This interview was originally posted on Jennifer Starks’ website.
The bar isn’t very full, but I spot the two people I’m here to see in a back booth. The woman is talking animatedly to the man, who seems to be mostly ignoring her. As I get closer, I can see they each have a drink on the table – his a clear liquid in a highball glass, hers a startlingly pink martini. He takes a drink, eyeing me as I approach.
Wow. He looks even better in person. Ink black hair falls carelessly over his brow, his blue eyes watching me from under wickedly arched brows. He’s wearing a charcoal gray shirt with the cuffs rolled back, exposing his forearms and hands more elegant than I had imagined. I realize I’m staring at the hand that’s gripping the glass and jerk my gaze away. He smirks at me.
“Hi!” I say cheerfully, my smile slightly nervous. “Kade and Tiffany, right?”
The woman smiles back, and her friendliness sets me at ease. “Yes! And you must be Jennifer! Have a seat! We’re so glad to see you.” Kade lets out a snort and Tiffany elbows him in the ribs, her smile growing strained.
I slide into the booth and take out my legal pad and tape recorder. “Thanks for agreeing to the interview,” I say, adjusting my bag on the seat next to me.
“Absolutely,” Tiffany replies. “We’re looking forward to it.” She shoots Kade a look, but he remains quiet. I smother a grin.
A waitress comes by then, and I order a margarita, no salt. Once she leaves, I sit back and take a look at my questions. “I thought I’d alternate, a question for Tiffany, then one for Kade. Does that work?”
“Fire away,” Tiffany confirms, sipping at her pink concoction.
“Tiffany, your main character, Kathleen Turner (I love how you named her and the story that goes with it, by the way) is a very motivated person. With two jobs, one of them at night, she has very little time for a love life. Or any life, really, until things in her world go all sorts of wrong. What personality/life similarities do you have in common with this ‘princess?’”
“Hm,” she begins thoughtfully. “I don’t know if Kathleen and I have a terribly lot in common, she’s quite a bit younger than I am for one thing-”
“You got that right,” Kade interjects.
“Don’t be rude,” Tiffany snaps back, then returns her attention to me. “Sorry for the interruption. Anyway, as I was saying, our similarities. One thing that I think we have in common, and is a theme I explore as well between Blane and Kade, is loyalty. Kathleen is extremely loyal, whether that be to her friend Sheila, or to her own resolve to do the right thing. Kathleen can be naïve, but I think that’s to be expected of her age and background. Of course, a lot happens to her in a short amount of time that starts to erode her innocence.”
I turn to Kade, who’s been avidly listening to Tiffany as she spoke. “Kade,” I say, to get his attention. “Mentioning Kathleen’s fabulously satirical nickname has me wondering about the person who gave it to her. Kade, Kathleen’s been in quite a few scrapes between your first and second adventure with her. She’s a very capable woman, but she does get banged around a lot. Are you going to teach her how to be a little more like you. By that, I don’t solely mean violent. (Though it wouldn’t hurt.) I mean more along the lines of toughening up. Weights. Fighting techniques. Brass knuckles maybe?”
Tiffany taps him on the arm and gives a slight shake of her head. Kade dismisses her with an eye roll.
“What a great idea,” he answers me with fake sincerity. “I wish I’d thought of that.”
Okay, now I know why Kathleen gets so infuriated with him sometimes. His sarcasm is grating.
“I take that to mean you will be training her how to do her new job?” I persist.
“No comment.” He takes a drink, effectively ending that line of questioning. With a huff of disappointment, I turn back to Tiffany.
“I apologize for Kade,” she says confidentially. “It took a great deal of convincing to get him to agree to this interview.”
“You promised me I’d be getting laid soon,” Kade interjects.
Tiffany winces. “Next question?” she asks too brightly.
Kade’s comment makes me want to follow up, but I acquiesce and read off my next question for Tiffany. “Writing action scenes can be difficult. First you have to see it in your mind’s eye then get it on paper. Once it’s there, you’ve got to pour over it to make sure the imagery works and you haven’t written some awkward scene that doesn’t work. With all the action in both your books, Tiffany, what are some sure-fire tips you can give authors looking to write believable action scenes?”
“I think the way you describe is great advice,” she answers. “There’s a line between describing too much and describing too little. You want your readers to be able to picture the action in their heads without getting bogged down in the details. It really helps to have proofreaders. I know in one of my action scenes, reading it as written would have resulted in the villain needing to have three arms.” She laughs. “Obviously, that won’t work, but it’s something I didn’t catch until a proofreader pointed it out.”
“Kade, action is something you know a lot about, but you’ve got a softer (still masculine as hell) side. Tell me, is Kathleen the only one who brings it out of you or are you a closet romantic?”
Kade turns to Tiffany. “Are you kidding me?” he asks in disbelief.
“Stop complaining and answer her question,” Tiffany mutters back.
“Fine,” he retorts. He leans toward me, his blue gaze intent as he says, “The only things in my closet are a Walther PPK and an M4 Carbine. Whether or not you think that’s romantic is up to you.”
I gulp. Okay then. Moving on.
“Tiffany, your novels are not at all paranormal, but I’ve found myself thinking, mid-sentence nonetheless, how it very easily could’ve been. Did you consider giving these characters a paranormal element or was the plot always supposed to be reality based?”
“I have the greatest respect for writers of paranormal works,” Tiffany replies, “they’re some of my favorite reading materials, actually – but this series was always supposed to be grounded in reality. Kathleen is a normal woman, with an average life. She does not read minds, hunt vampires or see dead people. Blane and Kade, while extraordinary men, do not thirst for her blood, cast magic spells or want to bite her – at least not in the ‘humans – it’s what’s for dinner’ kind of way. My goal in creating my main character was a woman that was relatable – someone who could be a neighbor, best friend, sister, or ourselves. She’s kind, loyal, smart, sexy, impulsive, sometimes foolhardy, and brave.”
“Kade, if you could be a paranormal being what kind of being would you be?” I ask.
Kade’s attention has drifted, his eyes staring at empty space, and I have to repeat my question.
“I’m Batman,” he answers.
I channel Michael Keaton for a minute before saying, “Excuse me?”
“You know…tortured psyche, likes to mete out justice his own way, genius intellect, devastatingly handsome.” His eyebrows waggle suggestively. “And may I also say,” he turns to Tiffany, “that Batman always gets the girl.”
It is Tiffany’s turn to ignore Kade as she takes another sip of her drink. “Next question?” she asks.
“Despite all the horrible things happening in Kathleen’s life, she is moving up in the world. (Thanks to Kade. Really, Blane? Keeping her as a runner was kind of Dbag. Just sayin’.) Tiffany, will she spread her wings even more in coming novels or is she going to be quite content reporting to her new boss?” I wink at her.
“Kathleen is going to have to decide what she wants for her life,” Tiffany answers bluntly. “She will have several options open to her, some of which may or may not include her new boss.”
“What kind of options?” Kade asks Tiffany.
“I’m sure you’ll find out,” Tiffany replies.
I distract Kade with another question. “Kade, what are your true thoughts on Britney Spears?”
Kade sends a smirk my way. “Why, I think she is a very talented, very ambitious woman.”
I nod and look back at my list of questions.
“Who’s rack pales in comparison to Kathleen’s.”
“Kade!” Tiffany admonishes him with a slap to his arm. “For the love of…” She sighs in exasperation.
I interject quickly before Kade can extol the virtues of any more of Kathleen’s body parts. “Tiffany, two songs that sum up Kathleen’s relationship with the brothers? Go!”
She answers immediately. “Toxic, by Britney Spears and Superman Tonight by Bon Jovi.”
“Kade, how bad of a brother do you intend on being in the future because, personally, I think the badder the better?”
“Don’t answer that,” Tiffany warns Kade. Kade just winks at me and takes another drink.
“Tiffany, Blane isn’t all cupcakes and sugar. He’s got a mean, bad-boy streak as well. Is it hard for you to write the brothers as being so similar but also so very different?”
“They each have their own personalities, strengths and weaknesses-”
“Speak for yourself,” Kade quietly singsongs.
“-but at the core, they are similar creatures, which may be why they’re both drawn to the same woman.”
“Kade, if you could change one thing about ‘princess,’ what would it be and why? Don’t worry. She’ll probably be way to busy with her new job to read this interview. Be honest!”
“You mean other than the fact that she never does what she’s told, nearly always leaps before looking, has an irritating sense of responsibility for others and thinks everyone should have a Christmas tree?”
Tiffany and I exchange glances. “Well, I like Christmas trees,” I mutter under my breath. “Tiffany, if you could change one thing about any character who would it be, what would it be and why?”
“I don’t think so. If anything, I might wish I could change Blane and Kade’s father-“
“-Sperm donor-” corrects Kade.
“-and what he did. Yet, if he hadn’t been who he was, then Kade and Blane might be different people.” Tiffany shrugs. “Good comes from bad all the time and bad things happen to good people. It’s all in what you do with it.”
“Kade, is there a chance you might branch out of your, er, current line of work any time soon?”
“Why would I?” he asks. “It’s the easiest way I know to make money.” He smirks. “And I’m very good at what I do.”
“Tiffany, you’ve already branched out on your own. Being self-published is hard work. Have you ever considered going the traditional route?”
“Originally, that’s what I did, before I realized Amazon offered the option to self-publish. After receiving a handful of rejections, it seemed illogical not to pursue the self-publish route. I’ve been very happy with the results and see myself continuing to self-publish in the future.”
“Okay, last question and this one is for both of you,” I say. “You’ve come down with a bizarre ailment that will only allow you to eat one food for the rest of your life. What food would it be and why?”
“Oh, that’s a fun one!” Tiffany says with a smile. “I’d have to say chips and salsa – does that count as one food? You can’t have one without the other. Kade? What about you?”
“I can’t believe you dragged me into this,” Kade grouses at her. Tiffany just gives him a look. “Fine. Vodka.”
“But that’s not-” The look on his face make the rest of the words die in my throat. I nervously clear it.
“Kade, I’ve been pulling my punches with you where these questions are concerned and I’m over it.” Maybe. Probably. “It’s time for me to ask the only question I’ve been wanting to ask this whole interview. Do you think Blane’s really in love with Kathleen or enamored just enough to F up your chances?”
Kade studies me for a moment, then downs the rest of his drink. “I’m outta here,” he finally says, getting to his feet and tossing some money on the table to cover the drinks.
“Wait,” Tiffany implores, “don’t go yet. Remember our deal.”
“Sex or not, I’m done here,” Kade retorts.
We both watch him walk out of the bar. He looks great from the back, too. I let out a sigh before turning back to Tiffany.
“Sorry about that,” she apologizes.
“No worries,” I assure her. “I haven’t been pulling my punches with you, so you don’t have to be nervous. How many more books are you planning to do in the Kathleen Turner series?”
“There will be five books total. The third will be out at Christmas.”
“Thanks so much for the interview, Tiffany,” I say as I gather my things and put them back into my bag. “It’s been fun.”
“You’re very welcome,” she replies, reaching out to shake my hand. “I had a great time. And again, I apologize for Kade, but really, he stayed longer than I expected. He gets very touchy when you start asking him about Kathleen, you know.”
“Well, I appreciate you getting him here. It was great to meet you both.”