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Alyssa Day

Genre: Paranormal Romance, Paranormal/Urban Fantasy

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Wet and Wild

Alyssa Day, AKA Alesia Holliday, builds a new Atlantis founded on a lifelong fascination with the Lost World

By Faygie Levy

"I've been an Atlantis-phile since I was a little girl,"
says romance author Alesia Holliday. It's a fascination that's extended well into adulthood. "I almost went into archeology in college. I have a whole bookcase filled with research books about ancient civilizations and the mythology of Atlantis."

So when the author, best known for romantic comedies, decided to bite into the paranormal world she used Atlantis as her setting. Her imagining of the ancient city and the people who live there can be seen in Atlantis Rising (Mar., Berkley Sensation), a contemporary paranormal romance written under the pen name Alyssa Day.

Holliday says she was drawn in by the idea of exploring
"how the world was in the past, and of going where no one who
is living had ever been." As an adult, she's been intrigued by ancient symbols that have been found the world over and that
have led many to speculate about an ancient "overarching society that had traveled between different areas of the globe and lent
their civilization's underpinnings" to such such cultures as the ancient Greeks, the Aztecs and even the native peoples of
North America.

The similarities in symbols, Holliday says, "are so pronounced that I thought -- like many before me had -- what if the ancient underpinning was Atlantis and it really existed. And my way of plotting goes 'what if, what if, what if?' so it went on from there."

The series focuses on the Warriors of Poseidon, the residents of Atlantis who must protect humanity. When vampires and shape-shifters assert their power over today's world and attempt
to create a new order, the warriors join a band of human
rebels to ensure mankind's survival and retrieve the lost jewels
of the Trident.

Atlantis Rising focuses on Conlan, the high priest of Atlantis, the future king of the underwater civilization, and Riley Dawson, a Virginia social worker and emotional empath.

World-building for the story was challenging, and Holliday says that she wound up with infinitely more material than she could use. "I had so much going on in my mind. I realized that I had enough for five books, and
if I used all the material for book one, it would have been a 1,000-page quest," says
the author.

And while a 1,000-page quest novel would work in the science fiction genre,
it didn't quite fit in with Holliday's romance writing. Nor did it tell the stories about men and women battling evil and finding love that the author wanted to convey. So she went back, honed in on her story and
discovered she had not one but many romantic stories about Atlantis to tell.

Publisher Berkley has bought the rights to three stories, two full-length novels and a novella, and Holliday is hopeful there will be more, noting that she's got at least seven stories plotted in her mind.

"The thing that fascinates me about this world is that nothing is black or white," she says. "Not all vampires are bad, not all shape-shifters are bad, nor are all Atlantis males heroes. Just like in real life, some people have their own agenda and will be in a battle having nothing to do with their race or species."

Further complicating matters -- at least in the romance department -- is that royal males of Atlantis are destined to marry "women who've been magically preserved since before Atlantis went underwater some 11,000 years ago," says Holliday. "But for the first time ever they are starting to rebel against that."

And then there's the ancient prophecy that says if the warriors break the tradition and marry someone other than these preordained women, "the second cataclysm will come and destroy the world." (The first cataclysm was responsible for
the sinking of Atlantis.) All of this spells trouble for Conlan
and Riley.

While her characters battle it out on the pages of her books, Holliday is enjoying the career path she launched only a few years ago with the release of her first book, an autobiographical account of life with a military spouse. E-mail to the Front chronicled correspondence between Holliday and her husband, Judd, a Navy officer who was sent to Afghanistan shortly after the attacks of 9/11.

"Suddenly I was alone, working full time [as a lawyer] and raising two kids under 5 years old, wondering how often missiles were being fired at my husband.

"It was really, really hard. I kept saying, 'Someone should write a book about how hard this is,' which turned into 'I should write a book about how hard this is.' So I wrote E-mail to the Front, in which I included our actual e-mails and essays about what was going on, to talk about life in the family of a spouse gone to war. The publisher [Andrews McMeel Publishing] sent me on a cross-country media tour for the book and, based on the strength of one fiction editor saying, 'I'd love to see a novel
if you write one,' I quit my job and started writing full time."

Acknowledging the move as "insanity," Holliday was clearly on the right path. Her first novel, American Idle, was sold to Dorchester's Making It line, received a Top Pick from RT and was a finalist for the Romance Writers of America's Rita award. She followed up that success with other romantic comedies and even young adult novels written under the pen name Jax Abbott.

Holliday, who lives in Virginia with her husband (who is currently stateside) and their two children, a boy and a girl, ages 9 and 7 respectively, now divides her time between various types of writing -- lighthearted romantic comedy, romantic comedic mysteries and paranormals for Berkley and its imprints.

"I do have a lot going on," Holliday jokes, noting that the second in her December Vaughn mystery series will be out in June. Also, the second story in the Atlantis series, "Wild Hearts in Atlantis," will appear in the May anthology Wild Thing.

Additionally, Holliday recently sold a new series to Berkley about a demon slayer. The main character, Suzi Stiletto, was introduced in a short story in the charity anthology Bewitched, Bothered and Bevampyred.

But can she successfully cross between so many genres? Her editor at Berkley certainly thinks so. "I think she's enormously talented, and having talent is requirement for success for a writer," says executive editor Cindy Hwang. "And she's extremely disciplined. Before she starts writing she knows the story she wants to tell.

"I think anyone who enjoys her under any incarnation won't be surprised at the quality of work but will be surprised at how she adapts her voice" in the different genres, continues Hwang. "The humor she's known for is in her paranormal books, and I couldn't imagine her writing without humor."

Readers will be able to get in the humor and the paranormal realm this month when they discover Atlantis Rising.


Conlan's Got a Secret, and Riley's Not Buying It

Conlan's thoughts flickered to the Atlantean maiden who had been selected for him. The woman he'd never met -- who'd never met him. More archaic Atlantean politics, cold and dead.

Unlike the woman who stood in front of him, warm and alive.

"Hot, even," he murmured.

Riley only stopped moving away from him when she backed into the bed. His gaze was drawn down to her legs. Miles of legs. Endless legs wrapped in snug, faded denim.

He wanted her legs wrapped around his waist.

Breasts tempting even under that oversized shirt, generous enough that he could see them press against the fabric when she moved in certain ways. He'd felt them against his chest on the beach. Her waist curved in perfectly. Just the right size for his hands.

He was in trouble.

He didn't care.

In the golden glow of the bedside lamps, her hair was firelight on amber. Sunshine on the golden dome of Poseidon's temple. Eyes as blue as the ocean surface at twilight.

Damn, suddenly he was a freaking poet. He was losing his mind.

Stepping sideways, Riley began to edge around the
bed. "I see we're back to the Atlantis thing. You're from the lost continent. The figment of Plato's imagination that supposedly disappeared more than eleven thousand years ago.
That Atlantis?"

He unfolded his arms and took another step toward her. He couldn't help himself.

He didn't want to help himself.

"Plato was disciplined for his talkativeness in the Critias and Timaeus. The poet Solon knew no better than to share with Plato the secrets he'd gained from that Egyptian priest. But our descendants know to keep the secrets of Atlantis."

Another step. Her tantalizing scent reached him. Fresh. Slightly floral, with a touch of green. Ocean ferns, perhaps. He inhaled deeply, knowing he could find her by scent alone from that moment. Loving her scent in his nostrils.

Wanting her taste in his mouth. His hands actually ached to feel her skin.

She was looking at him. Oh, right. Something about continents. "Not so much a lost continent. We always knew where we were," he said. "We've simply developed shields to hide the Seven Isles from your technology."

He smiled. "Your invention of submarines was almost a problem for a while."
She backed clear around to the other side of the bed, clearly scrambling for a reply. Then she lifted her head in defiance. "Okay, show me your gills."

He couldn't help it. He started laughing, for the first time in seven long years.

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