The Casteloria Series
Kristy K. James
Number of pages: 191
Word Count: 56,661
Cover Artist: Vila Design
He's hiding out because someone wants him dead...
Cameron Rafferty is keeping secrets. Dangerous secrets that could endanger the lives of everyone around him. His plan was simple...keep a low profile until the would-be-killer was found. And it was working - until an accident changed everything. Before he knows it, he finds himself becoming more involved with the family next door, and wishing for things he shouldn't. Things that will put their lives in jeopardy, too.
Her summer plans didn't include secrets and danger...
Spending summers on Bois Blanc Island was a tradition for author Laura Keane and her young son. Filled with special memories of the husband she'd lost to war, she looked forward to days of reminiscing, playing, and working on her newest novel. She didn't expect this year to be any different - but that was before their sexy neighbor came to her rescue like a knight in shining armor. Will that armor be tarnished when she finds out what he is and why he's living next door?
“Sometimes I wish I could just wiggle my nose or nod my head,” Laura Keane sighed, pulling into the parking spot that would be home to her seven-year-old Jeep Cherokee for most of the summer. “The traffic was brutal – and it’s not even a holiday.”
“Well, I know you know how to nod your head, but I don’t know how that, or wiggling your nose, could have helped,” twelve-year-old Sam said vaguely.
A quick glance his way, and Laura couldn’t hold back a grin. Even before the words left his mouth, he was throwing the passenger door open and scanning the marina for the boat, her references to Jeannie and Samantha already a memory.
Since heading out from Lansing at six that morning, Sam had been anxious for the long drive to be over. Not many boys on the brink of becoming a teenager would look forward to a summer of relative solitude on Bois Blanc Island. But every year he couldn’t wait to arrive, and then he dragged his heels when it was time to head back home for the school year.
Of course, some of his best and happiest moments with Jake had taken place on that little stretch of beach, so that probably explained his enthusiasm. Even though she’d had several videos of their family burned to a DVD, sometimes she was afraid that he would forget the father who had loved him so very much. Maybe Sam was afraid he would, too.
“There it is!” he exclaimed, yanking the back door open. “Mr. Benton has it ready for us.”
Rather than pointing out the fact that she paid Mr. Benton well to not only store the boat, but to have it ready for them when they needed it, Laura opened her door, taking a moment to savor the familiar sights, sounds and smells before she got out.
Gulls soared overhead, screeching as they circled above the beach, on the lookout for the tourists who kept them supplied with pieces of sandwiches and other treats. Waves lapping up on shore, the brisk breeze blowing in across Lake Huron. She couldn’t imagine a more beautiful place on earth to spend a long, relaxing vacation.
“Hey, Mom! C’mon. Help out a little here, huh?” Sam asked impatiently.
Laura quickly exited the jeep and pulled a couple of suitcases from the back, while her son loaded himself down with plastic grocery bags.
“We don’t have to get it all in one trip,” she reminded him.
“No, but the quicker we load the boat, the quicker we can get home,” he said logically.
“Just don’t hurt yourself.”
They hurried down to the dock, depositing the first batch of supplies in the boat before heading back up for the rest of their gear.
“Good morning, Ms. Keane,” Henry Benton called from his lounge chair on the beach.
“Good morning, Mr. Benton. How are you today?”
“Couldn’t be better,” he assured her with a grin. “Need some help there?”
“Thanks but we’ve got it. It feels good to be moving around after that drive.” Henry Benton must be nearing seventy and, though he appeared to be in excellent health, Laura worried about him hauling anything heavier than his fishing pole.
“Couldn’t have picked a better day for it though. Clear as a bell since I got up this morning. Not a cloud in the sky.”
“Can’t argue with you there,” she said with a laugh, adding three of the seven bags of groceries to the boat. “Wish I could say the same thing about the freeway.”
“See a lot of clouds on the road, did you now?” Henry teased.
“Ha-ha.” She heard Sam snicker behind her. “I wish it had been clear, but there were about ten million cars, trucks, SUV’s, semis, and motorhomes. You name it, and they were on the road.”
“That’s true,” Sam laughed. “And they were all out there just to aggravate my mom.”
“That what she thinks?”
“Yup.” Both Henry and Sam had a good laugh over that, as the last of the groceries were removed from the Jeep. Laura locked it up, and they wandered back down to the dock.
“Do you know if anyone is occupying the other chalets yet?” she asked, stopping for a moment to chat with Henry.
“As a matter of fact, Ben Pommeroy was telling me just the other day that he rented all three of them for the whole summer. Looks like you and the boy will have neighbors.”
“I sure hope they’re quieter than that bunch from last year,” Laura muttered, shuddering at the thought of another invasion of college boys with a penchant for loud music and late night partying. It had been a solid month of hell on earth, and one she didn’t want to repeat.
“No worries there. Ben said they’re all adults and they seemed like good, respectful people.”
“Well that’s a relief.”
“He also said they’d liked to have rented your place, too. Said he was going to offer you ten thousand more than he did last year.” Laura shook her head when Sam’s gaze met hers.
“I’m afraid poor Ben is going to be disappointed again. The chalet is not, and never will be, for sale. It was nice seeing you, Henry.” She nodded toward the boat where Sam was drumming his fingers impatiently on the steering wheel. Henry grinned.
“Nice seeing you, too, Ms Keane. Safe trip. You get your satellite turned on?” Laura nodded. “You’ll be wanting to keep an eye on the weather station. They’re calling for a doozy of a storm system to move in around Thursday. You might want to get over here before it hits to stock up on some supplies.”
“If it gets bad, we’ll just make do with whatever we have on hand. If it lasts too long, Harpers will do in a pinch.”
Did you always wanted to be a writer? If not what did you want to be?
Until I was about twenty years old, I just looked at writing as something I loved to do. What I really wanted to was be a policewoman. However, as mentioned in my author bio, being a chicken at heart, that wasn’t the best fit for me.
When did you first consider yourself a “writer”?
I’ve been writing stories since a ninth grade creative writing class. Before that, as an adolescent, I wrote plays – which a supportive aunt forced my siblings and cousins to perform for all of our parents. So I’ve been writing one thing or another for most of my life, and called myself a writer for most of that time. But it was never ‘real’ to me until I got my first piece of fan mail in 2011. And then it was like, “Wow! I really AM an author!
Do you do another job except for writing and can you tell us more about it?
My only other job is that of a mother. It is and always will be the most important job I will ever have, and it will still be mine when my kids are senior citizens (I plan to celebrate my 100th birthday, and for them to celebrate theirs long after I’m gone).
What is the name of your latest book, and if you had to summarize it in less than 20 words what would you say?
My newest book is A Cool Summer in Paradise and it’s the second installment in my Casteloria series. I’m touring the first, Laying Low in Paradise to promote the new one. Twenty words? “First impressions are often wrong as scruffy Dr. Nolan Campbell and reserved Abby Keane are about to discover.”
Who is your publisher? Or do you self-publish?
I have a bit of a rebellious nature, so when I discovered that traditional publishers require their authors to use formulas, I decided to self-publish. I’ve never believed the only way to tell a story is by using X, Y, and Z. I write the stories I need to tell – in the way I feel they need to be told. So self-publishing works well for me.
How long does it usually take you to write a book, from the original idea to finishing writing it?
There’s a good question. Enza took me about ten years. A Fine Mess took five weeks from the original idea until ‘the end.’ Usually from the first hint of an idea to the finished manuscript is two or three months.
What can we expect from you in the future? ie More books of the same genre? Books of a different genre?
While I will always, always make romance the central focus of any story I tell, I find I can’t just stick with the romance genre. I’ve written historical fiction, and have a couple of fantasy stories out – with more to come. I also like to tackle real life issues and have outlines for books that will deal with death, alcoholism, and Alzheimer’s Disease, as well as a sequel and prequel for Enza, so I’ll be back into the historical fiction. But mostly, it will be romance and fantasy romance.
Do you have a favorite character from your books? And why are they your favorite?
This is a tough question. There are so many, but if I have to choose one, it would have to be Elliot Owens. He is a devoted husband and a fabulous father with just the right amount of discipline and sense of fun.
How long have you been writing? And who or what inspired you to write?
I’ve been writing most of my life. What inspired me? The fact that I got too old to play with Barbie dolls. I needed a more mature way to continue the adventures of Barbie and Ken, and writing was the only real way to do that.
Do you have a certain routine you have for writing? ie You listen to music, sit in a certain chair?
I’m trying to develop a better routine for writing. Thus far, what works best is to back myself into a corner by promising a book by a certain date. And then I procrastinate until the last minute because my muse seems to perform better when under extreme pressure. I’m trying to retrain her. But yes, I write best when sitting at my desk in my quiet office, and I do listen to music. As to which kind, it just depends on what I’m writing. I had a playlist for music from 1918 when I wrote Enza. When I’m writing sad scenes, I listen to sad music. When I’m writing a romantic one, I listen to … of course, romantic songs.
Do you read all the reviews of your book/books?
I do, yes. Fortunately, most are positive, but I appreciate the ones that are not as well. If they include constructive criticism, I take it to heart and try to avoid those mistakes in new works.
Do you choose a title first, or write the book then choose the title?
Almost always, the title comes after the book is written. I used to come up with them first … until they were ready to publish I’d find someone else had already used it – and then I’d have to come up with a new one. So unless it includes a character name, like A Hero For Holly or Her Best Friend Jon, I just save the hassle of coming up with two and wait until I’m ready for it.
How do you come up with characters names and place names in your books?
With eighteen novels, novellas and a short story out, it becomes a challenge to come up with names. One reader pointed out that I really seem to like Jake and Sam, and another pointed out that I used Michael and Mike as the bad guys in a couple of books – and I don’t know why because I love the name. In fact, I always laugh because I used the name Michael Weston in Reluctant Guardian about five years before Burn Notice came out. As for how I choose them, I think it’s more that the characters choose them. I often start out with one name then, as I get to know him or her better, the name will change.
As for places, I think I’ve only made up the name of Casteloria and its other two islands, as well as the cities. For that, I used different parts of Irish surnames and put them together. Casteloria itself … that was just made up and it took days to figure it out.
Are character names and place names decided after their creation? Or do you pick a character/place name and then invent them?
I usually have a good idea of who the main characters are before I choose the names – or they choose them for me.
Do you decide on character traits (ie shy, quiet, tomboy girl) before writing the whole book or as you go along?
Once I have a general idea for a story, the single most important step I take is creating and getting to know my characters. If I don’t know them – extremely well – then the story is almost impossible to write. I need to know more about them than the reader ever will in order to know how they will respond to any given situation. And sometimes, when I know them better than I know myself, they hijack my stories. I’ll be planning to write a scene one way, but the characters won’t have any part of it and by the time I’m done, not only am I surprised, but the scene is far better than what I’d originally planned.
Are there any hidden messages or morals contained in your books? (Morals as in like Aesops Fables type of "The moral of this story is..")
If there are morals, they’re unintentional. But I suppose all of them have basically the same core lesson. Live an honorable life, love with all of your heart, and you just might get your happily-ever-after.
Which format of book do you prefer, eBook, hardback, or paperback?
I actually prefer a paperback. Hardcover books get really heavy to hold after a while. That said, I do most of my reading on the Kindle these days. It’s just more convenient. I don’t have to worry about losing which page I’m on, and I can carry an entire library – with books of my choosing – when I go to a doctor’s appointment, or am relaxing at home or in a hotel room.
What is your favorite book and Why? Have you read it more than once?
My sister gave me an old book called ‘Alas, Babylon.’ She found it in the high school library and thought with my love of history, I’d love it too. And she was right. I couldn’t tell you how many times I’ve read it, but I wore out the first copy. Thank goodness it was still available in print-on-demand, and I bought a new copy. It’s a story about a worldwide nuclear war in the 1950s, and centers on a group of survivors in Florida. Unlike another one from that same era (On the Beach), this ends with hope that at least some of the world’s population would not only survive a catastrophic war, but thrive.
Do you think books transfer to movies well? Which is you favorite/worst book to movie transfer?
I think they can, and sometimes do. Surprising to me, I thought The Host transferred very well to a movie. I put off seeing it for a long time because I didn’t see how a 650+ page novel could be turned into a two-hour movie without losing a lot of the story in the process – but the script writer pulled it off. I can’t really think of a ‘worst’ one because I tend to be drawn to quirky Netflix movies no one has ever heard of. Or anything involving any of The Avengers.
Your favorite food is?
It’s a toss-up between steak or meatloaf and either baked potatoes or garlic-parmesan potatoes cooked over hot coals (in foil). Throw in a big salad or a bunch of broccoli and I’m a happy girl. Oh. And a brownie. Can’t forget the brownie.
Your favorite singer/group is?
Hands down … REO Speedwagon.
Your favorite color is?
Your favorite Author is?
Oh wow. This is the hardest question of all. I have three – Debbie Macomber, Jude Devereaux, and Nora Roberts … and I can’t choose just one.
Kristy K. James' first goal in life was to work in law enforcement, until the night she called the police to check out a scary noise in her yard. Realizing that she might someday have to investigate scary noises in yards just as dark as hers if she continued on that path, she turned to her other favorite love...writing. Since then her days have been filled with being a mom and reluctant zookeeper (7 pets), creating stories, and looking for trouble in her kitchen.