Name K.E. Saxon
K.E.: I’m 51 years old. I remember the wrist bands we wore for the MIA soldiers in Vietnam, lime green dune buggies on the streets of Austin, my dad calling everyone a hippie (lol!), and he was not amused by the hippie (his word) production of Jesus Christ Superstar, but I loved the music from it. I also remember being completely freaked out by the movie Willard when it came out. I didn’t see it until I was older, but the previews on TV were enough to give me the creeps for ages! I had a huge crush on Robert Redford after seeing Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. That scene where you first meet Kathleen Ross’s character, and he comes up behind her with that gun telling her to undress…o_O. My, my, my, my, my. I absolutely loved the time I was born in!
Where are you from?
K.E.: I was born in a military base hospital in Mountain Home, Idaho. However, my parents are from Texas, and so most of my life was spent in Texas. My dad went to UT on the GI Bill, and we lived in the Breckenridge Apartments in Austin when I was two years old while he was going to school. From that point on, we never moved out of Texas again. However, my dad worked for the state and we moved around a bit, spending some time in Athens (twice—my parents’ home town), San Antonio, Duncanville, Austin a couple of times again, Grand Prairie, and Tyler, before we settled permanently in Austin when I was 12 years old.
A little about your self `ie your education Family life etc
K.E.: I went to Southwest Texas State University and got a BA in Sociology, which I never used professionally! I minored in Psychology, and I’ve used that information prodigiously throughout the years. I moved to Houston in 1989, where I met my future husband in 1991 at a party. We lived in sin (lol!) together until 1999, when we finally made it legal. He’s a great guy with a wonderful sense of humor. We have two cats and one cockatiel. I absolutely love nature, so any chance I get to go camping or just communing with nature makes me very happy. I also like to garden, but don’t get to do as much as I used to before I became an indie-published author of romance.
Fiona: Tell us your latest news?
K.E.: My latest release is a medieval Highlands romance entitled, Song of the Highlands: The Cambels, and is actually the fourth book in my Medieval Highlanders series. (The first three books are a family saga about the Macleans: Highland Vengeance, Highland Grace, and Highland Magic). The hero of Song of the Highlands is a side character in both Highland Grace and Highland Magic. This fourth book begins a new “chapter,” if you will, about the Cambels, and is the first in a duet of books about the Cambel cousins, Morgana and Vika.
I’m currently writing the fifth book about Vika Cambel and her Nordic hero, Grímr Thorfinnsson, and hope to have it ready for publication sometime in 2015. I’m a slow writer, and an obsessive editor/reviser, so I’m not promising anything, but I’m keeping my fingers crossed that I can get it completed sooner rather than later.
Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?
K.E.: I had written poetry (more stream-of-consciousness, angst-y stuff—certainly nothing worthy of any other eyes seeing it, lol!) and in personal journals for years and years. I’d tried writing fiction, like essays or short stories that were more literary in nature, and, honestly, I bored myself silly. I just couldn’t stay interested in what I was writing. Then, one day, after reading Julie Garwood’s The Bride for about the 20th time, I once again felt that I wanted desperately to know what happened to Mary and Daniel, the sister and friend of the main characters. This was November of 2006. So, it just really popped into my head to try to write the story myself, JUST for me, of course, so that every time I read The Bride again, I’d also feel satisfied knowing what happened to Mary and Daniel. Anyway, it ended up taking more time for me to get my computer up and running and to open a blank document, than it took me to figure out I truly had ZERO idea how Julie Garwood would write those characters—and that’s really what I wanted: Julie Garwood to write the story of Mary and Daniel (still do)! SO, I blew it off. However, I realized just about as quickly that I had a few great plot ideas, and, since I had no idea what motivated Julie Garwood’s characters, I made up some of my own. After that, it just flowed like water over a fall. And that is how Highland Vengeance came to be.
Fiona: When did you first consider yourself a writer?
K.E.: Definitely by the time I’d gotten 25K words written of that first manuscript! I’d found something I absolutely loved, and I was determined to learn more and more and more about how to become better at it, enough to publish. My goal was cemented further when I joined RWA and got myself a critique partner, then started entering contests and submitting my work to agents and publishing houses.
Fiona: Do you have a specific writing style?
K.E.: If you mean, do I plot before I write a book or do I write by the seat of my pants, then I’d say I’m a bit of a hybrid of both. I definitely do a lot of character development, write down the major plot/turning points, and write a ton of backstory before I ever start writing my novels. However, I will say as an aside, that I just started writing a contemporary completely by the seat of my pants that’s connected to two of my other contemporaries, Love is the Drug, and A Heart is a Home: Christmas in Texas, more as a brain rest and for pure entertainment for myself. It kind of helps me to get my head out of the middle ages sometimes and tell myself a story that doesn’t require hours and hours of research.
If you mean the actual style of the prose, I’d say I tend toward a good mix of description, dialogue, humor, sexual steam, action, and internal thought. My main goal while writing is to keep the tension high enough to maintain the interest of the reader. I strive to create a page-turner with every book—I don’t know that I’m always successful, but that is my goal! :D
Fiona: How did you come up with the title?
K.E.: All of my Highlands book titles have usually just popped into my head. Highland Vengeance is pretty self-explanatory: It’s a vengeance tale set in the Highlands. Highland Grace, I do remember having to really think about that one a bit, however, because I knew that a) I wanted it to be a continuation of the external over-arching plot of Highland Vengeance, and b) I also knew that my hero from Highland Grace needed and wanted forgiveness, and that the heroine was a calm, beautiful, and graceful woman—so it was kind of a play on words as well as the next phase after the vengeance part of the plot. Highland Magic has more of mention of the mystical, faery world running through it—in fact, the hero mistakes the heroine for a fae creature early on in the book, so “magic” in the title made sense. The heroine in Song of the Highlands is suffering PTSD and is mute due to the traumatic experience in her early life. However, she sings in her sleep, and this aspect of her arc to become well again plays an integral part in the story.
Fiona: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
K.E.: Only the usual one: that love can come to all shapes, sizes, ages, ethnicities, and personalities!
Fiona: How much of the book is realistic?
K.E.: As far as the historical aspects, about 80-90% (or as close as I’ve been able to learn from scholarly texts and research). The remaining percentage that isn’t spot-on is more to do with what we perceive as beautiful and handsome today that would not have been the case back then, and other aspects that are better kept to more modern sensibilities. With regard to the way women and men relate during the time they are falling in love? Again, probably about 90%. However, these percentages are completely a guesstimate, and to some extent, subjective.
Fiona: Are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
K.E.: Nope. Completely fabricated.
Fiona: What books have influenced your life most?
K.E.: My life: Green Eggs and Ham; The Cat in the Hat; Are You There God? It’s Me Margaret; The Diary of Anne Frank; Fair Day, and Another Step Begun; Bride of Pendorric; Spindrift; Fahrenheit 451;The Bell Jar; All of Shakespeare’s plays and sonnets; White Oleander; Peace is Every Step – Just to name a (very) few off the top of my head!
My writing life: Better to list authors, lol! Julie Garwood, Linda Lael Miller, Kathleen E. Woodiwiss, Nora Roberts, Arnette Lamb, Susan Elizabeth Phillips, Lisa Kleypas, Jo Goodman, Nicole Jordan, Phyllis A. Whitney, Victoria Holt, and on, and on, and on, and on!
Fiona: If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?
K.E.: Well, for my historical stuff, Kathleen E. Woodiwiss has influenced me the most. However, I think I’ve also been influenced by the humor in Julie Garwood’s historicals, and the sexiness in Nicole Jordan’s and Lisa Kleypas’ works, as well. With regard to my contemporary romances, I have been influenced the most by Susan Elizabeth Phillips, but, again, with sex scenes on the page in mine!
Fiona: What book are you reading now?
K.E.: I’m actually listening to an audiobook of Susan Elizabeth Phillips’ latest, Heroes Are My Weakness. It’s so very good!
Fiona: Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest?
K.E.: Well, I don’t think you would call her a brand new author, but I think she’s only been published a few years. Her name is Lynda Chance, and she writes contemporary romance featuring sexy alpha males. Very good author. I buy her new releases without even reading the description first!
Fiona: Name one entity that you feel supported you outside of family members.
K.E.: Definitely, my critique partner, author Rae Renzi! She has given excellent feedback and loads of pats on the back. She completely and totally supported my decision when I decided to indie publish.
Fiona: Do you see writing as a career?
K.E.: Definitely. As well as all the other aspects of the “job,” such as, marketing, promoting, and administrating.
Fiona: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
K.E.: Not a jot. It took me so long to get that thing to the point where I liked it, that I can’t even envision ever wanting to tell Robert and Morgana’s story differently.
Fiona: Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?
K.E.: I have always had an urge, or internal pull, to create things. I dabble in drawing with pen and ink. I crochet. I garden. I write. I cook. I guess I just need to somehow express myself, and writing is a means of doing so. My father was a fabulous oral storyteller, and I think I got that penchant to do so from him. I am just fortunate that the stories I create also appeal to others.
Fiona: Can you share a little of your current work with us?
K.E.: I’m still writing the first draft now, and it’s not meant for anyone’s eyes but my own, at least until I’ve had a chance to get the full story written, revised and edited (and proofed!!). I follow the philosophy that Stephen King says he follows in his book to writers, On Writing. He says he doesn’t show or talk to anyone about his current story in any specific detail until after he’s finished writing his first draft.
However, I can say in general terms that it’s about Vika Cambel, a Highland lady, and Grímr Thorfinnsson, a Norseman who has inherited the lairdship and fortress of his uncle (who also is Vika’s deceased husband). The fortress is located in the Outer Hebrides, on the Isle of Lewis. In Song of the Highlands, it is established that Vika had Grímr had a child together almost three years ago, and, due to Vika’s own internal issues she’s running from instead of dealing with head-on, she abandoned the child to him. This new tale is going to basically (hopefully!) redeem Vika in the eyes of the readers, as they take the journey with her to overcome those inner issues, and realize that she needs to face her demons and be the mother of her child that she, way deep down, really wants to be. Of course, Grímr is going to play an integral role in her learning, growing, and changing into the better person she is meant to become!
Fiona: Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
K.E.: The loads and loads and loads and LOADS of research I have to do. Just to write one sentence in the manuscript, sometimes. Like I said before, it’s kind of fun and nice to let my imagination fly with a contemporary that I don’t have to do near as much research on in order to get the love story onto (virtual) paper.
Fiona: Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?
K.E.: Susan Elizabeth Phillips and Julie Garwood. (I named two since they are in the different genres I write in). I will say that with both, it’s the humor, which they seem to so effortlessly employ, that really resonates with me. I strive to emulate that ability for humor, but I fall way short. They are simply geniuses at their craft. Their characters are invariably ones that we, the readers, can not only identify with, but also like and root for.
Fiona: Do you have to travel much concerning your book(s)?
K.E.: Thus far, no. Luckily, most of what I need to know about medieval Scotland is available in books and online. Plus, there are incredible photos available to look at as well, which can also help me with my descriptions. However, this does not mean that I don’t want to visit those places in person, it just hasn’t been in the cards for me yet.
Fiona: Who designed the covers?
K.E.: Angela Waters at http://angelawatersart.com/ designed all of my Medieval Highlanders book covers, including the cover to the Highlands Trilogy Collection. All of my contemporary covers were designed by me, as well as the covers for each part to the Highland Vengeance (Book One) serialized version of the novel.
Fiona: What was the hardest part of writing your book?
K.E.: I first began writing Song of the Highlands way back in 2009, directly after I finished writing Highland Magic, in fact. But, then I got stuck. I just couldn’t figure out who those bad guys were, and what they wanted from the heroine, Morgana Cambel. So, I sat on it and wrote a few contemporaries instead. Then, after I finally went indie (as opposed to commando, lol!), and published my trilogy, and after so many fans of the books emailed me wanting more, I decided to dust off the manuscript and dig into the story again—and hoped that this time I could figure those bad guys out!
Happily, and after much head scratching, brainstorming, and elbow grease, I finally got the answers I needed and plowed ahead. It took me longer to write than I was expecting (after all, I’d done so much research into Medieval Scotland while writing the other three, I thought I wouldn’t have to do as much this time around—I was very wrong!)
Fiona: Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?
K.E.: I learned so much! I don’t know where to begin! One kind of weird thing I ended up needing to research was what the physical effects of surviving a hanging were. I cannot begin to tell you how fortunate I feel that a couple of people from the 1800s (and I think even one in the 1600s), had their physical reactions documented either in a newspaper article, or in a historical piece written regarding medical treatments. That information really helped me to describe Morgana’s father’s reactions, both internal, as well as the way he moved, after he survived the hanging by the bad guys in the book.
Fiona: Do you have any advice for other writers?
K.E.: When in doubt, stick to the three-act structure in plotting your story, and use scene & sequel to move your plot forward.
Fiona: Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
K.E.: Thank you all so very much for buying my books, for reviewing them, and for (especially this one) sending me an email to tell me how much you liked it, or ask when the next one will be available, or how the story affected you! I absolutely love hearing from you all!
Fiona: Do you remember the first book you read?
K.E.: Yes. One of the Dick, Jane & Sally books in first grade.
Fiona: What makes you laugh/cry?
K.E.: Reruns of Seinfeld always make me laugh. The Yearling, when the boy has to shoot his pet deer—OMG, I’m already crying just typing this right now! If I ever had to cry in a screen test—that would be all anyone would have to say to me. It gets me every single time. Sooo heart-wrenching!
Fiona: Is there one person pass or present you would meet and why?
K.E.: Yes! Myself, when I was 20 years old, so I could impart all the wisdom I’ve learned over the years, lol! (Of course, this is not possible, even if time travel were, because, I’d be changing history—and, you know, what I’ve learned might be different once my older self gave me a clue, so it’s a never ending circle. Plus, butterfly effect must be taken into consideration as well).
Fiona: What do you want written on your head stone and why ?
K.E. She was a really funny chick, and a super great person. Why? Because that’s what I strive to be.
Fiona: Other than writing do you have any hobbies ?
K.E.: Yes. I cook; I crochet; I draw; and when I have the time, I love to grow vegetables.
Fiona: What TV shows/films do you enjoy watching?
K.E.: I watch the Colin Firth version of Pride and Prejudice at least 10 times a year. Same goes with When Harry Met Sally. I love sci-fi movies, too, like The Day After Tomorrow, Independence Day, Star Wars, Mars Attacks! The TV shows I really enjoy are, Grey’s Anatomy, Bones, and, more recently, Transparent.
Fiona: Favorite foods / Colors/ Music
K.E.: I love trying new dishes, and am very fortunate to live in a city with such a huge number of culturally diverse restaurants—and loads of food festivals hosted by the different ethnic groups in the city. I enjoy American, Middle Eastern, Mediterranean, French, Italian, Chinese, Thai, Vietnamese, Mexican, Polish, German, South American…gosh, just about all cultures’ food dishes.
My favorite color is green.
My favorite music is 60s-90s Rock n’ Roll. But, I also love the popular music from the 20s, 30s, and 40s, as well as the crooners from the 40s, 50s and 60s. I love Disco music, too! It’s the best to work out to.
Fiona: If you were not a writer what else would you like to have done?
K.E.: Own and run an organic gardening center.
Fiona: Do you have a blog/website? If so what is it?
K.E.: Yes! http://www.kesaxon.com
Amazon page http://www.amazon.com/K.E.-Saxon/e/B005PODE6S