27 July 2008

Guest Blogger: Kayla Gray

Hello! Welcome to another Promo Sunday, this time featuring Zebra Debut author Kayla Gray and her novel ROGUE.

ONCE YOU HAVE FOUND HER...
Waking up on a ship in the middle of the high seas, Bailey Spencer is shocked to discover she's being held prisoner by Captain Cole Leighton--a handsome rogue who plans to use her as a pawn in his pursuit of vengeance. In all her life, Bailey has never met a man so seductive. She must escape, but his smoldering gaze and caressing touch are irresistible...

...NEVER LET HER GO
Now that he's found the missing piece in his plot for revenge, Cole has no intention of setting Bailey free, though he is intrigued by her unassuming beauty and courageous spirit. But, torn between his searing passion for Bailey and his vow for vengeance, Cole may not be capable of putting his precious jewel in danger--or of ever letting her go...
***

Where did you grow up and was reading a big part of your life?

I grew up in Richmond, Virginia with an older brother and sister. Reading was definitely a big part of my life and I can vividly remember some of the books I read even in kindergarten. Trips to the local book-mobile were a hugely anticipated event, and I would always have a hard time trying to narrow down my stash of borrowed treasures.

Who or what were your influences when you began to write and when did you start?

I've been writing something or another for almost as long as I've been reading. Mostly poems and songs, but as I got older, I'm pretty sure my powers of writing endlessly scored me better grades on those essay tests in history and literature than I deserved. At that time I don't think I had an influence, I was just doing what came naturally. In high school when I discovered romance novels, my early influences were Kathleen Woodiwiss, Jude Devereaux and Heather Graham to name a few.

What do you enjoy most about writing?

Well, to be honest, some days are definitely more enjoyable than others. *G* But seriously, I think for me it's just something I have to do. I know I'm not happy when I'm not writing. But when you break it down into the process itself, I think it's so much fun to create a vivid, complex story out of an initial spark of an idea. Plotting it out and seeing the characters come to life is exciting. And every time I finish a book I have the most amazing feeling of accomplishment.

Where did you get the idea for Rogue?

I actually came up with the hero first. His life, his backstory, the intense pain of betrayal he felt was what sparked the whole book. From there, I tried to come up with a heroine who would be the worst possible match for him. And then to top it off, I had to make him fall in love with her.

How did you choose the setting?

The setting for ROGUE was kind of pre-ordained. Being my first attempt at a novel, I decided that I should stick with a setting that I was at least slightly familiar with. Growing up in the south and having a lot of Colonial history surrounding me, I figured the research would be less tricky. Besides that, I adore the ocean and some of my favorite early romance reads were settings with pirates and sea captains. For me, there's just something inherently romantic about a warm, salty sea breeze and a bare-chested suntanned man, standing with his strong legs braced on the deck of a big ship. Am I right, or what? *G*

Was it difficult to sell a historical that some consider an "unusual setting?"

Everyone said it would be. I believe some even said "impossible." But I was so far into the manuscript when I finally started getting the feedback, I couldn't start all over. I just felt like I owed it to the story and to myself to finish it--even if it never sold. I looked at it as a learning experience but deep down I hoped it would find readers who love the setting as much as I do. Turns out, it really wasn't that difficult to sell. Of course, the universe was aligned perfectly that day I happened to meet with the most awesome editor of all time... *G*

What is your writing process like? Do you plot or fly by the seat of your pants?

Oh, I'm a plotter, no doubt about it. I don't even like to fly in airplanes, so I sure don't want to do it with a storyline. I use WriteWay, which is a writing program and for someone like me who needs notes and outlines and major organizing power, it's great. I like to get a good feel for my two main characters first, and then I focus in on the plot. I like to try to plot out the entire book before I get started, but sometimes that's just impossible. I do the best I can to get to the Happily-Ever-After, but things do change a lot along the way, so I end up plotting along the way, too.

Do you use any real-life men to inspire your heroes or are they purely in your imagination?

I do tend to get inspiration from some real-life sources, but only after I've developed the character pretty well. Sometimes it's a photo from a magazine, sometimes an actor, musician or some other celebrity and sometimes it's a combination of one or more men. Hey, what can I say? Sometimes a fictional hero just can't be summed up by one mortal man. *G* I won't name any names for my previous inspirations, though. I like for readers to be able to conjure up their very own mental image of the hero.

What are you working on now? How different is it from your debut?

I have another historical, SEDUCER, coming out in February 2009. It's similar in that I have another alpha sea-faring hero, but the time period is later--1774. The story unfolds in South Carolina and Virginia with some adventure on the high seas. The heroine in SEDUCER is similar in that she's had a tough life, but instead of a single tragic moment defining her, she has been dealing with a difficulty for a long time. She's tougher and more independent to begin with and the bad deal she is forced to make with the hero is due to her attempt to help a friend in need. I like her. She's more modern-minded than women typically were then and she gives the hero a good run.

How can readers find out more about you and your books?

I love to hear from readers! My website is kaylagray.com and I'm on Myspace too. Readers will find an excerpt from Rogue on my website, and sometime later this summer or early fall, I'll put up an excerpt from Seducer. I'm also getting a newsletter put together, so readers can sign up for that on my website too.

***

Excerpt:

The way her proper name slipped off his tongue, like a caress in the dark, sounded so improper, it released a tingle down her spine. Then she felt the mattress sink with his weight and tightened her grip as though she would drop into the pit of hell if she dared let go.

"Stay above the sheet!" she ordered as she felt his weight settle next to her. Oh, Sweet Mary, maybe this was not such a good idea. Her body rolled into his as his weight bore into the mattress and try as she might, she couldn't press any closer to the wall than she was. Did he have to be so . . . big? And warm? She curled in a ball, but then her buttocks pressed firmly against some part of him and she heard him stifle a groan, so she assumed he was as displeased with the contact as she was.

After what felt like an eternity, Cole spoke, startling Bailey into an even more rigid posture. His deep voice rose above the sharp rain-patter, though a distinct chill filled each word. "You needn't worry. I gave up ravishing unwilling women long ago. And even the willing ones aren't worth more than a few hours of a man's time. Mostly harlots, clinging to a man's breeches while reaching for his coin as he tries to make his escape," he snorted. "I can do without the lot of you."

"Really? And which lot do you place me in, Captain? Come, come, please continue. I find your ideas fascinating. You obviously have an extensive knowledge of women. Enlighten me." Bailey hoped the sarcasm in her tone would make up for the fact that it was too dark for him to see her scathing glare, even if she could bring herself to roll over and face him.

"I do not claim to have extensive knowledge. I have my own experiences and that is all I need to make my observations. As for you, Bailey, I do not know where you fit. I haven't given you that much thought."

She was surprised at how deeply that comment cut her. "Good. Then you won't give much thought to my absence once we reach New Providence and I bid you and the Barracuda my most eager farewell."

"You won't be bidding anyone farewell until we are far away from New Providence. You might as well banish that idea right now."

***

Thanks for stopping by, Kayla! Readers, would you like to win a copy of ROGUE? Of course you would! Leave a comment or questions for Kayla and be entered in our drawing for a free signed copy. The winner will be chosen one week from today, so make sure to stop back. Good luck!

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