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Total Exposure Interview, Silken Rapture, Exclusive Excerpt
Wednesday, November 23rd, 2011

Hi all. At my yahoo reader group, Total Exposure, Fiona Jayde, Lacey Savage and I try to give each other interviews on our release dates. It’s a nice tradition, and so I’m sharing Fiona’s questions and my answers here about the series.

FJ: First – huge congratulations on your new release of Silken Rapture. I love the lush imagery of the titles in this series – Velvet Cataclysm, Silken Rapture.… so sensual! Is it difficult to come up with titles fitting this theme? What’s the next title going to be?

BK: Thanks, Fi. Total Exposure helped me with the title for the second one. So nice to have a group of book-loving women out there ready to chip in on ideas.

In the titles, I am going for a reference to a sensuality that borders on decadence. Since this race of men are so keyed in to the senses and sexuality, it’s a temptation to fall over into a depraved, selfish side versus walking the thin line and suffering. One clone is destined to never challenge their parasitic nature, while the hero walks the line, and eventually learns how to control his carnal, aggressive side through love.

FJ: Tell us a little more about the underground world that is so lush and sensual and dangerous.

BK: I have a real yen for urban undergrounds. Love to go and explore them. For Silken Rapture, I chose London, one of my favorite cities in the world. I came across a couple references in my research of underground London that really stuck for me–one a probable urban legend about the (now closed) British Museum Tube stop being haunted by a wandering Egyptian. The legend went that during the WW II bombing raids, many of the precious Egyptian artifacts were stored in the Underground and someone jostled open a sacred seal, liberating a ghost. 🙂 Anyone who reads the story will see the reference to my ghost/demon, Shirian, who communes with both anti-heroes, Morshiel and (my favorite) Aubrey Cane.

Another reference is to the thousands of bodies that were buried in mass graves beneath Aldgate Tube Station during the Bubonic Plague of 1660. From that reference, I created a group of men that follow my hero–the Literati–who were once a loose group of intellectuals and scholars at Oxford, and fled London and further north to avoid the plague. They eventually ran into the Scottish nobleman, Blaise Sevliss (Lord Delraven) and were ‘turned’ by Blaise in order to survive. They lived on as his loyal, internal circle of warriors, fighting Morshiel and the Scourge revenants.

Blaise has this underground Earth-scraper–yes, an inverted high-rise that goes straight down into the ground. (I blogged about this inverted pyramid, because my editor sent me a note saying they’d just approved plans similar to what I described in the book in Mexico City. That was flattering, since I–and most of the world–had never heard of it until recently. However, on the downside, Blaise’s earth-scraper is named Sanctuary. I never realized there was a show called Sanctuary until after I’d turned in the book. So, it’s not always good to have an idea before it’s time. :))

Morshiel–Blaise’s depraved clone–sort of lives like the Rat King with his followers in the underground of London. The clones have this tendency to be sort of gypsies, wandering around the tunnels with all this rich stuff, not liking to live above ground because it takes them away from the earth’s enriching soul. Blaise and the Literati constantly hunt them and try to control the growing pestilence of them.

FJ: In both books in the series, each hero has an evil clone – a dark mirror of himself. Do you love exploring your villain’s psyches as much as your heroes? Since it sounds like the clone put the “B” in Bad Guy (love that!) – do you sometimes scare yourself with the darkness you draw out into him? Do you ever go – “huh, where did THAT come from?” – when writing a dark villain?

BK: I remember I sort of shocked myself with Teslar’s anti-social, murderous, utterly selfish nature. (Teslar was Saint’s clone in Velvet Cataclysm). Teslar was a ‘fear-eater’, meaning he liked to evoke fear in his victims in order to get the energy and flavor of fear in the sexual secretions, tears and blood. The way he’d go about it was beyond sick.

Morshiel, Blaise’s clone, is a really, really bad guy, but he’s more lazy than Teslar. He probably would never work as hard as Teslar did to create fear. I balanced Morshiel’s more lackadaisical evil-side with another anti-hero, Aubrey Cane, who possesses one of the most brilliant minds on the planet. Aubrey’s double dealing added a subtle, elegant, and viperish quality to the bad guy element in Silken Rapture. Aubrey was really fun to write.

FJ: If I remember correctly, the only other paranormal series you wrote was the Subtle series. How does it feel to descend back into world building and other fun things that you only get in a paranormal/urban fantasy genre?

BK: It’s kind of hard to switch gears. However, I am finding as I write contemporary series and paranormal that there are a lot of similarities, though. Meaning, you have to go back and ‘discover’ things about your world and characters from your past text. The published text becomes a bible for the series, and it’s surprising, sometimes, how many seeds are there without your knowledge for future books.

FJ: So what’s up with Isabel’s “soul energy” and why does everyone want it? This is called “vitesse” in your world?

BK: Yes, she’s a rare woman who possesses unusual amounts of vitessence–the energy that all human beings possess, the life-force, so to speak. You can think of vittessence like soul-energy, but Blaise and his kind see it like an aura. It gives her psychic powers, but Isabel also has an unusual gift–she’s a psychometrist. Anything she touches that was once living, or touched humans during a particularly emotional moment, she can glean all sorts of information about. It’s truly one of those things that’s a gift and a curse. It can be hell for her to touch others, so before she meets Blaise, she’s sort of resigned herself to a life of loneliness. They have that in common, Blaise and Isabel. They believe their doomed to live solitary lives, but their desire for each other can’t be stifled.

FJ: Blaise sounds like an angst ridden tortured hero (love that!). Tell us more about those two fascinating characters?

BK: Blaise despises being a parasite of humans. He has no soul, so he must ingest vitessence in the blood, sexual secretions, sweat and tears of humans–anything where emotions run rich. Blaise is tortured for another reason, though. Centuries ago, he saved an Italian princess from Spanish agents, and the two fell in love. However, when Elysse understood what Blaise was, it ruined her. She ended up killing herself. So, he’s pretty convinced he’s death to everything beautiful. When he meets Isabel, she shines in his eyes unlike any other. He can’t resist her, but he constantly feels as if he has to protect her from the horror of what he is.

FJ: I couldn’t help but notice that we have Saint Sevliss and Blaise Sevliss…. Are they brothers?

Not genetically, no. The word ‘sevliss’ means souless, and relates to why these unusual men are here on this planet. Many would call them vampire or shape-shifter, but the Sevliss are actually more than that. They’ve been put here for a specific purpose. Sevliss is Greek, actually. (Do we have any Greek-speakers here?) It means soulless.

What can we look forward to next from you – both in this series and overall?

There are six Sevliss princes, and I’d love to do a story for each of them, time and energy willing. 🙂

Next year I have a lot coming out, starting with the third book in the Home to Harbor Town series, Claiming Colleen in March 2012. In May, my mass market of Wicked Burn releases. Summer of 2012, Bound to You (tentatively titled) a novella from the One Night of Passion world comes out from Berkley. In August, I have The Billionaire’s Reluctant Heiress from HQ. October brings the second novella from the One Night of Passion series, Book 5 (Untitled) in my Home to Harbor Town series, and SILKEN RAPTURE in print. In November, Everett’s story–tentatively titled Exposed by You–will debut in the One Night of Passion series by Bethany Kane.

FJ: How about a TE exclusive excerpt?

BK: Sure! Here you go. The set up: Blaise and the Literati have just completed a surprise attack on Morshiel in the underground. In doing so, they discover Isabel, who had been kidnapped by Morshiel and forced to touch a mysterious, powerful crystal and channel its power. They stare at the unusual, compelling sight of her.

Excerpt:

“Who…what is she?” Aubrey asked.

“I don’t know. But whatever she is, Morshiel wants her. So that means I’m taking her.”

Aubrey nodded. Blaise had stated the obvious. They would never consider leaving such a powerful creature in Morshiel’s hands.

“The amount of vitessence coming off her and that crystal,” Aubrey mumbled. His gray eyes narrowed and glazed as he stared. “It’s not possible.”

They both approached the light-infused woman. For the first time, Blaise noticed she wore one long black glove on the arm that hung at her side. He bent to pick up its mate which had been discarded on the concrete platform. He gripped the cheap, synthetic fabric convulsively. His nostrils flared.

Her scent filled him.

She was so illuminated he had a strange feeling that if he removed the purple evening dress she wore, he’d be able to see inside her, see her very heart beating out a rapid, desperate tattoo. His own heart felt as if someone had just reached into his chest and squeezed it without mercy.

“The connection is hurting her.” He reached to detach her from the crystal, but Aubrey stopped him with a hand on his forearm.

“No. I don’t believe the soulless can touch her without harm.”

Blaise understood. If they were the soulless, this woman was the very essence of a rarified soul. Differences repelled. His heart throbbed in pain. He threw his friend’s hand off his forearm. His eyes sprang wide when he grasped her wrist. He had the disoriented thought that the crystal was an electrical conduit, for an enormous shock went through him. The woman’s back arched and she screamed.

For the eternal second before he broke the conduit, a rapture filled him unlike anything he’d ever known. It was as if her very soul slammed into his consciousness in one powerful pulse of energy.

He blinked. The woman fell limply into his arms, unconscious. He checked her pulse, exhaling in relief when he felt her rapid but strong heartbeat.

She will never be able to leave Sanctuary, he thought numbly as he lifted her limp form. Her days of freedom had come to an end the second Morshiel had learned of her existence. From now until the end of her days, this woman would either be hunted or captured. Better that he—Blaise—was the one to hold her captive.

He moved his hand subtly on her hip. The dress she wore wasn’t expensive. As the owner of the largest silk factory in Europe, Blaise knew fabrics. He knew the sensation of vitessence better. The dress might be cheap, but that couldn’t begin to disguise the purity and strength of the woman’s soul-energy.

Michael Lord, one of the Literati, approached, buttoning up the jeans he’d dropped on the platform before he’d transformed. He paused a few feet away, staring at the woman in his arms in opened-mouthed awe.

“No, don’t—” Blaise uttered harshly, but too late. Michael strode forward and placed his hand on the woman’s upper arm.

He flinched back in pain.

Aubrey grabbed Michael’s hand and examined the reddening palm, looking alarmed and interested at once. Fear could never completely diminish Aubrey’s vast scientific curiosity. Blaise craned to see what Aubrey examined.

A small blister broke the surface of Michael’s palm. Michael appeared to be in no great pain or distress, merely confused about what had just happened.

“He’ll be all right,” Aubrey declared, releasing Michael’s hand. “It’s a small burn, almost as if the woman was radioactive to him. The burn is already healing, given Michael’s nature,” Aubrey said, referring to Michael’s status as one of the Literati. Near immortality and the ability to heal rapidly were only two of the Literati’s inhuman powers. The humans Morshiel embraced might transform into bloodthirsty, foul Scourge revenants. On the rare occasions throughout the centuries when Blaise had embraced a human, however, the man retained the nobility of his human spirit and gained the savage grace of the wolf.

“Why did you do that?” Blaise growled at Michael. “She might have destroyed you.”

Michael flushed and looked downward, showing him only the crown of his chestnut brown hair.

“Don’t blame him too harshly,” Aubrey said. “He did what any of us would do. She beckons like a magnet to Literati blood. She’s like a fountain of vitessence that would never run dry.”

Blaise’s nostrils flared in anger when he noticed Aubrey’s hungry stare on the female. Maybe Michael’s impulsiveness wasn’t for naught. Better the Literati knew the truth. Nature had given the woman some form of protection from immortal hunger.

“Do you think she can harm the Literati from a distance?” he asked Aubrey.

Aubrey shook his head. “No, you shouldn’t take my analogy of radioactivity too far. Only touching her will cause cellular damage at the site of contact,” his gaze flickered curiously over Blaise’s hands cupping the woman’s hip and waist, “at least for most of us.”

A strange sense of satisfaction tore through Blaise, twining with his bewilderment over the fact that he could touch the woman. He was as soulless as the Literati, whom he had turned immortal to save from the ravages of the bubonic plague. He was as soulless as the revenants Morshiel daily created through murder by excessive blood drinking. He was as damned as Morshiel himself.

But he could touch her.

“Spread the word among the Literati that it is forbidden to touch her.” Aubrey nodded. “Find out who she is,” Blaise told Michael. “The more information we have, the better. Morshiel won’t rest until he has her once again.” Michael nodded, seeming relieved that Blaise was willing to move past his earlier impulsiveness. Blaise glanced at Aubrey. “Send out a scouting party to see if they can catch Morshiel’s scent. Bring the crystal to Sanctuary. Protect it, Aubrey,” he added under his breath. “It provides more vitessence than blood. It won’t take Morshiel long to recover from his wound and decide to reclaim it.”

“And the woman?” Aubrey asked.

“She has my protection.”

Aubrey nodded. Michael gave the woman one last glance of incredulous longing before he stared once again at his reddened palm.

“Fool,” Blaise muttered under his breath.

He walked down the platform toward the dark tunnel in the distance, refusing to look into his captive’s face. If he did, he’d turn into as much a fool as Michael.

If he did, he might never look away.

Silken Rapture, Available Now at Samhain Publishing, Kindle, Barnes and Noble, Kobo, All Romance E-books.

FJ: Now that the holidays are around the corner, tell us a little bit about any family traditions you have:) Will you be cooking up a storm tomorrow? Do you decorate your house? Will you brave the crowds on black friday?

BK: I’m going to my parents downstate tomorrow, so relatively little cooking for me, which is both bad and good. I do like to cook. I definitely will be decorating for Christmas–probably next week. And no–I avoid Black Friday crowds like the plague. I might be checking out some Black Friday specials online, though.

What about you all

Thanks for the interview, Fi!

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