Her husband gave her a Jade Lee novel--her very first romance. A few years and a couple thousand novels later, Keri took up her laptop and began writing her own love stories.
By day, she's a mild-mannered yoga and Oriental dance instructor. By night she creates mayhem and magic in small-town paranormal romance novels like her award-winning debut, Stone Kissed.
After an arsonist torches her ancestral home with her estranged father still inside, Delia is forced to sell the estate to pay his medical bills. Her childhood crush, Grant Wolverton, makes a handsome offer for Steward House, vowing to return it to its former glory. Delia agrees, as long as he’ll allow her to oversee the restoration.
Working so closely with Grant, Delia finds it difficult to hide her unique talent—especially when their growing passion fuels her abilities.
But someone else lusts after both her man and the raw power contained in the Steward land. Soon, Delia finds herself fighting not just for Grant’s love, but for both their lives…
Read my review of Stone Kissed HERE.
Welcome to Black Lagoon Reviews, Keri!
BLR: To start, could you tell us a little bit about this book in your own words?
KS: Stone Kissed is a small-town paranormal romance. When an arsonist torches Delia Forrest’s ancestral home with her estranged father still inside, she returns to Stewardsville, VA to help him—and the house—heal. But the man she’s always longed for, Grant Wolverton, has other plans for the estate. Delia tries to work with him and conceal her feeling and her ability to talk with statues. Both her desire and her power, however, begin to spiral out of control. And then, there’s her cousin, Cecily….
BLR: Creating a world were statues come to life is pretty unique, what inspired you to write about this?
KS: When I was in New York City in 2007, I noticed glorious carvings on the buildings of Manhattan and statues tucked into tiny gardens in front of the brownstones. I wondered what they’d seen over the centuries, what they’d say if they got a chance.
BLR: If you could sum this novel up in 3 words, what would they be?
KS: Love IS magic.
KS: Yes. Stewardsville both spawns and draws all sorts of people and creatures in my imagination. When I’m drafting, I very much see it as “going to Stewardsville for the day.”
BLR: What kind of readers do you think this novel will appeal to?
KS: I hope that both fans of fantasy romance, light paranormals and contemporary romances will find Stone Kissed appealing.
BLR: This is your first novel; do you have any advice to aspiring writers?
KS: If you have two choices and one is scarier than the other, do the scary thing. So many writers don’t finish, don’t submit, don’t pitch, don’t send requested manuscripts because they are scared. If you can work through (or in spite of the fear) you are light-years closer to publication.
BLR: What was it like trying to get ‘Stone Kissed’ published? Was it a difficult to get it out there for publishers?
KS: When I finally screwed up the courage to query and pitch, agents and editors were invariably kind to me—and invariably honest. My book doesn’t fit easily into established trends, so Carina Press came along at the perfect time. Carina prides itself on crossing and pushing boundaries.
BLR: Do you have a current or upcoming project that you are working on that you would like to tell us about?
KS: I’m still writing Stewardsville books. Several of the secondary characters in Stone Kissed have stories that want telling, and they just won’t leave me alone!
BLR: What kind of writing process or rituals do you have when writing?
KS: I have to have quiet while drafting—no music, no background noise whatsoever. Drafting is very much like meditation for me, and I’m a binge-drafter. The first version of Stone Kissed, in fact, was a NaNoWriMo project in 2008. Almost none of those words remain in the final version of the book.
Editing is a whole different animal. I want pop music with a light, driving beat, a little bit of wine and I don’t mind if you have the television on.
BLR: I read that you enjoy romance novels, are there any other genres or authors that are must reads for you?
KS: I’m actually a fairly new romance reader! I didn’t start reading them regularly until my husband gave me a Jade Lee novel in 2005 as a joke. I fell in love with her books and the genre as a whole.
But I grew up on fantasy and science fiction: Stephen Donaldson. Anne McCaffrey. Neal Stephenson. Diana Gabaldon (whom I still do not think of as a romance author since her books are so broad and cross so many genre lines). I think it helps any genre writer to read outside her comfort zone just to feed the imagination something new.
BLR: I read in your author bio that you teach Oriental dance, how did you get started doing this and could you tell us a little more about this style of dance?
KS: Americans call it “Belly dancing,” but after fifteen years of serious study and practice, I’ve come to understand the racism and misogyny behind that term, so I don’t use it often. Although cabaret-style dance (usually performed in the sequined bra and belt, diaphanous skirts and veils, and gorgeous beaded fringe) is a blast and the foundation of what I teach, these dances are based in the folk dances of the Middle East. I’ve learned choreographies and movement families from Egypt to Turkey to Lebanon to Algeria and the Balkans over the years—each with different rhythms, traditional steps, and widely varying costumes.
BLR: It seems like most of the characters in your novel had some sort of special power, if you could have any sort of special ‘talent’ what would it be?
Contest ends December 21, 2010