"New Worlds Are Our Oyster."
Spotlight on Great Summer Reads
An inveterate reader and daydreamer, Kathleen Dante is a refugee from the world of trade journalism, having spent a decade of her youth tracking developments in electronic parts supply. In 2004, she escaped the daily grind for the harrowing world of freelance to allow herself time to devote to writing. These days, she puts her vegging to good use by dreaming up steamy romances spiced with magic and suspense.
PNR: Have you always wanted to be a writer, what led you to pursue writing as a career?
Kathleen D.: Actually, for the longest time, my storytelling was in the oral tradition. I thought I couldn't make it as a writer. I had this misconception that you had to have the plot lined up - clever twists and all - before you start writing and that you had to write linearly, starting at the beginning and working your way to The End. All I had were cool scenes and no plot. I was hanging out at a few places in the Net, which had several writers, and I always thought, 'I couldn’t do that'.
It wasn't until I read something Wen Spencer blogged on writing that I realized it didn't have to be that way. So the next time a cool scene came to me, I decided to try putting it down in words. That was the start of ENTANGLED, and that scene is still mostly unchanged. It;s the one with Lantis and Dillon in the first chapter; you can read it on my website.
While working on ENTANGLED, I happened to tell Diane Whiteside that I was trying my hand at writing; I'm one of her crit partners and thought it would be safe to mention it — kind of as a way to acknowledge to myself that I was going to be serious about my writing. Little did I know! When she expressed interest, I sent her that scene with Lantis and Dillon and it took off from there. Her enthusiasm was the biggest factor behind my decision to become a full-time writer; well, that and job burnout. I figured that if I didn't give my writing a solid chance, I'd always wonder if I'd made the wrong choice.
PNR: Being a new author, who or what has been the biggest influence on your work?
Kathleen D.: Hands down, it's reading. I've read romance since the impressionable age of 8, starting with my mother's Mills&Boons, branched out to science fiction and fantasy a few years later, and dipped my toe in historical action/adventure in college. After that, I got into manga (Japanese comic books) with their fantastical storylines that still managed to be rooted in everyday life. Second to reading, anime (Japanese animation) probably had the biggest impact since many of my childhood TV programs were the inspiration for the story flashes I made up and shared with my brother while growing up.
PNR: Most writers are avid readers, who is your favorite author(s)? What books would we see in your TBR pile?
Kathleen D.: It's a mixed lot: Angela Knight, Diane Whiteside, John Ringo, Wen Spencer, Patricia Briggs, Dudley Pope, Lois McMaster Bujold, Laurell K. Hamilton, Jim Butcher, Linda Howard, Gennita Low, Steven Brust . . . The list could go on and on.
My TBR pile is a growing mountain. Right now, I have Marjorie Liu's Shadow Touch at the very top. Others waiting to be read include Charlaine Harris' Definitely Dead, Sherrilyn Kenyon's Unleash the Night and Kristen Britain's First Rider's Call. I'm so behind! Ever since I started writing full time, I haven’t been able to read as much. It used to take me only a day or two to read a book; now, I rarely manage that.
PNR: You have a short story 'Night Pleasures' in the WILD NIGHTS anthology from Kensington, and a single title, ENTANGLED, from Berkley Heat, both being released in September 2006. How does it feel to be a debut author having your work recognized by the big publishing houses? What was your path to publication?
Kathleen D.: I still have difficulty believing it's happening! It's a total rush; but when all the edits and proofs arrive, it's a job with deadlines. Then I start worrying that they’ll change their minds and decide not to publish me anyway.
My path to publication was pure serendipity. I'd initially written ENTANGLED just to see if I could write a novel. I mean, when I started writing it, I wasn't even thinking of getting published; it was the first time in more than a decade that I was working on fiction and I wasn't sure I could complete the story. In fact, I almost didn't finish it because of work pressures.
And it was only because of good friends - Angela Knight and Diane Whiteside, to whom I'll forever be grateful - that my agent even heard of me. They took the time during RWA National in 2005 to tell her about ENTANGLED, then sent her the manuscript. The first thing I knew of it was the week after National when Roberta Brown e-mailed me offering representation. A month later, Kensington invited me to take part in the WILD NIGHTS anthology, and two months after that, ENTANGLED sold to Berkley. Of course, it wasn't quite that simple. Berkley initially passed on ENTANGLED; I think it was too sexy for their Sensation line.
PNR: Let's talk about your work. As a reader, I was thoroughly transported to the magical world you created in ENTANGLED, can you tell us about the challenges you faced in the development of your futuristic Earth?
Kathleen D.: First, I have to make it clear it’s an alternate Earth, not futuristic; except for where it overlaps with magic, the technology in ENTANGLED isn’t that much more advanced than our own. When you say futuristic, what comes to mind are spaceships and other planets and the like.
ENTANGLED got started with my reading Tinker by Wen Spencer. One of her characters made a comment about entanglement as related to fate. Around the same time, I read an article about scientists successfully entangling photons and how a change in one photon affected the other even when separated by a river. And I thought, “What if two people could be entangled but on a psychic level? How would they perceive the link?”
The main challenge I had was figuring out what kind of world would make such an entanglement possible. I’d immediately decided it had to have magic and modern technology; I’d been playing with the concept of magic-chemical interaction for some time. But how magic worked and the kind of society that would allow technology and magic to coexist and develop side by side, that took some thought. I couldn’t just wave my hand and say, 'That's just the way it is,' because I knew that when I told my brother about it, he’d ask those same questions, just like he had with my story flashes when we were growing up. It had to be logical and believable; having grown up reading science fiction and fantasy, I couldn't figure out a plot to support the romance without hammering out those details to my satisfaction.
There I was. I already had my main characters, the setting, a rough beginning and part of the end. In fact, I already had the core of the Big Showdown between my protagonists and the villain written down. But I had to know what could and couldn’t be done, and why, and what happened if a character did too much before I could get any further.
PNR: You have crafted a satisfying romantic suspense with characters that jump off the page with their realistic dialogue and humorous rapport. Who is your favorite character(s) to write? The most challenging?
Kathleen D.: Thank you for saying that! I have to say it’s a tossup between Lantis and Dillon. They came first. They just hijacked my imagination from the very start when they came to me in that first scene. The most challenging to write was Kiera because she's the one with the angst and the Big Showdown - which was a gut-wrenching scene to write — was from her perspective.
PNR: There is a fair amount of sexual tension between Lantis and Kiera, which led to many intense scenes between your hero and heroine, where do you get your inspiration? Were these scenes difficult to write?
Kathleen D.: I had lots of inspiration in the form of eye candy and from hanging out on various lists online. But I have no idea where the actual scenes came from. I remember thinking, 'Oh. My. God. I can't believe I'm writing this!” while working on the scene where Lantis and Kiera become entangled. I’d known what was supposed to happen, but not the details or how intense it was going to be. That's just the way it turned out. I didn’t set out to make them that way. I never imagined I'd be writing such a scene when I first started on ENTANGLED. My characters just surprised me.
Those scenes were difficult to write in the sense that it’s difficult to write while you’re squirming in your chair. :) But if the scene doesn't make you squirm, then it’s not believable and you’re not doing it right. When that happens, it's like having a wisdom tooth pulled. :(
PNR: Do you feel the sensual/erotic genre has affected the paranormal romance genre?
Kathleen D.: Definitely! On the readers’ side, I think it’s liberating. Not just in the sense of having the option of reading a sensual story, but also because writers in the genre tend to be willing to push the boundaries in other ways, including storylines that might not have been attempted before because they involved sexual/gender identity issues.
From a writer’s perspective, I know it's liberating because it allowed me to write the stories as I envisioned them. If I had to filter out the sensuality in ENTANGLED, I think the result would have been much weaker and . . . unbelievable. I don't think the reader would have accepted the strength of Lantis and Kiera's bond if its depiction hadn't been that intense or if I’d just hinted and winked at the development and then presented the reader with a fait accompli. It's all part of show-not-tell.
Bottom line: I think the sensual/erotic genre has only strengthened the paranormal romance genre by making more options available.
PNR: ENTANGLED features a hero who can wield magic; your upcoming releases have paranormal themes as well. What is your favorite genre to write? Is there any style or genre of book that you would like to try but haven’t yet?
Kathleen D.: LOL All my story ideas to date have been paranormal romances. I'd love to try my hand at a straight romantic suspense/adventure, if only for the challenge, but I don’t think that's going to happen in the near future. There are just so many possibilities with paranormal romance! So long as my editors are willing to pay me to write them, that's what I intend to write.
PNR: I am excited about your books featuring characters from Black Ops. I noticed the next book, Enticed, will be released in March 2007, can you give us a sneak peak? What are your plans for this series, will there be additional titles coming?
Kathleen D.: ENTICED is Dillon’s story. He's still in black ops but gets involved with a clairvoyant - which could play merry hell with operational security since she can use her vision to check up on him. Unfortunately for Dillon, he can't just leave her alone since she’s drawn the attention of a murderer. ENTICED takes place almost a year after ENTANGLED. Many of the main characters in ENTANGLED show up and we get to revisit Lantis and Kiera.
Initially, Rio's was the only other story planned. Then, while writing ENTICED, a scene with Brian popped into my head, one with a heroine I hadn’t expected! I now hope to do the stories of Brian, Rio and Joe; the ideas are there, although not quite concrete yet. The plots need more time to develop. However, I already have titles in mind: Endowed, Endangered (although that doesn't quite sound sexy, so it could change), Enflamed, Entranced. Yes, I realize that's four titles. There's a new character hinted at in ENTICED, for whom I already have vague plans.
I also have an idea for a standalone that's set in the same universe, featuring characters with no connection to Lantis and the others. For the time being, I'm calling it Mage Next Door, but who knows how it will turn out.
That said, I don’t have a contract for any of them yet, just ideas. I'm crossing my fingers that I'll get to write them.
PNR: Could you tell us about your current projects, what can readers expect to see in the coming months?
Kathleen D.: Right now, I'm in the middle of 'Call of the Wild,' a werewolf novella that will be in Kensington’s SEXY BEAST II anthology, scheduled for April 2007 - the month after ENTICED. After that, it’s up in the air. The proposal I have with Berkley is for another paranormal romance, which features an incubus hero, but there’s been no decision on that yet.
PNR: Thanks Kathleen, for taking the time out to talk to us. Where can readers find out what's new and how can they contact you?
Kathleen D.: Thanks, Dee! I enjoyed talking with you. Readers can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org. They can also visit my website at www.kathleendante.com where they can find excerpts, news, and links to my blog and to subscribe to my newsletter. I try to keep my website current. In the coming months, I plan to put up outtakes from ENTANGLED.
Pub Group (Heat)
ENTANGLED - Kiera Stevens knows there's a spy in kidTek, the toy company she inherited from her father which also handles top-secret defense R&D projects. She doesn't know whom among her employees she can trust but to ferret out the spy she needs more than an ordinary investigator and absolute secrecy. High adept and security consultant John Atlantis (Lantis to his friends and colleagues) is a retired black ops agent with the security clearances to prove it. As a favor to his former partner, he takes on Kiera's problem, going undercover as her lover to carry out his investigation.
When a complicated spell to upgrade the security of kidTek's labs results in more power than safe, Lantis is forced to ground the power through sex ... and he and Kiera become entangled, their minds sharing sensations and pleasures.
That's when things become complicated. Because the spy is just the tip of the iceberg. Someone is watching Kiera, someone who doesn't want her at the head of kidTek and doesn't care who stands in the way.
Buy it now! Kensington Publishing (Aphrodisia)
September 1, 2006
Paperback Read the Reviews!
Anthology With Kate Douglas and Sharon Page
Pleasures by Kathleen Dante
Pub Group (Heat)
ENTICED - Psyprint artist Jordan Kane uses clairvoyance to hide her blindness and present a façade of normalcy in public. A secondary gift of psychometry reinforces her solitariness. The last thing she wants is a man in her bed who upsets the even tenor of her life.
Black ops agent Dillon Gavin is comfortable in his shadowy world. Ordered to take R&R, he's on the lookout for a simple vacation fling. The last thing he expects is a lover with unauthorized — and uncontrollable — access to details of his top secret missions.
But when Dillon meets Jordan, caution and commonsense go out the window. Enticed beyond measure, Jordan risks her heart, and the last thing Dillon expects is precisely what he gets. Now, with murder haunting Jordan's dreams, Dillon will risk everything he has to keep his lover alive.
Featured in this issue: Sizzling Summer Reads Berkley Heat Cobblestone Press