Eilean Donan Castle by DRW Photography

Monday, May 26, 2014

K.E. Saxon Interview

I have the pleasure of posting my interview with K.E. Saxon. Oh how I love her books, and you will be wanting to run out and get her latest book after reading this. The research she does just to do a book. WOW. I think I appreciate the books a little more now.

I also have posted on my review page, 2 new books. You might want to go over and check them out. I will be posting more reviews on Wednesday.
Please check back here Thursday for my "Thought of my Day". I will be taking about something that happened to me this weekend. I want to make sure I get this out so everyone will be aware of the scam running around.
And now for the Interview. Let me say, If I could sit in her writing room while she is writing, maybe a fly on the wall sort of thing, I would be so fricken happy. I would be able to see the books come to life right as they are being written.
1. Tell us about yourself?
I’m an author of Medieval Scottish Highland romance, as well as contemporary romance. In my previous life I’ve been a receptionist, secretary/administrative assistant, relocation coordinator for a major real estate agency, corporate travel agent, organic garden specialist at a couple of nurseries. Basically, I did a lot of different things. I have a wonderful husband; two amazing kitty cats; and a cockatiel with buckets of personality, whom I’ve owned since 1988. I love, love, love, love, love animals and plants. I like to cook, but don’t have time for it (or my gardening anymore, sadly).

2. Tell us about your unreleased book, or just released book?
My latest release is a historical romance, the fourth book in The Medieval Highlanders Series, Song of the Highlands: The Cambels.  The story revolves around Morgana Cambel, and her “knight in shining armor,” Robert MacVie.
Robert, the hero, is a character with small roles in both book two, Highland Grace, and book three, Highland Magic (which are actually part of a trilogy about another clan, the Macleans).  He did such a dastardly thing in Highland Grace, and yet loved his sister so much, and was so loyal to her, that I knew the moment he showed up on the page and started speaking that I wanted to redeem him.  His role in Highland Magic gives him a bit of redemption (and we meet his sister then, too), but he is already starting to show the signs of stress over the financial straits his father left their clan in. By the time Song of the Highlands begins, he’s so desperate, he’s about to commit another underhanded deed (tricking his heiress lover into marriage) in order to pay the debt that the King has called in. This has been after he’s contracted himself to the Macleans with not enough success at earning the funds, and participated in multiple tourneys in hopes of gaining such ethically.
Morgana, the heroine, is a convent-bred Highland lady, who, when she was only six years old, was a victim of a violent and terrifying attack which resulted in symptoms of PTSD, specifically a loss of her voice and nightmare/flashbacks.
The book’s story, however, actually begins years later, at the point of time in which she is summoned back to King William the Lion’s court, thus setting into motion another death plot by the same culprits of her parents’ attack. She is given a chance to have a night of passion with a brave warrior-knight she’s been pining for (Robert), a chance she is convinced she’ll never again have with anyone, let alone the man of her dreams, because she is a lady “with no power of speech, whom the priests [are] sure the devil himself [has] taken hold of, and who [has] little to offer for dowry, either—perhaps the biggest impediment of all.”
This night of passion results in a forced marriage to Robert, who, as noted, is dealing with financial burdens and worries that his clan is about to be divided, and thus, though he is extremely attracted to Morgana, is not pleased by being outmaneuvered by his heiress lover.

3. When naming your characters, do you give any thought to the actual meaning?
When I began writing the first medieval Highlands book, what turned out to be book one, Highland Vengeance, I actually gave the characters the first names of Daniel and Mary, because I was only writing the story on a lark, only for myself, and out of pure frustration at having read Julie Garwood’s The Bride for about the millionth time and really, really, really wanting to know what had been actually going on over at the heroine’s sister’s new Highland home with that rascal husband she’d had to marry.  I started the story right at the scene (for those of you who are familiar with The Bride) where Daniel comes back to claim Mary and forces her back home.  For those who have read Highland Vengeance that scene turned into the one in, I think, chapter 8, where Daniel retrieves his bride, Maryn, from her papa’s holding.  Needless to say, I only got, maybe a paragraph or two into trying to write the “real” Daniel and Mary’s story (for myself alone, so that every time I read the book again, I could go and read what I felt like was a story that needed telling), when I realized I had absolutely no idea what Julie Garwood would do with these characters! It was so frustrating. I still to this day wish she would write that story for us!
Anyway, I realized that even though the real Daniel and Mary’s story could not be told by me, for me, I did like where my own imagination was leading (which made no sense to the other story), so I just started completely over and the first scene that came to mind was the scene of “my” Daniel as a young lad being (nearly) the only survivor of a very brutal, violent attack on his family’s holding. And, since my heroine was such a different character from the Mary in The Bride, I brainstormed, and the name “Maryn” popped into my brain. It seemed to fit, so I used it.
With Daniel’s half-brother, Bao Xiong Maclean the hero of the second book, Highland Grace, I was doing a little bow to Keanu Reeves (because I think he’s really gorgeous and sexy), and since my hero’s mother was from Cathay (medieval name for China), I did actually do quite a bit of research into name meanings. Since his mother was a slave to his father, I felt that she would have named her son something that would give him strength. I looked in my notebook from 2007, when I was first writing the character for his part in Highland Vengeance, and found that I’d jotted down the following meanings:
            Bao:     Leopard
            Xiong: Male; grand; powerful
Jesslyn, his heroine—again—the name just kind of came to me from somewhere deep in my subconscious, LOL!
Callum and Robert I know I looked up on some Scottish naming site or other. Branwenn, I found on a Welsh naming site.
The clan names (Maclean, MacGregor and Cambel, specifically), I did some research into the history of those clans’ origins in the Highlands.  With the name Cambel, I did take some liberty, as the first recorded use of the name, Cambeul (then Cambel, then Campbell), did not actually arise until about 50 or so years after the time Song of the Highlands is set. (Although, the family was in the Highlands by then, just not known by the nickname “Cam Beul” or “Crooked Mouth” in Gaelic.)  MacVie’s (with several different name variants, not this one) are, according to what I found at the website Electric Scotland, actually a sept of the Macleans, thus my reasoning for having a MacVie involved so closely with the Macleans.
As far as my contemporary romances, in most cases, I use first names that seem best to fit the personalities of my characters. However, I will note that the surname in Diamonds and Toads: A Modern Fairy Tale, is actually the surname of the original author of the fairy tale, Perrault (Charles). I wanted to do a little send-up to him for giving us such a great story that I so thoroughly enjoyed as a child, but also I thought it would be really fun to have my characters actually distantly related to him, and to have the story not really be a fairy tale, but true. That there really was a match-making fairy godmother for the Perrault family. Big note, however, for those not familiar with my writing: This is a HOT fairy tale, for adults only, and only adults who like hot reads.
4. Out of your books, which is your favorite book, and why?
Hmm. Well, I fall very hard for every hero I write, and Robert MacVie is no exception. However, I actually have two books where the particular hero is someone I, personally, with my own personality, could actually see myself married to in another life. (Don’t show this to my husband, LOL! This is just between us romance readers *grin*).
Historical: Highland Magic, Callum MacGregor. A) Because the whole time I wrote it, I had Ewan MacGregor playing the starring role, and he is one sexy Scot, and, B) Because I’m a sucker for a romantic charmer. And Callum is very, very romantic, and though he loses his way and shows us his dark side, ultimately, his true character wins out, and he is once again the charming, sweet guy we’ve come to know him to be. I have to admit, I really loved teaching him a lesson, though. For the first time in his life, he really had to work for the heart and mind of his true love.
Contemporary: Love is the Drug, Jason Jörgensen. There’s really no A/B here. I just like a guy with a good heart, and Jason is that. (Plus, it helps that he’s über sexy, LOL!) He’s just very much a guy’s guy, too, so it’s not there for us to see on the surface. You have to dig a little. He doesn’t think it’s manly to talk about it, of course, but he loves his dad and puts family first. Of course, it isn’t until he meets his perfect woman, one who doesn’t have a family, that he really starts to appreciate all that he has.
5. What book, of yours of course, would you want made into a movie and who would play the main characters? (If you had the option).
Diamonds and Toads, hands down. Although, I could actually see any of my contemporaries playing well as chick-flicks (LOL), in the hands of a good screenwriter.
Hmm. As far as actors are concerned, I usually always have some actor or other in mind while I’m writing the character (it helps to have a visual).
So, here are the actors I used for my visuals while writing Diamonds and Toads:
Note: I thought of them as they were at, or around, the ages of my characters. That’s the great thing about the imagination: You can mix and match people of different age groups/eras, when you put together your perfect couple for a piece of written fiction!
Delilah: Actually a cross between Debi Mazar and Jennifer Tilly. She’s got a figure like the 50s movie stars, much more meat on her bones than is currently in vogue, and this has been drilled into her head her whole life as a flaw, so she believes it. I did a “morph” thing on one of those online morphing sites, and this is what she turned out to look like, which I think is really close:

Chas (Delilah’s hero): Aaron Eckhart
Isadora (Izzy): Isla Fisher
Sam: Brendan Fraser

6. Do you have any tips for our readers that might dream of writing?
Goodness, besides practice, practice, practice, the best advice I could possibly give is to read, underscore, highlight, place post-it notes on, and take to heart (and practice until you “get” what they mean) the extremely good advice given in the following short-list of how-to books:
  1. Scene and Structure (Elements of Fiction Writing), by Jack M. Bickham, Jack Heffron
  1. GMC: Goal, Motivation and Conflict: The Building Blocks of Good Fiction, by Debra Dixon
  1. Self-Editing for Fiction Writers: How to Edit Yourself Into Print, by Renni Browne, Dave King
  1. Writing the Breakout Novel, by Donald Maass
  1. Between the Lines: Master the Subtle Elements of Fiction Writing, by Jessica Page Morrell
These were the first books I read (devoured, and did all the above list of items to), but there are many others.
I also happen to use the 3-Act structure, but there are many excellent authors who use the 4-Act or some other structure, which aids them in plotting their novels. Or, loads of writers find that a fly-by-the-seat-of-their-pants approach works best for them. Each writer is different, and there are no hard-and-fast “rules” or “right” answers that all writers need abide by, as far as this is concerned. Ultimately, the “right” way is the one that’s “right” for you.
7. Tell us anything you want?
My next book (which I’m still plotting and doing additional character development on) is about the cousin of Morgana Cambel. Vika is also the heiress lover that Robert MacVie tries to trick into matrimony at the beginning of Song of the Highlands (but she does a little switcheroo with her impoverished cousin, and the rest is romance history!)
This next book is the story of how Vika and the Nordic lover, Grímr Thorfinnsson, whom she had a child with several years before, finally—and at last—find true love together. I can’t wait to start writing this one, because Vika (I’m sure Kimi will whole-heartedly agree) is a real pill! I just love redeeming majorly flawed characters!
Thanks so much for the invite, Kimi! This was so much fun!!

Buy Song of the Highlands online at:

Amazon  |  B&N  |  Smashwords  |  Kobo  |  Apple  |  ARe

Now available on subscription sites (search K.E. Saxon in app):
Scribd & Oyster

Find out more about K.E.’s books and doings:
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  1. Hi Kimi!! Thanks so much for having me here today. I had so much fun answering all your questions. This is such a fabulous interview blogsite!

    1. Thank You, You truly are a wonderful person and a great writer.