"New Worlds Are Our Oyster."
Kathryn Smith’s first book was released by Avon Romance in 2001. Since then she has had 13 published, the latest of which, NIGHT OF THE HUNTRESS made the USA Today bestseller list. When she’s not writing about vampires or other fantastic creatures, Kathryn can be found spending time with her best friend (her husband Steve), babying her two cats, and thinking about writing.
An Interview with Kathryn Smith
PNR: Can you tell us a little about how you started writing; was it something you have always wanted to do?
Kathryn S.: Yes! I was 8 years-old and we had to write a short story for class. The teacher read them aloud, and everyone laughed when they were supposed to, and clapped at the end. I remember having the distinct feeling that I wanted more of that. I began writing more and the page count began to increase. At 10 I write a 90 page novella and by the time I reached 12 I had started work on a 372 page hand-written novel about a rock band that was suspiciously similar to Duran Duran. In my late 20’s I was in an awful job that I hated and was really bad for me. My boyfriend (who I later had the smarts to marry) told me that I should go back to school. More importantly, he would support me in any way he could while I pursued my writing career. I’m not sure I would have gotten published if not for Steve making it possible by covering the better portion of bills and rent. I went back to university and at the end of my second year I sent ELUSIVE PASSION to Krista Stroever at Avon. Before the start of my third year, I had signed a two book contract.
PNR: Could you tell us about your writing routine, how do you balance writing and personal time? What do you enjoy doing when you are not writing?
Kathryn S.: I don’t think I balance writing and personal time very well. I’m rather obsessed with my job, or rather it’s a huge part of who I am. I can’t turn it off, so I’ll think of plots at the worst times, or having characters talking in my head. Even when we watch TV I have a note book with me so I can scribble things down if I need to. That said, Steve does make me leave the house, and I leave the notebook behind when I do. Right now summer is here so we go to the pool and play Frisbee. We go for walks and try to get out and see places. We try to be as social as we can because my job is so solitary. Thank God for internet and long distance phone plans, or I’d never talk to anyone but my cats! LOL.
I do have some hobbies. I like to make mineral based makeup and I make jewelry. Someday I’m going to take a silversmithing course. I also like movies, TV, swimming and reading.
PNR: What is the best part about being a writer? The most frustrating?
Kathryn S.: Best part? Getting paid to do something that I can’t help but do. That’s cool. Seeing my book in printing, getting that great new cover. Oh, and getting notes and emails from people telling how much they enjoyed my latest book. That makes it all worthwhile. The most frustrating aspect is trying not to compare my career to other writers, or when I feel like I’m not meeting my personal goals. Those are both bad spots to be in and I’m trying to eliminate that kind of negativity from my life. It’s hard to stop judging yourself when all you have for instant validation are Amazon and Barnes and Noble sales ranks.
PNR: Which author(s) is your favorite? And who or what has most influenced your work? Who or what has been your biggest support?
Kathryn S.: I have a lot of favorites, so I’ll name the top few: Charlaine Harris, Neil Gaiman, Laura Lee Guhrke, Adele Ashworth, Jenna Petersen, Lisa Kleypas. It’s so hard to narrow it down because in addition to having favorite authors, I have a lot of authors on my list of favorite people! Biggest influence has to be Lisa Kleypas, who took me under her wing as a fledgling author and really helped me find my own style. She was very good to me. Looking back I realize how much time she gave me out of her very busy life and I appreciate that more than I can say. My biggest support has to be my husband, Steve with my mom at a close second. My mother always encouraged me to pursue my dreams, but Steve was the one who gave me that push. He’s always there to listen to story ideas, give his opinion (even though he knows the risks! lol) and buoy me up when I need. He’s also the first one to tell me when I need to step back as well. But I also have another person who keeps me sane, and that’s my agent, Nancy Yost. Nancy has supported me, promoted me, held my hand and kicked my butt on too many occasions to list.
PNR: You have been very successful writing traditional romance and only recently made the move to the paranormal with BE MINE TONIGHT, the first book in the Brotherhood of the Blood series. What influenced you to write in the paranormal genre?
Kathryn S.: I didn’t feel successful writing traditional romance. My numbers were steadily increasing, but I felt as though I was spinning my wheels. Then, just before paranormal really took off, my editor asked how I felt about vampires. I’ve loved them since I was a kid and first saw Frank Langella play Dracula. My editor said that she knew I loved tortured heroes, the paranormal and the Gothic, so would I like to combine those? Well, it was too good a deal to pass up! And the move to paranormal has been very good to me. Not only have I license to be much more creative than I could be in a more traditional book, but my sales have increased as well. I’ve wanted to write paranormal for years, so I’m extremely happy about its new popularity and I think it’s going to be around for a long time. I’ve jokingly referred to paranormal as ‘the new Regency’. After a while it will calm down, and the authors with a good following will continue on. I hope to be one of those authors. Meanwhile I get to combine my two favorite elements in romance – historical and paranormal. What more could I ask for?
PNR: You recently had the opportunity to take part in a documentary about romance fiction, WHO'S AFRAID OF HAPPY ENDINGS?. How did you become involved with this exciting project? Could you tell us a little about it?
Kathryn S.: I’d heard from another author about this documentary film maker who was looking to interview romance authors. I think I contacted Joanna D’Angelo – either that or she contacted me – and next thing I knew I was one of the authors she and her film-partner Christine wanted to feature!
The documentary is a great look into the world of romance fiction. It’s primary focus is on the authors, but there are some great glimpses into the inner workings of the industry as well.
PNR: What do you consider to be the key elements of a great story?
Kathryn S.: Characters. I think you can have a really thin plot and still make a great book if your characters are truly believable and interesting.
PNR: Congratulations on the February 2007 release of NIGHT OF THE HUNTRESS from Avon, readers and reviewers are excited about this second title in your Brotherhood of the Blood series; could you tell us where the idea came from and a little about your vision for the series?
Kathryn S.: I’ve always loved the paranormal, especially vampires. So, when my editor, who knew I loved these elements asked me if I’d like to do a vampire series I jumped at the chance. I never thought the books would do as well as they have, and I’m just so happy with how the series is going. I’ve tried to keep the books as stand alone as possible, but there is new/different information given in each book concerning the central mystery.
The idea for the series came to me when I decided that I wanted to make this series different than just a bunch of books about a bunch of vampires. So, I decided that I needed to link them all together, have them happen within a two month window, and then send them all off in the final book to face the villains head on. Each book reveals more information about the villains, but only in the final book will readers learn exactly what the Order of the Silver Palm has in mind.
PNR: Your Brotherhood of the Blood series takes place in a historical setting; was it difficult to write paranormal elements into this setting and make it believable for readers? How much research was involved?
Kathryn S.: Actually, I think the Victorian era lends itself to paranormal quite well. There was a huge belief in ghosts, fairies and all kinds of other supernatural phenomenon back then, so I think people of that age would have believed in the unseen with much more ease than people of today. Obviously I need to do research, and it’s on going. I’m always reading new books in an effort to learn more about the people and that time. For example, I’ve had to check on the popularity of telephones, electric lights… even underground trains.
But as far as the vampires go, the research leans toward my own mythology for them. I had to research Lilith, and through a story I discovered about her, came up with the idea of origin of vampires.
PNR: Can you tell us about the challenges you face in world building and making it work with the ideas you have in mind for the progression of your characters and the series? Do you write your characters to fit the world you have created or vice versa?
Kathryn S.: I think the most common problem is establishing a ‘rule’ of the world and then finding yourself wanting to break it for another book. You can’t do that! Honestly, the hardest part is keeping everything straight! I’ve got a binder full of pages of notes and a box of note cards on my desk for easy reference. There will probably be the odd error – I’m human, after all – but I’m certainly working hard to avoid it! But my world doesn’t have to mesh with the stories and the characters – the characters and plot are within the world, and are forced to act within those confines.
PNR: Do you feel your writing is character driven or plot driven? How do you balance these two elements?
Kathryn S.: I really don’t know! I would say character because so much of the plot comes from who these people are. I don’t really give a lot of thought to balancing the two. I think that balance just naturally happens when you know your characters and you know where they’re going.
PNR: Could you tell us a little about how you develop your characters? Who has been your favorite character to write? The most challenging?
Kathryn S.: I start out with an idea of the character – the spark of a personality. Then I think of a name that would suit that character. Once I have a name I ‘cast’ the character – I find a famous person who I think could play the role and I use that as a reference point. The character is never that person, but there’s inspiration there. I might use that person for physical reference in the beginning, but by the halfway point, the character has taken on his/her own ‘face.’ That’s how I know the book is working. My favorite character is always the one I’m writing! Right now I’m totally loving the hero from a short story I’m working on. I just love him. I think my most challenging was Prudence from Be Mine Tonight because I needed to make her both helpless and strong. I didn’t want her to be a victim, but I couldn’t martyr her either.
PNR: How would you describe the sensuality level of your books; do you find it challenging to write the love/sex scenes?
Kathryn S.: I think my books are fairly hot – not erotica, but sensual. The biggest challenge in writing a love scene is to make sure there’s enough emotion and not just a description of the act.
PNR: Why do you feel the vampire is such a popular character in books, movies and television?
Kathryn S.: As a hero he’s the ultimate tortured soul. He’s strong, but has great weaknesses (or vulnerability if you prefer). And love really can last forever with him. As a female character, she’s the strong, independent heroine we want to watch triumph in her quest. I think there’s something sad about the vampire, making him/her a weird kind of underdog despite their many attributes. As a heroic character we root for them, and as villains we’re terrified of them. I think that’s another appealing trait; typically vampires are monsters, but we’re making them heroes, and that makes them less scary.
PNR: Paranormal romance is experiencing an incredible surge in popularity, what do you feel accounts for the sudden interest in the genre? What is it about the paranormal genre that captures your imagination?
Kathryn S.: I think it’s the pure fantasy aspect, the ‘good vs. evil’ which is often at its core. For me, I love creating the world and these characters. I love to play with myths and bend them to my liking!
PNR: 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?
Kathryn S.: I love romance and I love fantasy. Being able to combine the two is a dream come true. I would love to write a mystery, but I’m not sure I’d be good at it.
PNR: Could you tell us about your current projects, what can readers expect to see in the coming months? A sneak peek perhaps?
Kathryn S.: Well, I just finished the fourth Brotherhood of Blood book, Let the Night Begin. It will be in stores in July 2008, I believe. I’m working on a short story for the Weddings From Hell anthology (May 2008), and in late 2008 my romantic urban fantasy series (which I’m calling The Nightmare Chronicles) will debut. It’s all about a woman named Dawn, who is a Nightmare. The first book doesn’t have a title yet, but I hope to rectify that soon!
I have an excerpt of my November release, Taken by the Night up on my website (www.kathryn-smith.com), and will be posting another soon.
PNR: Thank you Kathryn, for taking time out to talk to us. Where can readers find out what’s new and how can they contact you?
Kathryn S.: Readers can check out my website, which has links to various blogs I have. Also, I hang out at avonauthors.com a fair bit. I can be reached at email@example.com.
Meet the Brotherhood of the Blood
February 13, 2007
Brotherhood of the Blood: Book 2
When the vampire Bishop returned to Romania for the first time in centuries he never imagined he would find himself the prisoner of a vampire slayer. Nor did he expect to risk his own life to save hers. Marika has spent most of her life killing monsters like the one who killed her mother, and hiding her most dangerous secret. She would use Bishop to her own advantage, but when Marika's own life is threatened she realizes Bishop is her only ally -- and the one man who has ever laid claim to her heart.
June 26, 2006
Brotherhood of the Blood: Book 1
I am called Chapel . . .
For nearly six centuries I have roamed the night, a mortal man no longer. Would that I could undo the past -- when I entered the sanctuary of the Knights Templar to wrest from them the Holy Grail, only to discover the chalice I raised to my lips was not the sacred relic but a hellish cup of damnation. Now I shun the day and all things human, driven by an ungodly thirst. And yet...
Never have I known a maiden the like of Prudence Ryland, whose beauty and spirit awaken a heart I feared long cold and dead. But her young life is slipping away, and she also seeks the deliverance of the Grail -- unaware that the cost of her search could be her soul. I must help Prudence, for in six hundred years, no other woman has stirred my passions so. But dare I tender to my beloved that which she most desires -- the sensuous "gift" of forever that is both rapture and a curse: my immortal kiss?
November 1, 2007
Brotherhood of the Blood: Book 3
"They may call me Saint, but there is nothing saintly about me."
Saint came to London looking for a little rest, blood, and maybe some feminine company. He never wanted to avenge the murders of two prostitutes, and he certainly never asked for the censure he sees in Ivy Dearing's eyes. Though, the desire he sees there awakens a hunger inside him unlike any he has ever known. He is not the only man taken in by Ivy's considerable charms, but he plans to be the only man in her bed. And when the madman he's hunting turns his attention toward Ivy, Saint will risk everything -- even his immortality -- to save the woman he loves.
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