Friday, December 16, 2011
Welcome guest author Stephanie Burkhart
STEPH: Vijaya, I'd like to thank you for having me here today? I'm a big fan of your Chronicles of Kassouk series and I'm looking forward to Noah's Ark.
VIJAYA: What prompted you to write in different genres, like paranormal werewolf romances, historical, steampunk, and now contemporary? Is there more?
STEPH: Actually, there is more! The Green Rose is a fantasy romance and is due to be released 1 April with Desert Breeze. When I first started writing, I tried my hand at contemporary and really enjoyed it, finding I had a very good contemporary voice. I got away from the contemporary genre for a couple of years, but Mona Risk's international contemporaries have revitalized my interest in writing the genre again. Having spent 7 years in Europe during my time in the military, I developed a passion for traveling and learning about different cultures. What attracted me to paranormal writing was the concept of bringing out the humanity in a supernatural being. My paranormals tap into my love of the gothic. (as inspired by Victoria Holt)
When I started writing paranormals in the mid-2000's, it was a "hot" subgenre. Wanting to be different, I decided to deal with werewolves. I also wanted to place my paranormals in the late 1800's, early 1900's. It's a historical period that involves a lot of change and modernization that fascinates me. This time period resonates deeply in my soul. I'm very comfortable writing it. While I like reading historicals prior to 1850's, I find my historical voice is lacking for anything prior to 1850.
What I like about steampunk is how it requires a blend of elements – Victorian historical and paranormal steampunk allows an author to really expand their imagination. You have to envision a Victorian era world (a historical element that I feel fairly comfortable in) with fantastical steam drive futuristic gadgets with a paranormal element. (which I feel comfortable with)
I'd like to think, as a writer, I'm open to multiple subgenres. It allows me to grow, expand, learn, and sharpen my craft.
VIJAYA: Do your readers easily make the transition from one genre to the other? Do you use several names? How do you manage it?
STEPH: I'd like to think my readers manage the transition effortlessly because of my writing style. Regardless of genre, my stories engage the reader right away and I've got a writing style that's easy to read and flows well.
I do have a pen name – SG Cardin, my maiden name and when I write for the horror genre, I usually use my pen name.
I'm a hard copy note girl. My thoughts, story ideas, plot outlines, character bios are all neatly organized in a binders. I usually write one novel or short story at a time so I can give it my full attention.
VIJAYA: I see a trend in your books and a fascination with Central and Eastern Europe. Do you have roots there? Do you like the setting, the people from that area of the world? Have you been there?
STEPH: My ancestry is French, Polish, and Ukrainian. I grew up in Manchester, NH, the 2nd largest French speaking town in the US. At an early age I was completely fascinated with my French roots. I had 3 years of high school French. I wish I could have started my French studies earlier. I love the language, but I'm not quite fluent. As a senior in high school I had a Russian history class which resonated deeply within my soul. It was about this time the Army recruiter approached me about joining the Army and I saw this opportunity to travel to Europe so I took it.
Part of my heritage growing up involved Polish customs. At Christmas my grandmother would cook a feast of Polish foods – pierogi, stuffed cabbage, beet soup, fish soup, but I didn't appreciate it then as I do now. In 1997, I had a chance go to go Poland. I visited a pottery factory, but I also saw a land that wasn't as modernized as the west. In 2005, I read a novel, "Push Not The River," which really made me feel proud of my Polish heritage.
I spent 3 months in Hungary in 1997, on a military deployment. Hungary, and Budapest, especially was a jewel in Central Europe, a unique blend of the west and east. The Hungarians I met in Hungary were a wonderful people. Being on a military base, I dealt a lot with Hungarian translators and I admired them. Hungarian is a bear of a language and very different from English and the Romance languages I was familiar with. It takes real talent to translate from Hungarian to English.
The Hungarians I got to know were talented, giving people, eager to share their customs of Hungary with us. They were friendly and honest.
VIJAYA: How much research goes into your stories?
STEPH: It depends on the story. My steampunk, "Victorian Scoundrel," had me spending a good 3 weeks in research. For my paranormals, it takes about a week. They I spend a good week with preliminary task, plot outlines, characters development, etc.
VIJAYA: Tell us about your action packed past, your military career, your LAPD connections:
STEPH: I joined the U.S. Army in 1986. I was 18, and wanted to see the world. My MOS was 95B, Military Police, and I completed my basic and advanced training at Ft. McClellan, AL. My training was rigorous, but I learned things and did things I would have never done. I shot an M16 Assault Rifle and an M60 machine gun. I went on field problems and mile long marches.
When I went to Europe, I performed physical security duties and flew in a schnook. I went on field training exercises with the British Army. The British don't incorporate female soldiers so integrally into their army. (at least they didn't in 1987) and many British soldiers were duly impressed to see an American female MP. I enjoyed meeting British soldiers and learning about them. One thing I liked about the British was their MOPP gear, (mission orientated protective posture) which is worn when an NBC (nuclear, chemical, and biological threat) was elevated. Everything was Velcro and easy to put on.
I left the Army in 1998 and was hired by LAPD as a 911 dispatcher in 2000. I enjoy my job very much and find it very rewarding. I work a variety of positions as a "PSR" (police service representative) but nothing is as challenging as answering 911.
VIJAYA: I see lots of new titles coming up from you next year. Can you tell us about those?
STEPH: Sure. My Desert Breeze Titles include:
Twilight Over Moldavia – 1 JAN 2012 - Paranormal/werewolf romance - This is book 2 of my Moldavian Moon Series. Prince Stefan has been cursed to become a werewolf. As he tours Romania, he's hunted by a werewolf. Can Caroline's love free him from his curse?
The Green Rose – 1 APR 2012 - Fantasy romance - The peace of Gaia is threatened when the evil mage, Balthyser kidnaps King Juris of Tapin and King Edward of Daháka. Sonia and Ivánstan must seek out the magical green rose in the hopes of defeating Balthyser.
A Gentleman and A Rogue – 1 NOV 2012 - Steampunk romance - In Book 2 of The Windsor Diaries, Edmund and Alice travel back in time to "right" the time line, but Jonas Byron has other plans. Complicating matters is Edmund's brother, Richard, the guardian of the time line. He's sent back to stop Edmund from making mischief. Will Edmund "right" the time line and finally win Keira Russell's heart?
The Secret Door – 1 DEC 2012 - Paranormal/werewolf romance - This is book 4 in the Budapest Moon Series. It's 1927 in Budapest, Hungary. Sophia Varga is a well known Hungarian actress who finds herself in love with Zoltan Kristos, the Minister of Reconstruction and a werewolf. Sophia and Zoltan embark on a secret and passionate love affair, but their love will be tested when their secret is discovered.
Elise Goodwin runs a heritage museum in Brattleboro, Vermont. She travels to Boston to buy some items for her museum at Sotheby's auction. What she acquires is a delicious surprise that would excite any curator – a Faberge egg.
Enter Russian businessman Dimitri Romanov. He goes to the auction with the intent of buying the egg only to discover that Elise is in possession of it. His dilemma? He's attracted to the petite brunette with doe-like eyes and a trusting disposition.
Complicating matters is Dimitri's rival, Gustav Kelch, who wants the precious jeweled object for his own collection. Can Dimitri protect Elise from Kelch?
His gaze was as soft as a caress. He reached out and tucked a stray tendril of her hair behind her ear. Slowly, he curved his hand around the nape of her neck and moved closer so there was no space between them. Their lips skirted each other's, teasing, tempting, until Dimitri's mouth captured hers in a drugging kiss.
His lips were firm – persuasive. He smelled wonderful – soap and sandalwood. Something intense flared within her. She fisted her hands against the lapels of his coat. Her body betrayed her desire. His erection pressed against her thigh.
All of a sudden, an all-crushing fear consumed her. He was hard for her. It was too soon, too fast. She broke the kiss, practically pushing him away.
"Elise--" Dimitri began.
Elise's heart jumped. She swung around and looked at the door. Dimitri peered over her shoulder.
It was slightly open.
"Lucy!" Elise forgot about Dimitri's kiss and pushed open the door, rushing in. Dimitri was right behind her. Concern spiked within her the second she saw Lucy.
Lucy's hands and feet were tied to a chair and a gag was in her mouth. The room was thrashed. Their suitcases were turned over; clothes and books were tossed haphazardly about.
Fear knotted inside Elise. She rushed to the chair and took off the gag. Dimitri also rushed to the chair and began untying the knots at Lucy's feet. Concern for her friend was evident in his eyes. Elise was thrilled that Dimitri helped with no hesitation or reservations.
"What happened? Who did this?" asked Elise.
"They were looking for the egg," said Lucy. She glanced at Dimitri, but instead of her earlier resistance to him, gratefulness filled her eyes.
Dimitri froze, glancing up, his stare drilling into Elise. "Egg? A Faberge egg?"
Elise loosened one of the knots around Lucy's hand. She looked at Dimitri, perplexed. "What do you know about Faberge eggs?"
He muttered something to himself in Russian, finished untying Lucy's knot around her second foot and stood, straightening his shoulders.
"That's what I lost – that's what I've been looking for – my Faberge egg."
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