10-13-18 – C.J. Cade – Out of This World Romance: What’s The Appeal?

Saturday, March 24, 2012

GUEST: Fantasy Author Kylie Griffin - It's the World Building!

Sarah and Judith, thanks so much for having me as your guest today on your blog. It’s exciting to be here discussing the wonderful world that is urban fantasy, fantasy romance and paranormal romance!
And how good is it to be promoting it for a WHOLE MONTH??? Oh, yeah! I’m more than happy to discuss my love for the genre!

So, let’s launch right into it, shall we?

One of the questions I get asked a lot as an author (particularly from my non-UF/FR/PR reading friends) is what attracts you to this genre?

 Quite simply it’s the world building!

Nothing beats the excitement of reading about and discovering a new world. The mystery of the unknown, the thrill of learning about a new culture or race – the characters, their cultures, politics, military, traditions, religions, clothing, technology, weapons, geography – everything, and being able to feel that it’s so real that I can suspend my disbelief and live alongside the characters as their story unfolds.

There’s also the satisfaction of diving into this world and being sucked in so well that you lose track of time and when you look up it takes you a good several seconds to realize where you are (and maybe even rue that you’ve had to return to reality after being immersed in another time and place).

Anyone else ever felt like this when you’ve read a darn good book in this genre? I bet many of you have. Conversely, this same answer applies when I’m asked why I write in this genre.

My debut novel with Berkley Sensation, VENGEANCE BORN, is a fantasy romance.

When I first started playing with ideas for this series, I knew I wanted to make it (at a minimum) a trilogy. The scope of the external plot wasn’t going to fit in just one book.
While the series isn’t epic fantasy in its purest form, it does have similar elements.

The world is entirely fictional, there are different races (not just humans), the plots employ typical themes such as a quest, a guiding deity, struggles against an opposing force, creatures, paranormal powers, conflict between races, the threat of world domination, revenge and redemption.

Yet there’s also a romance between main characters – Annika and Kalan struggle against personal prejudices, flaws and other external hurdles to find love.

There’s intrigue and mystery, some twists and turns in the plot that will satisfy this craving, and some secrets you may anticipate, others I hope you don’t see coming. And there is definitely action – fighting, a chase scene, death, escaping from dungeons, rebellion… Everything I love about fantasy and romance, and had enormous fun putting together into one story.

Without giving away any spoilers, in VENGEANCE BORN readers quickly learn the Na’Reish outnumber the humans, and that the human race is under threat of enslavement. Annika and the other Na’Chi prove to be the key to humanity’s survival, although no one realises it at the time, and it takes Kalan to engineer a change.

For those wondering about the series, this change and some of the broader themes continue throughout ALLIANCE FORGED and Book #3, and we see them unfolding through other characters and their personal stories and romances. While each book can be read as a stand-alone romance I’d recommend reading them in sequence for the full impact.

The trilogy will tie up some over-arching plot threads, readers will learn more about each of the races in these stories, but there’s plenty of scope to incorporate other threads and extend the series beyond three books. Some secondary characters are already demanding that their stories be told, so I hope I get the chance to tell them.

So if you like this sort of epic-style story with a good romance then the Light Blade series might be a series to try. 

Now for some facts and fun…

Title: VENGEANCE BORN (Bk#1 of the Light Blade series)
The Book: A bastard-born heroine and warrior hero uncover ancient secrets, struggle with prejudice, and discover a love that will save three races.
Setting: Alternate paranormal world where demons and humans once used to co-exist peacefully together but are now at war with one another.
Hero: Kalan – human Light Blade warrior
Heroine: Annika – a Na’Chi woman (a crossbred between human and demon) who possesses strong healing powers.

Scene you would never cut from the book.
Hmm, there’s a scene early on in the book where Annika is escaping from her father’s dungeon with Kalan. At the last minute she hesitates, the impact of her decision to escape hitting home.

Hesia patted her back. “You know I won’t make it. I’m far too old to run.” The woman released her and placed the healer’s pouch on her shoulder. Gnarled fingers gently traced her face. “May the Lady bless your path.” Her gaze met his. “Both of you. Go swiftly now, and don’t look back.”
A gentle push started Annika on her way but at the last corner in the corridor, her steps slowed. What was she doing? She placed a hand on the cold, stone wall, her fingernails digging into the grimy surface.
An ache started deep within her chest and spread outward, expanding to include her lungs. She labored to suck each breath in, and hot tears stung in her eyes and made her throat ache. She was leaving the woman who’d been more her mentor, protector, and best friend, the closest thing she’d had to a mother since her own had died giving birth to her twenty-five years ago. And here she was leaving behind the only person who’d ever loved and cared for her. For a half-blood outcast.

Annika’s leaving behind Hesia, her mentor, knowing her father will likely kill her for the part she’s played in their escape, she’s giving up her life as she knows it (as bad as it is it’s one she knows and is familiar with) for an uncertain one living among humans, and she’s placing her life in the hands of a warrior who would, in other circumstances, probably kill her.

It’s a huge turning point for Annika. She has the chance to change her circumstances but she has to trust in a stranger and his word to achieve a goal she’s longed for all her life. For someone who doesn’t trust easily this is a huge moment.

What’s one quirky thing about your hero and heroine?
Kalan has a thing for hot baths – he loves them, indulges in them when he can. If he lived in the modern world he’d be the one with a jacuzzi in his apartment. But being on the run from the Na’Reish with Annika, baths are in short supply, but they do come across a hot spring…

Annika’s quirk isn’t as pleasant, quite the opposite. She sits on the pitches of roofs. It’s purely a survival tactic. Growing up as Na’Chi, her mixed heritage makes her a social outcast with both the Na’Reish and their human slaves.

As a child she was bullied and physically abused by others. To avoid this she used to hide on rooftops. From there she could spot the bullies coming and take advantage of any hidey-holes or escape routes she could see from that height.

The strategy is one she uses even as an adult – as you’ll see in the latter part of the story when Annika arrives in the city where Kalan lives.

There is no mercy in the demon realm. No escape. In this place of desperation and conflict, anyone who is not pure bred is virtually powerless. Until an unlikely champion is born…
Annika, half-blood daughter of the Na’Reish King, longs for more than her tormented life among her father’s people. Conceived in hatred and bred as a tool of retribution, she’s gifted with a special talent that can heal as well as destroy.
With the Na’Reish vastly outnumbering them, Kalan, a Light Blade warrior, knows the future of humankind depends on him alone. Incursions into human territory and raids for blood-slaves by the Na’Reish Horde have increased. As Chosen-leader, he faces the task of stopping the demons—and convincing the Council of aging Light Blade warriors that change is necessary for survival.
When Annika learns Kalan is a prisoner in her father’s dungeon, her dream of escape seems within reach. She agrees to free him in exchange for his protection once they reach human territory. Now, marked for death for helping him, Annika must learn to trust Kalan as they face not only the perilous journey to the border but enemies within the Council—and discover a shocking truth that could throw the human race into civil war…

What’s next for you?
ALLIANCE FORGED, the second book in this series is out July 3rd, 2012.

And, all going well, Book #3 (untitled) is scheduled for an early 2013 release. Both feature characters introduced in VENGEANCE BORN.

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.

The Human Side of Me
Pseudonym or Given Name?
This is a question I get asked a lot – especially from the children in my class and their parents.
I went with Griffin for three reasons: 
a) it’s my great grandmother’s maiden name (from the paternal family tree) and I’m big on keeping it in the family!
b) my given surname would be closer to the bottom of the bookstore shelf, whereas G tends to be more central or at eye level for any prospective reader,
c) Griffin suits the paranormal genre to a T!

Where are you? Outback New SouthWales. It’s a lovely part of Australia – volcanic mountains dotting the landscape, wide open plains stretching to the horizon, rural farming area so lots of crops and stock, fresh air, open skies that are so dark and clear at night you can see the Milky Way. 

Favorite color: Green.

Hunkiest hero ever: Hugh Jackman (sigh). 

Cat or dog (or other): Definitely cats – plural. I share my home with 3 moggies – Splat, Panda & Furball.

Author living or dead you’d most like to meet: Anne McCaffrey – her book DRAGONFLIGHT showed me fantasy and romance could be combined and inspired me to write the same.

Most daring thing you've done in your life: Tandem skydiving in Queenstown, New Zealand – what a rush! I was on a high for about a week afterwards.

Kylie Griffin’s obsession with all things paranormal/fantasy started at an early age, when she used to imagine the jacaranda tree in her front yard was a spaceship used to defend the world from invading enemies. Writing stories seemed a natural extension to her childhood adventures.

Today, she’s a primary school teacher sharing her love for the written word with young children. In her spare time, she writes and reads all things paranormal.
Kylie lives in a small rural village in outback New South Wales, Australia, where she volunteers in a number of emergency service organizations in her local community. Visit her website at www.kyliegriffin.com



Sarah Raplee said...

Thank you for guesting here at RTG, Kylie! Your books sound amazing! We share a love for many of the same fantasy writers, I see.

I, too, am a cat person, although dogs turn up in all my stories - so I guess I'm bi-partisan!

I look forward to reading your books!

Linda Lovely said...

Enjoyed the blog, Kylie. It's obvious that you pay the kind of attention to detail that makes a world believable and captures our imagination. Yet your world-building retains the emotional elements that make us want to read about the heroine and hero. Looking forward to reading the whole trio of books.

Christy Carlyle said...

Thank you for a fantastic and heartfelt post. It's always great to learn what inspires a writer. The world you've created in this series sounds fascinating.

Diana Mcc. said...

I enjoyed your post a lot! Your web site is wonderful! Love the pictures of the kitties and the dragon door.

Kylie Griffin said...

Hi Sarah, it's great to be here! I love promoting this genre.

I grew up with golden labs and border collies as well as cats, so I can place myself in the bi-partisan camp too. It's just that I happen to have three cats, and no dogs, at the moment. :-)

Kylie Griffin said...

Hi Linda (big wave)! Your comment was pretty much what my agent said appealed to her when she first read VENGEANCE BORN.

And it's funny the number of people who've read it so far who've then commented about the cross-over appeal of the book.

They acknowledge the romance within the story but they said because it was a fantasy romance the expected to be more "Mills & Boon" like. (admittedly these people aren't regular readers of 'romance' books)

But what I liked about what they said was that they could see the book on a regular fantasy bookstore shelf. Or that, despite the romance (which as you know some can take or leave) the fantasy plot sucked them. And these sorts of comments came from men and women.

Satisfying to hear when you know a) someone doesn't read 'romance' books or b) doesn't read this genre. Nice to think I may have converted them or at least opened up their mind to another genre.

Kylie Griffin said...

Hi Kristy, I'm quite passionate about this genre. Sometimes I think I may have been a changeling at birth because no one else in my immediate family shows such an interest in the genre.

I was fascinated by it even as a child. My earliest memory is as a 6 or 7 year old watching Dr.Who (a British science fiction time travel show with a main character who was an alien and regenerated into another person every so often and traveled through time in a Telephone Box - strange sounding show but it reached cult status in the UK and Australia in the 70's & 80's and then was cancelled but since the turn of the century has been revived and is now going strong again).

Kylie Griffin said...

Sorry Christy, I spelled your name wrong - I apologise! :-( I have a friend who spells it with a K.

Kylie Griffin said...

Diana, thanks for popping over to check out my website.

You've now met my three cats - Splat, Panda and Furball - little fur-kids of mischief and mayhem. :-) They all like to try and help me write my stories by tromping over the keyboard (that's their excuse but I suspect they may be jealous of the attention).

The stained glass dragon on the front door of my house as designed and created by a friend who is a multi-talented artist. She not only does glass work but scroll sawing, knitting, woodwork, tie-dying, candle making and other crafts.

The dragon door and the fairy window on my back door were my two splurges and 'luxury' items when I renovated my house. Quite fitting for a paranormal romance author. LOL

Anonymous said...

One of the things I liked most about Vengence Born was the world. I have read a lot of fantasy and I thought you had a nice mix of familiar and quite different elements, well drawn but not shoved down the throat. It's yet another element to keep in line when writing and I think you handled it well! Brava!

Kylie Griffin said...

G'day Imelda! Thanks for reading VENGEANCE BORN, so good to hear you liked the mix of fantasy elements. :-) And yes, it is something to keep in mind when writing in this genre.

Lexi said...

Great post on world building! A new world with new people and new rules, yes that is a great reason to read and love paranormal. I will have to remember this when people ask what kinds of books I read, then I tell them and they give me a blank look.

Judith Ashley said...

Hi Kylie,

Thanks for guesting with us at Romancing The Genres! I may not get lost in urban fantasy, fantasy, or paranormal romance but I do get lost in history - that few moments to realize I'm not in a castle, manor or ranch house, or tenant cottage or other humble abode - but curled up on my couch is truly a sign of a great book regardless of genre. When I'm viscerally drawn into a story, it's magic.

World building is a critical element of all good books but especially in fantasy/paranormal because the reader has to believe it's possible or suspend belief because of the other elements.
Your passion for this genre shines forth. Thank you for sharing it with us.

Kylie Griffin said...

Hello, Lexi. Yes, I get the blank eyed stare too when I say paranormal romance. But when you mention certain TV shows or movies comprehension downs and a link is made. :-)

Kylie Griffin said...

Judith, you're right, world building and suspension of disbelief in any genre is vital. And the power of words can be an awesome thing if you have all your senses engaged in the story. That happened to me when I read DRAGONFLIGHT by Anne McCaffrey. Her world was so vivid in my mind and as a teen it really impacted me.