Welcome Kay Berrisford, writer of erotic m/m historical fantasy with a twist of BDSM (and I thought my books covered a bunch of genres.) Kay’s books are very saucy and very different.
If you haven’t tried one yet then leave a comment to this post for a chance to win your choice of Kay’s back catalogue. The contest is closed now. Congratulations to the winner, Marie. Enjoy whichever book you choose. Thanks for entering, everyone.
Kay’s answered a bunch of questions from my grab bag. Read on below.
1. What have you given up to make time for writing?
Oh, good question. Way too much, actually. Writing is an obsession with me, and I’m married to a dedicated academic who works eighty hour weeks. It can be a destructive combination. I’ve made an effort over the past year to try and reintroduce aspects of my “real life,” as it were. I’d become so caught up, the joy had gone from my writing, and way too much was passing me by. For example, I spent a fortnight in Tuscany with my parents last year, and my husband and I holed up behind our laptops most days. How stupid was that? I also didn’t spend enough time with my lovely old cat, Florence, in her last months. The last time I left her, I never hugged her and said goodbye as I usually did, because I was fretting about a (partially self-imposed) story deadline. I’ll always regret that.
I’ve learned that constantly staring that a screen isn’t the most productive thing for a writer anyway. I come up with my best ideas when I’m jogging or walking in the country. Getting out and meeting people is crucial for productivity. I’ve started doing some charity volunteering, including getting involved in archaeological digs again, so expect to see the latter reflected in my writing very soon!
2. Have you ever stopped writing? Why? For how long? Why did you restart?
I’ve never stopped writing. However, a few years ago I found myself working in a press office and starting my PhD at the same time, and I had to give up writing fiction (and playing tennis!) because my body couldn’t cope. I have fibromyalgia, something I have under control these days thanks to meds., but the pains in my wrists and neck got so bad back then that I didn’t have much choice but to give up. In fact, thanks to some weird quirk of the condition, I lost most of the use of my wrists and hands for about a month, which wasn’t fun. Fortunately, that improved with rest, and I didn’t even have to give up fiction for too long. Less than a year, I think. Then my Dad set me up with voice recognition software, and the first thing I did was start writing fiction again. My tennis has never been quite the same since though!
3. Where and when do you get ideas?
Oh, everywhere, but I follow the Terry Pratchett path in that I love reading history books, because you can glean the most fantastical ideas from them. Fact is indeed stranger than fiction! Remarkably little in the Greenwood universe is made up. All the English kings and queens referred to (including King Stephen, who I was questioned on in a review) are real and occur at their correct historical period. Though I interweave magic and interpretive spin, the majority of it is based on “real” folklore and legends. For example, all the spirits, including Sulis, are my versions of “real” Celtic or Romano-British gods.
4. Which book gave you the most trouble to get right?
Bound to the Beast! It was the classic second novel nightmare. Bound for the Forest, which I wrote for myself with little thought about it ever being published, was a relative breeze, though I worked very hard on it. Beast was different. I knew if I got it right it would probably get published, and pressured myself from the start. Being the kid who would always chose the hardest question on the exam paper, I also set myself up with a tricky premise (a Tudor setting and a fifteen-hundred-year old hero with a complicated backstory and a broken heart). Then there was The Wild Hunt. Describing a medieval army of the undead is not easy! It took me about nine months to pull the book together. My editor helped out greatly by suggesting I write a prologue, so the readers know about Herne’s transformation from mortal to spirit from the start. In the end, I was thrilled with the result. Joint with Lord of the Forest, Bound to the Beast is the title I’m proudest of out of all my books. It’s also the only one to which I’ve written a sequel, Locking Horns. And Locking Horns was probably the easiest book I’ve ever written!
5. Do you plan or fly by the seat of your pants?
I always have a good idea where I’m going before I start a novel, and a solid map for how to get there. However, the writing process tends to be a little organic. Characters take on a life of their own, I realize the original plan doesn’t quite work in practice, and all hell can break loose! I mapped the last book I finished (a BDSM fantasy romance) before I started, and it flowed like a dream till about three quarters of a way through. Then I started writing my idea for the ending and realized it was rubbish and meandering and totally spoiled the pace of the book. I had to scrap my draft for a whole chapter (*sobs*!) and plan a new ending, which fortunately, worked better.
6. Do you write every day?
No, but if I’ve got a story in progress (which I have 99% of the time) I’ll usually work on it every day in one way or another. I spend much more time editing and polishing than I do writing.
7. Ever done NaNoWriMo? Love it? Hate it?
I have and I liked it! I did it back in 2007, and I wrote my 50k (a fanfic) in two and a half weeks. When I’m “in the zone”, as it were, the trouble for me isn’t so much getting the words out as knowing when to stop! I enjoyed myself very much. I’d like to try it again, if the timing is right. I’ve got a couple of WIPs that need finishing and editing over the next few months, however, so sadly this year is probably out.
8. Which do you prefer – drafting or editing?
Editing. I love tweaking and polishing that draft and getting it just as perfect as I can. First drafts can be bloody hard work, and editing is a little more relaxing. I know this is different to a lot of people’s experiences, though!
9. Most fun part of being a writer?
Lying on Southampton common, or in my parent’s garden with my notebook, and letting the ideas flow. Or having a shiny finished manuscript, ready to go.
10. Hardest thing about being a writer?
Okay, I’m pouring out my soul today. In all honestly, the hardest aspect is that still don’t really know where my writing and I fit in. This is a world where, even as people grow in tolerance, it is safest to fit into a category. So, it seems, I write m/m, I write fantasy, I write paranormal, I write BDSM etc.. But I’m not sure I fit any of those categories comfortably, or at least, I don’t always tick the right boxes concerning what is expected of those genres. So…I wonder, what do I do? Do I try and “conform” to expectations, or do I stick to pouring out my fantasies, stories that only I could write, and stop worrying about where I belong? I don’t know, though I doubt I have much choice other than doing the latter. I am what I am, and that will be reflected in my writing, as it should be with all writers, or we might as well program a computer to write romances for us.
For me, the other hardest part of being a writer is that this internet thingy means that we have to be damn sociable. Now, I’m quite a sociable person, one-on-one, but I’ve never liked being in large groups. Thus I’m happy hosting guests on my website, and visiting friends, but Facebook and Twitter bring me out in a cold sweat. I desperately want to fit in. I still feel like the unpopular kid in the corner, waving my arms, wracking my brains for something cool to say, and desperately trying to be accepted. It’s all a bit tragic!
But hey, I can got bury myself in my writing and forget about it, right? Or maybe not…
Thanks for the great answers, Kay! Check out details of Lord of the Forest below.
and leave a comment for a chance to win your choice from Kay’s back catalogue. Don’t forget to include your email address when you fill out the comment form. The contest will run until the evening of Friday 13th – 18:00 UK time.
Lord of the Forest
Kay Berrisford’s m/m retelling of the Robin Hood legend, Lord of the Forest, is out now, published by Loose Id. It is part of the Greenwood series, which also includes Bound to the Beast (a tale of Herne the Hunter) and Bound for the Forest. The books can be read in any order.
England, 1217. Dark forces are rising. In the Greenwood, foul spirits grow powerful, and greedy barons plunder the lands. Only one man dares fight back—Robin Hood.
Robin’s band of brothers is broken. Now a lone warrior, he denies his famous name and laments the friends and lovers he’s lost. When the fair folk capture Cal, a beautiful young forester descended from the Greenwood’s ancient protectors, Robin rescues him and forges a new alliance.
Despite a sizzling attraction, Robin senses Cal isn’t like his old comrades, and he’s right. Cal’s been raised as a royal spy. He plans to seduce and betray Robin, but can’t harm the man he’s falling hard for. Mistrust and arguments spill into passionate lovemaking, as Cal learns the meaning of loyalty, fighting beside Robin, the only friend he’s ever known. Even the enchanted forest seeks to bind Robin and the returned protector ever tighter.
Their connection will be tested by nature’s wildest forces, Robin’s past, Cal’s lies, and in a baron’s darkest dungeon. To survive, Robin and Cal must admit their love and embrace their true destinies. Only then can they save England and each other—and win their happiness ever after.