Multi-published author Isabo Kelly visits the Plain to talk about her latest release, an exciting sci-fi romance called The Secret of Narava, just out from Tirgearr Publishing. Isabo’s books have won several awards, and she’s sharing an excerpt today.
Welcome, Isabo. Let’s start at the beginning. What sparked your interest in writing?
I’ve always had stories in my head, for as long as I can remember. Sometimes they were built around movies I loved or books I’d read, but mostly, I just liked to make stuff up. Putting all that down on paper was the only way to get the stories out of my head. I didn’t really consider being a writer until I was a teenager. But then high school convinced me I wasn’t good enough to be one. Thankfully, in my freshman year of college, I had a brilliant English teacher who convinced me I was capable. I was off and running from that point on and really started to think of myself as a writer.
How would you generally categorize the books/stories you write?
In general, I write science fiction/fantasy/paranormal romances. Some of them lean toward the erotic end of the spectrum. Some are a little less erotic but still pretty steamy. Occasionally, I even write a romance without any sex in it at all, but those are pretty rare stories, and tend to be the shorter lengths. More specifically, I tend to write "protector" stories—stories about people who have to protect and defend those who maybe can’t defend themselves or those they love.
Do you set your books/stories in your home town, or do you prefer more exotic locations?
Despite the fact that I’ve lived in Las Vegas, Hawaii, Germany, Ireland and now New York City, I’ve only ever used New York as a setting. I’ve never used any of the other places I’ve lived. Isn’t that funny? Part of that comes from the fact that my fantasy romances and science fiction romances take place in non-Earth locations. But I have written a few contemporary set stories and most of them are set in places I haven’t lived. I would like to set a book in Dublin, Ireland one day. But we’ll see. So far, I haven’t had that idea yet.
What inspired you to write The Secret of Narava?
The first book in the series—The Promise of Kierna’Rhoan—was published almost exactly 13 years ago with one of the earliest electronic publishing houses. It’s since been re-released several times and is currently available in e-book and print. But when it was first released, the very first review I ever saw for it had a single criticism that stuck with me. The reviewer wanted to know more about the history of the native species on Narava, the Shifters, whose extermination is sanctioned by the human government in the first book. I knew a lot about the Shifters (these are aliens, by the way, not werewolf type shifters. I gave them the name before the paranormal boom made it mean something else! Oops.). But I hadn’t put a lot of what I knew about the Shifters into the first book. On top of that, my editor at the time thought a secondary character in The Promise of Kierna’Rhoan would make a great hero. So I sat down to think of a sequel. When I realized some things had to happen on Narava before that secondary character could have his own story, I realized I was writing a trilogy. And The Secret of Narava evolved as the middle book, with a really interesting twist that will shake up the planet in a big way. It’s taken me a long time to see this book published so I’m really excited about it.
I would be ecstatic. Was there much research involved?
Oh lots for this book. Yes. I even interviewed an archaeologist (because I didn’t know any paleontologists at the time) to find out how a dig would work and to ask her what kind of "future" equipment would make her job easier. Very interesting conversation that. I read some books on paleontology digs as well to make sure my casual details fit. I also had to do some reading up on evolutionary biology. But at the time when the story was first conceived, I was working on my Ph.D. in animal behavior and had a lot of smart friends in my lab who were able to point me in the direction of some excellent books to cover the weird twist I wanted to put into the book. Actually, I probably did too much research. A lot of nonsense had to be edited out of the earlier versions of the book. Hazard of the job. But boy was the research fun.
I doubt any writer can never do too much research. What do you feel is your biggest strength as a writer?
Probably writing dialogue. I’m a movie buff and dialogue is my favorite! First drafts of my novels tend to look more like scripts than prose fiction. I end up having to add a lot of detail around all that talking. But the conversations are so fun. I’ve been told I’m pretty good at action scenes and sex scenes too.
Do you celebrate when you finish a story, and if so, how?
I always celebrate in some way when I finish a first draft. It varies, depending on my time availability and finances, but I might crack open a bottle of wine or buy myself a book I’ve been eyeing for awhile. Something like that. Then I celebrate again when I get the book fully edited and ready to go out to editors or my agent. That’s a huge celebratory moment for me, every single time. Again, it’s usually wine, dinner out with my friends, a book. Or I might treat myself to something fun like a new pair of shoes or a new cross-stitch or crewel kit. Even if all I do is take a night off to watch mindless TV or give myself a week for a reading holiday, I try to do something fun to mark the moment. There was a point in my career where I wasn’t as diligent about this and it actually started to make the writing drag on me. I was losing some of my enthusiasm for the process. So I went back to the celebrations. They make me happy and give me a chance to really appreciate the work I’ve put in, to acknowledge to myself that I’ve done my job.
Sound advice. In between all that celebrating, do you have a set writing routine?
My routine changes all the time. My schedule has always been very flexible and depends on what’s going on in my life at any give stage. I work the writing in around everything else and write whenever I can. At the moment, I’m a stay at home mom to a boy who doesn’t start pre-school until September. So my daytime hours are pretty full. I go to work now about 9:30 or 10:00 at night—after the rest of the house has gone to bed—and work until 1:30 or 2am, depending on what I’m doing. This schedule has actually been working out really well for me. I can get a ton done in a few hours. I just need those hours to be quiet. Once my boy starts school, I’ll have to work during the day as we’ll have much earlier morning starts, and late nights won’t be possible if I want to sleep. So come September, I’ll be working through the morning hours. As I said, I’m flexible. This is probably a good thing.
Name a few titles I’d find if I browsed through your personal home library.
You’d find some very eclectic stuff, actually. Between my husband and me, we pretty much cover most genres of fiction and non-fiction topics. Let’s see, what do I have up there: The Grimspace series by Ann Aguirre (I’m waiting for the final book so I can read them all in one go); Rebels and Lovers by Linnea Sinclair; The Elements Encyclopedia of Secret Societies; Quantum: Einstein, Bohr and the Great Debate about The Nature of Reality; Breakaway by Deirdre Martin; If You Know Her by Shiloh Walker; The Once and Future King; Tessa Dare’s first Regency Historical Romance trilogy; Unsolved Mysteries of Science; The Year of Eating Dangerously; How to Lose a War; The Tao of Writing; The Ghost and the Goth Trilogy by Stacey Kade, Darker Still by Leanna Renee Hieber… Okay, I could go on. That’s just a random selection from one set of shelves. LOL. We have a nice little library going, and I love books across the board. Though, I do tend to read a lot of Romance. And popular science books.
What’s next for you? Can we look forward to a new story in the near future?
I’m currently talking with Tirgearr Publishing about re-releasing a short story I have called Interface which is set in The Secret of Narava’s world. It’s actually got links to Secret so it would be fun to see it available to readers again. We’re also planning on re-releasing a Christmas novella I have. And I’ll also be writing the next book in The Naravan Chronicles series, hopefully to be released some time next year. I’m currently writing the sequel to my October 2011 fantasy romance novella, Brightarrow Burning, which I’m hoping to get to my Samhain editor soon. There’s one more book in that series I want to write as well, so we’ll see how that goes. My agent is currently shopping an Urban Fantasy Romance around for me. And I’ve got a few other stories currently under consideration around at various publishers. (I’m a busy girl!) I’ll keep readers updated on my website as these various projects find homes and/or get specific release dates.
You are indeed a busy girl. Name a few of your favorite non-writing activities.
I adore traveling and seeing new places. My son is so used to flying, it’s all I can do to keep him from running down the gangway toward the plane when the doors finally open! Fortunately, I married a man who loves to travel too, so we manage to squeak in some pretty nice trips. I love to read, of course. And I do cross-stitch or crewel whenever I get the time to just sit. I play an obscene amount of Sudoku as well. I like walking, yoga and swimming. And one of my current favorite things is playing with my son. He’s at that age were he’s really fun and funny, so we have a great time. Oh, and I love to bake. Back when I was a kid, I thought I might want to own a bakery. But then I decided I didn’t want to weigh 400lbs—I like to eat what I make—so now I just bake for fun. (Some of my most hated non-writing activities are cleaning the house and laundry—but that’s another story.)
Thanks so much for chatting with me, Pat! I really enjoyed the interview.
My pleasure, Isabo. Let's have a look at The Secret of Narava.
Their discovery could lead to war . . .
Paleontologist, Dr. Ti'ann Jones, uncovers a mystery that could alter the course of her planet's future, putting her and her people in grave danger. She's forced to call in security to protect her dig site. But the man who shows up threatens Ti'ann on a much more personal level. She's spent the last three years trying to forget Nathan Longfeather and the incredible things he did to her body, but it's apparent he's already forgotten her.
Nathan thought guarding an archaeological dig site would be an easy and welcome break from his normal high-tension contracts. But when he comes face-to-face with a woman he hasn't been able to forget for the last three years, he finds himself torn between the job and dragging Ti'ann back to his ship to remind her of those brief erotic nights they spent together. Nights she seems to have forgotten.
As the truth of Ti'ann's discovery is revealed, Nathan's job gets a lot more serious, and keeping Ti'ann and her team alive becomes his top priority. In a time when anything to do with Narava's native species, the Shifters, leads to violence, Ti'ann and Nathan face enemies from both sides of the conflict and will have to find a way to prevent a planet-wide war. If they can survive, they might just have a future…together.
She activated the scanners surrounding the area she was working on, covering it with a magnetic blanket shield to protect it from being reburied by the sporadic winds that blew through the valley. Collecting her memo tablet from the large rock she’d set it on that morning, she nodded to the nearest person still carefully dusting specks of purple from an unclassified thigh bone and crossed to the lift platforms that carried the crew up from the valley floor to the campsite.
As the lift rose, she wondered if the members of the Shifter support group had arrived already. James Monroe, her contact in the group, had insisted on bringing several people with him, something that made her a little more nervous about her plan. She was glad Krin had insisted on security now. Keeping the reason for the presence of a small group secret was a lot more difficult than doing so for a single person. And that was just among her own team. Bringing in a group might well attract the attention of just the type of people Krin was afraid of.
But she wasn’t expecting Monroe and his people for another three hours or so. It could be the security guy. She had no idea when he was expected. Though, she’d be surprised if Krin called her up for that. The security was officially Krin’s responsibility. She was in charge of the Shifter support group. That suited her just fine. She was anxious to find out what their anomaly was, excited about the potential. The mystery of it had occupied her mind all morning, and she could barely wait for Monroe and his people to arrive.
As she walked down the rocky path leading from the lifts to the campsite, she pulled out her memo tablet and called up the list of elements making up the anomaly. Puzzling through the strange mixture of molecules, she only looked up and noticed her surroundings when she heard a hesitant cough. Blinking, she realized she’d reached the very edge of the camp and had nearly walked right past Krin. She started to smile.
Until she spotted the man next to Krin.
Her breath locked in her throat. She froze, unable to move or think or speak. Even when Krin stepped forward and made the introductions, several heartbeats passed before what he said worked its way into her brain.
"He’s the man I was telling you about," Krin said, a note of hesitance in his voice.
She pressed her lips together to keep her mouth from dropping open and focused on Krin.
"Dr. Jones," he continued, despite the creases marring his smooth forehead, "this is Nathan Longfeather. He’s agreed to assist us with our security issues."
Ti’ann nodded and was about to say they’d met before when a deep and, unfortunately, well-remembered voice said, "It’s a pleasure to meet you, Dr. Jones."
Her gaze snapped around, locking with his dusky, green-amber eyes.
He didn’t remember her.
She saw it in his expression, as plainly as if he’d pulled a knife out and shown it to her before plunging it into her gut. Oh god, he didn’t have any idea who she was.
She suppressed the sudden tremors sneaking up her body and sucked in her top lip, pressing it hard with her teeth.
When he extended a hand at the introduction, she took it but pulled away from the warmth of his big palm with a jerk. She couldn’t look him in the eyes, but letting her gaze wander over the rest of his face didn’t help either.
He looked exactly how she remembered him—strong, high cheekbones; sharp, broad nose; sensuously firm lips on a wide mouth; smooth brown-red skin.
His straight black hair hung nearly to his waist, almost as long as her own. The top was held back from his face by a small braid.
His broad shoulders and narrow hips hinted at a temptingly masculine physique. Though, through his loose trousers and flight jacket, a person would have to guess at the degree of muscle and strength.
Unless that person had seen him out of his clothes.
Ti’ann’s mouth dried at the memory.
* * * * *About Isabo Kelly:
Isabo grew up in Las Vegas, the Entertainment Capital of the World. Unbeknownst to her, Las Vegas prepared Isabo for a life in the spotlight. Though she started making up stories at an early age, Isabo originally chose science as her first career. She pursued this by moving to Honolulu, Hawaii for her undergraduate degree in Zoology and was lucky enough to work with dolphins for two and a half years.
Returning to Las Vegas, Isabo worked in the Natural History Museum as the Shark Lady, hand-feeding live sharks and other tropical fish and reptiles. It was at this time she rekindled her love of writing stories and started her first novel. A few years later, Isabo had the opportunity to move to Germany with her family and jumped at the chance. She spent nearly two years traveling Europe and developing her writing skills before life took her to Ireland where she returned to college to finish her Ph.D. in Animal Behavior.
Isabo's first novel, The Promise of Kierna'Rhoan, was published in 1999 and began her career in the spotlight. Isabo earned herself a reputation as one of the industry's top science fiction, fantasy and paranormal authors with such titles as Destiny's Seduction (2005 RIO Award of Excellent winner, 2005 EPPIE Award Finalist for Best Fantasy and 2003 Pearl Award Nominee) and Siren Singing (2009 PRISM FF&P Award Winner).
Isabo now lives in New York City, an other entertainment capital, with her family and enjoying the literary life.
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