It’s a delight for me to welcome bestselling author, Catherine Kean to my blog. I’ve had the good fortune recently to collaborate on two anthologies with Catherine, Magnificent Medieval Men and Magnificent Medieval Champions. Like me she’s a medievalist at heart.
Great to be here, Anna. To celebrate, I’ll be giving away a Kindle, Kobo, or Nook copy of my Medieval Rogues boxed set to one lucky commenter.
Excellent! All of your books are set in the Middle Ages. What inspires you to write in that era?
I grew up with a love of the past. My British dad was a high school history teacher and he took me to England in my early teens during my summer vacations. We toured many historic sites, including Stonehenge and Avebury, the magnificent London museums, castles, churches, Roman ruins, and old graveyards. There’s a wonderful feeling to those ancient places, a sense of timelessness that stayed with me.
After graduating from the University of Victoria, Canada, with a Double Major (First Class) in English and History, I completed a one-year course with Sotheby’s auctioneers in London, England. We studied paintings, glass, silver, furniture, porcelain, tapestries, and sculpture from the Middle Ages through the 20th century. Through that experience, history became tangible to me, poignant even, represented by everyday objects used by men, women, and children centuries ago. For example, the silver coins made in the reign of King Henry II had passed down through countless hands to buy food, clothes, or other goods. They might have been used to bribe a guard to release a prisoner, or pay the ransom for a captured knight. I wondered about the people who had touched those coins. It was easy to start stories from there.
Where else do you get your story ideas?
From all kinds of places, actually! My award-winning book Dance of Desire was inspired by a medieval melody. The song on the CD I was listening to started slowly, but then picked up to a fast pace, and suddenly, in my mind, I saw a veiled woman dancing. I asked myself who she was, and why she was dancing with such desperation. Soon, I had a whole plot worked out.
I also save magazine articles that pique my interest, especially ones on archaeological finds in Britain. Sometimes a conversation triggers an idea for a character or plot, or a documentary I’ve watched on TV. I truly am never out of ideas.
Tell us about your latest book release.
My latest medieval, A Knight to Remember, is one of seven novellas in the Enchanted by an Emerald anthology, available now in eBook and print. This collection was published by the Jewel Box Authors—me, Caro Carson, T. Elliott Brown, Wynter Daniels, Nancy Robards Thompson, Mimi Wells, and USA Today bestselling author Katherine Garbera. All of the stories focus on a precious emerald that’s rumored to unite soul mates.
A Knight to Remember sets up the romantic legend of the stone, which then turns up in the second story in the hands of a pirate. The emerald is shattered into three pieces; one of them ends up with a soldier in World War II, the other two pieces in modern times. The final novella reunites the pieces of what’s known as the Brigonne Emerald in a museum exhibition.
Here’s the back blurb for my novella: When widowed Lady Aislinn Locksmeade finds a naked, unconscious man lying in the forest, she wonders if he’s Hugh Brigonne, her first and only true love. When he wakes, he can’t remember who he is or what happened to him. Does she dare to love the roguish stranger, or is there far greater danger than risking her heart?
The anthology of stories connected through the centuries by a single object is a neat idea. What inspired this project?
This anthology came to be on the way to Romance Writers of America’s© national conference in Atlanta last year. During the drive, Wynter, Teresa, Caro, and I got talking about writing and came up with the idea of a series of anthologies about different precious stones. After we got home, Wynter held a lunch meeting at her house, where we brainstormed the idea, decided our first project would be about an emerald, set writing and publishing deadlines, and then got to work! I’m really proud of what we’ve accomplished and the stories are terrific!
I can vouch for that. I grabbed my copy right away. What are you writing now?
I’m currently working on a medieval Christmas novella, to be published in a boxed set in November or December. My story’s called One Knight Under the Mistletoe and is a reunion between two childhood enemies.
What else can we look forward to from you?
Plans are underway for several more medieval boxed sets that will include my books. One of my ongoing works-in-progress is the last novel in the Knight’s Series, called A Knight’s Seduction. I’ve received a lot of email about this book; it’s taking me longer to write because there are many story threads I need to wrap up, and I want this final novel to be extra good! I’m planning to release A Knight’s Seduction in 2015.
How can readers connect with you?
I am so grateful for my readers! Since I was a child, I wanted to be a writer; I am living my dream, and it wouldn’t be possible without readers. For everyone who has ever bought copies of my books, thank you!
Here’s an excerpt from A Knight to Remember. This is the first time the wounded hero, who has amnesia, sees Aislinn:
As she shifted items on the table, busy with a task, he dared to open his eyes a little. She stood in profile, her body limned by sunlight, allowing him to study her features—a slender nose, strong cheekbones tinged a delicate pink, a lush mouth. Her light-brown hair was drawn back in a shiny braid tied at the end with a dark blue ribbon. The elegant plait accented the graceful column of her neck and fell to her lower back.
She was of moderate height. He guessed that if she stood before him, the top of her head would reach just above his chin. Her slender figure was nicely defined by the twilight-blue woolen gown that was of plain design, but well made. This lovely healer obviously earned a good income.
Indeed, she was more than lovely. She was a stunning beauty.
At that moment, she glanced at the bed. She looked right at him—and he was caught. He opened his eyes all the way, taking in the full beauty of her, her eyes so blue they reminded him of the sky on a cloudless, icy spring morning. Her mouth, ripe for kissing, had fallen open when she’d realized he was awake. Now, she pressed her lips together. She seemed uncertain whether to be upset that he’d feigned being asleep or to brush off her annoyance and talk to him.
“Who are you?” he asked, broaching the silence between them. His voice sounded dry and hoarse.
“I am a friend.” She smiled, revealing straight, white teeth. “You are safe here.”
Her voice was warm, light, a voice he liked just by its cadence, but not one he recognized. Or did he? A glimmer of acknowledgment skimmed the edges of his consciousness, but swiftly vanished as his mind shifted to the significance of her words. Safe, she’d said. Yet, he was tied to the bed.
Was she a friend? Or was she his enemy?
He must keep her talking, charm her, and find out for certain.
“Where is here?” He tried again to turn his head to see the rest of the chamber. Stabbing pain raced through his skull, and he stilled, closing his eyes against a violent wave of dizziness and nausea.
“You are at Pendersley Keep,” she said. “Please, do not try to move. You have a bad head wound.”
“So I gathered.” He groaned, hating to sound weak, but the pain was almost unbearable. “What happened to me?”
“You do not remember?”
A plea wove through her words, as if she hoped he did know what had befallen him. He fought the agony in his skull and struggled to recall even one small detail.
His mind was as blank as an unmarked wax tablet.
He was about to shake his head, but at the last moment recalled ’twould not be a good idea. “Nay, I do not remember,” he said, disappointment heavy in his voice.
“Try,” she urged. Again, a plea. Now, it shone in her eyes.
Eyes that beautiful he’d never forget.
“I have,” he ground out. “My mind is…” He tried to lift his right hand to gesture, but remembered again that he was restrained. His frustration merged into a flare of anger. “While I may not have my memories, I do know that friends do not tie each other to a bed.”
A flush stained her cheeks. “True, but—”
“Unless, of course, ’tis some wicked form of seduction—”
“—and in that case,” he said with a grin, “you have me completely at your mercy, love.”
Here are the buy links for the Enchanted by an Emerald anthology:
Don’t forget to add your email (in non spammable format) to be entered for the draw for a copy of Medieval Rogues.