Yesterday, I shared my review of the fabulous new paranormal romance novel, Firelight. Today I am so glad to have Kristen Callihan join us to chat more about her book, her writing inspirations and the exciting sequels she has planned!
On your blog you mention that Firelight is a retelling of Beauty and The Beast. You also drew upon an old Norwegian folktale and threw some paranormal into the mix. How did all of this come about?
The story of Firelight came to me while my daughter was watching Disney's Beauty and The Beast. But I'm half Norwegian so I grew up with the story of East of the Sun and West of the Moon, the inspiration for the beauty and the beast tale. In that story, the heroine plays a much more dynamic role, which I appreciated. So I took elements of both tales. As for the paranormal aspect, paranormal is one of my first loves. I like the idea that there is more to this world than meets the eye. It seemed logical to wrote a beauty and the beast tale – which usually involves curses – paranormal activity should be included.
Firelight is set in Victorian England. What is alluring about that time period for you?
Shallow answer: I LOVE the dresses! But Victorian England is also so wonderfully atmospheric. The fog, the darkness and despair, and yet with all of that, it was a time of great growth, both technological and societal. In that way, the Victorian era is much like our own, and I love writing for a time in which I can relate. Also, there is something very sexy about this outward facade of staid, respectable behavior, and a hidden world of debauchery. Victorians loved their bawdy sex; they just hid it well!
Miranda and her sisters are not typical of how women were expected to behave back then. They’re quite outspoken and independent. Miranda in particular has harbored a big secret all her life, engaged in theft, and now her less than ideal father is marrying her off. Yet she still feels loyalty towards him. Where do you think she finds the ability to be compassionate even though she’s had such hardships?
You're right; they don't fit the ideal Victorian woman mold. But then there were a lot of real women of Victorian age who didn't. Life was probably harder for those women, but thank God for their independent spirit, or we women would never have gotten anywhere.
As for Miranda's loyalty to her father, yeah, that's a tough one, because looking at it from the outside, one wants to say, fry him, he's a jerk! Lol. But the truth for many of us is that we want and crave our parent's love, even if they treat us badly. It's very hard to step away from a destructive pattern like that, especially for Miranda, who feels guilty over ruining her family's fortune.
Her compassion for Archer comes from her experiences in feeling like an outsider. She sees herself in him, and understands the pain of feeling alone in the world. Had she a sheltered childhood, she might have been more inclined to believe the gossip surrounding him.
One of the best things about Firelight is the sexual tension between Miranda and Lord Archer that plays out for a good duration of the book. How much fun did you have toying with the reader like that?
Thanks! I'm glad it worked for you. The truth is, I was toying with myself. Which is to say, I have to have fun with a story. It was fun for me to keep twisting the sexual tension between them tighter and tighter. But I also knew that it had to play out like that because this is a story of trust and secrets. Miranda couldn't get busy with Archer early on because she would know what he was hiding. This was a risk, because some readers like getting the sexual payoff early, but that was the way this particular story needed to be told.
Their verbal sparring is so good and it clearly demonstrates how highly Lord Archer thinks of his wife – also something not typical of men in that era. Was it exhausting or even challenging to keep their momentum going?
With Archer, he's lived too long and complicated a life to be drawn into social conventions – something that appeals to me about paranormals as well! As for their sparring, this was actually the easiest part of the whole story. When I start writing a couple, it is their verbal foreplay that comes to me first. Dialogue is never a problem for me. I always hear my couples, and if I don't, then I know I'm in trouble.
I don't mind insta-lust – people are often immediately attracted to each other physically. But love is another matter. Love develops with connections. And connections are often discovered by people talking to one another.
By the way, does your husband ever read some of those scenes and go, “you wrote that!”?
Yes, sometimes. :) But he tends to avoid reading any sexy scenes. They make him blush. Lol.
You’ve got quite a busy year with the Darkest London series. Aside from Firelight, you also have Ember, the prequel to Firelight and then in August you have Moonglow. Can you give us a little sneak peak about the 2 books?
Ember is a short story about what happens to Miranda and Archer between the time they first meet and when Archer returned to England to claim his bride. The idea behind this story is to get to understand what makes Miranda tick a little bit better, and to learn why Archer could not stay away from her, even though he knows he really ought to. Ember isn't a love story, but the beginning of one.
Moonglow is very much a love story between Daisy, Miranda's sister, and Ian, a rather charming yet irreverent hero. Both Daisy and Ian hide behind a facade of light indifference, and it's been fun for me to see them get underneath each other's skin. In Firelight, Archer IS the mystery, but if you've read that story, you know well who/what Ian is. So then, Moonglow, while being a mystery, is more a battle between good and evil as Daisy and Ian delve deeper into a world run by lycans – werewolves who hide in plain sight amongst proper Victorian London society.
After that, it's Book 3, Winterblaze, which is is Poppy's story, and then Book 4 (untitled as of yet), which will feature characters who first make an appearance in Moonglow. These books will come out in 2013.
We BiblioJunkies have the mentality of 16 year-olds so now we move on to silly questions. Which fictional character would you love to go on a date with? And whom would you challenge to a sword fight?
Let's see, I mentioned before that I'd love to go out with Han Solo, but perhaps I need to branch out more? The problem is that depending on what I'm reading, I'll end up thinking, yeah, that guy. I mean there are SO many options, how is a girl to choose? ;-)
Sword fighting. It's funny you ask because one of the scenes that really, really killed me to cut is a sword fighting scene between Archer and Miranda. But my publisher had a word count limit and something needed to go. Still weep a bit about that one. As for whom I'd fight? Someone really bad, because I don't know how to fence at all!
If Lord Archer were to bring you your favorite dessert, what would it be?
Something with chocolate in it. A rich, dense chocolate cake would be nice. That or a salted caramel bar. Dessert... yum ...
Finally, what do you enjoy most about writing romance? And do you think you’ll ever venture into the YA arena?
I love writing about that heady rush of emotion that occurs when one falls in love. I love the adventure of it, because after all, falling in love is one of the greatest adventures we have in our lives.
Hmm... well, I'll never say never, but the thing about writing YA is that I feel a writer has to have an inherent skill for it. It is an extremely hard genre to do well, because you have to have a YA voice. You have to get into the mindset of a teenager and yet not be patronizing. I am in awe of my writer friends who write YA and do it so effortlessly. I don't think I have a good YA voice. But who knows? Perhaps if a good story hits me, I'll find that voice through my character.
Thank you Kristen for spending some time with us and congratulations on the book! And thank you readers for stopping by. To learn more about Kristen and The Darkest London series visit her website KristenCallihan.com and follow her on Twitter @Kris10Callihan.