Author Interview – Krista Holle

This week’s author, Krista Holle, has kindly joined Landra for an interview about her book.

Take it away, Landra!

1. So, probably a popular question but what made you choose selkies? 

Paranormal romance is hotter than ever and a growing genre.  When the vampire phenomenon began, I remembered these creatures and their fascinating legends, especially the men who notoriously lured women to their deaths beneath the sea.  For the reader who’s unfamiliar with the selkies; they are beautiful men and women who live as seals in the sea but occasionally shed their skins to walk on land.  I’ve always loved the Scottish legends and believe that paranormal romance lovers will be thrilled to discover this new mythical creature.

2. What research did you have to do for the book? Was it difficult to find information? 

The Lure of Shapinsay is based on the tiny island of Shapinsay.  It is part of the Orkney Islands, a cluster of tiny Scottish islands rich in selkie history.  Since the islands are pretty remote, I actually didn’t have a great selection of research books to choose from, but I ordered a pile of used books from Amazon before delving into the island’s rich history and geography.  Since my story takes place in the early 1800’s, I also needed to figure out how the islanders spoke.  I rummaged through old stories written in the old Orcaidian dialect.  My original manuscript had a very authentic dialect, but it was extremely difficult to read.

3. What was the hardest part of the book to write? The easiest? 

The hardest part of The Lure of Shapinsay was by far figuring out the ending.  There’s a reason why all the Scottish legends are romantic tragedies.  Sea—land relationships don’t work.  It’s a pesky little problem when your selkie wife is always searching for her skin so she can ditch you and return to the sea.  That’s the thing about selkies—their true love is always the sea.  After I figured out how the story was going to play out, this story practically wrote itself.

4. What made you choose self-publishing? Are you going to continue to self-publish in the future? 

After an embarrassing number of rejections from agents all claiming this story had no audience, I stubbornly determined to publish it myself.  I figured I had nothing else to lose.  I’ve had so much control with my book; I can hardly believe the traditionally published authors are having as much fun as I am.  Around June, I’m releasing another e-book called The Wind Whisperer.  It’s a Young Adult paranormal romance.

5. Even though Kait’s brother, Blair, wasn’t the nicest guy, I found myself wanting to know more about him. Are you planning anything for him in the future? 

I’m glad to hear Kait’s twin brother was a memorable character.  He was certainly bossy, but he loved Kait deeply and took on a fatherly role in order to protect her.  At this point, I don’t have any more plans for Blair, though I haven’t completely ruled out a sequel.  A lot of people have asked me what happens after the end.  If I ever decide to write another “Lure”, Blair would definitely be a main player.

 

Thanks for the excellent interview, ladies! Remember, you can check out The Lure of Shapinsay at Barnes and Noble, Amazon, and Goodreads.

The Lure of Shapinsay – Landra’s Take

The Lure of Shapinsay by Krista Holle

Rating:  Yay!

Kait’s just a young woman who lives on an isle with her brother, Blair. Existence is simple, until rumors of a selkies coming on land plague the village. Kait longs to believe that selkies are not as evil as everyone else tries to portray them. Until one takes notice of her…

Eamon never meant to get too close, he just couldn’t help himself. He wanted to see this fair-haired creature, capable of destroying him, close up. A grand idea until the land louper woke up…

Angst! Ooh, doesn’t everyone love angst; one of the biggest enticements to read romantic entanglements in any genre. The Lure of Shapinsay is brimming with the angst! Human female, selkie male, and every possible problem in between.

Kait’s character is immediately likable. She’s strong willed, determined, and believes in fairness. For a girl existing in a time where men made the rules and the women followed, Kait definitely goes against the grain. Eamon is a little more difficult to get to know. He’s rough, fearful, and has been brought up to despise and have caution of those living on land. Their growing relationship reminded me of two people from warring countries, hopelessly interested in one another, but still attempting to be loyal to the traditions of their birthplace.  The sad fact is, no matter the circumstances, neither of them can fight this strange attraction, even if it means they’ll destroy themselves in the process.

Holle paints a vivid picture from all angles in this novel. Great descriptions of the isle, and surroundings made it easy to fall into the world Kait and Eamon existed in. I was also pleasantly surprised that the native language used, similar to Scottish, was evenly tempered, and not over-done to the point where if someone says ‘doona’ one more time you’ll throw the e-reader across the room. There is plenty of information on selkies too; delivered at the right time, right place. For those with a penchant for myths and folklore it’s a nice little treat.

There were a few instances where I found the inner thought portions to run a bit long for my tastes, and a couple of others where I personally wanted some more information. Add in the fact that I’m dying to know what becomes of Kait’s brother, and the mysterious witch Tipper. I felt a little bereft at not getting the rest of their stories, but I’m happy to wait.

Overall, The Lure of Shapinsay is something new and fresh in the plot mechanism department. Actions and emotions are based on good reasons, and the relationship development is not rushed or dull in the least.  If you’re looking for something that’s got angst, romance, and a good dose of mythology this book is a sure win. Definitely a book to buy if you have a fondness for impossible relationships.

The Lure of Shapinsay – Cate’s take

Category: Paranormal Romance

Cate’s rating: Yay!

When I learned that Lure of Shapinsay had selkie characters, I was STOKED. I love mythological critters and legends and all of that, so getting the chance to bringing about a creature I was unfamiliar with made me all kinds of happy. Plus, being unfamiliar with Scottish legends *bad bad Cate* I wanted to get my hands on this book to learn and to be entertained.

And Krista Holle’s book didn’t disappoint.

The story follows two characters—Kait, the loud, bossy, strong-willed land-dweller; and Eamon, the delicious selkie who enchants Kait and steals her heart.  A misunderstanding brings the pair together, and for Eamon, everything he believed about “land loupers” is challenged by this animated young woman who loves the sea. Their love is merely the beginning.

Holle does a fantastic job of weaving selkie mythology into Kait and Eamon’s relationship, sometimes to the point that I wasn’t sure if Kait’s feelings for Eamon were her own or the result of the selkie lure—the enchantment that makes men and women fall in love with selkies. The story had tones reminiscent of Twilight, sans the love triangle and WITH an actual reason for Kait’s obsession with and love for Eamon. And Kait’s such a fun, spunky character that it’s not terribly hard to believe Eamon would fall for her.

There’s a great supporting cast as well. Kait’s twin brother Blair is rather entertaining. They’re orphans, so Blair has this hyper-vigilance toward finding his sister a husband so she’ll be taken care of when he moves to the mainland. He and Kait bicker and fight, but it’s easy to see how much Blair cares about her.

Then there’s Tipper Gray. She is…interesting, to say the least, and one of those characters you just need to read. The scenes with Tipper were by far my favorite.

I would suggest The Lure of Shapinsay to anyone who enjoys paranormal romance and to fans of Twilight.

This Week’s Read: The Lure of Shapinsay – Krista Holle

Ever since Kait Swanney could remember, the old crones of the village have been warning her to stay away from the selkies. They claim that like sirens of old, the seal men creep from the inky waters, shed their skins, and entice women to their deaths beneath the North Sea. But avoiding an encounter becomes impossible when Kait is spotted at the water’s edge, moments after the murder of a half-selkie infant.

Kait is awoken unexpectedly by a beautiful, naked selkie man seeking revenge. After she declares her innocence, the intruder darts into the night, but not before inadvertently bewitching her with an overpowering lure.

Kait obsesses over a reunion deep beneath the bay and risks her own life to be reunited with her selkie. But when she lands the dangerous lover, the chaos that follows leaves Kait little time to wonder—is it love setting her on fire or has she simply been lured?

The Lure of Shapinsay is available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and

 

Author Interview: Phoenix Sullivan

Hey folks! We’re trying different things with the blog, and one of them is interviewing the author at the end of the week, after you’ve been immersed in their awesome. So, here’s our inaugural interview with the amazingly awesome Phoenix Sullivan! Thanks to Landra for putting this together. You are full of awesome.

1. I’m a big fan of the story behind the story. So, what can you tell readers about your inspiration for this book? 

 *SPOILER ALERT* The idea for SECTOR C was implanted a few years ago during a conversation with my brother and sister-in-law about whether using in vitro fertilization and surrogate mothers to repopulate endangered animals was a good idea or not. Was there a way to make money with the technology without exploiting the animals? After that marinated for a while and designer animals such as lygers and tigrons starting popping up more frequently, I began wondering about theories for rewilding extinct animals. The mammoth genome has been mapped, genetic material taken from mice frozen for 12 years has been successfully cloned, and Japanese researchers now say an embryo cloned from frozen mammoth DNA is no more than five years away. Exciting stuff! But cool ideas need a plot wrapped around them.

Thinking about why mammoths and other Ice Age beasties became extinct in the first place, I latched onto the idea of disease, which hasn’t been ruled out as a possible cause. But most diseases are either caused by external factors, like viruses and bacteria, or are host-specific, like cancer and diabetes – things that aren’t transmissible. I needed something that’s not only a genetic disease, but one which is transmissible across species and capable of causing a pandemic.

Luckily (well, luckily for the story anyway!), I found a candidate.

Then I needed a way for a private enterprise to make money off the animals it produced. I figured out a good – if controversial – way for that to happen too.

2. This is probably one of those questions that will produce a heavy sigh, but interested ears want to know if you have a sequel planned for Sector C? 

You know, while I’m a huge fan of sequels where it makes sense for the story or characters to continue, not every book should have one. There’s obviously more to the story as SECTOR C doesn’t end with all the pieces tidied up, but I think part of the appeal of “what if” books is when they leave something to the reader’s imagination. It isn’t always needful to fill in all the white space or to spell out all the answers.

In the case of SECTOR C, it’s not that there isn’t anything more to say, but that the next chapter in the story is really too big for the intimate confines of the mystery/thriller genre.

3. What was your favorite part of Sector C to write? The easiest? The hardest?

From a technical perspective, I have to say I most enjoyed writing all the interlocks, by which I mean the bits that become tiny revelations as the mystery unwinds. It was fun figuring out ways to drop in behaviors of people and animals that become more evident on a re-read in a Sixth Sense sort of way. For instance, most readers concentrate on the mannerisms of the hunter in Chapter One and can tell there’s something important about his behavior. What most readers fail to realize on the first read is that there are some subtle clues about the tiger that are worth noting as well. Threading the information through without being too obvious nor too obtuse was a fun challenge.

Ironically, I think the parts where the writing flowed the easiest were the parts that were hardest emotionally to see written. When I was a vet tech, I saw a lot of animal deaths, and in the years since I’ve had a number of best furry friends die. I didn’t have to go very deep to draw on those personal experiences, so getting those hard emotions on the virtual paper was really rather easy.

4. What 3 things do you hope readers take away from reading SECTOR C? 

This is a tricky question because the book is meant to raise questions, not necessarily answer them. In fact, I’m on the fence about many of the moral and philosophical choices we’ll be faced with sooner rather than later.

  1. Just because we CAN do something, should we?
  2. Can we ever truly accomplish the rewilding of threatened/extinct species? And if not, then is the very act of preserving them a form of exploitation?
  3. As I was writing about the predicament of the non-human animals, my mind was very much on what folk had to face during the Katrina disaster. All the broken homes, the displaced animals. Where would we be in a world where every living thing held the potential for death, and would you fight to keep some of that diversity close or opt for a sterile world, a sterile life and a sterile soul?

5. Now that you’ve released 3 novels, different genres for each, can you tell us what readers can expect next? Do you still plan on self-pubbing? 

*Insert laugh.* Career-wise, the choice of releasing books in such widely differing genres probably isn’t the best one. This year, I’ll be releasing Volumes 2, 3, and 4 of my Vet Tech Tales, spaced out one about every 3 months. I have some fantasy short stories I’ll be publishing for the Kindle in the next few weeks, and the next novel I publish will be one of two historical fantasies, heavy on the romantic elements. Of course, there’s that new thriller idea that keeps teasing at me too…

As for continuing to self-publish, I’m quite open to not, though I’d carefully consider terms these days. A large publisher still has clout an indie doesn’t. However, SECTOR C is the most commercial work I’ve written to date, and if it couldn’t find a home in the traditional publishing world (although more than one agent assured me they thought it would get picked up), I’m not sure my less-commercial works fit the mold. And, while I’m confident I could have placed SECTOR C with an e-publisher, I’m not sure a small publisher could offer more than what I’m working on to build myself. Plus, I’m involved now with a consortium of authors running the gamut from debut to bestselling, and the small company we’re forging together (Steel Magnolia Press) is, I believe, one of the ways of the future. I’ve always been one to take chances, and the cutting edge, for me, is quite a comfortable place to be. It’s an exciting time to be a writer. And a reader!

Thanks for the awesome interview, Phoenix!!!

Just remember, you can find everything you need for Phoenix on her Amazon author page. GO BUY HER BOOKS!!!

Review: Sector C by Phoenix Sullivan – Cate’s take

Category: Medical Thriller/Science Fiction

Cate’s rating: Yay!

If you love science, or if you’re like me and have a fascination with it just not the brain, Sector C is a book you need to read. There’s enough human drama involved to keep your attention, and there’s enough information to keep you abreast of the situation without completely overwhelming you.

One of the techniques Sullivan uses is multiple viewpoints, so get ready to remember some names. It reminded me a lot of Anne Rice’s Queen of the Damned. Like Rice, Sullivan presents us with some viewpoints we won’t see again in the novel to establish both setting and a sense of urgency. Even with these singular events, the reader develops compassion for the characters involved. I frequently felt my heart drop when I recognized symptoms or when someone actually died.

 That’s actually one of the best aspects of this book—the way Sullivan relentlessly amps up emotional reactions. I assure you that, by the time you’re finished with Sector C, you’ll be giving your furry loved ones hugs, kisses and extra treats.

 As a result, though, it takes a little while for the action to really start, but once it does, HANG ON. The latter half of the book is a crazy ride involving those trying to figure out what this disease is killing both humans and animals and how to stop it, and those who want to shut Triple E Enterprises down by any means necessary.

 However, you’ll have to get used to a little head-hopping. When done correctly, like in Sector C, it works, though it can be a little jarring at first. Sullivan makes seamless transitions between characters, giving us a well-rounded, almost cinematic experience from all sides, which lends to constructing a moral gray area while at the same time highlighting one of humanity’s many faults—greed. She doesn’t preach, but she allows us to draw our own conclusions from the evidence she provides.

 There is a romantic element that develops throughout the book between veterinarian Donna and CDC analyst Mike, who was by far my favorite character. They’re both incredibly smart, incredibly good at their respective jobs, and they help to anchor each other through a traumatic experience. It’s a sweet counter to such a sad, sad main story. Through panic and loss, something good can emerge, providing a sense of hope for the future.

 This is definitely a book to check out, especially if you love emotionally gripping fiction.

Review: Sector C by Phoenix Sullivan – Landra’s take

 Sector C by Phoenix Sullivan

Triple E Enterprises in N. Dakota offers clients a chance to hunt exotic wildlife – including elite specimens in Sector C. When people and livestock in the area start dying, CDC investigator Mike Shafer teams with veterinarian Donna Bailey to find out why. Their search for Patient Zero leads to the Triple E compound and a CEO willing to kill to protect a secret thought extinct for 10,000 years.

Landra’s Rating: Yay!

Exotic animals being held for private hunting, mysterious human and animal deaths occurring rapidly, and danger from multiple vectors—equals one heck of a wild ride. At initial glance Sector C made me think of popular pandemic films like the Andromeda Strain or Outbreak, simply because the story provided multiple view points and characters. What grabbed my attention, and changed my mind is the science behind the story. This book is no ordinary life-killing-disease-resulting-in-mass-hysteria type. The plot is well thought out and the possibilities clearly defined and researched.

I will admit getting into the mind frame of this story took a couple chapters, simply because medical thrillers are not my usually escape novel choice. Within those chapters I quickly became absorbed. I wanted to know everything, especially what this particular disease was and if it would be successfully combated. Of course I’m rooting for humanity. Sullivan does an excellent job of providing a brief scientific explanation, and a more detailed description of the science behind the debilitating disease running rampant without confusing readers or mass info-dumping. This book does require an alert mind, but even if you weren’t the person with top marks in Chemistry in high school the mechanics are easily understood.

I will offer caution to those who are huge animal lovers. This book is not for those who are easily overcome by animal death. There are several heartbreaking moments, and each one brings a tug on the heartstrings.

Main characters Mike and Donna were easy to relate to, though I often wished more was said in the earlier stages of their professional relationship. Sullivan makes up for this little lapse as the story goes on, with both Mike and Donna showing their true intelligence in their confrontations with the Triple E CEO. Mike and Donna’s relationship unfolds similar to those formed out of stressful, life or death situations, but the main emphasis of the story is not eclipsed by their relationship.  Other characters, including the main antagonist, were portrayed with a certain realism that is easily identified with, and that can already be seen with the questionable ethical/moral practices we see from big business present day.

Overall, I give this book a ‘Yay’ rating because by the end I was researching prions, and diligently attempting to discover more behind the science in the story. I’m still not quite done with my research, and have already found articles speaking to the distinct possibility that lichens are a good combatant against protein based mutations. If you’re looking for a book that will engage your mind, as well as get the old synaptic pathways fired up, this is definitely one to purchase.

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