Today, I have the pleasure of welcoming Kenna Mary McKinnon to my blog. I know you have a new book you’re working on, so let’s jump right in.
Tell us about your newest WIP.
I’m excited about my WIP because it’s been Beta read, professionally edited, and rewritten and I love the characters. It’s called Engaging the Dragon. Took about a year from start to finish and there were false starts along the way. It’s 61,600 words long, a perfect length for a fantasy novel, in my opinion. It doesn’t end with a cliffhanger but I intend a sequel if this book sells, and have left plenty of room in the epilogue for that.
What is the story about?
A princess, a dragon, an alien world with four moons and three small suns, Trolls, Picts, a handsome prince, an evil prince, a mad king and his scheming queen, and Fairies who live in a crystal palace across the Agave Sea. The tale opens with a bloody battle for territory between humans, Trolls, and Picts. Palace intrigue further complicates the tale, and the struggle for an heir to carry on the ailing king’s bloodline. Almere, the princess, spars with her loneliness and empty bed as her husband Prince Stannock wages war at the front lines. Her husband’s half-brother, Tevron, offers consolation but she spurns him. Only the Fairies seem to have it together in this story of lust, love, and subterfuge.
Who is the main character?
The princess Almere, who later becomes queen.
What inspired this tale?
So many beautiful dragons in stories, myths, legends, gift shops, and on publishers’ wish lists. Originally, I named the book The Smallest Red Dragon and it was meant to be erotica/fantasy, but I seem unable to write erotica properly. Stories billed as romance shocked me. So, there is erotica in here, but subtle, I think. Stories of derring-do, a handsome prince and a beautiful princess, strong men and women, medieval battles, were on my plate since I was a very small girl. Also, fantasy and SF, which abounded in our house because my father was a voracious reader of that and history. Later, my son admired dragons and planned to have a dragon tattoo on his arm before he died of cancer. This book is perhaps, a nod to that dragon tattoo that he was never to enjoy.
How did the story come to you?
I began with the intention to write erotica, not knowing really what modern erotica consists of, and being entirely unprepared. A princess and dragon seemed to me a likely match, but that changed drastically when I began to write the book. The characters took over and it progressed much differently than I had anticipated. After the first couple of chapters an outline took shape. I followed it rather backward, as I had a clear picture of the ending but not the middle part, which is the most difficult part of any book for me to write.
Did you have to research for this novel and if so, why?
Yes, I had to know a certain amount of lore about dragons, and I researched the human names because I wanted names that sounded alien but you know, so many modern baby names sound alien that I had a great deal of trouble coming up with something different! There’s a sword fight in the middle of the book and I researched the tactics and skills of a swordsman and what might happen in a sword fight. There are Latin names of plants, healing herbs, and magic crystals that had to be somewhat similar on Earth but changed a bit to reflect an alien planet and culture. I researched the saga of Gilgamesh.
If you did research, what do you think surprised you most to learn and why?
That swordplay is so intricate and such an art form. Because it always looked to me like two dudes bashing each other’s brains out. Mindlessly. There’s really a lot of skill to it, as well as strength needed, muscle and brains and tactics like chess, also intellectually, one must know the other’s weaknesses, and be able to psychologically vanquish the opponent or allow oneself to have the upper hand. I could never do it. Shudder.
Do you relate to your character?
Yes, I believe every character has something of me in them. The good, the bad, and the ugly.
Is your protagonist anything like you personally?
Princess Almere is much younger than I but has the same feelings, I think, and the same fears.
If yes, then how?
Her failure to produce a child, at least initially, for her husband, is a source of much distress to her and Stannock, and I can relate to that. Her feminist tendencies, and her love of the outdoors and adventure. She is a risk taker, and I would say, within certain parameters, so am I, for example, I’m an entrepreneur, have owned my own medical transcription business since 1999. I enjoy the freedom and independence it brings, but it was a long, hard struggle for many years to make it work. Her closeness to the old King, a father figure. All that is within the scope of my experience.
What made you write this character; what made them important to you or made you want to tell their story?
I like a strong woman protagonist and as I wrote the story, I grew to admire and love Almere, fear for her safety and happiness, and rejoice with her at life’s small pleasures.
Is there anything specific you want readers to know about this piece of work?
It’s definitely a piece of fiction. Nothing like this has ever happened to me or to anyone I know, nor do I think it’s possible. It’s definitely a work of fantasy.
When will the novel be available for purchase?
I submitted it to my publisher, Creativia, on March 20, 2017, the morning of this interview, and am waiting for their reply.
Okay, let’s learn more about you, as a writer Who is Kenna McKinnon?
Nobody special. A mother first, a widow, and divorced, many decades ago, I like living alone in a high-rise apartment in Edmonton, Alberta. Graduated in 1975 with a BA degree in Anthropology. First got paid for publishing in approximately 2010. Creativia is the best publishing house I’ve come across so far, have been burned by small presses and Indie presses in the past. I believe my writing is improving, and I value the advice and time I spend with other authors. Promotion and marketing has always been somewhat of a mystery to me and unexpected. I was naïve when I started to write and thought all I had to do was write the story and it would sell itself and I would make a million dollars! I’m a senior woman, a Canadian, and was diagnosed with schizophrenia in 1978, which might explain my late start. I’m high functioning, happy, fit, and eager for new experiences. I like to travel. That’s sort of like research for my next book. The location for Blood Sister is based on a holiday I took with my daughter a few years ago at Christmastime, but the place names are changed.
What inspired you to start writing?
I’ve wanted to be a writer before I can remember. Before I could write. I used to tell fairy stories to my brothers and sister on our way to school and at bedtime, and later wrote them down. A club for young writers called The Young Cooperators published our little poems and stories in The Western Producer, a weekly magazine/newspaper. That’s the first time I was published, under the pseudonym of “Milky Way” because I loved looking at the stars on a cold, clear night on our little family farm, and we could clearly see the vast expanse of the Milky Way from the front yard. There were no lights, it was very dark. Milky Way was also my favorite chocolate bar. I wrote for The Young Cooperators until I was about sixteen years old and left home, but my dream of becoming a journalist never did come to fruition due to circumstances at the time. I started writing a novel in 1978 and incorporated it into one of my three novellas in the collection Den of Dark Angels decades later.
Click on cover to read a preview.
What is your favorite book you have written and why?
Short Circuit and Other Geek Stories because it was written in memory of my son, Steve, who died in September 2012 at the age of 44. There are 29 short stories of varying lengths and different genres, and it was fun to put together over the course of about a year. Author proceeds from this book go to the Edmonton Humane Society, as he would have wished.
Click on the cover to read a preview.
When you are not writing, what do you do to recharge?
I belong to the YMCA. I enjoy walking outdoors on a sunny day and when I am not writing, you might also find me reading, cooking, or watching marathon Netflix movies and documentaries. Visiting with friends, listening to music and drinking hot black tea, simply sitting and thinking about what has happened that day and planning for the future. Phoning a good friend. Going out for coffee or a cold nonalcoholic drink. Lots of things.
Are you an Indie Author or are you part of a publishing house?
I’m both. I publish recently with Creativia, a sort of blend of Indie and traditional publishing.
Do you read books within the genres you write?
Besides being an author, do you have a second job?.
Yes, I own my own home-based medical transcription company and work from home. It pays the bills and is satisfying to know that I can provide a service that’s valuable to my clients.
What do you enjoy most about being an author?.
The independence, the freedom to soar with one’s mind to the outer stretches of the universe and the inner stretches of the universe within my soul, the joy of creation, which is Godlike, I think. The ability to learn and grow, without ending, each piece a new discovery of something within that wasn’t there before, or at least, was unseen and unknown to me.
Thank you so much for taking the time to answer my questions. Your new story has me intrigued as I love fantasy with SF elements. And, who doesn’t love dragons? I might just have to buy the darn book. LOL.
How can your readers connect with you?
My Creativia books: