Happy February, everyone!
At the Romantic Times Booklovers Convention ’08, I met some incredibly talented authors. One of them has graciously offered to be interviewed on my blog.
So pour yourself some tea –
and find a spot on the chaise.
Ladies (and gentlemen) it is with great pleasure that I introduce to you Kristi Astor!!
GDG: Kristi – Thank you so much for indulging my curiosity!!
I recently read Lords of Desire (released Jan. ’09) and was enchanted!
How did you get that gig?
KA: My editor at Kensington was nice enough to ‘invite me’ into the anthology! As soon as she mentioned Virginia Henley was involved in the project, I was very quick to say yes. The anthology seemed like a really good way to introduce readers to my new pen name before the release of my first full-length Edwardian-set historical.
GdG: How long have you been with Kensington – and were they your first publisher?
KA: Kensington was my very first publisher—my debut book (UNLACED) came out with them in 2004. Seems like such a long time ago! I’ve been lucky enough to work with the same fabulous editor, Audrey LaFehr, the entire time. My first four books with Kensington were all Regency-set historicals, and they were written as Kristina Cook.
GdG: What other houses are you with and under what pen names?
KA: I also write for Harlequin NASCAR (as Kristina Cook) and Harlequin Spice (as Kristi Astor).
GdG: How did the idea for Swept Away originate?
KA: Believe it or not, it was inspired by the BBC miniseries North & South (from the Elizabeth Gaskell novel). I took a similar set-up—a well-bred heroine from the genteel south of England paired with a common-born hero from the industrial north. I think the similarities mostly end there, plot-wise, though the themes are similar. North & South was set in Victorian England, but the set-up works just as well during the Edwardian era, particularly as England was on the verge of ‘modern times,’ which did not favor the ‘old ways’ of the aristocracy.
GdG: Was there a word count restriction on the Lords of Desire anthology story?
KA: I think I was required to keep the novella to 25,000 words or so.
GdG: Do you usually write with word count in mind?
KA: Not at all—I generally find that pacing comes fairly naturally to me. The arc of this particular story worked perfectly for a novella. I find it helpful when writing a novella to have the characters already know each other, as they did in Swept Away. That way, the romance doesn’t feel so rushed.
GdG: Where do you find ideas for stories?
KA: I think I get seeds of ideas from movies or TV shows, mostly. By ‘seeds’ I mean certain elements of the set-up that can work in any historical era. For instance, my next full-length historical after A MIDNIGHT CLEAR (Oct. ’09) is sort of inspired by the TV show “The Office.” I know, that sounds weird, doesn’t it?! But basically I’m taking the seed of the Jim/Pam relationship (probably one of the sweetest, most romantic TV relationships ever, despite the fact that the show is a laugh-out-loud comedy), and planting it in Edwardian England. So the hero and heroine are very good friends—best friends, even—and while the heroine is involved with someone else (who’s totally wrong for her, of course!), the hero secretly pines after her. Of course, this is a totally common romance trope, but one of my all-time favorites!
GdG: Where do you find motivation?
KA: A deadline! Unfortunately, that’s the truth!
GdG: Describe your typical work day?
KA: I wish I had a typical work day! In theory, I’d like to begin working when my elementary-school-age children leave in the morning, and work until they come home in the afternoon—and then devote the rest of my time to home and family. But it NEVER works out that way. With two kids, a dog, an elderly cat, two birds, and a household to manage, there’s always something that needs to get done during the day, and somehow my “muse” doesn’t really kick in till nighttime, anyway. So somehow I usually manage to piddle away the day checking email, reading blogs, checking Facebook (my newest obsession!), doing promo stuff or what have you, and then I don’t really get into my true writing groove till after the kids have gone to bed at night. Then I stay up WAY too late, writing.
GdG: Do you get to read for leisure? If so, what do you read/who are your favorite authors?
KA: Not nearly as often as I used to. My favorite historical romance author is Julia Quinn—reading her books is what got me interested in writing romance to begin with. I love to re-read my favorite classics like GONE WITH THE WIND, REBECCA, JANE EYRE, anything by Jane Austen or E.M. Forster. I also love the LORD OF THE RINGS trilogy. Neil Gaiman is one of my favorite authors—I loved THE GRAVEYARD BOOK and was so happy that it won the Newbery Award this year. Other favorite authors are Anne Rivers Siddons, Maeve Binchy, Colleen McCullough, and Jodi Picoult. Oh, and I’ve been a huge TWILIGHT fan since the very first book in the series came out. I guess you could say that my reading tastes are very eclectic!
GdG: Please tell us about the Lust In Time Blog?
KA: Amanda first approached me, asking if I was interested in starting a blog devoted to ‘hot historicals’.’ I immediately jumped at the chance, recruiting my critique partner, Charlotte, to join us. We sort of envisioned a ‘gathering place’ for readers and writers of hot historicals—not just erotic romance, but a range of sensuality. So while we try to talk a lot about that specifically, we also just like to gab, which is why our blog goes off-topic so often. I hope we are fostering a community where readers and writers who share a mutual interest can come together and have fun!
I don’t know whose idea Lord Craven-Moore was, specifically, but pretty early on we decided that we needed a kind of LIT “Mascot” and we searched stock photo sites for days until we found the perfect photo—and when we did, it was entirely unanimous! Interestingly enough, blog feedback seems to show that Lord Craven-Moore is one of the most popular features of the blog. Go figure!
GdG: What reading goodies do you have for us in the future?
KA: Lots more coming out in 2009! A full-length Edwardian-set historical, A MIDNIGHT CLEAR, in October; the erotic historical novella “Lover’s Dawn” in the first Celtic Spice anthology, WINTER’S DESIRE, in November; and my first NASCAR romance, FORCE OF NATURE, in December. There are two more Celtic Spice anthologies to follow, BELTANE FIRES in May 2010 and DARK PLEASURES in October 2012. And I’ve got another contracted full-length Edwardian historical coming out at some point—probably late 2010.
GdG: Do you plan on doing any signing tours?
KA: I’ll be signing at the Romantic Times BOOK Lovers convention this April, and also at the RWA National conference in July.
GdG: Anything you’d like to add?
KA: Just a BIG THANK YOU for having me!! And I’m totally looking forward to reading your first release, REMEMBER ME! The cover is gorgeous!
GdG: Aw! You are so welcome! And aren’t you sweet!!
My deepest gratitude for spending your time with us, Kristi! I’ll see you at RT! Blessings to you and yours –
PS – You can find Kristi at the Lust In Time Blog or her website; both links are in the colomn to your right.
Thanks for stopping by!