Welcome to the Author Spotlight, Delwyn and congratulations on the release of ‘Called by Fire ’! Could you tell us a bit about it please?
‘Called By Fire’ is a story about Kamryn, a modern-day Witch who must go to the World Between to complete her training at the Collegium. At the Collegium magic is manditory and technology is forbidden, so to Kam it’s a kind of purgatory. But then one of her friends is murdered and another goes missing, and Kam’s small irritations are put into terrifying context.
As a direct result of the murder and abduction the Knights of the Watchtower are called back into service after two hundred years of exile. Alex and his fellow Knights understand their recall could be the first step in the Watchtower returning to the fold. All they have to do is not screw up.
Kam wants to help with the investigation, but she’s worried about her attraction to Alex and how it will affect her magic. Alex can’t afford to make any mistakes, but he wants Kam with a single-mindedness that could put them all at risk.
Did you originally intend for ‘Called by Fire’ to be a series, or did it evolve into one?
The way magic works best in the World Between is for four Witches (a Quatre) to work together. Earth, air, fire and water. When we meet Kam we also meet her three best friends and they all play a role in Kam’s story. I always envisaged a four book series, but there are six Knights – so there’s room to grow if the series takes off.
Can you tell us a bit about your road to publication?
Like most authors my apprenticeship was LONG. But once I joined RWA things stared moving forward. My first year in RWA I totally loitered, the second year I went to conference in Melbourne where I didn’t know a soul. The following January I got myself a critique partners (who is utterly fabulous) and at the Brisbane conference we roomed together and I met all her friends and made some of my own.
2013 was my year of not lurking. I entered Little Gems and came sixth, I entered First Kiss and came third, and I got my ms ready to pitch at conference in Fremantle last year.
In between all that (and after much lobbying from my CP) I wrote an erotic romance novella and sent it off to Ellora’s Cave.
In October last year Ellora’s Cave came back with an offer to contract me for all six books in my erotic romance series, and in December I got an offer for a two book deal with Momentum (as a direct result of my conference pitch).
So that’s my road, lots of long, hard slog – and a terrifying leap over the edge.
You have formal editing qualifications, how has that made a difference to your writing? Do you edit yourself or have a fresh pair of eyes to look over your work?
The editing certainly makes me conscious of technical hitches like word repetition and grammar errors. But I also taught units of a Professional Writing and Editing Course, and I learned a lot about writing from marking my students’ work. Plot holes, world building, emotional context and story flow are all things I’m more conscious of now, because I had to watch for it in someone else’s work.
I edit my own work as much as I’m able – I consider it part of my job as an author to produce the best ms I can – but nobody can properly edit their own work. I need a fresh pair of eyes and my ideal is my CP (for the technical stuff) and a beta reader (for the layman stuff). Now I’m published (woohoo) I’ve had the joy of working with professional editors and I enjoyed the process immensely. I feel much more relaxed knowing that someone with a professional eye is looking at my story and trying to find ways to improve it.
Wearing your editor hat, what is the most common error emerging writers make?
Sound or word repetition is a big one for me.
If you have three or more sentences starting with he/she you need to have a look at it.
The regular complaints of telling not showing.
Get someone who you trust to read your work – someone with the skills to pick up spelling or grammar errors or whose mind is sharp enough to pick up plot holes or scenes/conflicts that don’t make sense. And when you get the feedback, don’t slavishly follow it no matter what – take the information, think about it, and only use it if it’s in the best service of your story.
And here’s a tip I didn’t listen to but should have when I started out – just write the damn thing. Get the words on the page until you get to ‘the end’ THEN go back and edit it. You will save yourself years of pointless word shuffling.
You were in the Navy and travelled a lot. How has that helped to shape your writing?
I pretty much write fantasy and sci-fi so the travel doesn’t have much direct influence. But all my male protagonists are warriors of one kind or another. There is just something about the strength and honour of a military man that calls to me – although my hero’s tend to have swords and bows rather than guns and warships.
What would we find on your bookshelf or e-reader?
Nothing but romance – I don’t read outside my genre because if I’m going to spend four or five hours with a book, it’s got to be something I love.
My shelf/e-reader has: Not much contemporary and very little urban fantasy. Lots of paranormal, some historical, lots of erotic romance and a healthy smattering of sexy cowboys. Mostly MF, some MFM, not many MM. But really, if the writing is good the sub-genre doesn’t matter.
Which writers have been your greatest inspiration?
There are plenty of authors I admire (and lots that I think ‘I wish I could write like that’) but at the end of the day you have to be true to your own stories and your own voice. What inspires me is authors and their achievements. Meeting a New York Times best selling author, or talking to an extremely successful multi-published author always gives me a buzz. But so does talking to an unpublished author with a great personal story, or an RWA member who’s struggled through personal hardship and just put onefoot in front of the other. I think inspiration comes when you look at someone else and think ‘yeah, I could do that too’.
You’ve got a busy year coming up, can you tell us what’s in store for you?
‘Called By Fire’ is released on 22 April, so I’ll be promoting that. I have to deliver book two to the publisher by July (although I’m hoping to get it in earlier because my Ellora’s Cave commitments are looming)
I don’t have a release date yet for my Ellora’s Cave series, but I have completed three and a half of the six books I’m contracted to deliver. So my busy year will be taken up with lots of writing, attending the Roadshow in Adelaide (where my CP lives) and going to conference in Sydney. In March next year I’ll be attending the Romance Readers Convention. I’ve been to the last three but this will be my first one as an author and I’m really looking forward to it.
Can you tell us a little about your belly dancing?
I’ve been Bellydancing for fifteen years, and I’ve been teaching it at my local community centre for the last seven. I love the movement and music, but what I love best is the transformation women undergo when they dance. It taps into something so beautiful and feminine that a woman’s shape, size, age or ability cease to matter. When a woman bellydances she always looks beautiful and sensual. I highly recommend it.
Could you give us a sneaky peek at one of your favourite parts of ‘Called by Fire’, please?
Here’s the set-up: Alex bargain Kam in to owing him a kiss, which he’s about to claim. They’re sitting together, face to face, and Alex is making his pitch…
“I’m a Watchtower Knight, sweetheart, a warrior to the bone. One of the most important lessons I’ve learned in this life is to take happiness where I can get it, for as long or as short as it lasts. And being here with you right now makes me happy.”
He didn’t move closer, he didn’t crowd her, he did nothing more than circle his thumb just below the nape of her neck. And that small touch was so erotic, so provocative, her nipples hardened and her thighs clenched. Gods, this had disaster written all over it.
Then Alex moved, gripping her hands and pressing them against his chest in a move so sexy her knees liquefied in a submissive tremble. “Trust me,” he whispered, “just for the next few minutes. Close your eyes Kam.”
“Just close them.”
Feeling slightly stupid, she did as he asked.
“Now breathe for me.” His voice was as soft as a touch. “Nice and deep, in and out.”
Somehow it just seemed easier to do as he asked, so she focused on her breathing, matching it to the stroke of his fingers against the backs of her hands. With every inhale she took his scent into her body – warm male, leather, and something else, something darker. Her body relaxed, her world narrowed, and when Alex quietly commanded she open her eyes she had to fight a little to lift her eyelids.
He gave her a lazy smile. “You owe me a kiss.”
Kam swallowed against a sudden case of dry mouth. “Are you sure this is the right time?”
“It’s the perfect time, and if you remember the terms of the heart vow, you don’t get to choose the where or when.” Without letting go of her hands he turned them so her palms were pressed flat against his chest – his warm, hard, broad chest – and then he covered her hands with one of his own. The other he bought up to cup the back of her neck and heat shot down her spine to pool low in her belly. It felt really, really good, and so very, very bad.
Despite everything, Kam did want to kiss him – no kidding – but she had a sinking feeling that if she did he would ruin her for any other man, and she had enough difficulty with the opposite sex as it was. She knew instinctively Alex was different, she felt it deep down, right to the marrow of her bones, and her survival instincts were urging her to run as far and as fast as she could. But the rest of her, including her demanding hormones, were begging her to stay. Then all debate ceased when Alex tilted her chin so he could capture her gaze. Everything crumbled inside her when those long, thick lashes lifted to reveal the blazing green of his eyes.
“Time to pay up, my lady.”
“Are you ready?”
Kam fought the quiver of anticipation – or was it terror? – that roiled inside her. “I somehow doubt it,” she replied.
Alex smiled and leaned closer. Kamryn braced herself for the onslaught, but for the longest time he just breathed her in. His full, sculptured lips were less than an inch away and he did nothing but let her feel the heat of his energy rather than the press of his mouth. The quiver inside her grew in intensity, and then it started to burn, surging up inside her until the air squeezed out of her lungs. She should have been embarrassed by how quickly she cracked, and she would have been if she hadn’t been so desperate to feel his lips on hers.
“Are you going to kiss me or not?”
“Oh, I’m most certainly going to kiss you, sweetheart. Long, slow, wet, hot, juicy kisses that will curl your toes and make you forget your name.”
Kam’s heart skipped a beat and then did a little tap dance to catch up. Swallowing around the lump in her throat she closed her eyes and prayed for strength. “Gods, I’m really not going to survive this, am I?”
“Of course you are.” He leaned in a little more, close enough for Kam to feel the feather-light brush of his lips. “You have to survive, because I have a second kiss to claim.”