Thursday, January 23, 2014

A look 'Into the Darkness', with K.F. Breene

Today I’m talking to K.F. Breene, author of the urban fantasy/paranormal romance ‘Into the Darkness’.  Stay tuned to learn how you can win a free copy!

What can you tell us about your heroine?  What brings her into the story?

Ah, Sasha. What can one say about her.

Well, for starters, she’s an orphan. But not a sad, lonely, depressed orphan like you might read about in a Dickens’ novel. She’s spunky, kooky, and battles life in a funny, head-on sort of way.

She’s lonely, though. The car accident that killed everyone but her left her with nothing but a gift, or a curse. Or maybe turned her crazy. And that’s the problem—she doesn’t know. She sees large, hulking-type men in the shadows. Has since she was tiny. But no one else sees them. She sends her foster dad into the backyard, pointing and screaming that someone is out there, only to have him return angry and put-out.

When she finally meets the men that lurked in the shadows for all those years, she finds herself in an unimaginable situation for which she is not prepared. But fighting life head-on means grabbing her arsenal (a whistle and a penchant for smack talk) and marching into battle to rescue her boyfriend.

It is here that she realizes she possesses the ability of magic. Uncontrolled and fatal if used incorrectly, she throws herself onto the brink of death to escape.

In other words, the heroine is strong-willed, fast acting, and in way over her head.

Your leading man seems to have a good bit of darkness and mystery to him.  What is it that attracts him to your heroine?

He doesn’t know. Neither does she. They kind of happen on each other, two people from vastly different worlds, and share a connection that neither of them understand. But the more he learns about her, the more he gets entrapped. His clan needs a mage, and this human (Sasha) has a rare type of magic that could help his faction overcome their enemies.

The side effect of desire is certainly distracting. Especially since she’s human. And completely naïve to anything magical. And always in trouble, not to mention pain in the keister.

He can’t help but gravitate toward her.

So irritating.

Where did this story come from?

My head. *quirked eyebrow*

In all (relative) seriousness, I wanted two things with this book.

The first was the paranormal aspect. I am sooo tired of the usual vampire suspects. Burn in sun or sparkle… Chew on human necks or animal’s… Hide from society or attempt to embrace it...


I wanted something different. I wanted to do a paranormal story with a modern take on vampires. That’s been done, has it? Um…not really. If you mean, vampires in today’s culture—okay, I guess. But they are still the same sort of vampire, right?


I wanted to take the myth of vampires, and put them in today’s world. As a different strand of evolution. Don’t believe in evolution? No problem. Then they are God’s experiment. I used anthropology to help define the probability of their existence. To make them “real”.

Second aspect was magic. I love magic. I really do. Everything magic I want to read about. In detail. And happy days, I can add magic to a paranormal/urban fantasy deal and no one would tilt the head. So I came up with a different type of vampire, and added a bunch of magic. Voila.

What influences – literary, mythological, or otherwise – contributed to the world you constructed for the book?

The world is based on modern times, but the desire of originality loosely came from the Kate Daniel’s series by Ilona Andrews. That series is an urban fantasy with an awesome take on vampires. Truly unique how they are defined and used. That was my benchmark. I wanted to come up with something as original as that.

I didn’t succeed. The she/he writer team is pretty freaking awesome. But I gave it a go, and my critical readers have noted that my new approach is interesting.

Interesting, yes. You’re riveted, I know.

I think the interest level comes from the roots in anthropology, though, and the references to natural elements that might be a bit different to accommodate a different species.

Also, it’s edgy, but that’s just my writing.

Thank god I’m crass, sarcastic, and threw a bunch of magic at it, or it might have been absurd. So, there’s that.

If you were a resident of the world you created, with all of its strangeness and differences from this one, what would you want to be doing?  What kind of life would you want to create there?

Well, the thing is, it’s the same world as this one. We are the same people. Sasha is just like you and me. Human.

The difference is, the boogey man is real, and she gets to meet him/her where we don’t. If I found out about this other group of “people”, though, I’d be all over it. I’d want to learn about their lifestyle, date one of their “men”, and check it all out. So, obviously, we know where Sasha’s streak of wild abandon came from.

What is your writing routine like?

Most of my creative “genius” is had during mundane tasks. Working on a spreadsheet. Walking/running. Showering. Cooking. I let my mind wander, and daydream about the world I am creating or want to live in. About the characters and what they might say. About who they are.

Then, when something occurs to me, I head to the computer like a sick man does a toilet, needing to purge the ideas into the story. I write like a fiend, and when the well runs dry, I drift away again and go back to daydreaming.

I am extremely logical, which is why I like accounting. Accounting is boring, though, which is why I like daydreaming about strange places and different people. Then I just write it down. Routine is the reason I write, or exercise, or drink wine. I need an escape. If writing were also routine, I’d probably stop doing it.

Who has been the biggest influence on your writing?

First it was a collection of romance books. Speaking of mundane. The classic romance is a hot, perfect man and the woman that gets him.

The end.

There are some better ones, and there are some that you read primarily for… well, not for the story, so much. I’d been married about a year, got into the rut—I mean, into a groove of life, and read a couple romance books. Then thought—I can devise my own perfect man with a lot more laughs, mistakes, and fun involved. So I wrote the essence of my college years into a story (Jessica Brodie Diaries).

After my fill of romance, the biggest influence on my writing was Ilona Andrews. It is a husband/wife writing team with imagination, creativity, humor, and a great writing style. Like gunpowder and kerosene, their books are great reads. I can’t say what I actually took away from them with any clarity, just that I knew what I wanted out of a book, she/he had done it, and I wanted to try and do it, too.

What’s in store for your next project?

The thing with me is, I write something, and then stick it on a “shelf.” I wait until I forget the details, and then go back to it with a reader’s eyes. In the meantime, I write something else. So right now I have five things in the rafters, waiting for revisions. I also have two more Darkness books, working through critical readers and editors. I don’t like idle time, so when I am taking a break from one project, I am working on the next. So my projects are running all the time.

Where can people find your books?

About the Story:

I’d always been different. I saw objects in the night where others saw emptiness. Large, human shaped shadows, fierce yet beautiful, melting into the darkness. I collected secrets like other women collected bells; afraid to fully trust lest my oddities be exposed.

Until I saw him. He’d been gliding down the street, unshakable confidence in every step. It wasn’t just that he was breathtakingly handsome with perfect features. Something about him drew me. Sucked my focus to him and then tugged at my body. As his eyes met mine, I was entrapped.

No one had noticed him. He’d been right there, just beyond the light, but only I had perceived.

I had to know if he was real. Or maybe I really was crazy. And even when my secret box was blasted wide open, dangers hurled at me like throwing knives, I couldn’t stop until I unraveled his true identity.

I just had to know.


As I met his black eyes, his puzzled expression deepened. “You’re human…”

“We established that, yes. What I want to know is, if I am human, what does that make you? And why do I notice you when others usually don’t?”

His head cocked to the side. His easy balance, his lethal edge; he was like a blade resting on billowing silk. “Very few humans are able to withstand our pheromones. Fewer still to break a Kolma once it has been placed. You’ve not been trained, that’s obvious; so how is this possible when you’re definitely human? Do you possess the blood of another species?”

 I could barely think past the pounding ache of my body, begging to touch him. I needed to get a grip! He was revealing some very interesting factoids I needed to jot down in my mental notebook.

His nostrils flared. “Charles was right; your arousal is a unique scent. Like a spicy, warm drink on a mid-winter’s night. It rises above other smells, entrancing the mind.”

“Umm,” charged with questions, determination, anger, and demands, I thrust forward, “Listen, what did you mean about withstanding the…pher-thing? Or breaking the other thing? How can you trap someone’s head with pleasure? Because I’m pretty sure—not positive, but pretty sure—that Jared is straight. And also, I really think we should circle back to what the hell you are, and why nobody knows that you exist? Because this whole people scattering thing is not normal, and I think an explanation is probably in order.”

He stepped closer, not hearing me, or not caring that I spoke. His eyes looked at me like I was a life-sized riddle. They delved, searching. He took another step, forcing me to retreat two steps to keep distance between our bodies. Another step back had my back to the wall.

A small smile curved his lips. “I exude pleasure, you run. I exude fear, you come calling. You want me, I can smell it. I can feel it, almost like a palpable thing. Give in to it. Yield to me.”

Oh God I wanted to. His body was mere inches from mine, his intense eyes looking down into my soul from a face out of a Renaissance painting. The power of him, the sheer strength, had strange, primal fantasies running amok through my head. My core tingled, my chest surged, and my nipples were so hard they could cut this stone wall.

Why had I come here, again?

Giveaway time!

Click on the Rafflecopter giveaway to be entered into a drawing for a free copy of 'Into the Darkness'!

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Music to Date your Dragon By

This is kind of an experiment, not just in terms of the level of interest it generates, but also in terms of just how practical a ‘soundtrack’ is.  Ideally, I wanted to have a playlist set up so these pieces could be played directly from the blog.  I don’t know if it’s even possible, but I couldn’t find a way to do it.   
Like a lot of writers, I listen to a lot of music while I work.  Sometimes as background noise, sometimes as inspiration, and sometimes as mood setting for a specific scene.  Some of the writers I admire have listed the artists they listen to while working; that was how I got introduced to Steeleye Span, Clannad, and Silly Wizard.  I thought about a list of inspirational music, but the idea of an actual soundtrack was much more fun.

Two albums deserve special mention: Conan the Barbarian and How to Train Your Dragon.  Both are excellent additions to any library, but for writers, game masters, and game designers, they’re both must-haves.  Power, adventure, tragedy, romance, triumph – these two have music for all those occasions.  Money well spent.

Some of these can be tricky to find, so I've added links for those. 

Book 1

Rose appears                                       ‘Open Arms’, Journey
The Dragon With the Girl Tattoo       ‘Test Drive’, How to Train Your Dragon
Family Dinner                                     Information’, The Rainmakers
For Sharon                                          Bright Eyes’, Watership Down, Art Garfunkle
                                                            ‘Banzai March’, Buckaroo Banzai
Driving with Randall                          ‘Baseball Furies Chase’, The Warriors OST  
Welcome Aparna                                ‘The Rolling World’, Ruth Barrett            

Book 2

Chasing Mavis                                   ‘Yakety Sax’, Boots Randolph (Benny Hill Show)
Dealing with the HOA                       ‘Mars, Bringer of War’, Gustav Holst
The Real Rose                                    ‘Coming Back Around’, How to Train Your Dragon
Little Blue Hatchie Romp                  ‘He Mele No Lilo’, Lilo and Stitch OST
Bardic                                                 ‘River’s Dance’, Firefly OST 
Unicorn                                              ‘Into the West’, Return of the King OST
This Means War                                 ‘Not Ready to Make Nice’, Dixie Chicks
The Dragon Angel                             ‘Fanfare for the Common Man’, Aaron Copeland
Breakfast at the Diner                        ‘Safety Dance’, Men Without Hats               

Book 3

Hero’s Funeral                                    ‘Hail the Hero (Mo Ghile Mear)’, Celtic Thunder
Smith                                                   Terminator Main Theme’, The Terminator OST
Dressing for War                                 ‘Follow Me up to Carlow’, An Cat Dubh
Tianisa                                                 ‘Theology and Civilization’, Conan the Barbarian
Dungeon, With Dragons                     ‘Ride of the Valkyries’, Richard Wagner
Bandits and Boss                                “Thunderstruck”, AC/DC
Big Damn Heroes (back to town)       ‘The Magnificent Seven Theme’, Elmer Bernstein    
Blood for Blood                                 ‘Orphans of Doom’, Conan the Barbarian OST
The Hall of Undying Names               ‘Mountain of Power’, Conan the Barbarian OST
Rose Carries On                                  ‘Love’ and ‘End Credits’, Serenity OST

David’s Theme                                    ‘Holding Out For a Hero’, Bonnie Tyler
Rose’s Theme                                      ‘Parade of Charioteers’, Ben Hur OST