Interview with personal favorite Deborah Cooke-The Frost Maiden's Kiss Blog Tour
Welcome to my stop on The Frost Maiden's Kiss Blog Tour I'm so happy to welcome back to the blog a personal favorite author of mine one of a very few whose every novel is a must read for me, Deborah Cooke/Claire Delacroix. My stop features an interview with Deb/Claire today about her new Medieval romance Frost Maiden's Kiss. Fans will recognize the family and some settings but she's incorporated a bit more fantasy in this new spin off series.
So Enjoy a trip back in time!!
Publisher: Deborah A. Cooke
Publication date: 8/9/2014
She enchanted him with a kiss—but winning her love would demand all he possessed.
After eight years abroad, Malcolm returns to Scotland with a fortune, a companion even more hardened than he and a determination to restore his inherited holding. But when that companion falls into peril, Malcolm seizes the chance to repay an old debt, trading his own soul for that of his doomed comrade. Knowing his days are limited and determined to leave a legacy of merit, Malcolm rebuilds Ravensmuir with all haste, though he fears he will never have an heir.
Deb Welcome back to
The Reading Frenzy
Tell us a little about Frost Maiden’s Kiss
The Frost Maiden’s Kiss is a medieval romance
with fantasy elements, and the third book in my True Love Brides series. There
are seven siblings at Kinfairlie, and I started to tell their stories with The
Beauty Bride, book #1 of my Jewels of Kinfairlie trilogy. So, this is Malcolm’s
story! Previously in the series, Malcolm inherited the estate of Ravensmuir
from his uncle, but the keep was in ruins and there were no funds to rebuild
it. Although his inheritance meant the world to Malcolm, he was disheartened by
its condition and decided to seek his fortune as a mercenary. The Frost
Maiden’s Kiss begins when he returns home to rebuild Ravensmuir. Malcolm has
changed in his eight years abroad—although he has earned a fortune, he’s
burdened by guilt at what he’s done. He travels with a companion and fellow
mercenary, Rafael, to whom he owes his life, and the pair arrive at the ruined
keep during a snow storm. Ravensmuir has long been rumored to be a portal to
the realm of the Fae (and we’ve seen in other books in the series that it is)
so Malcolm isn’t really surprised to hear Fae music. His companion, though,
can’t resist the music and is beguiled: Rafael’s soul will be the tithe paid to
Hell by the Fae at Midsummer. On impulse, Malcolm intervenes and offers his own
soul instead. He thinks it’s lost anyway, given his experience at war, and
knows this will pay the debt he owes Rafael for saving his own life. Malcolm
resolves to rebuild Ravensmuir in those six months and leave a legacy, probably
for one of his nephews. He knows he’s unlikely to have an heir of his own in
six months—until his sister, Vivienne, comes to visit, bringing her very
pregnant serving woman, Catriona. Catriona is outspoken but fearful of men, and
she tells tales of the Fae that convince Malcolm she understands what is truly
going on at Ravensmuir. These two challenge each other’s assumptions, and one
impulsive kiss changes everything.
There’s an excerpt on my site, right here:
Frost Maiden’s Kiss is part of The
True Love Brides series which is connected to your Jewels of Kinfairlie and
your Rogues of Ravensmuir series from some years past.
What brought you back in time and back to this family?
I don’t like leaving things unfinished and
I wrote the Rogues of Ravensmuir series (The
Rogue, The Scoundrel and The Warrior) when I was publishing with Warner. I
wanted to try some different storytelling techniques with my medieval romances,
and did that with those books. The Rogue is written in first person from the
heroine’s point of view—it’s a Gothic romance, in a way, in that the hero and
heroine are married but estranged because Ysabella believes her husband is
wicked. He returns to her after five years: she thinks he needs her for some
dark purpose and hates that he can so easily get under her skin. Merlyn does
need her but (spoiler!) he also loves her. In The Scoundrel, I wanted to see if
a man could be redeemed by love. Gawain, the hero of The Scoundrel, is the
brother of Merlyn and the villain in The Rogue. I thought he just needed a
woman who was his equal, and I was right: Evangeline gives as good as she gets,
challenges Gawain, beats him once or twice, and generally captures both his attention
and his heart. I love how those two interact! The Warrior is a reincarnation
romance: The Hawk is Gawain and Evangeline’s son, but haunted by dreams of a
past lover. He’s a man who believes in the here-and-now, but Aileen, the woman
he chooses as his bride, is the daughter of a seer. She’s the only one who can
discern his past and heal his wounds.
After the Rogues of Ravensmuir, my editor at
Warner suggested that I write a series about siblings and one that was more
closely connected. They wanted something more similar to the Bride Quest books
I wrote for Dell. (The Princess, The Damsel, The Heiress, The Countess, The
Beauty and The Temptress.) There’s a line at the end of The Warrior which
mentions that the Hawk’s cousin Roland comes with his wife and eight children
from Kinfairlie for a midsummer celebration. Those eight children became the
basis of the new series, The Jewels of Kinfairlie. In the first book, The
Beauty Bride, we learn that Roland and his wife have died tragically, and that
their eldest son, Alexander has become laird sooner than expected. Alexander
must see at least two of his sisters married ASAP. The Beauty Bride is
Madeline’s book: she’s the oldest girl in the family and to get things rolling,
Alexander plays a prank on her and auctions her hand to a selected group of
candidates. Fate (or Aunt Rosamunde) intervenes, and an outlaw mercenary named
Rhys Fitzwilliam makes the winning wager. Little does Alexander know that Rhys
is the perfect man for Madeline—and little does she expect that this taciturn
man will steal her heart away, by telling stories as they travel to his home in
Wales. The Rose Red Bride is Vivienne’s story—she is abducted by Erik, a man
desperate to secure his holding with a son but not convinced he should wed again.
Vivienne, with her certainty that all stories must end well, gives Erik new
hope, then helps him when unexpected foes rise to challenge him. The third book
is The Snow White Bride, which is the story of the two sisters getting even
with Alexander by finding him a suitable bride, at Christmas. Eleanor is
twice-widowed and in flight from greedy relations, desperately in need of a
champion and not expecting she’ll find one. In this book, it’s the hero
Alexander who heals his lady’s fears and gives her confidence in the future
I had such fun with these books and with the
family at Kinfairlie, but the historical romance market was very slow in 2005,
and my publisher decided not to continue with the series. I’d left Aunt
Rosamunde trapped in the realm of the Fae, but found a way to tell her story
when I was invited to contribute to the Mammoth Book of Irish Romance. The
Ballad of Rosamunde is a short story linked to the Jewels of Kinfairlie. With
indie publishing, I was able to return to Kinfairlie and pick up the story. The
Renegade’s Heart is Isabella’s story and the first in this new series. We had
seen that Kinfairlie and Ravensmuir were portals to the realm of the Fae in
previous books in the series, and I’d always wanted to kick that interaction up
a notch. Murdoch in The Renegade’s Heart has been captured by the Fae and
release: he thinks he’s free, but really, he’s being steadily drawn back to
their realm. Isabella knows that only true love will save him and chooses to
intervene. In The Highlander’s Curse, Garrett is tormented by dreams and
visions, but gentle Annelise is the one who can heal him with a touch. We’ve
talked about The Frost Maiden’s Kiss, which is book #3, and book #4 will be out
in December. The Warrior’s Prize is Elizabeth’s book: the King of the Fae,
Finvarra, has cast a spell over Elizabeth but only Malcolm’s mercenary friend,
Rafael, has the audacity to rescue her.
The only sibling left is Ross, who went to
train as a knight at Inverfyre (Evangeline’s and subsequently the Hawk’s
holding in the Highlands.) I have some ideas about his story, but there are
lots of kids at Inverfyre, too. I’m taking a little break from the family after
The Warrior’s Prize to write another linked series of medieval romance, then we’ll
go to Inverfyre.
There are, btw, family trees on my website to
help you keep track of everyone.
There’s also a cast of characters on my
There is also more
fantasy in these volumes than in the original.
I always liked the notion (which comes up
repeatedly in the series) that there’s something unworldly about Ravensmuir and
Kinfairlie, and that those two holdings have portals to the realm of the Fae.
We had Fae characters in the earlier books—particularly the mischievous
spriggan Darg—and I wanted to explore those fantasy elements more.
What I also like about this series—and I
realize now that I like this about most of my series of linked romances—is that
we watch the evolution of the family over time. I like having an over-arching
story line and having the individual stories nestle into that arc, providing
the next step on the pathway. The stories do stand alone, but you’ll get more
detail about the interactions between family members by reading at least each
series in order.
Deb your other
fantasy series about the PYR dragon shape-shifters is also rolling along.
story is next and when can we expect it?
Dragonfire is another series with an
overarching story line, as it follows the battle of the Pyr against the evil
Slayers in the Dragon’s Tail War. Again, the stories stand alone, but you’ll
probably want to read them in order from the beginning. There is only one more
book left in the series: Firestorm Forever will be a February 2015 release, and
is Sloane’s book. This is the final installment in the Dragon’s Tail Wars, and
it only makes sense that Sloane, who is the Apothecary of the Pyr, is the one
whose firestorm will heal the world. There’s an excerpt from this book on my
There will be more dragon shape shifters coming
from me, but they’ll be in new (shorter!) series. More about that after the
publication of Sloane’s book. :-)
Deb your other
passion is knitting and you’ve got quite a collection.
Tell us what you’re
What becomes of all
I knit waaaaaaay too much! I love knitting and
I love playing with colour, but I also love how ideas pop into my mind for my
books when I’m knitting. There’s some kind of synchronicity between the two
that really works. I don’t want to examine it too much lest I jinx it, but I’ve
come to rely upon it.
I also always have far too many projects on my
needles. I’m just not a very disciplined knitter, and will cast on a new
project just because it catches my eye—and before I finish what I’ve already
started. You can see all of them at any time on Ravelry (I’m reasonably honest
about my weaknesses there!) where I’m DCDknits.
Right now, I’m waiting on a ball of yarn to
finish the front of a vest for Mr. Math (I ran out), and am working on the
sleeves for a sweater for him. I also have a pair of socks on my needles, which
I’m knitting as I listen to audio editions of The Rogue and The Beauty Bride.
There are two fair isle cardigans for me in the works, a lace shawl with beads,
and a whole bunch of other projects buried in my knitting basket. Most of them
are at some point that requires rethinking, so they get a time-out before I do
As for the fate of my knitting, the pieces I
give away seem to get the most use! I knit mittens for charity, so I hope those
get worn. Mr. Math wears everything I knit for him, which is wonderful. Hats
and mittens and scarves get worn—this is Canada, after all! I wear some of the
sweaters I make, but am not good at wearing the shawls I’ve knit. They tend to
stay stacked away in a cupboard, and I need to do better at pulling them out.
Deb you’ve also entered the brave
new world of self publishing.
Do you like it as much, more or less than the traditional brick and mortar
Well, indie publishing is both similar and
different to traditional publishing. :-) On the one hand, it gives the author
much more control over every facet of publishing. There is more responsibility
along with that control. I love being able to choose to write a new project,
without having to convince anyone else that it’s the right thing to do, and I
love working directly with the cover artist. (I’m pretty opinionated about
covers and always have been.) There’s a lot of work that the author has to do
no matter how a book is published which is kind of hum-drum (reviewing edits
and proofs, updating a website, engaging in social media, doing promotion for
new releases, etc.) but in addition to that and the writing, there are a number
of additional responsibilities for the indie author. Formatting (or hiring a
formatter), uploading content, managing editions and prices, tracking sales and
revenue—it really is a lot of work, and not for the faint of heart. I work many
more hours than I did before. (To quote the Dowager Countess from Downton Abbey
“What IS a weekend?”) I do enjoy the work, though, and the control over the way
my books are presented to the world. I follow the same process that I learned
in traditional publishing, and work with a freelance editor who has as much
industry experience as me. I use a formatter, and a cover designer, too.
There are things I miss from traditional publishing,
but those things have been disappearing from the industry in the last ten years
or so. As much as I love that I can write whatever I want to write, I do miss
the curatorial process of working with an editor who has a good sense for both
marketing and for building the author brand (as opposed to making a book adhere
to a formula perceived to succeed.) I miss having my books available in print
editions in bricks-and-mortar bookstores and other outlets, but those retail
venues have vastly diminished for mass market paperbacks. So, really, I miss
traditional publishing the way it was in 1999 or so, when I was at Dell, but
without a time machine, there’s no going back there!
Of all the authors I
know you are the one I would vote “most likely to succeed” in Indy Publishing because of
your creativity, your curiosity and because you don’t like to be swayed from your
What about new authors. Are they better off trying mainstream first?
I think the answer depends upon the author,
what he or she writes, and what he or she wants. I know new authors who have
made both decisions. Those who do well in indie first tend to be more confident
about their work; they tend to be gregarious and intuitive at social media;
they tend to be writing in subgenres that are very successful in digital-first
(erotica, erotic romance, New Adult romance) and they tend to be interested in
making money. Those who have chosen to go traditional have usually been bought
by digital-first divisions of the big print houses, so they’re still seeing
just a digital edition first. Some of them, though, perceive that working with
a traditional house gives them prestige or their work credibility. They want
the editorial expertise and support that they believe will be offered by a
traditional house; they want to have an agent; they want to see print editions
of their books in bricks-and-mortar bookstores. They may get all of these
things or not. Some of them end up returning to indie, while others continue on
that path. It depends upon the author. One of the fabulous things about the
emergence of indie publishing is that authors have choices and can choose a
path (for now or for good) that best suits their work and their current objectives.
Speaking of Indy
Publishing I remember when it all began. I have to admit I was skeptical
especially because of all the unreadable, unedited material that floated out on
the first wave.
Are you surprised that it’s come as far as it has?
Where do you see
yourself and Indy publishing in 5 years?
One of the exciting things about indie
publishing is that it created a way for authors who were writing work that the
big houses said wasn’t marketable to sell their work directly to readers.
Historical romance, we all remember, was said to be a dead niche in 2005, and
even then, the big houses would only buy a sexy Regency romance with any
enthusiasm. If you compare that to the historical romance in the 1990’s, you
can see a tremendous loss of diversity. So, when indie publishing became
available, many many historical romances with non-Regency settings, as well as
Regency romances in the short sweet style that had been eliminated from the
market, were published. Many of them did very well, and did well enough that
last year, there were new BISAC codes added for Scottish, Viking, Ancient World
and Medieval romances. This re-establishment of the diversity that I always
thought characteristic of historical romances is a wonderful change to the
market. There have been similar changes in other genres and sub-genres, too.
So, I think that reader frustration—no matter how much you love sexy Regencies,
at some point you’ll want to read something else, if only to refresh your
palate—and author frustration—the inability to place work outside the
boundaries of “what works”— went hand-in-hand to help this market explode. It’s
true that many of these books are selling in quantities too low to entice big
publishers, but because the financial model is different, individual authors
can do quite well by publishing their work independently.
As for the future, I think there are big
changes ahead. Some of them are already happening. The market is maturing, and
it’s harder to get visibility for new titles and new authors. There is just so
much work available that it’s hard to get the attention of readers. This may
mean that some authors choose to go traditional routes (or with digital-first
presses) instead of going it alone. I also think that the portals will start to
manage content and content providers more closely at some point in the future.
Server capacity is cheap but not free, so it’s inevitable in a way that they
will want to slough off the titles or authors who aren’t generating revenue.
The digital book market is also becoming more international all the time—as my
books tend to perform well in Commonwealth English markets, this interests me a
great deal. Finally, we’re going to see a shift in market share for various
portals, both because of this transition to international sales and as new
portals open for readers.
In personal terms, I’m not sure what the future
holds beyond more writing. I’m happy publishing my books as I am, but as the
market changes, other options may present themselves. I’ve thought all along
that it would be best to be a hybrid author—writing for a traditional publisher
and also publishing indie works—but have been focused these past few years in
getting my backlist into new editions and also finishing the various series
that I had started with traditional houses. In 2015, I’ll be launching some new
series, so it will be interesting to see whether that opens any new doors.
You and Mr. Math (Deb’s Hubby) live in a
historical home that’s
in constant need of mending.
What was on the DIY front this year?
Not much! Last year, we had air conditioning
installed in the house, which was a renovation adventure. Mr. Math called it a
“domino project”, because every step required that another one be done before
it, which required a third to be done before the second, which required...well,
you get the idea. We’re still finishing up some bits and ends from that
(painting, drapes) and catching our breath. We also have the New Girl in
residence—a two year old rescue dog—who is keeping us busy. I think she’s got us
pretty much trained by now, though. The Queen Bee, who we lost at Christmas,
had us settled into a good rhythm already. It’s wonderful to have another girl
in the house and to hear the patter of paws again.
Are you staying close
to home in Canada this year or will you be coming on down to the US for any
I was down in the States a couple of times
already this year—at the Coastal Magic readers’ conference in Daytona Beach in
February, at Book Expo America in New York in May, then at Lori Foster’s
Reader-Author Get-Together in Ohio in June. That’s it for me this year, as I
need to get some writing done! I’ll be a featured author at Coastal Magic again
next February, then at a new readers’ conference in Ottawa, Canada in April
called Romancing the Capital. That’ll be the first readers’ conference in
Canada and I’m really looking forward to it.
Deb thanks as always
for your great conversation, your friendship and for all the wonderful novels
Take Care and I’ll
see you back here with another release soon.
Thanks for hosting me, Deb! I’m looking forward
to your thoughts on The Frost Maiden’s Kiss!
Bestselling author Claire Delacroix sold her first book in 1992, a medieval romance called THE ROMANCE OF THE ROSE. Since then, she has published over forty-five romance novels and numerous novellas in a variety of sub-genres. She has also written under the name Claire Cross and as Deborah Cooke. THE BEAUTY, part of her successful Bride Quest series, was her first book to land on the NYT List of Bestselling Books. In 2009, she was the writer-in-residence at the Toronto Public Library, the first time that TPL hosted a residency focused on the romance genre. In 2012, she was honored to receive the RWA PRO Mentor of the Year Award. She lives in Canada with her husband.
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