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Interview and Giveaway with Kaki Warner

Hi Kaki! Thank you for joining us today.

Thanks for inviting me, Lillie.

Can you tell everyone a little bit about yourself?

I’m the luckiest person you know.  And maybe the most boring.  Although I grew up in the Southwest and got my BA in English from the University of Texas, I’ve spent almost half my life in the congested Seattle area.  Now retired, I live in blissful solitude with my husband and coonhound on the eastern slopes of the Cascade Mountain range.  Instead of traffic horns and sirens, we listen to coyotes and owls.  And instead of close-by neighbors, we have deer and bear and cougars for company.  There are also some drawbacks to living off the grid and eighty miles from the nearest mall, but it’s a nice place to write.

How long have you been writing?

About twenty-five years.  When we moved to the rainy Northwest from the sunny Southwest, I read constantly to combat the gloom and homesickness.  After reading a terrible book, I decided to see if I could do better, and wrote the first draft of what has evolved into Pieces of Sky.  It was pretty terrible, too.  So I put it aside and went back to living life, until I came across the manuscript again about four years ago in storage.  I decided to give it another try, and here I am.  An instant twenty-five year overnight success.

What is your writing process like?

It’s pretty compulsive.  The first thing I do every morning is rush to the computer and get down all the thoughts that came to me overnight.  Then I start writing where I left off.  Usually I follow a rough outline, but occasionally if I feel blocked, I’ll jump ahead to a scene later in the book.  I don’t like to clutter my head with unresolved scenes or unfinished business, so I edit heavily as I write.  Not very efficient, but it frees my mind to move on to the next scene or chapter.  Over the last year, getting Books 2 and 3 of this trilogy completed, edited and ready, I’ve probably spent twelve hours a day at the computer.  It’s not an easy process.

Can you tell us about your newest release, Pieces of Sky?

It’s also my first release and Book 1 of the Blood Rose Trilogy.  Pieces of Sky is Brady’s story.  As the eldest of the three Wilkins brothers, he’s the man in charge of their ranch in the mountains of New Mexico Territory in 1869.  Already haunted by the violence of the past and now desperate to protect what family he has left from a crazed madman bent on revenge, the last thing he needs in his life is a rule-spouting English spinster—one who also happens to be pregnant and on the run.  Which is exactly what happens after their stagecoach falls over a cliff.  Forced to recover in the boisterous, male-dominated Wilkins household, Jessica Thornton begins to reevaluate all her carefully penned rules about proper social behavior.  He’s rough manners, a caustic wit and has twenty years of blood on his hands—she’s a thorny English tea rose hiding a shameful secret beneath her prim ways.  They don’t fit.  Yet as antipathy slowly becomes attraction, she learns that what’s “right” is not necessarily what’s “proper”, and rough manners are not always a fair guide to a man’s true character.  Against a backdrop of violence, vengeance and tragedy, these two wounded souls learn to trust again, and through laughter and courage confront their pasts to find redemption, forgiveness and love.

Do you have other books releasing this year?

Book 2 about the middle brother, Hank, is titled Open Country and will be out June 1st.  Chasing the Sun, Jack’s story, will be out in January 2011.

What are you currently working on?

This blog tour, mostly.  Living as remotely as we do now, it’s a wonderful way to stay connected, and I’ve met an astounding number of readers and writers.  It’s very energizing.  I’m also working on a proposal for another trilogy, this one set in Colorado in the 1870s about four women who meet on a train and become stranded in a dying mining town.

Where do you get your ideas for your books?

I come up with the time and setting first.  Having grown up in the Southwest, I’m familiar with the climate and geography.  I’ve also raised horses and herded cattle and share a Westerner’s strong connection to the land, so it’s a natural starting point for me.  Once I have the precise setting, I come up with the characters, then finally, the plot.  To me, the characters are the key and the most interesting part of a good book.  If I don’t love them, I can’t write about them.

As an author, you must be an avid reader. What books do you enjoy reading? Who are your auto-buy authors?

It changes all the time, although I probably read more historicals than anything.  I also read Robert Parker, Dean Koontz, Nelson DeMille, Richard Cornwell, Sara Donati, Crichton, Patterson, Eloisa James, Jodi Thomas, the list goes on and on…

What books are on your keeper shelf?

The Husband (Koontz), Lion’s Game (DeMille), Twisted Creek (Thomas), Into The Wilderness (Donati), Lonesome Dove (McMurtry), Pillars of the Earth, (Follett), Agincourt (Cornwell), and others overflowing a dozen boxes in storage.

What was the first romance book you read or the one book that has stood the test of time for you?

I can’t remember that far back.  Like I say, there are stacks of boxes in storage.  I’m sure there are dozens in there that are “the one”.  For today, anyway.  Tomorrow it’ll be a different dozen.

If one of your books was made into a movie, which actors would you like to see as the lead characters?

I have no idea because I don’t see the faces of my characters.  I can see the individual features, but not all together on a face.  That way, the character can act naturally, rather than how I’ve seen this or that actor behave.  Does that make sense?  However, I’ve had a lot of suggestions and the closest so far for Brady is Jeffrey Dean Morgan because of his smile.  As for Jessica?  A younger Nicole Kidman?  Amy Adams?  I’ll leave it to my readers to decide.

If you could switch lives with one of your characters, who would it be & why?

Switch lives and go back to 1870?  No indoor plumbing or electricity?  No computer?  No way.  Besides I could never pick just one character—like any good mother, I love them the same, only different.  I like Brady’s sense of humor and pragmatic, take-charge attitude.  I admire Hank’s intelligence and the way he manipulates his brothers without their knowing it.  Jack makes me laugh and shake my head, and I love Jessica’s loyalty and temper and class.  How could I choose just one?

When you are not writing or reading, what do you enjoy doing in your spare time?

I haven’t had any in so long I almost forgot!  I’m an avid gardener, reader, hiker (when my knees allow it).  I love road trips and heading north into the wilds of British Columbia or along the Pacific Coast.  I love “ladies night out” and snowy evenings by the fire.  And world peace.  Let’s not forget World Peace.  Hey, I’m retired, remember?  I get to enjoy whatever I want, whenever I want.

If you could ask readers any question, what would it be?

What is it about Western Historical Romance that you like?  What turns you off?

Where can readers find you on the Internet?

www.kakiwarner.com.  I’d love to hear from ya’ll.  Being a new author, feedback (good or bad) from readers is always a thrill.  And thanks again for asking me to visit, Lillie.  It’s been fun!

***For a chance to win a copy of Pieces Of Sky, just leave a comment answering Kaki’s question. Good luck! :D

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