Wednesday, January 25, 2012

INTERVIEW WITH AUTHOR, K.E. SAXON

INTERVIEW WITH AUTHOR OF "DIAMONDS & TOADS", K.E. SAXON

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Thank you K.E. for allowing us to interview you. My first question has to do about one of your chief inspirations, your father. It seems he was a history lover. Can you tell us more about him and what he taught you as a child?

My father was a born story teller. He especially liked to tell us stories of his own ancestors, or of his own boyhood (which we loved to hear!) In fact, he (and my mother, for that matter) would read to us from a poetry book they had, entitled 101 Famous Poems. There was one, in particular, that he would read to us, literally, Jest ‘Fore Christmas, by Eugene Fields. By the last line, we’d all be chiming in “Jest 'fore Christmas be as good as yer kin be!” On long road trips, it wasn’t uncommon for us to beg him to tell us the story (one more time) of how Bonnie and Clyde came through his hometown when he was a kid, or how he got stationed in Nome, Alaska and would listen for hours to the old gold-rushers that hung out in the canteens, learning straight from the horse’s mouth their stories of success and failure, euphoria and woe. His passion was war history and he loved to read, so he didn’t always get Old Spice for Christmas or birthdays (*g*), instead, we gave him nonfiction books on war history. He especially loved learning about the Civil War, WWI and WWII. He was a veteran of the Korean War, but didn’t talk much about his own experiences there. However, one of my last memories of him is one in which he was relating the fact that the Korean War and its veterans were pretty much forgotten, sandwiched as they were between the second World War and the conflict in Vietnam.

He also loved old country western songs and would either be whistling one or singing in between relating stories of “the old days”. There was one song, in particular, that he sang many, many times. I don’t know the name of it, and I’ve never heard of any famous singers recording it. It goes something like this: I am a roving gambler, I gamble all around, and when I see a deck of cards, I throw my money down. I always wished I could find a recording of it and give it to him, but I wasn’t able to do so before he passed. Interestingly, not long after he passed, I was watching TV and a car ad came on. The music in the background sounded very much like the tune of that song, and I thought, “Maybe Dad’s trying to say ‘Hi!’ to me.” Well, who knows, but I like to think it was so.


Your romances range from historical to contemporary, if you had to choose just one to write which would be your favorite and why?

That is a tough question to answer. Honestly, I love writing both to the same degree. However, in this exact moment, as my brain is consumed in writing a short contemporary novella, my passion seems to be swayed in the direction of contemporary romance, so I will choose that genre.

Your historical romances are set in Scotland, is there a reason for the setting, perhaps a personal love of the area?

I’m definitely an Anglophile in general. I think it started first with my exposure to British rock bands as a very young child of five or six and then progressed when I began reading historical romance. But, more specifically, I love the magic, the stories of enchantment, that have been passed down from the ancient tribes of the British Isles. The stories of the Picts, the Celts, the raging and ravening Vikings, even how it all coalesced, to some degree, with the spiritual beliefs of the conquering Romans. I think that’s why I like to go back so far in my stories of that land, to a time when the mystical was still more reality than myth.

You mention being drawn to plants. I just know you must have a garden or perhaps a greenhouse of some kind. Where do you think your love of plants comes from?

LOL! I’ve actually thought about this myself, rather deeply, in fact! I actually think it must be in the genes. My grandparents on both sides were farmers. I’m sure my love of plants also springs from my love of nature. I was the kid that left the house to go play outside at dawn and didn’t come back inside until dark. I collected so many creatures as a child, and I won’t even count the number of strays that I adopted.

If you were to choose another genre to write in besides romance, what do you think it would be and why?

I’d really like to try my hand at memoir writing, in the vein of Augusten Burroughs, i.e., humorous. Of course, my family life was in no way as crazy as his evidently was!

Are there any other genres you have read or like to read besides romance?

I can get into classic science fiction. I love authors like Michael Crichton and Ray Bradbury. But when I’m not on a romance reading jag, my go-to books tend to be classic literature (Ernest Hemingway, Henry Miller, Jack Kerouac, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Sylvia Plath…the list goes on and on), more current literary fiction (Janet Fitch is my idol, with Anne Tyler coming in at a very close second), memoirs, biographies, poetry. Essentially things that afford a different flavor and texture to my reading palate.

What was the first book you ever wrote, and what was the plot?

The first book I ever wrote was a book I’m still determined to publish, if I can get all of the plot and character problems resolved. It’s entitled Highland Vengeance. The book is the first in a family saga trilogy of medieval Highland romances (all three have been written, by the way, just not finished—there is a difference, LOL!) The three book plots are so complicated and intertwined that I won’t release any of them until I have all three just right. Highland Vengeance introduces all three heroes and their heroines. It also introduces the catalyst (event) and villain that not only wreaks havoc in all their lives, but also brings them together. Set in the turn of the thirteenth century Scottish Highlands, it’s the story of Daniel MacLaurin, a handsome, rugged warrior-laird haunted by his past, and Maryn Donald, the beautiful, high-spirited lass destined to help him find his heart's ease.

After his family is viciously murdered in a surprise invasion when he is a lad of 13, Daniel spends years focusing on training as a warrior and rebuilding his fortress, determined to control the world around him so that nothing like it will ever happen again. Maryn Donald is a wild child; a lass who, as the only offspring of her widowed father, has been indulged in her high-spiritedness. When she sees that the neighboring clan is mistreating their horses, she impetuously steals them and as recompense for her crime, must wed the powerful, wealthy young laird, Daniel MacLaurin, about whom she's heard such disturbing rumors. He's a man who needs to be in control. She's a woman who doesn't recognize boundaries. He's a man who likes a plan. She's a woman who likes to take risks. But, they both are passionate, have wicked senses of humor, are caretakers by nature and have a deep desire to build a family. It makes for quite a degree of push and pull, heat and tension between the two.

Who are some of the other inspirations in your life, perhaps authors or even family?

Really good wordsmiths inspire me. Lyricists like Michael Stipe, Natalie Merchant, Elvis Costello, Pete Townshend, Jim Morrison, John Lennon; poets like Sara Lier (an up-and-comer, must read: Coney Island Elegy), e.e. Cummings. Here is (for me) the most perfectly written expression of feeling I’ve ever read and it came from an entry in Sylvia Plath’s diary, which I assume was extemporaneous! o_0. She entered this in her journal upon having three of her poems accepted by Harper’s:

“Listen and shut up, oh, ye of little faith. On one certain evening in a certain year 1953 a certain complex of pitched tensions, physiological urges, and mental dragonflies combined to fill one mortal imperfect Eve with a fierce full rightness, force and determination corresponding to the ecstasy experienced by the starving saint on the desert who feels the crackling cool drops of God on his tongue and sees the green angels sprouting up like dandelion greens, prolific and infinitely unexpected.”

From: Plath, Sylvia, The Unabridged Journals of Sylvia Plath New York: Random House, 2000.

What can we expect from you in the near future, what are you working on now?

Along with the edits and revisions on the Highlands trilogy, I’m also writing a short novella, tentatively titled, Leap Year (or Down the Rabbit Hole), about a one night stand that brings a man out of his grief and guilt and a woman out of her self-hatred.

Is there any advice you'd like to share with other aspiring authors?

Yes! Too many cooks spoil the broth. In other words, too much advice will spoil your creation. Find the few people (and maybe, as Stephen King said in his memoir, it should only be ONE person) that you write for, and then LISTEN to their advice and fix whatever plot/character/motivation problems they find.

Thanks so much, Kitty, for having me here today!

Thank you again K.E. for this wonderful opportunity, I hope we get to do it again soon!


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