Monday, March 10, 2008

My Interview With Kirsten Saell

I feel so fortunate to have Kirsten Saell with me today. Her debut book, Crossing Swords, comes out this Tuesday at Samhain! Let's take a look...

A straight duel to the death. A professional opponent who’s paying him to win. This was going to be the easiest money Gil had ever earned. Except he never counted on his opponent being a woman. And he never counted on falling for her.
After avenging the brutal murder of her lover, all Lianon wants is to die a clean death. Too bad the man she hired doesn’t do women, and he’s furious over her deception. Not only does he renege on their contract, he has the gall to lock her up in his apartment—naked, no less!—to punish her for her ruse.
If she could just get her mind out of the gutter, she’d cut him a new smile. But ever since he saw through her boy’s clothes, all she can think about is getting him naked, too.
But just when she’s found something to live for, the father of her lover’s murderer surfaces. He wants Lianon to die screaming—and he’s all too happy to take Gil down with her.

Sounds fantastic!

1. Tell us a little bit more about your upcoming release.
It’s the story of two crazy kids trying to make it in a cockamamie world… Okay, scratch that.

Gil and Lianon are Emissaries—that is, they’re independent contractors who provide occasionally *ahem* permanent solutions to people’s most sticky problems.

Lianon left the business a couple of years ago to settle down in the country with the woman of her dreams. Then one night, a bunch of drunk, bored noblemen destroyed her life, and now that she’s made them pay she’s on the run from the law and is looking to hire a professional to fulfill her death wish and cheat the hangman.

Gil is immersed in a life of single-minded hedonism, doing his best to forget his own personal tragedies and avoid any serious emotional entanglements, when a young man hires him for a fight to the death. When he discovers this young man is really a young woman, he’s furious.

Everyone knows Gil doesn’t do women—professionally speaking, that is—and he’s determined to punish Lianon for her ruse. Of course, on a non-professional level, he can’t help but be intrigued. A very unorthodox courtship ensues, complicated by baggage on both sides. In the end, they need to find a way to thwart the baddie from Lianon’s past, forgive their own failures, and give themselves permission to reach for happiness..

2. Do you remember where you were and what you were doing the day your book was accepted?
Well, I know it was when my stepsons were visiting, so I was probably up to my armpits in kids, dishes, laundry and yard-work. I have no other specific memory of it—just that feeling of rejection-dread turning into that feeling of peeing-your-pants-elated.

3. What is an average day in the life of Kirsten Saell?
Up, breakfast, kids, school, write, write, laundry, husband, lunch, kids, dishes, write, write, cooking, kids, laundry, KIDS, dog, husband, rat, dog, kids, KIDS, gah, get away from my clean pants with your ketchup mouth!, work, customers, food, food, food, tips, 4 percent? you gotta be kidding me f@#% you very much!, home, kids, food if I’m lucky, husband, KIDS bedtime, bedtime, BED, dang it, BED!!!, dog, rat, husband, wine, a little more wine, books, writing, mmmmmm…….zzz…

4. Who are some of your favorite erotic romance authors?
December Quinn was my intro into erotic romance (both as an author and a reader), and she remains a fave, whether erotic or just straight romance. Kate Pearce is another whose wonderful work really introduced me to the genre.

Bettie Sharp is awesome—anyone who loves a beautiful story should go download her free ebook, Ember, right now…and then buy Like a Thief in the Night from Samhain. I have a real soft spot for Gia Dawn’s Demons of Dunmore; there’s just something about those men!

And Michele de Lully, for making an m/f/f (which I love) work beautifully despite a first person point of view (which I usually detest). I can’t speak so much for print books—the nearest actual bookstore is a four-hour drive from my town. That’s why I love me some ebooks!

5. Could you tell us about your second novel, the sequel to Crossing Swords?
Actually, my second novel is a spin-off of Crossing featuring two secondary characters. It can best be described as “The whore with a heart of gold and the twelve-hundred-year-old virgin”. Kind of a departure from the “spunky, hymen-packing ingénue enchants jaded, oversexed rake” novels we’re all familiar with. The sequel to Crossing will be finished as soon as it grows itself to maturity (I really have no say in the matter, trust me).

6. Are you a serious plotter?
Well, there’s this guy who’s been bugging me at work, so I thought I’d write an open letter to my local paper accusing him of downloading Barry Manilow songs and gay por---what? Ohhhhhhh, that kind of plotter.

Um, yeah. Not at all, really. My stories kind of grow organically. They’re like the weird, ropey, slimy xeno-bio-architecture of the queen’s egg chamber in the Alien movies. The scenes just come to me. I write them and hope I don’t end up having to carpet-bomb a butt-load of words if things don’t work out.

Of course, that makes it really hard to force things when you can’t figure out a way to make everyone die who needs to die, everyone survive who needs to survive, and let the hero be a hero while not making the heroine look like a dumb-ass. But what can I say? Sometimes it all just falls into place.

7. What comes first for you, the storyline or the characters?
Usually the characters. I actually wrote a first draft of the opening scene (minus the public sex part, *ahem, AHEM*) for Crossing when I was seventeen, but didn’t know where to take the story. I just had these two odd, cool people meeting in a tavern, and no idea what happened next. Then, almost twenty years later as I got interested in erotic romance, suddenly it hit me where these two unusual people needed to go. I dug the handwritten copy out of my file-box, rewrote all my hideous, youthful, mauve-tinted prose, and got those two lost souls together.

8. What has been the most difficult aspect of being a writer?
Well, my nickname at Romance Divas is “Dust Bunny Diva”. Let’s just say, being a writer and getting other stuff done are often incompatible concepts.

Right now, there are dishes in the sink (and on the counter, and on the table, and pretty much strewn across the length and breadth of my house), a bathroom in desperate need of a HAZMAT team, and about nine days worth of clean laundry waiting to be folded and put away. And the dust bunnies. My god, the dust bunnies. Prioritizing is hard, because as much as you want the writing to take precedence, there are always going to be other things that need attention.

On the other hand, writers tend to be very good at compartmentalizing. See, I’m sticking all that housework in my mental closet and shutting the door on it. Shhhh. It doesn’t even exist anymore…

9. What has been the best and/or most surprising aspect of your writing journey?
The fact that there are people out there (however few and deluded) who want to read my words. That amazes me every day.

10. Is there any advice you have to aspiring authors who want to be published?
Do your research. Not just story-wise, but business-wise. Whenever I log onto one of my yahoo groups, I glance at the “yahoo questions”, and more often than not, there’s some variation on “How much do I have to pay to have my book published?” And that’s just sad, considering the plethora of information out there for newbs.

Google will lead you to hundreds of good resources (like Writer Beware, Miss Snark, or December Quinn’s How to Choose a Publisher series) that will give you a feel for the business, whether it’s epublishing or New York. I’m the cautious type. Before I even sent out a query, I spent months researching sales info, guidelines, author recs, etc, and also observing on industry and reader venues how the representatives of various companies conducted themselves online.

I was really fortunate. Samhain is a class act all the way. They were my first pick and they wanted me, yay! If I hadn’t done that initial recon into the business, I might not realize just how lucky I am to be with them. So my advice would be do your research and don’t be in a hurry. And remember: money is supposed to flow toward the author!

I thoroughly enjoyed this interview--it was a real pleasure Kirsten! I'm sure I'm not the only one looking forward to your release! Thank you so much.

If anyone else has any questions for Kirsten, feel free to post them. And dont forget to head over to Samhain and check out Crossing Swords! For a little extra nudge-perhaps I should allow you to view the amazing Trailer. :)


Anonymous Anonymous said...

As someone who has had the opportunity to read the book, I've gotta say (in Kirsten's own words) - it's 'blammo'!!!

...and now that I know more about her from the interview, it all makes

Congratulations on your book!!

8:57 AM  
Blogger Lillian Feisty said...

Great interview! I can't wait to read this!

11:35 AM  
Blogger December/Stacia said...

*blush* Kirsten, I don't think you talked me up quite enough there, but your check is in the mail anyway. :-)

11:43 AM  
Blogger kirsten saell said...

Thanks Beth, you are the best cheerleader evah!

Thanks Lillian! I hope you like it.

Can't help it, December, I'm still feeling all warm and fuzzy from reading Black Dragon.

P.S. Did you send it express?

12:16 PM  
Blogger Anna J. Evans said...

Great interview!


2:04 PM  
Blogger Crystal Jordan said...

That's an awesome cover!

Great interview! :-)

3:40 PM  
Blogger kirsten saell said...

Thanks, Anna!

And the cover is awesome, Crystal, I couldn't agree more. Christine Clavel must have read my mind, because it's everything I could have wanted and then some.

5:08 PM  

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