Please join us in the celestial heights of the Lair, where all the debut authors go to celebrate their first releases, because after all, seeing your first book on the shelf is a bit like walking on air...
Okay, so it's really just the loft in the armory, and not all that far off the ground (coz our guest has a thing about heights).
Please welcome my friend and Golden Network buddy, Kris Kennedy who is celebrating the release of her debut novel TOMORROW!
AC: Please tell us about your debut release The Conqueror.
Now, seriously, Loucinda, that is a demonic question. How am I supposed to answer it?? It's like you're an agent or an editor, expecting me to be able to just SAY what it's about . . . :biting fingernails because can't say what it's about:
Okay, here's my best attempt at a blurb for my debut book, due out May 5....
THE CONQUEROR is a hot, sweeping medieval romance with a reluctant alpha hero, a desperate heroine, and a love that can unite a kingdom or bring it crashing to the ground.
After seventeen years of a civil war, a midnight rescue results in a night of unforgettable--and forbidden-passion. Their explosive reunion, a year later, follows betrayal and a bloody invasion. Someone has to win, after all. And the other person is very, very angry.
And it's full of the ‘adventure' piece I love so well. Abductions, midnight rescues, sword fights. Hidden agendas. Betrayal. Revenge. Imprisonment. Buried treasure. Enemies on the prowl. And rocking hot sex. Oh, it's fun! :-)
Hmm... I'm certain I just veered wildly off the ‘blurb' path.
AC: Who cares? It all sounds very intriguing and that cover is YUM! Now lets move on the the harder questions... (Aunty rubs her hands together with glee) What inspired you to write in this time period?
Oh, wow. I can't imagine anything more intrinsically romantic than the middle ages. Such intense living. Even reading dry academic texts, I end up letting the book drift onto my lap. A single page can contain stories of raids and battles, kings being deposed and queens getting abducted, castles being razed and rivers being crossed.
I love learning about everything, from the nobility to the lives of burgesses and peasants, every aspect. Food preparation to marriage contracts, privy chutes to wheat rotation methods. Generally, the hard part is deciding what to leave out.
Then again, maybe not. For instance, the privy chutes are pretty much a sure-fire ‘leave-it-out.' :-)
AC: How did traveling in Europe influence your writing?
I have traveled to Ireland, England, and Germany.
I think what those travels have done for my writing is the same as they've done for my life in general: made me realize I'm a very small part of the world, and not necessarily the best part. LOL Humility and appreciation, I suppose, sum it up.
Oh, and things became real in a very, well, real way. :-) Climbing the curving tower of a castle is quite different than imagining it. The idea of holding a sword and swinging it, and the bloody results, dead bodies jamming up the stairwell, well, you can imagine it all much better when you're actually standing on the stairwell. And then the ‘romanticized' nature dims somewhat. Even so, it's intense and exciting, and built for the romance genre. :-)
Know what else I've realized? I'm going to write a medieval with a character who's scared of heights (like me) because I tell you, those towers are HIGH. Yes, there were walls where there is now only air, but even so . . . .
And the stairs? Yes, tight. Yes, spiraling. But also, the steps themselves are really narrow. Maybe part of that is the wear of time, but still, when I write about someone ‘hurrying' down the stairs, it's SO relative. I could cook lasagna by the time it would take me to go from the 4th to the 1st floor of a castle. And carrying something, like an armful of linens or a basket of candle nubs? Please. I'd be fired on day one.
Okay, enough about stairs, do ya think?
(Aunty nods vigorously, trying not to remember all the stairs in the Duomo in Florence and how much her feet hurt afterward.)
AC: Plotter or Pantser? Can you share a little of your writing process with us?
Ack! Let's call me a work-in-progress. :-) I'm learning my process, because it's new. The post-published process. It's like that, isn't it? You have one process pre-published, but most of us need another one after having contracts in hand. Especially with a young child also in hand. Or, rather, as close to my hand as I can keep him, but he's quick. :-)
I can no longer write by the seat of my pants, because the revisions required are insane. So, I'm developing a new process: PlotFlow. I plot and then I flow.
But if I don't plot it out first, the story sprawls like a teenager on a couch, and I haven't the luxury for such things anymore.
AC: We love Call Stories in the Lair, please share yours.
Oh, well, it's very glamorous, so put your sunglasses on . . .
I was tending my 3 y.o.'s pink eye. I was forcibly-I mean, lovingly-holding a warm compress to his very pink eye, when my agent called with the news that I had been offered a 2 book contract by John Scognamiglio at Kensington Publishing. (Com'on. It's not THAT hard to say. KEN-sing-ton.) ;-)
I was excited, of course. I was also wondering if I was spreading pink eye germs onto the phone.
I was, of course.
(Aunty nods sagely, remembering the time she had to step in and make a presentation in Anaheim because the nurse consultant caught pink eye from her three year old.)
So, while my agent talked, and I ooh-ed and okay-ed, I also wiped lavender-based cleaner all over the phone receiver with one hand, while holding the warm, loving compress to my 3 y.o.'s eye with the other, phone nestled-lovingly, of course-between my cramping shoulder and cheek.
You know the pose. You've done it a thousand times. You're a woman. And a writer. We write, we love our kids. Sometimes, you have to do them both at the same time.
AC: What's next on the writing horizon for you?
I'm doing my own final revisions on WANTING FINIAN right now. That's the one that won the 2008 Golden Heart for Best Unpubbed Historical. It'll be out next Spring, only I have no idea what its title will be. I somehow doubt my editor is going to keep mine. LOL There's an excerpt on my website. (http://www.kriskennedy.net/
And I am working on another book which could follow THE CONQUEROR, but still work as a stand-alone book. It's another medieval, with a wronged & angry heroine, a very, very dangerous hero, and both of them with something precious to protect. My working title is simply: The Jamie Story.
AC: Believe me, I understand. My current working title is: The New Irish Tale. Any advice you received before you were published? Or just any advice that you'd like to pass on to the As Yet Unpubbed writers here in the Lair?
Well, I must say, I never like the almost crusade-like cries to just ‘stay with it,' so someone who stops feels like a total quitter when maybe it simply wasn't right for them. Maybe the ‘fire' wasn't in the belly. Maybe the pain of rejection truly was too much. How do I know? Who am I to say that sticking with it is the best thing for any particular person? Maybe it's not.
That being said, let me totally contradict myself....
If you feel ‘It,' then stay with it. ‘It' being the fire. The feeling in your fingers, aching to type. The love of perfecting pace and nailing down GMCs. The restless awakening mid-night with a new plot twist and the undeniable need to tiptoe downstairs to write it. The chills that occur when you suddenly realize, "OMG! Her mother left her when she was a child!" and you run to the computer, because everything is clear now. The people you were just talking to stare after. They may not see you again for days.
If you've got those things, then I have only one thing to say: Persistence, ladies. Always, attentive persistence.
Attentive, in that your paying attention, getting better, treating this like the craft it is. We're apprentices and journeymen. The craft of storytelling is ages old. It takes time to get it right.
And persistence. Persistence ALWAYS pays off. If you're standing at the corner, you'll be there when the bus comes by.
Now, my question for YOU, Bandita readers!
What lights your writing fire? Your reading fire? (Because that's a fire too, isn't it?) What makes you go still with excitement? Genre/ era? Writing moment? What makes for a peak reading experience? I love romance fires-what's lights yours??
And please, stop by, check out the excerpts (http://www.kriskennedy.net/
Kris is generously giving away an autographed copy of The Conqueror to one lucky commenter, and a 'chapter one' booklet to another.
THANX A BUNCH for joining us, Kris!