Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Feature: Historical Romance Author Kris Kennedy



Please welcome my friend and author, Kris Kennedy!
First of all, congratulations on your debut novel, The Conqueror! And can I just say: Wow! What a cover! Tell us about The Conqueror.

Ack! I stink at blurbs, but here goes . . .

THE CONQUEROR is a hot, sweeping medieval romance with a reluctant alpha hero, a desperate heroine, and a love that can unite a kingdom or bring it crashing to the ground.
After seventeen years of a civil war, a midnight rescue results in a night of unforgettable--and forbidden-passion. Their explosive reunion, a year later, follows betrayal and a bloody invasion. Someone has to win, after all. And the other person is very, very angry.

And it's full of an ‘adventure' piece, if you like that kind of thing. J Abductions, midnight rescues, sword fights. Hidden agendas. Betrayal. Revenge. Imprisonment. Buried treasure. Enemies on the prowl. And hot sex. Oh, it's fun! :-)

Uh, you did a pretty darn good job with that blurb...Michelle Buonfiglio over at Romance: B(u)y the Book (myLifetime.com) says she's "pretty damn wildly excited about it" and that it's the medieval she's "been waiting for"! Have you always written medievals?

I was really excited to have Michelle love the book! Since then, it’s started receiving other reviews that have been pretty positive.

Dear Author named it a Recommended Read for May, and two other ‘tough’ review sites also seemed to like it: All About Romance gave it a B+ and Wendy the SuperLibrarian give it a solid B, and said “It's easy to see why this book finaled for RWA's Golden Heart award. It's really a very accomplished debut novel, and fans of medievals should just beat the Christmas rush and start rejoicing now.”

So, of course, I still go back and re-read that. LOL

As far as “have I always written medievals” . . .

My very first story was actually a very bad post-Revolutionary War era story. Let us hope it stays hidden in the vaults, because it is one scary piece of writing. ;-)

After that, I started writing stories based in Ireland, following an Irish awakening, which took the form of obsessive, unstoppable research into Ireland. J I was increasingly intrigued by the medieval era as a result, but when I read Marsha Canham’s Through a Dark Mist and In the Shadow of Midnight, that was the match that totally ignited my love of the middle ages. :-)

If (when?) I get a review like that, you can bet I'll have it committed to memory! :0) How is writing a medieval romance different than writing historicals from other eras?

I have to say, I don’t really know! LOL You have to do a ton of research, of course, but it’s so far in the past, and so much of the research is stitched together. Sometimes you’re writing between the lines of what’s known as historical fact and what’s simply believed to be true.

It was a wild time, with lots of approbations on behavior, but still so much leeway. There were fewer people, living further apart, and it was pretty easy to get away with outlawry. There were also lots of small battles and conflicts, legal and martial, and this just lends itself to drama and fiction. Even some of the things that came to be so accepted in Western culture were still being formalized in this time. For instance, in the era THE CONQUEROR takes place in, primogeniture—or the right of the eldest son to inherit the father’s titles and lands—was not solidly in place. Sometimes the eldest son inherited, but it was still debatable, and was most often settled by who was still standing at the end of the day; i.e. who won the fight? And legal disputes were still being settled by battle and torture.

So, all of these things lend themselves to writing a rich tapestry of fiction, with a variety of different outcomes that can be woven into the real history of the times, which I LOVE doing.

Sounds crazy! Tell us a little about how you research.

I read. Incessantly. :-) I’m the dork lugging around the big heavy research books. LOLI’ve also been fortunate enough to travel to Ireland, England, and Germany, so I’ve crawled all over the castles as much as possible, trying to imagine how it would have felt to be alive back then.

Some of my best friends are dorks lugging around heavy research books. :0) What's up next for you?

I recently turned in WANTING FINIAN to my editor, which is the story that won the 2008 Golden Heart Award for Best Historical Romance last summer. Here’s an excerpt: http://www.kriskennedy.net/books/wanting-finian) I did extensive revisions to it following the Golden Heart awards, and, barring additional revision suggestions from my editor, it’s essentially done. Hurray!

Of course, I don’t yet know what it will be titled. I doubt my editor will keep my title, so be sure to stay tuned for news on that. :0)

Otherwise, I’m back to working on another book which could follow THE CONQUEROR, but certainly works as a stand-alone book. It’s a medieval with a wronged & angry heroine, a very, very dangerous hero, and both of them with something precious to protect. My working title is simply: The Jamie Story.

Mmm, sounds intriguing. You have a page on your website called "My Girls". What's that all about?

Those are the other writers I know and think readers might enjoy. I actually have to update that page—thanks for mentioning it! LOL.

That’s the great thing about the world of fiction—there’s room for all of us. The whole genre improves when another great author comes along. :0)

I love that - "there's room for all of us"! I frequently comment on how wonderful it is that there are so many different books out there - something for everyone! :0) What have you found most surprising about being a published author?

How long it takes to do revisions when you realize (hopefully) thousands of people will be reading your book. Call it obsession or stark fear, whatever. :0) It makes me work very hard to do a fabulous job, making the revisions very time-consuming. :0)

I didn’t quite ‘get’ this with the first book. Before you sell a book, it’s all about the selling. Afterwards, it’s all about ‘OMG, how did I ever sell this thing??” ;-)

Now that THE CONQUEROR is out in stores, though, I realize what I really care about is the readers. I’ve received the nicest, most exciting letters form people who picked the book up in a grocery store, for instance, and just loved it. I can’t put into words what that means to me.

That's truly what it's all about, after all. What advice did your mother (or another close female, mom-like person) give you that you've found indispensable?

Hmm…I love the question, but I don’t have an answer. LOL I don’t think I categorize things in my mind like that: I don’t have a file drawer named ‘advice,’ that I can open and look at. Too bad, because I like the idea of it.

I do know I really like the idea of ‘guiding principles,’ and I use them to help me make decisions at hard times.

I think if I had to give advice to a younger female (totally not what you asked ), I’d suggest she work on discovering what she values, what & who she has respect for, then come up with some basic, ‘guiding principles’ that invoke those behaviors. Ex: “When in doubt, be compassionate in how you interpret someone else’s behavior.” Then, when she’s having her own ‘dark nights of the soul,’ J, she can fall back on these as a guide.

And finally, besides your new book :0) and loved ones, what's your most prized possession?

Holy cow, you ask the best questions that I have no answers for! LOL Possessions . . . Prized . .

I could say my computer, b/c of all of the info on it, but if the info were put somewhere else, I wouldn’t care about the computer at all.

Pictures. Pictures of my past, my family and friends.

Oooh, I love pictures (just take a look at my blog recently)! Thank you so much for being here with us today, Kris!

Thanks so much for having me, Tiffany! I’d love to ask your readers a question. Since I am apparently so deficient in recalling advice given to me, I’d love to hear some of your readers’ advice, about dreams.

If you have/had some advice--guiding principle—about dreams, what would they be? What would you tell a young girl about her dreams?

Look at you turning the tables! Great question. I can't wait to hear all of our armchair heroines' answers! And one of you will receive a copy of Kris's book. So let us know your thoughts on dreams and guiding principles.
Congratulations Lyoness2009! You are the lucky winner of The Conqueror. Email me your snail mail address at Tiffany@TiffanyJames.net and I'll get your book headed your way!
Thanks to everyone who joined us for Kris's feature!
Watch the upcoming events for happenings here at AH. See you next Wednesday. :0)

23 comments:

Mari said...

I had a discussion with my niece along these lines yesterday.
What I said to her was - You may be disappointed if you fail, but you are doomed if you don’t try.
She was really sad because she didn't make the swim team. I am encouraging her to practice and try again in the fall.

Helen Hardt said...

Kris, I'm so looking forward to this one! And who is that hottie on your cover?

Helen

Eva S said...

Hi Kris and Tiffany,
thanks for the great interview! This book sounds like my kind of book, I'd love a good medieval! Will put it on my wislist...

The guiding principles sound great, it's hard to be young these days.. I agree about not giving up in the first place, even if you don't succeed at once.

Chiron said...

Great interview, Tiffany!

Congrats on your release, Kris!! Your blurb is wonderful. Woo-hoo!

My advice would be: "Accomplishing something you can be proud of will always be more important, and longer lasting, than fame. Don't ever believe you need fame to be special--you are special right now. Don't give up on your dreams and they won't give up on you. *smile* Lastly, you will encounter many people in your life you consider friends. The true friends will honor and respect both you and your dreams. Let your heart be your guide--ask if the friendship gives you strength, confidence and happiness. *smile* If it doesn't, listen to your heart and not them!

Smiles,
Chiron O'Keefe
The Write Soul: www.chironokeefe.blogspot.com

Kris Kennedy said...

Mari~

Oh, that is so very nice! And true.

I know there've been things I wanted to try, but felt scared/self-conscious/whatever, so I didn't. But there's always that regret, however small, later. If only we could pass that knowledge on!

Thanks for stopping by. :-)

Kris Kennedy said...

Helen~
I'm so glad to hear you're looking forward to the book!

The hottie on the cover is my husband. KIDDING! I mean, mine is just as hot, but in a different way. ;-)

No, I don't know how he is. But when they start the Cover Model Loaner Program for authors, I'm going to find out.
:-)

Kris Kennedy said...

Eva S~
Yay, another medieval lover. :-) There's not so many around nowadays, although I predict a resurgence.

Thanks for saying Hi!

Kris Kennedy said...

Chiron~
Oh, I really like your 'advice' about friendships.

"Let your heart be your guide--ask if the friendship gives you strength, confidence and happiness."

That's so clear and easy for ALL of us to consider in any single moment. Nothing confusing, or trying to make predictions about the future, or the best course to take, etc.

It's simply "How do you feel when you're around these people? What are you tempted to do?"

great advice for everyone, and I can imagine it being especially useful if someone IS becoming popular or good at their 'dreams' (i.e. getting more famous even in their own smaller circles)

Thanks for saying hi, Chiron!

Tiffany James said...

Mari,

Oooh! I love that: "you may be disappointed if you don't try, but you are doomed if you don't try". I'm going to add that to my collection of great quotes!

Tiffany

Tiffany James said...

Eva,

Howdy! Doesn't Kris's book sound amazing?! I can't wait until my copy gets here. :0)

Tiffany

Tiffany James said...

Helen,

Yeah, I want to know too!

Tiff ;0)

Tiffany James said...

Chiron,

Thanks!

Wonderful words as always. :0) Thanks for stopping by today.

Tiffany

Ashley Ludwig said...

Excellent interview! well done! Kris, you know I'm a huge fan. I'm so excited for you with all that you're doing.

Research is my favorite part of writing -- all I can say is, thank heaven for the internet! All or Nothing's set in the American West, and my editor ran me through the wringer getting the details JUST right...down to a specific stop at a train depot!

What would be your favorite research resources for the medieval period? I'm toying with an inspy idea even now... :) Congratulations on your success!

~Ashley

Kris Kennedy said...

Hey Ashley!
Great to 'see' you. :-)

Let's see... resources for medieval research . . . There's so many! And I'm somewhat demented, in that I read the dryest, most scholarly tomes and find them *riveting*, LOL. Then again, you sound like me, so . . .
:-)

A great one for getting started is the Joseph & Frances Gies books, Life in a Medieval City/Town/Manor. They're great as a starting place!

I also like the juvenile literature for getting started in researching an era.

I'm excited to expand into the Am West one day, so I'm sure i'l be asking you the same question in a few years. :-)

robynl said...

dream big, dream often and keep dreaming; although big dreams might not happen something will and it could be what you were wanting all along,. Never give up.

RachieG said...

My advice -- Be patient! Things will come if you let them have time..and be confident. The best things are lost by losing your confidence in them.

If only I had known that 10 years ago!!

rachie2004 AT yahoo . com

Lyoness2009 said...

:) Fun interview today. Love that you've been able to travel and you write about what you've seen. Pretty awesome job!

My advice would be to have faith in yourself. Don't worry about other people, your the one that matters. AND if they want to have drama, let them have it...just you stay out of it!

lyoness2009 @ hotmail . com

Kris Kennedy said...

Robynl~
Great tips! Better to 'reach for the stars,' because if we aim low, we achieve low. It's so true!

Kris Kennedy said...

RachieG~
Ah, yes, confidence. It's so, so important. We have to build a sense of capability in ourselves, so we believe 'Yes,I can do this." And the only way to do that is to try and fail, until you succeed.

Great guidance!

Kris Kennedy said...

Lyoness2009~
It's so hard to STOP paying attention to what others are saying/doing, isn't it? We're social creatures--we care what others think.

And yet, to succeed, we really do need to pull our focus inward, be determined and be self-directed.

As I used to say to my clients all the time: you're the one who goes home with the consequences of your actions. I go home with the consequences of mine. So, YOU need to make the decision you think will be best for you, b/c you have to live with it. Not me.

You said it much more succinctly: We can't worry about others. :-) They live in their lives, we live in ours.

Great advice.

Kris Kennedy said...

Thanks so much to everyone for coming by today! You all offered such great guidance for someone about following their dream.

Now, all you have to do is make sure YOU'RE doing the things you mentioned, too!

:-)

Thanks!

Tiffany James said...

Ashley - Thanks for joining us today! :0)

Robyn - I love that advice about dreams!

Rachie - Um, yeah, I'm about the most impatient person on the earth! :0)

Lyoness - I completely agree, especially the bit about the drama. I recently had to step away from a couple friends because every day it was some new drama! Oy!

Tiffany

Tiffany James said...

Kris,

Thank you for being here and for getting such great dialogue going!

And thanks to all of you who joined in the conversation - this is why I blog!

Tiffany