"New Worlds Are Our Oyster."
Kendra Leigh Castle
Kendra Leigh Castle started out stealing her mother’s romance novels and finally progressed to writing her own. She brings her love of all things both spooky and steamy to her writing, and firmly believes that creatures of the night deserve happily ever afters too. When not curled up with her laptop and yet another cup of coffee, Kendra keeps busy in California with her husband, three children, and menagerie of high-maintenance pets. The latest book in her Highland werewolf series, Dark Highland Fire, will be released in October from Sourcebooks Casablanca.
An Interview with Kendra Leigh Castle
PNR: Welcome Kendra, I’m excited to have the opportunity to talk with you about your new Highland werewolf series, and your work.
Kendra Leigh C.: Hi, Dee! Thanks for having me!
PNR: Can you tell us a little about how you started writing; was it something you have always wanted to do?
Kendra Leigh C.: I think I’ve been writing almost as long as I’ve been reading, and since I read early, that’s a long time! I was pretty sick as a kid. Allergies and asthma combined with Northern New York climate was an absolute disaster in my case, so I was confined to the house a lot during my “bad seasons.” Those, by the way, were pretty much any time but summer. I read to escape, and writing my own stories was a natural extension of that. My pediatrician’s walls were decorated with my early work, which wasn’t exactly publication, but it was a start! I always loved to write stories. Still, for a long time it was just me, thinking, “You know, I bet I could write a book.” It took my Navy husband moving me to a remote part of the Nevada desert to give me the final kick in the pants I needed to get going. If I ever had time to give it a shot, it was then. Obviously, I’m really glad I did!
PNR: Being a new author, who or what has been the biggest influence on your writing? Who has been your biggest support?
Kendra Leigh C.: In general, my biggest influences have been anyone who ever made me fall in love with a story, who took me so completely out of my own reality and into someone else’s that I wonder what the characters are doing long after I’ve read the last page. If the author has a warm, engaging, funny voice, I’m usually hooked. I grew up loving Julie Garwood and Johanna Lindsey (still do), and being able to craft a world as engaging as Gena Showalter’s Atlantis is one of my ultimate goals. My biggest support has been my family, in particular my husband and kids, who have put up with my weird hours and occasional meltdowns and still manage to love me. They’re my center…I don’t know what I would do without them. My mom’s the other one. She got me hooked on romance a long time ago, and she’s so tickled to see me published in that genre.
PNR: Most writers are avid readers, is this true for you? What titles would we see in your TBR pile?
Kendra Leigh C.: Oh, definitely! I love to read. Unfortunately, I have a lot less time to do it these days…I seem to be on deadline a lot. But when I’m not, books are my treat, and I tear right through ‘em to make up for lost time. I have a towering TBR pile right now, but since I just turned in a manuscript I’ve begun work on it. Just read P.C. Cast’s Goddess of the Rose, which was a wonderful twist on Beauty and the Beast. Next up are the new series by Gena Showalter and Nora Roberts, two of my very favorite authors. I need my fix!
PNR: What do you feel are the essential elements of a great story?
Kendra Leigh C.: I think engaging characters, a compelling plot, and in romance, palpable sexual tension are key. I also think voice is incredibly important. A story can have all the right ingredients, but if I flip through it and the voice doesn’t catch me, I’m probably going to give it a pass. The authors I mentioned as my favorites could decide to write about anything, up to and including car maintenance how-to guides, and I would read it, just because I love the way they tell a story.
PNR: Congratulations, readers are excited about the upcoming October 2008 release of DARK HIGHLAND FIRE from Sourcebooks Casablanca; this is the second story in your Highland werewolf series. Could you tell us what inspired this hot shifter series and a little about your vision for the project? What direction will the series be taking?
Kendra Leigh C.: Thanks! Dark Highland Fire was a blast to write, and I’m anxious to see it in print. As far as inspiration goes, my story ideas just seem to kind of fall on me out of the ether. But this series has all of the elements I enjoy in my own reading. I’ve always loved stories about the Scottish Highlands, so creating a world in which the heroes are Highlander werewolves seemed like the perfect choice for me. I’ve been fascinated by anything paranormal since I was a kid, and I love the possibilities that open up when you throw in that magic element! As far as direction for the series goes, I’ve just finished up the third book, Wild Highland Magic, which will probably be a late spring ’09 release. The hero, Bastian, is someone readers will meet in Dark Highland Fire, and I hope they’re interested in his journey. He’s not a werewolf, but he’s not human, either!
PNR: Tell us about the challenges you face in world building with paranormal elements in a contemporary setting and making it work with the ideas you have in mind for the progression of your characters and the series? How much research is involved?
Kendra Leigh C.: Um, I will now admit something to you: I don’t really like research. However, I did have to do some for the Western Highland setting, and on the Stone of Destiny itself, and since both of those things interest me anyway, I enjoyed learning more about them. Honestly, though, worldbuilding in a contemporary setting is a dream. I think it’s a lot less challenging than trying to construct a new world using historical characters because…well, I did mention I don’t love research, right? My characters talk like anyone you’d meet on the street, and have very modern senses of humor. So coming up with wild things to involve them in is pure fun. The only unexpected challenge, I guess, has been the amount of information I’ve had to keep track of as my otherworld has grown. It’s a lot more involved than I’d thought!
PNR: Could you give us some insight into your take on the mythology of the Stone of Destiny that is the thread to connect your novels?
Kendra Leigh C.: The Stone of Destiny really is a stone that ancient Scottish kings were once crowned on. It really was stolen by the British, and the one they took really is on display in Edinburgh. But like any good legendary artifact, the Stone is shrouded in mystery. There are plenty of people who think that the British were given a fake, and that the real Stone is hidden away somewhere, along with all of its magical powers. That gave me my imagination plenty of fodder, and I ran with it. Sadly, I doubt that the real Stone of Destiny is really a gateway to a magical otherworld…but wouldn’t it be fun if it was?
PNR: Do you feel your writing is character driven or plot driven? How do you balance these two elements?
Kendra Leigh C.: I’m definitely character driven. I’ll usually have a general idea about plot, but the characters always show up in my head most clearly to begin with. So I go from there, and the plot tends to evolve with a lot of help from the individual characters’ likes and dislikes, strengths and shortcomings. It all seems to work out in the end!
PNR: Your stories feature the MacInnes Clan, sexy as sin Scottish werewolves and the strong heroines that are their mates; could you tell us about your character development? What was your inspiration for these characters? Who has been your favorite to write?
Kendra Leigh C.: Well, I don’t feel like I run the characters. They pretty much run me! Like I said, an idea for a hero or heroine will pop in out of the blue, and my work is in figuring them out. I definitely do characters sketches to begin with so I can start to get to know them, but they surprise me all the way through the story, and that’s a lot of the fun. My favorite so far has definitely been Rowan an Morgaine, the blood-drinking demigoddess heroine from Dark Highland Fire. She’s gorgeous, funny, and completely larger than life. I really want to be her when I grow up!
PNR: How would you describe the sensuality level of your books; do you find it challenging to write love/sex scenes?
Kendra Leigh C.: I think my books are pretty sensual. I don’t shy away from sex scenes, and I get a lot of compliments on my sexual tension, for what it’s worth. I take twisted enjoyment in putting the hero and heroine together, letting them drool, and then keeping them apart until they just can’t stand it any more! Sex scenes, surprisingly, are probably one of the most difficult parts about writing a story for me. Not because I don’t like them, but because the pacing, mood, language, tone are all so important. Every sex scene should reveal something deeper about the characters and their relationship (as well as be really hot!), so they take a lot of work to get right!
PNR: Stories of shapeshifters have long captured the imagination of readers. Why do you feel that characters with the ability to morph are such a popular theme with readers? As a writer, what is it about this genre that captures your imagination?
Kendra Leigh C.: I think I enjoy shapeshifters for the same reason many readers do: they’re beautiful, powerful beings who get the best of both worlds. We’ve all dreamed of having that special, secret magical ability that sets up apart, that gives us a type of freedom that people don’t normally get to enjoy. Shapeshifters have it, and I get a great vicarious thrill out of going along for the ride.
PNR: Just for fun; if you could shapeshift into any creature, what would it be?
Kendra Leigh C.: Hmm, I think I’d have to be a big bird of prey, like a hawk or an eagle. They’re such gorgeous, wild creatures, and I would love to be able to fly. I can’t think of a better way to relieve stress!
PNR: You have written in the shapeshifter genre; is there a genre you haven’t written but would like to try?
Kendra Leigh C.: I love Regencies! I may write werewolves, but I can often be found reading my way into an adventure at a country dance at some grand manor, and Jane Austen movies are my comfort food. But it’s the research thing again, and Regencies are formidable in that area. Still, you never know!
PNR: Could you tell us about your current projects, what can readers expect to see in the coming months?
Kendra Leigh C.: Well, I just finished up Wild Highland Magic, the third in my Highland werewolf series, and that should be out next spring. And by “just,” I mean “a few days ago,” so my brain is on a much needed vacation right now! However, I’m actually toying with an idea for a new series that I’m itching to get at, so we’ll see where it goes. I will definitely keep everyone posted!
PNR: Thank you, Kendra, for taking time out to talk to us. Where can readers find out what’s new and how can they contact you?
Kendra Leigh C.: Thanks so much for having me, Dee! Readers can always visit me at my website, www.kendraleighcastle.com, and write me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I also blog with my fellow Sourcebooks Casablanca authors at www.wickedlyromantic.blogspot.com and www.casablancaauthors.blogspot.com.
Kendra Leigh Castle
May 1, 2008
Guardians of the Lia Fail: Book 1
Gideon is a werewolf of the Scottish Highlands. He loves the haunting beauty of his home, but faced with the prospect of being his clan's next alpha, he runs away to upstate New York to grapple with his destiny. As a snowstorm closes in, Gideon is attacked by rogue wolves working for a mysterious enemy more evil than he can imagine.
As a wounded wolf, he collapses on the doorstep of Carly's tiny romance bookstore---ironic, as she hasn't been so successful with men, but she's great with animals. Carly takes home what she thinks is an injured dog, treats his wounds, and wakes up to find a devastatingly handsome naked man in her bed.
Trapped together through the raging storm, Gideon discovers that he's found his mate, and Carly has to choose between becoming a werewolf, charged with protecting humankind from the inhabitants of an evil otherworld, or giving up the one man she's ever truly loved.~~
October 1, 2008
Guardians of the Lia Fail: Book 2
Gabriel MacInnes has led a charmed life. A Highland werewolf of Alpha lineage, he'd always thought that, as the second son, he would never have to worry much about responsibility. But with his Pack now squarely in the sights of an ancient and rediscovered enemy, everything has begun to change.
Exiled from the Drakkyn realm, on the run from the dragon prince who claims her as his own, the last thing Rowan an Morgaine wants is to deal with a bunch of overbearing shifters in the middle of nowhere. But when her hiding place on Earth is discovered, and with blood the only thing that can restore her waning power, the fiery demigoddess has little choice but to accept Gabriel as a protector ...
As the Earthly and Drakkyn realms converge, Gabriel and Rowan must decide how much they're willing to sacrifice for fate...and for one another.
Featured in this issue: ~Shapeshifter Romance ~Immortals Contest Interviews with: C.T. Adams & Cathy Clamp Selena Blake Kendra Leigh Castle Virginia Kantra Noelle Mack Terry Spear Hot Spot Jacquelyn Frank
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