Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Today's Special - - Interview with Virginia Kantra

Interviewed by PJ




I am so happy to welcome one of my favorite authors and today's special guest, Virginia Kantra!  A USA Today bestselling author, six-time RITA finalist and winner of numerous awards, Virginia's fan following has grown with each book she's published.  After successfully writing in both contemporary category and romantic suspense sub-genres, Virginia created her paranormal Children of the Sea series, stories based on selkie legend that showcase her superb storytelling skill.  Learn more about Virginia at her website and visit with her at facebook.






Thanks for being with us today, Virginia and congratulations on the release of IMMORTAL SEA! Will you tell us a bit about the book?

Sure. IMMORTAL SEA is both a reunion romance and a coming of age story. While the story stands alone, readers who have followed the series will be happy to see some loose ends tied up here.

The premise is that before starting med school, young Elizabeth Rodriguez had a hot and wild one night stand in Copenhagen. She has no idea her lover Morgan is one of the finfolk, the shape-shifting children of the sea. Sixteen years later, Liz takes the job of island doctor on World’s End, Maine, hoping the community there will provide some needed stability for her son, troubled fifteen-year-old Zack.

But when her one-time hook-up walks back into their lives, she gets a lot more than she bargained for!

I'll say!  It's not every day that you discover when your lover says he's going for a swim he means as a shark or whale!

Your Children of the Sea heroes are all alpha males, probably none more so than Morgan. What draws you to this type of hero? Why do you think they are so popular with readers?

I just like strong, competent guys. Some of my favorite scenes in IMMORTAL SEA involve the different men—human and merfolk--jockeying for position on the island. Human police chief Caleb Hunter, new warden Dylan Hunter, the sea lord Conn ap Llyr, and proud, ambitious, ruthless Morgan. One of Morgan’s conflicts is that he is pledged to support the sea lord Conn but completely disagrees with his overlord’s tolerance of humankind. I like the tension that creates.

For me, though, a hero isn’t ultimately defined by his rank in the pack, but by his ability to show up on a daily basis.

There’s a scene in IMMORTAL SEA where Liz tells Morgan, “I need more than a quick grope on your way out the door. I need trust and tenderness and companionship and commitment. Can you offer me all those things? Or any of those things?” And the story hangs on his ability to answer that question.

I love that scene!  
  
What would you like us to know about Liz and Morgan before we begin their story?

Morgan pretty much leaps on the page without introduction. At the beginning of the story, he reminds me a lot of Boromir in the Lord of the Rings. He’s hard, proud, noble, resentful...and wrong. He’s also the least human of any character I’ve written, so his transformation was particularly challenging. 

I think any woman can identify with Liz. She’s an incredibly strong woman. If she weren’t, she wouldn’t stand a chance against Morgan.

I was so impressed with how you handled Morgan's transformation.  He's become one of my favorite Kantra heroes.

What inspired you to go “beneath the wave” and create a series of books about the selkie, finfolk and other children of the sea?

At the same time I was writing my first two romantic suspense novels for Berkley, I also did a couple of novellas based on legends about the fair folk. I had what I thought was the idea for another contemporary romantic suspense: police chief on a remote island in Maine finds a naked woman who’s been attacked on the beach. And then I thought . . . What if she wasn’t human?

The “naked” bit set me off, I think. There are folk tales up and down the British coast about the selkie, shape-shifters who take the form of seals in the ocean and cast off their pelts—get naked—to come ashore as beautiful men and women who have sex with humans. Which is a fabulous fantasy if you are a lonely sailor and a pretty unarguable explanation if you are an unmarried village maiden who can’t possibly name the father of your baby.

It was that juxtaposition, that tension between land and sea, between the contemporary, pragmatic, workaday world of the Maine islanders and the timeless, sensual, magical world of the merfolk, that totally hooked me into the first story, SEA WITCH, and into the series.

It hooked me, and many other readers, as well!


It’s no secret that I love this series and would be more than happy to see it continue into the next generation. IMMORTAL SEA is the fourth Children of the Sea book. What’s coming next? And, is the series open-ended or are there a finite number of books planned?

Yay! Thanks! Right now, I’m finishing up FORGOTTEN SEA, the story of Iestyn, one of the adolescents “lost” at the end of SEA LORD. It’s scheduled for June 2011. After that, the series takes a twist, but I can’t say much about it yet. (HINT: read the teaser in the back of IMMORTAL SEA.)

A very important part of IMMORTAL SEA is the compelling, and masterfully crafted, “coming of age” story involving Zack, the teenage son of the hero and heroine. Have you ever considered writing YA romance? Will we see more of Zack in future books?

Thank you so much for saying that! I have two sons, and I can tell you there’s definitely stuff in the book that came right from the heart. Some of my favorite books are YA: Ursula LeGuin’s THE BEGINNING PLACE, Richard Bradford’s RED SKY AT MORNING, almost anything by Robin McKinley. The couple in FORGOTTEN SEA—Iestyn and Lara—are definitely younger, in their mid-twenties. But I’m very happy writing paranormal romance for adults. 

Zack? I don’t know when, I don’t know how, but he’ll be back.

Thank you!  I think he's going to make a terrific hero!

What’s the best writing advice you’ve received and what advice would you offer to unpublished writers?

Not to accept too much advice. There’s no “right” and “wrong” in writing fiction; there’s only “works” and “does not work,” and each writer has to discover what works for her.

We all have our favorite comfort reads – those books we turn to time and again. What authors or books do you turn to for reading pleasure?

I hoard my favorite authors’ new releases. But when I need comfort, I take one chapter at bedtime. Nora Roberts always works for me. Always.

At your website, you say that your favorite thing to make for dinner is reservations. Let’s say your husband surprised you with a dinner party at your favorite restaurant. What fictional characters would be on the guest list and why?

Some of my favorite characters might be a little intimidating to spend an evening with. (“Why, yes, Mr. Darcy and Lord Peter, I am referring to you.”) At the risk of sounding stupid, I’d really like to go to World’s End and spend some time hanging out with my own characters when I didn’t have to take notes. Oh, and Elizabeth Bennett, because I’d want to hear her observations about all the other guests!

Not stupid at all!  I'd love to hang out with your characters in World's End.  We could all chat over lobster rolls and Italian wine and I'd try not to drool too much over Dylan, Caleb, Morgan and Conn. *grin*

One last question. If you could “shift,” as the children of the sea in your books do, what would you want to become and why?

There’s a scene where Morgan shifts:

He shook back his hair and dived, holding his breath against the shock of cold, the painful ecstasy, into the clear salt dark, into the pulse and surge and curl of the water, letting the joy take him, letting the water take him, one with the joy and the water.
Home.
Free.
His boundaries blurred and dissolved. His bones melted, stretched, fused. The pulse of the waves became his pulse, the heart of the ocean, his beating heart. He felt the Change rip through him like another pain, another ecstasy, tearing, convulsive, consuming as climax.
He retained just enough of his human mind to shape the Change as the hand of a potter shapes the clay. He was speed, size, strength, he was death in the water. He was the wolf of the ocean, Orcinus, seal killer, whale killer, killer whale.

Morgan goes to Orca, but I’d want to be one of the great baleen whales. A humpback, because of the song, I think.

Thank you so much for visiting with us today, Virginia. Would you like to ask a question of our readers?

Thank you so much for having me! I’d love to ask your readers the question you asked me: If you had the power, what creature of the sea would you want to “shift” into?

Finally, there’s Liz’s challenge to Morgan: “I need trust and tenderness and companionship and commitment.” Which qualities do you require in a real life hero? How about a fictional one? Are they the same or different? 

Great questions!  Okay readers, now it's your turn!  

Virginia's publisher, Berkley, has generously offered three copies of IMMORTAL SEA which will be given to random commenters on today's blog.

 


35 comments:

  1. Well let's see, if I had the power to shift into anything in the sea it would probably be a dolphin. I think they are beautiful graceful creatures. The qualities I prefer in real life and fiction are really the same. Love,compassion, trust and strength. I would love to read your book.

    seriousreader at live dot com

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  2. Hi Virgina -
    The only creature of the sea that I can think that I'd like to shift into would be a dolphin (& I'm not saying that to copy the previous poster - I thought of it before I saw her post).

    I'd love to win 'Immortal Sea'.

    Lea Ellen B. {night owl in IL}
    borg_66@hotmail.com

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  3. I've been hooked on this series since I read the first one, and they just get better and better.

    If I had the power to shift, I'd want it to be something furry. But if I had to shift into a sea creature, I'd go with a sea serpent or a siren.

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  4. I would shift into a whale because they are like the kings and queens of the sea. I like a hero who has a sense of humor, thinks about how his actions affect others and is willing to do anything for the heroine.

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  5. Hi Linda! The dolphin was my first thought too. Not only are they beautiful and graceful but they're also very playful. Overall, a very nice combination.

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  6. Hi night owl in IL! You really are a night owl, aren't you? *g*

    Are you a fan of Virginia's Children of the Sea series? I'm fascinated by the stories she weaves and how realistic her characters are. When I'm deep into one of her books I have no problem whatsoever imagining a gorgeous man shifting into a creature of the sea.

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  7. Becke said; I've been hooked on this series since I read the first one, and they just get better and better.

    They do, don't they? Have you read IMMORTAL SEA yet? So very good!

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  8. Maureen said; I would shift into a whale because they are like the kings and queens of the sea.

    Hi Maureen! I was thinking of whales because then I could eat whatever I wanted and nobody would give my figure a second thought! *grin*

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  9. Hi, Virginia!! As you know, I'm a huge fan of this series, and I can't wait to read IMMORTAL SEA. Coincidentally, my daughter's name is Morgan. :-)

    I definitely want trust, compassion, tenderness, love and commitment in real life and in fiction.

    I would love to be a dolphin---seems to be a popular choice---but a seal would be fun, too. I think they are both fascinating, joyful, playful creatures.

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  10. Thanks for having me at The Dish!

    Interesting to see so many people pick dolphins. In the scene where Morgan reveals himself to Liz, he tells her he chose the "forms most likely to be acceptable to you."

    Scientists believe both whales and dolphins were originally land mammals who chose to return to the sea!

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  11. My first thought was a shark, such a predator! Killer instinct!

    The qualities I look for in a hero real and imaginary are:
    honor,hard work ethic, passionate about life and family, integrity, humor, generosity (time and money), polite and compassionate(kindness and loving).

    johnslake at usa dot com

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  12. Oh I love this series! I would want to shift to would also be the dolphin, they are kind of like mediators between the sea and humans.
    I think there is a difference in what I want from a man in real life and what from a fictional hero, the fictional hero has a lot better shot at being exactly what I want...LOL
    Humor and acceptance of who I am, (if I can accept you as you are I expect the same), doesn't sound like a lot but it is.

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  13. Hi Virginia!
    This is actually the first I've heard of this series, but it sounds very interesting! :)
    If I had the power, I would probably shift into a sea turtle, just because I've always liked turtles.
    As for Liz's question, the qualities I require in a hero are intelligence, honesty, and compassion.

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  14. IF i had the power, Whale will be my choice, because whale is the biggest creature in the sea (?)

    Hi Virginia,
    i've seen your book on book depo this morning, when i looked for another book with the title 'sea'. What a coincidence :) Really like to have the chance to read your books, coz i've been wandering since morning whether i will get my chance to own it!

    uniquas at ymail dot com

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  15. Laurie, yeah, I definitely played with that "top of the food chain" idea in this book.

    Dianna, I think acceptance is SO important!

    Trisha and Mariska, thanks for dropping by! If you want a peek at an excerpt, you can read one at

    http://www.virginiakantra.com/immortalsea.html

    Hope you enjoy!

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  16. I think shifting into a dolphin for a day would be cool. I have been fasinated with them since I read a great romance by Betina Krahan about dolphins and their "magic" years ago. They are sleek, graceful and very smart. Thanks for sharing today I have your book on my list to get and can't wait to get my hands on it.

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  17. Oops forgot to leave e-mail addy

    eric250r@coosnet.com

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  18. Wow, not really certain what I would shift into if I had the power to shift into anything in the sea.

    I finally got Sea Witch from the library and started it. Wow, I'm already hooked. I can't wait to get the next book for I have Sea Lord in my TBR list (wanted/needed to start from book one)

    Raonaid at gmail dot com

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  19. Hi Virgina,
    If I could change into any sea animal it would have to be a Dolphin. They are smart fast and just beautiful creatures.
    I had forgotten that I had read books about Selkies years ago until I read your interview. I am going to go see if I can dig them out.
    I can see where using the excuse of a selkie could come in handy for an unwed mother.

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  20. Sorry forgot to leave my email.

    gigihicks@windstream.net

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  21. I would have said mermaid, but it looks like we're limited to actual sea animals. Although I would like to swim fast, I ca't think of one that I'd actually like to shapeshift into.

    penfield716@yahoo.com

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  22. Johanna, I remember Betina telling a very funny story at conference one year about swimming with the dophins...apparently, they can be pretty scary close up!

    Raonaid, so happy you're enjoying Sea Witch! I'm rather partial to Caleb.

    Gigi, yes! Much easier to say "A beautiful naked man came out of the sea and I could not resist him!" than, "It was the married butcher."

    Penfield, we're all friends here. You can be a mermaid if you want. :)

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  23. Does an otter count? They get to eat shellfish while floating, and also get to wander onto land. =) I would like both worlds.

    Sounds like a great read, I better get started on book 1!

    Jessica C

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  24. I think I would want to be able to shift into being a dolphin.
    In a hero (real or not)compassion is a must.

    throuthehaze at gmail dot com

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  25. I agree with Liz about the desirable qualities in real life and fiction.
    I would have to shift into a dolphin. I love watching them when I'm at the beach.

    andrea.infinger@gmail.com

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  26. Hello and welcome, Virginia! We're happy to have you dishing with us today. Congrats on the latest release! PJ has raved about this series. :)

    I'm going to go with the majority and say a dolphin, as well. They're such beautiful creatures!

    As for heroes, real-life or fictional, I look for honesty, compassion, intelligence, and a sense of humor...the qualities my husband has. :)

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  27. I think I'd want to be a whale or a shark. If I'm going to shift into a marine animal, I want to be able to dive into the deep parts of the ocean to look around. What critters are down there that have never been seen by human eyes? What's going on down there anyway? If I'm to be a shifter, I may as well find out.

    As for a hero, "trust and tenderness and companionship and commitment" are really good and solid qualities for a real-life or a fictional hero. Of course, for a fictional hero, those qualities can be a bit more hidden, to be brought forth by the heroine.

    cories119[at]yahoo.com

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  28. Jessica, I definitely think we should count otters. And while I'd love for you to read SEA WITCH, I've heard from other new readers that IMMORTAL SEA really does stand on its own.

    I wouldn't say compassion is naturally one of Morgan's stronger traits, even though he comes to Liz's rescue early in the book. He has a lot to learn! But it is a wonderful quality in a real life hero.

    Andrea, thanks for the welcome!

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  29. If I had the power, the creature of the sea I would want to “shift” into would be either an Orca or a sea dragon (just because we haven't seen a sea dragon, doesn't mean they're not out there somewhere, LOL).
    I need trust, loyalty, a partner in life and commitment. I think a fictional one needs to add hot and sexy or at least chemistry to the list.

    I'm looking forward to reading Immortal Sea, and I love the cover.

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  30. Thanks for visiting with us today, Virginia! I have heard so many wonderful things about this series (especially from PJ and Gannon!).

    I guess I would pick a dolphin too.

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  31. Virginia, thanks so much for visiting with us today! Best of luck with IMMORTAL SEA. It's a terrific book!

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  32. Barbara, I think a sea dragon is a definite possibility! Hope you enjoy IS.

    I really appreciate the chance to visit with you all! Thanks so much.

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  33. Virginia, Congratulations on this wonderful series.

    My heroes, both real and fictional, need to be honest and good at heart. It may not show, but it is there. He must be an honorable man. He will do what is right no matter the cost to himself.
    As for Liz's comment “I need trust and tenderness and companionship and commitment.” Yes, all of that too.

    If I could shift into a creature of the sea, it would be a dolphin. They have such speed and are intelligent creatures. They seem to swim and leap with such joy.

    One other comment. Your covers are lovely. The changing monochromatic tomes are perfect.

    librarypat AT comcast DOT net

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  34. Librarypat, I have been blessed with some amazing covers, havne't I? Tony Mauro is the artist. You can see his original artwork (as well as the alternate SEA WITCH cover) here:

    http://virginiakantra.net/maurointerview.html

    Hope you enjoy!

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  35. Shift? Killer whale, no one would mess with me! And hero? Honesty, consideration and tenderness, all rolled into one, all the best for your release!

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