Welcome to my weekly Author Spotlight. I’ve asked a bunch of my author friends to answer a set of interview questions, and to share their latest work.
Today, Kayelle Allen – Kayelle writes Sci Fi with misbehaving robots, mythic heroes, role-playing immortal gamers, and warriors who purr. She is the author of multiple books, novellas, and short stories. She’s also a US Navy veteran and has been married so long she’s tenured. Sign up for her newsletter and get free Sci-Fi stories, book recommendations, and become a Tarthian Empire citizen (and an immortal), among other reader exclusives.
Kayelle’s Keepers http://facebook.com/groups/KayellesKeepers
Thanks so much, Kayelle, for joining me!
J. Scott Coatsworth: Do you reward yourself for writing, or punish yourself for failing to do so? How?
Kayelle Allen: If you punish yourself you learn to associate writing with failure and punishment. By involving myself in a critique group, I get regular feedback that is both positive and negative. I also have writer friends and mentors I go to for advice. Two of my favorites to ask advice from are Alice Orr, who writes suspense, and Barb Caffrey, who writes speculative fiction and is my editor. I love the book Alice wrote, No More Rejections. She’s a former editor and agent as well as a writer, and she knows the business as well as she knows the craft of writing.
JSC: Are you a plotter or a pantster?
KA: I plot and then listen to my characters. Before I start writing, I have the end in mind. Basically, I jot down notes for how the book will end, and then go back and figure out how it has to start. I then consider the midpoint, where the book will change directions, and then I figure the first turning point (midway between opening and midpoint) and then the same with the second turning point in the latter half of the story. I work on the blurb during this time as well, and try to include the goal, motivation, and conflict. A plot is a series of connected events designed to showcase the vulnerabilities of the major character/s. Once I have this set up, I get out of the way and start writing the actual story. Telling it to myself first. Then I go back and edit once it’s done. Although those first three chapters often get pared down or material gets added. Like most writers, I sometimes start in the wrong place and have to revise.
JSC: Who did your cover for Surrender Love, and what was the design process like?
KA: The cover is by Pixie covers and it was a lot of fun to work on. I picked out the main hero, and studied the top 100 covers in the genre (MM Sci-Fi Romance). Then I made an appointment to go over the design, and when it was time to work, we met on Facebook messenger and hashed out ideas. It took about 90 minutes to two hours to complete. She did the entire Antonello Brothers: Immortal series; Surrender Love, Ring of the Dragon, and Forever Love.
JSC: Tell us one thing about them that we don’t learn from Surrender Love, the secret in their past.
KA: Luc is one of the main characters. His big secret is that he was responsible for the deaths of children in a day care on one of his first missions. As a “Fire Eyes” he was the embodiment of the idea “if looks could kill.” Anything he sees, he can set fire to. The truth that the children were there was withheld on purpose because his superiors thought he was “too soft” and this would make him face the reality of war. He faced it, all right. He deserted and refused to ever use his powers again. He’s held true to that vow for the last 12,000 years.
Izzorah, the other main character, fled his homeworld on a fake passcard and was not a legal citizen. He was terrified of that truth being discovered. Because he was never taught how to read in his world’s oppressive society, he doesn’t realize that among the documents he received when he signed with Luc’s company (one of them anyway) his passcard was updated and he was legal. He’s certain any mistake he makes is going to reveal he’s not a citizen, or that he’s almost blind. Carrying those two fears make him vulnerable, and when Luc promises to protect him, Izzorah throws himself into both Luc’s mercy and his arms.
JSC: What character gave you fits and fought against you? Did that character cause trouble because you weren’t listening and missed something important about them?
KA: This series made me bonkers for years. I had no idea why the immortal king would be such a monster yet his people followed him with absolute devotion. I spent years working on figuring that out. Once I did, it was like a dam burst. Ideas and stories poured out. I was writing him as a cruel person, when in reality, he was anything but.
JSC: What secondary character would you like to explore more? Tell me about them.
KA: I have a ton of characters. This is a saga, after all. There are literally dozens of characters to explore in my story universe.
JSC: Let’s talk to your characters for a minute – what’s it like to work for such a demanding writer?
KA: (Luc) She put me in touch with Izzorah, so whatever her demands are, I don’t care. I’ll pay them. (Izzorah) She got Luc to heal my eyes and I became immortal like the man I love. No complaints here.
JSC: What’s your core motivation in this book?
KA: (Luc) To find a way to keep Izzorah forever. Mortals die. I can’t bear to lose him when I just found him. (Izzorah) To find a way to stay with Luc forever. He’s much older, and I need to show him age doesn’t make any difference.
JSC: Are you happy with where your writer left you at the end? (don’t give us any spoilers).
KA: (Luc) We have hope for the future, but there are going to be plenty of problems to deal with. (Izzorah) Luc thinks I don’t realize what I’m in for, but I can read him like “yesterday’s news” as Kayelle says. I know what I’m doing and I want to move forward at his side.
JSC: What’s your drink of choice?
KA: (Luc) coffee, black, hot, strong. (Izzorah) Luc likes his coffee to match him. 😉 I prefer milk.
And now for Kayelle’s latest book: Surrender Love:
An immortal alpha male. An illegal, near-blind rock musician. And twelve thousand years of lies…
Izzorah survives by hiding both his illegal status and his blindness for fear of banishment.
Luc’s immortal blood can heal Izzorah’s sight—but only Izzorah’s love can heal Luc’s heart.
Luc might risk violating the highest law among the immortals by sharing his blood, but it means revealing the truth of what he is, and that means baring every damning secret, every twisted truth, and twelve thousand years’ worth of dirty hidden lies.
With no guarantee their love can survive that kind of truth…
Surrender Love comes with a bonus short story, Forbid My Heart.
After dinner, they enjoyed a light wine while they each tore into massive slices of cheesecake topped with a thick sauce of fresh cherries in brandy.
“Oh, stars, that was good.” Izzorah put down his fork. “If my father hadn’t raised me to be polite, I swear I’d lick my plate. That was the best dessert ever. McDoth is an amazing cook.”
“That was straight from Batchelor’s.”
“They make cheesecake?”
“Yes. They’re famous for it. That one had all the creaminess I’ve learned to expect from their kitchen.”
“I never thought they’d be famous for food. No wonder everyone wants to go there.” Izzorah leaned back in his chair. “I probably ate way too much, but I was hungry.”
“Same here. No worry. I’m sure we’ll work it off.” Luc’s plate still held crumbles of crust from the cheesecake, along with a smear of cherries. “You know, since you and I are alone…” On impulse, he lifted the dessert plate and while holding Izzorah’s gaze, gave it a long, slow lick.
Izzorah giggled, biting his lip. He picked up his plate as well and gave it a quick pass with the tip of his tongue.
Luc stroked his tongue across the plate, taking his time, letting his gaze tell Izzorah how delicious it tasted — and felt.
Color rose in Izzorah’s cheeks. His lashes lowered. He performed a far more thorough lick. He gave Luc a slow, sultry smile and then gave an even longer, slower lick along the edge of the plate. The soft wet barbs on his tongue glistened in the light.
Stifling an oath, Luc struggled for composure. His lightheadedness had nothing to do with the surfeit of sugar.