Kate Douglas is the lead author of Kensington Publishing’s Aphrodisia imprint and the author of the popular erotic romance series Wolf Tales as well as the Zebra series, The DemonSlayers. She and her husband of almost forty years have two adult children and five grandchildren. They live in the beautiful mountains of Lake County, California, north of the Napa Valley wine country. You can find Kate on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/katedouglas.authorpage or follow her on Twitter at @wolftales.
Please welcome Kate to Everybody Needs a Little Romance. Leave a comment or ask her a question, she will be stopping by throughout the day and is going to give away one of her books.
She has graciously agreed to indulge me and answer a few questions about her series and writing process.
Thanks, Heather. I appreciate the chance to chat about my stories.
With two popular series, Wolf Tales and Demonslayers, is it difficult to switch gears between the two when you finish one deadline and get ready to work on the other series?
I hate to admit it, but it’s been harder than I expected. Plus, I did a really dumb thing—when I write, the characters’ names just pop into my head. That’s the only explanation I can give for naming one of the heroes in the DemonSlayers series Alton. (Kate, hitting head with large, flat board…) I had to go through and do a search and destroy at the end of each book because I kept calling him “Anton.” Duh. Plus, I knew I was winding up the Wolf Tales series, but didn’t realize I’d be writing the final Wolf Tales and then turning right around and writing the final DemonSlayers. It was an emotionally charged period of time, saying good-bye to two casts of characters at the same time. I get WAY too attached to my imaginary friends!
How do you keep your characters separate between the two series and do you keep any kind of diary or “bible” for the Wolf Tales series since it is so large?
Doesn’t matter how large—even if I’m writing just one book, I do a complete character study of each one in the story—everything from date of birth to hair color, to how many siblings, birth order, where they grew up…the whole nine yards. Stuff I may never use, but I need to know so that I’ll have a better idea who they really are when I write. I also keep a time line—something really necessary for any continuing series. I usually set up lists showing relative ages of my characters in each story and major events and when they happen in case I need to reference them again.
With Wolf Tales, I kept track of the evolving abilities of the Chanku, the various things they learned about themselves as the series progressed, and when they learned those things. I had to keep track of which characters had sex with which others, what their sexual preferences were and, for the men, even facts like which ones were circumcised! Things like that are the sorts of things that readers love to catch an author screwing up. Of course, my classic mistake is in Wolf Tales III where one of my readers (Who is now a much-trusted beta reader) wrote and asked me where the fifth body was. Jake and Baylor had killed five bad guys, but I only disposed of four bodies. I told her he was probably still lying in the driveway where I left him…
I also keep house plans—I had to have a good visual for Anton’s Montana home, for instance, because so many of the stories took place there. Having those records helps to keep the characters more realistic, because you can refer to things readers are familiar with. I honestly think it creates a sense of emotional connection between readers and the characters, something that is especially important in erotic romance. That personal intimacy and strong emotional connection makes it easier for the reader to accept some of the more explicit sexual events that occur in my stories. I’ve heard, for instance, from a number of readers who are uncomfortable with same sex relationships, and yet they see them as part of the Chanku way of life and have no problem with them in the books.
How did the Demon Slayer series come about?
My agent knew I wanted to break into mass market in order to find a larger audience and push my career to another level. Erotic romance is popular, but doesn’t attract the numbers of readers that the regular paranormal stories do. We were talking about what I should consider as far as plots or themes, and, joking, I said, “What about good versus evil?” My agent’s response was, “Send me the proposal.”
Okay, so then where do you go? Good versus evil covers just about everything, but for some reason, the first thing I thought of was demon-possessed garden gnomes. NO idea where that came from, except I’ve always thought they were rather evil looking little suckers. I knew I wanted to set the series up around Mount Shasta, since my husband and I had been up there camping and loved the area—plus the legends of the Lemurians living inside the mountain fascinated me. I also wanted to set at least one book in Sedona, since we’d recently been there as well. The connection between Shasta and Sedona was so natural, working through the vortexes—both areas are known as mystical places of power. Perfect for the settings I needed.
Once I had the visual of a garden gnome attacking a naked man, it all began coming together. I actually proposed three books, but Kensington wanted four, and that meant coming up with a new story that I could slip between the second and third stories I’d already mapped out. StarFire, the one coming out in April, is the result. I’m really pleased with it—the characters in that story end up driving the series in a totally new direction, something that always makes writing more interesting.
Will the rights to your older Ellora’s Cave books ever come back to you or will the books continue to be available through EC?
I could get the rights back eventually, if I wanted them, but for what reason? EC continues to sell the books and as much as I love the StarQuest setting and characters, I’ve moved on to other things. I was able to write a final short story, BEST FRIENDS FOREVER, that brings closure to the series—it’s available as an ebook through Ellora’s Cave and jumps into the future when Kefira, the daughter of Mara and Sander, ends up involved with Tad Barton, the son of the ex-World Federation president. They had met as children in Pride of Imar, (I think! It’s been a while) and I always wanted to show them as adults. I had a chance to write the story as a charitable donation and I’m really pleased with the way it tied up the other books in the series.
Do you have a routine when you are writing? Do you have a set time you write, certain number of days a week, word count, etc?
I generally write almost every day, beginning around seven in the morning. I break when my eyes get tired or the laundry needs doing, but writing is what I do, so I do it daily. If I’m not working on a current project, I’m busy with social networking and promotion, or writing blogs or any of the myriad other chores that are part of being an author. An average writing day for me is about 5000 words, though I’ve been known to do 10,000 or more. Some days though I barely end up with 500! Ya never know…I have problems with short term memory, so I start out every day rereading what I wrote the day before, mainly because I have no idea what it was. Once my memory has been refreshed, I get into the zone, connect with my characters and get to work. For me, writing is like channeling the characters in my story. I check in with them and let them tell me what’s going on.
I’ve heard a lot of author’s mention play lists they listen to while writing, do you listen to music while you are working or do you have to have the quiet?
I generally prefer the quiet, though sometimes I feel a real need for music to set a mood. Plus, my husband gave me an iPod Nano for Christmas (it’s bright red and engraved on the back with “Wolf Tales by Kate Douglas.” I LOVE IT!) and that may change things! I’ve got it loaded with lots of neat music and I love the sense of isolation you get when you’re plugged in.
I can think of one scene in particular that I needed music in order to get the story to work—in Wolf Tales 10 there’s a violent scene where Oliver is furious with Adam and he’s got him tied to a bed and beats him bloody and then, essentially, rapes him. It’s a sexually charged scene, but it’s ugly, too, and I couldn’t get into what I knew I had to write. I finally found some really discordant death metal by a Finnish band that was perfect for the scene. I played the same piece over and over again until the scene came together for me. It’s not easy to read—it was even harder to write, but it works perfectly for the story. Without the music, I doubt I could have made it work.
I’m a Twitter junkie and I’m bad about reading Twitter posts when I am supposed to be working. Do the social networking sites tempt you away from work when you are writing? Do you allow yourself time on them or do you have to stay away from them completely while working?
I’m not too crazy about Twitter because it’s really such a time suck! I try to check in at least once a day, and I use it to announce blogs where I’m giving books away, but I have too many books to write to spend a lot of time hanging out. I check on Facebook more often, but I tend to use it to take breaks from writing. Plus, it’s a great way to keep up with the kids and the grandkids! As a writer living in a rural area, social networking sites offer me about the only social life I have, outside of the occasional trip to the grocery store. My husband does most of the shopping, goes for the mail and keeps up the house so that I can write. That’s what I do—write! When I know I have a deadline looming, or I find that I can’t get into the story because of distractions, I’ve learned to just flip the little switch on my laptop that shuts off the Internet. When I can’t connect, it keeps me out of trouble.
Wolf Tales 11 came out on December 28th, what do you want to share with us about the latest edition to this series?
Wolf Tales 11 is my first “political” book, and it came about when President Obama was first running for office and I saw him on the news with his wife. One look at Michelle Obama and I freaked—she was Keisha Rialto! The woman looks exactly as I have always pictured Keisha—tall and strong, absolutely gorgeous, and obviously athletic with a lot of self-confidence. Keisha’s skin is darker and her hair is longer, but she and the First Lady could be sisters, if not twins. I knew then that if Obama won, I was somehow going to use his wife in one of my stories. I never mention their names, but I think it’s obvious who I’m talking about in the book, and it was so much fun to write with that perfect visual for Keisha. I also had no idea how the story was going to end, up until the final chapters when AJ and Lily told me what was coming next. That’s the fun of writing from a deep point of view, where your characters direct the story—it’s always a surprise.
I’ve been thrilled with the reader comments I’m getting so far on this book, so I can honestly say that I believe it’s one of the strongest in the series. However, I’ve written the final book, which is about 30,000 words longer than any of the other Wolf Tales, and Wolf Tales 12 absolutely surprised the hell out of me. I discovered answers to questions my readers and I have had from the beginning—things I never realized how to answer until I was typing the words and reading what I wrote. As sorry as I am to see the series come to an end, after writing Wolf Tales 12, I realized that this was the perfect time. I hope to do a second generation series so readers—and I—can see what Lily and Alex and all the others are up to as adults, but until then, I’m more than satisfied with the way the series will end.
Thanks Heather. I’ll be checking in to answer questions, and I’d love to give away a book to at least one reader leaving a comment.
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