Get into Bed with Kristine Grayson (Author Interview)

Love Romance Passion is glad to welcome today Kristine Grayson author of Utterly Charming.

Keira: When writing your light fantasy romances you’ve had a diverse group of characters. Do you ever find a large cast to be unruly?

Kristine Grayson: Occasionally. But that’s only because everyone wants to say something. :-) Seriously, it’s not that hard because the characters are all so real to me.

Keira: What happens to be your favorite fairytale? If you could live in your own version of a fairytale would it be the same as your favorite one?

Kristine: The Little Mermaid is my favorite fairy tale, and no, I wouldn’t want to live in that one. I just love that story. But I’m happily married, I have a job I love, and my life is quite good, so I feel like I’m living in a fairy tale already. I suspect my cats are the fairy godmothers. :-)

Keira: Why do you think there’s such an appeal for updated fairytales?

Kristine: I think these are stories that we all grew up with, stories that we all love. And we love to hear the same stories told somewhat differently. Stories for our times, I think.

Keira: How is love defined in fairytales and does that definition change when it comes to the real world for you?

Kristine: Love in fairy tales is really romance. It’s the early part of the relationship. Then, when the couple decides to stay together, they will live “happily ever after.” In real life, the real relationship work begins at the commitment. And the love deepens if the couple stays together. So in some ways, fairy tales have it backwards.

Keira: If Utterly Charming was optioned for a movie and you had unlimited funds who would be your ideal cast?

Kristine: This question is always so hard for me. For Utterly Charming, I have to go back to older movies. I mean, George Clooney could play Blackstone, but he’s not quite right. But I would prefer Cary Grant—from the 1940s. As for Nora, Rosalind Russell would be perfect. Although, Danny DeVito would make a spectacular Sancho.

Keira: What’s the most magical fairytale setting you’ve ever been to? (Share a picture please if you can!)

Kristine: I live on the Oregon Coast, and there’s a place here called The Devil’s Churn. It’s a very wild cliff face that the ocean has carved into. I’m rather astonished that you can visit this place. It’s magical and dangerous and dark, and I just love it.

Keira: What fairytale are you looking to update next?

Kristine: Bluebeard. He’s my next hero in Charming Blue coming out next fall. Before that, though, you get Thoroughly Kissed, which is Sleeping Beauty’s story.

Buy: Utterly Charming

What is the Little Mermaid Syndrome?

*This post does not deal with the medical condition; it deals with the literary condition.

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The Little Mermaid Syndrome is the desire to be part of another’s world.

A fictional character under the influence of LMS would go any length to become like the one they desire. This coveting is usually driven by love. In other cases the driving emotion is obsession.

Conditions:

The ripest situations for the LMS are in Fantasy and Paranormal genres where partners are more likely to be unmatched. By unmatched I mean a plain/weak human and a beautiful/strong supernatural being.

In these cases it is usually the human who wants become like their partner. Rarer is for the magical being to desire to be become human or have the means to become human. Plainly put it is a simple fact the LMS goes only one way.

Why is this?

I think it is all part of the escapism fantasy. We tire of the normal and are looking beyond our world for something better; be it vampires, werewolves, fairies, elves, or selkies. The idea behind this is that being connected to one of these more exotic beings or being one makes our world that much more exciting and ripe for adventure.

Human (normal) –> Vampire (supernatural)

Human (normal) –> Lycanthrope (supernatural)

Thumblina (normal, despite being supernaturally tiny) –> Fairy (supernatural)

The exception to the rule is the Little Mermaid.

Mermaid (supernatural) –> Human (normal)

This is because the human in this tale is clueless to the existence of the preternatural world. The mermaid must make herself known because their interaction would never happen otherwise as they do not exist in the same habitat. One lives on land and the other in water. It’s not like with vampires or werewolves which appear completely human and can intermingle in the same locations.

Witches and wizards are to my knowledge the only magical beings that could instill the LMS in their partner and do nothing about it. You’re either born with magic or you’re not. There’s no gray area.

Books featuring LMS:

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Review: Take a Chance by Eve Langlais

Samantha Jones is shy. Her friends are books and not people which is why she makes a good librarian. Her mother is dead. She’s alone in the world. She’s never really dated and she’s never had sex – because coupled with being shy she’s also a little plump and wears hideous glasses to correct her poor eyesight.

Sinclair Griffonaire is a cursed hero. As a wizard of the high council he and his family have been charged with keeping safe a powerful amulet that if it got into the wrong hands could be disastrous. The wrong hands happen to be his girlfriend – that witch – Melisante. She tricked him and stole the amulet using it to send him to a deserted island.

The two are separated by magic. One lives in the non-magic world. The other lives on the other side of the barrier in the Realm. Trapped in their lonely lives, neither one think love is possible. It’s only by Chance that they ever meet at all.

My thoughts: Some areas of the story are very slow moving and seem to cover the same ground again and again. There are a few contradictions that niggle at you as you read, mostly with the heroine and her thoughts on sex that seem to teeter-totter.

Coolest Magic: Mirror-to-Mirror talking + ability to send spells through a reflective surface = poison vapor of death.

Most predicable bad guy: Demonte. As the reader with omniscient viewing of everything that’s happening, this bad is so easy to spot it’s hard to believe the other characters didn’t catch on sooner.

Favorite Moment: Wizard fishing in the pond. Very cute and a bit like Little Mermaid.

Favorite Moment 2: The pair of them playing Conquer, a cute fireside board game, which looks and sounds like animated wizard chess from Harry Potter meets Stratego. The goal? To guard the castle.

Love: The book cover. So gorgeous!

Rating: 2 Stars

Buy: Take a Chance
Read an excerpt.

Get into Bed with Judi Fennell (Author Interview)

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Hello and welcome to another get into bed author interview here at Love Romance Passion. Today’s pillow talk is with author Judi Fennell. Please join me in welcoming her to the blog.

Last time Judi was with us she discussed her chatty characters and we held a book giveaway for her latest release, In Over Her Head. The winner was drawn and the lucky commentator is… #4: Kat Sheridan! Congratulations Kat!

Now onto the interview!

For me In Over Her Head is like The Little Mermaid in reverse. Was that the inspiration for the book or was it something else?

That was it. Just a “how can I twist The Little Mermaid?” I had entered the story in the First Chapters Romance contest on Gather.com in August of 2007, where 250 of us posted our first chapter for the online community’s review. The first person to comment on the fact that it was like The Little Mermaid was one reader’s 12 year old son. I found that interesting. Then everyone else started chiming in.

I did tell the mom that she might not want her son to read past chapter 2. :)

If you only had a sentence, how would you sum up In Over Her Head?

He’s a merman and she’s terrified of the ocean.

Fisher, Reel, Rod, Chumley–how in the Zeus did you decide on these names?!

They all started with Reel’s. When I set out to write this story, I was working on a series of fairy tale twists. Cinda Bella, Beauty and The Best, Fairest of Them All… I wanted to write a twist on The Little Mermaid. So, I decided to make him the Mer. Erica’s name was easy because the prince in The Little Mermaid is named Eric, but how do you spin Ariel? I came up with Riel, but figured everyone would pronounce it Ree- el. And then I realized what a pun it’d be to name him Reel.

Chumley, aka Chum, opened his mouth and his name popped out. Same thing with Rod – when Erica was smart-mouthing off to Reel she just asked, “You got a friend Rod around here anywhere?” to which Reel shot back, “He’s my brother. He lives in the South Atlantic .” Until that point, I had no idea Reel had a brother, let alone he was a twin or that the twin’s name was Rod.

In order for their punny names to be believable, I had to name Fisher Fisher. Their mom, Kai’s name means “sea” in Hawaiian. Then, of course, there were the sisters’ names and those are explained in the story.

jf_photoIn your book, In Over Her Head, you’ve created a whole world under the sea. Everything from restructuring common phrases to talking fish to mythology is present. What was the hardest part of world building for you? The most fun?

Hardest part was where to put things in the North Atlantic like Reel’s lair and their traveling to Bermuda to make it believable. There is NOTHING in the North Atlantic except a few small rises in the ocean floor off the coast of NY . Thank goodness for Google Earth. I lived on that site for a long time.

Most fun? Atlantis. I took a look at a few pictures of the caves beneath Bermuda online then let my imagination swim free.

Can you tell us more about Mers? What research did you do and what parts did you make to suit your needs?

I took basic mythology and tweaked it to fit my own needs. I’ve always enjoyed mythology and like mermaids, so there wasn’t a lot I had to research. A great thing about writing paranormal is that you can make your world be anything you want it to be. We have vampires now who aren’t dead, who can be awake in the day, who don’t have to bite people… why not make my Mers do whatever I need them to.

I will say that the question I get most often surprised me. Most people ask, “how do mers have sex?” Honestly, I’m amazed at the question. I don’t write beastiality stories, so it’s really not hard to figure out. I usually say, “Think of the mythology.” If you watch The Little Mermaid, you should have some idea of what I did with the story (but no way am I spoiling it here.)

To suit my needs: I had to give my Mers the ability to breathe both water and air, and make it easy for Erica to, as well. I didn’t want to write the story about the mechanics of being able to live under the sea, so I worked it to where all he had to do was kiss the ability into her. I think I’ve covered all the reasons and wherefores in the story so readers shouldn’t have any trouble suspending disbelief.

InOverHerHeadWhat’s the difference between a talking animal and one that is normal or doesn’t talk?

Oh, they all talk. They just don’t talk around us. Humans are kind of the bullies in high school to animals. They put up with us, but they don’t want to be our best friends. It just so happens we’re the top of the food chain, so unless they want to be lunch, they better toe (or flipper) the line.

But they’re organized. Make no mistake about that.

Had you the option, would you choose to live under the sea or on land? Why?

Give me land. Why? Because I saw Jaws at an impressionable age and it left a huge gaping gash in my self-confidence in the ocean.

It’s a totally irrational fear. I know that. I used to LOVE the ocean. I would swim back and forth for hours beyond where the waves break. I’d read a book on a raft, getting off only to swim back up the beach after the current had carried me down. Then I saw “the movie.”

I know there are no great white sharks hanging off the coast of NJ just waiting for me to get in the water. I know that. But I make sure there are people out farther than me and on either side whenever I go in. I have a “shark meter” in my head. My tension level starts out at my ankles and the longer I’m in the water (or the better the conditions are, say, warmer water, recent sightings), the higher it goes. When it reaches my neck, I’m out of there. Sometimes it gets to that point in 10 minutes, other times it’s 45. Never longer.

How does Reel match into your idea of the perfect hero?

One of the reasons I married my husband was because he’s the nicest person I’ve ever met and he can always make me laugh.

Reel is, at heart, a nice person. And he certainly can make me laugh. ‘Nuff said.

And, no, my husband doesn’t have a tail.

How is Erica the perfect heroine for Reel and why should readers root for her?

What I love about Erica is that she’s in a situation that terrifies her and she doesn’t give up. It’d be easy to take her lumps (or shark bite, as it were) and give up. She’s figuring she’s going to die one way or the other, but she doesn’t. She struggles til the end.

Then when she wakes up under the sea, she is determined to survive it.

And then when she confronts her original nemesis towards the end, she’s a changed person. He can’t get away with what he could in the beginning because in fighting for herself, she’s become stronger.

I like when people don’t give up. I mean, it’s your life – what else are you going to do?

A lot of this attitude stems from the time I lived in Spain . I was in college and four of us were going to drive through the south of Spain for Spring Break. I picked up the rental car then went to get everyone else. That’s when I found out that no one else knew how to A) drive a stick shift, B) pack for a week at the beach in a 2 door hatchback, and C) read a map. I drove 1300 miles in 8 days, found all the hotels, navigated through all those medieval towns without an accident and got us back alive. Don’t tell me there’s something I can’t do. I guess in infusing Erica with my irrational fear, I also gave her my stubbornness–though I prefer to call it my Can-Do attitude. :)

Is there anything else you’d like to share?

I have loved every minute of writing this book. The characters were some of the chattiest I’ve ever worked with, and they just made it so much fun. I hope you all enjoy reading it as much as I did writing it.

Thanks so much, Keira, for having me!

You can visit Judi at her homepage and blog for more fun and hunky Mer sightings.

Buy: In Over Her Head

Review: In Over Her Head by Judi Fennell

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In Over Her Head is the ultimate beach read. No, seriously, it is. You have talking fish, Mers (only humans would classify them by gender), sea monsters, underwater cities hidden by the Greek gods, heirs, thrones, adventure, a cache of diamonds… there’s so much going on in this book.

In so many ways this book is a retelling of Little Mermaid, though I prefer to think of it as the reverse of The Little Mermaid. The hero is a prince, but he’s also a Mer. It’s the heroine who is human and is afraid of the water. She is petrified to be in the ocean: sharks, sharks, mysterious voices, sharks, and well sharks. It’s a wonder she ever got certified to dive.

Both characters are driven by the urge to prove themselves. Erica has been labeled incompetent, useless, and a nutcase ever since the Incident. She’s been struggling to prove to her brothers, who’ve teased her mercilessly ever since, that she is capable and smart and well normal.

Reel, being the second son, is the Spare… as in the heir and the… all his life he’s been a part of the Mer world without any of its perks. As the second son he doesn’t have fins, he has legs. Sure he can breath underwater, speak to fish, but he’s never had respect. The most important race in his life and he was four minutes behind. He doesn’t have the power or the immortality the rest of them do and has been struggling for acceptance into a society that looks down on him. If only his father would get to know him instead of considering him the ultimate embarrassment.

It’s a fish of a tale, pun so intended–bad as it undoubtedly is. If you’re looking to kick up your fins and read a good kelp-turner… yeah, okay I’m done with the water jokes. Judi is much better at these than I am. Well, no I do have one more. Have you ever heard that joke about the Merman, the Kraken, and the Female Human?

Rating: 3 Stars

Classified interracial because of Mer/Human relationship.

Buy: In Over Her Head