Thursday, July 17, 2008

Star Light, Star Bright....Interstellar Interview with Virginia Kantra

Virginia Kantra is a USA Today bestselling author and winner of the Golden Leaf, Holt Medallion, Maggie Award of Excellence and 2 National Readers' Choice Awards. She's rubbed elbows with Angela Knight, Lora Leigh, MaryJanice Davidson and Sunny in NY Times Bestselling anthologies twice. So what prompted Virginia to go on to final for 6 RITAs and 4 Golden Hearts? A love for strong heroes, courageous heroines and a childhood spent devouring fairy tales.

After penning her popular MacNeill Brothers and Trouble in Eden Series for Silhouette, Virginia turned to single title romantic suspense and paranoral romance. Currently her new series, Children of the Sea, has hit stands and promises to continue her reputation for hard-hitting action with a blend of unforgettable romance.



Virginia was one of the first people I met when I joined a local RWA chapter. She's always been known for her brilliant sense of business and as a go-to for deep POV problems. Virginia is also a wise woman in the way of decoding men, and getting them "right-on" in the written word.

I couldn't put "Sea Crossing" down and am drooling over the copy of SEA WITCH on my desk. Why? Because she's not only my friend, but she's also a writer that will make you disappear into a world you thought couldn't exist. Her writing touches your heart and soul and makes you yearn for such a deeply moving HEA. How? She believes in the strength of family, the importance of storytelling and the power of love.

I never expected Virginia to be anything less than a success when she broke away to write single titles. Needless to say I'm delighted to see her star on the climb, eventhough to me she's already a keeper.


When did you have the “ah ha” moment and decide to write your Selkie Children of the Sea series? How many research trips have you made to Maine and can you let slip some actual places that inspired you?

I had already written two paranormal novellas for Berkley based on legends of the fair folk—the Children of the Earth. Anyway, I had this vision of a police chief on the rocky coast of Maine discovering a naked woman who had been attacked on his beach. I planned to pitch the idea to my editor as a romantic suspense. But my mind was still in the fairy tale world of the novellas, where anything is possible. So I thought: What if she wasn’t human?

It was less like a light bulb going off and more like my head exploding.

I did a lot of research from my home in North Carolina (mostly reading and phone interviews with law enforcement), but I really needed to capture the sensual underwater world of the selkie as well as the details of coastal life in Maine. So last summer I spent some time in Portland and Rockland and around the islands, particularly Vinalhaven. I kept grabbing my husband’s arm and saying, “Take a picture! There’s where Margred came ashore!” and “Get that! That’s Dylan’s house.” My fictional island of World’s End is a combination of several of the islands and my own imagination.


From Romantic Times Magazine we learned your Children of the Sea series came from a mixture of Selkie legend and sisterly stories, but what do you feel gives you the edge in writing this kind of novel?

You mean, besides my selkie grandmother? (Kidding! Sorry, Mom!)

I do feel that with this series I’m finding my authentic voice, which draws a lot on my English major background as well as on the language of faery. Look at the old fairy tales or the classics like C.S. Lewis’s Narnia Chronicles. The best ones are about ordinary people—the neglected stepdaughter, the woodcutter’s son, the children fleeing London in the blitz—who are forced by extraordinary circumstances into becoming braver, stronger, smarter, more heroic.

That’s what the Children of the Sea series is about—except of course with hot sex! But it’s that juxtaposition of the sensual selkie and the down-to-earth islanders, that tension between land and sea, between the contemporary, pragmatic, police procedural world of my hero and the timeless, sensual, magical world of my heroine, that totally hooked me into the first story and into the series.




Will you be writing any more period pieces like “Sea Crossing” in SHIFTER or will we have to get our fix with the new books?

“Sea Crossing” was a joy to write—although I was so nervous about attempting a historical that I set the story in 1899. (Think Anne of Green Gables sails on the Titanic.) Fortunately, my editor loved it, so we’ll see.



As a RITA finalist, can you share a look behind the scenes as well as your personal highlights? And of course, what did you wear?

I am the Susan Lucci of the RITAs. I’ve finaled six times, haven’t won yet. Finaled in the Golden Heart four times, won once. That’s ten dresses. Every single one of them sparkly. That’s part of the joy.

At the risk of sounding gaggingly sincere, simply being nominated by your peers is truly an honor. I mean, to realize your work is being judged in the same category as Suzanne Brockmann’s or Nora Roberts’s . . . It’s a “Pinch me” moment.

(At right: Virginia at her first RITA outing with Silhouette editor Mary Theresa Hussey.)





If you had the chance, would you go back to category? Or do you prefer to stick with single titles after your success?

I love the stories I wrote for Silhouette. But after a dozen or so books, I became increasingly aware of the parts of the story I had to leave out—not because of any editorial restrictions but because of word count. Writing the longer books really lets me do more in terms of setting the lovers in their larger world.



If you were ever in a sticky situation, which one of your heroes and/or heroines would you call for help?

I have a real life hero who has lurched with me from managed crisis to managed crisis through many years of marriage. But if I needed anyone else, I’d call on Regina Barone from SEA FEVER. She’s not magic, but she’s a Mommy, which gives her a power and tenacity all her own.





Since SEA WITCH kicks off the Children of the Sea series this month, I’m sure you’ll be promoting at the RWA National conference, but do you have any other appearances readers/fellow writers should mark on their calendars?

I am really looking forward to Nationals! I’m giving a workshop on “voice” Saturday morning (after all the parties on Friday night, oh, no!). After that I have a deadline and I’m staying home to write. However, I will be at the Durham Public Library’s Romance Tea on October 5 and speaking at the New Jersey Romance Writers’ conference October 24-25.




If you want to learn more about Virginia, or take a look at the workshops she offers and info in her articles go to http://virginiakantra.com/ .

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10 comments:

Ann M. said...

I'm following you from interview to interview, Virginia. :)

Enjoyed the interview immensely.

Mai Christy Thao said...

Hi Virginia! Enjoyed the interview. Makes me miss hearing you talk in person, dammit. And OMG, your new covers (Sea Fever and Sea Witch) are BEAUTIFUL!! Wow. -Mai

Virginia Kantra said...

Well. Wow. What an introduction! Thanks, Skylar!

Ann, it's always good to see your smiling face. Er, signature.

Mai, I am so thrilled with these covers! Last night, I posted an interview with cover artist Tony Mauro on my website with the orginal artwork AND the alternate covers. (The one with Dylan rising naked from the sea is really worth seeing!) You can check them out here:

Cover Art

Mujerluminosa said...

Hi Virginia,
What a great treat it is to read your interviews. I am so anxious for Sea Fever, and of course, you know how I feel about Conn. :)
Thanks so much for all of the happy reading and pure atmospheric bliss.
Have a great time at RWA -- I think I'll be seeing you in NJ this fall! Yipee!
Hugs,
Stephanie

Tarot By Arwen said...

I just finished "Sea Witch" last night. What a fabulous story, Virginia! Really loved the way you weaved in hints about upcoming books. I've already matched folks up in my mind. LOL

Virginia Kantra said...

Stephanie,
Thank you! And you know NJ is my favorite conference.

Arwen (love your name, btw),
I'm so glad you enjoyed Sea Witch. I'm not much of a plotter, so it's always kind of interesting to see how the characters emerge for future books!
Did you see the match up for Sea Fever coming?

Tarot By Arwen said...

Virginia, I did see the one for Sea Fever only because she SO deserved to have love in her life. Can't wait to see how he responds given his ... distaste for her kind. Trying not to give things away for those who have not delighted in "Sea Witch" yet. ;)

Savanna Kougar said...

Hi Virginia, fascinating interview. I love the idea of a police procederal world contrasted to a magical sea world. That's one of the things I like best about writing, the contrast of cultures, the heroine's world and the hero's realm.
Congrats on all your success! May it ever be so.

Virginia Kantra said...

Arwen,
Yea, she does. One of my favorite heroines ever. Of course, she's got her work cut out for her with that one . . .

Savanna,
Thanks for the good wishes! I actually worked really hard to avoid a "then magic happened and everything was better" conclusion.

Frances said...

Thanks for a great interview Virginia. Your covers are beautiful. Best of luck.

Frances

Writing Science Fiction Romance
Real Love in a Real Future
http://frances-writes.blogspot.com/