Author interview – Kenya Wright

Today, Fire Baptized author Kenya Wright answers a few questions for interviewer-extraordinaire Landra Graf! Thanks, ladies!

1. I absolutely loved the world that you created for Lanore and her friends, which made me wonder what modern inspiration did you have for this story?

            Originally I wanted a world that was similar to your average American city, but my Ipod playlists changed the original concept as I wrote. Music is a huge inspiration for my writing. I listen to a lot of different types of music, from Thom Yorke to Jay-z, or Postal Service to Mozart. A lot of the time when I began my world building process I would listen to really dark freaky music like “How it Ends” by DeVotchka. All of a sudden this gritty world just pours out of my mind.

2. There’s several mentions to Lanore’s family history and species ties, can you tell us if this information will play a role in any upcoming books?

           Definitely! Lanore’s family history and species ties will be further discussed in the sequel , The Burning Bush which will be released in May 2012. It won’t be a part of the main plot, but readers will learn a lot more about Lanore and her powers.

3. Also, why Florida? Of all the potential settings for Santeria’s habitat what was special about the Florida location.

            I actually live in Miami which is my novel’s setting. This city is such a vibrant and colorful place, rich in Afro-Cuban culture and history. I really wanted to write a fantasy novel that incorporated the spirit of Miami.  Additionally, I wanted to base my magic system on the Santeria religion and Miami really has a large Afro-Cuban population that follows Santeria, so it was the perfect background.

 4. What research did you find yourself immersed in as you crafted this story?

I did a lot of research on world building and real societies. I studied how actual countries worked, like import/export systems, government, and the things that are necessary to help the place function. Once I gathered all of that data, I imagined how these functions would be different if supernaturals existed. For example, supernatural blood products are a major export in my world.

 5. The book was given from a first person point of view, you see everything through Lanora’s eyes. Is this something you plan on continuing or will there be some head hopping in your writing future?

            For the habitat series, it will always be in Lanore’s eyes; however, I’m publishing in March 2012 a short story collection called Caged View. There will be a short story in MeShack’s and Zulu’s POV. These short stories will serve as a prequel to Fire Baptized and it won’t be necessary for a person to have read Fire Baptized to understand what’s happening. I’ll be offering this short story collection for free on any ebook purchasing site.

Thanks, ladies!!! I always love finding out more about a book, espcially how its author came up with the world.

Another reason to love Kenya? She’s giving away a $10 Amazon gift card! All you have to do is Tweet about either why you read Fire Baptized or why you want to read it, and post the tweet link in the comments. We’ll let Ranom.org pick a winner on Friday!

Fire Baptized is available:

Amazon buy link: http://www.amazon.com/Fire-Baptized-Habitat-ebook/dp/B006YHTT9G/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1327029810&sr=8-1

Author’s website: www.kenyawright.com

Review: Fire Baptized – Landra’s Take

Fire Baptized by Kenya Wright

Rating: Yay!

Lanore Vesta is in deep sh—trouble. Walking home along the streets of Santeria, a supernatural habitat community, she witnesses a murder. Fleeing the scene, she hopes the killer is not aware of her identity. Until a note on her door confirms the ugly truth—she’s attracted the wrong attention and it’s only a matter of time before the killer sacrifices her next!

Welcome to Wright’s alternate, supernatural filled universe. Where vampires, shape shifters, witches, and more exist and are persecuted by the US government. Forced to live in enclosed communities—think the Gaza strip or something like that, but these folks aren’t allowed to leave. The supes, as they call themselves, are boxed in by barriers. Santeria is depicted in Florida, not too far from Miami.

Living in a dangerous habitat, where super-human beings run rampant, seems bad enough, but it gets worse. Lanore is a mix-breed, a cross between two alternate supernatural species. The mix breeds get less freedom then their pure-bred counterparts.  So being on the chopping block for a psycho killer isn’t really grabbing any law enforcement attention.  Instead of waiting around till the killer gets to her, Lanore decides to take matters into her own hands, and that’s when the fun happens!

I enjoyed this story. It was different, sparklingly different then other Urban Fantasy I’ve read in the past. You’ve got a tough heroine that holds her own, and boy is she tough. Lanore is also incredibly intelligent, and distinctly reminds me of a stubborn, mystery-solving heroine type that is easy to love.  Plus, Wright’s takes a play on different modern issues with a delightful spin. I don’t believe in spoilers, so I won’t divulge. The world she’s created is fantastic, very detailed, but at no point do you feel like you’ve experienced an info overload. Pacing and flow is near perfect.

Add in a romantic twist or should I say tryst. It’s a big triangle between Lanore, her Mixie activist group partner Zulu, and the ex-boyfriend MeShack. There’s plenty of scenes and drama to go with this group of three. Zulu and MeShack are both alpha male characters, and I’ll admit seeing them fight over a woman who doesn’t like to be controlled is a bit fun.

A bit of caution—this book is a little violent. Well, the killer is violent and the descriptions don’t downplay. I don’t believe this is a bad thing, but those with the ‘less is more’ philosophy may want to steer clear.  My one other mention— I felt a little out of touch with the story for the first few chapters. I couldn’t put my finger on the exact reason, but there was a bit of jumping around in the plot at the beginning. After that, I was smooth sailing on cruise control.

Overall, I recommend if you’re looking for a new type of Urban Fantasy or a book that offers plenty of romance, violence, and solving a murder mystery a la Nancy Drew then Fire Baptized should be on your buy list.

Review: Fire Baptized – Cate’s Take

Genre: Urban Fantasy

Rating: Yay and Maybe

All Lanore Vesta wants to do is graduate college and make enough money to avoid supplementing her income by stealing.  She, along with thousands of other Supernaturals (or Supes), lives in a caged city outside Miami, one of many throughout the country. It’s in this world that Kenya Wright opens up an interesting, entertaining, and altogether unique story involving the Supes’ seedy nightlife, the underground world around her, and a ritualistic serial killer worthy of the best Dexter episode.

There’s a lot to love about Wright’s debut novel. She crafts a world so like and unlike our own with a fear of the unknown, this overwhelming urge to separate out what’s different from what’s considered “normal.” She gives us a world cut off from the one we know, one that resembles the seediest noire setting. Full of gangs, unexpected violence, Supes just trying to make ends meet, and a group attempting to bring equality to a horrifically unequal world. The characters are well-rounded, hilarious, and pretty smart, ranging from Mixbreeds like Lanore to trolls, vampires, fae, and all the Weres you can handle. She also sets up an entertaining love triangle between Lanore; her were-cheetah ex, MeShack; and Zulu, the head of the group Mixbreeds for Equality (MFE). It’s an intense triangle, too, more True Blood than Twilight, and the source of a lot of juicy tension between the three.

Wright also sets us up with a murder mystery. Coming home from the University, Lanore walks straight into a murder. Here’s where we get into the maybe territory. This book isn’t for the squeamish. I’m not terribly squeamish—I can watch Dexter or medical shows or whatever and not flinch. However a few of the descriptions in the book had me both enthralled and slightly nauseated. She’s quite creative regarding the murder case, its connection to the West African and Caribbean religion of Santeria (also a popular Sublime song), and the clues leading to the killer. If you can handle the ick factor, then go for it.

I also found a few issues with confusing world-building, especially concerning technology. It doesn’t detract from the book overall, but it’s something to watch out for.

All in all, Fire Baptized is a fun, engaging read. I’m looking forward to book 2 of the series and to more from Kenya Wright in general.

This Week’s Read: Fire Baptized by Kenya Wright

Since the 1970s humans have forced supernaturals to live in caged cities. Silver brands embedded in their foreheads identify them by species: a full moon for Vampires, a crescent moon for Shifters, a pair of wings for Fairies, and the list goes on, for each supernatural species has been tagged and categorized by humans.

Lanore Vesta is marked with a silver X, the brand of Mixbreeds, second-class citizens shunned by society. She stays to herself, revealing her ability to create fire only during emergencies. All she wants to do is graduate college and stop having to steal to survive. But when she stumbles upon a murder in progress, she catches the attention of a supernatural killer. Now all she wants is to stop finding dead bodies in her apartment.

Enlisting help from her Were-cheetah ex-boyfriend MeShack and a new mysterious friend named Zulu, she is steered through the habitat’s raunchy nightlife. But their presence sometimes proves to be more burden than help, as they fight for her attention.

While the corpses pile up, and the scent of blood fills the air, Lanore is left wondering: will she find the psycho or die trying?

About the author:

Kenya Wright always knew she would be famous since the ripe old age of six when she sung the Michael Jackson thriller song in her bathroom mirror. She has tried her hand at many things from enlisting in the Navy for six years as a Persian-Farsi linguist to being a nude model at an art university.

However, writing has been the only constant love in her life.

So here we are Kenya is publishing her first book, Fire Baptized, the urban fantasy novel she always wanted to read. This novel is the first book in a series.

Will she succeed? Of course.

 For she has been coined The Urban Fantasy Queen, the Super Iconic Writer of this Age, The Lyrical Genius of Our Generation. Granted, these are all terms coined by her, within the private walls of her bathroom as she still sings the Michael Jackson thriller song.

Kenya Wright currently resides in Miami with her three amazing, overactive children, a supportive, gorgeous husband, and three cool black cats that refuse to stop sleeping on Kenya’s head at night.

Fire Baptized is available at Amazon

Check out Kenya’s website: www.kenyawright.com


Author Interview: Cyndi Tefft

This week, author Cyndi Tefft joins Landra for a one-on-one. Take it away, ladies!

1. What were your inspirations for Between? And that incredibly hot hero, Aiden?

There were two, actually: Diana Gabaldon and Stephenie Meyer. I was in the middle of reading Diana’s Outlander series and was aching for a Scottish Highlander of my own when I saw a video interview with Stephenie. She was talking about being a stay at home mom who had a dream that she wrote down. She made it sound simple and I thought, “If she can do it, maybe I can, too!” That was the start of my journey with the book.

Oh, and yes, Aiden is uber-hot, I agree. *grin*

2. What research did you have to do for Between (Another trip to Scotland or plenty of time skyping Scottish hotties)?

Ha! I wish I had spent time skyping Scots. That sounds fun! yummmm

I did quite a bit of online research about 18th century Scotland and France in order to write the scenes set in those time periods. My favorite research was on Eilean Donan Castle (which has a fascinating history) and the Palace of Versailles. I got to visit both places in 2010 (after I’d written the first draft of the book, but before I’d published it). What an amazing trip that was! Here’s a video of my pics!

3. I enjoyed the religious overtones in the story and didn’t feel like they were overplayed. But I’m sure readers want to know if this was originally planned or did it develop as you wrote the story? And did you worry that the religion in this book would turn readers away?

Since Lindsey dies at the beginning of the book (not a spoiler- it happens right off), it made sense to me that she’d have questions about what was next, so God and heaven do play an important role in the book. A very close friend of mine died the year before I started writing Between, and I think Lindsey’s spiritual seeking is a result of that, my own need to explore what lies beyond the here and now.

I never worried that the faith aspects of the book would turn people away because they were not added in to prove a point or to convert anyone, but were necessary for the characters’ development and the story as a whole. I’m glad that you enjoyed that part of the book, though!

4. By the end of the story I really wished I’d learned more about Ravi. He’s an interesting character. Will you write anything for/about Ravi in the future?

Yes, Ravi plays an important role in the sequel. I really like Ravi, his kindness, his heart, but he just wasn’t the guy for Lindsey. Aiden’s pretty tough competition!

5. You’re releasing book 2 of Lindsey and Aiden’s journey this year, called Hell Transporter, which sounds very interesting as a sequel. What other plans do you have in the works? (Books, personal project, audio book, etc.) 

Hell Transporter is set to come out in March, and I am really excited to share it with all of you! I have started jotting down notes for a spin-off novel featuring Lindsey’s friend, Stephanie. We’ll see how that shapes up. Also, I plan to put together the three deleted love scenes from Between (I originally wrote it as an adult novel and changed it to YA) and sell them on my blog. So keep an eye out for Between the Sheets once Hell Transporter has launched!

Thanks so much for having me on the blog. I had a great time!

***

Connect with me:

Twitter:  @cynditefft
Facebook: facebook.com/AuthorCyndiTefft
Blog: cynditefft.com
Goodreads: goodreads.com/CyndiTefft

Between is available for sale:
Smashwords
Amazon
Barnes & Noble

Personalized print copies available from cynditefft.com

Review: Between – Cate’s take

Category: Paranormal romance

Rating: Yay!

As a courtesy, I must be up front with you. I talk to Cyndi on Twitter, and I did kind of help reveal her new cover on my personal/quasi-professional blog a while back. Also, I’m counted as one of #AidensAngels. So that’s my being up front with you now. It isn’t to say that my review is going to be one major squeal fest. I can still keep a level head and maintain objectivity.

Here’s the thing, though. The book is GREAT. There’s a reason I became as involved as I am.

We first meet Lindsey, the book’s protagonist, as she and then-boyfriend Ravi are driving, presumably returning from a date. There’s a car accident. It’s not good.

Then we meet Aiden, a Scotsman of the clan MacRae, who refers to himself as a Transporter. Not the Jason Statham kind, but the kind that transports souls to Heaven, a place where he’s not allowed in because he’s “waiting for the one whose love will redeem him.” Tefft sets up the conflict early. We learn a little bit about our two main characters, and for a while, it’s just them in this Between-world of Lindsey and Aiden’s making. There’s no visible antagonist, and that’s what makes this book so interesting to me. The antagonist, if we have to name one, the destructive force threatening to keep our hero and heroine from what they want (each other)…is Heaven itself.

I’ll let that sink in.

The pull of Heaven threatens to separate spunky Lindsey from charming and inquisitive Aiden. They’re on borrowed time. Between is one of those books that, in my opinion, borders on literary fiction because it’s more character driven and is more about Lindsey and Aiden’s interactions with each other and learning about each other than trying to outsmart Heaven’s pull on Lindsey. They cast memories. Aiden shows Lindsey how he died, and Lindsey shows Aiden present-day Seattle. There are funny moments, poignant moments, sexy moments, and deep moments.

And then the plot twist that made me scream occurred. It also kept me turning the pages (well, hitting the arrow button on my Nook) to figure out just how on earth Tefft was going to resolve this interesting situation.

In my effort to keep my reviews spoiler free, let me say this: I’ve never wanted my heroine to stay dead so bad. And I haven’t cried that much while reading a book since I read My Sister’s Keeper.

My only issue with this book (and it’s a minor/personal one) is that the ending felt contrived. A little too convenient for me. Again, it’s personal taste, and endings are HARD. This one at least left me with a sense of elation and closure. I’m incredibly curious to read the continuation of Lindsey and Aiden’s story.

Review: Between – Landra’s Take

Category: Paranormal Romance

Rating: Yay and Nay 

Lindsay Waters is dead—the no more music, no more fun times with friends or family kinda dead. She’s made aware of her new status by a handsome, young man in a kilt. He’s beautiful, kind, and Scottish. As her guide to heaven, aptly called a Transporter, Aiden MacRae is required to give Lindsay time to accept her grief before going through the pearly gates. This is normal. The attraction between them is anything but. As the pair of opposites becomes closer, through shared memories and interests, the desire to stay together strengthens. The only question that remains—is love strong enough to overcome any barrier? 

Characters! They make a book or they break it. Don’t get me wrong plot is essential, but characters drive the emotional connection you have with a story. Cyndi nails the character aspect, especially with Aiden MacRae. At first, I thought, maybe he’s just eye candy, but as the chapters go on I was exposed to hidden depths; which is ironic since this book is told from a Lindsay’s POV entirely. Secondary characters were also fantastic, well built and easily relatable. The only character I had an issue with was Lindsay, which was entirely personal and only happened one to three times. She just made a few poor thought process decisions, and a couple of times her thoughts didn’t appear realistic. These issues were compensated for by the heartfelt moments, and growth that Lindsay has throughout the story. 

A couple of other things Between has: angst, surprising plot twist, and a good dose of faith. There’s no visual villain, and the conflict aspect was a little low-key until the second half of the book. Even without a true villain, Cyndi puts her main character, Lindsay, through some tough situations. This story is felt on a more internal emotional scale. For readers who’ve experienced the feeling of all-consuming love or loss, then the story may bring a few tears. So, if you’re looking for something emotionally touching then this one will do it. 

Now for the nay, I felt like I was waiting for something to happen this entire book. The opening grabs you—by the seat of the pants grabs you. Yet, when I got to the end of the story I was bereft, like something was missing. The only other thing that bothered me was Aiden’s story, who he was, got delivered in a nice, tight little package. It wasn’t spread across the story, or built up periodically. This is more of a personal thing, but I like it when I get to know characters throughout the course of the book. 

Overall, Cyndi has built a wonderful world of characters that I fell in love with, regardless of my personal issues, and I look forward to her second release Hell Transporter. I want to see what’s in store for Aiden and Lindsay, and I hoping for more conflict in the long run. Additionally, I hope that some of the other characters from the story make repeat appearances. Fans of young adult paranormal books will enjoy Between.

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