Laura Kaye is a published author of paranormal, contemporary and erotic romances. Her heartfelt stories are all about the desire to belong. Let's give her a warm welcome!
*** Laura is running a contest. Make sure to read the details at the end of the interview to find out how to enter. Good luck!
Laura, why don't you start with telling the readers a little about yourself :
I grew up amidst family lore involving angels, ghosts, and evil-eye curses, cementing my life-long fascination with the supernatural. Though an avid fiction writer as a teenager, a career as a historian took me in other directions until recently. Now that my inner muse has awakened, I'm constantly creating new story ideas! I live in Maryland with my husband, two daughters, and bad dog, and appreciates her view of the Chesapeake Bay every day.
Tell the readers about your new release, Hearts in Darkness.
Hearts in Darkness is a contemporary romance about two strangers who find acceptance and dare to find love while trapped in a pitch-black elevator. Here’s the blurb:
Love looks not with the eyes, but with the mind;
and therefore is winged Cupid painted blind.
Makenna James thinks her day can’t get any worse, until she finds herself stuck in a pitch-black elevator with a complete stranger. Distracted by a phone call and juggling too much stuff, the pin-striped accountant caught only a glimpse of a dragon tattoo on his hand before the lights went out.
Caden Grayson is amused when a redhead literally falls at his feet. His amusement turns to panic when the power fails. Despite his piercings, tats, and vicious scar, he’s terrified of the dark and confined spaces. Now, he’s trapped in his own worst nightmare.
To fight fear, they must both reach out and open up. With no preconceived notions based on looks to hold them back, they discover just how much they have in common. In the warming darkness, attraction grows and sparks fly, but will they feel the same when the lights come back on?
What inspired the story?
Hearts in Darkness was an exercise in procrastination! I was in the middle of writing a women’s fiction novel that was not cooperating (now completed), and my brain’s most pronounced form of procrastination is generating new plot bunnies. This was when Hearts came to mind. I like to ask ‘what if’ questions to come up with new ideas, and this particular what if question was inspired by the fact the elevator in my building frequently breaks down. I work in a male-dominated environment, too, so… *grins*
Can you tell the readers what kind of woman Makenna James is? What is her first impression when the lights go out in the elevator and she’s alone with a total stranger?
Makenna James is a smart, compassionate woman with a big heart. She grew up in a household of men and works among mostly men, so she’s come to think of herself as ‘just one of the guys.’ Her very first impression of the stranger in the elevator was that he’s a Good Samaritan (her Good Sam) because he holds the elevator door for her as she’s running down the hall to catch it and fumbling her belongings. It’s been such a bad day for her that, when the power fails, all Makenna can do is laugh. So her initial feeling in the darkness is one of embarrassment, because she’s trying to pull herself out of her hysterics and wondering what the other person must be thinking of her:
Bracing herself as she tried to calm down, she used her free hand to wipe away tears and fan the heat crawling up her face as she remembered Good Sam was in there with her.
Oh God. He probably thinks I’m a complete lunatic.
“Sorry, sorry,” she finally choked out as the laughs turned into occasional chuckles. Now she was laughing at herself.
Good Sam didn’t reply.
“Um, hello? You still with me?”
“Yeah, I’m here. You okay?” His voice resonated in the confined space, surrounded her.
“Um, yeah. I have no idea.” She brushed her hair back off her face and shook her head.
The low sound of his chuckle made her feel a little less ridiculous. “That bad, huh?”
“The worst,” Makenna said and sighed.
The conversation puts her at ease, as does his awkward apology when he accidentally kicks her as he sits down, so she doesn’t feel she has anything to fear.
What kind of man is Caden Grayson? What is his first impression of Makenna when she falls at his feet? What are his first thoughts when the lights go out?
Caden Grayson is a damaged soul, on the inside and out. His survival of a tragic childhood accident that killed people he cared about leads him to want to both help others in similar situations, thus his job as an EMT, and protect himself from the kinds of emotional connections that could cause that kind of pain again. So, his appearance is a bit rough and edgy, and his reclusive nature have left him a bit socially awkward.
His first impression of Makenna is amusement:
Caden Grayson tried not to chuckle at the frazzled redhead careening towards the elevator. Why did women carry so many bags anyway? If it didn’t fit in the pockets of his worn-soft jeans, he didn’t carry it.
As the woman reached down to scoop up her phone—another thing Caden refused to carry unless he was on call—he found himself mesmerized by the way her hair tumbled over her shoulder in a long waterfall of soft, wavy red.
His second impression is a bit more interesting:
Red reached in front of him to press a button. Caden almost laughed when she punched it at least five times. But the laughter died in his throat when he caught the scent of her shampoo. One of the things he loved about women: their hair always smelled like flowers. And that scent, combined with the redness and the softness and the waviness…Caden shoved his hands in his jeans pockets to keep from running his fingers through the thick mass of her hair. But, Christ, how he wanted to, just once.
When the lights go out, it trips the anxiety Caden has struggled with since the accident:
And then Red disappeared, along with everything else, as the elevator jerked to a stop and the lights went out.
Caden gasped and stumbled back into the corner of the elevator. Clenching his eyes, he lowered his head into his hands and counted backwards from ten, trying to remember his breathing techniques, trying to keep from flipping the fuck out.
The confined space of the elevator was one thing—years of therapy had gotten him past that. Mostly. But confined spaces with no lights? No way. The pounding of his heart and tightness in his chest told him that was a complete fucking deal breaker.
I love the book cover. Who is the cover artist? Was this how you imagined the book cover would look?
I am in total love with my cover, too! It’s the work of the brilliant Tricia Schmitt, who is a freelance cover artist with a real up-and-coming career. It’s the feel I imagined, but I was totally confounded about what the cover should be since so much of the story takes place in total darkness (I won’t say how much!). I could not be happier with this cover. Of the three I’ve gotten so far, it’s bar far my favorite.
Do you have a favorite reference book or website?
I have found Susan Bell’s The Artful Edit very useful and it’s shaped my revision process, for sure.
What are your current projects and works in progress?
Happily! The biggest thing I might mention is that I actually have another recent release, my debut paranormal romance, Forever Freed. Forever Freed was the book I actually wrote first and sold first, though Hearts in Darkness released a month earlier. Forever Freed is about a reclusive emphatic vampire who falls in love with a woman he planned to kill and her young daughter, then must fight his ancient grief, bloodlust, lie by omission, and an old vampire rival who threatens everything he holds dear. Here’s the blurb:
My heart may not beat, but that doesn’t mean it’s not broken.
After an isolated century mourning the murder of my long-ago family, I crave the irresistible scents of joy and love that radiate from my new neighbors, a single mother and her young daughter. I’m starved for their blood, and for the healing respite from my ancient grief that will accompany drinking down their life-giving emotions. Now to lure them in.
But they surprise me. Little Olivia accepts me without fear or reservation—talking, smiling, offering innocent affection that tugs at my long-lost humanity. Her mother, Samantha, seeks me out when she should stay away, offering sweet friendship, and calling to the forgotten man in me. They lure me in.
Aw, Dio, Lucien, run and spare them while you can…
Also in the works are two other manuscripts I’ve sold and will be released in 2011: Just Gotta Say is a contemporary erotic romance that will release late this summer from Decadent Publishing, and North of Need is the first in a four-book fantasy romance series based on the Anemoi (directional wind gods the Greeks associated with the seasons), forthcoming from Entangled Publishing in November. My current WIP is a commercial women’s fiction novel tentatively titled The Fantasy Life of a Middle-Aged Wife. I’m in final revisions on that with hopes of querying in June.
They all sound fantastic, too. I have to say the vampire tale has me intrigued. I love paranormal romances. :)
Tell the readers where they can find you:
Find Laura on the interwebz:
Is there anything else you’d like to tell the readers?
Just a great big thanks! I think of my books as a partnership between myself and my readers, and I so value their readership and support!
BUY LINKS FOR HEARTS IN DARKNESS (ebook):
BUY LINKS FOR FOREVER FREED (print and ebook):
*****GIVEAWAY: Choice of one of these two ebooks for one commenter who leaves Laura a question and their email address!
Since I excerpted from Hearts in Darkness while answering the questions, here’s a short excerpt from Forever Freed:
Finally I grabbed my phone and started typing: “Are you up?”
Several minutes passed without a response. Samantha was either still asleep or in the shower. I growled my impatience. My phone beeped.
Yes! What are you doing?
“Trying to restrain myself from coming over there and grabbing you so we can leave now.”
Restraint is overrated.
I agreed. Moments later, I stood outside her bedroom window with several small stones I’d found on the curb in front of my house. I tossed the first one up. It clicked against the glass. I tossed three more before Samantha’s face appeared at the window.
She lifted the sash with a wide grin. “What are you doing?”
“I couldn’t wait to see you.”
Her wet hair clung to her face and shoulders. I swallowed hard at the picture of her glistening skin. Her scent was sweet and clean. Her love warmed me.
“Me either. But I want to have breakfast with Ollie, and she won’t wake up for another half hour at least. So you have to be patient a little while longer.”
“I thought restraint was overrated.”
She smiled and bit her bottom lip. “It is. But, in this situation, it’s necessary. Now, go away so I can finish getting ready so we can leave right after breakfast.” She blew me a kiss and pushed the sash back down.
“Sam!” I said loud enough for her to hear but hopefully not loud enough to disturb her neighbors.
“What?” she whispered loudly as she pushed it back up a little.
“I love you.”
“I love you, too. Now go home so I can get dressed!” She lowered the sash, then flattened her palm against the window in a gesture that bid me both good-bye and stay close.