My 2nd tour stop today has me chatting with Krystal Shannan, author of paranormal and contemporary romances. You even get a new excerpt from MUSIC FOR MY SOUL, and Krystal talks a bit with Garrett and Madeleine about each other!
Tell us a little about yourself.
They say man cannot live by bread alone, but this woman has never met a piece of bread she didn’t like and could easily live on it. Throw in a little cheese and wine, and I’ll think I’ve died and gone to heaven! I’m like so many of you out there. I fell in love with words and books at an early age, able to read before I started school. I went from Little Golden Books to Superman comic books to solving mysteries with Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys. I traveled the world from England to Greece to China, meeting everyone from Atticus Finch to Hannibal Lecter throughout the years as my reading tastes branched out to a variety of genres. Biographies drew me in from the start. Reading about the lives of real people led to a passion for history and the people who created it. As an adult, I became a history teacher and tried to bring history to life for my students, just as now I try to bring my characters alive for readers.
Did you always want to be an author? What made you choose to write romance?
Becoming an author always lurked on the edges of my mind. I thought I would teach by day and write by night, combining two things I love. Little did I know after standing on my feet all day teaching hormonal teenagers, I would come home tired and spent… only to grade papers, create lesson plans, and call parents. And that didn’t include keeping my family and household running! Little by little, I carved out a few stolen hours each weekend and began creating my characters and telling their stories.
Romance seemed a natural fit because romance has everything – adventure, drama, scandals, passion – and most important of all, that happy ending that I crave as a reader. To see a hero and heroine struggle through so much and then come out of it together and make a lifetime commitment to each other? Perfection!
What is your favorite part of being a writer/author?
My favorite part is the creative process. To enable my imagination to run wild and create people and places and put them into impossible situations – all while in sweats or PJs? You can’t ask for a better job than that.
Tell us a little about your book. What inspired you to write it?
I was a history teacher, and one of my favorite eras to explore with my students was medieval times. As a reader, I tore through so many medieval historicals that I couldn’t find any new ones to read, so I decided to write my own.
Here’s a peek…
Garrett tied Ebony to a tree and entered the forest. He’d spent many hours in these woods over the years and knew them better than anyone at Stanbury.
He found her immediately. She’d managed to pull herself partially onto the bank, but the rest of her remained in the stream. Though late June, the water was cold. No telling how long she’d been in it.
He ran to her, seeing she was unconscious. He lifted her out from the water, her skirts heavy and clinging to her. Her chilled body was deathly pale and still.
For a moment he thought her dead. Then she gasped. Her eyes flew open. Garrett saw the pain and fear held in them.
“’Tis all right, Madeleine, I’m here.” He brushed the wet hair from her brow. Her skin was so cold. He must warm her. He couldn’t lose her as he’d lost Luke.
She moaned. “Not again. Please, not again.”
Garrett lifted her shoulders and placed her head upon his lap. “What ails you, Madeleine? What’s hurt?” he asked gently, as he stroked her clammy cheek.
“’Tis broken,” she said bitterly.
“My leg.” She began laughing hysterically. Garrett tried to calm her but didn’t succeed. Finally, her laughter subsided into weeping.
“’Twill be all right, Madeleine,” he assured her. “We’ll get you back to Stanbury. You’ll heal.”
She stared into his troubled eyes, her own a stormy color. “Heal? I’ll never be whole again.”
Do you plot and outline or do you just write? Plotter or Pantser?
I would say I’m a minimalist plotter. I go into writing a book with an outline, usually a single page which has broad ideas of what I’d like to have happen throughout my story. I also invest the time to do character sketches for my hero and heroine so that I know them very well before I begin. When I start writing, I take them down the interstate on the journey to the end of the book, but oftentimes they veer off, exercising their own free will (and stubbornness). They want to take back roads and stop and smell the roses and sniff out new conflicts and dangers that I hadn’t foreseen. I pretty much let them take the reins and run along beside them, as long as they give me a say every now and then. They eventually meander back to the path I set them out on, and they arrive at the final destination I predicted for them … Happily Ever After.
Can you tell us about the process of getting your first book published?
I met my editor at an RWA chapter conference and pitched my story to her. She asked for me to send the entire manuscript. NOT three chapters. NOT fifty pages. THE WHOLE FREAKING THING! Needless to say, instead of driving home I pretty much floated. She offered me a contract two weeks later. I went through two rounds of edits and got to have input on my cover art. Since I’m a new author, I’ve learned quite a bit about the role social media plays in today’s market. I’ve created a website, Facebook page, started a blog, and now tweet.
What advice would you give new authors? What have you learned about the business?
Read everything, even outside your genre. Good writing is good writing, and you can learn so much about plotting, characterization, and conflict by reading. Join and attend RWA chapter meetings and conferences. Conferences have so many workshops, from craft to the business end, which can help you define and refine your writing and career. And don’t be afraid – go up and speak to authors. I’ve found romance authors, whether at the beginning or the pinnacle of their careers, to be some of the most generous, supportive people on the planet. Last, start learning everything you can about marketing and social media.
Do you have another book in the works?
Soul Mate Publishing has bought a second book from me. OUTLAW MUSE, a western historical romance, will be out in October 2013. A GAME OF CHANCE will follow in January 2014. I grew up watching westerns, and it was one of my favorite eras to teach. Writing in that timeframe seems like a natural fit to me.
What do you like to do in your free time, besides read and write of course?
I walk four to five miles every day. I just get out and pound the pavement. It’s a great stress reliever and an easy way to get a lot of thinking (and plotting) done. I enjoy going to the movies and attending sporting events. I’m active in my local women’s club and enjoy various activities through it.
Where do you dream of going on vacation?
I’d love to take a tour of New England and eastern Canada during fall foliage season. I’d also love to see Greece.
Boxers or Briefs?
They both can be sexy, but let’s just lose them both and get down to business!
Cookies or cake?
You don’t play fair, Krystal. That’s a hard decision. I’ll say cookies – warm and chewy over cold and crisp. Peanut butter, oatmeal raisin, or white macadamia nut are some of my favorites.
Pizza or hamburger?
I could alternate days on these since I consider them basic food groups! If you force my hand, I’ll choose a hamburger – with grilled onions and mushrooms and Swiss cheese on a toasted bun.
Beer, Wine, or mixed drink?
I’ll go cabernet any day.
(Hero/Heroine Character Questions) What were your first impressions of each other?
Garrett – “She was tall and willowy with hair the color of summer wheat. I was intrigued by how she got the small scar high on her cheek. Then she told us this wild tale about being accosted by highway robbers. She claimed she frightened them off when she revealed she was married to the black-hearted Lord Montayne, telling me she was sure I had heard of her husband and his wicked reputation. I was shocked and perplexed … because I am Lord Montayne.”
Madeleine – “He infuriated me from the start. He looked like the Devil Himself with his dark, brooding eyes and powerful build. He simply stared through me as I told him my tale, not speaking, allowing his companion to converse with me. Then he ordered me about without consulting me at any point. He passed my beloved lute to his friend and demanded that I ride to London with him on his horse since he didn’t think he could handle both me and my lute. I couldn’t wait to rid myself of him.”
What’s your favorite characteristic of each other?
Garrett – “Madeleine is compassionate.”
Madeleine – “Garrett is resolute.”
What are your plans for the near future?
Garrett – “We plan to marry immediately and live every minute to the fullest.”
Madeleine – “And I hope we have children, my lord.”
Garrett (with a wicked gleam in his eye as he takes Madeleine’s hand in his and brushes his lips across her knuckles) – “Shall we excuse ourselves, sweetheart? Mayhap we can start on that future now.” (She blushes as he leads her away.)