25 Monday Jun 2012 Posted by Cera duBois in Visit with My Friends
Welcome Clare McKay as she talks writing and her book Laramie Moon.
Open with a little about yourself. When did you start writing, how long and what do you write?
I’ve always wanted to be a writer. I grew up in a house full of readers, and it wasn’t unusual to get up in the middle of the night to get a glass of milk and find several people still up, sitting around the table and talking about the books they were reading. We went to the library every week, and when I’d read through the children’s section of the library, my mother let me graduate to the fiction stacks. Her favorites were historical novels and romances, so it was natural for me to pick them up.
When I was about 12, I started a correspondence with the British author Rosemary Sutcliff. She wrote YA and adult historicals about King Arthur and the Romans in Britain, and she was kind enough to answer all my questions and encourage me to pursue writing. In college I majored in history and literature and became a fiction snob, so after college, I tried to write literary fiction. I was determined to write the next “great American novel.” I worked on my masterpiece off and on for years, but I never got around to finishing it. I didn’t particularly like my characters, and my heart wasn’t in it.
My daughter actually re-introduced me to romance. She loves paranormal romance and fantasy, and her books were always lying around. I got hooked on Anita Blake and the Black Dagger Brotherhood and then just devoured romances – paranormal, historical, suspense. It took me a long time to figure it out, but it finally dawned on me to write what I loved. After that, writing came easy.
I write urban fantasy and paranormal romances where the paranormal elements operate alongside the real world, mostly hidden but crossing over and involving characters from both worlds. Right now I’m writing a contemporary Western Alphas series – cowboys and werewolves, what’s not to love!
I was something of a romance snob for years too. I swore up and down I’d never write it…Well, best laid plans and all that…LOL Every book I ever came up with has always been a romance. And I love the Black Dagger Brotherhood. I hadn’t read it until this spring when it was suggested I read it to possibly attract that audience during my blog tour…Great stuff!
What can you tell us about Blue Mountain Magick that isn’t in the blurb or excerpt? Was it an easy write? How long did it take you to write it?
Blue Mountain Magick was my first book, and it literally flowed out of me. The story came to me almost complete, and I plotted it in one sitting. It’s my longest book at 108,000 words, but I finished it in three months.
Don’t you love when a story flows like that? I’ve had a few, but lately I’ve been struggling.
Are you a pantser or plotter? What can you tell us a little about your writing process?
I am definitely a plotter. I have to know where I’m going although I may change directions along the way. I always begin with a character, and my character is usually intrinsically linked to a setting. I rough plot the whole book and write up character lists. I will also do some preliminary research, especially on the settings or occupations/background of the characters.
Jim Winter, my hero in Laramie Moon, is ex-military, and I needed him to fly a helicopter, so with a little research, I discovered the Night Stalkers, the US Army’s Special Operations Aviation Regiment. They were a perfect fit. In the book, it’s just a bit of backstory that provides some motivation, but it was essential for me to know his whole history to write him convincingly.
Once I begin drafting, I usually write straight through to the end, revising a little as I go along. My biggest help has been finding a compatible critique partner. If I could give any advice to beginning writers it would be to search out a critique partner or group and not give up if it doesn’t work out. I tried several times before I found my perfect fit.
Now as a panster, I don’t do research unless and until I need to while I’m writing…Then I fix what I screwed up until I did the research….LOL
If you could be any fictional character—including your own, who would you choose and why?
I have lots of favorite characters, from David Copperfield to Antigone, but I wouldn’t particularly want to be most of them. If I could be a fictional character, I think I’d want to be Claire Fraser from Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander books. I can think of worse things than traveling through time and being married to Jamie.
All great characters!
What is your favorite TV show or movie?
Currently, my favorite TV show is probably The Walking Dead, although zombies are not sexy! I’m also a big fan of True Blood, Supernatural, Lost Girl, Criminal Minds, and Bones. I love my DVR. When I have time, I can sit down and have a marathon of all the shows I’ve missed.
I like Lost Girl… I only allow myself two TV shows a season…
Okay, since I write both vamps and cowboys, I want to know, which is sexier: Vampires or Cowboys?
Vampires are sexy with their ageless beauty and experience. I fell in love with Lestat. But I’m a Texas gal at heart, and I’d have to go with cowboys. I grew up thinking nothing was sexier than broad shoulders in a clean white shirt, a tight butt in dress jeans, and long legs ending in boots, and I still feel that way.
Of course, you could write a vampire cowboy…. I did. Austin in A Hunter’s Blade is one (releasing this winter).
Alpha werewolf Jim Winter has it all – a pack that respects him, a successful ranch, and his choice of willing females – but he only woman he wants is the one he can’t have. A guilty secret and a promise keep him from claiming Sissy as his mate.
Sissy Hunt has always loved Jim, but she’s tired of being the only 25 year old virgin werewolf in Wyoming. Frustrated and ready to get on with her life, she gladly accepts an invitation to join a neighboring pack, but she runs from heartbreak straight into the arms of danger.
Jim and Sissy will have to face the specters of their past if they want to survive and have a future together.
It's a natural pairing - cowboys and ranchers on the one side and wolves, and their paranormal brothers, werewolves, on the other. Cowboys and wolves have a long history. They share a love for the land and the wildness of the spaces that most men never see. Romantically, they have a similar nature. They're both tough. Some times they're loners, but they recognize the pack, and they look after each other. And most romantic, they mate for life. Unfortunately, that's more true of wolves than cowboys, but ideally, the cowboys out there are looking for that special one who'll be the one for life.
It's like the Tim McGraw song:
I'm gonna live where the green grass grows
Watchin' my corn pop up in rows
Every night be tucked in close to you
Raise our kids where the good Lord's blessed
Point our rocking chairs towards the west
Plant our dreams where the peaceful river flows
Where the green grass grows
As I've been writing Laramie Moon, I've been listening to a lot of country music. That's been no hardship because I love country music. I like lots of different music - rock, punk, metal, even the occasional Broadway musical (I'm not big on jazz, much to my husband's dismay) - but country music has a soul-baring purity that I love. As Brad Paisley says,
This is real.
This is your life
In a song.
Yeah, this is country music.
A while back I was driving in the car, listening to the radio, when a song came on, and I instantly knew, that was Jim's song. Jim Winter - a cowboy and a werewolf - is the hero of Laramie Moon. The song is "I Wouldn't Be a Man" by Josh Turner, and it speaks of the feelings Jim has for Sissy.
People often say country music is sappy and corny, but it is unabashedly romantic and heartfelt.
Here's my playlist of some of my favorite romantic country songs. I can't hear "Somewhere Other than the Night" without crying, and without fail, if my sweet husband hears me play it, he'll come give me a kiss. You can't beat that.
Keith Whitley – Don’t Close Your Eyes
Keith Whitley – When You Say Nothing at All
Garth Brooks – Somewhere Other Than the Night
George Strait –Carried Away
George Strait – You Look so Good in Love
Josh Turner – I Wouldn’t Be a Man
Steve Holy – Good Morning Beautiful
Clay Walker - Fall
Billy Currington – Must Be Doing Something Right
Lone Star – Amazed
Chris Cagle – Miss Me Baby
Mark Wills – I Do
John Michael Montgomery – I Can Love You Like That
John Michael Montgomery – I Swear
Tracy Lawrence – Stars Over Texas
Randy Travis - It's Just a Matter of Time
Clint Black - When I Said I Do
Doug Stone – Different Light
Doug Stone – Why Didn’t I Think of That
Jason Aldean – Why
Jason Aldean – Don't You Wanna Stay
Blake Shelton - Nobody but Me
Tim McGraw – I Need You
Kenny Chesney – You Had Me at Hello
I write fantasy and paranormal romance. I love having the ability to create new worlds and new histories. My first book LARAMIE MOON will be coming out soon, so stay tuned.