Before we get to the interview portion of the show, I’d like to thank all the lovely gals here at Romancing the Book for hosting me today. This is the first interview I’ve done since retiring my pen name and continuing my career using only my real name, and For His Country is the first work I’ve published since making the transition. It’s a very exciting time for me and I’m thankful for the chance to be here today as I embark on this new leg of my writing journey. And thank you readers for giving me a few minutes of your time today. I’m most appreciative! Don’t forget to enter the giveaway.
When I scrolled through the list of questions making my decision as to which of them to include in the interview, I stumbled across one I just knew I had to answer…so, I’ll begin there…
What kind of research did you do for this book?
I’ll give you the short version first: I am a military wife. J The longer version goes something like this: Seventeen years ago I met the man of my dreams, but he didn’t come galloping up on a white horse and he wasn’t wearing a suit of armor. MarshFox was wearing dusty cammies. It was love at first sight, although I didn’t believe in that concept until that moment. One kiss and I knew he was the man I wanted to spend the rest of my life with. (insert bliss here) But, little did I know how hard being a military wife really would be. (insert a what the heck just happened look here) A year into my marriage I found myself living on an island in the middle of the Pacific and it wasn’t Hawaii! Instead we’d drawn the Okinawa straw in the orders department. Life on an island wasn’t so bad and the noodles were great, so I learned to speak a little Japanese and enjoyed my time there even though MarshFox was gone fourteen hours a day six days a week and intermittently he’s was away for a couple of weeks at a time here and there. Our next stop would be in Chesapeake, Virginia, where he was supposed to be an instructor and hold reasonable office hours. (insert heavy sigh here) Nothing could have been further from the truth. Then about a year into that duty, I watched two towers collapse and knew the world was forever changed. It was less than six months before MarshFox’ non-deployable job turned into deployable as he was sent to Bahrain for a year. Next stop, Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. Back to the fleet where for the next ten years I’d see little of my husband. I’d raise our son basically alone and my husband would miss nearly every single important life event we mile-stoned. He’s missed more anniversaries, birthdays, and holidays than he’s been home for. Then things started to slow and deployments came less often, but we discovered something… Much like Ray and Gavin in For His Country, we still loved each other fiercely, but we’d both grown and changed so much we didn’t know each other anymore. The people we were, the people we did love, were no more and we had no clue how to live with or deal with the people we’d become.
While Ray and Gavin’s story isn’t a true account our own and I never went to the extremes Ray does to save her marriage, the basis and inspiration for it came from my own life, living the research if you will. J
Are you a plotter or a panster?
I’m a little bit of a hybrid. I start out with charts and graphs and timelines and outlines, but somewhere along the way, the story begins to tell itself and while I still stick to my outlines and such, I give it a little leeway and listen to my characters when they speak. I find there have been times I’ve been so focused on sticking to the “plan” I’ll end up with a break in character and have to go back and rewrite so that my character maintains shape and personality. I definitely believe in the structure of being a plotter, but there are times the story requires a bit of panster to step in and help.
How do you remember ideas that come to you at odd times?
I love this question! It happens to every writer I know. You’re cruising down the highway with both hands on the wheel in wall to wall traffic and your muse hops up on the dash with a wicked smile and says hi. Then they have the audacity to begin plotting as they file their nails while you’re fighting traffic. One word for this scenario: record function on your iPhone. Flip that thing on and talk away. I also carry a notebook and pen with me everywhere I go. I had downgraded to the empty nest purse when my son hopped out of the tree, but quickly found I had to go back to the “mom” purse when I resumed writing. Let’s face it, the empty nest purse is cute and all but it’s totally not functional. So since I’m empty-nested I call mine the “writer” purse (actually it’s more of a backpack). It’s quickly becoming the “grandma” purse though as I now have six grandchildren. As far as the muse visiting me in my sleep—I keep a notebook and pen on the nightstand and I always make myself open at least one eye and jot down a few words that’ll jog my memory the next day. For instance, this morning I have a stick on my desk that says: remember the Cinderella muck up and don’t forget Peter Pan. And while I’d love to tell you what that note means, I’d be divulging a huge plot secret, so you’ll just have to keep an eye on me for future projects to figure out where that fits exactly. *wink* As far as taking notes while we’re out to dinner, my entire family is forgiving of me doing that, in fact, they’ve come to expect it.
What do you do in your free time?
I pity the writer who says they have none, because one of the most important things for a writer to do is live. Without living we have little to say, so if a writer isn’t making free time, they’re cheating themselves out of stories to be told. I guess this could be a combo answer as there was the question of my writing routine and that directly correlates to my free time. Even though I’ve been making up stories my entire life, it’s not a job until you step into the arena of actively trying to attain a contract. At that point, it’s a career. So when my career began, I had a terrible habit of just letting the muse dictate my schedule and if she had her way I’d be sitting at this computer 24/7 with a pot of coffee constantly brewing. You can’t live like that and it’s not healthy. That’s not living. So rather than my muse dictating how we’re going to live, I dictate the schedule. I’m not too strict with it, but I have certain time slots allocated for actual writing. I guess you could say I’ve trained my muse to fit my needs rather than the other way around. Around the hours of writing time I do the living. And, yes, I do much more than read. J I love to craft! I embroidery, crochet, and I’m recently learning to bead. And since we move so much, we try our best to see and do as much as possible at each current duty station. Just recently we were able to go whale watching, we weren’t successful at it, but it wasn’t for lack of trying. So I guess I’m a bit of an explorer. I like to people watch, too. I love the movies, antique shopping, I do a bit of gardening, and I love spending lots of time just sitting and cuddling, just being, with my husband. I’m really looking forward to him retiring in the next few years so we can move home so I can spend more time with my grandchildren and herd of nieces and nephews.
My advice to new writers: don’t forget to live!
My newest release came out May 17. It’s a contemporary military romance entitled For His Country.
Twenty-seven years, more than a dozen deployments, five kids…and one missing wife.
After twenty-seven years of marriage and service to his country, Gavin McIntyre returns from what he hopes will be his last deployment before either reaching the highest attainable enlisted rank in the Marine Corps or retiring. But what he returns to leaves him flat aback with a busted mast and broken rudder. His wife is a no show for the homecoming. Using the ages old adage of improvise, adapt, and overcome, he makes his way home only to discover, she hasn’t simply forgotten to pick him up from the bus, she’s gone. In her wake, Gavin finds his home set up boot camp style and twenty dollars in the cookie jar, but any evidence he’s ever had a wife or five children with her is deplete.
Pregnant at sixteen and married to a marine in a less than romantic ceremony courtesy of the local Justice, Raylyn McIntyre has spent almost three decades playing the dutiful patriotic wife, catering to the whims of the military. She’s lost track of how many places she’s lived, how many deployments she’s endured, and how many tears she’s shed. But most of all, she’s lost track of herself. With a husband who’s so wrapped up in saving the world he can’t see he’s losing his family, Ray resorts to the one tactic he might understand…a full frontal attack with extreme prejudice, which proves to get Gavin’s waning attention.
Nothing good ever comes easy, though, and just when her choice of battle plan seems to be working, tragedy befalls their family. As Ray and Gavin struggle to find center, they also struggle with the notion that forgiveness of self is often the only path to forgiveness of another, and that path is not only bumpy but filled with pitfalls.
“Oh, yes. All those little trips.” Ray twisted her pert nose up and snatched her purse off the table before turning to stomp off. “Technically, we’re separated. Remember?”
It was at that moment Gavin looked down at her feet raising Cain against the hard wood floor and saw her footwear. Was she honestly sporting a pair of peacock blue boots? When had she purchased those?
Not letting her get very far, Gavin shot forward and grabbed her arm. “I never signed the papers, remember? So no, we’re not. And just where do you think you’re going?”
“Again. None of your business.”
“Ray, stop.” Gavin ground it out in his no compromises voice and apparently that still worked because she came to a dead stand still. “Thank you. Where are you going?”
“You’re not driving in your condition.”
“I’ll take a cab. It won’t be the first time…” she whispered, looking anywhere but at him then turning her gaze upward with a spiteful grin and regaining her voice. “I’ve had to find a ride before.”
“Well you won’t be getting in one tonight,” Gavin spat, knowing perfectly well she thought she was playing him. The joke was on her though as he knew when Jay and Andy said they’d been babysitting her, they meant it and Ray was fully intact in that department. “I’ll drive you home.”
“The hell you will.” Again her lips pursed up and she knitted her brows together with a look that told him she was determined to have it her way or not at all. She didn’t use it often and more times than not she used it on their children during one of their obstinate episodes, but he still recognized it. “You don’t own me, Gavin McIntyre.” Her voice trembled and he could swear he saw the word own rattle out of her on a furl of smoke.
With as much control as he could muster, Gavin pulled her to his chest and leaned in, his lips almost touching the delicate shell of her ear exposed from her now short hair being swept forward along her jaw. “I might not in this minute, but I have owned you, Ray. Make no mistake. Someday, when I figure out how to fix this, I’ll own you again and when that time comes, I’ll never let go. Ever,” he whispered. “I will take you home or all these fine people in here are going to see quite a show when I throw you over my shoulder and carry you out of here like the Barbarian you apparently think I am. And we both know that wouldn’t look too good considering the position I’m in with my job. Now would it? And don’t think to act like you don’t care because I know you too damn well, wife. Whether you still want to be married to me or not, our dirty laundry being aired in public just isn’t your style. So either way, Ray. Easy or hard, we’re leaving here together. Are we clear?”
“Yes,” she resigned. “Perfectly, Sergeant Major.”
* * * * *
Born and raised in the foothills of the Ozark Mountains, Denisea Kampe was spinning tales before she could even spell and once her sixth grade creative writing teacher encouraged her by leaving a most prophetic comment on one of her assignments, the wheels of destiny were set in motion. But those wheels would need greased again and again as her writing would take a back seat to life and her jobs of mom and wife many times over before she’d finally see her dream of becoming a published writer come to fruition in 2010. Denisea is a military wife who’s traveled the world over. She’s lived in four states and Okinawa Japan and held more drivers’ licenses than she can count. Her nest is empty save one furry and quite mischievous Siberian Husky and one spoiled rotten Rat Terrier mix. Denisea takes much of her inspiration for her heroes from the marines she’s lived around since marrying her very own fairy tale prince in dusty cammies. Coining the term realmantica, she strives to produce quality romance in a realistic setting. Her genre of choice is contemporary romance and when she’s not writing, she enjoys reading everything she can get her hands on, trips to the museum, taking field research trips, crafting, and sewing. Her works include One Tear, The Executive Officer’s Wife, Private Pirouette, and the Slower Lower series. Denisea loves to hear from her readers and can be found at deniseakampe.blogspot.com