Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Interview: Kendall McKenna

Hello and welcome back after that little vacation break. Today, I have the great pleasure to welcome Kendall McKenna. When I met her (again, not in flesh, sadly, but on FB) I didn’t know about her books. Then I read Strength of the Pack (#1 in the Tameness of the Wolf Series) and God, I was hooked!!! I loved the story, and I’m now very proud to have her on my blog *puffs chest*. The second book of the series was out last Friday, so if you didn’t read the first one, run for it. Of course, these are not the only book she wrote, but that series has a special place in my heart, so I needed to talk about it J

Anyway, I’ll stop babbling and let her talk about herself. Enjoy

The morning, you are tea or coffee?

I switch back and forth between the two. It also depends on mood. At the moment, I’m in love with all forms of green tea with pomegranate.


What kind of books do you write?

I write M/M Erotic Romances


Why did you choose this genre?

I come directly from fandom. Starting in the early 90’s, I fell in love with ‘slash’ fanfiction, and I couldn’t get enough m/m erotic stories.


When you write, are you keyboard or paper?

KEYBOARD! One time, my laptop died, and another time, I was on a cruise ship. I had to write by hand. My brain moves faster than my hand when writing, so I could hardly read my writing when I went to transcribe.


Are you more motivated to write when the sun shines or when the weather is gray?

When it’s gray. But like a lot of creative people, I really find my stride late, late at night, regardless of weather.


Where do you find your inspiration?

In everything around me. TV, movies, true crime stories, news. I get a lot of inspiration from issues currently facing the U.S. military.


When you start a book, do you already have the whole story in your head, or is it built progressively?

Progressively. I’m what’s known as a ‘panster’. I start with a list of primary characters, and an outline of character and story arcs. I know where I want to end up. As I write, I craft scenes that take me down the paths I need to go, until I end up where I need to, in the end.


How do you feel before the release of a book? Fear, joy? And after?

I’m both excited and nervous. It can change from minute to minute in the week before. Afterward, it’s all fun. Everyone’s excitement and the over the top, happy reviews are so much fun.


Between your first and last novel, do you feel a change? Do you write differently?

Very little has changed. I spent a lot of years learning my craft and developing my skills, so by the time my first novel was finished, my style was already in place. I do still make small adjustments, based on feedback from editors. If I get a lot of editor notes about one particular thing, I’ll make a change.


They say that writers project themselves into the skin and into the head of his hero / heroine, is that the case for you?

Yes, I have to. Because I write realistic combat scenes, I HAVE to include the sights, sounds, smells and emotions that go with being around live gunfire and explosives. I’ve never been in combat, but I HAVE fired all manner of guns, and I’ve been around several controlled detonations. I know firsthand, how it all feels and sounds and smells. I also imagine how I would react to the situations my characters find themselves in, so I can write the emotions realistically. Also, we all know what it’s like to fall in love and to have our hearts broken, so I use those experiences from my past, as well.


You define yourself more like a bookworm, a city mouse or a country mouse?

I’m a country mouse/bookworm! I grew up on a ranch, with all types of livestock. I ride horses and I’m surrounded by dogs. But I love books. I always have my Kindle with me wherever I go. When I talk about something I’ve learned and someone asks me how I know all these things I’m always talking about, my answer is ‘I read. A lot.’


Molière said: “Writing is like prostitution. First we write for the love of it, then for a few friends, and in the end for money.” What do you think about it?

LOL! Moliere was a little cynical, I think. For all that Tartuffe is a farce, it doesn’t really show people in their best light. I agree with most of it, but not the prostitution bit. We start writing for the love of it, share it with friends for the pleasure of it, and that’s when we realize we might actually be able to write stories a lot of people will like. We’re supposed to figure out how to make money doing what we love, or at least love what we do to earn our livings. It’s not prostitution, it’s smart. Especially since I write a genre that is written primarily by women. So many of these authors are apologetic about expecting fair payment for their work. It’s a business. We’re just lucky that we love doing what it is that makes us money.


Your books have already been translated?

Not that I’m aware of. I’ve had fanfiction translated into Polish and Russian, though.


Do you pay attention to literary criticism?

Yes and no. When a reviewer obviously has taken time with their review and they have constructive things to say, I pay attention. I’ve found that sometimes, a reader doesn’t like something I’ve done, but the fact they understood what I intended, means I did it right. I can’t control personal taste, but if my intent came through, I win. When reviewers obviously are using literary terms incorrectly, or they’re criticizing my characters in ways that indicate they’ve met an active duty Marine, ever, I ignore the review.


The days are 25 hours. You spend that extra hour in the garden or in the kitchen?

On the laptop, writing.


What is the book you would bring with you on a deserted island?

It used to be Mists of Avalon. Now, I think it’s the Hunger Games Omnibus.


In the evening, do you turn off the light directly or do you take the time to read?

My husband goes to bed first, so I usually read or write in the living room, and go to bed without ever turning the light on!


Strength of the Wolf
(The Tameness of the Wolf, Book #2)

After a fiery exit from Afghanistan, Tim Madison is promoted to major. Jeremy Wagner is a civilian, just beginning his Transition to True Alpha. As a lone wolf, he has no one to teach him the vital principles of strong leadership. After a volatile chance encounter, Tim and Jeremy form an intimate bond.

As Jeremy prepares to someday lead his own pack, Tim struggles with military werewolves being needlessly maimed in combat, as well as specifically targeted by hostile forces. Despite Tim and Jeremy’s feelings, werewolf and human politics or family conflict could prevent their mate-bond.


The crowd of Marines backed away, forming a wide circle around Tim. To his left, Lucas dropped what he was carrying. Glass shattered on the wooden deck and dispelled the food it contained. To Tim’s right, Jeremy’s clawed hands wrapped around Terrell Hubbard’s throat. His lips pulled back in a ferocious snarl, revealing long, wickedly sharp fangs. Hubbard’s fingers were claws, as well. One gripped Jeremy’s bicep, the other was fisted in Jeremy’s shirt. Hubbard bared his fangs, barking and growling in Jeremy’s face.

Adrenaline surged into Tim’s bloodstream. His heart pounded, his mouth went dry. “Jeremy! Knock it the fuck off!” he shouted, reaching for the brat’s shoulders to pull him away from Hubbard. “Sergeant Hubbard! Stand down! Right the fuck now!” Tim’s skin tightened over his bones and his clothes were suddenly painful.

Tim hadn’t been this afraid in combat. Hubbard was inches taller and tens of pounds heavier than Jeremy. He was a trained Marine, battle hardened. Jeremy was outclassed and that scared the shit out of Tim.

“Submit, Terrell,” Noah shouted, voice rough and commanding. He sounded more wolf than human.

Just as Tim reached for Jeremy, strong hands grasped his wrists.

“Stay out of it,” Lucas said, trying to drag Tim away from the embattled werewolves. “You’ll only get hurt.”

“Jeremy’s no match for Hubbard,” Tim said angrily, trying to shake off Lucas.

“Yes, he is.” Lucas put himself between Tim and the shifters, giving a mighty shove. “Let Noah handle it.”

Tim stumbled, Lucas’ shove sending him off balance. He started back toward Jeremy, desperate to get him away from the larger, stronger Hubbard. Lucas blocked his path. Dawson was suddenly behind Lucas as silent reinforcement.

“Submit to him, Terrell,” Noah ordered again. He stood beside the two werewolves but didn’t touch. Tim wondered why the hell he didn’t break up the fight. “If you make him shift he’ll rip your throat out.”

In the blink of an eye, Hubbard gave up the fight and let himself be carried to the ground by Jeremy’s weight. Now on his back, Terrell let his arms go limp beside him. He tilted back his head so that both his throat and his belly were vulnerable to Jeremy’s attack.

A strange silence fell over the yard, save for Hubbard’s labored breathing as he struggled to get air past Jeremy’s grip on his throat. Jeremy crouched over Terrell’s supine form. He gripped Hubbard’s throat with only one clawed hand now. He leaned down until his open mouth hovered just above Terrell’s throat.

“My wolf has submitted, Jeremy,” Noah said calmly. He knelt next to the combatants, still not touching Jeremy. “You’re the victor. He submitted. Let him up.”

Jeremy continued to crouch over Hubbard. He snapped audibly at the vulnerable flesh of Terrell’s throat. Hubbard flinched. Tim clenched his jaw, silently begging Jeremy to accept Hubbard’s submission.

“You can’t filter this through any human or military standards,” Lucas said quietly. Tim had nearly forgotten he was there. “I know you think it’s too soon, but do you feel a connection to Jeremy?”

Tim swallowed hard, his throat tight. To his relief, Jeremy released Terrell, rising gracefully to his feet. “Yes,” Tim admitted, eyes following Jeremy as he stalked back and forth, glaring at the werewolves circled around them.

“Let him mark you, then,” said Lucas. “Right now, in front of the Pack.”

Tim realized everything had been leading him to this very moment, despite his efforts to deny and avoid it. “Yeah,” he sighed. He had feelings for the kid he knew weren’t mixed up with Jeremy’s, or tied to the full moon. Jeremy’s well-being mattered to Tim, but he was the reason Jeremy was angry and aggressive. Jeremy needed Tim to stop hiding.

“It’s got to be a visible mark,” Lucas reminded him. “He’s going to want to get his scent on you, too.”

None of that bothered Tim. Well, the visible marks made him apprehensive. He’d had such sympathy for Lucas, watching him struggle with werewolves making things public that humans usually kept private.

“The brat had better be worth all the drama,” Tim muttered darkly, decision made.

Lucas chuckled. “You wouldn’t like him if he wasn’t a challenge.”

Lucas and Dawson both stepped aside, leaving Tim free to approach to Jeremy. Or Jeremy to approach Tim. It wasn’t clear yet how this was going to go down. Terrell had rolled onto his side, but he still lay on the ground at Jeremy’s feet. The neck of his muscle shirt was darkened with blood. Jeremy’s claws had done some damage. Thankfully, it didn’t appear too severe.

Jeremy stopped pacing. Noah stood behind him, speaking quietly. Jeremy stood tall, shoulders squared, staring directly at Tim. His eyes were amber and those of a wolf. His chest heaved with each breath. At least his hands were no longer claws. Tim couldn’t tell if Jeremy still had fangs.

It didn’t matter if he did. Tim knew he was in no danger from Jeremy. Focusing all of his attention on Jeremy, Tim realized he should have done this before now. Jeremy’s need was a physical ache. His desire to mark Tim, and be marked in return had always been there. It lingered at the back of Tim’s mind like white noise, making it easy to ignore. Tim’s own regret poured through him, drowning out everything else. He hoped this effort would make up for his mistakes. Releasing a shaky breath, Tim silently acknowledged that he’d wanted this all along.

Tim saw the moment Jeremy sensed that their needs finally synced. He closed the distance between them in a few long strides. Tim clutched at Jeremy’s shirt as Jeremy wrapped his arms around Tim’s waist, pulling their bodies together roughly. Their open mouths collided and Tim felt the hard press of teeth. Jeremy did still have his fangs, their sharp tips drawing blood from Tim’s lips. A thrill ran down Tim’s spine, knowing Jeremy’s lethal strength was leashed, just for him.

Jeremy licked deep into Tim’s mouth, their tongues tangling wetly. Jeremy’s body was flame-hot, pressed to the length of Tim’s. His breath was scalding as it ghosted across Tim’s cheek.

Breaking the kiss, Jeremy buried his face in the join of Tim’s neck and shoulder. Tim shuddered. He pushed his hips against Jeremy’s, feeling Jeremy’s already hard cock. Tim tilted his head slightly, asking at the same time he gave consent.

Jeremy pried Tim’s fingers from his shirt. Tim gasped as Jeremy forced his arms to cross at the small of his back. The strength in Jeremy’s hand was surprising as he restrained Tim’s wrists. The arch in his back pushed Tim’s body hard against Jeremy’s. His own cock was completely hard now and he rubbed himself back and forth against Jeremy. Tim closed his eyes, letting his head fall back in silent pleading.

Jeremy kissed up the length of Tim’s throat, dragging the sharp tips of his teeth along the edge of Tim’s jaw. The slight sting sent a thrill down Tim’s spine and he wanted more. Jeremy nipped at Tim’s pulse where it throbbed just below his skin. Tim moaned when Jeremy soothed the spot with his tongue.

His body went rigid and Tim unleashed a decadent groan when Jeremy’s hot mouth latched onto the side of his neck. Tim’s blood rose to the surface as Jeremy sucked hard at the spot. Jeremy soothed the bruise with a swipe of his tongue. Tim relaxed into Jeremy’s hard body, moaning each time Jeremy sucked a bruise into his throat, or nipped sharply at his too-sensitive skin.

He wanted to touch. Tim struggled to free his hands from Jeremy’s grip. When Jeremy released his wrists, Tim buried his fingers in Jeremy’s hair, holding him close. Jeremy nosed at Tim’s ear, dragging his sharp teeth along the sensitive lobe. Tim shuddered again and moaned.

Lowering his head, Tim found Jeremy’s mouth. He chased Jeremy’s tongue with his own. Curling his fingers in Jeremy’s hair, Tim used it to tilt his head back. He skimmed his lips and nose over the pounding pulse in Jeremy’s throat. Tim pressed his open mouth to the same spot and drew heated blood to the surface. Jeremy panted. He cradled the back of Tim’s head, encouraging him. Tim sucked blood to the surface of Jeremy’s skin. He was deeply satisfied that Jeremy wore his mark. The werewolf pack that surrounded them would know that Jeremy was his, and only his.

Jeremy pulled back abruptly. “Okay, that’s enough,” he gasped. “Any more and we’re going to put on a much more revealing show than I’d planned.”

Tim blinked, struggling to understand Jeremy’s words. He watched Jeremy’s eyes roam over his throat, taking in the bruises Tim could feel darkening on his skin. Jeremy’s expression was satisfied, bordering on arrogant. Tim couldn’t help but chuckle. It was such an Alpha thing to do.

The world began to move around them. Dawson directed someone to clean up the shattered glass and spilled food. Noah tried to save the meat left forgotten on the grill. Mundane conversations swirled around them.

Tim and Jeremy stood alone, completely surrounded by Noah’s Pack, breathing heavily, looking only at one another.

“How long do we have to stay?” Desire was obvious in Jeremy’s still-amber eyes.

“It would be polite to eat something, then help clean up a little,” Tim replied, already calculating how he might maneuver them into an early departure.

“Stay with me tonight?” Jeremy asked.

Tim nodded emphatically. “Of course.” Everyone associated with a werewolf pack was excused from duty for the next two days for the full-moon run. He imagined the two of them had much to discuss over the course of the next twenty-four hours.

“Good,” Jeremy said. He turned toward the cluster of Marines who had begun to serve themselves food. “Now let’s go let them all know it’s time to keep their hands off of what’s mine.”

Jeremy’s possessive words should have angered Tim. Instead, it made him consider being rude and skipping out on food.

If anyone would understand, it would be Lucas and Noah.

You can find Kendall on Facebook, Dreamwidth and Twitter and her books on Amazon, MLR Press and All Romance Ebooks.

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