Marcy Kennedy

Behind the Scenes: Kait Nolan and Werewolves

Today I have the privilege of interviewing Kait Nolan, author of action-packed paranormal romance, to go behind the scenes of her latest novel, Red, an urban fantasy twist on the Little Red Riding Hood fairy tale.

Kait Nolan werewolvesEvery fairy tale has a dark side…

Elodie Rose has a secret. Any day, she’ll become a wolf and succumb to the violence that’s cursed her family for centuries. For seventeen years she’s hidden who and what she is. But now someone knows the truth and is determined to exterminate her family line. Living on borrowed time in the midst of this dangerous game of hide and seek, the last thing Elodie needs to do is fall in love. But Sawyer is determined to protect her, and the brooding, angry boy is more than what he seems. Can they outsmart a madman? And if they survive, will they find a way to beat the curse for good?

Welcome, Kait 🙂

The market is full of werewolf stories. Where did the idea for such a new twist come from?

I’m a big fan of fairy tale reboots, and I really wanted to do something with the Red Riding Hood legend—but something that would really turn it on its head. People have done adaptations where the wolf was a werewolf, but I wanted to go a step beyond that, to see what the consequences would be if Red fell in LOVE with the wolf. And that’s how I came up with Elodie.

How do your werewolves differ from the traditional werewolf folklore and from the werewolves in other books on the market?

No silver bullets necessary. No involuntary shifts related to the phases of the moon. It’s not transmissible; it’s a genetic condition, passed on just like blue eyes or brown hair. Oh, and they turn into full wolves, not that funky bipedal hybrid of some werewolf lore.

Readers who love a particular type of story—for example, one including werewolves—sometimes resist innovation. How did you find the balance between making your werewolves unique and meeting readers expectations when they pick up a “werewolf book”?

Well I am one of those readers who loves a good werewolf book, so I was just sure to include everything I knew I wanted. Pack dynamics, fight with the animal instincts, unshakable loyalty, and mates for life.

In Red, werewolves thrive best in stable pairs (either a home with both parents for young werewolves or a mated pair for mature werewolves). Where did you get the idea to have the key to a “safe” werewolf versus a “dangerous” werewolf be a stable pair? 

*grin* I write romance. Plus it really seemed like it would be a way to muck around and complicate things for Elodie’s family line.

An aspect of your werewolf culture that I found especially interesting was that werewolves mate for life. That’s almost counter-cultural to the rest of the world. Was this something you came up with because wild wolves actually mate for life or were you trying to send a message to teens about the value in long-term, stable relationships?

Actually that is a popular misconception. Wolves don’t always mate for life. But I am a lifelong romance lover, which means I am a fan of the One True Pairing/Soulmate concept—whether you’re talking YA or adult fiction. For Red I really wanted to try to present a love at that age that was real. Too often adults are quick to say that teens don’t really know what it is to love, really love. And I think that’s because those adults weren’t there, didn’t feel it for themselves, and they can’t believe it. But it does happen, and I think teens deserve a chance to see that.

How much did the habits of real wolves and the “Little Red Riding Hood” fairy tale affect Red?

I did a lot of research on wolf behavior in an attempt to realistically portray how Elodie would be changing and behaving as the wolf became ascendant. The actual fairy tale was more backstory in terms of how Elodie’s family line got started.

What do you find really attractive about werewolves?

Their strength, their intelligence, and their unwavering loyalty to pack and mates.

If you found out you were a werewolf, what would your biggest fear be?

Absolutely it would be the same as Elodie’s—I would fear losing control to the beast and hurting someone.

Will you be writing more werewolf books in the future (not necessarily with Elodie and Sawyer) or do you think you’ll move on to something else?

Oh I’ll absolutely have more werewolves and wolf shifters. I love them! I have at least two other books planned in my adult paranormal romance series that features them as heroes. They’re kind of a favorite creature of mine. 😀

Thanks, Kait, for taking us behind the scenes on Red.

Kait Nolan author of paranormal romanceKait Nolan is stuck in an office all day, sometimes juggling all three of her jobs at once with the skill of a trained bear—sometimes with a similar temperament. After hours, she uses her powers for good, creating escapist fiction. The work of this Mississippi native is packed with action, romance, and the kinds of imaginative paranormal creatures you’d want to sweep you off your feet…or eat your boss.  When she’s not working or writing, she’s in her kitchen, heading up a revolution to Retake Homemade from her cooking blog, Pots and Plots.

You can catch up with her at her blog, Twitter, Facebook, and Goodreads.

Her debut YA paranormal, Red, is currently available from Smashwords, Amazon, Amazon UK, Amazon DE, Barnes and Noble, the iBookstore, and All Romance EBooks.

Saturday Grab Bag

Because it’s tricky to keep up on all the great posts out there, I’ve collected some of my favorites in a Saturday mash-up. Enjoy 🙂

Links for Writers

Getting Primal and Staying Simple with Your Plot – Bestselling author Kristen Lamb gives priceless tips on how to get a visceral reaction from your readers with a plot that’s both complex yet simple.

Writing A Series: 7 Continuation Issues to Avoid – From covers to character histories, Joanna Penn of The Creative Penn points out what you need to watch for when writing a series.

On Your Mark: Marketing Your Novel (Part 1) & (Part 2) – Angela Ackerman of The Bookshelf Muse hosts Janice Hardy, author of three novels, in this series of guest posts full of tested advice on how to market your novel. These tips are as valid for traditionally published authors as they are for indie authors.

Links for Speculative Fiction Lovers

The Immortals Are Coming – Debra Kristi of Sparks in the Fire asks, “Would you want to be immortal if it meant continuing to grow old and watching everyone you love pass away?”

Why Sliders May Be Possible: The Science of Multi-Universes – Alexia Reed of Danger Begins with a Kiss asks “what if” while looking at some interesting scientific studies.

Current Events

A Few Minutes with Andy Rooney – Coleen Patrick looks at the snippets of wisdom Andy Rooney gave to the world in his many essays on 60 Minutes.

Five Leadership Lessons from Steve Jobs – Michael Hyatt calls these leadership lessons, but they’re actually just good life lessons for all of us.

Healthy, Wealthy, and Wise: Lessons from Steve Jobs – Diane Capri on her blog Licensed to Thrill gives a lovely summary of what Steve Jobs did right in his life, as well as links to the 60 Minutes special and his biography.

The Meaning of Life

Grumpy to Gracious – When you feel grumpy but you don’t know why (or even if you do), August McLaughlin’s blog Savor the Page gives some simple ways to practice gratitude. Her tips help chase the grumpies away.

Beer Can Barriers – Are your problems actually impossible to fix or are they only beer can barriers? Myndi Shafer’s Silly Soapbox takes a new look at our perspective about our problems.

This Week from My Co-Writer Lisa Hall-Wilson

Check out her tribute to Canadian veterans in I Am Not American.

Why I Fall For Promotional Contests Every Time

I have a stack of yellow Atlantic Avenue pieces for the McDonalds’ Monopoly game even though I consider fast food a heart attack in a bag. I buy more Tim Horton’s coffees in a week of their Roll Up the Rim promo every March than any human should drink in a month. And when the local hardware store ran an online Spin to Win campaign last Christmas, I logged in every day even though it meant playing an obnoxious elf game.

I know it’s pathetic. I know that I’m playing right into their hands like a mind-controlled lemming. But they draw me in every time with their promises of free food, free cars, money.

After all, I tell myself, someone has to win those prizes. I have as good a chance as anyone. That my chances of winning are so slim I have a better chance of growing another inch doesn’t matter. I might win. I might. And no one can convince me otherwise no matter how much they smirk and laugh behind their hands.

I revel in the anticipation of peeling the stickers off that sheaf of fries I shouldn’t be eating (but can justify because the calories will all be worth it if I win.) Will it be Boardwalk at last? Or only another stupid Reading Railroad? The collection of the different pieces is part of the fun. Peeling them off and sticking them on the game board provides a certain sense of satisfaction. (Even if I do have to let my husband peel the ones off his own food.)

These little games, stupid as they are, give me something to hope for. Maybe when we roll up the rim on this coffee, we’ll win the car so we can retire our rust bucket that’s held together with duct tape and dirt. Maybe when we peel this sticker, we’ll get the money we need to pay off our student loans or quit the job we hate to follow our dream.   

As Snow White tells bail bondswoman Emma Swann in the premier episode of Once Upon A Time, “Believing in even the possibility of a happy ending is a very powerful thing.” That’s what really draws me in. It isn’t the prizes. It isn’t even the money (nice as that would be).

It’s the possibility of a happy ending.

In the last year and a half, I had dental surgery because my front tooth randomly fell out, my husband tore both his hamstrings at once leading to a slow rehab, my dog died of cancer, my husband lost his job, my truck was totaled, I had to take a job that makes me want to curl up in the fetal position, and I had to give up my horses—to name only a few.

Playing the silly promotional contests helps remind me on the bad days that things will get better. No, I probably won’t win the car or the money. But the rocky times we’ve faced lately won’t last either.

Tomorrow might be the day my husband gets a job. It might be the day I land an agent. It might just be a perfect day for no particular reason at all.

Or I might roll up the rim on my coffee cup and win $100,000. You never know.

What things do you do even though you know they’re silly and irrational? What little habits or routines do you have that for some unexplainable reason make you feel good? What helps you believe in the possibility of a happy ending?

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Using the Military Correctly in Your Fiction

In honor of Remembrance Day/Veteran’s Day this week, we wanted to bring you a special guest post on how to believably use military characters in your fiction. So I enlisted my husband to help out.

Chris is a former Lance Corporal in the Marine Corps Reserve. For five years, he served as a Combat Engineer with the 4th Combat Engineer Battalion, with which he deployed to Iraq in 2005 as part of Operation Iraqi Freedom. Take it away Chris . . .

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With the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, military characters or former military characters have become increasingly popular in fiction. But for writers who haven’t been in the military, getting the details right can be a challenge.

Getting them wrong can destroy your book’s chances. Some estimates suggest that 20% of the current US population either is in the military or has served in the military at some point—and that number doesn’t even include their friends and family. If you get it wrong, people will notice.

Understanding how to realistically write military characters is important for historical fiction writers, thriller writers, science fiction and fantasy writers (knowing our military system helps you invent new ones), mystery writers, and even romance writers. So what does it take to get it right?

Here are a few things to keep in mind when writing about fictional military stuff:

Get the names of the members of each branch correct

Marines are not Soldiers, Soldiers are not Airmen, Airmen are not Sailors, and Sailors are not Coast Guardsmen. Each member of the military is proud to have earned their respective title, so use their titles accordingly.

When speaking generally about members of a specific branch of service, remember that members of the Air Force are Airmen, members of the Army are Soldiers, members of the Coast Guard are Coast Guardsmen, members of the Navy are Sailors, and members of the Marine Corps are Marines.

Use correct rank designations

If you ever watch A Few Good Men (in which two Marines are on trial for murdering a fellow Marine who complained about his working conditions aboard the Guantanamo Bay naval base), the two Marines on trial are not called the same thing every time. Private First Class (PFC) Louden Downey is referred to as Private several times, and Lance Corporal Harold Dawson is several times referred to as Corporal. Neither of those uses is correct in terms of the Marine Corps. PFC Downey would always be called Private First Class, PFC, or simply Marine. LCpl Dawson would always be referred to as either Lance Corporal or simply Marine.

A good place to find US military ranks is http://www.defense.gov/about/insignias/enlisted.aspx for enlisted ranks and http://www.defense.gov/about/insignias/officers.aspx for officer ranks.

Correctly describe military equipment and activities

Also in A Few Good Men, you see military inferiors being blatantly disrespectful to their superiors, Marines saluting indoors when not under cover or under arms (wearing a head cover or armed with a weapon), and military members easily losing their composure and destroying their military bearing.

Being disrespectful to superiors causes dissention in the ranks, a breakdown of the military discipline that is necessary to complete a mission or achieve an objective, and can actually get the disrespectful person hauled in front of a court martial (military court) and, eventually, put in confinement/sent to prison.

Marines and Sailors don’t salute indoors unless they are under cover (for example, a Reserve unit conducts a formation inside on the drill deck because the weather outside is too poor for a formation, so they’re all wearing their covers) or under arms (armed with a rifle, pistol, or ceremonial sword).

Bearing is one of the most important things a servicemember can have, and is related to military discipline. A person who loses their bearing is a person who loses face in front of his or her peers and superiors. It’s an admirable quality for a person to be able to hold a good “poker face” no matter the situation.

Correct terminology matters

I also tend to see military weapons referred to as guns (they’re rifles or weapons, not guns); boats referred to as ships, and vice-versa (a boat in naval terminology refers to a submarine, whereas a ship refers to surface vessels, like aircraft carriers); or combat personnel using the wrong hand signals. A good–though not always 100% correct–resource for this is http://www.jargondatabase.com/Category/Military.

Use military dates and times correctly

The correct way to write military dates is in a YEAR/MONTH/DAY format. For example, September 5, 2011, would be written as 20110905.

Make sure you’re getting military time correct, too. Anything from one minute after midnight to one minute before 10am would be written as (for example) 0930. 10am to 12pm would be written as (for example) 1030. For anything after 1259, you would write it the same way, but add 12 to whatever the time is, so 1pm would be 1300. The only time that this does not apply to is exactly at midnight, which is written as 0000, though is often said to be 2400.

Someone who was in the military wouldn’t say, “I’ll meet you there at 7:30 tonight.” They’d be more likely to say, “I’ll meet you there at 1930.”

What questions do you have about how to correctly use the military and military characters in your fiction? Have you seen some of these mistakes before in movies or books?

Interested in more ways to improve your writing? Point of View in Fiction is now available! (You might also want to check out Internal Dialogue or Showing and Telling in Fiction.)

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