Happy Hump Day Everyone!! Today I have a special guest with me today fresh off the Pink Press!! Please give a warm welcome to Kate Monroe!!
Behind The Scenes
Behind every great story is a hell of a lot of back story that the author might never get a chance to share with you. It’s a necessary to bring that depth and richness to a tale that makes it leap from the page into the reader’s imagination; the author has to live and breathe the story whilst they’re writing it, and it’s vital that they come to know their characters as well as they know themselves.
Two of the authors who really inspired me as a child are the epitome of just that. When I was younger I was absolutely obsessed with Harry Potter (okay, to tell the truth I’m still an avowed Potterhead!) and I could easily spend hours annotating my books in an attempt to decipher the next plot twist that JK Rowling would lead us through. I had two copies of each book, one for best and one to write in, and I signed up to all the forums to eagerly discuss such nuances as the colour of Ron’s dress robes with my fellow fanatics.
Why am I sharing this slightly embarrassing detail with you all? To illustrate the power of back story. JKR might have her critics, but the amount of thought she put into crafting the world of Harry Potter certainly paid off. She’s demonstrated that she knows the history of even the most insignificant character. A thousand years of wizarding history lives inside her head, and it’s that devotion to the world she created that makes the Harry Potter series so vivid and real to its readers.
Perhaps the greatest and most enthusiastic proponent of back story, though, was the ultimate literary luminary; JRR Tolkien. Most of us will have read The Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings trilogy at some point, but the full breadth of the tales of Middle Earth were barely touched upon in those four books. One of the most-read books on my groaning shelves is The Silmarillion, which takes the reader back to the First Age and the events that were hinted at by Elrond. It’s a breathtaking chronicle, epic fantasy at its absolute finest. To realise as you read the tales within that the best-known of Tolkien’s stories were merely the tip of the iceberg is awe-inspiring.
Though I wouldn’t dream of elevating myself to the same lofty heights that Rowling and Tolkien have achieved with the power of their imagination, I certainly take inspiration from their devotion to their craft each time I sit down to create a new story. I’m convinced that for an author to write a truly convincing story, they have to know everything about their characters and what brought them to the point in time where the reader joins in their journey with them.
The Falcon’s Chase has so much that never made it into the final draft, and yet more that I didn’t even consider writing in, but was just as vital to creating Reuben and Ari’s tale as everything you’ll read in the book. I have a ton of handwritten notes detailing both their past and their future; I know all about Ari’s childhood hopes and fears, how Reuben came to captain the Falcon, and I know exactly what happens after the last page of their written story has come to an end. It was that complete absorption in their story whilst I was writing it that helped me to do so with such ease. Because for a time, I lived in their world and the words came as naturally as breathing.
Think about that next time you read a story that really captivates you, and take a minute to wonder and marvel at how completely those characters took up residence inside their author’s head whilst he or she was writing about them. That’s the true power of a good book; and if the author has done their tale justice, you’ll find yourself just as enthralled as the author was when he or she was writing it.
Kate Monroe is a redheaded author and editor who lives in a quiet and inspirational corner of southern England. She has penchants for classic sci-fi, horror and loud guitars, and a fatal weakness for red wine. Her interests in writing range from horror to erotica, taking in historical romance, steampunk and tales of the paranormal on the way; whatever she dreamed about the night before is liable to find its way onto the page in some form or another…
Kate has had short stories published in numerous anthologies including works by Sirens Call Publications, Cruentus Libri Press, Rainstorm Press and Angelic Knight Press. The Falcon's Chase is her debut full-length novel.
So Le't take a look at The Falcon's Chase:
Captain Reuben Costello is just hours away from facing his execution when the unlikeliest of rescuers storms into his cell. Lady Arianne Dalton needs the assistance of the infamous Black Swan to flee England and all its constraints. He finds himself more than willing to help the fiercely independent Ari in exchange for his freedom.
However, when they come to find their fates inextricably tangled in a plot that threatens the very foundations of British society, they are swept away on a chase that puts not only their lives, but their hearts at risk - and neither of them can defy the wild and stormy ride they find upon the Falcon.
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The Falcon’s Chase Excerpt:
Reuben Costello knew that he had tried a hundred times to wrench the unyielding iron bars of his prison cell apart, but he could not resist the urge to try just once more. However hard he tugged, though, they withstood even the inhuman amount of force that his prosthetic arm applied to them, just as they had so many times before.
He delivered a furious kick to the bars that had him inescapably trapped as his dark eyes settled upon the copper plated arm that he wore like a badge of honour. Meticulously bonded to the living flesh it clung to, it was just as responsive and more effective than the arm of muscles and bones that had existed in its place for the first eleven years of his life; but though he had worn it for twenty years now and it had served him well for all of those, the sight of it still filled him with a bitter and resentful disgust.
Even that painful emotion, though, could not distract him for more than a few moments. Far more pressing was the grim awareness that with every second that passed, sunrise drew nearer, and with it would come his execution. Reuben had lived a far from blameless life, always dancing along the thin, blurred line that separated the pursuits of an ordinary merchant and the more interesting activities that he liked to indulge in.
Betrayed to Her Majesty's Royal Navy after a dalliance with the pirates that roamed the Red Sea proved too irresistible for his mercenary side to ignore, Reuben had been captured and dragged to the infamous Tower of London. It had taken no less than a dozen captains to bring him in. Had he been aboard his ship when they attacked, he had no doubt that they would not have succeeded.
Reuben had not been aboard the Falcon, though. Instead, he had been spending the night with his latest mistress - and when she had brazenly lounged back on the bed with a cigarillo between her perfect red lips and laughed loudly as they dragged him away, he had silently cursed his propensity for choosing his bedmates based on looks alone.
That, it seemed, was not a mistake he would have the chance to ever make again. Though his crime was nowhere as severe as it should be to warrant execution, that was the sentence that had inexplicably been passed. Time was rapidly slipping away from him and much to his disgust, it was becoming clear that there would be no escape from the harsh fate that awaited him.
He sank down to the cold, grimy cobbles that lined his dungeon cell and affixed a menacing scowl to his face for the sole benefit of any gaolers that should happen to parade past his cell with their looks of disdain and taunts about the noose that was so soon to be claiming his neck in the hangman's embrace. Soon, light footsteps heralded the approach of just such a person.
Reuben snatched upon the only amusement that would be his on this last lonely night of life. He wrapped his fingers around the hateful bars of his cell and knelt down, drawing back his thin lips to expose the gleaming teeth beneath as he deliberately allowed a low, ominous growl to rise up from the pit of his stomach and echo around the confines of the dungeon.
He squinted into the dimly-lit gloom as the footsteps quickened and caught sight of a distinct shape emerging from the putrid darkness. Far shorter than any of the guards he had become accustomed to - he would estimate that the top of their head would not even reach his shoulder - and dressed all in black, the person reached into their pocket and extracted what was undoubtedly, from the jangling sound of metal against metal, a bunch of heavy brass keys.
Reuben's eyes narrowed as they quickly swept across the newcomer appraisingly. Their head was bowed low, concealed from his gaze by the shadow of the black cap atop it, and a full-length greatcoat enveloped their body and skimmed across their ankles to reveal tight-fitting breeches and laced leather boots.
Everything about the clothing that they wore screamed of masculinity, but an incredulous suspicion was rising inside him that it was no man that stood before him. The slender fingers that were now fumbling with the keys were pale and unblemished, as far removed from the rough and calloused hands of the gaolers as it was possible to be. As they unlocked the door and hastily slammed it shut behind them, the shape of a second person stepped out of the shadows in the corridor.
“I shall stay at the end of the corridor to stand guard, then - just shout if you need me, ma'am.” They were dismissed with a jerk of the head and an irritable wave of the delicate hand that had unlocked the door.
Even if those intriguing words had not made it plain that it was a woman now locked in the cell with him, any remaining doubt he might have had was extinguished when he inhaled sharply and a delicate scent that had wafted in with the newcomer danced around his senses, teasing and tantalising him with its faint notes of jasmine and gardenia. It was a scent that was intrinsically and undeniably feminine in origin.
Reuben swallowed hard, for a woman's appearance in his cell could mean only one thing. He let loose a soft groan. He had been alone in his cell for over a month now and the company of a woman was perhaps the only thing that might make him able to forget his imminent execution. With a deep, primal hunger raging inside him, he stared at her intently as she slowly pulled away her cap to reveal the face of the woman that had come to offer him the scant comfort she could provide.
“Ah! You are to be this condemned man's last meal, I presume?” Reuben's low voice was hoarse, for the instant that she had removed her cap and revealed herself to him, he had been consumed by such a forceful throb of aching desire that he knew he had to have her, prostitute or not. Not even pausing to think upon the surprising and uncharacteristic generosity that his gaolers had shown in sending such a rare beauty to him on the eve of his execution, he roughly backed her up against the stone walls of the cell.
Her soulful eyes widened and her lips parted, but before she could speak Reuben devoted himself to the far from unpalatable task at hand. If this was to be the last woman he would take before his execution then, he thought wryly, it was fitting that she was by far the loveliest he had ever had in his arms, despite her manly attire - attire that he intended to waste no time in stripping away from her shapely form.
He shook his tangled, jet black braids back out of his face, lowered his head and laid forceful, triumphant claim to her wonderfully soft and pliant lips, already dizzy with the strength of his desperate yearning for her. Reuben slipped one hand behind her head to caress the delicate nape of her neck and hold her in place as his fingers wound through the silken curls of hair escaping the tight bun attempting to restrain them, his arousal rapidly spiralling out of control as he pushed himself up against her to mould himself against every feminine contour of her body.
He forced his prosthetic arm between their bodies to reach for the intricate buttons of her greatcoat and tugged them apart with such force that they ripped free of the fabric, but even that was not enough to persuade him to break the kiss. Never before had a mere kiss managed to arouse him with such ferocity. Perhaps it was the adrenalin pounding through his body in anticipation of his death intensifying all that he felt, but Reuben had never craved any woman as much as he did this one.
As his fingers insistently moved between their bodies to seek out the fastenings of her shirt, though, brushing against the agonisingly tempting curve of her high, full breasts as they did so, she twisted her head to the side with a loud and rasping cry. “What in God's name do you think that you are doing, sir?!”
Reuben arched one dark eyebrow incredulously as he fought for breath and ruthlessly kept her pinned up against the wall. “I thought that was more than obvious! I was beginning to avail myself of all the pleasures that your sweet mouth had to offer to me. Is that not why you came here?”
“No!” Rage burned in her wide, darkened eyes as she struggled desperately to free herself of his hold. “Good God, I am no...no...” She trailed off, blushing hotly as a small smile began to quirk back the corner of his lips.
“Prostitute?” Reuben offered mildly, his anger at being interrupted fading away in the face of her evident reaction to his proximity - a reaction that it seemed she was not simply falsifying for the sake of her wages.
“Indeed I am not!”
Her curt denial seemed genuine, much to his bemusement. As he allowed his fingers to work their way underneath the shirt she wore to caress the bare skin he found beneath, he tilted his head to the side. “But I don't understand - how did you get in here if you are not a prostitute, little lady?”
Her flush deepened but her lips twitched with what could only be irritation as she plunged one hand into her pocket and extracted a furled piece of parchment. She unravelled it and thrust it at him contemptuously. “Admiral Dalton's seal tends to open any door that happens to be in one's way.”
“Admiral Dalton signed an order for my release?”
“No, but I am very adept at forging my father's signature; I am Lady Arianne Dalton. My friends call me Ari, but you may call me milady - and you can let me go now!”
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