Good Afternoon Kayelle! There is a lot of pressure and competition in becoming an author. What made you decide to take a leap and become a writer?
It was a goal since I was a child. My mother wrote poetry and fiction, and I caught the bug from her. I came home from the first day of school, having learned how to write and read the word cat, among other things. I told my mother now I could write a story about cats. Literally, my first book was about a guy who was half-humand and half-Kin, a feline race. I had forgotten about that vow until someone asked me this question for the first time.
I like to get to know the authors who I read and follow, so tell us a little bit about yourself. Are you a homebody? Does your writing rule your world? Where do you like to write? Do you listen to music or do you have to have complete silence? Are your characters a product of people you know or meet?
I’m a major introvert. During the pandemic, little changed about my life, and for once, I didn’t feel guilty for not being with other people. Now, I’m ready to start back up making new friends and going places. It was a nice breather. I wrote three books over the last year. I was fortunate to be in a safe place, and I hunkered down and stayed there. I have my own office and I can shut the door. I prefer to compose at the keyboard, but I keep pens and pads all over the house so I can make notes when the mood or idea strikes. I also make notes in my phone. When I’m composing, I like having music in the background. I prefer instrumental most of the time, and listen to groups like Audiomachine, Epic North, Two Steps from Hell (very bad name – they are heavenly), Really Slow Music, and lately, a group that plays ancient Viking instruments and has recreated their music, Danheim. What characters aren’t a mishmash of people we know? Mine certainly are, though I have the standard disclaimer in every book saying it wasn’t my intention. There’s no one person who could point to my characters and go, “that’s me” — but they are all real enough for anyone to think they have some aspect of themselves in the mix.
I think that a good book should move me in some way. What do you use to hook readers? Do you start out with action, drama, heartbreak, instalove, etc? How do you personalize your characters to allow your readers to become invested in them?
I like to open stories with a scene that shows the main character in a positive light. Some endearing or admirable quality. I’ve heard it referred to as a “save the cat” moment. The hero saves a cat from a tree and the audience thinks, “Aha! Good guy.” Then you can show their issues and foibles. People will accept them. Here’s a good example, from the sci-fi series, The Expanse. One of the first scenes with Chrisjen Avasarala (played by Shohreh Aghdashloo – one of my favorite actresses) shows her playing with her grandchild. He heaves a ball at her, and she chases him down swearing he deserves a good tickling. You warm to her right away. Not ten minutes later, she’s torturing someone to gain information. If the story had started with the torture scene, you’d have never believed she’d just tickle her grandchild for smacking her with a ball. There’s no way you’d have been sympathetic to her cause.
In my book, Ring of the Dragon, I begin with Pietas, the immortal king, worrying because his former lover is about to visit and the living quarters lack “warmth”. Pietas’s psychic ability is to freeze people and things, and he’s clearly concerned that he doesn’t do that. He and his android servant have a comical interaction where Pietas is trying to make things “homey” but the android has no clue what that entails. Within a scant few minutes, Pietas loses control of his temper and kills every plant in sight by freezing them solid. If I’d shown him killing things by losing his temper first, no one would have sympathized with how lonely he was and how desperate he was to win his lover back. Here’s a line from the story.
What if he thought Pietas was desperate? Because he wasn’t. Clearly. He was a king. A king wasn’t desperate for some old lover.
Yet Pietas had changed clothes three times, rearranged his hair, brought plants in and had a meltdown when they didn’t look right. A king who had a meltdown over plants wouldn’t be sympathetic. So showing him going through agony of decisions that would please his ex made him vulnerable and therefore likeable. And showed how seriously funny this character could be. Though my books are not comedies as such, there’s a lot of humor in what I write. Even the minor characters have personalities.
I always ask writers about their research methods. I cannot imagine trying to mimic speech, culture, and characters for futuristic worlds. How do you create the world your characters and stories take place in? Do you have a method, or do you just make your world the way you want it? Do you use truth, fiction, or a mixture of both?
I had years where all I did was play with ideas and didn’t really write. I was fifty before I realized time was passing and I wasn’t accomplishing the goal to write. My first book came out when I was fifty-three. I created a beautiful map of the galaxy (readers can download a copy when they choose what types of books they like to read), and it has all the various empires and planets marked. I wrote a future history spanning over 10,000 years, created Tradestandard laws for the Tarthian Empire, a lexicon (30+ pages) of the Kin language (my feline race), and a guidebook for immortals who are relocating to Tarth. I research depending on what I need to know (genetics, space travel, astronomy, archaeology). I studied how to create a language when I wrote the Kin language, Felis. So it’s a mixture of truth and absolute fiction. Near as I know, there is no feasible way to cross the galaxy in a week, but my immortals have tech that will do it. I call it “handwavium sci-fi.” I just wave my hand and say, “it happens.” *wink*
Your website is one of the best I have visited. It is themed to the books you write and the places you create. What made you decide to make your website your books’ entire world? I had fun just clicking through all the different pages and I found myself caught up looking at everything.
Thank you! I’m so excited to hear that. I wanted my readers to step into my worlds and lose track of where they were. I’m always looking for ways to make my universe more real. When I first set up my website (back in 2004) I knew nothing about websites. I now know that I still don’t know enough to manage it all on my own, but I discovered Dee Carver of Personalized Marketing Inc through a friend who used her services. Dee has managed my site for almost five years. I create all the content, but Dee designed the theme specifically for me and she maintains it. If you spent time poking around, then it’s doing what it was designed to do! I hope you checked out the tour of the empire. There are 22 planets and you can visit each one. I want to develop that part more and I have other plans as well.
I understand you are coordinating a live cosplay for your characters with the Russian cosplayer Nik Nitsvetov as your character Pietas; I love the idea of seeing the characters of my books come to life. I think it is a fantastic event; what got your started in cosplaying your books? Do you find that it is good advertisement?
I was stunned to see how much Nik looked like Pietas. The first time I saw him, he was cosplaying Sephiroth from Final Fantasy, and he was magnificent. Because Pietas has long blond hair as well, and has an attitude worthy of the fiercest villain, seeing Nik as this character was both a delight and a shock. I realized I was literally looking into the eyes of my immortal king. It took me a year to get up the courage to talk to Nik. When I finally got brave enough to ask if he’d cosplay my character, he asked for more info. Since then, he’s cosplayed Pietas three times and I hope will do it once more. Nik’s girlfriend, Julia, is his photographer, and she’s a master at using light and shadow. I have well over fifteen hundred photos of him from all three events, and I’ve used them in banners, posters, memes, and book covers. He’s all over my site. I even have him in a couple videos. My Youtube channel has a playlist called Meet Pietas and Nik is in almost all of it.
I see you have begun a new series wrapped around the Antonello brothers. Can you tell us a little bit about the brothers and the upcoming release “Ring of the Dragon”?
The Antonello Brothers are (currently) Senth and Khyff, two young adults who each grew up not knowing the other was alive. When they are reunited, the empire is never the same. The youngest, Senth, was adopted by Luc (one of the immortals). That story is told in A Stolen Heart, one of my very favorite books to write. Senth is three years old and a pickpocket who steals your money and your heart. In Bro, he meets Khyff for the first time. Senth falls in love in At the Mercy of Her Pleasure, and Khyff meets his spouse in For Women Only. I am currently plotting a fifth story in that series called Crystal Clear Truth, in which we meet a third brother who was adopted at birth by another family. In Ring of the Dragon, which is in the Antonello Brothers: Immortal series, we’re focusing on Pietas trying to win back Luc. The next book in the series, Forever Love, was released on May 13th.
Do you have anything to add or say to our readers?
I’d love for you to come sign up for my newsletter. You’ll get a free book right away, plus a series of short emails welcoming you to the universe. You can then sign up to become a citizen of the empire, and once you are, become an immortal. Each step in the various journeys brings you goodies, member exclusives, and the opportunity to read my books for free by joining my review team. I love answering questions and look forward to getting to know you better.
Kayelle, thank you for spending time with us today and giving some wonderfully insightful responses and sharing your experiences with our readers. I look forward to reading more from you in the future.