Thursday, February 16, 2012

Magic Thursday: Flights of Fantasy (romance, that is!)

One of the things I love best about writing is the daydreaming process. As writers we have a legitimate reason for sitting at our desks, staring out our windows and spending time lost in our thoughts as we go through the "I have an idea for a story" fermentation  process.

When VENGEANCE BORN, my debut fantasy romance for Berkley, was a mere yeast granule in the syrupy depths of my mind, I played the "What if..." game to come up with the characters, their background, and a few half formed plot lines.

Not too many, as I'm a die-hard pantstering-scener (imagine you're standing on a hill on foggy, winter's morning, and all you can see is the tops of other hills in the distance - you have no idea what sort of terrain you're going to cover once you descend beneath the fog but you do know the general direction you're headed - that's a pantstering-scener).

But I digress, back to VENGEANCE BORN!

I saw the opening scene of Annika descending into the dungeon to rescue Kalan, the hero - but what had brought her there? Why was she rescuing him?

What if she were half demon, half human and despised by both races, how would that environment influence her? What personality traits or flaws would that develop? What strengths and weaknesses would she have? A flawed sense of worth? A need for acceptance?

Could any one person balance her upbringing? What role would they play? How could they affect her? Would she have the courage or determination to free herself? Would she be strong enough to rescue herself?

And what about Kalan, the warrior she intended rescuing from her father's dungeon? What was he doing there? Who was he?

If he considered demon's his enemy, what would his response be when he discovered Annika's identity? How would that affect his behaviour toward her? Would it hamper their escape from the dungeon? Their flight to human territory?

Working out the rough details gave me enough to begin writing the story. The opening chapter is up on my website, but this snippet is the first personal hurdle Annika and Kalan face as they escape from her father's dungeon.

Kalan frowned. “Your eyes...”

Annika hesitated in reaching for the pouch at her feet. “What about them?”

“Why do they keep changing color?”

She unlaced the pouch and thrust his clothes at him then turned her back on him to pull her dress on over her head. Was she ignoring his question?

“The color changes with what I’m feeling. This trait belongs only to the Na’Chi.

“Your eyes are red now. What does that mean?” He laid aside the sodden cloak and slid into his breeches, lacing them up swiftly. They were torn and ragged but better than no protection against the cold night air. He paused, his shirt in his hands, as the silence between them lengthened again. “Annika?”

“You’ve made it quite clear you don’t trust me.” She fiddled with the flap of the pouch. “What’s to stop you killing me if you don’t like some of my answers?”

“There’s always that chance,” he conceded as he pulled on his shirt. He doubted he had the strength for a sustained fight, though she didn’t need to know that. Instilling fear into an opponent didn’t always require a blade.

Yet he owed her, owed her his life. He was out of the dungeon and now he’d have a fighting chance to escape the Na’Reish and live. “But Hesia advised me to listen to you with an open mind and that’s what I’ll do.”

She glanced at him then away, something he noticed she did a lot. “Perhaps we can talk as we keep moving.”

A delaying tactic. The reluctance in her voice was a dead giveaway. He motioned her to lead the way, willing to let her get away with it but determined to get some answers.

A half-moon provided enough light to see by. The grassy bank gave way to a rocky roadway that they crossed quickly. His patience ended as they reached the edge of a densely wooded forest but before he could prompt her, she spoke.

“I’ve used a lot of energy tonight. Red means I’m hungry.”

“Hungry?” He halted by a thick tree trunk, the shadowed darkness beyond it less daunting than the fear that skittered along his spine. “For what?”

“For blood.”

His scalp crawled, shock and anger twisting within him. Lady’s Breath! Hadn’t he been trained never to let his guard down? A half-demon, even a pretty one, was still a demon. With a curse he jerked away from her, reaching for a sword no longer belted around his waist. “You drink blood?”

Adrenaline raced through him when he realized he was unarmed. Unarmed against a woman powerful enough to kill with a touch. He fisted his hands.

“That’s why you helped me escape? Why you need me with you?” The image of her latched onto him, feeding, flashed through his mind. “I’m a convenient food source?”

How many Light Blade warriors had he seen fall in battle? How many had he heard scream in agony as demon teeth ripped into their throat or wrists so they could be drained of blood?

Nausea choked him. Too many.

Kalan dropped into a crouch, teeth bared. “Come one step closer and I will kill you."

Their relationship is very Shakespearean - they come from warring houses, and from the start both believe any romantic involvement is doomed to fail, a tragedy in the making.

They have so much to overcome – personal and external prejudices and misconceptions, opposition from those who know them, and it’s complicated by the rising tension between humans and demons. Throw in a couple of culture-shaking secrets and it makes you wonder if they’re ever going to have a happy ending!

Unfortunately, I can't tell you how the story ends, but if you want to find out then share with me one of your all time favorite, happy endings - personal event, book, movie, whatever you like - and I'll put you in the draw to win a copy of VENGEANCE BORN.

I look forward to reading your answers!

VENGEANCE BORN
(Book #1 of the Light Blade series) 
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…

VENGEANCE BORN was released with Berkley Sensation on February 7th (USA/Canada).
The second book in the series, ALLIANCE FORGED, is due out on July 3rd (USA/Canada).

Kylie Griffin’s obsession with all things paranormal/fantasy started at an early age, when she used to imagine the jacaranda tree in her front yard was a spaceship used to defend the world from invading enemies. Writing stories seemed a natural extension to her childhood adventures.

Today, she’s a primary school teacher sharing her love for the written word with young children. In her spare time, she writes and reads all things paranormal.

Kylie lives in a small rural village in outback New South Wales, Australia, where she volunteers in a number of emergency service organizations in her local community.

You can visit her website, blog, or find her on Goodreads, Shelfari, Facebook & Twitter.

20 comments:

  1. Hi Kylie,
    Being a pantster myself, I know how it feels stepping of the ledge into the hazy unknown to get to your destination. Allowing the characters to travel their road, with a little/lot of guidance when needed, is a crazy journey at times but I love it.
    How you have the tension simmering between Annika and Kalen is awesome. A fine balance. I look forward to reading their story.

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  2. One of my favorite endings is to Keri Arthur's Riley Jensen's series. In regards to happy endings the character Riley was really wanting a family and white picket ideal but she wound up with something completely different that made up for what she couldn't have. I just love that she had an alternative way for the character to still have something that resembled what the character wanted and it was such a great series.

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  3. Okay....one of my own happy endings I think.
    Although I'll try to keep the long story short!

    Got pregnant while using an IUD, had LOTS of complications and nearly lost the baby. Baby born healthy but had cronic croup for 3 years(and now asthma)Side effect of copious amounts of steriods and other drugs means she now has other health problems.
    Said 'baby' will be 5 on Sunday and is happy, healthy, and an absolute joy to be a Mummy to. Best happily ever after ever!

    STILL waiting at the mailbox for my VB delivery from tbd....when it arrives that will be another HEA!!!

    Thanks for another chance to win a copy Kylie :)

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  4. Hi, everyone! Sorry, I've been MIA today - I've travelled 6hrs to see my sister and her hubby who've just had their first baby, so I've been away from the computer most of today. :-)

    #Hey, Natasha D, thanks for following my tour (I recognise your name from other sites). Nice to meet another pantster! Glad you like the scene from VB. :-)

    # G'day, Serix, ahh, nice to hear you're a Keri Arthur fan, thanks for sharing your happy ending.

    # Hello, Cath! Another frequent flyer on my blog tour - thanks for following. Now what a wonderful story yours is - nothing beats real life for a HEA. :-) And yes, when your package arrives, it will indeed be another HEA! I can't believe they've taken this long (hey, maybe they've sold out? Now wouldn't THAT be something!!! LOL).

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  5. Kylie I love your pantsering scener description - that describes my method perfectly! Am very happy for the sunnier days when the fog clears a tiny bit so I can see I'm still on the right track!

    Will have to keep thinking about my fave HEA - can't pick!!

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  6. Hi Kylie!
    I'm with Christina! I'm sure plotting would make life a helluva lot easier but being a 'pantsering scener' is just so...fun!!

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  7. Too many HEA's, Christina - LOL!

    Hey, Mel. I'm afraid I can't be one of those pure plotters to the nth degree. Takes all the fun out of it! :-)

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  8. Warring houses, love it.
    My all time favorite happy ending is the story of a young boy and young girl who met and became fast friends. That changed to flirting, which lead to an outing to remember that ended in a kiss that changed both their lives forever. And now my husband and I have three kids under the age of three (yes there is a multiple there), and I blame it all on that kiss that felt so different from any other first kiss.

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  9. Lexi, a true story is always brings a grin to my face - ad wow, what a kiss that was to begin all that - thanks for sharing! :-)

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  10. Thinking of it makes me grin too, it really was one of those kisses you read about in a romance story.
    I can't wait to see if Vengeance Born has a happy ending or if you are going to make us keep reading the series to have closure!

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  11. One thing I'll do when I write series is to make sure that each book is a stand-alone romance, so a conclusion at the end of the book, no carry on the same relationship through into another book.

    But over arching plot lines are another thing - *grin* - there are a couple that run through the first three books. I AM making sure that they're tied up in the trilogy though. If I'm contracted for more books in this series I'll begin new threads but relate them to what's happened in Bks #1-3. :-)

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  12. I love how things work out with pantsing - yes, there's a lot of angst involved but it gets there in the end. My copy of Vengeance Born arrived yesterday - I was soooo excited to see it.

    Am I sucker if I say I just love happy endings - it's not very 'artistic' but hey, there's nothing wrong with wanting happiness in your life. One of the happiest days of my life was being in the birthing room and seeing my godson born. It was such an amazing experience. It still brings a smile to my face remembering that day.

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  13. So glad your copy of VB arrived, Eleni! :)

    I think deep down most of us also like/crave a happy ending. Gives us hope and renews our sense of rightness. :-)

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  14. Love HEA which is why I read romance. Favorite HEA is still Beauty and the Beast. Just saw the Disney version again and it still works.

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  15. The romance genre is addictive, isn't it? Beauty & the Beast is a classic. I love that sort of story - actually ALLIANCE FORGED (Bk#2 in my Light Blade series) is a bit of a B&B story...in more ways than one. :-)

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  16. THough it has not ended, yet; I'm sure the Outlander series will have a HEA!

    Thanks,
    Tracey D
    booklover0226 at gmail dot com

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  17. Thank you for writing a HEA that ties up at the end of each book, it just kills when you have to wait and see if the characters you have fallen in love with will get their HEA or not. But I also like that you have a secondary love story going on =) Can't wait to see who that couple is.
    And now I am just as excited to read Alliance Forged as I am book one, way to go Kylie and get me hooked on a whole series at once hahaha!

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  18. Hello to a couple of familiar faces - booklover0226 & Lexi!!! :-) I really appreciate your following the tour.

    Dare I admit now that I haven't yet read the Outlander series? It's on my very tall, teetering to be read pile.

    And Lexi, this is what I love to hear - a reader hooked on a series from the very beginning! :-)

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  19. Gasp! You havent read Outlander yet? It is addicting, twill fall in love with Jamie...you are forewarned.
    And it's a great blog tour to follow =)

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  20. My all time favourite happy ending is from the Princess Bride! Classic!

    jenle33 (at) gmail (dot) com

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