Today, I have author Nat Kennedy in the interview chair. We’re discussing her latest release Blooded, a fantasy romance. Don’t forget to enter the Rafflecopter giveaway.
1. Hi, Nat. First off, readers have an idea about the writer you, but what about the everyday you? Can you share about your personal life?
Nat: Hi Maggie! Let me start by thanking you for this opportunity to answer your questions. I’m Nat Kennedy and I live on the West Coast, USA. I write mainly gay fantasy with romantic subplots that can (often?) include steamy scenes. My books always include magic, a bit of angst, dedicated and supportive romantic partners, and dastardly bad guys. In the romance subcategory, I always deliver an HEA.
My personal life? Not that exciting. (insert sad laugh here.) I have a day job as an environmental engineer, which sounds awesome, but I do a lot of technical writing and reviewing of EPA rules, which are a great cure for insomnia. I love both dogs and cats, though I’m more of a cat lady now (living in the city.) I love hiking and camping and for those on my Instagram (@natkennedybooks), you can see a lot of pictures from those adventures. My boyfriend likes to 3D print things, which, for my cat, is a bounty. She has an automatic pet feeder and an automatic treat dispenser and we’re currently trying to train her to hit a button to drop a treat. It’s not going so well. Chickens can do this, but apparently it’s a tougher chore for a cat.
2. I’ve been perusing your Goodreads page, and see your tagline is heroes, magic, and amore. Can you share what draws you to include magic in your novels?
Nat: I love fantasy. It’s been my main genre since eighth grade. But, you ask about magic specifically. To me, magic is a bit of an escapism attempt. Anything goes with magic. The rules don’t apply (which isn’t really true, because magic does have rules, but they’re your rules. See, you’re like a god.) I think that’s a big part of it. I can make stuff up, and look, Magic! It expands the universe. Gives a sense of the unknown to the reader that more contemporary or even science fiction works don’t.
3. What do you think makes for a great vampire romance for readers?
Nat: Angst! The desire to regain what was forever taken from you (the sun, freedom, Heaven). I have a special place in my heart for angsty vampires who want to be good. This all boils down to a redemption arc, which is a theme in Blooded for Byron, my mage turned vampire. He’s a religious character and feels he’s damned for what he now is, and through the story his thoughts and opinions change. It’s makes me shiver just thinking about it (is that sad to say about your own works?)
4. Your latest novel is Blooded. Can you tell me what inspired you to write this book?
Nat: Yes, a poem actually. The Old Astronomer by Sarah Williams. The quote that drew me to write this story is listed in the opening to the novel, but I’ll share it here. “Though my soul may set in darkness, it will rise in perfect light. I have loved the stars too fondly to be fearful of the night.” I read this excerpt in another angsty book, and it just struck me as VAMPIRE. Then I stared thinking of the stars and loving them. That helped me devise my magical system, which takes power from the stars. It’s amazing how one little thing like a poem sparks an entire novel. But, that’s where it came from.
And once I thought about vampires, I wanted to write steamy vampire feeding scenes. Really, that was what it was all about.
5. When first developing Blooded, did the plot come first or the characters?
Nat: For this book, it was more plot or concept. I had this idea for my star-powered magic, the power being set into stones that sorcerers had to use to cast spells. Then, hot on the heels of my concept, Byron Domitius jumped out of my head, just aching for a redemption arc. Usually it’s a world element that starts the whole process, then characters. It’s different for each book.
6. Let’s talk about the main character Nicodemus Green. What do you love most about him and what makes you want to shake him?
Nat: I love talking about my characters. I grinned when I read this question. Nick wants to be a good guy. He’s worried that sometimes, in his past, he hasn’t been. He’s callus and burned out on his decade long hunt for Wormwood, my antagonist, but is still marching forward, because if he doesn’t, who will?
This [edited] excerpt summarizes Nick quite nicely (don’t want to give too much away).
“We are the good guys,” Nick said.
Byron wondered if this was one of those self-searching moments and decided to indulge Nick. “If you say so. Who ever considers themselves on the side of evil?”
“I’m sure Wormwood doesn’t think of himself as good. Remember Vaasa. Wormwood killed the entire student population at the academy there when he couldn’t take captives like he had at my graduation. Do you think he considers that the act of a good man?”
“I’m sure Wormwood wouldn’t even engage in a conversation about this topic.”
“But we are the good guys. We’re fighting the good fight.” It was more of a question now. More of a need.
“Of course, we are.”
Nick’s hand squeezed his own. “We might lose. I—I don’t want to dwell, but we might lose. We don’t know what he has up his sleeve. And it’s got to be something unexpected.”
“If you feel that way, why are you fighting?”
Nick faced Bryon. Byron looked into his eyes, shimmering in the faint light of stars sparkling in from the window. “We have to. Somebody has to. We fight not only the fights we know we can win. We fight the fights that need fighting, no matter the outcome.”
What makes me want to shake him? He’s a little bit of a push over, because by now, other than his manhunt, he’s very blasé about life and the things that happen to him. He’ll do anything that needs to be done, even if someone takes advantage of him.
7. The same for Byron Domitius. What do you love most about him and what makes you want to shake him?
Nat: Byron is dry and stoic and his voice amuses me to no end. At times, it was a challenge to keep his voice consistent, to make him sound like a stiff Instructor. I like that he is willing to accept he was wrong and willing to turn his life around. He is my angst-bomb, yes, but he wants to be happy and is willing to leave behind his drama to find that happiness. He learns from his mistakes.
He’s a stubborn goat sometimes, doesn’t want to give an inch. He needs a good shaking early in the book.
8. Without giving away any spoilers, what was your favourite scene to write and why?
Nat: I’ve several. I have a few introspective scenes, such as the one above, that I adore writing, to get really into their heads and find out what values they have. I love that. When a scene writes itself because the character is speaking to you.
9. If a reader asked you why they should read Blooded, what would you tell them?
Nat: It’s full of fire and loyal friends and a crusader who wants to do good in the world. There’s romance and action and magic. And above all, a HEA that leaves the reader feeling warm inside and wishing for a sequel (sorry, there isn’t one.)
10. What can we expect from you in the future? Care to share about your current WIP?
Nat: I’m kinda brewing two different books. One is an adventure erotic high fantasy. Think of the Hobbit – traveling to a destination and having adventures along the way – but with more sex. I have another redemption arc in that book. I love my redemption arcs. Someday I’ll burn out on it.
My other is a non-romantic superhero novel that I tried to shop around, but was told ‘there is no market for superhero novels’. So, there’s that. My hero is a woman who can shapeshift into cats, because I’d want to shapeshift into cats. She’s a total hedonist. There is an otherworldly conspiracy she ferrets out and is forced to confront, though she’d rather lay one someone’s lap and be petted.
Both are firsts in a series.
11. What do you enjoy most about writing?
Nat: Creating, entertaining, and feeling that awesome achievement of having a final product.
12. What do you enjoy least about writing?
Nat: Constant rounds of editing. Finding plot holes.
13. I enjoy doing random questions, so humour me:
- What’s your favourite movie?
I don’t have favorites, really, but I do love Babe, and Captain America Winter Soldier. There’s a broad array.
- What book is currently in your e-reader?
I’m reading Man and Beast by Michael Jensen
- Who’s your favourite musical group?
I hardly listen to music anymore, but I do like the music Two Steps From Hell creates.
- What song puts a smile on your face?
Mr. Blue Sky by ELO always makes me want to dance.
14. Is there anything else you’d like to add?
Nat: It was wonderful to stop by and share a little about myself with your followers. Thanks for having me!
Book Title: Blooded
Author: Nat Kennedy
Release Date: September 25, 2021
Tropes: Hurt/comfort, antagonists to allies/lovers, past student/teacher, vampire blood feeding, vampire blood bond
Themes: Redemption, Personal Acceptance
Heat Rating: 4 flames
Length: 113 500 words/290 pages
How far will two sorcerers go to save humanity? Will they give up their lives? Will they give up their hearts?
Blurb: A broken mage. A penitent vampire. Can they put aside the horrors of the past to save each other?
Plagued with erratic. volatile magic, Nicodemus Green focuses his entire life to stop an evil sorcerer who brainwashes or kills anyone in his path to domination. Ten years into this crusade, Nick stumbles upon his former Academy instructor in the Austrian Alps. The strict and pious Byron Domitius has cloistered himself in an isolated manor. Alone and starving, he hates the twisted, damned creature he has become.
A prophecy calls for Nick and Byron to bond by blood to finally bring an end to the sorcerer’s hidden agenda. The two are forced to see beyond their shared past, and Nick finds himself desiring more from his old instructor than just his magic. But are these emotions real, or do they come from the heat of their bond?
Note: It is a standalone book and does not end on a cliffhanger.
They stood side by side, almost close, looking up at the twinkling stars. Byron pointed, and Nick followed his finger to the sky.
“Perseus,” Byron said. “Do you see that, the upper right branch of Perseus? Do you know what I’m talking about?”
“I had astronomy with you two years in a row. Or did you forget?”
“I didn’t forget. I nurtured the assumption that you and your gang of goons had more important things to do than pay attention in my class.”
“Goons? We did pay attention. I know the constellation.” He didn’t remember it from Byron’s class, though. They had a Mentor of the Month who lived at an observatory near the top of Mt. St. Helens in Washington, and they’d spent hours staring at the stars. It had been windy and cold, and the sky had been clear, the stars brilliant.
“Fine. That star, the bright one, is Algol. It means Demon Head. Fitting for the constellation that is supposed to hold the head of Medusa.”
Nick hmmed to show he was listening. Byron’s voice was soothing, deep and quiet in the dark of night. Comfortable. Safe. “Algol is actually a tertiary star, but the third star is so weak, it puts off little shine. It’s used by celestials as a binary system to imbue power into obsidian.”
“A twin star.” Suddenly invested, Nick gazed up with a sense of wonder. “Is that the power that was in my obsidian, sir?”
Byron nodded, then turned to Nick, his dark eyes fathomless, his face young and smooth and illuminated from above. “Yes. There are two stars there, circling one another. Their individual gravitational pull keeps them in a perfect orbit, tethered in their eternal spin. And together, they are brighter for it,” he said softly, reverently. The air felt heavy, and then Byron faced the sky.
Nick watched his old professor out of the corner of his eyes, unmoving, like a statue, gazing upon the night sky with a depth of sorrow and yearning Nick couldn’t understand, never could understand, even after his years of wandering. He wanted to reach out, touch him, perhaps melt his cold flesh, make him come alive with contact, and then he realized he was staring and thinking inappropriate things.
He cleared his throat.
“Well, I should get back in, Byron. Enjoy your evening.”
Byron slowly looked down at him, a small smile on his lips, not a smirk, but a close cousin like he could read Nick’s thoughts. Felt Nick’s desire like a breeze on his arms.
“You as well.”
Nat Kennedy writes fantasy fiction of all kinds. She strives to create engaging, plotty romantic stories. In her worlds, Heroes abound. She lives in the Pacific Northwest where the rain keeps the world green. Find her online at natkennedy.com or on IG natkennedybooks.
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