Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Historical Research and World Building

It often surprises me how my historical research will add to or completely gel with the fantasy aspects of my novels. In my new series, The Elven Lords, the stories are based in the eighteenth century, so I spent over a month researching the Georgian era, including the political environment, with special emphasis on daily life and--since my books are first and foremost romances--the clothing and housing of the aristocracy.

When I read that white wigs were prevalent in the era, it made perfect sense that the true reasons for wearing the wigs were to imitate the ivory-haired elven lords of my fantasy world. All I needed to do was to add a crushed silver stone to the wigs, which the aristocracy uses to imitate the silver sparkle of my lords. For my readers to identify with the history of the era, I felt that it was important to keep a king on the throne, but since the elven broke through the barrier between worlds and conquered England, dividing it into seven sovereignties that each ruled, I couldn’t be sure of the role he would play. Then I read that the power behind the throne at that time truly lay with Sir Robert Walpole, the Prime Minister of England. So, with an apology to King George, I made him nothing more than a trophy for the elven lords to wage their wars—wars that used humans as chess pieces in games of entertainment similar to the Roman and Greek gladiatorial games, but on a much broader scale. Sir Robert became the leader of the Rebellion, the underground movement of humans and half-elven who fight for England’s freedom and the restoration of their king to true power. As with actual history, the court set the precedence for clothing and style, but since the king of my fantasy world held influence only in that limited aspect, it became an obsession with him and the court.

My seven mad elven lords each had possession of a scepter, and the master of a particular power. As I researched the landscape and the development of England’s resources, I used that knowledge to divide the sovereignties. Since Bath and it’s famous healing waters were located in the Southwest, it fell naturally into place that the elven lord Breden, master of the blue scepter of sea and sky, controlled that area, becoming the sovereignty of Dewhame, and this realm is explored fully in book two, The Lady of the Storm. South Central England, where London is located, is a politically important part of England and became Firehame, the sovereignty of Lord Mor'ded and his black scepter over the mastery of fire, a powerful realm that is fully revealed in book one, The Fire Lord’s Lover. Agricultural Eastern England became Verdanthame, with Mi'cal ruling with the green scepter of forest and plant. Northeastern England, extending upward into York and known for its roadways, became the sovereignty of Terrahame, and the elven lady Annanor and her brown scepter of earth. North Central England, dominated by mining and hilly country, became the sovereignty of Bladehame and the silver scepter of Lan'dor, who masters metal. The Northwest became Stonehame, where the elven lady La'laylia called up quartz from the depths to enchant with her violet scepter. And the West became Dreamhame, butting up against the craggy mountains of Wales, the sovereignty of Roden of the golden scepter, with his spells of glamour and illusion, a realm fully explored in book three, The Lord of Illusion.

As you can see, my historical research into eighteenth-century England helped me develop my world, sometimes in completely unexpected ways.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Top Ten Reasons to fall in love with my hero, General Dominic Raikes from THE FIRE LORD’S LOVER

Reason Number Ten:
He lives in a magical eighteenth century England, where seven elven lords rule with the power of their scepters. Dominic is a half-breed, with enough elven blood to make him beautiful…and deadly. He lives with forbidden secrets, a Rebellion determined to destroy the elven lords, mysterious dragons, deliciously dark desires and a world ruled by the pageantry of the era, where only the strongest love can prevail.

Reason Number Nine:
If you love tortured heroes, you’ll fall in love with Dominic. Fearful of his growing magical powers, his father has tested him with fire since he was a lad. His father destroyed anyone that Dominic ever loved, forcing Dominic to become very, very scarred…and to isolate himself emotionally from others.

Reason Number Eight:
If you love arranged marriages, you’ll enjoy the budding relationship between Dominic and his assassin bride, Lady Cassandra Bridges. Dominic needs a wife to breed a new champion, and Lady Cassandra seems the perfect choice. But what he doesn’t know is that the convent taught her more than how to be a proper wife—the Rebellion secretly trained her as an assassin to murder his father.

Reason Number Seven:
Dominic is scarred because at his very core, he has a heart too gentle for the world he was born in. It will take some time for you to uncover the true man beneath his hard-won defenses, but the most difficult challenges are often the most gratifying.

Reason Number Six:
He is a military man, with the proud bearing and the authoritative manner of a general…and a champion of the elven war games. Most of the time you will find Dominic in velvet black clothing, a sword at his side, a black cloak billowing behind him.

Reason Number Five:
His best friend and confidant is a dragon.

Reason Number Four:
He’s an elven half-breed, which means he has the beauty of the elven with the heart and soul of a human. He possesses strength and stamina beyond an ordinary man’s, which means he has never known a woman that he couldn’t satisfy.

Reason Number Three:
Dominic is different than your run-of-the-mill hero. He has long thick white-blond hair, with the silver sparkle of the elven lords. He has midnight black eyes, faceted like jewels, a face that resembles an archangel’s but a devilishly delicious mouth. Lustrous skin over a graceful muscular frame hardened by battle. And pointed ears. Adorable, pointed ears.

Reason Number Two:
His magical gift is fire. There are several levels of fire magic that he has inherited from his father. The white, which is cold and harmless. The blue fire, which can heal. The red that burns powerfully and the neutral gray that creates an impenetrable wall. And then there is the yellow, which is gently warm against the skin and can be crafted to resemble anything he can imagine. He can play it like a musician can play an instrument…aah, what Dominic can do with yellow fire…

And the Number One Reason to fall in love with Dominic is:
He’s so incredibly addictive, like your favorite candy bar. You will long for just one more bite.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

How to Talk to a Dragon

My step-by-step guide to speaking with Kalah, my blue dragon in THE LADY OF THE STORM:

First you have to find him. It’s a good bet that he’s perched in the highest point around, and in Dewhame Palace, that would be in one of the towers. In THE ELVEN LORDS series, there are seven realms created by the elven lords, and each has their own primary magical power and dragon-steeds. For the sovereignty of Dewhame, Lord Breden rules with the power of sea and sky, and his blue scepter is linked with his dragon-steed, Kalah. So it’s going to be wet up there in this dragon’s tower, with water flowing down the walls of the palace and lightning occasionally trickling from Kalah’s snout. Wear your most water-proof mantua and wooden shoes.

Show no fear, or the dragon will think you are prey and will eat you. (Just kidding. Kalah prefers a nice haunch of beef to the bitter taste of humans.)

If the dragon is sleeping, don’t wake him up. (This time, I’m not kidding.) Like dogs, they prefer a good nap to just about anything else. You don’t need to make a sound to let him know of your presence, for he smelled you long before you could see him. Be patient; if he wants to talk to you, umm, it’s his choice.

Try excessive flattery. Kalah is prone to personal vanity, and with scales that glimmer like sunlight on turquoise waves, he has a bit of a right to be.

Try not to get frustrated. Kalah has a twisted sense of humor, and his own hidden agenda, and will often speak obtusely and answer your questions with a remark that might not seem even remotely connected.

As much as you might be tempted, do not ask for the dragon to give you a ride on his back. He would consider it rude.

Kalah will be able to read what’s in your heart. Be careful that you truly want the answers to any questions you may ask.

If the dragon hasn’t already ended the conversation by flying away, thank him for his time and back toward the tower doorway, because if he does launch, you’ll need to be prepared for the gust of wind from his wings.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

AZBSPADA "Share the Magic" Casino Night

A family friend introduced me to this charity and its work. Arizona Beta Sigma Phis Against Domestic Abuse hosts a fund-raising event every year that benefits the New Life Shelter, a safe-haven for women and children experiencing domestic abuse. This year it was a charity casino night held at The Beatitudes Campus on March 26 in Phoenix, Arizona. Besides donating books for the event, I also attended, and had a wonderful time. The food was fabulous, we received 'play' money to play Blackjack with, which I had never played before. It was a lot of fun learning, and I managed to win enough money to enter the raffle to win a huge gift basket. All of the ladies who volunteer for this event work very hard, and are so generous with their time and talents. To find out more about their annual events, please visit: http://www.azbspada.org/

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Did you request bookmarks from me?

I recently received a mangled envelope back from the post office. The envelope had been sliced in half (I only got half back) and the person's name and address was cut off. If you requested bookmarks from me and did not get them, please send an email to me at: kathryne@kathrynekennedy.com and give me your full name and address again, and I'll be happy to resend. With all the mail the post office has to handle, it's surprising that this doesn't happen more often. :}

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Combining Historical and Fantasy

In order to answer the question on how I build a fantasy world in an established time period, I have to go back in my writing career to the second novel I wrote, which was a straight historical fantasy. I spent months researching the Victorian era, and I had a lot of fun writing MY UNFAIR LADY. However, the entire time I was writing the novel, I kept asking myself, “What if?” What if magic, and not gender, was the basis for inheriting aristocratic titles? What if there were those who might be immune to the magic, being magical creatures themselves? I then had to go farther back into history to create the basis for the creation of my magical world, which was Merlin’s bloodline.

So, I started with my research into the time period before I ventured to add magic to alter it.

For my new series, THE ELVEN LORDS, I did the same thing; going farther back into history than the time period I knew I would be writing in. I established the basis for my magical world during the invasion of England by William the Conqueror. Instead of unifying England under one rule, my seven elven lords breeched the barrier between their world and ours and created seven sovereignties based on their own magical strength: Black for Mor'ded who rules fire, Blue for Breden who rules sea and sky, Green for Mi'cal who rules the forests, Gold for Roden who is master of glamour and illusion, Silver for Lan'dor who masters the blade, Brown for Annanor who rules the earth, and Violet for La'laylia who enspells gems.

My heroes and heroines became half-breeds, inheriting the beauty and magic of the elven lords, but with a human heart as well. So powers not only differed from realm to realm, but from person to person. I have posted my personal notes on the series on my website, if anyone would like to explore further into how I do my world building.

I think it can be more difficult and time-consuming to base a fantasy world in a historical backdrop, due to the amount of research it requires. It’s easier to create an entirely new world and make up the clothing, social mores, etc. But for me, it’s so much more satisfying to delve into the pageantry of historical eras because it’s a world I long to visit myself. Even if I do alter it with magic.

And one final note: the nice thing about adding magic to my world is that I can alter it to suit my modern sensibilities. For example, the elven lords brought bathing to England with them. I still reference that many consider bathing unhealthy, but in THE THE LADY OF THE STORM, my hero and heroines are clean. :}

By combining historical and fantasy, I have the best of both worlds.