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Welcome Guest Blogger – Kate Douglas

Kate Douglas is the lead author of Kensington Publishing’s Aphrodisia imprint and the author of the popular erotic romance series Wolf Tales as well as the Zebra series, The DemonSlayers. She and her husband of almost forty years have two adult children and five grandchildren. They live in the beautiful mountains of Lake County, California, north of the Napa Valley wine country.  You can find Kate on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/katedouglas.authorpage or follow her on Twitter at @wolftales.

Please welcome Kate to Everybody Needs a Little Romance.  Leave a comment or ask her a question, she will be stopping by throughout the day and is going to give away one of her books. 

She has graciously agreed to indulge me and answer a few questions about her series and writing process.

Thanks, Heather. I appreciate the chance to chat about my stories.

With two popular series, Wolf Tales and Demonslayers, is it difficult to switch gears between the two when you finish one deadline and get ready to work on the other series?

I hate to admit it, but it’s been harder than I expected. Plus, I did a really dumb thing—when I write, the characters’ names just pop into my head. That’s the only explanation I can give for naming one of the heroes in the DemonSlayers series Alton. (Kate, hitting head with large, flat board…) I had to go through and do a search and destroy at the end of each book because I kept calling him “Anton.” Duh.  Plus, I knew I was winding up the Wolf Tales series, but didn’t realize I’d be writing the final Wolf Tales and then turning right around and writing the final DemonSlayers. It was an emotionally charged period of time, saying good-bye to two casts of characters at the same time. I get WAY too attached to my imaginary friends!

How do you keep your characters separate between the two series and do you keep any kind of diary or “bible” for the Wolf Tales series since it is so large?

Doesn’t matter how large—even if I’m writing just one book, I do a complete character study of each one in the story—everything from date of birth to hair color, to how many siblings, birth order, where they grew up…the whole nine yards. Stuff I may never use, but I need to know so that I’ll have a better idea who they really are when I write. I also keep a time line—something really necessary for any continuing series. I usually set up lists showing relative ages of my characters in each story and major events and when they happen in case I need to reference them again.

With Wolf Tales, I kept track of the evolving abilities of the Chanku, the various things they learned about themselves as the series progressed, and when they learned those things. I had to keep track of which characters had sex with which others, what their sexual preferences were and, for the men, even facts like which ones were circumcised! Things like that are the sorts of things that readers love to catch an author screwing up. Of course, my classic mistake is in Wolf Tales III where one of my readers (Who is now a much-trusted beta reader) wrote and asked me where the fifth body was. Jake and Baylor had killed five bad guys, but I only disposed of four bodies. I told her he was probably still lying in the driveway where I left him…

I also keep house plans—I had to have a good visual for Anton’s Montana home, for instance, because so many of the stories took place there. Having those records helps to keep the characters more realistic, because you can refer to things readers are familiar with. I honestly think it creates a sense of emotional connection between readers and the characters, something that is especially important in erotic romance. That personal intimacy and strong emotional connection makes it easier for the reader to accept some of the more explicit sexual events that occur in my stories. I’ve heard, for instance, from a number of readers who are uncomfortable with same sex relationships, and yet they see them as part of the Chanku way of life and have no problem with them in the books.

How did the Demon Slayer series come about?

My agent knew I wanted to break into mass market in order to find a larger audience and push my career to another level. Erotic romance is popular, but doesn’t attract the numbers of readers that the regular paranormal stories do. We were talking about what I should consider as far as plots or themes, and, joking, I said, “What about good versus evil?” My agent’s response was, “Send me the proposal.”

Okay, so then where do you go? Good versus evil covers just about everything, but for some reason, the first thing I thought of was demon-possessed garden gnomes. NO idea where that came from, except I’ve always thought they were rather evil looking little suckers. I knew I wanted to set the series up around Mount Shasta, since my husband and I had been up there camping and loved the area—plus the legends of the Lemurians living inside the mountain fascinated me. I also wanted to set at least one book in Sedona, since we’d recently been there as well. The connection between Shasta and Sedona was so natural, working through the vortexes—both areas are known as mystical places of power. Perfect for the settings I needed.

Once I had the visual of a garden gnome attacking a naked man, it all began coming together. I actually proposed three books, but Kensington wanted four, and that meant coming up with a new story that I could slip between the second and third stories I’d already mapped out. StarFire, the one coming out in April, is the result. I’m really pleased with it—the characters in that story end up driving the series in a totally new direction, something that always makes writing more interesting.

Will the rights to your older Ellora’s Cave books ever come back to you or will the books continue to be available through EC?

I could get the rights back eventually, if I wanted them, but for what reason? EC continues to sell the books and as much as I love the StarQuest setting and characters, I’ve moved on to other things. I was able to write a final short story, BEST FRIENDS FOREVER, that brings closure to the series—it’s available as an ebook through Ellora’s Cave and jumps into the future when Kefira, the daughter of Mara and Sander, ends up involved with Tad Barton, the son of the ex-World Federation president. They had met as children in Pride of Imar, (I think! It’s been a while) and I always wanted to show them as adults. I had a chance to write the story as a charitable donation and I’m really pleased with the way it tied up the other books in the series.

Do you have a routine when you are writing?   Do you have a set time you write, certain number of days a week, word count, etc?

I generally write almost every day, beginning around seven in the morning. I break when my eyes get tired or the laundry needs doing, but writing is what I do, so I do it daily. If I’m not working on a current project, I’m busy with social networking and promotion, or writing blogs or any of the myriad other chores that are part of being an author. An average writing day for me is about 5000 words, though I’ve been known to do 10,000 or more. Some days though I barely end up with 500! Ya never know…I have problems with short term memory, so I start out every day rereading what I wrote the day before, mainly because I have no idea what it was. Once my memory has been refreshed, I get into the zone, connect with my characters and get to work. For me, writing is like channeling the characters in my story. I check in with them and let them tell me what’s going on.

I’ve heard a lot of author’s mention play lists they listen to while writing, do you listen to music while you are working or do you have to have the quiet?

I generally prefer the quiet, though sometimes I feel a real need for music to set a mood. Plus, my husband gave me an iPod Nano for Christmas (it’s bright red and engraved on the back with “Wolf Tales by Kate Douglas.” I LOVE IT!) and that may change things! I’ve got it loaded with lots of neat music and I love the sense of isolation you get when you’re plugged in.

I can think of one scene in particular that I needed music in order to get the story to work—in Wolf Tales 10 there’s a violent scene where Oliver is furious with Adam and he’s got him tied to a bed and beats him bloody and then, essentially, rapes him. It’s a sexually charged scene, but it’s ugly, too, and I couldn’t get into what I knew I had to write. I finally found some really discordant death metal by a Finnish band that was perfect for the scene. I played the same piece over and over again until the scene came together for me. It’s not easy to read—it was even harder to write, but it works perfectly for the story. Without the music, I doubt I could have made it work.

I’m a Twitter junkie and I’m bad about reading Twitter posts when I am supposed to be working.   Do the social networking sites tempt you away from work when you are writing?  Do you allow yourself time on them or do you have to stay away from them completely while working?

I’m not too crazy about Twitter because it’s really such a time suck! I try to check in at least once a day, and I use it to announce blogs where I’m giving books away, but I have too many books to write to spend a lot of time hanging out. I check on Facebook more often, but I tend to use it to take breaks from writing. Plus, it’s a great way to keep up with the kids and the grandkids! As a writer living in a rural area, social networking sites offer me about the only social life I have, outside of the occasional trip to the grocery store. My husband does most of the shopping, goes for the mail and keeps up the house so that I can write. That’s what I do—write! When I know I have a deadline looming, or I find that I can’t get into the story because of distractions, I’ve learned to just flip the little switch on my laptop that shuts off the Internet. When I can’t connect, it keeps me out of trouble.

Wolf Tales 11 came out on December 28th, what do you want to share with us about the latest edition to this series?

Wolf Tales 11 is my first “political” book, and it came about when President Obama was first running for office and I saw him on the news with his wife. One look at Michelle Obama and I freaked—she was Keisha Rialto! The woman looks exactly as I have always pictured Keisha—tall and strong, absolutely gorgeous, and obviously athletic with a lot of self-confidence. Keisha’s skin is darker and her hair is longer, but she and the First Lady could be sisters, if not twins. I knew then that if Obama won, I was somehow going to use his wife in one of my stories.  I never mention their names, but I think it’s obvious who I’m talking about in the book, and it was so much fun to write with that perfect visual for Keisha. I also had no idea how the story was going to end, up until the final chapters when AJ and Lily told me what was coming next. That’s the fun of writing from a deep point of view, where your characters direct the story—it’s always a surprise.

I’ve been thrilled with the reader comments I’m getting so far on this book, so I can honestly say that I believe it’s one of the strongest in the series. However, I’ve written the final book, which is about 30,000 words longer than any of the other Wolf Tales, and Wolf Tales 12 absolutely surprised the hell out of me. I discovered answers to questions my readers and I have had from the beginning—things I never realized how to answer until I was typing the words and reading what I wrote. As sorry as I am to see the series come to an end, after writing Wolf Tales 12, I realized that this was the perfect time. I hope to do a second generation series so readers—and I—can see what Lily and Alex and all the others are up to as adults, but until then, I’m more than satisfied with the way the series will end.

Thanks Heather. I’ll be checking in to answer questions, and I’d love to give away a book to at least one reader leaving a comment.

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24 Responses

  1. Welcome Kate!!

    I loved your answers and I totally agree with you about the garden gnomes.

  2. Thanks, Heather….and regarding the garden gnomes…I think they’re a lot like clowns. SUPPOSED to be cute, but in real life, absolutely terrifying! Thanks for the invite to blog.

  3. Hi Kate, Thanks for the thoughtful answers above. It’s always great to learn more about how an author constructs characters, worlds, etc. What projects are you working on next?

  4. Daughter doesn’t do clowns either. She can’t even watch a movie or tv show with clowns in it. She has has no reason to be scared of them.

  5. Hello Kate, loved reading your blog today. I always enjoy learning more about my favorite authors

  6. I am happy to hear Wolf Tales 12 will be longer than the others. I read them so quickly and hate for them to end. I know this is the last book and though I am not happy it is ending, it has been an amazing series I will never forget. Kudos to Kate for a job well done!

  7. i just read wt 11 and i was wondering if you were going to write another series of shpe-sifers or somrthing different. i love the wolf tales series and i am working on demon fire series. so if you are writning another sereis can’t wiat!!

  8. Kate first let me just say I love your books! It is so sad to know that my beloved Chanku is coming to an end. Those books mean so much to me and I love each and every character. Wolf Tales came into my life at a time when I was reeling from the lose of a close friend in a terrible car accident. I remember a friend giving me some books to read and low and behold there in the bottom of the box was Wolf Tales 1- 4. It was the first paranormal romance book I had read and I fell in love from the very beginning. Reading about their struggles and adversities they had to overcome, well I knew all about that. It taught me to stay strong, keep true to myself and never be afraid to love with everything you are. It taught me that you don’t need to change who you are as a person but that as long as you accept yourself for who are you than your true friends will stand behind you. It showed me the value of true friendship and it is all lessons that I needed to know and understand. I hope I am making sense here. I’m afraid I jumble things at times.

    My question is this: Are you planning on writing more Paranormal Romance books with shapeshifters?

  9. Kate, I loved the Keisha/Michelle aspect of Wolf Tales 11. By the way, thanks for the reminder that these people are imaginary :)…. After eleven books I feel like I know these people personally, I can only imagine how you feel about your creations.

  10. I cannot concieve of the way that a book has to grow…from Idea to paper, discription to dialog, I bow down to your creativity and talent…because that’s what keeps good books coming 🙂

  11. I’m so sad to see the Wolf Tales series end, I can’t wait to read WT 12. And I’m so happy to hear there may be second generation series. I would love to read about the kids as adults. I love your writing and am always looking forward to the next book.

  12. Kate,
    I did picture Michelle Obama when reading WT11… It really was a good book and one that I took my time with and tried to absorb the story well. I knew that once I was done I would be craving WT12. ;o) I am looking forward to WT12… very much.

  13. Hi trish–have a couple of projects. One is a short story, UF, for an anthology, the other is a novella to introduce my new series for Aphrodisia. I’m at the very beginning of both, still working up my character bios.

    Heather, I’ve always been uncomfortable around clowns. No reason, either.

    christine, thank you! I love writing about the process–it fascinates me how we all approach our writing so differently.

    Carmen, I was thrilled when my editor asked for more story. It allowed me a chance to go deeper into the origins of the Chanku than I would have been able to in the shorter format.

    Thanks, Mandy. My next Aphrodisia series is really different–a little more science fiction, with creatures that are pure energy and take on the form of the sexual fantasies of people. I’m really going to have fun with this one, but yep, I think you could call them a form of shapeshifter!

    Mariah, thank you. I’m really glad that Wolf Tales works for you. (and I hope you realized that the Sexy Beast stories are part of the series) I just answered your question above–the new series will “sort of” be about shapeshifters!

    LOL…Carmen, they are so real to me it’s scary. And it’s actually 21, when you add in the anthologies that are part of the series.

  14. Thanks, Cindy. All of us who write approach it our own way, but whatever process we follow has to put the book first. I absolutely love writing, and I guess that’s the most important thing–that we love what we do and love our characters as if they’re our own children.

    Thank you, Dawnelle–I haven’t heard a thing yet on the new proposal, but I’ll let everyone know as soon as I get a “yea or a nay.”

    Thanks, Betty. The weird thing is, I saw Keisha as Michelle long before I ever saw Michelle!

  15. Fabulous interview, ladies!!

  16. Great interview, Heather!

  17. Thank you, Cyndi and Posey!

  18. Awesome interview! I always love to hear more about writers. I’ve always had a fear of clowns (their real features don’t match the ones painted on and you can never tell *who* they are) and now I can add garden gnomes to my list….

  19. LOL…it’s nice to know I’m not alone, Sasha! Thanks for stopping by. You can never have too many neuroses…not if you want to be a writer!

  20. Well, crud. A day late again. Silly day job. But I am definitely going to have to read this book with the garden gnome and the naked guy.

  21. You’re not late, Kari. I don’t think Heather’s even picking the winner until tomorrow. And DemonFire and the rest of the books are definitely fun. You can see a first chapter on my website at http://www.katedouglas.com.

  22. Kari,

    definitely suggest the Demon Slayer series. I loved Demonfire and the rest of them. I have the newest one for review now. My reviews for Demonfire, Hellfire, & Nocturnal can all be found here on the site.

    We are going to draw a winner for a free book from Kate on Monday morning.

    Thanks for stopping by.

  23. Sitting here catching up on DVR and watching CSI New York and guess what the focus of the show is – Clowns!!!!!

    A Clown shot a bakery owner and put out an open call for clowns and a bunch show up on the street. Very creepy.

  24. Heather…clowns? Need I say more… let me know who the winner is–they can choose the book they want if it’s one I’ve got, or if they’re not familiar w/Wolf Tales I’ve got a hardcover copy of the first one.

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