Monday, April 25, 2011
Aloha to Deborah Cooke and DARKFIRE KISS
Deborah joins us today to celebrate the upcoming release of DARKFIRE KISS - Rafferty's firestorm.
Kim: According to your bio, you are "fascinated with dragons." What attracts you to dragons?
Deborah: My interest in dragons has two sources. First of all, I was a huge Lord of the Rings fan when I was a teenager, and I adored Smaug. It didn't hurt that the Brothers Hildebrandt did such gorgeous illustrations of him. Tolkien's dragons were considered to be bad guys, which is characteristic of Nordic stories. Later, when I studied medieval history, I was fascinated by all the stories about dragons in medieval popular fiction. Those dragons were also always bad guys - tempting saints, eating damsels, being conquered by saints and getting up to all sorts of mischief - but again, the illustrations showed them to be gorgeous.
I've always thought that dragon shape shifter heroes would be really great - kind of the best of both worlds. A hunky guy and a gorgeous dragon all together! - but until the recent popularity of paranormal romance, editors tended not to agree with me. So, I'm very happy to be writing the Dragonfire series and I'm having a wonderful time with these stories.
Kim: Regarding your Medieval Studies, do you have a favorite hero, heroine, castle, battle, and/or folk story from history?
Deborah: I actually love all of the vernacular stories - those are the stories that people told to each other. There are lots of different kinds, all the way from the romances of the troubadors to short (often earthy) stories called fabliaux. I still love fairy tales and folk tales. The Arthurian cycle is fascinating, as much for the story itself as for the way it changed over the centuries to reflect popular ideas. One of my favourite things to do with my books is to use elements of old stories and weave them into the plot of the book. That's what the troubadours did, so I figure I'm in good company!
Kim: You participated in the "writer in residence for the Toronto Public Library, the first time that the library has hosted a residency focused on the romance genre." What did you gain from this experience? What did the library and/or public gain from a resident romance author?
Deborah: The Toronto Public Library does a lot of residencies, maybe three every two years. They see them as a service they provide to their patrons, by giving patrons an inside peek at a particular genre or of publishing or of storytelling. For this particular residency - which was focused on the romance genre - I created a blog about writing and publishing romance novels. There were several public events, including a discussion panel with an editor, an agent and myself, talking about the business and taking questions. Finally, I critiqued a selection of partial manuscripts from those submitted to the program and met with the individual authors to discuss their work. It was a great program and I really enjoyed it. That last discussion panel was really popular and a lot of fun. So, the library got more patrons involved in their programming, and the aspiring writers who participated learned more about romance and writing and publishing. I always learn a lot when I'm teaching - having to explain things to other writers often makes me see those issues in new light. Because the manuscripts that were submitted were quite varied, it was interesting to read that variety and also to apply what I know about writing to a lot of different projects.
Kim: Knitting seems to be a popular hobby with romance writers - what have you learned from knitting (and hunting for that vintage pattern) that you can apply to writing?
Deborah: Well, I think there are just a lot of people who are knitting! Knitting is a really good complement to writing, or probably any kind of creative work. I knit a bit every day, and that seems to let my imagination loose to figure out what comes next in the book I'm writing. Knitting also offers a lot of analogies to writing. For example, you often have a great idea (or a beautiful ball of yarn) that tempts you to dive right in and start working. Even with a synopsis - or a pattern - though, things might not always work out to plan. There's always room for improvement. Knitting, like writing, offers the chance to rip back and start over again, without losing anything but time. I talk a lot about knitting and writing on my blog, Alive & Knitting, so I'll leave it there for today.
DARKFIRE KISS is the sixth title in my Dragonfire series. In the Dragonfire world, there is an ancient race of dragon shape shifters called the Pyr and that they are guys. Their mission is to defend the four elements and be guardians of the earth. They live for centuries and although they used to live amongst humans, the medieval mania for hunting dragons prompted them to hide themselves - the good dragons continue to count humans among the treasures of the earth and defend us, despite what we've done. This is partly because they mate with human woman - each has one destined partner and his meeting with that woman is characterized by a firestorm. Sparks literally fly between the two of them. The firestorm also attracts the bad dragon shifters, called Slayers, who want to eliminate humans. They took the conflict in the middle ages a bit more personally and think the earth can only be saved if humans are eradicated. Each book focuses on one Pyr and his firestorm, while the series charts the final battle between the Pyr and the Slayers for ascendancy.
DARKFIRE KISS is the story of Rafferty, a Welsh dragon and romantic. He's pretty popular with readers, maybe because he's been yearning for his firestorm for a long time. Of course, I couldn't make it easy on him! His destined mate turns out to be a reporter, and his firestorm turns out to be the legendary darkfire, which turns everything in the Pyr world upside down. I had a lot of fun changing the rules of the Dragonfire world in this book, and making Rafferty fight for his HEA. I hope readers enjoy it, too!
FLYING BLIND is the first book in a YA spin-off series from Dragonfire, called The Dragon Diaries. Although the Pyr are guys, there is one female dragon shape shifter at a time. She's called the Wyvern and she's supposed to have lots of special powers. SPOILER ALERT if you haven't read the series so far - the current Wyvern died in Dragonfire book #3, KISS OF FATE, and the baby conceived as a result of that firestorm proved to be a girl. Theoretically, she should be the new Wyvern, except that dragon shifters in this world don't come into their powers until puberty. I had this idea that it would be fun to write Zoë's story about coming of age as Wyvern, and to write it as a paranormal YA with romantic elements. My editor agreed, so there will be a trilogy about Zoë's coming of age - she just needs to balance the usual challenges of being sixteen along with fledgling powers, an almost total lack of information about the Wyvern, and a brand new challenge for the Pyr. I had a lot of fun with her book, and with the next one, WINGING IT, which will be out in December 2011.
You can read excerpts and see covers and all that good stuff on my website.
Mahalo, Deborah, for joining us today at SOS Aloha! Deborah was my guest on March 1 - St. David' Day, the Patron Saint of Wales. Dragons and Wales go hand in hand. In honor of Deborah's visit, I am giving away a copy of DARKFIRE KISS to one randomly selected commenter. To enter the giveaway,
1. Leave a comment about Deborah Cooke, dragon heroes, vernacular stories, and/or knitting.
2. The giveaway is open to all readers.
3. Comments are open through Saturday, April 30, 10 pm in Hawaii. I will announce the winner on Sunday, May 1.
Kim in Hawaii
Check out the first half of today's double header - Margaret Tanner and ANZAC Day.