Monday, 7 October 2013

Monthly Author Interview

My inspirational author this month is the lovely K D Grace (who also writes as Grace Marshall) who asked me to do a guest post for a blog a few months ago. My reaction at the time was “Oh, my God. A BIG writer wants me to be on their blog!” And she kindly agreed to be interviewed….

First of all, I’d like to thank you for having me over, Jennifer. It’s such a treat to be here, and it’s been great fun answering these fab questions.

I love to write more anything. Everyone who knows me knows that about me.  Secondly, I love to be outside. I get my inspiration from walking and working in our allotment growing veg. I’m very physically active – always have been. My husband and I do some Chinese martial arts and some Tai boxing, and we get to the gym on a very regular basis. This helps keep us fit for the long walks. (We walked across England two summers ago! ) Thirdly I’m very neurotic, so I REALLY, REALLY NEEEED to walk and garden and work out hard. Those things keep me from getting too twitchy.

I live in South England, right off the North Downs Way, so lots of good walking available for me – and right at my back door. I have a fab husband who is extremely supportive of my writing. In fact, he tells his friends I use him for research!

We love birds. We feed them and indulge them in our back garden. We even have a black bird who comes to the window to let us know that he wants currants – NOW!

I wish I didn’t have to sleep because there’d be more time to write and garden and walk. Maybe then I could take up a few other hobbies I’d like to try if time weren’t an issue. Ah, but who am I kidding? If I had more time, I’d just fill it up with more writing.
(We are very alike, KD. I love walking and gardening too and have several bird feeders in mine.)

Tell us about your latest book.

My latest novel is a Grace Marshall novel. GM novels are very sexy with the emphasis on romance and a plot that’s very much a romantic thriller. The Exhibition is book three of The Executive Decisions Trilogy.  This is Stacie Emerson and Harris Walker’s story. (see excerpt at the end) Here’s the blurb:

Successful NYC gallery owner, Stacie Emerson, is ex-fiancĂ©e to one Thorne brother and ex-wife to the other. Though the three have made peace, Ellison Thorne’s friend, wildlife photographer, Harris Walker, still doesn’t like her. When Stacie convinces Harris to exhibit his work for the opening of her new gallery she never intended to include him in her other more hazardous plans. But when those plans draw the attention of dangerous business tycoon, Terrance Jamison, Harris comes to her aid. In the shadow of a threat only Stacie understands, can she dare let Harris into her life and make room for love?

It’s the last of the trilogy and, I think the most intense. It’s definitely an edge of the seat sort of read. It’ll be out later this autumn.

After that I’ll be turning my attention to Fulfilling the Contract, the sequel to The Initiation of Ms Holly.

(Sounds great – I wish you lots of luck with it.)

What makes a great hero?

What makes a great hero is not knowing that he’s a hero. That, to me is the number one rule in writing heroes. If a character thinks he’s god’s gift to the world, then he won’t be the hero in my story. I like flaws and I like an unassuming attitude. I like a hero who does what he has to when the time comes, even when the odds are against him.

There’s a wonderful line from the latest Star Trek film, Into Darkness (LOVE Star Trek in all its incarnations I agree!) which illustrates what I mean. To me, it’s the point at which Jim Kirk really becomes a true hero. He tells Spock, when it looks like all is doomed, ‘I have no idea what I’m supposed to do. I only know what I can do.’ THAT’S a hero’s line!

Do you have anything in common with your characters?

I think there’s a little bit of me in all my characters. I believe that ultimately we’re never really rescued until we rescue ourselves, and therefore all of my female characters, no matter how neurotic (You see? There I am!) are intelligent, capable and have something to offer an intelligent capable man other than a sexy body. In The Exhibition, for all of Stacie’s cosmopolitan savvy and her love of the natural world (Me again, well the love of the natural world, at least) she has trouble chewing gum and walking at the same time. Though I’m not clumsy physically, I always feel that socially, I’m a total clutz. I fake it pretty well, just like Stacie does. But I’m sure I don’t look anywhere nearly as good as she does in tight jeans or a power suit.
(I can empathise with this. I too take parts of my own character and embed them in my heroines).

Is there any trivia about your latest/forthcoming story that you can share with us (eg, the name of a real life pet that you used in the story)?

I set what I consider one of the most powerful scenes in the novel in Central Oregon, on the Crooked River and then over in the John Day Fossil Beds. I lived in Central Oregon, in the High Desert, for several years, and I claim the area as my stateside home when I go there. Also my sister lives there. When I visited her in March, we took one of the most amazing road trips I’ve ever taken. We drove through the John Day Fossil Beds, which is a HUGE area divided into three major units that took us all day driving to see. And when I say ‘see’, I mean just a quick peek at what’s really there. The next time I visit, there WILL be walks into the gorgeous High Dessert.

No picking up fossils allowed there. Mind you most of the finds that the paleontologists are working with are too big to carry home in your rucksack. Unlike Lyme Regis (Another one of my very fave places) nothing washes into the sea, which is a good seven hours away, and everything is fiercely protected. But the wild, pristine beauty of the High Desert is stunning. The painted Hills do, indeed look as though they’ve been painted. Sheep Rock does, indeed look like a sheep when viewed from the right angle (Though way too big to be called just a rock).

Stacie and Harris are returning from photographing Mountain Lions when they pass through this gorgeous area. Harris is a wildlife photographer and, of course he’d be photographing two of my fave animals. In the opening scenes he has an up-close and personal run-in with a family of great horned owls and in the scene on the Crooked River he has taken Stacie with him to photograph a mountain lion. Yep! I’m SO there!

What’s the strangest (bravest, funniest etc) thing you’ve ever done?

The bravest thing I’ve ever done, by far, (And maybe the strangest too, for that matter) was to submit my first story and pursue a fiction writing career in spite of a mountain of rejections. I still get butterflies in my stomach when I think how I really gutted it up and pushed on through the avalanche of rejections to get to where I am now.
(Know what you mean!)

When did you write your first book (and is it published)?

I wrote my first novel when I was 21. I did finish it, but never attempted to submit it. It was a bit of a Pygmalion story with a gym/triathlon sort of twist. Though it will probably remain a ‘trunk novel,’ I am toying around with some ideas based on that novel to create something much more sinister. But that’s for later!
(Trunk novel – good description! Better than ‘stories stuffed in the filing cabinet’)

What’s your guiltiest pleasure?

Seriously good coffee. Yup! That’s better than just about anything. That and really good iced tea, (That’s a hold-over from the American part of me. I grew up drinking it, so I guess it’s comfort drink ) I drink iced tea with no sugar, so it’s not really a guilty pleasure, is it?

What are you currently working on, or what’s on the horizon?

I have two projects in the works at the moment. As I said, I’m getting ready to start the sequel to The Initiation of Ms Holly – Fulfilling the Contract – which is set in Vegas and will be loads of fun to write, and hopefully read.

At the moment, I’m working in a different genre on what will be at least an epic fantasy trilogy with a possibility of more books. The first book is written and I’m in the process of last minute clean-ups and of mapping out books two and three. I’m very excited about this project, and having lots of fun with it.  

I’ve also just heard back from Moorita Encantada, with whom I’m collaborating on a burlesque play Eye of the Beholder, which is a modern retelling of the Perseus and Medusa story from Greek Mythology. I’ll be working more on that project as well.

What do you do when you’re not writing?

As I mentioned in the first question, most often when I’m not writing I’m doing something outside – walking or gardening. But in all honesty, even when I’m NOT writing, I’m thinking about writing.
(Oh yes, we writers can get our inspiration from just going to the shop to get some milk!)

What’s the hardest part of writing?

For me, the hardest part of writing is the final few chapters of the final draft of a novel. I call it End of Novel Syndrome. I get a bit crazy at that point (even more so than usual) and I can’t sleep well, I am grumpy (more so than usual) I’m emotional and I feel like I’m gonna die if I don’t get on with it. And then, when it’s finished and I’ve pushed the send key and the project is out of my hands, into the hands of my publisher … I get Empty Nest Syndrome, which is even worse, but much easier to treat. I just make sure my next project is there and grabbing my full attention. You see? I told you! Neurotic!
(Not neurotic at all – I think gardeners actually make good writers because we like to nuture.)

Find K D and Grace Marshall Here:                                     

The Exhibition Excerpt:
The fact that cops were pouring through the door only half registered in Harris’s Stacie-addled brain. Then some woman screamed raid, and people were running and shoving in all directions. Someone was shouting something in an authoritative voice into a blow horn. It all felt like a scene right out of a gangster movie.

Stacie grabbed him by the hand and dragged him back toward their table. She shoved her iPad in her bag, and shouted at Waters, who had rushed back to the booth with his dance partner hanging on for dear life and was now shooting pictures like crazy.

Every time the man had a camera in his hand, he looked like he was about to get well laid. Did his work really do that for him? The adrenaline rush that came from fear of losing life and limb was the best Harris ever managed.

‘You alright,’ Stacie yelled to Waters.

He nodded breathlessly and handed Stacie something that Harris couldn’t see. ‘Need to do me a favour.’ His words were clipped, excited. ‘Can you take care of this for me?’ He nodded toward the ladies room.

‘Seriously? You brought that here?’ For a second, Harris thought Stacie was going to belt the man.

But Waters only shrugged, gave her a sheepish grin, and kept shooting. ‘I didn’t think.’

She said something that Harris couldn’t hear over the chaos, something he figured wasn’t very nice.

She grabbed Harris by the hand and headed toward the bathrooms, dragging him right on into the women’s room. ‘What the –’

She shoved her way into the first stall, dropped a tiny plastic bag with what looked like a couple of roll-your-owns into the commode and flushed with her booted foot.

‘Jesus! Are you kidding me?’ Harris felt the tension ratchet up a notch in his shoulders as she watched the swirl of water in the toilet to make sure her efforts were effective. ‘He brought pot here? Idiot.’

She placed a finger to her lips, then slammed the cubicle door shut once she was satisfied with the results. ‘I’m sure that’s not what they’re looking for, but it’s enough to land him at the police station.’

Outside someone shouted, ‘Hastings, check the crappers.’

Before Harris knew what hit him, she pulled him into the cubicle at the other end of the row and locked the door behind him talking in a fast whisper. ‘Sorry about this. Not very professional, I know, but I promised to do my best to keep us out of jail, and I’m thinking groping in the ladies’ room’s not what this raid’s all about.’ The words were barely out of her mouth before she launched herself at him lips first. Damn it; he wanted to be mad at her. They were about to go to jail, for fuck sake! But instead of giving her a piece of his mind, he kissed her right back, hard, and felt her yield and open, and his tongue was in heaven sparing with hers, tasting, testing, thrusting. He found himself hoping that the inevitable arrest would wait until after he got his fill of Stacie Emerson, and that could take a while. She felt way better than she had even in his fantasies, and when his badly-behaving hands moved down to cup her magnificent bottom and pull her closer, she returned the favour and gave his ass a good grope. As though that gave him permission to explore, he slid anxious fingers inside her trousers wriggling down past a miniscule thong to cup an impossibly soft, impossibly firm buttock that gave a muscular clench in his hand, forcing her hips forward until she couldn’t possibly miss the press of his appreciative hard-on straining his jeans to get closer to her.

In the hall the noise got louder and the door burst open.

She had just managed a good firm stroke to the front of his trousers that had his full attention, and then some, when a heavy-handed knock on the door caused her to yelp, and he nearly fell back onto the commode.

‘All right, you two, tuck it in, and come on out.’

Stacie opened the door before they could even attempt to disguise what they’d been up too, and he cursed out loud just as the door swung wide and an unimpressed police woman, who looked like she could take them both in a wrestling match and not break a sweat, stood glaring at them without the least bit of surprise on her way- less-than-interested face. ‘You two got any drugs?’

‘I’ve got some aspirin.’ Stacie held her gigantic shoulder bag open for the police officer’s perusal.

The woman gave her a bored look. ‘You?’ She nodded to Harris.

Harris pulled his pockets inside out and a quarter and two pennies pinged against the edge of the toilet and went rolling across the floor.

The officer shook her head. ‘Get outta here and get a room. I really don’t need to see this kinda shit when I’m trying to work.’

Thank you so much for agreeing to be interviewed. I’ve come to realise reading this that you are I are a lot alike – walking, gardening, birdwatching, star trek (except for coffee – I’m an Englishwoman, give me tea any time).

Next month is the turn of Doris O’Conner.


  1. Thanks so much for having me over, Jennifer. It was great fun to chat. And lovely to find that we have so many things in common.

    K x

  2. Great interview, ladies - really enjoyed it! xx

  3. Enjoyed the interview and the excerpt!