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Interviewing Kait Nolan

May 3, 2010

*Cross posted at the writing blog.

A novella of the Mirus

Today I have the pleasure of  hosting and chit-chating with Kait Nolan, who was nice enough to deal with my odd questions and answer them with more grace than I could have mustered. Kait just released her novella Forsaken by Shadow which, I lured a bit out of her about it here, so if you like what you hear, I implore you to check it out. You can even sample the first three chapters here.

1. You know, Kait. For someone who doesn’t enjoy talking about themselves, you sure had my attention with your Fresh Prince of Bel-Air Spoof on your ‘About Me‘ page. (The scrumptious cupcake helped too)  Also,  just from that aspect, you’re way cooler than Stephanie Meyer. But I know that you didn’t start out writing  in Paranormal Romance. What genre/s did you start out in before you settled there?

Well I’ve always had a love of the paranormal.  My early work was paranormal YA (of the ilk I wanted to read, which mostly didn’t exist back in the day–the genre has come so FAR since then!). I really loved to take elements of folklore and weave it into real life.  I still do.  But then I hit college and discovered forensic psychology.  FELL IN LOVE–enough that I got my graduate degree in clinical psych.  So for about five years, my focus was on more traditional romantic suspense.  Then in 2008 the paranormal bug bit me again after I read J. R. Ward’s Black Dagger Brotherhood books.

2. And what drew you to ParaRom? Do you think you might branch out into other genres once you’re published or is it very “been there, done that, prefer where I am now”? ParaRom is still pretty damn hot, after all, and doesn’t seem to be losing it’s charm on readers. I know you’ve got a YA in the works but it’s SUPER SECRET. Don’t suppose you could tease us a little? Not even a hint at a sub genre?

Well the romance was a given, regardless of subgenre.  I love reading about relationships and getting my happily ever after.  The paranormal–I think that’s born of a distinct desire to be outside of my own life.  There is nothing further from worries about bill paying or boring work deadlines than fantastic tales about paranormal critters and races.  It also allows me to be free of the “rules” apart from those that I create myself.  With the more typical police procedural stuff, I often got hung up on making sure I got it “right”.  Didn’t want a cop or FBI agent picking it up and scoffing because I’d written something that wouldn’t ever happen that way.  I also have a great love of worldbuilding, and PR gives me a chance to indulge in a big way.  I do definitely have LOTS of other genres kicking around in my head for–someday.  I’ve got a cuilinary paranormal series about a kitchen witch who lives in Mississippi.  And I’ve got a whole line of Mississippi based romantic suspense that I was working on before I jumped back on the paranormal train.  Not sure when I’ll come back to those, as right now I’m really happy working on the paranormal.  As for the Super Secret New Shiny, it too is paranormal and will appeal to fans of Cassandra Clare’s Mortal Instruments series or Sarah Rees Brennan’s Demon’s Lexicon.

3. Did you always suspect you might like to write a book and get published or was writing something you more or less fell into?

I wrote my first book at age 5.  The Adventures of Clumsy and Big Paw.  It was a best-seller.  My granddaddy gave me a whole $1 for it.  :)  Seriously though, writing is in my blood, I think.  I’m an only child, so whether I put them on paper or not, I was always thinking up stories to entertain myself.  I started writing more seriously in the 6th grade, and tried getting my first REAL manuscript published at age 15.  I’m sure I would have accrued many more than two rejection letters had I not been led astray by all this talk of having a “sensible career” by my parents (who really wanted me to be an attorney or doctor or businessperson :shudder:).  College and grad school was a serious interruption to my plans.  Once I finished with my graduate degree, I decided I’d done it their way and by damn, I was going to start doing it mine.  Hence the juggling.
3b. Age 15?! I commend your spunk. Were there any other jobs (parental approved or not) besides writing that you thought you might like to give a go at? If you could have any other job in the world, besides Published Author, what would it be? Have you given any of those jobs to your characters?

Originally I thought journalism (given that papers are folding all over the country now, kinda glad I didn’t take that route).  I’ve also considered other aspects of the publishing industry–editor and copy editor specifically.  I’m good at it and I love books.  But I don’t want to live in a big city.  I also thought for a while about opening my own bookstore/tea shop (combining two passions), but owning your own business means working 6-7 days a week, longer than your typical 8 hour days in order to make it work, which would leave little time for writing.  And along the lines of the cooking thing, I haven’t SERIOUSLY thought about being a caterer, but it was fun to make Lorlei one (she’s the heroine in that culinary paranormal series, Edible Enchantments).

4. Who are the writers that inspire you? Whether they be Authors, Screen Writers, Musicians, published or aspiring.

Oh there are so many!  Madeleine L’Engle, Jane Austen, Cassandra Clare, Kelley Armstrong, Patricia Briggs, J. R. Ward, Nora Roberts, Raymond Feist, Simon Holt, Maggie Steifvater, my crit partner Susan Bischoff, Kerry Allen, Zoe Winters…

5. Do you happen to have a favorite word/s? I’m oddly drawn to asphyxia and noxious and recalcitrant. I’m not sure I want to know what that says about me.

Oh recalcitrant is a great word.  My mom really loved applying that one to me growing up.  She did not appreciate my snark.  Apparently she confused it with being a smart ass.  :looks innocent:Other favorites of mine include liminal, thither, and besotted.

6. You’re quite the juggler. You have a full time job at a University, you teach (to which, I must say brava, as i do not have the patience for that sort of gig, and I imagine it can drain your writing energy if you let it. But as far as I’ve been able to tell, you haven’t.), and have a Masters Degree in Clinical Psychology. Have these ever influenced your writing? I know that Psych degree must come in handy for characters.  Have your students ever been an inspiration (even if for a particularly annoying character ;) ) whether they knew it or not?

The biggest problem from a draining standpoint is just time and energy.  I spend about 50 hours a week doing stuff OTHER than writing (not counting things like chores and cooking and whatnot), so it often is hard to carve out the time to write.  As for the influences…my psych degree is both a blessing and a curse.  I’m really great at analysis and I could diagnose any one of my characters.  I frequently look at their actions and can trace that back to the WHY from their backstory.  The problem comes because it is very very easy for me to fall into the role of clinician, which mandates a certain degree of distance from the client.  Which is a good thing in actual therapy but can be bad when working with characters.  It sometimes takes me quite some time to really hit the right emotional connection.As for my students…so far there hasn’t been any inspiration on that front.  I could say more, but professional discretion dictates I should probably stop there…

7. Of course, moving on.  I’m always amazed  by just how much you have to offer with every blog post, especially when I consider your schedule. I’ve always had a hard time coming up with topics and stretching those out into posts longer than 200 words. Do you write them up and keep a heavy stock in drafts or are they always ‘live’ writing? How do you keep inspired blog-wise?

Strangely I rarely have a stockpile of posts.  Every now and then I get an idea for a post, and I’ll go ahead and jot it down while it’s on my mind, but mostly I sit down every morning after my tea and just talk about what’s on my mind.  That gets variably informed by the blogs I read, the news I hear, how my work’s going, what my crit partner and I have been discussing, what I’m reading…  Thankfully, I don’t often run out of things to say :D.
8. You just released Forsaken by Shadow which is supposed to be a prequel novella to a series of books you’re writing now, as I understand. For awhile now, you’ve been coming to grips with the fact that you’ve got, what I like to call, ‘the series bug’. How did this series start off? What was your initial inspiration? A character? A situation? A concept? Is this typical of your process?

Actually the series started out…not a series.  I was in the middle of a romantic suspense involving a ghost when I had this totally bizarre dream that involved a wolf-shifter doctor.  I was just fascinated by this guy, so I put down my current WIP (something I’d been working REALLY hard not to do), and I started plotting out and writing the book that became Hunted In Shadow.  It was supposed to be a stand alone.  Or at least stand alone in the sense that there would be other books in the same universe but they would be only loosely connected.  And then came the metaplot.  God help me, it’s always the metaplot with me.  I just can’t THINK small.  And HiS did not fit with that metaplot.  I tried to make it.  But it was doomed.  There were some other significant problems with that book that made me decide to send it to the manuscript graveyard (we had a lovely and moving memorial service in February).  But at that point I had already finished FBS and started planning the next in the series.  Right now there are 2 planned prequel novellas: Forsaken By Shadow and Revelation. And frankly, I have no idea what happens after them just yet.  We’ll see when I finish number 2!

9. Will Gage and his lady appear in other books/novellas? Even if just as cameos?

Oh I’m sure Gage and Embry will pop up as cameos in future books.  I love doing little cross overs like that.  But their story as main characters is concluded in FBS

10. Do you have any other creative endeavors besides writing?

Cooking, definitely.  I’m a foodie, and I’ve got a food blog, Pots and Plots (http://potsandplots.wordpress.com).  I absolutely love to experiment with flavors in the kitchen.  My success to disaster ratio is high enough that my husband and friends are always willing to try my latest concoction.  :)  I also hope to eventually use P & P to launch that culinary paranormal series down the line.Other than that, I enjoy sewing and woodworking, but that’s mostly isolated and specific projects when I have time.  Which is–these days–almost never.
11. Do you have a favorite dish? Both to eat and to cook?

Oh there are so many…  I can’t possibly narrow it down to 1.  But I make a kick ass pizza margherita, fantabulous nachos, and I adore Chinese dumplings.

12. If you were writing an autobiography, what would be the title?

Seriously…I suck at titles.

13. What’s your thoughts on the ‘Muse’ business? Are you in the ‘have one, love/hate him/her/it’ camp? Or the “Don’t know/don’t care/never thought about it” one?

I am on the fence about the Muse.  To say that my inspiration comes entirely from some mythical place outside myself–really takes me a lot further out of the equation than I like.  Writing is freaking hard, and I want the credit!  But if we’re talking about coddling the part of my brain that deals in that…well yeah that’s a different story.  She likes being fed awesome reads, chocolate, and plenty of sleep.

14. What would be your ultimate writing environment? Mine would include Cat-hair free furniture, a decent laptop that doesn’t lag, EVER, a view of the ocean, art supplies, a bottle of Mystic, and a chocolate fountain or two. Just sayin’.

A cabin in the woods, away from people and other distractions (yes, even including the internet).  Comfy chair and my laptop.  Endless supply of tea.

15.  Can you give us a summary of Forsaken by Shadow?
I had to shorten the original blurb for one of my distributors.  The end result wound up being more about Gage.  Here’s the original summary.

“When her father is captured by military scientists, firecaster Embry Hollister will do anything, break any rule to free him.  Unable to complete her mission alone, she turns to the only Shadow Walker who can help her—her father’s protégé and foster son, Gage Dempsey, whose memory was wiped years ago.  Embry and Gage must fight the clock—and their undeniable attraction—praying that his skills return in time to infiltrate a secret military base and rescue the man they both call father.”

16. How heavily does Gage’s being an Ultimate Fighter play into FBS’s plot? I bet that was fun to research, how’d you go about it? Or are you a fan of the sport? I don’t follow it much but I have quite admired Gina Carano.

The fact that he’s Ultimate Fighter is more a product of his training prior to losing his memory.  Not much call for warriors in our modern society, so that’s what he fell into.  The fact that he IS a warrior is one of the primary reasons Embry comes to recruit him.  I’m not a big follower of the sport, but it’s something that interests me.  My husband and I met because of our martial arts interests, so it’s something that’s always on the periphery of my conscious in terms of what I follow.  To research fighting in general, I actually watched a lot of Fight Science, which totally appeals to the science geek in me.

17. What sort of music do you listen to when you’re writing, or does it vary according to your current work in progress?

I don’t often listen to music when I write, mostly because I’m usually camped out in the living room while hubs watches TV.  When I do listen, it’s almost always to movie scores.  I can’t listen to stuff with words or I won’t pay attention to what I’m writing.  Movie scores, though, I love because I can usually find a piece that really fits with the mood of a scene I’m trying to write.  I’ll set it on repeat.

18. What themes play heavily in your books? What defines a ‘Kait Nolan’ read?

Theme? What theme?  I feel like I’m in 10th grade English again, arguing that there’s no such thing, that English teachers make it all up!  Seriously though, theme is one of those things I often have a hard time wrapping my head around.  I write them, I just usually don’t recognize them until well into the story (usually at the prompting of my crit partner, who is GREAT with themes), at which point I usually go back and try to play them up.  One thing that’s consistent across all my work is the strength of women.  Sometimes my heroines kick butt from the start (like Embry), and some of them have to find their strength.  But either way that’s something that’s really important to me.

19. What’s next on the Agenda? Forsaken by Shadow’s successor, which I understand is being called Revelations? Rumor around your blog says it’s getting a face lift of sorts.

Yes, Revelation is next on the time slot.  It picks up essentially just after FBS leaves off with one of the characters you see at the tail end of FBS.  I had the whole thing plotted out, then realized I had the wrong hero–I’d come up with the hero the plot needed–not the one the heroine needed.  A convenience hero, if you will.  So he just wans’t gybing for me.  Once I figured out that it should be this other guy from FBS, then everything started to click.  And once I picked him, I had to change the heroine’s name because their names side by side sounded lame.  So now it’s Orrin and Dahlia.  I hope :crosses fingers: to have it finished and ready to release by December.

20. Now that I have everyone salivating, where can we get a hold of Forsaken by Shadow in it’s entirety?

Currently FBS is available at Amazon ,Smashwords,and Scribd.

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