22 April 2012

Guest Blog: M.K. Chester

This week, we're welcoming historical romance author M.K. Chester. Her title, SURRENDER TO THE ROMAN is available now from Carina Press.  When the Romans destroy the nation of Dacia, their princess Ademeni fights for survival and against her growing attraction to the general Marcus. M.K. is here to talk about the novel and give away a copy. Please, leave your comment for a chance to win. Here's the blurb:

106 A.D – Trajan and his legions move to end a tiresome rebellion…

As the Romans storm the last stronghold of Dacia, Princess Ademeni awaits her fate. Taken as a slave, she is deposited into General Marcus Cordovis's home as a gift. 

Driven to avenge her family, Ademeni plots to kill her captor and escape. Though not the cruel victor she expects, Marcus keeps her too close to make escape easy--so close that Ademeni is soon tormented by an unbidden, traitorous attraction. In a moment of weakness, a passionate kiss almost undoes them both. 

But the handsome, widowed general has another surprise for Ademeni: a young daughter. Marcus dares ask Ademeni to help him bridge the gap between him and his little girl. And now, Ademeni is growing too fond of those she is supposed to despise. As Marcus prepares for the triumphal march and the opening of the gladiatorial games--where captives of her homeland will be sacrificed--Ademeni readies for her own battle between revenge and love.

**Q&A with M.K. Chester**

Where do you find the inspiration for your stories?
Everywhere! I’ve gathered ideas from Bible verses and song lyrics, from pictures or old letters, and from my own family history. I do a lot of what if questioning.  I’ll take a common place occurrence and ask, “What if that person…” were immortal?  Had two weeks to live? Had just come out of an abusive relationship?  I always start with my characters, so this helps me to find and define what their stories really are.  I keep peeling away until I find something compelling enough to write about.  After all, I have to entertain myself before I can entertain anyone else.

Do you create the H/h in your mind before writing? And do you hate to say goodbye to them?
Yes, I fully create the H/h before writing.  In fact, they are usually the first things that come to me (and then I have to create a plot around them).  I do a good amount of character sketches, charts, and even write a first-person narrative from each character’s point of view before I begin the story.  I know them very well by the time we start.  And yes, I do miss them when I’m finished!  Most authors say that their characters are like their children.  By finishing the story, we are pushing them out of the nest and into the world.  I’m no different in that regard.

How do you make the people so believable? Do you have real people in mind when creating characters?
Yes, I usually have real people in mind when creating my characters.  Not for who they truly are in real life, but to have a visual representation that I can describe and assign character traits to.  I’m careful, though, when I write descriptions, that I don’t overdo it.  I want the reader to be able to create their own hero or heroine in their own mind, and see what they need to see as they read.  As far as making them believable, I want to make sure their speech, behavior, and mannerisms are appropriate for the time frame, and then go as deeply as possible into their points of view so the reader can connect with their goals and motivations. 

When did you decide on Rome?
I don’t really remember deciding on Rome.  The HBO series “Rome” was on at the time, and I got caught up in it.  Despite studying history in college, the ancient world never really grabbed my attention until then.  My previous novels had all been set in the early 1900 American South.  I looked for novels set in the ancient world (there weren’t many), and found Michelle Styles.  In fact, I entered her newsletter contest and won a critique of my first chapter, which ended up being Surrender to the Roman.  The more I researched, the more fascinated I became, and suddenly characters and plots were popping up in my mind one after the other. 

Which is more challenging: writing or editing?
While both have their challenges, I find that writing is more difficult for me.  Why?  Because I’m not a “draft” writer.  I can’t say that I write a first, second, or third draft.  I’m continually going back over previous pages to fine-tune them.  I think this is, in part, attributable to word processing programs.  Before, you typed out a page, corrected it, then had to re-type it.  Now?  You can review the whole document whenever you want.  I’m not sure if that’s a good or a bad thing, but for me it means that my manuscripts are fairly clean before editing. I can’t say I’ve ever had any kind of horrendous editing experience. Yet (ha ha).

How do you have the time?
I really don’t. About four years ago, I got married, moved to a new state, became a bonus mom, bought a new house, and started a new job.  Then, my husband was deployed to Iraq for a year. I had a LOT more time before all that happened. I finished Surrender to the Roman while my husband was overseas, but struggle now to find time to write.  I still write—I just don’t have much of an organized schedule. Maybe I shouldn’t admit that, but for the time being, it’s the truth.

Would you ever write an autobiography?
Dear God, no!  I write fiction because my everyday life is absolutely nothing to write home about.  All about the day job and homework, walking dogs and cleaning house.  What a snore! Believe me, fiction is much more interesting than an average week in my shoes.

I want to thank Unusual Historicals for hosting me. One commenter, chosen at random, will win a copy of my latest e-book, Surrender to the Roman.  Be sure to comment—it’s the only way to win!

You can find me on:

You can find Surrender to the Roman on:
Carina Press: www.carinapress.com
Barnes & Noble: http://ow.ly/9UCiJ

Thank you, M.K., and best of luck with SURRENDER TO THE ROMAN!