Interview with Author Diane O’Key


Please welcome my fellow Wild Rose Press author Diane O’Key!

Thanks so much for inviting me, Babette.

My life in a nutshell: I’ve been reading and writing as long as I can remember. While I only wrote poetry and short stories when I was younger, I taught high school language arts, and my greatest love has always been classic novels. But when I discovered romance at age 30, I was hooked for life. A welcome break from heavy and tragic. J

Raised on the Jersey Shore when it was still a small-town area, I was a tomboy. In high school I loved sports and drama— and was blessed with exceptional teachers who fed my love of literature and history…and inspired my dream of becoming a teacher myself.

I worked my way through college, married my high-school sweetheart, and taught high school in NJ, then in SW Florida until I retired. One of my greatest joys is the number of students who still keep in touch. One of my greatest fears is that they remember me as OCD about grammar. LOL

My husband, a retired firefighter, and our son, a gifted airbrush artist, are my two favorite men in the world. I joke that they’re the inspiration for my heroes…but in many ways, they really are.

Tell us about your current release, CHERISH THE KNIGHT.

CHERISH THE KNIGHT, my debut historical romance, released at the end of July.

Ambushed as he approaches the English estate promised him by William the Conqueror, Lord Cort Dornogard dares trust no one…least of all the spirited Gaelic healer, Alexis Fallon, who fascinates even as she defies him.

The magnificent Norse warrior threatens both Alexis’ heart and her cherished autonomy, for she harbors a secret about the ambush she cannot reveal. Honesty will cost her her freedom. But silence may cost her far more.

Cort harbors a damning secret of his own—one guaranteed to foment rebellion among his new subjects. Escalating attacks and accidents on the estate confirm that fear. His foes, both English and Norman, will exploit what he hides to destroy him, his dreams, and the woman he’s grown to love.

Snared in a web of castle intrigue, passion, and betrayal, Cort and Lexi are far more than either suspects. If they do not learn to trust, their enemies will destroy them both. And they will discover too late that truth is a double-edged sword…

What inspired this story? Medieval history has always fascinated me, but this story began with an AHA moment. I was floating in the pool when, out of nowhere, Cort’s image popped full-blown into my head.  And I thought, “Well, aren’t you pretty.” J Then, Lexi appeared and they began to talk—and the rest is history. Sorry, I couldn’t resist.

What are you working on now? I’m completing another 11th Century romance tentatively titled Knight of the Sun, with another Norse hero and a Druid heroine. My agent has two other manuscripts, one a sweet/spicy small-town contemporary, the other a romantic suspense.

Where do you start when writing? Unfortunately, or maybe not, I’m a “pantser” or “fly in the mist” writer. I do(too much) research for my historicals, though I’ve learned to concentrate on one element at a time rather than allow myself to wallow, which I’m prone to do because history just sucks me in. Sometimes the kernel of a story begins in the middle for me, so I have to work backward, then forward. While I have a general idea where I’m going, major scenes and the ending, I never plot from A to Z. So my characters take me along some interesting avenues I hadn’t planned, and I sometimes have to drag them back—or not. It depends on where they’re going, and why.

What do you wish you’d known before becoming published? How time-consuming social media can be. Until you have name-recognition, publishers do very little to promote your work. I’ve learned from conferences and other published authors that it’s best to choose just a couple media sites you’re comfortable with and concentrate on those. You have to balance getting your name out there with writing time. It’s a real challenge.

Where is your favorite place in the world? Don’t know if it’s good or bad, but I don’t have one favorite place. Our South Carolina Upstate lake home is my refuge. But I love to travel, and the varied beauties of England’s Lake District, Ireland’s Ring of Kerry, Germany, Hawaii, Alaska, and the American West all hold special places in my heart. We plan to return to the British Isles, where Scotland is a must!

A few of my favorite things:Cherish the Knight

1. Reading and writing—surprise!

2. Autumn: its feel, its smells, its colors

3. Cheesecake—and anything vanilla

4. Time on the water

5. Making custom jewelry—it’s brain-freeze therapy

Excerpt:

Water surged as Cort pushed himself upright in the tub, jarring his injured shoulder.

“Odin’s eyeless socket!” Nothing had gone right on this day he’d awaited for almost five years…beginning with the attack en route to this estate promised him by King William. The source of which, at the moment, he had no time to ponder.

A sharp rap sounded on the door.

“Enter.” No doubt ’twas Philip, his temporary squire—another problem to be addressed, dammit.

He scoured himself with his left hand, then slid beneath the water, and resurfaced to find the chamber still empty.

“Enter!” Cort called again before lathering his dripping hair. “Dieu.” He spit suds as he wiped his eyes. The bucket of rinse water sat to his right. His shoulder ached too abominably to lift it.

Soft footsteps sounded behind him.

“Philip, dump this bucket over me, would you?”

A moment later, warm water sluiced over his head and shoulders, followed by a soft drying cloth. Strong yet gentle fingers massaged his scalp, then toweled the wetness from his shoulder-blade length hair. On a low, pleasured moan, he tilted back his head.

“My thanks, lad.” As the cloth slid away, Cort stood and grabbed it to dry himself.

A sharp gasp was followed by a husky, though decidedly feminine, voice. “Stop! Ah—Ah—Don—!”

“Beg pardon?” Cort stepped from the tub, the towel now held strategically in front of him, to face the young woman.

“I wasn’t speaking to you.” Her blunt response was tempered by its brimful-of-laughter tone.

“Oh?” His eyes scanned the room, empty but for the two of them. “Art a witch who converses with spirits, then?”

“Nay.” Head angled away from him, she seemed to inspect something over her shoulder. “With Athene, sir.”

Her works prompted Cort to step back. Though less superstitious than most, a twinge of unease stirred. “Blood of Odin,” he murmured. She speaks not with spirits but with goddesses.”

The girl must be touched in the head. Sweet Jesu! She could well have bashed him over the head with the bucket and left him to drown! Who was responsible for allowing her access to his chamber?

“She won’t bite,” the young woman assured him.

“Nor will I.” Maybe.

She turned her head at last to look at him.

Cort’s breath snagged in his throat. Late afternoon sunlight streamed through the long, narrow parapet window, outlining her in misty gold. Surely it must be God’s own jest that one so beautiful should be so addled.

“Why look you so, my lord?” The soft-spoken query held equal parts confusion and curiosity.

Torn as he was between her suspected madness and her unearthly appeal, Cort’s voice failed him. A sheer, amber-laced headcloth did little to conceal the midnight fall of her hair, which swayed all the way to the backs of her knees as she tipped her head to study him in turn. But it was her eyes that riveted his attention, their color unlike any he had ever seen: deep, tawny gold in the hazy light, like multi-faceted gems. Offset by lush lashes and elegant eyebrows as inky as her hair. Skin as translucent as the sun-shot petals of a white rose. A generous mouth moist and pink as strawberries.

If she were indeed mad, he would gladly taste of that madness…

“Truly, my lord, I was speaking to Athene. Though I prefer to call her Thene. She responds more readily to one-syllable commands.”

Loki’s own! If he’d ever engaged in a more inane conversation, Cort could not recall it.

“Do you, I wonder?” he muttered, deciding to test the thought. His voice no less fierce for its softness, he growled, “Stop!” Eyes narrowed, he pinned the girl with a glare. “And I am speaking to you.”

Praise the saints. Though her eyes widened, she remained prudently silent.

He marched to the hearth and pushed the bench closer to the fire. The harsh screech of wooden legs against stone had no sooner ended than a strange, breathy cry sounded close by, followed by the tinkling of bells.

Whirling, Cort again swept his gaze over the chamber, then the girl. “What in Hades is going on?”

A sudden stirring within her midnight hair sent him scooting backward, off balance. His calves collided with the end of the bench…

Visit Diane’s website and leave a comment on her Contact Form through the end of August, and you’ll be entered in this month’s giveaway. Good luck!

You can find Diane at:

Website: http://www.dianeokey.com/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/DianeOKeyAuthor

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/diane.okeyauthor

Blog: Diane’s Writing and Savings Tips

Blog: www.dianeokey.wordpress.com

You can buy Cherish the Knight at:
The Wild Rose Press – eBook & Print

Amazon.com – Kindle and Paperback

Barnes & Noble – Nook book

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