one contest, so I'm pretty sure I can look that up. Mwahaha! :)

    THanks for having me, Rachel.

  3. Actually, Tracey, I was pleasantly surprised with the cover. Berkley asked me for some ideas -- I try not to get too invested in cover process. I sent across some of the titles that I thought had awesome covers, with comments like, "It'd be really cool to have something like this" (Helpful huh?)

    Then, it appeared in my email. Nothing like what I had possibly envisioned, but breathtaking. I love this cover a whole lot!

  4. Hi Tori,

    I love dark and edgey characters that are a bit complicated, and who keep you guessing on just how dark they will be. Will definitely look forward to reading Stripped.

    caity_mack at yahoo dot com

  5. Hi Tori,

    Interesting interview today. The premise of your book reminds me a bit of the 1988 film 'Red Heat'. I have films on the mind today so if your book were to be made into a film, who do you see playing your main characters?

  6. Cathy -- I like characters that leave you questioning whether you should root for them or not. My favorite? Tom Hanks' character from Road to Perdition. Bad guy, but so full of heart...

  7. Karen, interesting that you ask that. I was just asked it in an interview for the tour.

    I'm not a Hollywood person and honestly couldn't tell you names except for the "Big Ones". Sam somebody was the Terminator in the new(ish) Terminator, and he, to me, stole that movie. I could go for him as Brandon. Natalya? You'll have to tell me. :)

  8. I had to laugh at your comment re: the writers block question. I was not aware you had two pen names, I will be checking both out.


  9. I have not read any of your books yet but I will definitely be checking both pen names out. This book is on my wish list and I can't wait to get a copy.
    manning_j2004 at yahoo dot com

  10. I havent read any of your books yet but have my little black book out jotting down !!! ive def added this to my tbr pile ;) Thanks for the insight..

    Can I ask a question ? why do you write in two pens names.. as they different genres : ? :O)

    Will be checking out both ur names !



  11. I have just downloaded iStripper, and now I can watch the sexiest virtual strippers on my taskbar.