Today the amazing Kersten Hamilton has stopped by to answer a few questions. We’re going to be discussing IN THE FOREST OF THE NIGHT (the second book in her Goblin Wars series), writing complex stories, second novels, sexual tension, Shakespeare and more!
Please feel free to leave questions and comments for Kersten. She’ll be checking back through out the day to answer them—and she is an amazing source of wisdom
Pat: Welcome, Kersten. Before we get going, could you please give a quick overview of the Goblin Wars series, in particularly IN THE FORESTS OF THE NIGHT.
Kersten: The Goblin Wars is the story of Teagan Wylltson, whose family is an unlikely mix of Stormrider and the human blood of Myrddn Wyllt, the real Merlin the Magician, and Finn Mac Cumhaill, cursed by Fear Doirich, the Dark Man, to die young fighting Goblin Kind.
I really like the description my editor wrote for In the Forests of the Night:
Teagan, Finn, and Aiden have made it out of Mag Mell alive, but the Dark Man’s forces are hot on their heels. Back in
, Tea’s goblin cousins show up at her school, sure she will come back to Mag Mell, as goblin blood is never passive once awoken. Soon she will belong to Fear Doirich and join them. In the meantime, they are happy to entertain themselves by trying to seduce, kidnap, or kill Tea’s family and friends. Tea knows she doesn’t have much time left, and she refuses to leave Finn or her family to be tortured and killed. A wild Stormrider, born to rule and reign, is growing stronger inside her. But as long as she can hold on, she’s still Teagan Wylltson, who plans to be a veterinarian and who heals the sick and hurting. The disease that’s destroying her—that’s destroying them all—has a name: Fear Doirich. And Teagan Wylltson is not going to let him win. Chicago
Pat: A lot of scenes in your novels are packed with characters and dialogue. It feels to the reader like they’ve stepped into a bustling family. Were you raised in a loud active family? And could you share some tips about writing scenes with multiple characters not only talking, but physically doing different things?
Kersten: I grew up with four of my seven siblings, and little or no parental supervision. My mom was out of the picture and my dad worked nights and slept days, so we rarely saw him. The usual state of affairs at our house was merry chaos. I grew accustomed to it and continued the tradition after I married—only with many, many more people. We (my husband and I) have always had an open home, where people could come if they needed a place to stay. Some people have lived with us for months, and some for years. The most we have ever had under our roof at one time was seventeen. So, yes. We are a loud and active family.
Pat: Was Shakespeare Irish? And what about his muses?
Kersten: Of course he was. Even if he was born in
. Of English parents. But the Irish muses gave up on him. Too much humor for a proper Irish story, and way to many happy endings! J England
Pat: In addition the main fears and concerns, your stories have ever-present subtler worries (such as Mamieo’s heart problems). Were these details something you preplanned when developing the characters or is it something that emerged as you wrote?
Kersten: They definitely emerged as I wrote. ‘Meeting’ my characters is one of the things I love best about writing. They all have such complex, real lives! I really, really miss them when the book is over.
Pat: Second novels—any advice about writing them?
Kersten: Yes! Someone very brilliant (I don’t remember who) once said, “Nobody reads a book to get to the middle.” The second book of a trilogy fills that dreaded ‘middle’ of the story arc. The story had to be bigger without losing touch with the things people loved in the first book. You have to ramp up the stakes while moving the story forward. And remember to surprise your readers. On a very tight deadline.
Pat: The Greenman, Mab, Fear Doirich . . . Do you have a favorite non-human character or myth?
Kersten: Actually, yes! I do have a favorite non-human character, one that I would like to be. I’ll tell you if you promise not to laugh. I would like to be….A FAIRY GODMOTHER! (Stop laughing. You promised!) No, it is not the poofy pink sparkly outfits that I adore. (I’d wear jeans and a t-shirt) Its what fairy godmothers do: they show up at a key point in someone’s life with the tools or opportunities the person needs to achieve their dreams. What could be better than that?
Pat: LOL. I can so see you as a fairy godmother. Okay, I mentioned in my review of IN THE FORESTS OF THE NIGHT that I was going to ask you a couple of questions related to sexual or romantic tension. Here we go.
The budding romance between Finn and Teagen really sizzles. Is writing romantic tension a craft aspect you work on specifically or does it come naturally?
Kersten: Action and adventure come naturally to me. Romance I have to work at. And kissing scenes make me blush. Some of the most romantic scenes in these books have no kissing—but they still make me blush!
The way I work at it is by reading a lot of classic romances—Pride and Prejudice is one of the romances I study. First we meet the characters and are shown exactly why they do not like each other. And there are very good reasons for them not to get along. Then, slowly, we are allowed to see deeper into each of the characters as they change and become perfect for one another. Tension comes from the fact that we know what they will miss out on if they don’t come together.
I really like books such as The Grand Sophy by Georgette Heyer and the Amelia Peabody mysteries by Elizabeth Peters by as well. They are masters of mischievous romance. And what is true romance without a little humor? I never did like Romeo and Juliet. Some of the funniest moments in my own books are also the most romantic.
Pat: Balancing the main plot and subplots in your stories must be difficult. When you revise, do you sometimes have to cut back on subplots to let your main plot shine through? Aka—how do you avoid having the romance take over the storyJ
Kersten: I think that you have to drop your characters into such a BIG story that the readers are always a little worried about what will happen next. A little on edge, even during the kissing scenes—because it all could be taken away in a single story heartbeat. And…there are always so many sub-plots in my own life that I guess they come naturally to me.
Pat: What one piece of advice would you give new authors on how to strengthen the romantic tension in their own works?
Kersten: Don’t move the physical relationship forward too fast, as if sex were relationship. Romantic tension is just another word for anticipation. Don’t lose the delicious relationship building and anticipation that comes with love.
Pat: One last question. Where did the title IN THE FORESTS OF THE NIGHT come from?
Kersten: From William Blake’s poem:
Tyger! Tyger! burning bright
In the forests of the night,
What immortal hand or eye
Could frame thy fearful symmetry?
In what distant deeps or skies
Burnt the fire of thine eyes?
On what wings dare he aspire?
What the hand dare seize the fire?
And what shoulder, and what art,
Could twist the sinews of thy heart?
And when thy heart began to beat,
What dread hand? and what dread feet?
What the hammer? what the chain?
In what furnace was thy brain?
What the anvil? what dread grasp
Dare its deadly terrors clasp?
When the stars threw down their spears,
And watered heaven with their tears,
Did he smile his work to see?
Did he who made the Lamb make thee?
Tyger! Tyger! burning bright
In the forests of the night,
What immortal hand or eye,
Dare frame thy fearful symmetry?
Pat: Oh, yeah. And I still think Ms. Skinner is one of the scariest characters.
Kersten: Ah, Ms. Skinner. Anyone with a heart will cry for her by the time the books are done. I promise.
Pat: Thank you so much Kersten. Will you be willing to stop back later and answer questions?
Kersten: I will be! Thanks for having me on your blog, Pat!
Pat: Here’s a link to my review of IN THE FORESTS OF THE NIGHT
Order TYGER, TYGER and IN THE FOREST OF THE NIGHT today from you local bookstore on check it out online: