THE IRISH PRIDE SERIES by KEMBERLEE SHORTLAND
**AUTHOR PEEK** Interview
Before we get started talking about your writing, tell us a little about yourself, where you’re from, what you do for a living (if you’re not a full-time writer) what hobbies you have, etc. Whatever you’d like to share to introduce yourself.
Thank you for having me on your fabulous site today.
I’m originally from Northern California, from a place known both as America’s Salad Bowl (because of the agriculture) and as Steinbeck Country (because John Steinbeck was from there and set many of his stories there). The town I come from, Carmel, was founded by artists and writers, some whom include Jack London, Robinson Jeffers, and Mary Austin.
In 1997, I fulfilled a dream of seeing Ireland. I had intended to visit for six months. I did that but while here, I met someone and . . . well, I kinda never left. I’ve been writing since I was very young, while at the same time holding down ‘the day job’ to make ends meet. When I relocated to Ireland, I changed gears a bit and started a travel consultancy. Friends were already referring their friends to me for travel advice so it all fell into place, especially since in that six months I’d seen almost every county on the island. I did consulting for fifteen years. The company was wound down during the recession, which was about the same time my work started selling. I have a history in various aspects of the book business, so after much deliberation, we (the hubs and I) launched Tirgearr Publishing as a formal publishing company in Feb 2012.
When I’m not writing or preparing our authors books for publication, I’m usually found at the beach behind our house with our dogs and looking for medieval pottery amongst the shells and stones, or at home gardening, or knitting. I also love music, mostly 60s and 70s, but my tastes are quite eclectic.
1. How did you get started writing?
I don’t rightly know. I’ve pretty much been writing since I could spell. I was an early learner for both words and math, thanks to mom. I was writing full sentences before kindergarten, and by the time I reached 1st grade, I was doing fractions and short division. I do remember going to the library specifically to borrow picture books. I’d take them home and write the stories I saw on the pages. Maybe that was my start. I also remember when I was about fifteen sitting with my younger sister in her room, music coming from the stereo in my room next door . . . the Beatles were singing Paperback Writer and I thought, “I’m going to publish a book one day,” and here I am. I’ll thank Ringo for the inspiration (no one ever thanks Ringo!).
2. What genre(s) do you write in and why?
Funnily enough, I cut my teeth on historical romance. With the exception of an erotic romance I published under my pen name, everything has been contemporary. Not surprisingly, most have also been set in Ireland. I don’t know why it is, but I prefer reading historical romance, but write in contemporary. I’m pushing my boat out now that all the book are published in my Irish Pride Series. My WIP is a time travel; my first. It’s set in 1014 for most of the book. I’d love to write mystery or thrillers, but I don’t have what it takes. The romance always gets in the way. I just love developing characters and putting them together in situations where they have to grow as people and find resolutions so they can be together. I love a happy ending . . . pointedly a romantic happy ending. I think that’s mostly because I’m an emotional writer. I write about all the senses to make my characters more believable. If the reader can get inside one of my characters and live through a situation with my character and have the same emotional responses as the character but in a real way, then I’m happy and have done my job well.
3. What do you think about when you’re alone in your car?
More often than not, I’m the passenger, and when we’re driving somewhere, I’m usually thinking about how to work through a particular storyline or the work waiting for me when I get back . . . that is, when I’m not sleeping. I’m a big baby. Put me in the car and take me for a ride and I’ll fall asleep within minutes. These days, with my work hours, sometimes I need to catch the Zs when I can. 🙂
4. What is your favorite part of writing?
I love when I’ve plotted out a story and have done my research, then suddenly I find something in the research that matches what I already plotted. In a way, it feel as if I channeled the history.
For example: in my WIP, The Dairy, my heroine, Eve, is a 21st century relation to Brian Boru from the early 11th century. She is thrust back in time and over the course of the story, must meet her ancestor to tell him of his fate. It’s no secret Boru was murdered at the end of the Battle of Clontarf; his army wins the battle but Boru is murdered by a traitor. In the story, my heroine stays with Boru in his tent during the battle, trying to convince him he must leave or be killed. Boru’s history tells that the family banshee came to him the night before the battle and foretold the battle results. She was called Aoibheann (Eaveen, or Eve, in English) and she stayed with him in his tent during the battle, trying to get him to save himself. If you’re following, my heroine is Eve, she’s a family member who foretells the battle outcome, and she stayed with him in his tent. I knew *nothing* of this when I plotted the story, but found historical documents which say this happened. Kinda freaked me out, but also kinda cool.
5. What is your least favorite part of writing?
Finding the time with my current schedule. I love writing. I have files full of story ideas and brief outlines. But there’s only 24 hours in a day, and I have to sleep sometime! Fortunately, as our company grows and we’re able to hire on more help, I can start allocated *me time*. The question becomes, which project do I start first?!
6. Pick two celebrities to be your parents. Who would they be and why?
Oh, wow, that’s a tough one. I don’t really follow celebrities. Let’s go with Liam Neeson, because if I were kidnapped, he would stop at nothing to have me back. And Helen Mirren, because . . . well, because she’s just awesome. 🙂
7. Where do you get the ideas for your stories?
Absolutely everywhere. I people watch, I situation watch, I eavesdrop, and I’m nosey. 🙂 I also get a lot of ideas while I’m researching, watching the news, or just driving in the car. I love plot(pity) parties when I’m stuck, and occasionally, I’ll ask the hubs, because sometimes his replies are completely obscure but make so much sense. Here are examples from my Irish Pride Series —
Rhythm of My Heart — Started out as an erotica about a wannabe rock star and a talent scout. The story quickly got in the way after I went through a period of listening to a lot of blues music,. It still wasn’t going as planned until discovering an Irish singer called Jack Lukeman. That was it—the thing I’d been missing. Kieran’s voice. He’s not just a guitarist but an amazing singer but I couldn’t hear his voice in my hear. Jack was Kieran. Kieran was Jack. Now that I could hear my character, really hear him, and he told me what *he* wanted—not a recording contract, but love.
A Piece of My Heart —I wanted to tell the story about something no one else has written about before, especially in romance. I already had the main story plotted out, but needed something as a catalyst to bring my hero and heroine back together. An addendum to the father’s will, forcing Mick and Kate to find a way to save Mick’s heritage, was the perfect solution. Part of the addendum gave Kate the dog which Mick had given to his father when his mother died. The dog had to be an important secondary character but how? Inspired by our two Border Collies, Daisie and Poppy, both rescues, I focused on one of Ireland’s other great tragedies . . . not a political one but one of animal abuse on farms. Both of our dogs were ‘throwaways’ their farmer owners no longer wanted, for whatever reason. This story echoes how we came by Daisie, who was originally called Molly when we got her.
Shape of My Heart —I wanted to tell the Grainne’s story. She’s Kieran’s sister from book one. She’s turning her life around and wants to go back to school, but the tuition is too high for a working class girl. I asked my husband how someone could make fast money, legally, and he said stripping. But the industry doesn’t come without problems. There’s fast, easy cash available . . . if you’re willing to sell your soul.
8. Tell me about your ideal reader.
For me, my ideal reader is someone who loves reading about real people, someone they can connect or identify with. I write *real people*. They’re people who work hard for what they have; it’s not handed to them on a silver platter. They’re not perfect; my heroines have real woman figures and my heroes are realistically flawed. They could be anyone . . . a struggling musician and a woman who’s suffered at the hands of a loved one, the nurse from next door and a man working in a museum basement, the woman who craves higher education and a man serving your pint across the bar. No Fortune 500 characters for me.
Also, my ideal reader is someone who not only loves a good romance, but also loves Ireland, whether they’ve visited or not. If they haven’t, maybe my stories inspire them to think about traveling.
8. What is your “go to” routine that helps you get in the mood to write? Special beverage? Music? Etc.
These days, to concentrate, my old brain needs to have as much peace and quiet as possible. Distractions , like waiting email, dogs throwing toys in my lap, nearby construction work, etc, keep me from being about to concentrate properly. Once I’m in The Zone, though, you could set off firecrackers beside me and I wouldn’t hear them. lol I *love* music, but can’t really listen to it anymore while writing. I’ll listen to a number of songs before writing, which can get me in the mood for a particular scene, but once I’m writing, it has to be quiet.
As for ritual-ritualss, when I sit down, I don’t want to have to get up for a while, unless I absolutely have to. I take the dogs out back to chase the ball for a while so they’ll sleep, visit the bathroom (TMI?), pour some Diet Coke, grab some almonds, and get myself behind the keyboard. The almonds keep me from chewing ice, which I really love while writing. One root canal later cured that habit.
9. Tell us about your next book & when is it being published?
I have a few projects on the go. I just published the last book in the Irish Pride Series — Shape of My Heart —but readers have been asking for stories from some of the secondary characters through the series, so I’ll have to ponder that. In the meantime, I’m working on my first time travel, The Diary, and I’ve been contemplating a whole new series.
I also write erotic romance under the pen name Scarlett Valentine. Awakening was published two years ago, so I’ve been working on Beguiler and Conquered to get them out. The lapse was caused by starting a publishing company and it takes most of my free time these days. But I’m plugging along.
Thank you so much for hosting me today. It’s been fun chatting with you.
Links to Kemberlee’s website, blog, books, etc.
Tirgearr Publishing: www.tirgearrpublishing.com/authors/Shortland_Kemberlee
Amazon Author Page: www.amazon.com/Kemberlee-Shortland/e/B003C0F7C6
BE SURE TO COME BACK to read more about Kemberlee and Book Two (A Piece of My Heart) & Book Three (Shape of My Heart) of her Irish Pride Series, on Wednesday’s Karen’s Killer Book Bench. If you missed the first book in the series, Rhythm of My Heart, check out Friday’s (July 18) Karen’s Killer Fixin’s! Happy Reading!
**SPECIAL ANNOUNCEMENT: Kemberlee is giving away a digital copy of the Irish Pride Series to one lucky reader who comments on her Monday Interview or Wednesday Book Bench blog. Don’t miss this chance to read these great stories! Thanks, Kemberlee, for sharing your series with us!