Blog by VONNIE DAVIS -- International, Award-Winning Romance Author: Adventurous...Humorous...Amorous.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

The King Must Die

I have the lovely N. Gemini Sasson visiting us today, talking about her new release, The Kind Must Die. She is also the author of The Crown in the Heather (The Bruce Trilogy: Book I), Worth Dying For (The Bruce Trilogy: Book II), The Honor Due a King (The Bruce Trilogy: Book III) and Isabeau, A Novel of Queen Isabella and Sir Roger Mortimer (2011 IPPY Silver Medalist for Historical Fiction). She holds a M.S. in Biology from Wright State University where she ran cross country on athletic scholarship. She has worked as an aquatic toxicologist, an environmental engineer, a teacher and a track and cross country coach.

A longtime breeder and judge of Australian Shepherds, her articles on bobtail genetics have been translated into seven languages.

·         What is your life like away from the computer? Tell us something about your household.

‘Crazy-busy’ is the best way to describe things at our house. Frankly, I wouldn’t have it any other way. Sedate and routine would bore more to tears! My husband and I are serial remodelers, if you can call rehabbing two houses that. We’ve done everything from flooring and fencing, to gutting entire rooms of their drywall down to the studs. We’re also longtime breeders of Australian Shepherds and currently own seven dogs. We used to be very involved in showing and training in agility, herding and conformation, but our travel time eventually got snatched up by an active pair of kids. Our son and daughter are in college now, but both compete in racewalking in track and field for their schools. We’re the type of parents who go to every event our kids are in that we can, so our Saturdays are often spent at track meets, no matter what the weather. Former tracksters ourselves, we love living vicariously through them now. When I’m not working on the house, training dogs or at a race, I can be found in the garden pulling weeds. It’s very relaxing and great therapy – a nice change of pace. Stepping away from the computer frequently is necessary for my sanity. My best ideas for stories come to me when I’m thinking about other things entirely.

·         What is your writing schedule like?

Schedule? You mean people actually write on a schedule? I’m not sure how I could manage that. All I can say is that my hours and productivity level vary a lot. Some days, when The Muse is being generous, I start at 9 a.m. and work until 11 p.m. But that’s not until I get at least halfway through writing a book and I know where I’m going with it. The beginning can be a slog, in which all kinds of distractions (scraping the algae off the fish tank glass, cleaning the grout in the shower, dusting the nicknack shelf) are all screaming at me to get done just in case a visitor drops by, even though no one ever does. I eschew (love that word, been waiting to use it for weeks) the daily word count concept. Instead, I aim for chapter completion and pencil that in on my calendar. It’s important I have flexibility in my ‘schedule’, so some days I work like a maniac, some days I simply attend to life in all its craziness.

·         Do you ever dream of writing in a different genre?

I plan on doing just that. Like a lot of people, my tastes are somewhat eclectic. I’m more interested in an engaging story with characters who overcome obstacles and grow emotionally than I am in the specifics of any single genre. I love historical settings, and the past provides me with a ready-made framework for my novels, but adhering to actual events also comes with its limitations. I do plan on branching out and welcome the opportunity to connect  with readers who may not find history relevant to their own modern lives. I enjoy books that reach us on a very basic, emotional level, like Mitch Albom’s The Five People You Meet in Heaven, Garth Stein’s The Art of Racing in the Rain and Bruce Cameron’s A Dog’s Purpose.

·         What part of the writing process brings you the most pleasure? The most angst?

Being ‘in the flow’ of a story is the most exhilarating. By that, I mean the stage after it’s already well-plotted, the characters have begun to flesh out and you know them well enough that they are telling you what happens next. It’s like being possessed, only in a good way. Oddly, I also like the stage when the first rough draft is completed and the heavy edits are going on. I enjoy smoothing over the little burrs and pulling it all together to get to the finished product. Getting closure is very motivating.

The hardest part for me is just starting a new project. It’s daunting knowing how many months it’s going to take and that I’m going to hit walls along the way. It reminds me of beginning a major home remodeling project: You know it’s going to take time and effort and it’s never, never as easy as you think it should be, even though you’ve done it before.

·         What are you currently working on?

Good question! Well, there are stacks of chapters scattered on my living room floor of a 15th century historical novel about the Welsh prince Owain Glyndwr, but I also have a notebook of ideas whispering my name, beckoning to me. One of those epiphanies came to me in the shower the other day. Let me just say it entails a castle on the Scottish coast, past lives and impossible choices.

·         Has your road to publication been a walk in the park or a steep mountain climb? Give us some details?

Definitely a mountain climb, but more of a looooong gradual one. My road to publication is something I never would have envisioned ten years ago, but I’m thrilled it worked out the way it has. Originally, I went the traditional route, which is query, query, query, submit, get an agent, and then submit to publishers, wait, wait, wait. We came close a couple of times. Alas, the stars did not align in our favor. At that point, I had four books under my belt and was in the midst of writing what eventually became The King Must Die. I had to decide whether to finish it and go through the long traditional process again or try something new. I talked it over with my agent and decided to self-publish. I re-wrote all four books, put them through rigorous editing, learned about digital publishing and went for it, blindly I might add. It was excruciatingly slow-going at first. I was happy to sell a hundred books  by my fourth month and figured it wouldn’t go much beyond that. Somehow, magically it seems, sales snowballed and I’m now creeping up on 50,000 books sold worldwide.

·         Tell us about your current release…or soon to be release.

The King Must Die is the sequel to Isabeau, A Novel of Queen Isabella and Sir Roger Mortimer (2011 IPPY Historical Fiction Silver Medal), although either book can be read as a standalone. When I came across references to Isabella while researching my Robert the Bruce trilogy, I couldn’t believe other novelists hadn’t pounced on her story before. At the outset of The King Must Die, it’s 1326 and Isabella and her lover Mortimer have invaded England, ousted Edward II from the throne and put Isabella’s son in his place. Soon after, the former king is found dead in his cell and the mystery of it haunts Isabella’s conscience. She’s torn between standing by Mortimer and her love for her son.

Thanks a million for having me, Vonnie, and letting me talk about my crazy writing life!

The author will be awarding a $25 Amazon GC to one randomly drawn commenter during the tour.
Folks, follow the tour and comment; the more YOU comment, the better YOUR chances of winning. The tour dates can be found here:

What is done cannot be undone.

England, 1326. Edward II has been dethroned. Queen Isabella and her lover, Sir Roger Mortimer, are at the pinnacle of their power.

Fated to rule, Isabella’s son becomes King Edward III at the callow age of fourteen. Young Edward, however, must bide his time as the loyal son until he can break the shackles of his minority and dissolve the regency council which dictates his every action.

When the former king is found mysteriously dead in his cell, the truth becomes obscured and Isabella can no longer trust her own memory . . . or confide in those closest to her. Meanwhile, she struggles to keep her beloved Mortimer at her side and gain yet another crown—France’s—for the son who no longer trusts her.

Amidst a maelstrom of shifting loyalties, accusations of murder propel England to the brink of civil war.

In the sequel to Isabeau, secrecy and treason, conspiracy and revenge once again overtake England. The future rests in the hands of a mother and son whose bonds have reached a breaking point.

Isabella – Westminster, February, 1327

The reminder that I was still married to Edward of Caernarvon stung like an open cut, fresh and deep down to the vein. Except for the sharp whistling of my indrawn breath, the room was silent. Bishop Orleton must have sensed the tension between Mortimer and me, for he excused himself, closing the door firmly behind him.

I turned away to face the row of windows, the world beyond dark with night. In moments, Mortimer’s arms encircled my waist from behind, tugging me gently against him. I kept my body stiff, tempering my resolve against his nearness, but already my knees were weakening beneath me.

“Isabeau ... sweet heaven of mine.” Light fingers traced over my hips, wandering slowly up toward my ribs. His breath stirred on my neck, a fiery breeze of longing. “Let me hold you tonight, hour upon hour, until the dawn.”

I shook my head, even as I felt myself wanting to yield, to abandon all. “I’m afraid, Roger.”
      He turned me around, his lips brushing against the crown of my hair, over my ear, the slope of my shoulder. Not until my breathing slowed and I half-closed my eyes, waiting for more, did he lift his head to speak. A smirk, hinting of something sinister, flashed across his mouth. Or perhaps I merely imagined it? His thumb stroked tenderly at my cheek, soothing away my worries. “Afraid of what—that he’ll go free? You needn’t worry, my love. I’ll make sure he never has the chance.”

 Folks, I've read this book. I love a good learning experience and Gemini holds nothing back. Her research shines as she weaves a tapestry of greed, power struggles, betrayal and love. But what makes her historical powerful are the flesh and blood characters, full of foibles and passions, that grab you by the throat and compel you to read on. Her descriptions are so richly detailed you are drawn into the era. I highly recommend this story.


N. Gemini Sasson said...

Thanks again, Vonnie, for allowing me to visit! Re-reading this, I realize I need to schedule a day off to re-energize. Phew!

Vonnie Davis said...

No doubt! You sound very busy. I just spent a week with my teenage grandchildren and away from the computer. While my mind needed the break, my body took a beating. We had so much fun reconnecting. I live in VA and they live in IN and MD. We were all together for my granddaughter's high school graduation. A great time. As writers, we sometimes need to step out from our creative worlds into reality.

Goddess Fish Promotions said...

Thank you for hosting today!

Anonymous said...

I love the word "eschew" too. The book really sounds good...


Hazel West said...

More great insight into being a writer ;) We do have one of the best jobs ever because we can word whenever we want and also have a life. Even if friends don't understand why you don;t want to go out with them because you're in the middle of a battle scene ;)

MomJane said...

I don't understand how you can keep on writing and still keep so busy. However, I am glad you do. Your books sound awesome.

Catherine Lee said...

Great recommendation for the book, Vonnie.

Australian Shepherds are beautiful dogs. They're quite the natural herders, aren't they? My friend has one, Mabel, and she is always trying to herd everyone.

marybelle said...

I love reading about the road to publication & beyond.

I can see the correlation between re-modelling & writing. Both painstakingly hard work.


Karen H in NC said...

Just popping in to say HI and sorry I missed visiting with you on party day! Enjoyed reading about your book.

kareninnc at gmail dot com