Monday, May 30, 2011

Interview with Laura Kaye


Laura Kaye is a published author of paranormal, contemporary and erotic romances. Her heartfelt stories are all about the desire to belong. Let's give her a warm welcome!




*** Laura is running a contest. Make sure to read the details at the end of the interview to find out how to enter. Good luck!


Laura, why don't you start with telling the readers a little about yourself :

I grew up amidst family lore involving angels, ghosts, and evil-eye curses, cementing my life-long fascination with the supernatural. Though an avid fiction writer as a teenager, a career as a historian took me in other directions until recently. Now that my inner muse has awakened, I'm constantly creating new story ideas! I live in Maryland with my husband, two daughters, and bad dog, and appreciates her view of the Chesapeake Bay every day.

Tell the readers about your new release, Hearts in Darkness.

Hearts in Darkness is a contemporary romance about two strangers who find acceptance and dare to find love while trapped in a pitch-black elevator. Here’s the blurb:

Love looks not with the eyes, but with the mind;
and ther
efore is winged Cupid painted blind.
~William Shakespeare

Makenna James thinks her day can’t get any worse, until she finds herself stuck in a pitch-black elevator with a complete stranger. Distracted by a phone call and juggling too much stuff, the pin-striped accountant caught only a glimpse of a dragon tattoo on his hand before the lights went out.


Caden Grayson is amused when a redhead literally falls at his feet. His amusement turns to panic when the power fails. Despite his piercings, tats, and vicious scar, he’s terrified of the dark and confined spaces. Now, he’s trapped in his own worst nightmare.

To fight fear, they must both reach out and open up. With no preconceived notions based on looks to hold them back, they discover just how much they have in common. In the warming darkness, attraction grows and sparks fly, but will they feel the same when the lights come back on?

What inspired the story?

Hearts in Darkness was an exercise in procrastination! I was in the middle of writing a women’s fiction novel that was not cooperating (now completed), and my brain’s most pronounced form of procrastination is generating new plot bunnies. This was when Hearts came to mind. I like to ask ‘what if’ questions to come up with new ideas, and this particular what if question was inspired by the fact the elevator in my building frequently breaks down. I work in a male-dominated environment, too, so… *grins*


Can you tell the readers what kind of woman Makenna James is? What is her first impression when the lights go out in the elevator and she’s alone with a total stranger?

Makenna James is a smart, compassionate woman with a big heart. She grew up in a household of men and works among mostly men, so she’s come to think of herself as ‘just one of the guys.’ Her very first impression of the stranger in the elevator was that he’s a Good Samaritan (her Good Sam) because he holds the elevator door for her as she’s running down the hall to catch it and fumbling her belongings. It’s been such a bad day for her that, when the power fails, all Makenna can do is laugh. So her initial feeling in the darkness is one of embarrassment, because she’s trying to pull herself out of her hysterics and wondering what the other person must be thinking of her:

Bracing herself as she tried to calm down, she used her free hand to wipe away tears and fan the heat crawling up her face as she remembered Good Sam was in there with her.

Oh God. He probably thinks I’m a complete lunatic.

“Sorry, sorry,” she finally choked out as the laughs turned into occasional chuckles. Now she was laughing at herself.

Good Sam didn’t reply.

“Um, hello? You still with me?”

“Yeah, I’m here. You okay?” His voice resonated in the confined space, surrounded her.

“Um, yeah. I have no idea.” She brushed her hair back off her face and shook her head.

The low sound of his chuckle made her feel a little less ridiculous. “That bad, huh?”

“The worst,” Makenna said and sighed.

The conversation puts her at ease, as does his awkward apology when he accidentally kicks her as he sits down, so she doesn’t feel she has anything to fear.


What kind of man is Caden Grayson? What is his first impression of Makenna when she falls at his feet? What are his first thoughts when the lights go out?

Caden Grayson is a damaged soul, on the inside and out. His survival of a tragic childhood accident that killed people he cared about leads him to want to both help others in similar situations, thus his job as an EMT, and protect himself from the kinds of emotional connections that could cause that kind of pain again. So, his appearance is a bit rough and edgy, and his reclusive nature have left him a bit socially awkward.

His first impression of Makenna is amusement:

Caden Grayson tried not to chuckle at the frazzled redhead careening towards the elevator. Why did women carry so many bags anyway? If it didn’t fit in the pockets of his worn-soft jeans, he didn’t carry it.

As the woman reached down to scoop up her phone—another thing Caden refused to carry unless he was on call—he found himself mesmerized by the way her hair tumbled over her shoulder in a long waterfall of soft, wavy red.

His second impression is a bit more interesting:

Red reached in front of him to press a button. Caden almost laughed when she punched it at least five times. But the laughter died in his throat when he caught the scent of her shampoo. One of the things he loved about women: their hair always smelled like flowers. And that scent, combined with the redness and the softness and the waviness…Caden shoved his hands in his jeans pockets to keep from running his fingers through the thick mass of her hair. But, Christ, how he wanted to, just once.

When the lights go out, it trips the anxiety Caden has struggled with since the accident:

And then Red disappeared, along with everything else, as the elevator jerked to a stop and the lights went out.

Caden gasped and stumbled back into the corner of the elevator. Clenching his eyes, he lowered his head into his hands and counted backwards from ten, trying to remember his breathing techniques, trying to keep from flipping the fuck out.

The confined space of the elevator was one thing—years of therapy had gotten him past that. Mostly. But confined spaces with no lights? No way. The pounding of his heart and tightness in his chest told him that was a complete fucking deal breaker.


I love the book cover. Who is the cover artist? Was this how you imagined the book cover would look?

I am in total love with my cover, too! It’s the work of the brilliant Tricia Schmitt, who is a freelance cover artist with a real up-and-coming career. It’s the feel I imagined, but I was totally confounded about what the cover should be since so much of the story takes place in total darkness (I won’t say how much!). I could not be happier with this cover. Of the three I’ve gotten so far, it’s bar far my favorite.


Do you have a favorite reference book or website?

I have found Susan Bell’s The Artful Edit very useful and it’s shaped my revision process, for sure.


What are your current projects and works in progress?

Happily! The biggest thing I might mention is that I actually have another recent release, my debut paranormal romance, Forever Freed. Forever Freed was the book I actually wrote first and sold first, though Hearts in Darkness released a month earlier. Forever Freed is about a reclusive emphatic vampire who falls in love with a woman he planned to kill and her young daughter, then must fight his ancient grief, bloodlust, lie by omission, and an old vampire rival who threatens everything he holds dear. Here’s the blurb:

My heart may not beat, but that doesn’t mean it’s not broken.

After an isolated century mourning the murder of my long-ago family, I crave the irresistible scents of joy and love that radiate from my new neighbors, a single mother and her young daughter. I’m starved for their blood, and for the healing respite from my ancient grief that will accompany drinking down their life-giving emotions. Now to lure them in.

But they surprise me. Little Olivia accepts me without fear or reservation—talking, smiling, offering innocent affection that tugs at my long-lost humanity. Her mother, Samantha, seeks me out when she should stay away, offering sweet friendship, and calling to the forgotten man in me. They lure me in.

Aw, Dio, Lucien, run and spare them while you can…

Also in the works are two other manuscripts I’ve sold and will be released in 2011: Just Gotta Say is a contemporary erotic romance that will release late this summer from Decadent Publishing, and North of Need is the first in a four-book fantasy romance series based on the Anemoi (directional wind gods the Greeks associated with the seasons), forthcoming from Entangled Publishing in November. My current WIP is a commercial women’s fiction novel tentatively titled The Fantasy Life of a Middle-Aged Wife. I’m in final revisions on that with hopes of querying in June.

They all sound fantastic, too. I have to say the vampire tale has me intrigued. I love paranormal romances. :)

Tell the readers where they can find you:

Find Laura on the interwebz:

Website: http://www.LauraKayeAuthor.com

Blog: http://laurakayeauthor.blogspot.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/home.php#!/laurakayeauthor

Twitter: @laurakayeauthor

Is there anything else you’d like to tell the readers?

Just a great big thanks! I think of my books as a partnership between myself and my readers, and I so value their readership and support!

BUY LINKS FOR HEARTS IN DARKNESS (ebook):

Publisher: http://thewildrosepress.com/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=175_133&products_id=4467

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Hearts-In-Darkness-ebook/dp/B004XJ4WK8/ref=ntt_at_ep_dpt_1

BUY LINKS FOR FOREVER FREED (print and ebook):

Publisher: http://thewildrosepress.com/index.php?main_page=product_info&products_id=4507

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Forever-Freed-ebook/dp/B0051BJ0CM/ref=ntt_at_ep_dpt_2

*****GIVEAWAY: Choice of one of these two ebooks for one commenter who leaves Laura a question and their email address!

Since I excerpted from Hearts in Darkness while answering the questions, here’s a short excerpt from Forever Freed:

Finally I grabbed my phone and started typing: “Are you up?”

Several minutes passed without a response. Samantha was either still asleep or in the shower. I growled my impatience. My phone beeped.

Yes! What are you doing?

“Trying to restrain myself from coming over there and grabbing you so we can leave now.”

Restraint is overrated.

I agreed. Moments later, I stood outside her bedroom window with several small stones I’d found on the curb in front of my house. I tossed the first one up. It clicked against the glass. I tossed three more before Samantha’s face appeared at the window.

She lifted the sash with a wide grin. “What are you doing?”

“I couldn’t wait to see you.”

Her wet hair clung to her face and shoulders. I swallowed hard at the picture of her glistening skin. Her scent was sweet and clean. Her love warmed me.

“Me either. But I want to have breakfast with Ollie, and she won’t wake up for another half hour at least. So you have to be patient a little while longer.”

“I thought restraint was overrated.”

She smiled and bit her bottom lip. “It is. But, in this situation, it’s necessary. Now, go away so I can finish getting ready so we can leave right after breakfast.” She blew me a kiss and pushed the sash back down.

“Sam!” I said loud enough for her to hear but hopefully not loud enough to disturb her neighbors.

“What?” she whispered loudly as she pushed it back up a little.

“I love you.”

“I love you, too. Now go home so I can get dressed!” She lowered the sash, then flattened her palm against the window in a gesture that bid me both good-bye and stay close.


Monday, May 23, 2011

Interview with Marc Vun Kannon


Loose yourself in one of Marc Vun Kannon's tales where the characters come alive and the intense action keeps you glued to the pages until the very end. Let's give Marc Vun Kannon a warm welcome.

***Contest: Marc is giving away one signed copy of St. Martin's Moon to a random commenter. So make sure you leave your email information so Marc may contact you if you should win. Good Luck!


Marc, why don't we start with you telling the readers a little about yourself :

I am a husband, father, and author, in that order. I also write computer code during the day. I build bookshelves at need, and I started a small traveling bookstore when none of the bookstores I could find would stock my book. In short, I'm a reasonable guy who occasionally experiences some unreasonable things, and then I do what I have to do to make things reasonable again. On the oddball side, I like bluegrass music, as well as Gilbert & Sullivan. The G&S might not surprise anyone. The lyrics and extraordinarily witty and hard to sing so naturally I'm drawn to them. I love to learn patter songs (such as 'I am the Very Model of a Modern Major General' or 'The Matter Patter') and Gilbert was the master of that form.

Tell the readers about your new release, St. Martin’s Moon.

St. Martin’s Moon is a werewolf adventure set on a lunar colony. It’s the story of a man, Joseph Marquand, who retired from space service after the death of his lover on the Moon, and becomes Earth’s greatest werewolf hunter. He is unwillingly recalled to duty by a werewolf attack on the Moon itself. His seemingly simple mission starts to go sideways when people on the base react to his mere presence, with hatred, fear, even love. Love twice over, for the spirit of his first love isn’t done with him yet. Yes, Coventry Base is haunted.

What inspired the story?

I was in a bookstore, checking out titles, and I came across a story called ‘Blood Moon’, and I immediately thought “Wow, a werewolf attack on a lunar colony. Great!” Of course it was no such thing, but the second thought I had was “I’m a writer. I can do that!”

But of course, that was only the beginning, and the story I set out to write is not the story I ended up writing. My genres deserted me, but before they did I had discovered a great many really cool characters, and they carried me through the rest of the way. Always trust your characters.

Tell the readers about Joseph Marquand. What kind of a man is he? What are his strengths and his weaknesses?


Joseph Marquand is an ‘operator’, someone who works for the governing body of the solar system, called Triple-S, for Special System Services. If you’ve ever read the Lensmen series by Doc Smith you’ll know what kind of man he is, because only that extremely high caliber of man can be trusted with that degree of power and autonomy. Bold, decisive, clever, ruthless, yet thoughtful, generous, and with a strong sense of himself and his goals. The story begins with him at his lowest ebb, however, four years after his lover Cynthia, a/k/a Bing-Bang, was killed in a freak accident on the Moon, an event he never got over.


Without giving too much away, can you tell the readers about Marquand’s curse?


In the beginning, it seems that the ‘curse’ is merely metaphorical, unresolved grief and all that it leads him to do. He feels himself cursed, that he has to kill people in his job as werewolf hunter, who he feels are probably innocent men and women the rest of the time. Only when he is forced to look up, forced to return to the Moon, does he realize that his curse is more real than that. It was because of this that I ultimately decided to create a new genre category to describe this book: Gothic SF. The SF is genuine, but the gothic elements are not mere SF-equivalents. SF as a genre has no room for ghosts, but Coventry Base really is haunted.


Is there a romance?


Oh, yes. The romance is the heart of the story. I hadn’t originally planned it to be, my first thought was that this was a mystery/horror type of story. By the time I realized I could write in neither genre I already had Candace on the scene. The attraction and mild romantic elements were there but even then I was still thinking of them as secondary. The story convinced me of their importance by refusing to come anywhere close to a resolution without a strong role for the romance to play. Both romances, in fact, since Bing-Bang is still there. This isn’t very unusual, I am a complete pantser, so I don’t decide the nature of the story beforehand. I follow the logic of the characters wherever it leads.


Is this story part of a series? If so, how many books will there be?


It was not intended to be, but I have had some people already ask for more stories with Marquand. I have a short story already written which has his son Robert Marquand as the main character. I’ve also had some ideas for a prequel, of his days shortly after Bing-Bang’s death and how he became a werewolf hunter. The tentative title is A Box of Soul. If Marquand speaks to me more I will certainly write more. My only concern is that whatever comes next not disrupt the HEA he’s already got. I hate it when that happens.


No matter how tragic the hero and heroine's lives are, I want a HEA, too.


Do you have a favorite reference book or website?


I rarely do ‘The Dreaded Research’. My stories are about the characters, not the gizmos. I work those in mainly to lend verisimilitude to an otherwise bald and unconvincing narrative. For St. Martin’s Moon I did as much as I have ever done, which was a few minutes googling techniques for mining lunar dust for the chemical elements needed to build a lunar colony with. For the werewolves I recommend a complete viewing of every Universal Pictures wolfman movie.


What are your current projects and works in progress?

As usual I have several projects running at any given time. Depending on my mood I'm working on either Ghostkiller, a novel about a man who kills ghosts for a living, or perhaps Tales of Uncle, the third book in my Tarkas series, which began in Unbinding the Stone and continued in A Warrior Made. I also have some short stories, vampires, SF, or both, that I work on as they decide to tell me what to write.

Tell the readers where they can find you:

My website has many links and other info about my various projects, especially those that have been completed already. For projects in the works I blog about those extensively.

Is there anything else you’d like to tell the readers?

Everybody has their own way of writing. I discovered mine by simply writing, doing what felt comfortable to me, and finding ways to not write the sort of things I didn’t like to read, descriptive prose, for example. The only real advice I can give is to pay attention to your life. Everything you will have to put into a book comes from there. Write the kind of book you want to read.

Marc, thank you so much for sharing your new SF/Gothic tale with us today. It sounds fantastic. I wish you the very best with all yo do.

Excerpt:

The game was afoot. The hunters hunted, the prey prayed.

Joseph Marquand ran. It was his turn. His partners waited patiently at the covert, waiting for that which they hunted to arrive, under his gentle guidance. It would not do to disappoint them.

There! The church sign, some feast day for a saint he'd never heard of, which made it perfect to remember his directions. Turn right, he thought with grim humor, and go straight. Provided their prey obliged him by going the same way, of course. Here comes the hard part.

The Runner on the team carried no weapon, nothing to slow him. Strategy ruled this night, rather than physical prowess. In this case, little glass spheres, filled with something pheromonal and potent, would keep the prey off guard and focused. One thing the Runner needed, he had to have balls. He used them now, hurling them there–and there. His prey ran faster. So did he.

At last, the home stretch. A straight alley, no windows, no ladders, nothing but the special red carpet laid out for him, and his men just beyond, in the…tangled wreckage?

Something very large and very nasty rose from the ruins of the covert. He couldn't see it clearly, didn't need to, didn't want to. His memory could fill in the details the light of the full moon mercifully hid.

Oh, Christ, two of them!

One of him in between, with no weapon.

The one ahead leapt straight up and out, landing heavily right in Marquand's path, jaws open to catch the prey running straight into them. The creature behind howled its anger, its prey being usurped by another. The one in front looked up at the greater threat.

They weren't social creatures. Nice to know, but it sucked to be the one to find out. Marquand's knees buckled.

He dove forward, right between the legs of the creature before him, onto the mat laid out for his return. Wet and slick, he slid right down into the ruined covert, even as the front beast bent double looking for its prey.

Marquand grabbed one of the fallen weapons and shot, hitting it right in the butt. Even as the beast fell, writhing, the other one leapt over it and–

Tripped. It slid forward, unprepared and unable to keep its balance on the wet mat. Marquand watched it come towards him, jaws open, as he frantically chambered a second shell and tried to get the barrel pointing in the right direction. The beast helped, catching the barrel in its mouth and swallowing it, right up to the crossbar that prevented it from getting any further. Marquand and his men couldn't chance getting bitten.

He fired.

The beast slid backward under the force of the shot, until it ran into the body of its former rival, now inert. Neither one got up.

Marquand didn't wait. If they were going to get up they would have by now. His men had to be seen to. Now. If any had survived, survival being loosely defined–well, he hated most parts of the job, the Sad Duty most of all. Its only saving grace was that if it had to be done at all, it had to be done quickly.

No. No survivors. Thank God.

What a world, what a life, what a thing to be thankful for. He despised himself in that moment. What he'd become. So much lost. "I need a vacation." Department policy agreed with him, but he didn't really, and he knew it.

He knew what he needed, what he would never have again. He'd just have to fake it. Like he always did.

* * *

The game was afoot. The hunters hunted, even the prey preyed.

She ran. It was her turn. They were four to her one, good odds. She'd almost forgotten the thrill of the chase.

There! The right shaft. A headfirst plunge, and a quick pull on her preferred level. Wouldn't do to lose her pursuers too early. Here comes the hard part.

She carried no lures, nothing that would slow her. Strategy ruled the day rather than physical prowess, and this level housed Stink Central. She ran faster.

Something very large and dark stepped out from the shadows at the intersection. She couldn't see it clearly, didn't need to, didn't want to. Dammit, two of them. They cheated!

The one ahead took up a posture designed to capture her no matter how she moved. The usual move, slow and crude. She would show them how to do it.

Her knees buckled and she dove forward, right between the legs of the creature before her. It would hurt, but only her body. Her pride mattered far more.

At the last moment, her attacker moved, closing the gap in its defense so smoothly it must have known about it all along. A trap.

Ha! We'll see who's trapped! She prepared to move, the second her body hit the ground and she had traction once again.

Her attacker fell backward, flung itself onto the hard stone. She went up, pinned between those legs. The ground flew by under her, and she crashed in an undignified heap several steps away. She didn't bother trying to escape.

Beaten.

Her attacker moved to step over her. She saw the hair, the face, and sagged even further. Bossman's right hand…everything. "Bitch."

The other woman didn't move. "Very true," she said, in the voice of doom. She turned her head, at the sound of the pounding feet of the original pursuit, finally catching up. "Which part of 'forbidden' do you not understand?"

To their credit, none even attempted a defense. She knew they never would have caught the one at her feet. If she hadn't gotten there first–

"You're lucky the boss is busy. Triple-S is coming, and we've all got bigger things to worry about than you lot. Get out of here." They drifted away from her, even the girl, her spirits dashed. Hopefully not for too long. They had her sympathy.

She knew what they needed, what none of them would ever have again. They'd just have to fake it. Like she did.


Other Tales by Marc: