Tag Archives: Q&A

GT Preview: New GraveTells writers and Q&A with author Lisa Kessler

This week will be a ground-breaking week for GraveTells, so hang on to your hats, because we’re debuting two new GT team members and have a Q&A with Night Walker author Lisa Kessler!

New team members, you say?  Why does GT need a “team”?  I’ve been developing a new, dedicated site for GraveTells, with a community forum for PNR/UF fans.  It’s nearly finished and I hope to launch it in September!  With all that yummy new content, wouldn’t it be great if you had more than just me to listen to?  *grin*  You’re in for a definite treat with this week’s debut posts by Kenra Daniels and The Captain.  Both are Paranormal Romance authors with appealing style, modern and edgy.  Kenra brings compelling perspective and thought-provoking dissertation, while The Captain treats us to her provocative signature blend of wit and irreverence.  Here’s a sneak peek of this week’s treats!

From Kenra’s Shame On You!, scheduled for tomorrow’s feed…

Are you ashamed of what you read?

One day in a bookstore, I overheard a man berating his wife for browsing through the Paranormal Romances. She apologized and promised not to read such “filth”, and of course she knew vampires weren’t real. I started to wonder how many readers of Paranormal Romance novels faced the same sort of criticism from family and friends.

From The Captain’s Caught in the Smex Beam, scheduled for Wednesday’s feed…

I think it is fair to say that in PNR/UF novels, there are a few things that are expected and accepted:

  1. The hero will be gorgeous and well hung.
  2. The heroine will be attractive, smart, perhaps funny, but most of all likeable and relatable to the reader.
  3. The story will have elements that drag us in, besides the two pretty people it centers on, and transport us to another reality.
  4. The hero and heroine will be irrevocably caught in the Smex Beam.

“What exactly is a Smex Beam, Captain?” you ask.  Ha ha, fear not reader.  Your Captain is here to offer guidance and instruction.

Finally, to end the week in grand style, Night Walker author Lisa Kessler has graciously agreed to get up close and personal with GT, answering some of our burning questions about her new book and series.  Ms. Kessler’s interview is a GraveTells first and we’re proud to be able to post a Q&A with such a great new up-and-coming PNR author!  Here’s a sneak peek…

GT: Where did you get your inspiration for creating the Night series?
LK: It all started with wanting to write a novel with immortals, but set it on the west coast. Since the Mission de Alcala is the oldest building in San Diego, it seemed like the perfect place to start.  While researching, I discovered the peaceful Kumeyaay tribes actually attacked the Mission in the 1700’s, burned it to the ground and beat the head priest so badly he could only be identified by the rings on his hand.  All we have are theories as to what could have provoked such a vicious attack from a peaceful group. I made up my own theory that a young native girl was murdered. Once I had that worked out, I knew she had to be reincarnated in order for me to tell the story in contemporary times.
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GT: When you find yourself in a plot hole or with writers block, how do you work out of it?
LK: I’ve never had writer’s block, and plot holes aren’t usually an issue.  However when I get to the middle of the book and the pacing starts to feel a little slow it’s usually time to “up the body count”.  Nothing like a dead character to bring up the tension! 🙂

A huge thanks to Kenra Daniels & The Captain for lending their time and pen to GT, and to Lisa Kessler for sharing her thoughts and time in the middle of her very busy post-release schedule!

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Q&A with Karen Chance: Cassie & Pritkin & demons, oh my!

Karen Chance, author of the infectiously fun fantasy Cassie Palmer series, posted a new Q&A about the books and characters on her “The Cassandra Palmer Series by Karen Chance” page on Facebook, and in it she answers some burning questions fans had about characters and events in the books.

*** Spoiler note: If you have not read the Cassie Palmer series but plan to, and want absolutely no knowledge of any goings-on before reading, skip down the the “It’s all in the shorts…” section of this post. ***

Fan Q&A with Karen Chance

What exactly is a warlock? 

 Charley Sheen. It can also be a term for a mage who specializes in demonology, can summon demons and can put some of them in thrall.

In Claimed by Shadow, Pritkin confronts Cassie and Casanova in Casanova’s monitoring room, Billy comes in and starts making wisecracks, and Casanova takes a swat at him. Cassie explains that Casanova is able to hear Billy due to “his demon senses.” Pritkin is also in the room, though, and he cannot hear Billy.

They’re both Incubi. I would put it down to Casanova being in a vampire host while Pritkin’s other half is human, but other vampires cannot hear Billy either. Does this have something to do with Casanova being an Incubi possessing a vampire (thus being a spirit, sort of) while Pritkin is a half-Incubi, half-human physically living in this world?

Firstly, Casanova isn’t in a vampire host.  The vampire who calls himself by that name does so because his incubus (or succubus, if you prefer, since he thinks of it as female) used to possess the real Casanova.  But the incubus isn’t Casanova and the guy who calls himself that isn’t either.  Basically, he’s being pretentious.

Secondly, Pritkin isn’t a demon.  He isn’t even possessed by a demon.  He’s a human-demon hybrid, and like all hybrids, he received some of each parent’s abilities while missing out on others.  Some of the incorporeal demon races can interact with non-demon spirits, but Pritkin didn’t inherit that particular talent.

As for Casanova, when his demon is in residence, so to speak, he gains a good deal from it, including extended senses that other vampires do not have.  It’s one of the reasons he made the deal in the first place.  Hope that helps.

What did Pritkin think Mircea thought he was? If this question is a little confusing, I’m talking about Cassie and Pritkin’s conversation in the restaurant. When Cassie tells him Mircea thinks he’s a warlock, Pritkin seems to feel that there was something Mircea wasn’t telling her. What did Pritkin think Mircea actually thought?

Pritkin and Cassie were having two very different conversations in that instance.  Cassie thought they were talking about the recent attacks on her life.  Pritkin thought they were having a discussion about the few times they had…gotten close.  So he wasn’t thinking about Mircea’s claim that he was a warlock, but rather the motivation behind it—namely a reasonable sounding excuse for keeping Pritkin away from Cassie.

In Touch the Dark, when Pritkin and Cassie first make eye contact in the Senate’s chamber, “something that looked almost like fear crossed” Pritkin’s eyes.  What was it he saw that shook him up?

You need to recall why Pritkin was actually there.  He said it was to claim Cassie on behalf of the Circle (since she was a human magic worker, the vampires had no real right to her).  But in reality, that wasn’t his mission at all.  Of course, the Circle would have been happy to have the vamps merely hand her over, but they didn’t really expect it. And Pritkin was hardly the man they would have sent for a diplomatic mission in any case.  He was there to investigate Cassie, and if she was determined to be a serious threat, to eliminate her.  In other words, he was there in his usual role as an assassin.

The Circle thought it was being clever.  It would kill two birds with one stone—get rid of a pythia who was outside its control and remove one of Jonas’s chief supporters at the same time.  Because the vamps would almost certainly kill Pritkin after he took out Cassie.  It never entered their minds that Pritkin might have a problem going through with the assignment.  He was, after all, a well-known demon hunter.  But killing dangerous rogue demons is a little different from killing A) a human being, B) a woman and C) someone who was about the same age his late wife had been when she died.

Of course, Pritkin hadn’t really thought about it, either.  He was focused on the logistics of the mission and the fact that he was going to have to deal with the Senate, which never made anybody’s day.  But then he came face-to-face with the reality of his situation.  Which was a young, unarmed human female with big blue eyes, tumbled blond curls and a happy face t-shirt.  Who was staring down Jack the Ripper despite having absolutely no way to defend herself.  She was tiny and delicate and courageous and vulnerable and obviously mental for not cowering in a corner and…

And he was appalled.

He was also afraid, because he’d never had a target like this.  And because, to protect the Circle, he might be called upon to kill another young woman, this time on purpose.  And because, for the first time in his career, he wasn’t sure he could do it.  So, since he was Pritkin, he proceeded to act like a dick to hide his fear and to steel himself against her.

Are demons that are incorporeal on Earth (like incubi) corporeal in their own realms in Hell?

First of all, it depends on which realm you mean, because in my universe, “Hell” is a human catch-all name for many, many different areas.  Are you familiar with Buddhist cosmology?  Because if so, the Cassie Palmer universe is structured something like that.  Basically, lots and lots of hells, each one different from the others.  And some of them can support corporeal life (because some demons are born with bodies), but others would be toxic for anything other than a spirit.

Second, it depends on which demon.  Some of the usually incorporeal types can save up enough power to form themselves a body (like Saleh).  Others are spirits wherever they are (like the incubi, except for Rosier, who’s special like that).  And still others are what is called two-natured and can take either form (like Sid).  See “A Family Affair” for an explanation of how it all works.

Pritkin got a pretty nasty wound from a Fey weapon while he was in Faerie. Will it leave a scar?

No.

In HTM, Mircea told Cassie that he borrowed the limo from a friend during their date in London? Who did he contact?

A member of the European Senate who lives there.  Her name—and you knew it was going to be a woman, didn’t you?—is Marsilia.

It’s all in the shorts…

If that wasn’t enough Cassie Palmer goodness, there are three  new “coming soon” shorts listed on Ms. Chance’s “Freebies” page on her site.  The cover art for all three is there, and we get to see two delectably smoldering cover images of everyone’s favorite dirty sexy war mage, John Pritkin, and one of the inimitable master vampire Mircea Basarab.  Check ’em out below and drool to your heart’s content (tip: click to open the full-size image in a new window for optimal ogling)

Not yet a fan of the Cassie Palmer series by Karen Chance?

You’re missing out on some seriously hair-raising, skin-of-your-teeth, preposterously droll fast-paced action and a witty, charming, steamy, riot of a good time!  Want to learn more?  Check out Ms. Chance’s Cassie Palmer website and meet all your soon-to-be-favorite new characters.  Or you could just pick up Touch the Dark and get started RIGHT MEOW!  You should probably do yourself a favor and just go ahead and get all 5 books while you’re there, and save yourself an impatiently harrowing trip back out after you finish the first one in record time.  Seriously, good luck putting these down to do something so annoying as, oh, sleep or eat!

More links!

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Q&A with Deborah Harkness on ‘A Discovery of Witches’

A Discovery of Witches, by Deborah Harkness, is (in her own words) “a book about books, a love of reading, and what books can do”, and is still receiving all sorts of praise and accolades months after its debut.  After finishing the book, I wanted to know more about Ms. Harkness and her creative process.  I found a few interviews and wanted to share them with you all.  The first is from her own website and the second is from wordswithwriters.com.  Click on the links to see the full Q&A sessions…

From deborahharkness.com:

Q. Diana is an appealing heroine, determined, accomplished, and yet aware of her own weaknesses. In what ways, if any, does Diana reflect your own experience or personality?

There are some similarities—Diana is also a historian of science, also interested in the history of alchemy, and shares some of my passions (including television cooking programs, tea, and rowing). Really, all the characters have some element of me in them. I think that’s how authors create imaginary people who nevertheless feel real. The rest of Diana’s character comes from a combination of qualities I admire in others, wish fulfillment, and my completion of the following statement: “Wouldn’t it be great if a heroine in a book was…”

Q. How did you become interested in the intersection of alchemy, magic, and science? Historically, what do you see as the relationship between science and religion or mysticism?

In college, I had a wonderful professor who taught a class on these subjects. To kick off the class, he asked us, “How do you know what you think you know?” I’ve spent the last quarter century trying to answer that question. Because the world is a mysterious place and our relationship to it is not always clear, people have often turned to science, faith, and magic for answers. They help people find responses to the questions of Who am I and why am I here?

Q. You’ve written two well-received scholarly books. What inspired you to write a novel?

It’s pretty hard not to notice the popular preoccupation with witches, vampires, and things that go bump in the night. But we aren’t the first to be fascinated with these creatures. Today, we often imagine them into fantastic otherworlds, but the people I study believed that such magical beings were living alongside them in this world. So I started thinking, if there are vampires and witches, what do they do for a living—and what strange stories do humans tell to explain away the evidence of their presence? A Discovery of Witches began with the answers to those questions as I essentially reimagined our modern world through the eyes of medieval and Renaissance people.

Q. What prompted you to include both first-person and omniscient narration? What does each method of storytelling contribute to the book?

Early in the process of writing the book I realized that vampires must be secretive and protective creatures. For Matthew, this means he has both a strong instinct to hide from Diana’s questions and a need to protect her from threats. The only way to show that dynamic in Matthew (without making the reader very impatient with him) was to take Diana out of the picture temporarily and show him interacting with others who knew him in other ways. Since Diana is the first-person narrator, this caused some problems that omniscient narration solved. I think the combination of the two narratives works surprisingly well and gives the reader the immediacy of Diana’s experience along with some answers to their questions about Matthew.

Q. Elias Ashmole and Ashmole 782 are taken from real life. Who was Elias Ashmole? Why did you base your novel on this particular manuscript?

Elias Ashmole was a seventeenth-century English antiquarian and scholar. He gave major bequests to Oxford University, including the collection of books and objects that provided the foundation for the Ashmolean Museum (which is still in operation today). Ashmole’s books and manuscripts were first kept at the museum and then moved to the university’s Bodleian Library in the nineteenth century. The Ashmole manuscripts include numerous rare alchemical texts. One of the manuscripts, Ashmole 782, is currently missing. As a scholar, I’ve done a lot of research in the Ashmole alchemical manuscripts and always wondered what Ashmole 782 might contain.

Q. From the publication of Bram Stoker’s Dracula in the nineteenth century to the current Twilight series, vampires have always fascinated the reading public. What is the appeal of the occult novel? What kind of freedom from the ordinary does it provide, both for readers and writers?

Vampires are relative newcomers among the supernatural creatures who have fascinated readers. The word “vampire” wasn’t even used in English-speaking countries until the early eighteenth century. Before that, readers were far more interested in ghosts, devils, witches, daemons (and demons), and exotic hybrid creatures like dragons and the basilisk. The appeal of all these creatures—and vampires, too—is that they help to explain the inexplicable. Readers and writers are given the opportunity to suspend belief and wonder How do I know there aren’t witches? and even more important What if there are?

Q. Diana and Matthew’s story ends on a mysterious note. What do you see as the next step in their adventure?

Diana and Matthew have known each other only for forty days. That’s not much time to get to know someone and fall in love. Besides, falling in love is rather easy compared with staying in love and growing into a relationship. The next step of their adventure will begin just where their last step left off—and the adventure will involve all kinds of new discoveries about themselves, each other, and the creatures who share their world.

From wordswithwriters.com:

What are you working on at the moment?

While I’m on book tour, I’m working on a sequel to A Discovery of Witches. It will be a trilogy.

Where did the idea for A Discovery of Witches come from?

I was in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico during the rainy season, which I did not know in advance, and I was trapped inside my hotel because of the rain. It was the fall of 2008, and the world was very much obsessed with vampires. I started thinking to myself, “You know, if there really are vampires, what do they do for a living?” I didn’t believe they could all be private investigators. That’s what led me into the book, and I started building a world around the answering of that question.

What do you hope readers will take away from your book?

It’s really a book about accepting who you are and not living in a way that closes off options or that is safe. Living in way that takes risks—the power that is in daring to do what it is that you are uniquely meant to do.

How long was your playlist?

145 songs. Some of them are on my website. [On the page titled “The Characters”] There are links to YouTube playlists for songs on Diana’s iPod and songs on Matthew’s iPod. And, largehearted boy published a playlist for A Discovery of Witches.

What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

I know that a lot of advice says to read, but I would say to write. What I see as a teacher a lot is people preparing to write, people doing research to write, people finding the right chair to write in, people thinking of the right time of day to write. You really just have to actually write. It’s scary and it’s awful, there’s a blank screen or blank page, but you really just need to write.

Write about anything, write about everything, write blogs. At some point something will start clicking and snapping, and if you’re still trying to arrange your desk the way you want it, you’re going to waste it.

Is there a question that you wish people would ask you more often about your work?

I wish more people would ask, “Why did you choose to do blank?” People have an incredibly emotional response to fiction. You read it and think, “I don’t like this, I don’t like that, I don’t like him or her.” Usually, writers have a reason that they’ve decided to do something. If there’s something really bugging a reader about the book, it would be interesting to have a conversation about why I’d gone that way. Not because it may solve the problem for them, but they would know that it wasn’t a thoughtless decision. It would be fascinating to discuss the decision-making process for the book.

Can you talk about the different kinds of writing you do, and how you juggle those projects?

Well, I started my wine blog accidentally, like most things I do in life. When I got stuck on my nonfiction I would switch over and work on the wine blog. I was teaching, wine-blogging, and writing A Discovery of Witches at the same time. For me, I need escape hatches. I need to be able to move around and have little changes of scenery. I only had writer’s block working on A Discovery of Witches once and I think it’s because I was doing different things.

When you’re not writing, what do you like to do?

I love to cook. I am slowly working my way through Melissa Clark’s In the Kitchen with a Good Appetite. When you cook something, immediately it’s there. It’s wonderful; you don’t edit it, you just eat it.

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