Today I am talking to the author, Kathryn R. Blake. Her newest novel is Deadly Enchantment, which features a shape shifting wizard and a woman seeking the truth. There is a lot of to enjoy about this novel with being different than any stories I have read before. And without further ado some questions for the wonderful author.
With Deadly Enchantment, was there a lot of research that you had to do?
Yes. I needed to research Victorian funerals and mourning clothes. I found some interesting sites, and purchased some intriguing books on the subject. Victorian funerals were grandiose pageants intended to bid a loved one farewell. Even the poorest of families did not scrimp on their funeral arrangements. I researched not only the clothing and the many superstitions the Victorians had around death, but their methods of preserving the body, what an Anglican priest would say during a funeral, and how the family entered and sat in the church. Another area of research I did was on large cats, panthers in particular. I was particularly interested in the sounds a panther makes and their movements either when relaxed or fighting. I am a dog person, so I really had to research cats, since I’ve never owned one.
Was there a particular aspect that you liked the most about writing this book?
What I like writing most, in all my books, is the dialogue. That’s where the characters come alive for me. I think that’s why I enjoyed writing Terrence so much. His dialogue was something I hardly had to revise at all. It just flowed. Based on my perception of his character, I knew exactly what he would say or do. Okay, this is probably going to weird out anyone who has read the book, but Terrence’s first scene, with the maid, was a scene I’ve always wanted to write. I patterned it after a scene in “The Once and Future King” where Morgana decided to toy with a spell simply because she was bored. In that scene her “victim” was a cat.
Did you enjoy writing one character more than any other or were there no favorites?
I enjoyed writing Serena and Dominic’s many clashes, but probably my favorite character to write was Terrence. He was such a nasty villain. Exceedingly cruel, yet appeared to be a perfectly cultured and refined gentleman. It’s the villains that appear to be one thing, yet are really another, that fascinate me the most.
In particular was it difficult writing about Terrence and the house he lived in? Since he was the villain after all.
Not really. On the outside there was nothing special or remarkable about Terrence’s home. It was just an ancestral manor entailed to the Lynwood earldom, and similar to the many other manors owned by peers of the realm. What was most challenging for me was creating his subterranean workshop, deep in the bowels of the earth in the manor’s former dungeon. I actually did some research on wizards and real men in history who were believed to be wizards. Some of the artifacts in Terrence’s workshop are reportedly real and exist today.
With this book, since it was different than Mortal Illlusions, difficult to write?
Each book presents its own challenge. Both in Mortal Illusions and in Deadly Enchantment I was creating a paranormal world that existed, mostly in secret, within the normal, mortal world. The black moment in both books, where the problems are so insurmountable that the reader can’t imagine how the hero and heroine will ever get together, was a challenge. I definitely write romances with the requisite HEA (happily ever after) ending, so the reader knows in her heart that everything has to work out, she’s just not sure how the characters are going to manage it. With Claire in Mortal Illusions, I believe the reader knows there’s an “out clause” that would enable her to survive. However, in Deadly Enchantment I have created a situation that I’m not sure the reader has any idea how it’s going to work out. From the start I knew who I needed to kill, and who I needed to do the killing, but at the beginning I had no idea how I was going to accomplish that. In Mortal Illusions that wasn’t the case. I knew from the start what the ending needed to be.
When you write is there a certain kind of music you like to listen to or do you prefer a quiet room?
When working on my 18th Century trilogy, the books of my heart which may never see the light of day, I used to listen to classical music. Mozart mainly, with a little Vivaldi, Rachmaninoff and Tchaikovsky thrown in. Now I usually work in a quiet room. Not sure if it’s a preference, exactly, or if it developed simply because I didn’t want to take the time to select the music then load a cassette or a CD. I’m doing a lot of traveling, now, so I used to carry a CD player with me and listen to music while I wrote in the hotel. I just stopped doing that. Things, like my jewelry case, have disappeared out of my luggage, which is heavy enough as it is. So why carry something that you may not be able to use? I now have a PDA (HP IPAQ personal desk assistant) which I usually carry on my person, and I listen to audio books at night.
Where do you come up with your story ideas?
In a variety of ways, that includes reading other books and thinking how it might have been different “if…” Mortal Illusion was based more on a question or idea. How far would you be willing to go in order to save a loved one from dying? Deadly Enchantment was based on the premise of two half-brothers, one legitimate and one illegitimate, with the legitimate one envying something that his younger illegitimate brother received without even trying. Something that the boy who would inherit his father’s title always wanted but could never seem to get no matter what he did--his father’s love. A lot of scenes I actually work out in my dreams. I’m working on Marcus’s story now. For those who may not know, Marcus was the hero’s best friend in Mortal Illusions. This story is more like Mortal Illusions in that it is based more on a question or idea, I think. How far is Marcus willing to go just to scare others away, and would he be willing to hurt the woman he’d fallen for in order to meet his goal?
What do you think the level of sensuality/heat is in your books? What can readers expect from your books with respect to sensuality and sexual content?
I think my books are extremely sensual and very hot, but avoid crossing over into what NCP considers carnal. Mortal Illusions was rated as spicy, which is hotter than sensual, while Deadly Enchantment is rated only sensual by NCP, where I think it’s hotter than that. I am not comfortable writing erotica, so my readers can expect my books will continue to walk the tightrope that separates the two. From what I’ve already plotted out, Marcus’s story is going to be the most sensual of them all. Of course, things change as you begin to develop your characters more fully. Again, this is my perception, readers may feel differently. I’m always interested to hear what readers have to say about my books, and encourage them to e-mail me.
What influenced you to get published?
I think every writer almost always wants to get published. Publication is a validation that what you’re creating has been found good enough for others to read and enjoy. I sought out NCP, because at nearly 150,000 words, I thought Mortal Illusions was simply too large for a NY print company to purchase from an unagented, new author. I don’t have that particular problem with Deadly Enchantment, since it came in at around 73,000 words, less than half the size of Mortal Illusions. I stayed with New Concepts Publishing since they indicated that in order for them to consider putting Mortal Illusions into print; they would need another book from me. I will most likely offer Marcus’s Story to them as well since it goes hand-in-hand with Mortal Illusions, and some characters from that book reappear in the new one.
Any advice you have to writers? It is good to hear a lot from different points of view.
Keep with it, and don’t give up if writing for publication is your dream. In this month’s Writer’s Digest, Laurel K. Hamilton referred back an advice article she read by Ray Bradbury. She said, “He said to pick a small room in your house and paper it with rejection slips. By the time you’ve papered it, you’ll have gotten published.” For LKH, it didn’t take the whole room. That wasn’t what I did, but I think its good advice if you can do it.
Thank you so much for taking the time to answer my questions and I encourage the readers to go get Deadly Enchantment. It is well worth your time.