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1. So, tell us a little about the real Kathryn Le Veque, maybe something you haven’t shared in other interviews yet.

I love this question – who is the ‘real me? Driven, generous to a fault, a lover of animals and my family. Oddly enough, I’m a bit of an introvert. I can ‘turn it on’ when I need to, and I love meeting new people or experiencing new things, but at heart, I’m an introvert who wants to sit in her office and write books. I’m also an armchair archaeologist – my love for history and archaeology is a passion I’ve had my entire life, so instead of digging up history, I make up my own and write about it. Great gig!

 

2. Talk to us about your newest, sprawling, epic romance, A Wolfe Among Dragons?

A Wolfe Among Dragons was probably one of the more difficult books I’ve ever had to write. It’s the 12th book I’ve written in my de Wolfe Pack series, but it’s chronologically Book 8. It was difficult because it’s about discovering a son who was thought to be dead, and the main hero of the series is quite beloved, so it was difficult not to turn the book into “A father finds his dead son” instead of what it needed to be - a romance.  It’s also a little different because it takes place in Wales, and culturally, Wales was much different than England or even Scotland in the High Middle Ages. It’s such a fascinating locale to set a story, and in this case, it made a perfectly plausible setting for a character to ‘return’ from the dead.

 

3. This wasn’t a book that you had initially planned to write. Please tell us how this book came to be.

No, this definitely wasn’t a book I’d planned to write because when I started writing the de Wolfe Pack Series, I made it very clear that the hero of this book was dead. In all of the subsequent books in the series, if it was after 1282 A.D., the character was ‘dead’. But prior to that year, he’d appeared as a secondary character, several times, so readers had just enough of a taste of him that they wanted more. So, I had to figure out how to believably bring a man back from the dead – and I did!

 

4. You mention that you have a real-life son who is also named James. While obviously, James de Wolfe is a fictional character, do you think that your own son was an influence in writing him?

My only son is also a James, and he looks like a book hero. Of course, I would think that, as his mother, but it’s more than his appearance – tall, blond, well-built, etc. It’s about character, because I think a character’s personality and ethics are more endearing than his physical appearance. My son is a man of strong moral character – he has a quiet humor about him, is likable and kind, and he’s very sensitive to others. All of these things were incorporated into the hero of A Wolfe Among Dragons, so I think in a sense that made this story more personal to me than most and I think that emotion – and the love for the hero - really comes through.

 

5. This book is very emotionally-charged and gut-wrenching in places; one of which is the opening scene with the de Wolfe clan. Did you find this particular book harder to write or causing you to dig deeper than others?

This book is definitely emotionally-charged. I openly wept – and I mean ugly cried – while writing several scenes in this book, including the opening scene. I don’t normally do that, so when even I was crying as I wrote it, that told me my readers were going to do the same. There are so many deeply emotional moments in this book that transcend the characters or even the genre – they are basic human emotions of love and loss, something everyone can relate to.  I’ve been warning my readers about this book all along – bring Kleenex!

 

6. This is the twelfth novel associated with the De Wolfe Pack series and your fans are always begging for more. How do you continuously keep your readers enchanted in a long-running series?

Keeping readers engaged in a long-running series is tricky – you don’t want them to grow weary of the ‘same’ subject, so my solution to that is to ensure that every novel I write in the series is a stand-alone book. Nothing is dependent on any other novel, and the only thing that is shared is the family the series revolves around. Readers get weary (and frustrated), I think, when a series is connected by cliffhangers. They want a complete, satisfying read, and that’s what I try to give them – every time.

 

7. This series is set in the thirteenth century. How much and what kind of research went into writing these books?

Quite a bit of research went into this book, actually, because it’s mostly set in Medieval Wales, so I really had to research locations and the histories of those locations. I also do what I call ground-level research; since I live in California and can’t fly to the United Kingdom every time I want to write a book, I use Google maps quite a lot. I go to the street level view so that I can see these castles I’m writing about, and the historic lay out of the building, and literally put myself right in the middle of the action. Technology has made researching very easy – and very fascinating. It’s definitely one of the best parts of my job.

 

8. From your research, what were some of the more surprising or interesting things you learned from that time-period?

One of the interesting things I learned about this time period, specifically in Wales, is that it wasn’t considered unusual for a woman to take up arms with men, or even do jobs that men traditionally do like blacksmith or tanner. The Welsh caste system at this time was much different from the Norman social structure – while in Norman culture it wasn’t unusual for a woman of high rank to have some power and property, it certainly wasn’t usual for them to take up arms. In Wales at this time, a woman taking up arms wasn’t all that unusual at all – and my heroine is a result of that accepted practice.

 

9. You tried to break into the traditional publishing world for twenty-five-years before going into self-publishing. Talk us through your inspirational experience of becoming one of today’s hottest indie authors.

The path to Indie success for me wasn’t overnight. When I published for the first time in May 2012, I had a backlist of 25 novels, books I’d been seriously writing since 1992. I was lucky enough to have so many, but my road to publication was a bumpy one. I don’t write conventionally, and I write very big books most of the time, and I realized early on that those two factors were something traditional publishers weren’t looking for. But for me, it was more about staying true to my story than the publication of it, conforming to what traditional publishers expect or want, so I simply wrote what I wanted to write. For years, I wrote big books, big adventures, and vivid worlds. I wrote about unconventional things (for example, an African knight in England, or lesbian characters, or a knight seeking a divorce so he could marry the woman he loved). I wrote from the heart, but it still wasn’t something traditional publishers wanted to see after twenty years of submitting. Finally, I decided to independently publish the books as sort of a last-ditch effort. I signed up for KDP and just started publishing, never dreaming of where it would actually take me. I didn’t expect much in the beginning, but when it started taking off, I could hardly believe it. Twenty-odd years of rejection made me think my books just weren’t any good, so you can imagine my surprise when I started selling thousands. I kept my day job for an entire year after I first published, just because I was sure all of this was a fluke. Thankfully, it wasn’t – and exactly one year after I published my first book on KDP, I walked out of my day job and I’ve never looked back. Because of my journey, my message to new authors is this – never, ever give up. Believe in what you’re doing, understand the business, and produce a quality product. Stay true to this philosophy and readers will find you. I’m so grateful that technology has allowed authors like me to find their voice. 

 

10. And then in just three months, you became a #1 Bestseller. What was that like for you and did you do anything special to celebrate?

When I first got that bestseller tag, I was still so shocked that my books were actually selling that it didn’t even occur to me to celebrate. I bought new tires for my car – and that was the extent of ‘dreaming big’ for me!

 

11. You now own your own small press publishing company called, Dragonblade Publishing. Talk to us about your company, the authors you represent, and how it feels to be able to offer publishing contracts to these talented authors.

Dragonblade Publishing was originally my personal imprint for my books until a fellow author talked me into publishing her, too. She liked my business model and my brand, and after much begging on her part, I finally agreed to do it. It worked out so well that I began acquiring other authors with the same goal in mind – helping new authors gain some visibility and learn the business so, eventually, they can publish on their own if they want to. Even Dragonblade contracts are different – we offer 2, 3, and 4-year contracts, and authors have an ‘escape clause’ in them that allows them to get their rights back after a certain amount of time. We don’t hold on to anything. I can’t tell you how liberating it’s been to help authors who are struggling to understand this ever-changing industry, to act as their publisher and their mentor, helping them find a readership. I was there too, once, so being able to pay it forward and help others means everything to me.  Luckily, Dragonblade has been successful and continues to grow. In fact, I now have two more publishing companies, both of them publishing connected worlds, and I’m very excited to see how much these will grow as well. It’s so, so important in this business to help others, to be ethical, and to produce a quality product. That’s been my mantra from the start.

 

12. In October 2015, Kindle World’s first Historical Romance fan fiction world was launched in, Kathryn Le Veque’s World of de Wolfe Pack. Can you please elaborate on what that is and how it came about?

Kindle Worlds is Amazon’s Fan Fiction site. Kindle Worlds came to me in 2015 and asked me if they could license some of my de Wolfe Pack series characters so that other authors or even readers could write their own stories utilizing my characters. It’s a really exciting concept and I was thrilled that they asked me to be their first Historical Romance world, and it’s been such a fun journey watching authors write books using my characters – and also creating some of their own. They are writing stories I could never even imagine for my de Wolfe Pack characters, but the best part is that by doing that, they tap into my large de Wolfe Pack readership, so it’s helping those authors expand their readers.  In all, it’s been a fabulous experience and one I’ve been very honored to be part of.