A big welcome to Kelly Meade who is here to answer a few of our questions and to celebrate the release of Black Rook, Cornerstone Run #1 (published on July 15, 2014 by Intermix). Want to win Cornerstone Run goodie basket? Enter via the widget below.
All Things Urban Fantasy: Before I get into the book-oriented questions, I was intrigued by your blog profile reference to liking online RPGs. Do you play, or just read them? And what sort of characters are you drawn to?
Kelly Meade: To be honest, I haven’t been involved in RPG’s in years—probably not since around the time I first created my blog. I used to participate in the written, mailing list-based kind where you’re basically creating a story with a small group of people. I can’t even remember the first game I ever did, but the fandoms are pretty wide: Star Trek Enterprise, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, The Green Mile (don’t ask), Firefly. I had a small circle of friends who played together often, and we even created a few worlds of our own. One was a unique fantasy world. Another was an original Star Trek timeline set something like twenty-five years post-Enterprise.
I’m not really sure what character I’m drawn to. I love playing male and female characters. Trip (Enterprise) and Faith (Buffy) are two of my favorite characters on those shows, so it was fun playing them in our RPG’s. One of my very favorite characters I’ve ever created (for RPG’s or for my original novels) is a woman named Gwen who I created for our original fantasy world. I’d love to use her again, because her journey was just hitting a high point when the game itself kind of petered out.
ATUF: Same profile, I was thrilled to see The Stand listed among your favorite books since it’s one of mine, too. Who is your favorite character?
KM: My favorite character is Nick Andros, and yes, that is definitely colored by Rob Lowe’s portrayal in the miniseries, which I watched before I read the book. In a way, I’m glad I saw the series first because that book is looooooong. But definitely worth reading.
ATUF: What drove the decision to release Black Rook under a different name than your other two series?
KM: Part of the decision was that this trilogy is paranormal romance, whereas my other books are urban fantasy. I know there is some crossover between the two in terms of content, as well as with the readership. But the focus of these books is definitely on the romances between the brothers and their future wives. Don’t worry, though. There’s still the action and twists that you tend to get with my books.
Another big part of the decision was a chance to feel out a slightly new audience. My current fans know I wrote this. I’m not hiding it. But hopefully putting a different name on the books will give this series a chance to grow and gain new readers. (And there’s also the fact that Kelly Meding has two cancelled series, but Kelly Meade does not, so it feels a little like starting over.)
ATUF: Was the experience of writing a 3 book series different than one that’s a little longer (Dreg City is due to go to 6 or 7, I believe)?
KM: Definitely. I wrote Black Rook and then outlined both Gray Bishop and White Knight before I even considered submitting it to my agent. Because I was limiting myself to three books, I had to know that the major plot arcs would all come to a conclusion by the end of the last book. And I had to make sure I had enough story to fill three books. With Dreg City, I had a lot more room to play with the single plots of each book, while slowing driving the main arc toward its conclusion. And yes, I hope to end Dreg City with seven books.
ATUF: Is there a different feel to the Black Rook universe over Dreg City?
KM: Definitely. Dreg City is undeniably dark. The tone is much different, and I think a lot of that has to do with Evy herself. She kills creatures for a living. She is always being hunted by someone or targeted by an enemy. She is very “it is what it is” about her situations, and she isn’t entirely hopeful about her own future. While there is quite a lot of suspense in Black Rook, it’s not to the same level as Dreg City. The higher focus on the romance lightens the tone, and the characters are all more hopeful in general.
ATUF: I have to tell you, Black Rook pulled me in from the first and I couldn’t put it down once I started. How did you get the idea for the loup and Magi combination and the rest of the world you built for the series?
KM: Thank you! For building the world, I get frequent feedback from readers that they love my shifters in Dreg City, but they’ve always kind of been background characters (really until Requiem for the Dead pulled them more to the forefront). So I knew I wanted to focus on wolf shifters, but I didn’t want to do the typical “me man, you mate, hear me growl” Alpha type. I researched a lot of werewolf legends, and loup garou are a kind of wolf shifter from France. I liked the name, so I kept it. Once I had the brothers’ names figured out (Rook, Knight and Bishop), I knew I wanted to use them in the titles.
Figuring out the titles is how the different wolf color came into play, and once I had that I had the first major hurdle for Rook’s character. Rook is a Black Wolf, which makes him a protector. Black Wolves are the strongest, the fiercest, and the biggest. Gray Wolves, on the other hand, are the average loup garou and the largest of the population. Making Bishop, who is the oldest, Gray gave him a weakness. And it created friction between him and Rook, because as a Black, Rook could one day be Alpha instead of Bishop.
In a lot of werewolf books, the major villain is either man or vampire. I wanted to go a different route, and have their villain be magic users. The Magi have been around for centuries, meddling in the affairs of men, and making it their mission to rid the earth of all supernatural “monsters” such as vampires and loup garou. So naturally I had to make Rook’s love interest a Magi. A lot of this world came about because I wanted to put a spin on traditional tropes. Is everything I did super original? No. It’s really hard to do anything totally original anymore, but this is something a little bit different, and I really hope readers fall in love with the McQueens like I did.
ATUF: It was refreshing to see an Alpha portrayed as a loving father for once, not the hard-ass do as I say sort, yet still a powerful leader to his run. The same for his sons. Do you have a favorite among the McQueens?
KM: Thomas McQueen was great fun to write, because as you say, he’s a powerful leader but he doesn’t have to scream to make you listen. He just has to give you The Look. He’s the type of general that troops respect, rather than listen to out of fear.
In terms of my favorite McQueen, definitely Knight. And as evidenced by my favorite characters in some of my other books, that means I put the poor man through his paces. Knight is an empathic character. He’s a White Wolf, therefore responsible for the mental well-being of the other loup. Since so many loup (about seven hundred) live together in a small town, they are in close quarters most of the time. Tempers flare. They do have a beast side, after all. Knight can affect the emotions of other loup, especially during times of stress, but the responsibility wears on him. By the time his book comes around, you’ll be begging him to get his HEA.
ATUF: Final question. How long do we have to wait for Gray Bishop?
KM: Not long! Gray Bishop comes out October 21, 2014!
Raised on a steady diet of Star Wars, Freddy Krueger and “Fear Street” novels, Kelly Meade developed a love for all things paranormal at a very young age. The stealthy adolescent theft of a tattered paperback from her grandmother’s collection of Harlequins sparked an interest in romance that has continued to this day.
Writing as Kelly Meding, she also authored the Metawars and Dreg City urban fantasy series.
Black Rook by Kelly Meade
Available on July 15, 2014 by Intermix
She never saw this coming…
Brynn Atwood is a low-level Magus whose unpredictable precognitive powers have made her an outcast among her people—and an embarrassment to her highly-regarded father. After a frightening vision in which her father is murdered by a loup garou man, Brynn decides to prove herself by finding the killer, and stopping them at any cost.
Her target is Rook McQueen, the son of a small-town loup garou Alpha. Despite being the youngest of three, Rook is first in line to inherit the role of Alpha, a duty he isn’t sure he’s capable of fulfilling. When Brynn finally meets Rook, she doesn’t expect the attraction that draws her to him—and him to her.
No longer believing him a murderer, Brynn and Rook strike an alliance to find her father’s real killer. But when his older brother is targeted by an unknown enemy, Rook will have to choose between his growing feelings for Brynn and his duty as the future Alpha of his community.
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