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Finding Paradise
Secrets at Wongan Creek
Blood Kissed
The Black Tide
Silver Reaper
Kadin
Asher
Baron

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Darklight On...Kylie Griffin Q&A


Today's Darklight On... is with Kylie Griffin. Welcome Kylie!



How did you come to write speculative fiction? What attracted you to the genre?
My heart belongs to the sci-fi/fantasy/paranormal romance genres – I love, live and breathe it.

I also think I'm genetically predisposed to this genre. I cut my teeth on TV shows like Battlestar Galactica (the 70's version, folks!), Star Wars, Star Trek, Dr.Who (a British TV series) and every fairytale as bedtime reading. The interest grew to obsession the older I became and when I started high school I ended up addicted to authors like Anne McCaffrey, Andre Norton, Mercedes Lackey, David Eddings and JRR Tolkein.

About then I decided I could also invent my own stories. My fledging writing career began then an thankfully a couple of very patient high school English teachers encouraged me to pursue the craft. To this day I credit them for inspiring me to pursue writing as a career and to persevere at it.

What do I love about it? The world-building and the escapism and entertainment value of stories set in other worlds, perhaps with character who aren't human.


You are a competition slu...I mean, queen culminating in you winning the 2010 Golden Heart (woohoo). What did you find so valuable by entering contests?
LOL, Eleni! I do have a lovely little pink ribbon with Competition Slu--Queen on it. I don't mind the label as I have entered quite a few contests over the last decade (I lost count after about 85).
I started out by just entering Romance Writers of Australia contests, then moved on to entering both RWAustralia and RWNew Zealand contests. And in 2010 I only entered in RWAmerica contests. 
Initially, it was a way of getting feedback. When I first started out entering, I didn't have a writing group or a critique partner service to draw on for feedback, so this was a way of meeting that need.

Once I started becoming a finalist or placing it was a way of getting a contest resume behind me for inclusion in my query letters to agents and editors. It also showed I had a potential readership out there. Then with the places and wins in the RWAmerica contests it helped get my name "out there" and the wins really looked good on that contest resume when pitching to potential editors and agents.


Please tell us a little about your call story. 
Ever had the feeling of being avalanched by circumstances? 2010 was a bit like that for me.
I'd just lost my first agent (casualty of the recession) and I was on the merry-go-round ride of finding another one. I decided to enter some Romance Writers of America circuit - the Golden Heart and the WHRWA Emily being two of the most significant.

I won the Paranormal section of the Emily then took out the Best of the Best, of which a partial critique with Leis Pederson from Berkley was the prize. She liked the partial enough to request the full manuscript. I sent my my work off to her, excited because she belonged to my dream publishing house. I waited seven long months to hear from her. More on that in a minute.
Golden Heart 
® Pendant
 

In March 2010 I received a phone call to say I was a Golden Heart finalist with VENGEANCE BORN (aka Bloodborn as it was known then). Fast forward to July 31st, VENGEANCE BORN won the GH paranormal section. During August I submitted VENGEANCE BORN to several agents as a result of pitch sessions and queries. By October 13th I'd received several offers of representation and I was organising telephone calls, matching schedules and time zones.

In the midst of these phone calls, on October 16th, I received an email from Leis Pederson from Berkley offering a 2 book deal for VENGEANCE BORN. I have to admit to being a little stunned at first, but then thought "halleluia, I did it!" before bursting into tears in front of my computer, some of it was in happiness, most of it was exhaustion from some very sleepless nights.

Long story short, I ended up with 6 offers of representation, and 2 late emails from interested agents, and it was on my last phone call that I found my new agent - Elaine Spencer from The Knight Agency. I really, really connected with her. I ended up accepting her offer at the end of our phone call.

I had less than 24hrs to accept the deal with Berkley. So, Elaine began working her magic. In that time she sent out VENGEANCE BORN to 3 other publishing houses and contacted the 2 I already had it sitting at as a result of pitch sessions at conferences. Long story short, we decided to accept Berkley's offer - but it gets better.

Elaine managed to negotiate a variation on the original deal. She asked me for an overview of Bks 2 & 3 of the series (which I wrote the day before I headed off to my sister's wedding), and submitted it to Leis and asked for a 3-book deal, which she successfully received. By the end of the weekend I'd accepted the 3-book deal with Berkley.

Just an interesting aside - three years ago I entered the RWNZ Strictly Single with the then (only 3 ch.'s) version of VENGEANCE BORN. It won and Leis Pederson was the final judge - she requested the full but I didn't have it finished. It took another year and another ms in between before I finished it. So when I won the Emily in 2010 and Leis critiqued then requested the full ms it gave me shivers. Things have seemed to have come full circle. Weird coincidence or fate? You decide.

2010 ended up being a roller coaster ride and there's my call story.


Your first release will be VENGEANCE BORN (Book 1 of the Light Blade series) by Berkley Sensation, out in February 2012. Can you describe it for us?
There is no mercy in the demon realm. No escape. In this place of desperation and conflict, anyone who is not pure bred is virtually powerless. Until an unlikely champion is born…

Annika, half-blood daughter of the Na’Reish King, longs for more than her tormented life among her father’s people. Conceived in hatred and bred as a tool of retribution, she’s gifted with a special talent that can heal as well as destroy…

With the Na’Reish vastly outnumbering them, Kalan, a Light Blade warrior, knows the future of humankind depends on him alone. Incursions into human territory and raids for blood-slaves by the Na’Reish Horde have increased. As Chosen-leader, he faces the task of stopping the demons—and convincing the Council of aging Light Blade warriors that change is necessary for survival.
When Annika learns Kalan is a prisoner in her father’s dungeon, her dream of escape seems within reach. She agrees to free him in exchange for his protection once they reach human territory. Now, marked for death for helping him, Annika must learn to trust Kalan as they face not only the perilous journey to the border but enemies within the Council—and discover a shocking truth that could throw the human race into civil war….


Are you a plotter? Pantser? Or somewhere in-between?
I’m a panster when I begin a book. I don’t sit down and plan or write synopsis before putting fingers to the keyboard. I usually know the opening scene and where I want the book to finish but everything else in between is very fuzzy. 

That doesn’t mean to say I haven’t thought about the characters and played a few games of “what if…” to get an idea of what sort of story might develop, I just don’t have a clear idea of how the story arcs are going to work until I get into it.

Once I start writing and I get past about 25K I know where it’s headed. I’ve spent a lot of time just thinking about the characters & their GMC, the world, the plot etc. while I’ve been writing that first 25K - (usually when I’m doing mundane things like housework, yard work, grocery shopping or as I fall asleep at night). Again, not a very detailed plan or even anything that resembles a synopsis, just a hodge-podge of thoughts and ideas that somehow come together when I write. 

I tend to be a scener after that. Once I get a strong impression of a scene I’ll jot down pieces of it ie. dialogue & emotions. It’s the bare bones of it that I flesh out later. I have no idea where they’re going to slot in but as I “get to them” I know when or where they fit (if that makes sense).

So, with scenes jotted down, I write the rest of the book. I’m pretty linear – I like going from A to B and sticking to that process as much as I can. I edit as I go. And that’s how I get through the first draft.


Do have a favourite of your characters?
This is an unfair question! :-( How can I possibly choose? I'm going to play it safe and say I have two favourite characters and it's the hero and heroine of the book I'm currently writing.


What are you currently working on? 
I'm about halfway through the second novel in the Light Blade series. I've given it the work-in-progress title of ALLIANCE.

BOUND BY FAITH
Kymora Tayn is driven to serve her deity (the Lady) and her people, often at the expense of her own personal desires. But her attraction to Varian, the brooding, aloof leader-warrior of the half-breed Na’Chi, proves a challenge and a distraction to her plans for their two peoples to unite against their common enemy, the ruthless Na’Reish demon Horde.
BOUND BY DUTY
After being hunted and marked for death by the Na’Reish and human-slaves for his half-cast heritage, Varian finds it difficult to trust anyone outside his Na’Chi family. Fascinated that the humans would place their faith in Kymora, a blind priestess, he finds himself drawn to her strength and passionate nature but marked with terrible facial scars after a battle for his life against a Na’Reish warrior, his people’s perceptions that he is flawed leaves him struggling with his own sense of worth and questioning whether he’s a suitable lover for the beautiful human woman.
BOUND BY LOVE
Varian wants the alliance with the humans and Light Blades to work but Kymora’s insistence that he take a more active part in the socialization and integration of their two cultures challenges his reticence and inherent need for anonymity.

With the threat of a Na’Reish invasion into human territory growing stronger, Kymora and Varian must overcome the problem of two races divided by ingrained prejudices. When both realise the attraction between them might be the solution, that they must lead by example and show that through their love this alliance will work, they must decide which is more important to them – their own personal demons and desires or the survival of their peoples.


What is your favourite part of the process of writing?
The revision process - either my own or those suggested by my editor - as it's the time to really make the story and characters shine. If I'm doing my own process I use Margie Lawson's Deep EDITS system. Using different coloured highlighters I mark things like setting, dialogue, tension, visceral reactions, action, internal thoughts to get an idea of what I have too much or too little of and tweak it accordingly. It's a great system.


What can we expect from Kylie Griffin in the future?
Book 3 in the Light Blade series. Tentatively titled UNIFICATION. I'm so looking forward to writing this one (rubbing hands together!).

A DESPERATE DREAM
Raised in the elite ranks of demon society, Imhara lives a dangerous double life as a Na’Reishi lady and the leader of a demon-caste rebellion. As a child she watched her mother and siblings murdered in retaliation for her father’s blatant abuse and treatment of those less powerful than him. Now she’s an advocate for a caste-free life among demons but to openly rebel against the system would end in her immediate death.
With rumours circulating among the Blood-slaves about a human leader who granted sanctuary to the Na’Chi, the long denied and maligned half-blood offspring of their two cultures, she realises that an alliance with him would achieve her goals, but first she must find an advocate willing to present her cause to him.
HIS WORST NIGHTMARE
Renowned for his savage skills as a Light Blade warrior and for his furious hatred for all things demon, Arek has spent all his life seeking vengeance for the death of his parents at the hands of his avowed enemies.
Captured during a raid for human slaves along the border, Arek is taken into the heart of demon territory, destined for the auction block. When a mysterious Na’Reishi female claims him he prepares himself for death rather than serve as her Blood-slave.
A COMMON GOAL
When Imhara reveals her plans for rebellion, Arek realises her determination to escape and loathing for her own kind equals his own. Torn between his personal feelings and duty, Arek joins forces with her. Unification between the Light Blades, Na’Chi and Imhara's loyal followers could mean the difference between victory or defeat in the ongoing war against the demon horde.
Arek and Imhara's only chance at survival is to trust in one another and a union fraught with danger.


Who are your favourite authors?
The ones I have on my sci-fi/fantasy keeper shelf are - Anne McCaffrey, Andre Norton, David Eddings, Isobelle Carmody, Sharon Green, and Stephen King's THE STAND.

Those on my spec-fic keeper shelf - Nalini Singh, Denise Rossetti, Joss Ware, Larissa Ione/Sydney Croft, Pamela Palmer, Marjorie M.Lui, Joey W.Hill, Sherrilyn Kenyon (early DH series), Lora Leigh, JRWard, Angela Knight and Elizabeth Vaughan.

Keepers on my other genres shelf - Maya Banks, Lori Foster, Debbie Macomber, Sandra Hill, Jo Davis and Anna Campbell.


What are you currently reading?
The last book I read cover to cover, couldn't put it down, was Sara Creasy's debut novel, SONG OF SCARABAEUS. I devoured it and I'm slavering to get my hands on a copy of CHILDREN OF SCARABAEUS, the second book.

Can I just say, few SF adventures rival my Firefly obsession, but Finn and Edie (the hero and heroine in Sara's series) are incredible.

There's something really appealing about a hero who's a freedom-fighter turned slave and a heroine who has enough computer technology implanted in her to rival the Borg. Throw in a starship load of secrets between them, a greedy corporation, some rebels with dubious motives and you have one heck of story! If you love techno-jargon, suspense, action, and a dash of romance, then these books are for you.


Do you have a favourite spec fiction movie or tv series?
Again, how can you ask me to choose? (sniffle) I mentioned a few of my favourite TV series above. Here are a few more - Firefly, Farscape, Jericho, and a few movies...Avatar, Pitch Black, The Scorpion King, LOTR trilogy, Mad Max trilogy, Underworld series, Terminator series, X-Men series.


Do you have advice for emerging writers?
On writing - well before you get a contract, get into the habit of producing a consistent word or page count on your manuscript every day. Once you have that "real" (not to mention legal) deadline, you're accountable, and you have to write every day whether you want to or not. You don't have the luxury of time up your sleeve any more.

On agents - during your agent hunting, if you're offered representation don't settle for "just any agent". Even if you're offered representation by one, or six, doesn't mean they're right for you. Don't compromise on what you want in your agent and you do need to connect with them - you need someone who's as passionate about your work as you are.

On the industry - don't be afraid to ask questions, even if you think they seem silly. You'll find a lot of other writers are very generous and giving of their experience and time because they know what it's like to start out. They'll help you if they can. So ask, ask, ask. Someone will have an answer for you or know someone who does!

Eleni, thanks for inviting me to Darklight On...it's been a hoot!

~~~

Please visit Kylie at her website and her blog.
We'll keep you updated with news of Vengeance Born as it comes to hand.




9 comments:

  1. Great interview, Kylie and Eleni. Kylie, I love your call story, although I know how exhausting it was at the time! I'm so looking forward to reading VENGEANCE BORN - and the blurbs for books 2 and 3 are awesome as well!

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  2. Always with useful information and interesting facts, Kylie. And I just love the sound of your The Light Blade series.

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  3. Hey Christina & Eleni! Thanks for the support for the Light Blade series, here's to making a splash with it! :-)

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  4. I'm sure it will make a huge splash, Kylie. And we, here on the Dark Side DownUnder blog, will be celebrating with you. :)

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  5. Great interview, Kylie. So glad that all your hard work has paid off.

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  6. Great post, Kylie & Eleni!

    Kylie, you have an awesome call story, thanks for sharing it.

    Loving the sound of your series--best of luck with those and I look forward to reading VB.

    Hey, we seem to have similar taste in authors, though you've given me a few new ones to look out for.

    E :)

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  7. You and me both, Janni (LOL).

    Emmeline, feel free to email me off line (if you're undecided) and we can chat on which author or series you might like to drool over first! :-)

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  8. HI Kylie,
    coming in late here, but LOVED your call story! It really did come full circle didn't it!?
    Another example of hard work paying off, and I can't wait to read your books! =)

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  9. Hey Mel,

    I had a rather nice feeling when I entered the Emily when I saw Leis P. was the final judge. It felt like "it was meant to be" and it was quite gratifying to see things come full circle.

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