Interview with Lindsay McKenna

I am really excited to kick off what I hope will be monthly interviews with one or more Nocturne authors. The first two books will be in stores soon–look for them! For the debut month, I’m interviewing one of the launch authors, Lindsay McKenna. Lindsay has more than 75 published books to her credit and her books have appeared on both the USA Today and Waldenbooks bestseller lists. Her book Unforgiven has been getting great reviews. You should all pick it up (pay for it too :) )

So, without further ramblings from me–here is Lindsay.

Q) First can you tell us about your Nocturne release?

LM) Unforgiven is about Reno Manchahi, an Apache shape shifter who was the best sniper in the US Marine Corps.  He chased bad guys over in Afghanistan.  When his wife and child are murdered, he spirals into a hell that eventually finds him putting in twenty years in a military brig.  And that is where the book opens.  I really don’t want to give too much of the plot away–this is a book filled with twists, turns and surprises.  It is about shape shifters.  And it has a lot of action/adventure/danger and I hope, readers think it is a page turner (because I worked hard to make it one).  I was able to put some useful information about a symbol in the book that I use to this day.  This symbol in the book is part of the fabric of my paranormal life and I hope to share its healing and positive benefits through my characters in this book.

Q) I’ve heard your book features Native American lore, can you tell us a bit about that-what drew you to those legends, beliefs etc.?

LM) It comes down to writing what I know.  I write about Native Americans because I have their blood in me.  Coming from a Cherokee background, I grew up with my father, who has this blood on his side of the family, telling us stories all the time. These stories not only had a beginning, middle and end, but they also were allegorical and could be absorbed at the spirit, mind, emotional or physical level of my consciousness.  My mother also read to us kids several times a week.  I grew up in a family of receiving verbal story telling as well as listening to my mother reading to us.  I have the DNA/heritage through my Cherokee blood to share what I know in a story form.  I rarely answer a question with a yes or not.  I usually tell a story to get my point across to another person.  So, it’s genetic.  And I’m so glad to have this gift for this lifetime!

I’m cross trained in a number of indigenous traditions: first by my father from age 9-18, later by other teachers who were Western Cherokee, Apache/Mohawk and an Incan 4th level priest from Peru.  I’m an amalgam of many traditions and I have in the past, written about them and will continue to do so even more, in the future.

Q) Your hero is a shape-shifter, does your heroine have powers too?

LM) Absolutely. Calen Hernandez is a shape-shifter.  Of course, the fun part is that neither realizes the other is a shape-shifter; so it gets pretty interesting, I think, as part of the plot in UNFORGIVEN.  My readers will decide that one, however.

UnforgivenQ) Who is your favorite character in this book and why?

LM) Calen is because she comes from a tragic background and struggles and eventually grows into her new, dynamic role–and not without a lot of hard work, risk-taking and putting her values on the line.  I like her strength, her morals, values and loyalty to her people. 

Q) Who do you think is the strongest–your hero or heroine?

LM) That’s a tough one to decide.  I feel they are equal.  They are powerful people in their own right.  Again, I’ll let the readers answer this one.  They may have a favorite, but Reno Manchahi and Calen Hernandez are tough hombres with good hearts.  They are  knights in their own realms.

Q) Nocturne is billed as “Dramatic and Sensual Tales of Paranormal Romance”. How does this tagline fit your book? What other one word descriptors would you use to describe it?

LM) Being the launch book, Unforgiven does fit those tag lines in my opinion. A launch book is supposed to mirror the best of what the line is going to offer….getting off on the right foot, so to speak.  And, I hope my book does just that for Nocturne.   It is about life and death issues.  And there is (I hope) nonstop tension and suspense.  I believe I write a strong, sensual romance, too.  My editors have great faith in the book and that makes me feel good–but ultimately, it will be my readers who decide this question.  

Q) Would you describe your book as dark? And what does that term mean to you?

LM) Dark is defined by me as the emotional wounds we all carry within us.  Reno’s wound is the loss and murder of his family by an Army general.  Readers who pick up my books know I write ‘dark’ anyway–whether it is a paranormal based or not.  I tend to write angst and deep, complex characters who are in a world of hurt–and then give them a story and life to help them move through their wounding and come out the other side of it, healed.  That is what DARK means to me.  I’m sure if you ask ten writers what ‘dark’ means you’re going to get ten different answers :-).

Q) Why do you write paranormals? What appeals to you about the sub genre?

LM) I utilize my life and experiences as a basis or foundation for the stories I share with readers.  A writer cannot write outside her or himself; that is impossible to do.  Each human being is like a stained glass window; we are all fractured and imperfect, but that does not matter. The Light of Spirit shines through us, anyway.  And the light that comes through us and touches others is always unique to the person.  That is why each writer is different from another; and their “voice” is unique to them.   My stained glass window is comprised of years spent in the military service as well as my genetics being Native American, Irish, Dutch and English.  I write from who I am or am discovering who I am and this is all reflected in the books I create.

I was born into a family who lived and practiced metaphysics daily (metaphysics is a 20th century word for the 21st century word paranormal, by the way….it means ‘beyond the seen’ or having the ability to perceive the other dimensions with your third eye and not your physical set of eyes).   I began my training into the ‘medicine’ (skill/healing talent) that has been passed down through my father’s Native American side of the family when I was nine years old and finished at age eighteen.   I then had other Native American or South American teachers walk into my life at different points to teach me what else I needed to know in order to be of service to ‘all our relations’ here on Mother Earth. 

You might say I write what I am.  Paranormals aren’t new to me.  I live a paranormal life.  I wrote my first pure paranormal in 1999, Heart of the Jaguar (Silhouette single title release).  I have also written two non-fiction books under my Cherokee name, Ai Gvhdi Waya (Walks With Wolves).  My books, Path of the Mystic and Soul Recovery and Extraction, allow a window in my world and my healing practices.  Who better to write paranormals than someone who lives in it daily?  There will be a higher level of reality to what I write because I’ve personally experienced it.  And any time a writer can tap into that vein of her or himself, the book is even more ‘alive’ for the reader than usual.

Q) Is this book part of a series? Can you give us a sneak peek on what else
you have planned?

LM) The short answer is yes.

Unforgiven was created by me three years earlier.  I wanted to start another saga-series in the footsteps of Morgan’s Mercenaries.   And I wanted it to be more toward Native American and indigenous people story lines.  The third item was I wanted them to be metaphysical (paranormal) novels.  I worked tirelessly on this mega-project when I could, between contract books.  I felt paranormal was going to be BIG.  Really big–and not just about vampires–but about the entire field, which is a huge playground for writers to create novels about.  I felt it was time for me to produce a line of pure paranormal books.    And so, the Warriors for the Light is the basis of the foundation for my ongoing saga-series for Silhouette Nocturne.

I had no idea that Warriors for the Light would travel such a unusual route to publishing.  And it’s such an unexpected way–Unforgiven was chosen as my second launch book.  It never entered my awareness that I would be asked to do a second launch for Silhouette.  But it did.  And I’m excited about it because Unforgiven really unwraps my paranormal life and I’ve infused my world into this book and the ones to come that are paranormal in content (whether for Nocturne or HQN).  I believe the readers are going to feel a palpable energy to my books they never felt before.  At least, I hope so! That is my intent.  They’ll let me know.

I’ve signed a three-book contract to produce Warriors for the Light  as an ongoing saga-series with Silhouette Nocturne.   Dark Truth, Aug. 2007, will be book 2 of the Warriors for the Light.  I’m working on a proposal for book 3 right now. 

With HQN, I’ll be doing a parallel of pure Native American paranormal novels.  The first will be Training to Die (working title at this point) and it will come out December/2007.  This will take advantage of my strengths as a writer because I live a Native American paranormal life.  And lest readers worry that I won’t be continuing to write Morgan’s Mercenaries novels–I will!  At HQN.  My next one is due out in Dec/2006 and is called Beyond the Limit.  This is Pete Trahyern’s story.  He is the second son of Morgan and Laura Trayhern.  It is not a paranormal, but not all my books will be in the future.  I usually write many types of novels and intend to be very Gemini about it as I have in the past.  I consider myself a dim-sum writer; able to write in a lot of different categories.

Q) You have written for a number of different lines-is there something about your books that holds true no matter what line or sub genre?  (emotionally intense, sensual, etc.)

LM) I write emotionally intense angst/dark novels that include love, adventure, suspense and danger.  I also want deep, complex characters in a page-turning plot. Those are my trademarks.  I basically write for myself. I write what I’d like to read.  And I’m fortunate enough to have readers who like to read what I like to read!  And I’d get very bored writing the same thing all the time; which is why I like to do a mystery, a historical, a contemporary that can range from a reality based story of a military romance into paranormal elements or a full blown story in paranormal. 

Q) Who are some of your favorite authors?

LM) Ernest Hemingway is my most favorite writer of all time.  His book, For Whom The Bell Tolls made a deep impression on me when I read it as a teenager.  In terms of contemporary writers, I have so many favorites that if I don’t name them all, someone will get hurt feelings.  Suffice to say, they are all women vet writers who have served in our armed forces.  Readers can run over to http://www.romvets.com/ to see who they are!  And, after meeting Maureen Child and Caridad Pineiro and getting to read their advance copies on Eternally and Death Calls–I’ve added them to my list, too!

Q) Where can readers find you on the web?

LM) They can always drop in at: http://www.lindsaymckenna.com/.  I have a blog that covers my Native American paranormal life.  I also write articles on writing for it when the mood strikes me on that blog. They can find it at: http://www.talesfromechocanyon.blogspot.com/

All of September, over at eharlequin.com, I’ll be doing a blog for them. Just go to “Look Who’s Blogging” and click on it. I’m trying to put a lot of writing tips for aspiring writers and welcome any questions. I hope I can answer them:-).

Q) Is there anything else you’dlike to add?

LM) No, this was a great line of questions. Thank you for giving me the opportunity, Lori

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