Welcome Clare McKay as she talks writing and her book Laramie Moon.
Open with a little about yourself. When did you start writing, how long and what do you write?
I’ve always wanted to be a writer. I grew up in a house full of readers, and it wasn’t unusual to get up in the middle of the night to get a glass of milk and find several people still up, sitting around the table and talking about the books they were reading. We went to the library every week, and when I’d read through the children’s section of the library, my mother let me graduate to the fiction stacks. Her favorites were historical novels and romances, so it was natural for me to pick them up.
When I was about 12, I started a correspondence with the British author Rosemary Sutcliff. She wrote YA and adult historicals about King Arthur and the Romans in Britain, and she was kind enough to answer all my questions and encourage me to pursue writing. In college I majored in history and literature and became a fiction snob, so after college, I tried to write literary fiction. I was determined to write the next “great American novel.” I worked on my masterpiece off and on for years, but I never got around to finishing it. I didn’t particularly like my characters, and my heart wasn’t in it.
My daughter actually re-introduced me to romance. She loves paranormal romance and fantasy, and her books were always lying around. I got hooked on Anita Blake and the Black Dagger Brotherhood and then just devoured romances – paranormal, historical, suspense. It took me a long time to figure it out, but it finally dawned on me to write what I loved. After that, writing came easy.
I write urban fantasy and paranormal romances where the paranormal elements operate alongside the real world, mostly hidden but crossing over and involving characters from both worlds. Right now I’m writing a contemporary Western Alphas series – cowboys and werewolves, what’s not to love!
I was something of a romance snob for years too. I swore up and down I’d never write it…Well, best laid plans and all that…LOL Every book I ever came up with has always been a romance. And I love the Black Dagger Brotherhood. I hadn’t read it until this spring when it was suggested I read it to possibly attract that audience during my blog tour…Great stuff!
What can you tell us about Blue Mountain Magick that isn’t in the blurb or excerpt? Was it an easy write? How long did it take you to write it?
Blue Mountain Magick was my first book, and it literally flowed out of me. The story came to me almost complete, and I plotted it in one sitting. It’s my longest book at 108,000 words, but I finished it in three months.
Don’t you love when a story flows like that? I’ve had a few, but lately I’ve been struggling.
Are you a pantser or plotter? What can you tell us a little about your writing process?
I am definitely a plotter. I have to know where I’m going although I may change directions along the way. I always begin with a character, and my character is usually intrinsically linked to a setting. I rough plot the whole book and write up character lists. I will also do some preliminary research, especially on the settings or occupations/background of the characters.
Jim Winter, my hero in Laramie Moon, is ex-military, and I needed him to fly a helicopter, so with a little research, I discovered the Night Stalkers, the US Army’s Special Operations Aviation Regiment. They were a perfect fit. In the book, it’s just a bit of backstory that provides some motivation, but it was essential for me to know his whole history to write him convincingly.
Once I begin drafting, I usually write straight through to the end, revising a little as I go along. My biggest help has been finding a compatible critique partner. If I could give any advice to beginning writers it would be to search out a critique partner or group and not give up if it doesn’t work out. I tried several times before I found my perfect fit.
Now as a panster, I don’t do research unless and until I need to while I’m writing…Then I fix what I screwed up until I did the research….LOL
If you could be any fictional character—including your own, who would you choose and why?
I have lots of favorite characters, from David Copperfield to Antigone, but I wouldn’t particularly want to be most of them. If I could be a fictional character, I think I’d want to be Claire Fraser from Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander books. I can think of worse things than traveling through time and being married to Jamie.
All great characters!
What is your favorite TV show or movie?
Currently, my favorite TV show is probably The Walking Dead, although zombies are not sexy! I’m also a big fan of True Blood, Supernatural, Lost Girl, Criminal Minds, and Bones. I love my DVR. When I have time, I can sit down and have a marathon of all the shows I’ve missed.
I like Lost Girl… I only allow myself two TV shows a season…
Okay, since I write both vamps and cowboys, I want to know, which is sexier: Vampires or Cowboys?
Vampires are sexy with their ageless beauty and experience. I fell in love with Lestat. But I’m a Texas gal at heart, and I’d have to go with cowboys. I grew up thinking nothing was sexier than broad shoulders in a clean white shirt, a tight butt in dress jeans, and long legs ending in boots, and I still feel that way.
Of course, you could write a vampire cowboy…. I did. Austin in A Hunter’s Blade is one (releasing this winter).
Alpha werewolf Jim Winter has it all – a pack that respects him, a successful ranch, and his choice of willing females – but he only woman he wants is the one he can’t have. A guilty secret and a promise keep him from claiming Sissy as his mate.
Sissy Hunt has always loved Jim, but she’s tired of being the only 25 year old virgin werewolf in Wyoming. Frustrated and ready to get on with her life, she gladly accepts an invitation to join a neighboring pack, but she runs from heartbreak straight into the arms of danger.
Jim and Sissy will have to face the specters of their past if they want to survive and have a future together.
Laramie Moon excerpt
Jim Winter strolled back to his spot against the long, polished bar. With a beer in his hand, he casually acknowledged friends and neighbors as they moved past him, but his eyes swept the big, open room. It was a typical Friday night, loud and crowded.
One end of the barroom had long picnic style tables filled with noisy groups who celebrated just because it was the weekend. At the other end of the room, a band banged out a mix of country and rock tunes for the enthusiastic dancers. If trouble erupted, it would come from that end of the room. The pounding rhythm and close press of bodies created a perfect storm of hormonal aggression that could quickly turn violent, especially considering the circumstances.
Jim felt the moon’s pull in his bones and on his skin. It set him on edge, but he’d learned to ride it out. As Alpha of the Laramie Pack, he had a lot of control, and a lot of responsibility. Some of his pack, younger Werewolves, were in the bar, and he was there to keep an eye on them. He didn’t always shepherd them this closely, but it was the night before the full moon.
Fights between pack members were inevitable. It was only normal for shifters to feel prickly and irritable as the full moon approached. It was like being over-caffeinated and having the hives at the same time, so Jim was there to referee and see that they didn’t get out of hand or spill over into the human population. Tomorrow night’s run would ease a lot of tension. Then they’d all settle down for another month, but they had to get through tonight first.
Jim’s senses sparked and his muscles tensed as he turned to watch two of his pack enter the bar. Randi Harris led the way in a skintight dress and stilettos. Not really appropriate for this venue, but Randi could pull it off. Randi attracted attention wherever she went, but it was the one who came in next that had him holding his breath – Sissy Hunt, his foreman Daniel’s daughter.
Sissy was tall for a female at just under six feet, and Jim took in every inch. Her body was lean and trim and she moved with a fluid grace. Unlike Randi, who was decked out in one of her Friday night “Make ‘em drool” outfits, Sissy was dressed like most of the men in the room, in dark jeans and boots. But there was nothing masculine about Sissy. The clinging fit of her jeans cupped her very feminine behind, and the burgundy western cut shirt hugged her compact breasts. Her sun-streaked blonde hair was pulled back in a ponytail the way she usually wore it, and her hazel eyes glinted in the low light with luminous streaks of brown, gold, and green. Jim’s eyes came to rest on pouty rose-colored lips that lately seemed to be permanently drawn into a scowl whenever he was around.
Daniel joined Jim at the bar in time to greet the women. “Good evening, ladies.”
“Hi, Daddy,” Sissy rose up on her tiptoes to give Daniel’s cheek a quick kiss. She acknowledged her Alpha with a curt “Jim” and a nod.
Jim was busy watching Sissy walk away from him when Daniel’s elbow caught him in his ribs. Before he could wheel on his friend, Daniel was already headed across the room. Jim spotted the trouble. Two guys had squared off on the dance floor. If it was a wolf on wolf problem, Jim could just order them to back down, but a wolf versus human conflict could get ugly fast.
A small crowd ringed the pair. One of the young, unmated wolves from the pack had apparently challenged a drunk college student for rights to a girl, a pretty Werewolf female named Julie. He’d pulled the girl out of the college boy’s grasp, and the boy wanted her back and, stupidly, didn’t look like he was going to back down. There was no doubt who’d win in a physical contest. Even in human form, shifters had extraordinary strength and speed.
Jim wasn’t surprised to see who was making the trouble. It was a cocky young alpha named Adam. He was big and muscular and he’d earned a reputation as a hothead, always trying to challenge for rank. Jim had called him down before for bullying those below him in pack standing.
Jim broke into the ring just as Adam dropped the college boy with one punch. The big Were followed the dazed boy to the ground intending to drive his point home. Jim pulled Adam off the boy while Daniel handled crowd control.
Daniel shooed away the crowd of onlookers. “There’s nothing to see here. Show’s over.” Daniel pulled the college boy to a semi-upright position and propelled him toward a group of his friends. He flashed them some cash. “Why don’t y’all go on and have a drink?” he suggested. They took the money and dragged their friend to the bar.
Jim used his powerful body to block Adam from following his opponent. In his heightened state of arousal, the Were would consider the retreating student as prey, and his instinct would be to give chase and take him down. Not a good situation.
Adam hadn’t noticed who was holding him and took a swing, but Jim caught his arm in mid-swing and uttered a growl so low only Adam could hear it. Adam’s head popped up, and he boldly matched Jim’s stare for a few tense seconds before he dropped his gaze to the ground in submission to the dominant alpha.
“Daniel, take Adam home.” Jim never took his eyes off of the wolf in front of him. Adam’s head was bowed, but he was shaking in pent up fury at being so publically dominated.
After the run-in with Adam, Jim didn’t think there’d be any more trouble. He could hand things off to one of his more level-headed wranglers and head back to the ranch. He’d just check on Sissy before he left.
Oomph. He turned directly into the arms of a curvy platinum blonde. She pressed against him with both hands flat on his chest. “Hmm, you’re very forceful,” she purred. Her hands skimmed up his chest to his neck.
Jim caught both of her wrists. His senses were firing off signals to the more responsive parts of his body. Her scent was all heat, and his skin burned where they came together. He could hear her heart racing in anticipation, and his heartbeat sped up in response. As he brought her hands down and released them, he stepped back to put a little distance between them.
“Excuse me, miss.”
“No problem. It was nice bumping into you. Maybe we can try it again sometime.” The woman flashed him a sexy smile and headed for the dance floor.
Jim took a few deep breaths, trying to bring his heart rate, and other physical reactions, under control, but it wasn’t working. His whole body was lit up like a Christmas tree. Almost involuntarily his eyes sought out the blond among the dancers. She wasn’t hard to spot.
Her ‘barely there’ dress left little to the imagination, and neither did her dance moves as she ground her pelvis against a lanky cowboy. She looked back over her shoulder to see if Jim was watching. Satisfied that she had her audience, she turned her back to her partner to give Jim the full view, showing off round breasts barely contained in a skimpy halter top. Her cowboy partner threw his head back and held on to her hips for dear life as she rocked her behind sensuously into his hard body. But her eyes were locked on Jim.
Jim’s attention was riveted on the show. His jeans strained uncomfortably, and he shifted his weight to relieve his discomfort.
“Somebody’s gonna get lucky tonight.” Jim reluctantly tore his gaze away from the dancer and turned to see his foreman Daniel grinning at him.
“Well, it’s not going to be me.”
“Aw, come on. She’s a hot one, and she sure wants you. I can watch the boys while you have some fun.”
Jim shook his head. “She’s not my type.”
“She’s female, isn’t she? What other type is there?”
“How’re you gonna find a mate if you don’t even try?” Daniel goaded.
“If my mate’s out there, she’ll have to find me.”
“Well, I think that one there’s trying. I guess she’s gonna have to come over here and grab you by that hard on to get your attention.”
“Yeah, she’s not the one. She’s human anyway.”
“That doesn’t mean you can’t scratch a little itch, you know.”
Jim just shook his head. Daniel was always trying to set him up. That was nothing new, but he was bothered that he’d become so aroused by just watching the dancer. She really wasn’t his type. Too obvious. He never had trouble attracting female attention, but he liked to be the aggressor. This one was coming on too strong.
With pack business and the ranch, he didn’t have the time or the inclination to properly woo a female, but as
Daniel had said, this female didn’t need any wooing, and she was a human, so he wouldn’t have to worry about the mate issue. A smile crept across Jim’s face as he watched the gyrating dancer. It wouldn’t hurt to blow off some steam, and she’s definitely interested.
Sissy Hunt watched the bleached blonde dancer put on her show for Jim. She’d seen it before, but she didn’t have to like it.
Women were always coming on to Jim, and it wasn’t hard to guess why. He was the epitome of alpha maleness. At six and a half feet, he was the largest man in the room. His broad shoulders filled out his western cut shirt, and his upper body was all muscle. Crisp jeans hugged his long, corded legs all the way down to well-worn boots.
He was handsome in a rugged way. His deeply tanned skin and his short haircut screamed no-nonsense. Jim’s deep brown eyes dominated his face. Hooded by dark brows, his intense stare could command a man or animal or melt a woman to her core. And he knew it. As Alpha of his pack, that was part of the job.
His mouth was often drawn into a hard, thin line, but on occasion, a wide smile softened his face. He was smiling now.
Sissy couldn’t hold back a threatening growl.
“Your wolf is showing.” Sissy’s friend Randi shoved a beer across the table. “You need to chill out.”
“What I need is for our fearless leader over there to keep his dick in his pants.” She jerked her head toward Jim.
“I wouldn’t mind if he took it out for me. I bet you wouldn’t either.” Randi smiled, enjoying a quick fantasy.
“Yeah, well that’s not going to happen. He seems to prefer human sluts. When’s the last time he looked at you like that?”
“That’s what I mean. He never pairs up with anybody in the pack.”
“I’m sure he hooks up every now and then.”
“It seems like he only goes with humans.”
“I hear he likes the chase, but he doesn’t want to get caught by a mate.” Randi gave her friend a slow once over look. “Seriously, you’d have a better chance if you dressed like you were interested.”
Sissy’s anger showed in her ramrod straight back and her tight shoulders. She turned her back on the display. “Ugh. I can’t watch anymore.” She took a long drink of beer. “What’s he doing now?”
“Still watching and maybe drooling just a little.”
“That’s disgusting. I’m getting out of here.” Sissy hated the way things were with Jim. They used to be close when she was younger, but now that she was grown up, he practically ignored her. He couldn’t take his eyes off a trashy little human, but he hadn’t even given her a second look.
“Isn’t he a little old for you? I know he was your brother’s best friend, but he’s like forty.”
“Not hardly, but it doesn’t matter,” Sissy said. Under her breath she added, “It doesn’t matter to him what I do at all.” She turned away from her friend, afraid that the other girl would see the tears that she was barely managing to hold back. “I’ll see you later,” she said, already moving toward the door.
Social links and website:
Visit my website www.claremckay.com for my blog and more excerpts and info about my other books.
Follow me on Twitter @Clare_McKay
Facebook – Clare McKay – Seattle, WA
My books are not out yet, but I plan to put Laramie Moon, Missoula Moon, and Jackson Moon up on Amazon and Smashwords by Nov 2012.