Coffee Time Romance & More





Welcome; I would like to take this opportunity to thank Ms. Julia Kaye (Tabitha Bradley) for taking time out of her busy schedule to answer some questions for Coffee Time Romance. Today we are asking Ms. Kaye about THE PEACEKEEPER. And also to find out about some of her other works.

Can you please tell us a little about your background? When did you first decide that you wanted to be a writer?

I grew up loving Fantasy and Science Fiction, but always wanted to see more female main characters.  I never wanted to be Princess Leia, I wanted to be Luke Skywalker.  I remember from a very early age wondering why Princess Leia waited around to get rescued.

I loved creating my own stories my entire life, but actually began writing around sixth grade.  Even then, I was envisioning sagas rather than single stories.

What or who are your most important writing influences and why?

My dad introduced me to my earliest writing influences, J. R. R. Tolkien and Ray Bradbury.   The depth of Tolkien's world, his attention to detail and his sense of great history made a definite impact on me as a young storyteller.  Bradbury's fascination with the written word, the poetry of story and his pure love of the craft, the pure lyricism that shows in all of his work has been equally important.  It was Bradbury and Tolkien who inspired me to begin to create my own stories.

Anne McCaffery, Roger Zelazny and J. K. Rowling are some of the authors who have influenced me over the years as well.  I am particularly fond of these three authors because of several reasons.  Anne, because she was a romance novelist as well as a science fiction writer and she continues to be one of the best Science Fiction authors who incorporate solid romance plots into her books.  Roger's Amber Chronicles has been one of the most fascinating fiction works I have ever read, because, even before I was born, he was crossing genres before people even knew what that was, and remains to this day, one of the best at it.  Of course, many people love J. K. Rowling's Harry Potter books.  I love them because she can tell an entertaining story without insulting the intelligence of her readers, no matter what their age is.  She can convince a reader of the reality of her world without using pages and pages of exposition to do it and her characters are realistic and approachable, which is important in fantastic fiction.  In fact, the more fantastic the story is, the more important it is.

What do you like most about being a writer? What do you like the least?

Story crafting.  The creative part of writing, whether it's writing, editing or laying out a plot, that is the part I love.

I also enjoy interacting with the readers.  I'm still relatively new at the professional aspect of published writing and the interest that people show in my work is thrilling.  It's fun to talk to people about my stories and have them actually want to talk about them with me.

It's pretty easy to say that the part I like the least is the business side.  Things like writing submission letters and dealing with the day to day paperwork of career writing.  I'm not a promo or sales writer, but it helps to know a little bit about that to write press releases and cover copy.

What do you consider to be the key elements of a great story?

Engaging characters.  Characters need not be likable, but they should be understandable and interesting.  And they should change in some way during the course of the novel. A solid plot.  The plot doesn't have to be complex, in fact, most readers seem to prefer a straightforward plot rather than a convoluted one.  I'm not saying simple, but straightforward.  About the only time I've seen people say otherwise is when they're talking about mysteries.  I wouldn't recommend more than two plots in any one story unless it's planned to be a long novel or a series of interconnected novels. Good writing.  Even the best characters and plot can be assassinated by bad or mediocre writing.  An author needs to know how to write first, before they can break the rules.  I've read too many potentially wonderful stories that were ruined by poor writing.  Many of these were published in one way or another.  I'd say that good writing, done by an author who knows how to do it correctly, is the most important element of a great story.  Learning how to write fiction properly is something that anyone can do and it's not hard.

Do you have specific rituals or a routine that you follow when you write?

I should really.  But I don't.

I have a process, but I never approach the points of the process the same way each time.   Over the years, I've developed particular things that I always do, such as, determine where the book is going, sketch out a rough idea of what I want to do with it, determine how many words I am shooting for and get a character list set up.  Depending on where it's set, it may be a matter of hitting the library or internet for research and data collection, or rereading the appropriate setting articles to refresh my memory on previously used races, characters or worlds.

I may also listen to music that's appropriate to the genre or setting and watch films or TV programs that help with research or setting the mood.  

I am very music oriented and have an extensive 'mood music' collection with playlists for many different settings.

Most romance authors are also avid readers. What genre do you most enjoy reading? Who are your favorite writers?

In romance, I read historical, regency and futuristic.  I like cross-genre science fiction and fantasy with romance elements and I read quite a bit of erotica, from traditional to "Penthouse Letters" type of erotic fiction.

Some of my favorite romance authors have been Jennifer Wilde (Tom E. Huff), Jude Deveraux, Janelle Taylor and Johanna Lindsey.  The first Futuristic romance I ever read was Johanna Lindsey's "Warrior's Woman" which, as I understand it, was the first romance set in a Science Fiction setting that was ever published.  When I read that, I was amazed and it gave me hope that there would be more SF romances published in the future.  While there definitely is more available now, I really wish that there were a much larger selection available from the traditional publishers.  Many readers I have spoken with feel the same way.

Perhaps that will be where my focus will turn in the future.

What do you like to write the most? Is there any genre you feel uncomfortable attempting to write?

The kind of Science Fiction I write is really better described as Science Fantasy, or Space Opera.  Though I don't consider it the same thing as Traditional Fantasy, it's not straight Science Fiction.  Romance readers and publishers might consider it Futuristic, so I'll go with that.  

I'd say it's a toss-up between Futuristic and Fantasy.  Both of the genres have fun elements and problems.  Ask me that question last week and I would have said Fantasy.   Next week, it may be Futuristic.  

I've had some fun writing contemporary romance with a Pagan slant, something I have never done before, but it was a new experience for me, so I'd say I am still much more comfortable in Fantasy and Futuristic.

I am not comfortable writing straight contemporary (without some kind of unusual element, like New Age or Paganism), Hard SF, Cyberpunk or Hard Horror.  While I write Dark, and I like scary fiction, I don't like blood, gore and excessive death.

When I kill a character in a book, there's a damn good reason and each death makes a point.  Someone is affected by that death.  While characters die often in my books, I don't rack up the body count.

I have just read Peacekeeper. What inspired this intriguing futuristic novel?

Peacekeeper has been a book that's been on my mind for nearly 7 years.  It's taken quite a while to get to the point where I felt that I could write it and finish it and when I did, it took me three months.

These characters have been with me for over fifteen years.  I had known that I needed to tell Gaston's story for a very long time, he is a very deep, involved man and the events in Peacekeeper are pivotal to his character.  I was fascinated to watch the story finally unfold as I wrote it, because it answered questions I'd had for years, questions I knew could only be answered by writing his story down.  It's not pretty sometimes, but it's true to him.  It defines who he is in the future by giving the readers a glimpse of what he was like before this story happened.  

Many authors say that their characters "speak" to them. Did you have that experience with Gaston and Alex or with any of the other characters in Peacekeeper?

Oh very much so.  I'm not sure I couldn't write a story about a character that didn't seem real to me in some way.  I've been writing Gaston and Alex in one way or another since before 1990, so I've gotten to know them especially well.

Dorrian is another character I've known for quite a while.  He's not one who has changed much at all, so he's extremely reliable to get a scene going if it's slowing down.  I have other characters like him who have been with me for years and who are solid characters who don't seem to change, but do grow over time.  Tamara Sable, Joshua Wetfire and March Tramani are some of the other solid, anchor characters that help keep things on track.

Many of the other characters are newer, and there are some, like Samuel, Cassandra and Taggart who have been changed quite a bit over the years.

Some of the characters I had the most fun writing in this book were, Alex & Gaston, Taggart, Jeron and Cassi.

Is Peacekeeper part of a series? Are there any related books that readers should look for?

Peacekeeper is the anchor book of the Dirandan Chronicles series.  I will be releasing the next book in the series sometime next year as well as a collection of short stories and a mini-series of Nuggets, "The Misadventures of Alex T'Kayn, Treasure Hunter". "The Misadventures of Alex T'Kayn" is a series of short stories that's written in the style of Golden Era serials, with a definite erotic twist.  This series of stories follow Alexandra T'Kayn through her first treasure hunting adventures and will continue up until the events that occur just before "Arcadia".  I'll probably continue to write this series as long as there are stories to tell, letting them fill in the gaps of time between the Peacekeeper novels. I do have a collection of earlier Dirandan work that is still available through Renaissance E-Books, including the short story collection, "Diranda: Tales from the Fifth Quadrant", which is all Dirandan Chronicles short stories.  This book won the Dream Realm Award for Best Anthology.

My first published novel, "Arcadia" is still available for sale from Renaissance.  I am in the process of rewriting this book.  It may be included as part of the "Misadventures" series as a novella, or I may decide to make it a novel-length work again.  However the new edition of this book will be quite different from the current work, though the important elements of the plot won't change much.  It should be available next year, mid summer at the earliest.

Is there anything else you would like us to know about the futuristic world of Diranda or the people that populate it?

Oh my!  There's so much about Diranda and the Fifth Quadrant that I'd love to share with readers.  What I'm doing right now is building an information base on my website:

Now that Gaston is Director and High King, things are going to change in the Directorate.   Some for the better... some for the worse.  Alex is still treasure hunting and playing drums, but she's learning more about her history and Diranda than she ever realized.  As a matter of fact, she's discovered a series of books that tell a story eerily like her own...

Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?

Aspiring authors need to do two things.  

1: Learn the craft of writing.  Fiction writing is different than English or even the Creative Writing taught in school.  One of the best ways to learn what to do and what not to do is read books in the genre you want to write in.  For aspiring Futuristic authors that means reading Science Fiction or Fantasy as well as Futuristic Romances.  If you're going to write the genres, know the genres.  It is my opinion that one can't learn to write Futuristic Romance without knowing how Science Fiction and Fantasy stories are put together.  Pick up a good book or two on the craft of writing.  I recommend Writer's Digest books as far as writer's guides go.  These books are consistently good, solid sources of information.   Besides that, pick up Ray Bradbury's "Zen In The Art of Writing".  Read Anne McCaffery.

2: Write.  Write whenever you can.  Whenever an idea strikes you.  But don't force yourself to write.  If you sit staring at your computer or notebook for more than 5 minutes and nothing comes up, go do something else.  Wash dishes, clothes, vacuum, clean the house, do something constructive that changes the way your environment is after you're done, and don't dwell on the fact that you can't write a word.  Think about other things.  Enjoy yourself.  Find a creative hobby like crochet, knitting, clay sculpting, stringing bead bracelets, building towers with Legos, it doesn't matter, it should be something creative that you use your hands to do.  Don't play on the computer or watch movies or TV.  You need to move.  Take up an exercise routine, like Yoga, Tai Chi or bicycling, to keep your body active.  The more you move around, the better your brain works.  You'll find yourself writing the next time you sit down to do it.

To keep yourself writing, or kick-start your writing try National Novel Writing Month this November.  It's a fun, free month long contest.  The goal is to write 50,000 words / 175 pages in 30 days.  The point is to write, not to plot or spend time dwelling on your novel.   At first I thought it was the silliest thing I'd ever heard of, but I looked into it anyway and ended up having an amazingly good time.  

If it hadn't been for NaNoWriMo helping me kick-start my writing, I wouldn't have gotten my first book published.  You can find out more about NaNoWriMo here:   

Can you tell us about any books that you are working on at the moment?

I'm in the middle of a Dirandan Clan Wars era novel, which is a much more Traditional Fantasy setting, but has strong influences on the Peacekeeper era characters. The rewrite of Arcadia is also in the works, I'm planning my NaNoWriMo novel as well and am in the middle of the third book of the Misadventures series.

I have just begun plotting the next Peacekeeper book, tentatively titled: Peacemaker.  It will most likely be taking place five years after the end of Peacekeeper.

Is there anything else you would like to share about your work?

Peacekeeper has been entered in the 2005 EPPIE awards, and I'm hoping it will do well.  I think it's definitely a good enough book to give the others a run for their money.  Well, coming out from eXtasy Books in October is my contemporary Halloween romance novel, "Once In A Blue Moon".  Wiccan shop owner Regina must figure out how to save her Sedona Witch shop from the villainously handsome Phoenix lawyer, Jack Drake, who wants to foreclose on her mortgage.  It's a fun story that I think readers will really enjoy. I'm sure many of my regular readers will notice I have changed my pen-name from Tabitha Bradley to Julia Kaye.  I like the new pen-name better, it's more romantic and I think, appropriate for the kinds of books I'm writing and want to write in the future.  Besides, it looks really pretty on the Peacekeeper cover!

Where can readers find your books, and how can they contact you?

Readers visiting my website, The Official Dirandan Chronicles Website can find all of my books listed on that site's Books page, along with links to the publisher's website where they can be purchased.  Look for Julia Kaye's books at eXtasy Books and Tabitha Bradley's on Renaissance E-Books as well. eXtasy also lists me under Tabitha Bradley and will for a while for readers convenience.

My YahooGroup, The Dirandan Chronicles, combines a newsletter, discussion group and chatters loop, featuring exclusive excerpts, contests and fun polls.  Everything is discussed here, not just the Dirandan stories.  You can reach it here

I can be reached through my website and my publisher, eXtasy Books.

Finally, any last thoughts?

I'm looking forward to seeing how readers like "Peacekeeper", "Once In A Blue Moon" and the new Dirandan Clan War fantasy series.  I'm hoping they enjoy them as much as they enjoy the current books.  

I'm glad that readers like my stories as much as I do, and I'll continue writing them as long as people continue reading them, and beyond that.  I love to write and I'm thrilled that my stories are being so well received.

I love to hear from readers, so please feel free to contact me.

I want to thank Ms. Kaye on behalf of Coffee Time Romance for chatting with us today.







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