I’m so happy to have Kylie Griffin on the blog today! Kylie is the author of the brand new fantasy/romance, Vengeance Born, and was kind enough to answer a few of my questions. Also, Kylie is offering a copy of Vengeance Born to one lucky reader (and it’s INTERNATIONAL, to wherever The Book Depository ships), so be sure to check out the giveaway details at the bottom of the post!
Please welcome Kylie to the blog!
Kylie, your brand new fantasy, Vengeance Born, just came out, and you’re already the recipient of quite a few writing awards! Did you always know you wanted to be a writer? Can you tell us a bit about your journey?
I’m very excited to see VENGEANCE BORN finally on the shelf! It’s been a long time coming.
I started writing when I was about 12 years old, so I suppose you could say I wanted to be a writer from a young age. I don’t think I’d have stuck at it for all that long though without the support of two wonderful English teachers. They encouraged my fledgling attempts during the years I was at high school and I’ll be forever grateful to them.
From there I continued writing through my twenties, submitted work to publishers but made every mistake in the book – generic query letters, no synopsis, wrong target publisher etc. It wasn’t until I discovered the Romance Writers of Australia that I realised just how much more learning about the industry and refining of my crafting skills I needed to do.
I attended conferences, entered MANY contests, learned heaps from the feedback, began reaching the finals and eventually placing and winning.
In the contest year of 2009/10, there must have been a huge celestial aligning of the planets (*grin*) because I won the RWAustralia Valerie Parv Award, the RWNZ Clendon Award, placed second, third and fourth in the RWAustralia Emerald:Single Title, won an RWA Golden Heart in the Paranormal section, and placed first in both the paranormal section of the West Houston RWA 2010 Emily contest & the Best of the Best section (which placed my work in front of Leis Pederson, who is now my editor).
And the year wasn’t even over! In October 2010, I was in the middle of finding an agent, literally juggling half a dozen offers of representation, when an email from Leis Pederson arrived in my inbox.
She wanted to buy VENGEANCE BORN and two other books in the Light Blade series for the Berkley Sensation line. I quickly found and signed with my agent, Elaine Spencer, The Knight Agency, and the rest is history.
That 12 months was bit of an exciting roller coaster ride.
What do you like most about writing fantasy/romance?
The world building! Nothing beats the excitement of creating a new world or culture and then fleshing it out – the characters, their cultures, politics, military, traditions, religions, clothing, technology, weapons, geography – everything.
Being able to make it so real that readers suspend their disbelief and live alongside your characters as their story unfolds. If they end up with the same sense of wonder as I did when I first imagined it, then my job as an author is done…at least until the next book!
What was one of your favorite things about writing Vengeance Born?
Definitely the romance between Kalan and Annika. The relationship is very Shakespearean – they come from warring races and have to overcome prejudice, mistrust and each other’s preconceptions.
A favorite scene of mine is one of the first times Kalan threatens to kill Annika. Their fragile alliance is threatened by her being Na’Chi (half human, half demon).
As a Light Blade warrior, Kalan has seen the Na’Reish raid human territory for blood-slaves. Annika doesn’t trust him but has no choice but to share information about herself with him.
“Hungry?” Kalan halted by a thick tree trunk, the shadowed darkness beyond it less daunting than the fear that skittered along his spine. “For what?”
His scalp crawled, shock and anger twisting within him. Lady’s Breath! Hadn’t he been trained never to let his guard down? A half-demon, even a pretty one, was still a demon. With a curse, he jerked away from her, reaching for a sword no longer belted around his waist. “You drink blood?”
Adrenaline raced through him when he realized he was unarmed. Unarmed against a woman powerful enough to kill with a touch. He fisted his hands.
“That’s why you helped me escape? Why you need me with you?” The image of her latched on to him, feeding, flashed through his mind. “I’m a convenient food source?”
How many Light Blade warriors had he seen fall in battle? How many had he heard scream in agony as demon teeth ripped into their throats or wrists so they could be drained?
Nausea choked him. Too many.
Kalan dropped into a crouch, teeth bared. “Come one step closer and I will kill you.”
The revelation that she drinks blood, just like his Na’Reish enemies, endangers the thin thread of trust they’ve established during their escape from her father’s fortress. It seems an insurmountable hurdle but it was a hoot devising a way for them to overcome that problem and strengthen their confidence in one another and from there take it to the next level – developing it into a relationship.
What are your biggest literary influences?
I grew up on a steady diet of science fiction and fantasy – books, TV shows, movies – you name it, I read or watched it. When other kids preferred playing cops and robbers or cowboys and Indians, I invented galactic and empiric wars, turning trees into fortresses and spaceships.
During my teens I read and loved authors like Anne McCaffrey, Andre Norton, Mercedes Lackey, Rowena Corey Daniells, and David Eddings.
But of all of these authors, Anne McCaffrey was a huge influence on me as a writer. Her stories fired my imagination and inspired me to write my own. I loved how well she combined all the elements of good fantasy/SF and never shied away from including a romance in the story. The best of all worlds!
What are you reading now?
I’m on a reading binge of two authors – Ellen Connor and her New Age Dawning series (which I’ve just finished), and Sarah McCarthy’s Hells Eight erotic western series. I love the grittiness of both series, the world-building is fantastic and the characters are solid and compelling.
If you could read one book again for the first time, which one would it be?
DRAGONFLIGHT by Anne McCaffrey – I can still remember the sense of wonder and amazement of discovering dragons that could speak, imagining F’lar’s knife fight with Lord Fax, of standing in Lessa’s place on the hatching grounds when she first Impressed Ramoth and going Between with the dragonriders of Pern.
Do you have any unusual writing habits?
Nothing unusual, but I do have a bit of a routine when I’m writing. After getting up in the morning and having breakfast I clear out the emails, put on the answering machine, light up some incense then spent a few hours writing.
It’s all new content in the morning. After work (teaching), I edit what I wrote in the morning and complete any other writing business like blogging, promotion, etc., and then spend some time social networking.
Rinse and repeat. And that’s what I usually do until I complete a book. Then I go on a catch up reading binge! And a housework binge! And a go-out-and-socialise binge!
When you’re not busy writing, I read that you’re a volunteer firefighter! Can you tell us more about that?
I live in a quite a small, isolated rural community (I’m about eight hours north west of Sydney in the region that is called north-western New South Wales). We’re an hour from any sort of emergency service.
In Australia we have many community volunteer organizations, and one of them is the Rural Fire Service, of which I’ve been a member for about eight years now. There are six of us and we attend emergency call outs in and around the local area.
We train once a month, practising with the hoses & various equipment from the truck. I’ve learned to drive the truck (although I’m not licensed as such), just in case. (fire truck jpeg attached)
What I love about the role is the mateship with other members. You get to know the others in the team pretty well, and it’s a good thing we all get on well together because when you’re out on a call out you rely on everyone looking out for or helping each other.
The myriad of skills I’ve learned has been a great change of pace from my day job – I’m a primary school teacher – more physical and hands on.
I also get a great deal of satisfaction from helping people in my community too!
If someone were to visit you in New South Wales for the first time, where would you take them?
Oh, there are so many places worth visiting! I suppose if it were to be a place out here near where I live I’d take you a bit farther west to the Warrumbungles National Park. Many of the hills around here are the remnants of lava flows from a super-volcano that originated in the Warrumbungles. (hills jpeg attached)
There are some great bushwalks in the park, some easy, and some, like the Grand High Tops and the Breadknife graded as strenuous.
During the walks you’d get to see a lot of our natural wildlife – kangaroos, wallabies, poteroos, emus, maybe a wombat or koala, cockatoos, rosellas, galahs, kookaburras, frill neck lizards, goannas.
Sounds like a guided animal tour around a zoo but honestly, I do see the majority of these animals, on a daily basis, out here where I live.
To finish off, we could have a barbie (BBQ) along with stubby or two (beer) for lunch.
In your bio it says that two of your fave vacation spots are New Zealand and Scotland. If you could pick a destination that you haven’t traveled to, and go tomorrow, where would you go?
Definitely Egypt (I think I might have been an archeologist in a former life).
I’ve always had a fascination for ancient Egypt and its history ever since studying a bit about the culture during a history topic on Ancient Rome (looking at their empire when it expanded across the Mediterranean). I’d love to explore the ancient sites and experience travelling along the Nile.
I also read that you’re a primary school teacher. Do your students know that they have a future bestselling writer for a teacher?
LOL – thank you for the best-selling writer compliment!
Yes, my students know I write and so do their parents. I’ve always told them I had a dream of being a published author. They understand I write adult books but they’ve always asked me to write books for kids – “like Harry Potter, Miss!” Only they want one on cats because I’m always sharing stories with them about my cats (I own three).
The wonderful thing is about living in a small close knit community is that the families and staff have been very supportive of my goals. (cats jpeg attached)
Is there any other news of upcoming projects (teasers of future books always welcome) or events that you’d like to share with us?
ALLIANCE FORGED, the second book in this series is out July 3rd. I’m so pleased Berkley decided to release two books this year.
ALLIANCE FORGED BLURB
There is no mercy in the demon realm. No escape. In this place of desperation and conflict, anyone who is not purebred is virtually powerless. Until a blind priestess lays claim to a half-breed warrior, body and soul…
Hunted and marked for death by Na’Reish demons for their half-blood heritage, the Na’Chi are searching for a new home—something an alliance offered by the human leader could provide. With both races divided by prejudice, when Light Blade rebels brutally attack the Na’Chi, the alliance seems doomed to fail.
Varian, leader of the Na’Chi, a hybrid race of gifted warriors, is cursed with the darker impulses of his demon heritage. Controlling the part of himself that craves the high of the battle is a struggle he’s afraid he’ll lose—until he meets Kymora Tayn, a priestess driven to serve her deity. While he’s unwilling to trust anyone outside his people, he finds himself drawn to Kymora’s strength and passionate nature, and discovers she has the power to calm the darkness inside him.
When the Na’Reish raid human territory for blood-slaves and kickstart a war, the key to the survival of both races—Na’Chi and human— is an alliance. However, when Kymora is kidnapped, pitting human against human, Varian realizes he must embrace his darker half, not only to save the alliance…but also the woman he loves.
And, all going well, Book #3 (untitled) is scheduled for an early 2013 release. Both books feature characters introduced in VENGEANCE BORN.
On the new manuscript/writing front, if I get time I’ll finish off a sci-fi/space opera romance that I started just before I received ‘the call’ from Berkley back in late 2010…unless, of course, I’m contracted for more in the Light Blade series!
Thanks so much for having me as your guest – I’ve really enjoyed answering your questions and would welcome any from your readers.
Author comments are in a darker gray color for you to easily identify the posts author in the comments