I’m back! And this week it’s with Kate Monroe, author of THE FALCONS CHASE.
I have put Ink Drop Interviews on hiatus to pursue other interests and attempt to put some serious time into my latest novel, but every now and then I get a request to do an interview for someone with a new release and want to do my part in helping them get their word out. This week, please welcome the author of THE FALCONS CHASE, Kate Monroe…
Kate Monroe is a redheaded author and editor who lives in a quiet and inspirational corner of southern England. She has a penchant for classic sci-fi, horror and loud guitars, and a fatal weakness for red wine. Her interests in writing range from horror to erotica, taking in historical romance, steampunk and tales of the paranormal on the way; whatever she dreamed about the night before is liable to find its way onto the page in some form or another…
Kate has had short stories published in numerous anthologies including works by Sirens Call Publications, Cruentus Libri Press, Rainstorm Press and Angelic Knight Press. The Falcon’s Chase is her debut full-length novel.
IDI – Tell us, within your writing, what is it that keeps the fires burning? What are you the most passionate about?
KM – Ever since I was a child, I’ve been a storyteller. There’s just something about that sense of immersion in the world you’ve created that’s utterly compelling, and it’s that sensation I seek to recapture every time I sit down to craft a new tale. Since I discovered that other people are just as interested in the stories I dream up, I’ve spent all my free time honing and refining the art of writing.
My writing is far from perfect, of course, but I firmly believe that somewhere ahead of me is that one truly brilliant tale, the one that captivates entirely and completely – and that’s what I’m striving for. In the meantime, I’m having the time of my life writing the stories that come to me, and I hope that my readers enjoy reading them as much as I enjoy breathing life into them.
IDI – Can we get a peek at your current project?
KM – I’m about halfway through the first draft of a new steampunk adventure romance, provisionally entitled ‘The Gears of Time’. Unlike The Falcon’s Chase, though, I’ve put something of a twist on the traditional steampunk rules and values to imagine what might happen if today’s steampunk community succeeded in creating all we dream of. The reality is far from what was first envisioned, and fatal chaos ensues.
Ginger glanced out of the window to drink in the distractions the city’s sights offered. Bath was now a city where steampunk dreams came true; the perfect marriage of the old and the new. Victorian ideals combined with twenty-second century technology to offer the perfect haven for those who lived there.
To its residents, it was known fondly as the City of Dreams.
Tonight, though, had been a nightmare in every way; all except for one startling component. Cole Rossetti was an enigma, and one that had forced its way into the forefront of her mind in defiance of all the dramas that had passed. She knew she should not be allowing herself to think of him, but she was powerless to purge him from her blood. Her entire body sang in remembrance of the forbidden intimacies they had shared, minute though they had been, and she did not think she would be able to rest until she had seen him again. Saul would disapprove – and rightly so – but Cole intrigued her to the exclusion of all else.
IDI – I’ve heard arguments for each side, so tell me, when you sit down to write do you outline the entire book before you feel comfortable enough to write or do you prefer to fly by the seat of your pants?
KM – As a rule, I plot obsessively and make sure I have the entire story progression laid out in front of me before I start to write. Generally I find it reassuring to know where the story’s going to go, and it avoids the pitfall of writing yourself into a plot hole and having to go back and delete a lot of what you’ve written. However, The Falcon’s Chase was an exception to that self-imposed rule. It actually grew from a single sentence that I came up with whilst writing an entirely different story for NaNoWriMo 2011. Within an hour the two lead characters, Reuben and Ari, had taken up residence inside my mind and were demanding that I dive headfirst into sharing their tale.
Though I’d never written like that before, I found myself easily clearing three or four thousand words a day and the story came to me easily as the plot thickened. With the exception of tightening up a few holes once it came to editing, the finished product was a relaxed and free process, about as far removed from the two months of obsessive planning I usually do as it was possible to be!
IDI – Pen and paper or computer and Word? The bustle of Barnes & Noble or the quiet of your study? Alone or within a writing group? Tell us, what is your most productive/inspiring setting?
KM – Peace and quiet is a luxury when I have an adorable but manic three-year old under my feet, so I’ve become used to writing in even the most manic setting. However, when I get some time to myself there’s nothing I like more than taking a battered old notebook, a fountain pen I used while at school and a flask of coffee up to the woods. I type a lot faster than I write by hand, but there’s just something about being alone in the woods that gets the words flowing – and I’m sure it helps that our local woods can boast of both a witch’s cottage and a castle hidden away amongst the trees!
IDI – What advice would you give to a new/unpublished writer?
KM – Bad reviews will more than likely come your way, but often they have just as much value as the good ones. Difficult though it is to have someone criticise the work that you’ve likely poured your heart and soul into, there’s a real value in being able to step back and look at the review objectively. Sometimes those criticisms are valid and you can use them to improve your work – and after all, that’s what all writers should strive to do.
On the rare occasions that someone just trashes your baby for the hell of it, smile, thank them politely and then move onward and upward. Doing anything else only makes you look the fool and puts other readers off your work.
IDI – What was the best advice ever given to you, and by whom?
KM – From Winston Churchill via Ginger, lead singer of the Wildhearts (a British rock band that have pretty much provided the soundtrack to my life!)…
“If you’re going through hell, just keep going.”
It’s such an enormously powerful quote and can be applied to everything from the most agonising of personal crises to even just the everyday slog that a writer faces in getting their story told. No matter how hard things may seem, if you only keep going the end will surely come. Seems like a pretty good mantra to live your life by!
IDI – I have at least a half a dozen ideas that cross over the line of my usual genre. Do you have any such ideas and what do you think about authors crossing genres?
KM – I know many in the business think that genre crossing is the cardinal sin for authors, and if so I’m guilty as charged. As well as steampunk romance like The Falcon’s Chase, I love writing horror. I’ve had numerous short stories published in horror anthologies, and I won’t sacrifice the enjoyment I get from writing those merely because some think than an author should focus all their efforts on building a presence in one genre.
For me, writing is a necessary indulgence. I don’t write for the money (because frankly, there isn’t much of it unless you become one of the big names), and I don’t write for the recognition either. I write simply because I have to; if I didn’t write down all the stories inside my head, I think I’d go crazy. I simply write whatever comes to me and enjoy doing so.
I suppose that whether you’re happy to genre cross or not depends on your own reasons for writing. If you’re approaching it from a business perspective of trying to carve out a career, then perhaps logic dictates that you find a genre you’re good at and stick to it – but if like me you write for the sheer pleasure of it, then why try to restrict yourself? Just go wherever your imagination leads you.
IDI – In your opinion, what are the biggest misconceptions new authors have about the publishing industry?
KM – Many novices believe that all they have to do is get their story out there. However, the hard work doesn’t stop once your book is published. On the contrary, it’s only just begun. Even if you’ve made sure that the product you’ve put out there is the very best it can possibly be (and rushing it out simply for the sake of publishing is a common mistake new authors make), simply hitting that button that says ‘publish’ isn’t the end of the line.
If you don’t want your book to languish amongst the myriad of fiction then you have to work hard to make it stand out. Did you know that nearly 3 million eBooks were published in the USA in 2010? The market is saturated, and even if you’re confident that your book has that special something that makes it worthy of the reader’s attention, they don’t know that. You have to actively promote it and build up a relationship with your readers, or your first foray into publishing is highly unlikely to succeed.
IDI – When reading another author, do you simply enjoy the read or do you find yourself critiquing as you go? And if so, what is the one mistake/issue you find most?
KM – I wear another hat; as well as being an author, I also edit fiction. Bearing that in mind, it’s pretty much impossible for me not to subconsciously scan another author’s work as I read it, even if it’s one I don’t personally know. What I see most often and has me silently weeping inside is a shocking abuse of punctuation. If I was being self-critical I’d have to confess that I have something of a love affair with commas, but so many authors criminally abuse the basic rules of grammar that should have been drummed into them at school. Poor grammar and punctuation drastically interrupts the flow of even the most brilliant prose, but it’s something that’s overlooked far too much.
IDI – What is your all-time favorite book?
KM – Bram Stoker’s Dracula. I know that vampire fiction is unfashionable these days, but I’ve always had a soft spot for it. Stoker’s novel genuinely was genre-defining, and I’ve yet to read a vampire novel that comes close to the atmosphere and horror he evokes. Dracula is one of those characters that everybody knows, and that worldwide recognition is a testament to the strength of Stoker’s writing.
IDI – Why did you choose to heavily feature a steampunk theme in THE FALCONS CHASE?
KM – I’ve loved steampunk since before I knew what it was. When growing up I had a real fascination for Victoriana and I was convinced I was born two hundred years too late. Along with my passion for all things historical I was a proud science geek too, studying history and physics in tandem. As steampunk gradually became more mainstream, I heard about the movement through a local rock band I photographed – and I was hooked from the start.
To me, the real beauty of steampunk is its ability to take you anywhere you desire; and for Reuben and Ari that ability was key. Their story, therefore, seemed to slot naturally into a steampunk setting.
IDI – How did you come to publish THE FALCONS CHASE through Pink Pepper Press?
KM – Pink Pepper Press is the new imprint of Sirens Call Publications, and I already knew the team through doing some editing work with them and writing for their anthologies earlier in the year. I loved working with Kalla and Nina back then, so when I began looking for a home for The Falcon’s Chase they were the first thought in my mind; and luckily they enjoyed the story as much as I did!
IDI – Kate, thank you for appearing on Ink Drop Interviews with me today. I’d like to leave our readers with a little more information about your book and a sample of THE FALCON CHASE, if you don’t mind.
KM –Not at all and thank you for having me!
The Falcon’s ChaseInfo Sheet
Captain Reuben Costello is just hours away from facing his execution when the unlikeliest of rescuers storms into his cell. Lady Arianne Dalton needs the assistance of the infamous Black Swan to flee England and all its constraints. He finds himself more than willing to help the fiercely independent Ari in exchange for his freedom.
However, when they come to find their fates inextricably tangled in a plot that threatens the very foundations of British society, they are swept away on a chase that puts not only their lives, but their hearts at risk – and neither of them can defy the wild and stormy ride they find upon the Falcon.
Author: Kate Monroe
Publisher: Pink Pepper Press
Number of Pages: 298 pages
Release Date: October 5, 2012
Links for Purchase:
The Falcon’s Chase Excerpt:
Reuben Costello knew that he had tried a hundred times to wrench the unyielding iron bars of his prison cell apart, but he could not resist the urge to try just once more. However hard he tugged, though, they withstood even the inhuman amount of force that his prosthetic arm applied to them, just as they had so many times before.
He delivered a furious kick to the bars that had him inescapably trapped as his dark eyes settled upon the copper plated arm that he wore like a badge of honour. Meticulously bonded to the living flesh it clung to, it was just as responsive and more effective than the arm of muscles and bones that had existed in its place for the first eleven years of his life; but though he had worn it for twenty years now and it had served him well for all of those, the sight of it still filled him with a bitter and resentful disgust.
Even that painful emotion, though, could not distract him for more than a few moments. Far more pressing was the grim awareness that with every second that passed, sunrise drew nearer, and with it would come his execution. Reuben had lived a far from blameless life, always dancing along the thin, blurred line that separated the pursuits of an ordinary merchant and the more interesting activities that he liked to indulge in.
Betrayed to Her Majesty’s Royal Navy after a dalliance with the pirates that roamed the Red Sea proved too irresistible for his mercenary side to ignore, Reuben had been captured and dragged to the infamous Tower of London. It had taken no less than a dozen captains to bring him in. Had he been aboard his ship when they attacked, he had no doubt that they would not have succeeded.
Reuben had not been aboard the Falcon, though. Instead, he had been spending the night with his latest mistress – and when she had brazenly lounged back on the bed with a cigarillo between her perfect red lips and laughed loudly as they dragged him away, he had silently cursed his propensity for choosing his bedmates based on looks alone.
That, it seemed, was not a mistake he would have the chance to ever make again. Though his crime was nowhere as severe as it should be to warrant execution, that was the sentence that had inexplicably been passed. Time was rapidly slipping away from him and much to his disgust, it was becoming clear that there would be no escape from the harsh fate that awaited him.
He sank down to the cold, grimy cobbles that lined his dungeon cell and affixed a menacing scowl to his face for the sole benefit of any gaolers that should happen to parade past his cell with their looks of disdain and taunts about the noose that was so soon to be claiming his neck in the hangman’s embrace. Soon, light footsteps heralded the approach of just such a person.
Reuben snatched upon the only amusement that would be his on this last lonely night of life. He wrapped his fingers around the hateful bars of his cell and knelt down, drawing back his thin lips to expose the gleaming teeth beneath as he deliberately allowed a low, ominous growl to rise up from the pit of his stomach and echo around the confines of the dungeon.
He squinted into the dimly-lit gloom as the footsteps quickened and caught sight of a distinct shape emerging from the putrid darkness. Far shorter than any of the guards he had become accustomed to – he would estimate that the top of their head would not even reach his shoulder – and dressed all in black, the person reached into their pocket and extracted what was undoubtedly, from the jangling sound of metal against metal, a bunch of heavy brass keys.
Reuben’s eyes narrowed as they quickly swept across the newcomer appraisingly. Their head was bowed low, concealed from his gaze by the shadow of the black cap atop it, and a full-length greatcoat enveloped their body and skimmed across their ankles to reveal tight-fitting breeches and laced leather boots.
Everything about the clothing that they wore screamed of masculinity, but an incredulous suspicion was rising inside him that it was no man that stood before him. The slender fingers that were now fumbling with the keys were pale and unblemished, as far removed from the rough and calloused hands of the gaolers as it was possible to be. As they unlocked the door and hastily slammed it shut behind them, the shape of a second person stepped out of the shadows in the corridor.
“I shall stay at the end of the corridor to stand guard, then – just shout if you need me, ma’am.” They were dismissed with a jerk of the head and an irritable wave of the delicate hand that had unlocked the door.
Even if those intriguing words had not made it plain that it was a woman now locked in the cell with him, any remaining doubt he might have had was extinguished when he inhaled sharply and a delicate scent that had wafted in with the newcomer danced around his senses, teasing and tantalising him with its faint notes of jasmine and gardenia. It was a scent that was intrinsically and undeniably feminine in origin.
Reuben swallowed hard, for a woman’s appearance in his cell could mean only one thing. He let loose a soft groan. He had been alone in his cell for over a month now and the company of a woman was perhaps the only thing that might make him able to forget his imminent execution. With a deep, primal hunger raging inside him, he stared at her intently as she slowly pulled away her cap to reveal the face of the woman that had come to offer him the scant comfort she could provide.
“Ah! You are to be this condemned man’s last meal, I presume?” Reuben’s low voice was hoarse, for the instant that she had removed her cap and revealed herself to him, he had been consumed by such a forceful throb of aching desire that he knew he had to have her, prostitute or not. Not even pausing to think upon the surprising and uncharacteristic generosity that his gaolers had shown in sending such a rare beauty to him on the eve of his execution, he roughly backed her up against the stone walls of the cell.
Her soulful eyes widened and her lips parted, but before she could speak Reuben devoted himself to the far from unpalatable task at hand. If this was to be the last woman he would take before his execution then, he thought wryly, it was fitting that she was by far the loveliest he had ever had in his arms, despite her manly attire – attire that he intended to waste no time in stripping away from her shapely form.
He shook his tangled, jet black braids back out of his face, lowered his head and laid forceful, triumphant claim to her wonderfully soft and pliant lips, already dizzy with the strength of his desperate yearning for her. Reuben slipped one hand behind her head to caress the delicate nape of her neck and hold her in place as his fingers wound through the silken curls of hair escaping the tight bun attempting to restrain them, his arousal rapidly spiralling out of control as he pushed himself up against her to mould himself against every feminine contour of her body.
He forced his prosthetic arm between their bodies to reach for the intricate buttons of her greatcoat and tugged them apart with such force that they ripped free of the fabric, but even that was not enough to persuade him to break the kiss. Never before had a mere kiss managed to arouse him with such ferocity. Perhaps it was the adrenalin pounding through his body in anticipation of his death intensifying all that he felt, but Reuben had never craved any woman as much as he did this one.
As his fingers insistently moved between their bodies to seek out the fastenings of her shirt, though, brushing against the agonisingly tempting curve of her high, full breasts as they did so, she twisted her head to the side with a loud and rasping cry. “What in God’s name do you think that you are doing, sir?!”
Reuben arched one dark eyebrow incredulously as he fought for breath and ruthlessly kept her pinned up against the wall. “I thought that was more than obvious! I was beginning to avail myself of all the pleasures that your sweet mouth had to offer to me. Is that not why you came here?”
“No!” Rage burned in her wide, darkened eyes as she struggled desperately to free herself of his hold. “Good God, I am no…no…” She trailed off, blushing hotly as a small smile began to quirk back the corner of his lips.
“Prostitute?” Reuben offered mildly, his anger at being interrupted fading away in the face of her evident reaction to his proximity – a reaction that it seemed she was not simply falsifying for the sake of her wages.
“Indeed I am not!”
Her curt denial seemed genuine, much to his bemusement. As he allowed his fingers to work their way underneath the shirt she wore to caress the bare skin he found beneath, he tilted his head to the side. “But I don’t understand – how did you get in here if you are not a prostitute, little lady?”
Her flush deepened but her lips twitched with what could only be irritation as she plunged one hand into her pocket and extracted a furled piece of parchment. She unravelled it and thrust it at him contemptuously. “Admiral Dalton’s seal tends to open any door that happens to be in one’s way.”
“Admiral Dalton signed an order for my release?”
“No, but I am very adept at forging my father’s signature; I am Lady Arianne Dalton. My friends call me Ari, but you may call me milady – and you can let me go now!”
Ink Drop Interviews are conducted by Kathy Reinhart, author of MISSOURI IN A SUITCASE, the award-winning
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