I’d like to welcome our guest today, Kathryne Kennedy. It’s a pleasure having you come visit us at Much Cheaper Than Therapy, where chocolate is plentiful and advice is free. So grab some chocolate and a lounge chair. Your therapy session has begun.
I understand you have a new release out called MY UNFAIR LADY. Can you tell us a little bit about your fabulous new book?
It’s about a Wild West heiress who goes to London to hire a sponsor to turn her into a lady. What she doesn’t expect is for the Duke of Monchester to take her up on her offer…and the last thing she expects is to find herself falling in love with him!
MY UNFAIR LADY is a very interesting title. How did you arrive at that name?
The book was inspired by the movie version of Shaw’s PYGMALION; MY FAIR LADY, and since it was an opposite twist, MY UNFAIR LADY seemed just right for a title.
What made you decide to write in this genre?
I love the Victorian era! The balls, the gowns, the gentlemen of honor (well, sometimes;) and the sheer scope of the era.
Where did you get your idea for this particular book?
As I mentioned above, I was inspired by the movie MY FAIR LADY, and wanted to explore the element of changing oneself to suit other people’s expectations…or not. And the idea of loving yourself just the way you are. I’m always drawn to Cinderella type stories, where a woman comes out of her cocoon and turns into a butterfly. But there’s an element to them that has always bothered me, and it was a joy to watch my heroine struggle to find out that truth.
What are your favorite historical research books and why?
My favorite book for this particular story was: To Marry an English Lord, by Gail MacColl and Carol McD. Wallace. Filled with gorgeous photos, it presents factual information in a lively and entertaining manner.
Which character did you like writing about the most, and why?
This is always a hard call. I loved my heroine, Summer, for her compassion and brashness. I loved my hero, Byron, for his depth and his naughty humor. I loved Maria for her unfailing belief in what defined her as a person. I loved Chi-chi, the ornery little Chihuahua, and India, the rescued monkey who is a ham at heart.
Nope, sorry. Can’t choose just one.
Tell us about how you develop your characters. Do you create character sheets, do interviews, that sort of thing? How does your research affect your character development?
I used to write up a full page about my character; where they went to school, their favorite color, etc. But that’s before I had deadlines. Now, I do an index card on each, with their appearance, general habits and traits, goals and motivations. As I write I build on those, developing their character as the story unfolds.
The era will define the character’s attitudes and general beliefs, however, that’s only a starting point for me, as they always break out of those predestined molds.
What are some common speech terms, dress modes, transportation or housing facts that you found interesting for your time period?
With my heroine, Summer Wine Lee, it was interesting to research common slang in the old west. Tarnation is her favorite word, and she calls animals critters. During this time period in London, it was the second bustle period, which was an interesting phenomenon. I don’t recall where I read it, but a child had sat his toy on the back of his mother’s bustle, and she walked down the aisle at church, with the toy perched on top, wholly unaware of it. And bless the manners of the time, no one called it to her attention. I was surprised to learn that toilets were more common that I’d thought, including a ‘dry’ version, with absorbent dirt at the bottom that could be cleaned out after each use. And they had enormous drying racks in the kitchen, which were lowered, the clean clothes spread out on them, and then raised up to the ceiling for the night to dry. Washing, cooking, cleaning, were all enormously difficult back then, and even not so well-to-do families had to hire help to carry out these tasks.
Do you have any authors that inspired you?
Many…and I’m discovering new ones every day. But I have to say that the most inspiring authors I know are at my writer’s meetings. Their drive and determination and sheer creative energy never fails to inspire me. Bless the ladies (and the few rare gents) of RWA Desert Rose chapter, and RWA Valley of the Sun chapter!
What do you feel is the most effective promotion you have done for your book?
My website, as every other promotion I do directs the reader to it. Some tips to consider for an effective website: Your current release on the home page, with ISBN (this is so important for librarians, booksellers, etc.), summary, and easy links to BUY. A button to sign up for your newsletter (another must) on the home page and any other page you can put it on. A link to contact the author. Don’t overwhelm the reader with too much info on the home page, make it clear and concise, with easy ways to navigate. Provide links to more information, instead of trying to cram in all your new reviews, news, etc. on one page. If you keep a blog with updates, a prominent link to that is the best way for readers to catch up on your news.
What do we have to look forward next?
I’m very, very excited about my new historical fantasy romance series, THE ELVEN LORDS. I have just finished the first book, THE FIRE LORD’S LOVER, about an elven half-breed and his assassin bride. It’s scheduled for release in the Spring or Summer of 2010. It takes place in an alternate Georgian London, with the sweeping pageantry of the era in a magical new world. You can read the history of the series (or, how this world was created) on my website.
To celebrate her book release, Kathryne is offering a free book of MY UNFAIR LADY to one lucky commenter on today's blog. (please check the blog Monday night to see who won. Chances of winning determined by the number of entries.)
She will be around all day today. I'm sure some of you have questions or comments for her, so please ask away...
Kathryne Kennedy is the award-winning author of the Relics of Merlin series, and is acclaimed for her world building. She has also published nearly a dozen short stories in the SFF/Romance genre, receiving Honorable Mention twice in the "Writers of the Future" contest. She’s lived in Guam, Okinawa, and several states in the U.S., and currently lives in Arizona with her wonderful family—which includes two very tiny Chihuahuas. MY UNFAIR LADY received a starred review in Publishers Weekly, and is a Library Journal’s Editors Pick. She welcomes readers to visit her website where she has ongoing contests at: www.KathryneKennedy.com