Here’s an author interview with Kate Monroe.
Take it away, Kate…
- What’s your favourite published work of yours and why?
It always seems to be the case that my most recent work is my favourite. Right now, it’s a short piece I wrote to support the release of The Falcon’s Chase. A Mechanical Man was intended to be only a quick flash fiction for my blog, but the concept of steampunk erotica – or steamspunk, as one friend laughingly called it! – fascinated me so much that I couldn’t help but let it grow into something far longer. There was something very appealing about the elusive professor and his mysterious invention that I couldn’t resist, and to my delight it’s been very well received by its readers. A Mechanical Man is free to download via Smashwords.
- What erotic authors do you enjoy reading?
I love Lila DiPasqua’s fairytale anthologies. I’m a massive fan of the way that she drew on inspiration from the stories we all knew and loved as children to create her own unique and deliciously steamy versions of the tales, and her characters have a fantastic depth to them even in the limited word count of the short stories.
- Where do you draw your inspiration from?
My dreams never fail to inspire my stories. Perhaps I have a devious muse who only likes to come out to play at nighttime, but I would say that at least three quarters of the stories I’ve written have had their origin in the depths of my dreams. To that end, I always keep pen and paper next to the bed to scribble down a piece of prose or dialogue as it comes to me, for I’ve learnt the hard way that however much you’re convinced you’ll remember your dream in the morning, that glorious stroke of inspiration will slip away with the coming of dawn if you don’t write it down!
- Where’s your favourite place to write?
A mile or so from where I live is a small forest, and in its midst is a Gothic castle that was built in the eighteenth century. The forest spreads over 600 acres, so I know that when I retreat there with a notepad and pen I’ll always be able to find some solitude and inspiration; be that looking out over the gorge, nestled into the winding paths that run alongside the brook or seated in the shadow of the cottage that local legend says once belonged to a witch. Jane Austen even mentioned the estate in Northanger Abbey, and if it’s good enough for her it’s certainly good enough for me.
- Who is your favourite character from one of your stories and why?
It’s actually one of the supporting characters from my new novel, The Falcon’s Chase; Captain Elijah Wolfe. On first glance he might seem to be a deeply unlikeable character, but there are many layers beneath the front he displays to the nineteenth century society that the story is set in. Very few women have the power – or desire – to resist the allure of a bad boy; I know that I’ve always been a sucker for a man with a wicked sense of humour and a barrel load of secrets. The pirate captain Wolfe most certainly ticks all those boxes and more besides, and it’s that which makes him my own personal favourite.
- What was your ideal career when you were a child?
I always wanted to be a writer. I went through many phases before finally settling down to do what I now do; I considered everything from sports journalism to specialising in historical non-fiction. I knew that wherever I would end up, words would be my trade, but it wasn’t until I left school that I realised the world of literature was where I belonged.
- How do you get yourself in the mood to write?
Nothing beats a glass (or three) of a deep-bodied red wine and the right music. When I’m writing an erotic or particularly emotional scene, I find that I have to be relaxed otherwise the words won’t sound right and it won’t be possible to get inside the characters’ heads. I have a playlist specifically for writing, and there are few things better than a glass of wine in my hand and the delicious timbre of Tom Waits’ voice in my ears to inspire the scene to start flowing.
- If you get writer’s block when you’re writing, how do you get around it?
The very best thing to do is to push through it, however hard it might seem. The longer you leave something, the harder it becomes to tackle; whether it’s a plot hole or just something as simple and frustrating as the words refusing to come to mind, I force myself to sit down at the computer and refuse to move until I’ve hit my word target. Even if I end up deleting all of it during the editing process, I just keep going until it becomes easy again. The worst thing for any author to do is to get out of the habit of writing. One day without writing becomes a week, a week becomes a month, and then before you know it you just haven’t got the motivation to start again. Writer’s block really is an author’s worst enemy, and it’s one that needs stamping on as soon as it appears.
- What’s your favourite genre within erotica and why?
I love historical tales, because to me there’s something really rather magical about days gone by that goes hand in hand with erotic romance to draw the reader in. The abiding popularity of classic romance from the Brontës, Austen, Eliot and others shows that readers still crave all that was so bewitching about the time when a loaded glance could say so much and a courtship couldn’t be played out through the distinctly pragmatic medium of Facebook. When combined with the added fire of erotica, historical romance is lifted to a whole new level that I for one love to become lost in.
- What’s your biggest writing achievement? Why?
Publishing for the very first time. For years I wrote only for myself and didn’t dare put my work out there for fear that people would criticise all that I put so much into, so it took a long time to build up the courage to send my stories out there into the world. I felt sick with nerves, and I still remember the incredible thrill when I received my very first review – and it was a 5 star one. It amazed me then that people enjoyed my work and were willing to pay for it, and it still does now. To me, a good review is worth as much as the money I make from writing, because again and again it offers validation that finding the courage to publish that first story was the right thing to do.
Captain Reuben Costello is just hours away from facing his execution when the unlikeliest of rescuers storms into his cell. Lady Arianne Dalton needs the assistance of the infamous Black Swan to flee England and all its constraints. He finds himself more than willing to help the fiercely independent Ari in exchange for his freedom.
However, when they come to find their fates inextricably tangled in a plot that threatens the very foundations of British society, they are swept away on a chase that puts not only their lives, but their hearts at risk – and neither of them can defy the wild and stormy ride they find upon the Falcon.
Reuben Costello knew that he had tried a hundred times to wrench the unyielding iron bars of his prison cell apart, but he could not resist the urge to try just once more. However hard he tugged, though, they withstood even the inhuman amount of force that his prosthetic arm applied to them, just as they had so many times before.
He delivered a furious kick to the bars that had him inescapably trapped as his dark eyes settled upon the copper plated arm that he wore like a badge of honour. Meticulously bonded to the living flesh it clung to, it was just as responsive and more effective than the arm of muscles and bones that had existed in its place for the first eleven years of his life; but though he had worn it for twenty years now and it had served him well for all of those, the sight of it still filled him with a bitter and resentful disgust.
Even that painful emotion, though, could not distract him for more than a few moments. Far more pressing was the grim awareness that with every second that passed, sunrise drew nearer, and with it would come his execution. Reuben had lived a far from blameless life, always dancing along the thin, blurred line that separated the pursuits of an ordinary merchant and the more interesting activities that he liked to indulge in.
Betrayed to Her Majesty’s Royal Navy after a dalliance with the pirates that roamed the Red Sea proved too irresistible for his mercenary side to ignore, Reuben had been captured and dragged to the infamous Tower of London. It had taken no less than a dozen captains to bring him in. Had he been aboard his ship when they attacked, he had no doubt that they would not have succeeded.
Reuben had not been aboard the Falcon, though. Instead, he had been spending the night with his latest mistress – and when she had brazenly lounged back on the bed with a cigarillo between her perfect red lips and laughed loudly as they dragged him away, he had silently cursed his propensity for choosing his bedmates based on looks alone.
That, it seemed, was not a mistake he would have the chance to ever make again. Though his crime was nowhere as severe as it should be to warrant execution, that was the sentence that had inexplicably been passed. Time was rapidly slipping away from him and much to his disgust, it was becoming clear that there would be no escape from the harsh fate that awaited him.
He sank down to the cold, grimy cobbles that lined his dungeon cell and affixed a menacing scowl to his face for the sole benefit of any gaolers that should happen to parade past his cell with their looks of disdain and taunts about the noose that was so soon to be claiming his neck in the hangman’s embrace. Soon, light footsteps heralded the approach of just such a person.
Reuben snatched upon the only amusement that would be his on this last lonely night of life. He wrapped his fingers around the hateful bars of his cell and knelt down, drawing back his thin lips to expose the gleaming teeth beneath as he deliberately allowed a low, ominous growl to rise up from the pit of his stomach and echo around the confines of the dungeon.
He squinted into the dimly-lit gloom as the footsteps quickened and caught sight of a distinct shape emerging from the putrid darkness. Far shorter than any of the guards he had become accustomed to – he would estimate that the top of their head would not even reach his shoulder – and dressed all in black, the person reached into their pocket and extracted what was undoubtedly, from the jangling sound of metal against metal, a bunch of heavy brass keys.
Reuben’s eyes narrowed as they quickly swept across the newcomer appraisingly. Their head was bowed low, concealed from his gaze by the shadow of the black cap atop it, and a full-length greatcoat enveloped their body and skimmed across their ankles to reveal tight-fitting breeches and laced leather boots.
Everything about the clothing that they wore screamed of masculinity, but an incredulous suspicion was rising inside him that it was no man that stood before him. The slender fingers that were now fumbling with the keys were pale and unblemished, as far removed from the rough and calloused hands of the gaolers as it was possible to be. As they unlocked the door and hastily slammed it shut behind them, the shape of a second person stepped out of the shadows in the corridor.
“I shall stay at the end of the corridor to stand guard, then – just shout if you need me, ma’am.” They were dismissed with a jerk of the head and an irritable wave of the delicate hand that had unlocked the door.
Even if those intriguing words had not made it plain that it was a woman now locked in the cell with him, any remaining doubt he might have had was extinguished when he inhaled sharply and a delicate scent that had wafted in with the newcomer danced around his senses, teasing and tantalising him with its faint notes of jasmine and gardenia. It was a scent that was intrinsically and undeniably feminine in origin.
Reuben swallowed hard, for a woman’s appearance in his cell could mean only one thing. He let loose a soft groan. He had been alone in his cell for over a month now and the company of a woman was perhaps the only thing that might make him able to forget his imminent execution. With a deep, primal hunger raging inside him, he stared at her intently as she slowly pulled away her cap to reveal the face of the woman that had come to offer him the scant comfort she could provide.
“Ah! You are to be this condemned man’s last meal, I presume?” Reuben’s low voice was hoarse, for the instant that she had removed her cap and revealed herself to him, he had been consumed by such a forceful throb of aching desire that he knew he had to have her, prostitute or not. Not even pausing to think upon the surprising and uncharacteristic generosity that his gaolers had shown in sending such a rare beauty to him on the eve of his execution, he roughly backed her up against the stone walls of the cell.
Her soulful eyes widened and her lips parted, but before she could speak Reuben devoted himself to the far from unpalatable task at hand. If this was to be the last woman he would take before his execution then, he thought wryly, it was fitting that she was by far the loveliest he had ever had in his arms, despite her manly attire – attire that he intended to waste no time in stripping away from her shapely form.
He shook his tangled, jet black braids back out of his face, lowered his head and laid forceful, triumphant claim to her wonderfully soft and pliant lips, already dizzy with the strength of his desperate yearning for her. Reuben slipped one hand behind her head to caress the delicate nape of her neck and hold her in place as his fingers wound through the silken curls of hair escaping the tight bun attempting to restrain them, his arousal rapidly spiralling out of control as he pushed himself up against her to mould himself against every feminine contour of her body.
He forced his prosthetic arm between their bodies to reach for the intricate buttons of her greatcoat and tugged them apart with such force that they ripped free of the fabric, but even that was not enough to persuade him to break the kiss. Never before had a mere kiss managed to arouse him with such ferocity. Perhaps it was the adrenalin pounding through his body in anticipation of his death intensifying all that he felt, but Reuben had never craved any woman as much as he did this one.
As his fingers insistently moved between their bodies to seek out the fastenings of her shirt, though, brushing against the agonisingly tempting curve of her high, full breasts as they did so, she twisted her head to the side with a loud and rasping cry. “What in God’s name do you think that you are doing, sir?!”
Reuben arched one dark eyebrow incredulously as he fought for breath and ruthlessly kept her pinned up against the wall. “I thought that was more than obvious! I was beginning to avail myself of all the pleasures that your sweet mouth had to offer to me. Is that not why you came here?”
“No!” Rage burned in her wide, darkened eyes as she struggled desperately to free herself of his hold. “Good God, I am no…no…” She trailed off, blushing hotly as a small smile began to quirk back the corner of his lips.
“Prostitute?” Reuben offered mildly, his anger at being interrupted fading away in the face of her evident reaction to his proximity – a reaction that it seemed she was not simply falsifying for the sake of her wages.
“Indeed I am not!”
Her curt denial seemed genuine, much to his bemusement. As he allowed his fingers to work their way underneath the shirt she wore to caress the bare skin he found beneath, he tilted his head to the side. “But I don’t understand – how did you get in here if you are not a prostitute, little lady?”
Her flush deepened but her lips twitched with what could only be irritation as she plunged one hand into her pocket and extracted a furled piece of parchment. She unravelled it and thrust it at him contemptuously. “Admiral Dalton’s seal tends to open any door that happens to be in one’s way.”
“Admiral Dalton signed an order for my release?”
“No, but I am very adept at forging my father’s signature; I am Lady Arianne Dalton. My friends call me Ari, but you may call me milady – and you can let me go now!”
Kate Monroe is a redheaded author and editor who lives in a quiet and inspirational corner of southern England. She has penchants for classic sci-fi, horror and loud guitars, and a fatal weakness for red wine. Her interests in writing range from horror to erotica, taking in historical romance, steampunk and tales of the paranormal on the way; whatever she dreamed about the night before is liable to find its way onto the page in some form or another…
Kate has had short stories published in numerous anthologies including works by Sirens Call Publications, Cruentus Libri Press, Rainstorm Press and Angelic Knight Press. The Falcon’s Chase is her debut full-length novel.