Ninjas and Pirates and Zombies, Oh My! – Interviewing Molly Burkhart

** Cross-posted at the Review blog

When a good man is hard to find, there’s only one thing to do. Buy One.

1. You write about the oddest things. I love that about you! Office Mercenary kicked-ass. (And it’s free, yo!) I know you’re going to hate me for this question but I figure I might as well get it out of the way and plus I REALLY want to know. Where do you get your ideas? It seems like they come from random conversations with your sister.

Actually, my ideas come from all over the place. LOTS of them come from conversations with Sis, with Pesh, with Dave, with just about everybody I know. I love a good conversation. However, some of them just spring from that bottomless pit in the middle of my head. Heh. The Office Mercenary (and you are SO cool for reading that one!) came from a conversation with Jody, a friend at the office where I used to work. We got to talking about how, no matter how much the office environment sucks, it’d be the same anywhere else, and how we’re paid not to do our jobs but to get along with the crazy people we’re stuck working with. Viola. The Mercenary was born.

Need, on the other hand (another freebie), just kinda came out of nowhere, as did Swelter. Sundown, another freebie short story I hope to get up on my site soon, was written toward a specific anthology that didn’t materialize. I have lots of short stories like that.

Also, some stories I write because I come up with an awesome character that I’ll plot a story around. That’s where Lorekeeper sprouted from. The Diplomat just demanded his own story. Honestly, though you’ll hate me for saying it, heh, just about anything can set me off in story-telling mode. Sorry!

I read Need. It was smokin’. Need to get my butt in gear and read Swelter, and of course, My Gigolo.

Bless your heart!

2. You write as G.B. Kensignton as well as your real name, Molly Burkhart. Is this for genre branding purposes or something else?

Um…*sheepish*…I write as GB Kensington when I’d blush if someone knew it was written by me. Ha!
3. Hee! Even though you’re a debut author, you’ve been writing for awhile now. Which goes without saying to writers but might not be something that even enters the mind of readers. Do you have a “process” down pat, and if so, care to share?

Well, Joely – my beloved sister – might be a better person to ask about process. I honestly don’t have any specific one. It kinda differs for whatever story I’m writing. Even the length of the story changes how I write it. Say, for a short story, I’ll get an idea but not start it right away. Then, when I’ve let it marinate in the bottomless pit for a while, I’ll sit down at the ol’ keyboard and crank it all out in one sitting. I’ve even done that for novellas. For longer works, sometimes that works and sometimes it doesn’t.

My Gigolo was a special kind of beast in its creation. I knew what it was about and how it would go and how it would end from almost the beginning. It was the first novel-length story I knew front to back before I even sat down to write. I got the first 2/3 down in just a few weeks… then stalled. Big time. Couldn’t write a coherent sentence to save my life.

I wrote a few other things, then tried to dig back in. I swear I wrote twenty different next scenes. I got so frustrated because the characters weren’t cooperating that I wrote in a psycho gunman who just kicked down the door and mowed everyone down, Arnie-with-a-minigun style. Admittedly, that was kinda awesome. I got really detailed with the blood spatter patterns and such.

Then one day, I just said “Hell with it” and wrote the last 30K or so in one weekend. There were probably six or seven months between the stall and the finish, and there I was just… done. It was weird. Can’t explain it.
4. Who are your inspirations? Be they other authors, musicians, artists, directors, etc.

Well, one big inspiration will always be my sister. Joely is a machine, I tell you. She’s brilliant, but she’s also got a will of iron, and I admire that like nothing else. How she finds time to crank out so much work while juggling a job and a husband and kids and housework and and and will always be beyond me.

Other inspirations are Stephen King (of course; would that we were all so prolific!), Guillermo del Toro (gotta love those gear-lovers!), and even certain bands like Saliva and Stone Sour. Some of their lyrics are so potent, some of the music so driving that it’s like I just HAVE to write when I listen to it. Even if it has nothing to do with the current plot, their music makes me want to put words on a page.

To an extent, I have to say that directors like George Lucas have left their mark, too. Not so much for his body of work, but because he refused to go the usual route. I mean, look what refusing to put the credits before the movie did: changed the entire movie industry. What an amazing step, and over such a seemingly small thing. I want to be able to make those kinds of steps. Like Lynn Viehl (aka Paperback Writer). She got fed up with the traditional route and went her own way and, boy, did it work for her. That way’s never easy, but I think those who go it would say it was worth it.

I love love LOVE Saliva! Never heard anything from Stone Sour. I will have to check them out.

I suggest “Bother” and “Made of Scars” to get started. The second is kind of what became a character trait for The Diplomat. He’s physically scarred all over, and that became crucial to who and what he is. *insert dramatic, foreboding music here* I also like “Xxyyzz Road”, but just because it’s good to sing along with.

If you can’t take the heat…then get the hell off my blog!

5. …Who is Charlie? Pretty please with a cherry on top a zombie cake? I don’t mean that the cake will be undead just that it’ll be decorated with zombie-like paraphernalia. Unless you want an undead cake? I think the price might be worth it.

Bwahah! I will never tell! Even zombie cake won’t tempt that secret from my lips!

*hangs head* Foiled again.

Heh. At least you’re not the only one. Even Joely doesn’t know. Muhahah!

6. I know you like to genre hop. Is there a particular one that interests you most? Even if it’s only as a reading preference?

Ironically (because I’m not at all romantic and am allergic to the L word), I looooove the Regency period for romance. Combine that with science fiction, fantasy, and a dash of horror, and you have the steampunk novel I’m hoping to have done for MayNoWriMo. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to settle on a single genre, but yeah. Regency is my favorite. Dunno why.

Mmmmm! I love me some steampunk. I’m working on one right now. Never mind that it’s been in the works for the last two years. Because I’m not professional. Yet. *snerk*
7. When did you get into writing and why?

Well, not to sound cliche, but I’ve always been into writing. I remember borrowing Sis’s typewriter when I was maybe in the first grade to write a story. I’ve even dabbled in poetry (don’t tell anyone! my street cred would be shot!), but prose has always been my own personal expression. I love to tell a story.

*ggg* I’m a closet poet myself so I understand.

*hangs head in shame*
8.Do you have a favorite word/s? I have a few. Some of them make me question my sanity.

Gelatinous. It’s just fun to say. It’s even kinda fun to type. Give it a try. Gelatinous. Gelatinous. Ge-LAAAAAA-tinous. Hee. Stick out your tongue like the Wazzup guys on the LAAAAA part.

9. Do you have any other creative endeavors besides writing?

Oh, dear. Here goes my street cred again. I’m artsy-fartsy. I love quilting and cross-stitch and crocheting. Doodling was my main pastime in high school. I also did a long and satisfying stint in throwing pottery. No, not against a wall, heheh.

And just lately, I’ve discovered that I’m something of a decent set painter. I’m volunteering for a local theater group, and strangely, it suits me. I’d never call myself an artist, but I’m not unhappy with the results.

You will NEED a cold shower after this one.

10. If you were to write an autobiography, what would the title be? I imagine something with Zombies.

Wow. That is an awesome question. I gotta think on that one. Um… probably something like “Ninjas and Pirates and Zombies, Oh My!”
11. Do you have a muse? Do you even believe in a Muse and if so, what do you believe about them?

Oh, yeah. I think every writer ought to personalize their Muse. Mine… personalized himself. It’s Bardock, Goku’s father from the DragonBall Z series. No, I’m not kidding. And when he drops an idea into my lap, it isn’t so nice as a little tap on the shoulder. That guy punches me in the back of the head with it. ‘S like getting hit with an idea nuke.

BEST. MUSE. EVER. Remind me to introduce you to Team FourStar’s DBZ parodies if you don’t already know about them? I think they’d be right up your alley.

Dude, I am SO there. Pesh even managed to find us the Ghost Nappa theme song. I’m SO not kidding. I made it into a ringtone.

AWESOME! Nappa defiantly stole my heart in these eps *g*. Have you seen the abridged Bardock special? I’m now forever using “Just because they’re psychic doesn’t mean they’re smart” in inappropriate situations.

Absolutely! Those guys are GENIUSES. Between them and the Red vs. Blue guys over at Roosterteeth (think about it a minute; it’s funny), I will never want for hilarity.

Rooster teeth?! I think they did the P.A.N.I.C.S for F.E.A.R. as well, which I LOVE! Not the game, because it scares the bejesus out of me. I seriously can’t even watch my friends play it cause I will have nightmares for weeks. Because I’m a fraidy-cat.

The P.A.N.I.C.S. (People Acting Normal In Crazy-ass Siatuations) though? AWESOME. Some of the best lines ever. ( PROBABLY not Work Safe due to cussing and screams 😉 Bravo #3 is my fave.)

They did do PANICS and a couple of other hilarious things, but my first love of theirs will always be Red vs. Blue and its many incarnations. Grif is my favorite. As I’m sure you can tell. *snerk*
12. What would be your ultimate writing environment? Mine would include Cat-hair free furniture, a decent laptop that doesn’t lag, EVER, a view of the ocean, art supplies, a bottle of Mystic, and a chocolate fountain or two. Just sayin’.

Dude, if I ever win the PowerBall jackpot, you’re getting that room right after I get my pirate-themed minigolf course. Ha!

As for mine? Um… probably in one of those round tower rooms, high up where I can see everything for miles, a comfy office chair that rolls (because I do NOT sit still, even when cranking out 20K in a day), surround sound music, a Coke at one hand and a turkey sandwich at the other. A few beers in a bucket of ice under the desk. Cool breeze. No distractions. And every writer’s dream – no job to have to pause for!

OOO, yes. Chair. Can haz a spin-ie one? I likes spinning. Though, I shed a tear when you mentioned Coca-cola because I can’t have one and yet they would totally be in my own rendition of “These are a few of my favorite things~!”. For anyone wondering, Withdrawl is not fun.

13. Is there anything you absolutely wouldn’t write? For some reason, I just don’t see myself writing a straight up romance and its weird because I am SUCH. A. Sap.

You know, I never saw myself writing straight-up romance, either, but for the opposite reason. I really am devoid of romance, even when I used to date, so I honestly don’t know how I pulled it off for My Gigolo, I suspect that the heavy dosing of comedy involved helped. I’ve even written the occasional m/m stories, though if they ever see the light of day, they’ll be written by GB Kensington, heh.

Mmm, m/m. I have a few m/m subplots. So you won’t see me batting an eye. Bring it on Miss Kensington.

I’m trying to think if I’d just blacklist something totally, but the only scenario I can think of is that I don’t think any of my characters will ever say they renounce God. I’m not a raging religious-spreader, by any stretch, but if there’s any line I won’t cross, it’s that one. I always wince when actors say it in movies or if I read it in a book. My characters might be mad at God. They might question His methods or possibly even His existence (I have a possible atheist in a story already) or refuse to talk to Him, but they will never step over that particular wall. I can’t bring myself to put that into words, even if they’re my characters’ words instead of mine.
14. Do you write with a theme in mind or do they just sort of rise from the ashes of the story upon nearing the end, or even on revision? Do you find yourself attached to any themes in particular?

You know, when I first sit down to write, I don’t usually have a “theme” in mind, per se. And yet, when I get to the end, they’re just there. Sometimes, I have to go back in revision and clarify here and there, but I think themes are so much a part of whatever story you’re telling that they happen even when you don’t plan them. Of course, I could be talking out my blow hole.

Handing out lollypops and @$$whoopings and she’s all out of lollypops

15. How terrifying do you intend to make your Zombie Apocalypse novel that I heard you mentioning in your interview with Joely? Am I going to need a night light and someone to cuddle with? Preferably Robert Downy Jr.? (I bet Marvel would insist he make a stop in the Bahamas if I reviewed Iron Man 2. You know, because I’m delusional. And when I say they will “insist” I mean  they will “strongly advise him to get a restraining order against me for whenever he plans on vacationing here”. I’m totally not a stalker Mr. Jr., I just play one on my blog.)

Heh, I’m sure they’d be the same way if Vin Diesel ever headed this way. Honestly, I do have a sort of idea for a zombie apocalypse novel… and it’s a young adult idea. Go figure. Dealing with death and paranoia and having to kill your closest loved ones both to release them from such a soulless state and to save your own life, and I’mma slap it on a bunch of teenagers. Because I’m sick like that.

Um?! I ❤ you! I seriously think there should be more dark YA books because I totally wanted to read them when I was younger. But I was kind of a freak.

I’m not positive that it will be terrifying, but I honestly don’t have a real good grasp on terror. I know it’ll be tongue-in-cheek (anyone who tries to do a serious zombie track these days is just asking to be laughed out of business) and have lots of funnies (I even think the title is hilarious), but sometimes, stuff I write comes out way more scary than I intended. I remember Joely reading a horror novella I’d started and twitching every time her light flickered for months after. I didn’t mean for it to be that creepy, ya know?

Yeah… putting “night light” on the list of things to get before I read that one. When it’s finished of course.

Worse, I’ve watched movies that had other people gibbering in fear, and I was completely unaffected. I mean, I can appreciate the atmosphere, and I’m just as susceptible to startle moments as anyone else, but low-grade panic from a movie? Not since I was about 13. Which bums me out sometimes, because I love scary movies. They just don’t scare me anymore.

16.  Which story is “The Diplomat” (ominous name by the way!) from? I’ve heard a bit mentioned about him on your blog and find him fascinating.

Ah. The Diplomat is from Lorekeeper. He is the best assassin in the Midwest, probably the whole country, and possibly the world. Deadly. Cold. Ruthless. And soooo much fun to write!
17. So we’ve talked about Zombies, Pirates and Saiyans but I’ve heard no mention of Ninjas. Do you have Ninja stories you’re not telling me about?  Is “The Diplomat” a Ninja? Cause it sounds like a kick ass Ninja codename.

Ha! No, the Diplomat isn’t a ninja, though I’ve no doubt he could be one easily. Ironically, I’d be more likely to write a samurai story than a ninja story, but as far as I know, I don’t actually have any in the works. I’m not sure I could do either of them justice.

On the other hand, I do have a character in that horror short story I mentioned above that has a sort of ninja-y way of dealing with the creeping nasties I wrote in. He’ll definitely have a katana and some throwing stars, because they do not react well to bright metals.

18. Fun! Now I don’t know which of your next WIPS I want to read more. I’m blaming you. But in a good way. Do you find you’re more hero/male character-centric?

Not necessarily, but I do find I have more fun writing the mens than the womens. I always try to make my heroine strong, self-sufficient, and not necessarily likeable, though sympathetic. In fact, I think I have a better time writing characters in general that aren’t necessarily likeable. Heh, but that’s another story. Bwahah.
19. How would you survive the Zombie Apocalypse? You’ve got me thinking I should hire some Ninjas. But then they might turn into Zombie-Ninjas and then I’d be kind of screwed. I don’t think I’m going to last long. Maybe I should stock up on Twinkies and Mystics now and haul myself up in the old pirate caves around the island. Do you think there’ll be Zombie-pirates waiting for me? I kinda suck at this.

Seclusion. Find yourself a small, tactical group you can rely on — no slackers; slackers are zombie-bait and will get you all killed — and hole up somewhere in the boonies. Low population zone. Makes for fewer zombie-fodder types. Then, stock up with carbine rifles, a few reliable hand weapons, all the ammo you can store, and MREs to last for up to five years. You can always get more later and supplement your diet by hunting and, eventually, farming. Make sure your hideaway is near running water (though you’ll have to be careful because zombies can “survive” under water and simply walk across even the ocean, should they choose) and that you know the climate well ahead of time. Don’t want to be caught by a snowstorm if you’re used to living in San Francisco, ya know?

20. Seriously. I’m pretty sure I can get you an undead cake. Delivered by Zombie—Pirate-Ninjas. Because *I’m* not going to be a minion when I’m Zombiefied. I realize this isn’t a question. I fail at interviews. OK. OK. Instead of telling me who Charlie is can you tell us the title for your Zombie Apocalypse book? Or are you superstitious about title sharing?

Not so much superstitious as over-protective. However, for you, I’ll make an exception. Since I plan on the zombie disease (I won’t use the term virus) being dubbed The Gray (like Stephen King’s flu virus was called Captain Trips), so I’m thinking the title will be “They Got the Gray, I Got the Blues”. Whaddya think?

And keep in mind, this is waaaay down the pipeline. Unless the urge overcomes me, as it sometimes does, to skip. *sigh* Writing is hard.

You officially win at titles!

I will be reviewing My Gigolo shortly, however, I understand that Molly is awesome and charming and you may just already be crushing on her enough to want to buy My Gigolo right set NOW. Which would make you awesome. You can find My Gigolo:The Care and Feeding of a Male Prostitute straight from MBaM , Amazon, Books on Board, Disel E-Books, or All Romance!

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Orc-Hunting, Toothless Cats and Cthulu – Interviewing Jaleta Clegg

I had the pleasure of meeting our guest in the Coyote Con chat rooms. We were discussing why Vampire’s shouldn’t sparkle. And then Jaleta came up with a very plausible reason why one should. (See question 4) I decided I must read her work. I’m easily won over. Please welcome Jaleta Clegg!

Kicking ass since 1994

1.  I am not yet half way through Nexus Point and really enjoying your style. It’s very to the point. Which adds to the rapid pacing. I’m still amazed at how much has already happened and I’m only on page 158 of 329. How long did the book take you to write and is the final product vastly larger or smaller than the first draft?

I get bored easily. Movies with no action put me to sleep. Books are the same. I’ve been accused of writing too much action and pushing the pace. But if I’m bored writing a scene, it’s a sure bet the reader is also going to be bored.

The original draft was written back in 1994. It only took about six weeks to write. Of course, I’ve edited and rewritten many times since then, as well as completing a lot of other manuscripts. At one point, I trashed the whole story, reworked the plot, and wrote it again from scratch. Writing is like that sometimes, especially when you’re new. The version I submitted to my publisher was 140,000 words. The final version, when my editor got through with it, was just under 100,000.

I haven’t gotten bored yet so I think you hit your mark!

2. What was your inspiration for Nexus Point?

I wrote the kind of book I liked to read. I’d just gone through a string of books that left me unsatisfied and frustrated. I decided I could write better than that. Ha! Can you say naíve? Writing is much harder than it looks. As far as Dace, I have no idea where she came from. She showed up, wanting me to tell her story. I had too much fun getting her into trouble and then watching her figure a way back out.

*g* I think a lot of writers start out with those fabled words …“I can do better.”

3. Are you strictly Science Fiction or do you genre hop?

I’m all over the place. I have a friend who writes romance who told me I should take out the spaceships and make the book a straight romance. I’ve had other people ask me why I consider Nexus Point science fiction, since most of it takes place on a medieval tech level. The short stories I’ve managed to sell are mostly comic horror. I’ve got a few fantasy stories in the works, too. I’m really tempted to finish the contemporary romance I started on a dare.

4. Were you serious about the vampire-zombie show girl who sparkles? Because I was kinda serious about wanting to read it. At least THAT would make sense.

It’s on my list. When I do write the story, you can bet she won’t be a sappy love interest. Sympathetic, maybe. I haven’t found a plot that fits yet. I’m working on a collection of comic horror that pays homage to the classic tropes but in a very tongue-in-cheek way. I find the new-age horror icons creepy and disturbing. Vampires should not be touchy-feely love interests. Dracula would hang his head in shame. Same with zombies, were-creatures, and the rest of the undead. Ghosts? Maybe, if you plot it right.

*barely-contained glee* Awesome!


5. You work at a Space Camp. That actually sounds like a lot of fun. I envy you your EDJ. *grin* How did you get involved in that? Does it help with your writing?

One small step for kids, one giant ‘Squee’ from me!

Our center is unique. Most space camps do realistic shuttle mission simulations. We do futuristic starship adventures. Think of your favorite sci-fi tv series (can I say names? Um, Star Trek?), now imagine yourself as one of the crew facing danger and death at every turn. That’s what we offer. It’s an incredible place with amazing people. I experienced the simulations a few times and loved it. Eight years ago, I’d just recovered from cancer treatment and felt I needed something more in my life. I walked in and asked to be a volunteer. The director had no idea what to do with me. Most of our staff are volunteers aged 12-16, not middle-aged housewives. Fortunately, one of the adult staff there knew me from way back in college and vouched for me. I spent that summer slinging Klingon food in the kitchen with him. I leveraged that and my education degree into a teaching position for our field trips. From there, I branched out so now I run one of the simulators, teach the classes occasionally, still sling hash as the Klingon lunchlady, make costumes for our actors (monsters and Klingons and pirates, oh my!), run the office, write and consult on our mission stories, and I’m in charge of the planetarium. We just got a new digital system. I’m in complete and utter geek heaven.

All of this happens in an ordinary little elementary school in suburban Utah, of all places. I love my day job. It eats up writing time, but makes up for it. Nothing compares with knowing you have just introduced a child to the wonders of the universe. http://www.spacecamputah.org if you want more info.

Cool! Thanks. I personally would love to have been in the DS9 Universe. Or BattleStar Galactica. Or StarGate.  But only for a day or two. *g* Except I wouldn’t want to go back to elementary school for it.

6. Are your cats really toothless? I’m guessing they won’t be asking for cheezburgers.

One of the two died this spring. The other one is still doing great. Yes, he is toothless. He’s 16 years old. He prefers blueberry muffins. He isn’t my cat, though. He belongs to my husband and kids. He just stole a spot in my author photo. Silly animal.

I’z in your photo, tiefing your glories.

My sympathies. I had a cat die a year ago. They do tend to worm their way into photos (and hearts) often and frequently. He looks very photogenic.

7. How’d you bag the Orc? Orc hunting sounds dangerous. And kinda kick-ass. I’d want more at my disposal than a battle axe though, just sayin’.

NOT for the Horde!

Orc hunting is very dangerous. That’s why I went as Thangor the Barbarian. It took three crits with my trusty sword to sever that head. I admit it, I’m a total geek. I played the original version of D&D with my sister way back when. I still play occasionally. I met the artist who sculpts the heads at a con and couldn’t resist. http://monsterhedz.com/ I love showing it off to my neighbors, who hunt and have animal heads on their walls. They think I’m weird?

Eh. I’m against “normalcy” on the grounds that it makes life kinda boring. I’m totally envious of your trophy head. *g*

8. Oh! Did the cat lose his teeth fighting an Orc? That sounds badass. Or did he eat a really stale blueberry muffin? That’s less badass but kinda interesting.

We think it was due to neglecting his dental hygiene. He rarely brushed his teeth. Most of them fell out the last year so it may have just been age. Nothing special. Maybe I’ll make up a story about it that’s more interesting. Hmm…

9. Do you have favorite word/s? I have to ask. It’s kinda of an obsession. Some of mine are Asphyxia and recalcitrant. But the former makes me sound kind of creepy. Which I’m not. And the other makes me sound rebellious. Which is debatable. How about you?

Pulchritudinous, just because it sounds so icky. Schist, really pretty rock, usually with garnets, but the name makes kids giggle. Coprolite, because it’s fossilized dung. I got my degree in geology and do a lot of rock-hounding. Is it showing? I love playing with words. I’m working on a short story where Lassie takes on mutant tumbleweeds. It’s told first-person by Lassie. I never knew dogs had such large, pompous vocabularies.

Schist, hehehe. (Hi, I’m 4) Maybe we should send Lassie to critique the LOLCats.

Lassie would rip their lack of grammar and spelling to shreds. She’s worse than my editor about that. I love how characters take over in my stories.

10. Which writers inspire you? Be they Authors, Directors, Musicians, etc.

Andre Norton is my heroine, in every sense. She wrote an astoundingly long list of books and shorts. She published for over 60 years. I stand in awe of what she accomplished. And I love her stories. I want to be just like her, at least in the writing sense.

11. What’s your “process”? Are you a panster, or a plotter? Do you start with Character or A Situation? Or a cool gadget thingie? I loved all the neat Worldbuilding you put into NP.

I start where I start and end where I finish. Sometimes I have to stop and plot out where I want to go, if the story begins to wander, but I’ve never written an outline that was more than three or four pages. Sometimes the spark for the story is a scene in my head or a character or a gadget or just a chance phrase.

Thanks. I’m not sure where the world came from, but I blame it on too much D&D and too many bad fantasy movies. Everything that happens in that book sort of just grew into place in my subconscious. I play scenes out in my head before I write them down. They are always so much better in my head, but I’m happy with what landed on paper.

12. Do you have any other creative endeavors besides writing?

I sew. Weird things. Like sick and twisted quilt blocks. Sunbonnet Cthulu is my pride and joy. I do normal stuff, too, like real quilts and dresses and costumes. Did I mention I make monsters and Klingons for my day job?

I also cook. Weird things. Or normal foods with weird names like Chilled Monkey Brains or Sauteed Beetles or Albino Gakh with Blood Sauce. I like to experiment with food. My kids are usually grateful for it, although occasionally I completely mess it up and no one will eat it except for the mold monster in the back of the fridge.

I’ve always wanted to learn to sew and make my own clothes.

13. What’s your thoughts on The Muse? Do you have one personified or otherwise?

Muse? I call it self-therapy that pays me because I can’t afford real therapy. I’m happy in my delusional worlds. My kids are convinced I’m at least partly insane, but they enjoy the ride.

14. What would be your Ultimate Writing Environment? Mine would include but not limited to, cat-hair-free furniture, a laptop that never lags, EVER, with a view of the ocean, a bottle of Mystic, and maybe a chocolate fountain or two. Just sayin’.

I like your beach, chocolate fountain, and laptop. I’d add a massive, self-massaging Laz-E-Boy and a harem of stormtroopers to bring me iced lemonade. I’d also include a giant surround sound system. I love music to set the mood and drown out the screaming children in the background. And more stormtroopers with giant palm fans to keep me cool. But in reality, I’ll write just about anywhere that I have at least a little privacy. I make faces when I write. I’d hate for someone with a camera to take embarrassing pictures of me writing. I’m in love with my laptop. I’ve taken it camping, so I could write. I think I got all the pine needles out of the keyboard.

15. How many books do you have planned for the Fall of the Altairan Empire Books?

There are eleven books. They are all written and under contract, just need edited. That was a surprise for me. I never expected to sell the entire series. I may write more in that universe, but they won’t be about Dace. I think her story wraps up in book eleven. Once you save the universe, the rest is just fluff. Is that too much of a spoiler?

*g* Maybe. Me? I like to see how the universe gets saved, so I’m not fussed. And wow! Eleven books already under contract?  Congratulations! I’m really enjoying book one so I’m hoping it does well and happy there will be tenquels.

16. Do you have any works in progress outside of that series?

I always have something calling my name. I’ve got short stories galore to write and at least fifteen novels I’m working on. One of them is a Beowulf retelling, sort of. I’ve also got a series set in a different universe where magic and science are both at work. That one is going to be loads of fun to write. I have a high-fantasy trilogy that may or may not ever see the light of day again. I’m rethinking the whole thing. Again. I’ve also got a whole series of YA science fiction aimed at girls that I’m working on. I have plans for at least two short story collections, one focused on comic horror and another featuring Tharg the Insipid. Once I get some of them finished, I’ll start querying. I have to have a rough draft before I feel confident about committing to publishing.

I also have plans for wall hangings featuring walrii impersonating famous women in history and fiction. And a whole line of Cthulu quilt patterns.

Awesome!

17. I like that you don’t pull punches in your fiction, from what I’ve seen so far. Nexus Point has a fairly high level of violence mostly against women. Do you prefer to write edgy or did it just evolve from the world building of a medieval tech driven world?

It fit with the world. I usually stay far away from the edge. I tried really hard to make it not attractive in any way. Only the villains beat up women. And they do fight back. I had to rewrite my villains a few times. They were even worse in the original draft.

18. Care to share about the dared Contemporary Romance?

It’s LDS romance and definitely very far into left field compared with everything else I write. It was more for the challenge of trying it to see if I could. Staying inside the reality box was very difficult for me. I stalled out when the plot fizzled on me. I like the characters and the idea, though, so I might just finish it. Then publish it under a different name. Not that I’m embarrassed or anything. Nope, not at all. *slinking away*

19.  What’s the second book in the Fall of the Altarian Empire and do you know when it’s scheduled to be out?

Tentative title: Priestess of the Eggstone. Hopefully it will be out very early next year. I’m still waiting for my editor to finish bleeding all over the manuscript. Really, she’s great. It hurts, but in a good way. I love that she pushes me to be better than I thought I could be. I’m working on teasers and blurbs for it but I don’t have any polished yet. How about: Dace gets into big trouble when she takes a job flying a courier ship for Belliff Inc, which is really a front for a crime syndicate, and hires Jerimon as her copilot before she finds out he’s being hunted by the Sessimoniss, 7-foot lizards, for stealing their god, the Eggstone. Um, definitely needs work. Mayhem and destruction and lots of fun scenes coming in book two.

20. And to send us off, any pictures of the infamous Sunbonnet Cthulu? Or any of your other quilts you’d like to show off? *g*

Oh, yes. Fun pictures of fun projects. I need to take more.

Cthulu wears a Bonnet!
I will eat your soul, or make you incredibly stylish. Probably Both.
** Cross-posted at the review blog (which got a name change and a new look, the latter being a work in progress)

Interviewing Kait Nolan

A Novella of the Mirus

Today I have the pleasure of  hosting and chit-chating with Kait Nolan, who was nice enough to deal with my odd questions and answer them with more grace than I could have mustered. Kait just released a novella Forsaken by Shadow which, I lured a bit out of her about it here, so if you like what you hear, I implore you to check it out. You can even sample the first three chapters here.

1. You know, Kait. For someone who doesn’t enjoy talking about themselves, you sure had my attention with your Fresh Prince of Bel-Air Spoof on your ‘About Me‘ page. (The scrumptious cupcake helped too)  Also,  just from that aspect, you’re way cooler than Stephanie Meyer. But I know that you didn’t start out writing  in Paranormal Romance. What genre/s did you start out in before you settled there?

Well I’ve always had a love of the paranormal.  My early work was paranormal YA (of the ilk I wanted to read, which mostly didn’t exist back in the day–the genre has come so FAR since then!). I really loved to take elements of folklore and weave it into real life.  I still do.  But then I hit college and discovered forensic psychology.  FELL IN LOVE–enough that I got my graduate degree in clinical psych.  So for about five years, my focus was on more traditional romantic suspense.  Then in 2008 the paranormal bug bit me again after I read J. R. Ward’s Black Dagger Brotherhood books.

2. And what drew you to ParaRom? Do you think you might branch out into other genres once you’re published or is it very “been there, done that, prefer where I am now”? ParaRom is still pretty damn hot, after all, and doesn’t seem to be losing it’s charm on readers. I know you’ve got a YA in the works but it’s SUPER SECRET. Don’t suppose you could tease us a little? Not even a hint at a sub genre?

Well the romance was a given, regardless of subgenre.  I love reading about relationships and getting my happily ever after.  The paranormal–I think that’s born of a distinct desire to be outside of my own life.  There is nothing further from worries about bill paying or boring work deadlines than fantastic tales about paranormal critters and races.  It also allows me to be free of the “rules” apart from those that I create myself.  With the more typical police procedural stuff, I often got hung up on making sure I got it “right”.  Didn’t want a cop or FBI agent picking it up and scoffing because I’d written something that wouldn’t ever happen that way.  I also have a great love of worldbuilding, and PR gives me a chance to indulge in a big way.  I do definitely have LOTS of other genres kicking around in my head for–someday.  I’ve got a cuilinary paranormal series about a kitchen witch who lives in Mississippi.  And I’ve got a whole line of Mississippi based romantic suspense that I was working on before I jumped back on the paranormal train.  Not sure when I’ll come back to those, as right now I’m really happy working on the paranormal.  As for the Super Secret New Shiny, it too is paranormal and will appeal to fans of Cassandra Clare’s Mortal Instruments series or Sarah Rees Brennan’s Demon’s Lexicon.

3. Did you always suspect you might like to write a book and get published or was writing something you more or less fell into?

I wrote my first book at age 5.  The Adventures of Clumsy and Big Paw.  It was a best-seller.  My granddaddy gave me a whole $1 for it.  🙂  Seriously though, writing is in my blood, I think.  I’m an only child, so whether I put them on paper or not, I was always thinking up stories to entertain myself.  I started writing more seriously in the 6th grade, and tried getting my first REAL manuscript published at age 15.  I’m sure I would have accrued many more than two rejection letters had I not been led astray by all this talk of having a “sensible career” by my parents (who really wanted me to be an attorney or doctor or businessperson :shudder:).  College and grad school was a serious interruption to my plans.  Once I finished with my graduate degree, I decided I’d done it their way and by damn, I was going to start doing it mine.  Hence the juggling.

3b. Age 15?! I commend your spunk. Were there any other jobs (parental approved or not) besides writing that you thought you might like to give a go at? If you could have any other job in the world, besides Published Author, what would it be? Have you given any of those jobs to your characters?

Originally I thought journalism (given that papers are folding all over the country now, kinda glad I didn’t take that route).  I’ve also considered other aspects of the publishing industry–editor and copy editor specifically.  I’m good at it and I love books.  But I don’t want to live in a big city.  I also thought for a while about opening my own bookstore/tea shop (combining two passions), but owning your own business means working 6-7 days a week, longer than your typical 8 hour days in order to make it work, which would leave little time for writing.  And along the lines of the cooking thing, I haven’t SERIOUSLY thought about being a caterer, but it was fun to make Lorlei one (she’s the heroine in that culinary paranormal series, Edible Enchantments).

4. Who are the writers that inspire you? Whether they be Authors, Screen Writers, Musicians, published or aspiring.

Oh there are so many!  Madeleine L’Engle, Jane Austen, Cassandra Clare, Kelley Armstrong, Patricia Briggs, J. R. Ward, Nora Roberts, Raymond Feist, Simon Holt, Maggie Steifvater, my crit partner Susan Bischoff, Kerry Allen, Zoe Winters…

5. Do you happen to have a favorite word/s? I’m oddly drawn to asphyxia and noxious and recalcitrant. I’m not sure I want to know what that says about me.

Oh recalcitrant is a great word.  My mom really loved applying that one to me growing up.  She did not appreciate my snark.  Apparently she confused it with being a smart ass.  :looks innocent:Other favorites of mine include liminal, thither, and besotted.

6. You’re quite the juggler. You have a full time job at a University, you teach (to which, I must say brava, as i do not have the patience for that sort of gig, and I imagine it can drain your writing energy if you let it. But as far as I’ve been able to tell, you haven’t.), and have a Masters Degree in Clinical Psychology. Have these ever influenced your writing? I know that Psych degree must come in handy for characters.  Have your students ever been an inspiration (even if for a particularly annoying character 😉 ) whether they knew it or not?

The biggest problem from a draining standpoint is just time and energy.  I spend about 50 hours a week doing stuff OTHER than writing (not counting things like chores and cooking and whatnot), so it often is hard to carve out the time to write.  As for the influences…my psych degree is both a blessing and a curse.  I’m really great at analysis and I could diagnose any one of my characters.  I frequently look at their actions and can trace that back to the WHY from their backstory.  The problem comes because it is very very easy for me to fall into the role of clinician, which mandates a certain degree of distance from the client.  Which is a good thing in actual therapy but can be bad when working with characters.  It sometimes takes me quite some time to really hit the right emotional connection.As for my students…so far there hasn’t been any inspiration on that front.  I could say more, but professional discretion dictates I should probably stop there…

7. I’m always amazed  by just how much you have to offer with every blog post, especially when I consider your schedule. I’ve always had a hard time coming up with topics and stretching those out into posts longer than 200 words. Do you write them up and keep a heavy stock in drafts or are they always ‘live’ writing? How do you keep inspired blog-wise?

Strangely I rarely have a stockpile of posts.  Every now and then I get an idea for a post, and I’ll go ahead and jot it down while it’s on my mind, but mostly I sit down every morning after my tea and just talk about what’s on my mind.  That gets variably informed by the blogs I read, the news I hear, how my work’s going, what my crit partner and I have been discussing, what I’m reading…  Thankfully, I don’t often run out of things to say :D.

8. You just released Forsaken by Shadow which is supposed to be a prequel novella to a series of books you’re writing now, as I understand. For awhile now, you’ve been coming to grips with the fact that you’ve got, what I like to call, ‘the series bug’. How did this series start off? What was your initial inspiration? A character? A situation? A concept? Is this typical of your process?

Actually the series started out…not a series.  I was in the middle of a romantic suspense involving a ghost when I had this totally bizarre dream that involved a wolf-shifter doctor.  I was just fascinated by this guy, so I put down my current WIP (something I’d been working REALLY hard not to do), and I started plotting out and writing the book that became Hunted In Shadow.  It was supposed to be a stand alone.  Or at least stand alone in the sense that there would be other books in the same universe but they would be only loosely connected.  And then came the metaplot.  God help me, it’s always the metaplot with me.  I just can’t THINK small.  And HiS did not fit with that metaplot.  I tried to make it.  But it was doomed.  There were some other significant problems with that book that made me decide to send it to the manuscript graveyard (we had a lovely and moving memorial service in February).  But at that point I had already finished FBS and started planning the next in the series.  Right now there are 2 planned prequel novellas: Forsaken By Shadow and Revelation. And frankly, I have no idea what happens after them just yet.  We’ll see when I finish number 2!
9. Will Gage and his lady appear in other books/novellas? Even if just as cameos?
Oh I’m sure Gage and Embry will pop up as cameos in future books.  I love doing little cross overs like that.  But their story as main characters is concluded in FBS.
10. Do you have any other creative endeavors besides writing?
Cooking, definitely.  I’m a foodie, and I’ve got a food blog, Pots and Plots (http://potsandplots.wordpress.com).  I absolutely love to experiment with flavors in the kitchen.  My success to disaster ratio is high enough that my husband and friends are always willing to try my latest concoction.  🙂  I also hope to eventually use P & P to launch that culinary paranormal series down the line.Other than that, I enjoy sewing and woodworking, but that’s mostly isolated and specific projects when I have time.  Which is–these days–almost never.
11. Do you have a favorite dish? Both to eat and to cook?
Oh there are so many…  I can’t possibly narrow it down to 1.  But I make a kick ass pizza margherita, fantabulous nachos, and I adore Chinese dumplings.

12. If you were writing an autobiography, what would be the title?

Seriously…I suck at titles.

13. What’s your thoughts on the ‘Muse’ business? Are you in the ‘have one, love/hate him/her/it’ camp? Or the “Don’t know/don’t care/never thought about it” one?

I am on the fence about the Muse.  To say that my inspiration comes entirely from some mythical place outside myself–really takes me a lot further out of the equation than I like.  Writing is freaking hard, and I want the credit!  But if we’re talking about coddling the part of my brain that deals in that…well yeah that’s a different story.  She likes being fed awesome reads, chocolate, and plenty of sleep.

14. What would be your ultimate writing environment? Mine would include Cat-hair free furniture, a decent laptop that doesn’t lag, EVER, a view of the ocean, art supplies, a bottle of Mystic, and a chocolate fountain or two. Just sayin’.

A cabin in the woods, away from people and other distractions (yes, even including the internet).  Comfy chair and my laptop.  Endless supply of tea.

15.  Can you give us a summary of Forsaken by Shadow?

I had to shorten the original blurb for one of my distributors.  The end result wound up being more about Gage.  Here’s the original summary.

“When her father is captured by military scientists, firecaster Embry Hollister will do anything, break any rule to free him.  Unable to complete her mission alone, she turns to the only Shadow Walker who can help her—her father’s protégé and foster son, Gage Dempsey, whose memory was wiped years ago.  Embry and Gage must fight the clock—and their undeniable attraction—praying that his skills return in time to infiltrate a secret military base and rescue the man they both call father.”

16. How heavily does Gage’s being an Ultimate Fighter play into FBS’s plot? I bet that was fun to research, how’d you go about it? Or are you a fan of the sport? I don’t follow it much but I have quite admired Gina Carano.

The fact that he’s Ultimate Fighter is more a product of his training prior to losing his memory.  Not much call for warriors in our modern society, so that’s what he fell into.  The fact that he IS a warrior is one of the primary reasons Embry comes to recruit him.  I’m not a big follower of the sport, but it’s something that interests me.  My husband and I met because of our martial arts interests, so it’s something that’s always on the periphery of my conscious in terms of what I follow.  To research fighting in general, I actually watched a lot of Fight Science, which totally appeals to the science geek in me.
17. What sort of music do you listen to when you’re writing, or does it vary according to your current work in progress?
I don’t often listen to music when I write, mostly because I’m usually camped out in the living room while hubs watches TV.  When I do listen, it’s almost always to movie scores.  I can’t listen to stuff with words or I won’t pay attention to what I’m writing.  Movie scores, though, I love because I can usually find a piece that really fits with the mood of a scene I’m trying to write.  I’ll set it on repeat.
18. What themes play heavily in your books? What defines a ‘Kait Nolan’ read?
Theme? What theme?  I feel like I’m in 10th grade English again, arguing that there’s no such thing, that English teachers make it all up!  Seriously though, theme is one of those things I often have a hard time wrapping my head around.  I write them, I just usually don’t recognize them until well into the story (usually at the prompting of my crit partner, who is GREAT with themes), at which point I usually go back and try to play them up.  One thing that’s consistent across all my work is the strength of women.  Sometimes my heroines kick butt from the start (like Embry), and some of them have to find their strength.  But either way that’s something that’s really important to me.
19. What’s next on the Agenda? Forsaken by Shadow’s successor, which I understand is being called Revelations? Rumor around your blog says it’s getting a face lift of sorts.
Yes, Revelation is next on the time slot.  It picks up essentially just after FBS leaves off with one of the characters you see at the tail end of FBS.  I had the whole thing plotted out, then realized I had the wrong hero–I’d come up with the hero the plot needed–not the one the heroine needed.  A convenience hero, if you will.  So he just wans’t gybing for me.  Once I figured out that it should be this other guy from FBS, then everything started to click.  And once I picked him, I had to change the heroine’s name because their names side by side sounded lame.  So now it’s Orrin and Dahlia.  I hope :crosses fingers: to have it finished and ready to release by December.
20. Now that I have everyone salivating, where can we get a hold of Forsaken by Shadow in it’s entirety?

Currently FBS is available at Amazon ,Smashwords,and Scribd.

** Cross-posted at the review blog here.