Thursday, August 28, 2014

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!!


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 Maidens 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 stories untold!
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 again.
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 website:

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.
s 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 website now:
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 youve got quite a collection.
Tell us what you
re creating now?
What becomes of all your creations?
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 that.
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 youve also entered the brave new world of self publishing.
Do you like it as much, more or less than the traditional brick and mortar houses?
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 dont like to be swayed from your path.
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 (Debs Hubby) live in a historical home thats 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 events/signings soon?
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 you write.
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!

CONNECT WITH DEB/CLAIRE - Website - Facebook-Deb - Facebook-Claire 

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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  1. Hi Deb - Thanks for having me visit your blog today, and for the interview!

    I did make a mistake about Romancing the Capital readers' conference - it's not the first reader con in Canada, but it is the newest. I hope to see some of you there!

    1. Hey Deb Great answers it's always fun to learn something new about a fave. Thanks!

  2. Hi Deb/Claire. The Frost Maiden's Kiss sounds great and I can't wait to read it. I already adore Malcolm and I'm looking forward to getting to know Raphael LOL. Not only that--your cover is yummy!!! Wish I could come all the way to Canada for the readers' conference next year.

    1. Hi Barbara, yes Malcolm was yummy and I too am looking forward to this hunky hero
      Thanks for the comment

    2. Thanks Barbara! I do love the covers for all of the books in this series. :-)

  3. Gothic romance and fantasy? Sounds awesome!

    1. Hi Kindlemom - yes, I love to mix up that mystery and romance, usually in a medieval setting. They do say that authors should write what they like to read, and I cut my teeth on Phyllis A Whitney, Victoria Holt, Daphne duMaurier...all those wonderful authors! You might want to start with The Rogue, which is right now becoming available in audio. :-)

  4. Oh I love the setting and the sound of the characters. How interesting that it weaves fantasy into the romance. I must try this one!

  5. Oh Debbie yes I adore her books as well! Well the Cooke ones. Her dragons are fabulous. I've not read her as Delacroix yet but so plan on it :)

    1. Oh Anna I LOVE her too, have you read her YA dragon series?

    2. Not yet but I plan on it! I've just read her adult ones :)

    3. Hi Anna -
      Glad to hear that you like my dragon shifter books! I love writing about my Pyr guys.
      If you want to try my Delacroix historicals, now's a good time - the first book in the Jewels of Kinfairlie trilogy, The Beauty Bride, is just 99 cents at Amazon, Apple, KOBO and B&N for Nook right now. There's an excerpt and links on my site right here

  6. This sounds great Debbie! I haven't yet read any of her novels and it looks like I've been missing out. I intent to correct that real soon. I'm loving Fantasy Novels at the moment, and this looks like would fit in perfectly with my new found love.
    Thanks Debbie!

    1. Loupe her Medieval novel The Rouge just now released on Audible

    2. Thanks Loupe -

      I hope you do try one of my books and enjoy it, too. :-) I love books with fantasy elements and tend to include fantasy in many of my stories.

      Happy reading!