Inspiration: Secondary Characters, Muppets, and My Husband

People often ask me where I find the inspiration for my stories. It doesn’t take much to spark a story idea in my brain. Most of the time, it’ll be a quote, or a scene from a movie/show. But there are those strange instances where it’s inspired by the secondary characters from a prior book. This is the case for A Holiday Love Affair.

When I started writing A Lockdown Love Affair, I had zero intention of writing a second book. In fact, I had hoped there wouldn’t be any pesky secondary characters to annoy me in Ben and Penelope’s book. But I was wrong. So wrong. As I wrote Lockdown, it became abundantly clear Evan and Lucy would gravitate toward each other if I put them in the same room together. Which is how they ended up getting their own book.

Ben Statler and Evan Waldorf are best friends and business partners. They’re also distinct opposites. Where Ben is dark and brooding, Evan is pure sunshine and positivity. At first, Evan’s presence was merely as fodder to elevate Ben’s irritation with the state of their business affairs during the pandemic lockdown. But as the story progressed, Evan took on a life of his own.

Lucy Mackewitz and Penelope Weiss are besties by accident. Literally. Lucy was the nurse on duty when Penelope’s grandparents admitted to the hospital after a car accident. Their bond formed quickly. Lucy’s presence in Penelope’s book solidified her support network in the city during the chaos and uncertainty of lockdown.

But Lucy and Evan don’t actually meet until Ben and Penelope’s wedding six months later. This is where their romance begins.

What inspired their story? The characters begged me to write it, but more than that, I liked the idea of Evan being the ray of sunshine and Lucy being the perpetual grump. Who said the grump always has to be the hero? Heroines can be just as miserable.

Before I started writing Holiday, I imagined Evan as a Steve Rogers kind of guy. I often post my daily word count on social media as I write the first draft and add a gif of the actor I cast as the hero to the post. For this book, it was Chris Evans. Yes, even Evan’s name is an homage to the actor. I even wrote a log splitting scene. But that’s where the similarities ended.

The more I wrote, the more Evan’s mannerisms mirrored my husband’s. Of all the characters I’ve ever written, Evan is the only one I’ve ever modeled after my husband. They’re both effervescent rays of positivity and charm while simultaneously being classic button pushing antagonists.

While Ben and Penelope’s book takes place in Brooklyn, most of Evan and Lucy’s story takes place in upstate Indiana. I seized the opportunity to use some of my personal adventures with my husband as inspiration for their journey. It was also fun to write Lucy’s POV in the book because she’s a city girl, born and raised. Country life gives her quite a culture shock, and Evan takes full advantage of it. But I won’t give you any spoilers if you haven’t read the book. *wink*

If you recognize the names Statler and Waldorf, you get bonus points. I was stuck, unable to figure out surnames for these two men when an image of the comedy muppet duo popped into my mind. That’s exactly how I imagine Ben and Evan banter back and forth.

Waldorf and Statler

I would say the resemblance is uncanny, if they were thirty years older. In my head, Evan Waldorf is Chris Evans and Ben Statler is Adam Driver. Now that’s in your head too. Another terrifying glimpse into the muddled mind of a romance author.

My creative process is anything but typical, but it works for me. I hope this brief peek into the inspiration for A Holiday Love Affair makes you smile. Most of the time, I have no idea where the next story will come from. It could come from a random tweet or a video posted to Facebook. But most of the time it’s born from the nagging secondary characters demanding I give them their moment in the spotlight. C’est la vie.

Oh, and a side note, if you enjoyed Ben and Evan, then you won’t want to miss Confessions of a Gamer Girl coming in June. The heroine, Maggie, works for Ben and Evan at Solus Inc. And the events take place before Ben and Evan meet their matches.

Authors: Where do you find inspiration for your stories?

Readers: Do you like getting a behind-the-scenes glimpse into the creation of the stories you enjoy?

Which book should I tell you about next? Or should I have an interview with the main character? Tell me in the comments.

Until next week!

All my love,

Kirsten S. Blacketer

Inspiration: Grief, a Viral Video, and ReyLo

As an avid reader, I love learning behind-the-scenes information about a book I enjoyed. So, I’ve decided to have a little fun and show you the inspiration behind some of my books. This week, I’m going to chat about A Lockdown Love Affair.

There are a couple of layers to this one, so let me unpack them one stage at a time.

In March of 2020, I was living blissfully in Italy and planning countless trips across Europe for the upcoming year. Then the pandemic struck. Not only was I unable to leave my property for three months, but I ended up canceling every trip I had planned because no one knew how long it would last or what would happen. Needless to say, I experienced the stages of grief during that period.

Denial – This couldn’t be happening. It’s like a nightmare.

Anger – I only had a limited time in Italy and wanted to make the most of my ability to travel Europe. Piss me off.

Bargaining – I’ll follow the rules, just let me OUT!

Depression – I wasn’t going anywhere, and it left me hopeless and miserable.

Acceptance – There wasn’t much I could do to change the world around me, so I had to find something to do with my time and my emotions.

This post isn’t about the pandemic or my reaction to it, but I need to explain my initial reaction because it’s ultimately what breathed life into my characters, Ben and Penelope.

See, Ben Statler became a conduit for my stages of grief. I poured every ounce of my emotional response into his character. Ben absorbed all of my frustration and rage. His grumpy ass mirrored my own. But I gave him a life and a purpose of his own.

Penelope was my little ray of sunshine, my hope that something good could come from this. And it did. This book became the catalyst for my writing goals. I wrote and released four stories in 2020. Then, in 2021, I wrote seven stories and released four. This newfound drive became something I could use to my advantage. I pulled story ideas I began years ago and put them on paper. And new ideas flowed like wine at an Italian feast.

A Lockdown Love Affair saved my sanity.

But there are two other important contributors to the creation of this story. A viral video on Facebook, and ReyLo.

Scrolling endlessly on Facebook one day, I stumbled across a video of a guy in New York City who saw a girl dancing on the neighboring rooftop. He sent a note with his phone number using his drone and they started a socially distanced relationship. It was a cute story and sparked the inspiration I needed to bring Ben and Penelope together.

But what’s ReyLo and how does that fit into this?

Well, right before the country went into lockdown, my husband and I took the kids to see The Rise of Skywalker. Up until this moment, I hadn’t seen The Force Awakens or The Last Jedi. (Don’t judge me.) But the moment I stepped out of the theater, I knew I needed more Kylo Ren/Ben Solo x Rey in my life. More than that, I needed to fix what the creators destroyed. (I’m trying really hard not to go off on a tangent. Bear with me.) So I watched all the films, and then dove into the fan fiction. I became a ReyLo Shipper.

Gif from The Rise of Skywalker

I love fan fiction. I read copius amounts of it from many different fandoms. But this one hit me differently. I wanted to write so many variations and alternate universe ideas with the pairing, but I knew it would steal time away from my original fiction. So, I combined them.

I used ReyLo as the inspiration for Ben and Penelope, making him grumpy and brooding while she became his ray of sunshine. It was the perfect compromise. Ben Statler is still one of my favorite characters, and he appears in my other contemporary series as the main character’s boss.

There you have it. The inspiration for A Lockdown Love Affair. It may not be pretty or coherent, but there it is. A story born of my coping mechanism, a viral video, and my unwavering love of a fandom ship.

Life has a strange way of working things out in the end.

Which book should I dive into next? Let me know in the comments.

All my love,

Kirsten

Authors After Dark Convention

Today I’m taking a flight to Charlotte, North Carolina to participate in my first conference. Although I’m an author, I will be attending as a reader,but in all honesty, I’m both to my core so I’m just pleased to be able to attend.

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They are also hosting a Sins and Virtues Ball this year. Which sounds like a blast!  My hands are shaking from excitement.

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I will be sitting at the Diligence table with author Jayne Rylon. I promise to post photos and details as soon as I get home next week.

So, for those of you readers who want to mingle with authors in a relaxed and cozy atmosphere, this is the convention for you!

I will give a full report of my adventure in next week’s blog post.

Thanks for stopping by!

Kirsten. @—/—–

NEW RELEASE ALERT: A Shadow’s Kiss

My book, A Shadow’s Kiss, is on tour with Fire and Ice Book Tours from July 7th through July 21st.

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Here is a list of the stops on the tour if you want to check it out.

Master Schedule:

7/7 Fantastic Indie Author’s Interview

Stop 2 Book Freebies Contests Sweepstakes and Giveaways

7/8 Romantic Chanteuse

Stop 2 Peace Love Writing

7/9  Indy Book Fairy

Stop 2 Author Desiree Broussard

7/10 Laurie’s Thoughts and Reviews

7/11 Kay Lalone

7/14 Romance Novel Giveaways (Guest Post)

7/15 Coffee Books and Art (Guest Post)

7/16 Book Nerd Toledo (Review)

7/17 Rage, Sex, & Teddy Bears (Review)

7/18 Sweetie’s Contemporary Romance Love (Interview)

Stop 2 Sexy Romance Books

7/21 The Cat’s Pajamas Book Haven (Review)

 

I will also be doing a mini blog tour through my publisher, Breathless Press. Check my Facebook page for Links and more information.

Thank you for sharing in this exciting time with me.

Don’t forget to enter the GIVEAWAY!

A Rafflecopter GIVEAWAY:  CLICK HERE!

Teaser from A Shadow’s Kiss

In anticipation of my second book releasing next week, here is a scene from A Shadow’s Kiss.

 

The door to the great hall swung open, and she heard her brother, Angus. Tis about time he showed his face.

“Father,” he said. “I would like to introduce Alexander. He’s from the south.”

Madeline choked the wine as her head snapped up. She swallowed as delicately as she could, forcing herself to remain calm. Her hand trembled. It couldn’t be. The stranger’s broad shoulders stretched as he tipped his hood back revealing thick mahogany hair and ice blue eyes. Her hand flew to her throat. Why was he here? Her heart leapt. Has he come for me? She forced the delight down and sat patiently waiting for him to glance in her direction.

“My Laird.” He proffered a slight bow. When he rose, his eyes fell on Madeline. She sat forward, her mouth poised to speak when she saw him shake his head no. He returned his attention to her father. “I thank you for your hospitality.”

Madeline’s jaw snapped closed. She leaned back in her chair. What was he playing at? His voice sounded deeper with a rolling Scottish lilt. Sir Alexander. Those broad shoulders and profile gave him away, and she could never mistake his eyes. Ever. Madeline had spent far too many nights dreaming about him to forget even the slightest detail.

“Where are you from, Alexander? Who are your people?” Her father’s questions were curious and polite. She watched the byplay between the men, her mind spinning with questions.

“My mother is a daughter of Clan Kerr, from the south, near the border,” he said. She liked the sound of the Scottish brogue on his tongue. Without thinking, she licked her lips as his gaze flickered over her.

“What brings you this far north?” the Laird asked, leaning forward.

“I am searching for answers,” he said. She heard the hesitancy in his voice. Had she not known him, she would have missed it. Alexander wasn’t lying, but his words weren’t completely honest either. He was a terrible liar. She strived not to smirk, remembering several occasions when his half-truths were directed at her. Tonight, she would have the truth from him, even if it killed her.

Her father didn’t pry any further. “I hope you find what you’re after then.”

“I have,” Alexander replied, his gaze settling on Madeline for a brief moment then returning to the Laird.

Her father nodded and held up his cup. “I pray you, sit. Join our feast. You are welcome in my home and at my table.”

Alexander bowed, and with a passing glance in her direction, he joined Angus at the far side of the head table. She sat there, her appetite gone, waiting and watching. She needed to speak with him, but how? Madeline nibbled on some bread. The sound of laughter brought her attention back to her brothers. Alexander, laughing! She stared at him in complete disbelief. Who was he truly? The Alexander she knew never laughed, and he certainly could not be Scottish. Her eyes narrowed. He caught her scowl and tipped his cup to her, a grin still on his lips.

With an agitated huff, Madeline begged her father’s pardon and left the great hall. The memory of Alexander’s good humor haunted her as she approached the staircase leading to her chambers. Somehow she had to speak to him. She knew of one way to catch him alone: discover where he slept.

I hope you enjoyed it. If you did then check out my Shadow Guardian series from Breathless Press.

Book 1:  An Irresistible Shadow

Book 2:  A Shadow’s Kiss

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Creative Update: Current Projects

I thought this week I would write a little post to let you all know what projects I’m working on.

Prohibition Story (tentatively titled Mississippi Moonshine)

Virginia is a tomboy. Having been raised by her father and seven brothers, she lacks all the grace and sophistication a woman should have according to society in 1923. But she’s a river rat, born and raised near the Mississippi River outside of Alton, Illinois. When she discovers her family’s secret distillery hidden deep in the woods, she stumbles into a horrible confrontation with a rival shiner.

Nathaniel shed his proper English gentleman persona to become the most infamous shine runner on the Mississippi. His suppliers in Illinois and Missouri provide him with the most coveted moonshine in the country. But when a gang attacks his most lucrative supplier, he finds himself saddled with more than a financial loss. He finds a river rat stowed away on his boat.

Interesting huh?

Stage play titled Confessions of a Fangirl

We’ve all had our moments of fanaticism. This play is meant to be a visual depiction of the five stages of fangirling and how the seemingly innocent obsession can quickly consume us and ruin our relationships in real life.

I didn’t want to use one specific actor…so I combined three of my favorites to depict a much broader fandom (and not point any fingers since this isn’t about shaming or blaming, just showing the reality and the consequences).

This is my first attempt to write a play. I’m hoping it will help me hone my dialog and plotting skills…even more, I am hoping it will enlighten the world to the wonders and dangers of being a fangirl/boy.

Angus’ story, Book 3 in the Shadow Guardian series, working title A Wicked Shadow

Angus has been bothering me since I started writing A Shadow’s Kiss last fall. He’s begged and pleaded for me to tell his story next. So I am. I have planted the seed of his tale in A Shadow’s Kiss. His love interest is much more…unconventional than Madeline and Evelyn, who are both unique women in their own rights.

I will be plotting his story over the next few months and plan to write it for National Novel Writing Month in November of this year. My first two books were NaNo babies, so Angus’ will be too.

A book of poetry (if anyone had an interest to read it, I have no idea)

I’ve been writing poetry since I was in 8th grade. I have notebooks full of poetry, and so I’ve debated the idea of self publishing a little book of poetry. It’s the project I have spent the least amount of mental energy on, since poetry is such an underrated creative medium. Perhaps one day I will follow through with it if there’s enough interest. I thought it might be fun to just have some printed and sell them on etsy. 🙂 Who knows…I may need a push to do that at some point in the future.

I also have some ideas started for a series of Regency/Victorian (haven’t decided which yet) stories.

There are always notes and ideas floating around for stories to write. I always find a new character who speaks to me, begging me to tell their story. I promise to update you on the status of my projects.

If you have any questions or comments, please don’t hesitate to post them. I love hearing from my readers.

Also, check out my blog posts at my writer’s group site The Sarcastic Muse. I focus on my writing process and romance in those posts.

Talk to you again soon! Have a great week.

❤ Kirsten

What Inspires You?

One of the questions I always ask my fellow writers is: Where do you get your inspiration?

Every one of them answers that question differently. Me…well it really depends.

When I’m in a creative rut, I use writing prompts to get the word count going. My writer’s group, The Sarcastic Muse, has a page on Tumblr (click HERE for link) where we post daily word counts for anyone to use them. I find those come in handy when I’m stuck for a starting point or I don’t have a current project waiting for my attention. I’ve had several stories blossom from these writing prompts. I highly recommend trying it if you’re in desperate need for inspiration.

I also find I draw inspiration from watching movies or TV shows, sometimes a line or a scene or even a character can spark an idea that sets my creativity on fire and I find I NEED to write, to purge what’s in my head. Some people do this and create fan fiction, which is fantastic, I love fan fiction and there are some talented authors out there who write nothing but fan fic. So don’t think I’m knocking it…I’m not. What I’m saying is that I take that spark of inspiration one step further and let my mind morph the idea into something unique and fresh and completely mine.

That leads me to my ultimate source of inspiration. MEN…to be more specific, these life ruiners right here.

Tom Hiddleston

For those of you who don’t know, the term “Life Ruiner” is defined as:

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THEY inspire me. These men who spark fantasies and ideas through the characters they play and their interactions with their fans. They are the heroes of my stories, the cast I choose when selecting my next pirate, alpha male, prince, bounty hunter, street racer, bootlegger, assassin, etc. When they spark an idea, I listen and write.

If you’re curious, Joe Manganiello inspired my Shadow Guardian, Gerard Butler inspired my street racer in Full Throttle, and Richard Armitage is the inspiration for my bootlegger on the Mississippi River. My actor in the play I’m writing is a combination of Tom Hiddleston, Benedict Cumberbatch, and David Tennant.

Tom Hiddleston…well, he’s a different story all together.

So I’ll ask you all…what inspires you?

Thanks for stopping by today.

~Kirsten

A Shadow’s Kiss: Book Two in the Shadow Guardian Series

Well after months of edits and beta readers, the second book in the Shadow Guardian Series is in the final stages before publication.

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This is about how I feel right now. 🙂 Uncontrollably excited. Thanks for clarifying my reaction Tom.

Here is the cover of the new book:

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Gorgeous, isn’t it? I’m in love with it. My cover artist is AMAZING!

I’ve updated all the information on the MY BOOKS page of this blog, including the blurb.

A Shadow’s Kiss will be available for pre-order by the end of June. It releases on July 4th!

What better way to enjoy a book than on Independence Day (for my US readers) with a drink in hand and a long weekend at your disposal.

Stay tuned for more updates! Thanks for the love and support.

~ Kirsten ❤

St. Patrick’s Day Blog Hop with Breathless Press

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Welcome to my humble blog and thank you for joining our little blog hop.

Once upon a time, I was a carefree little girl that was able to do what most people couldn’t…find a four leaf clover.

All I had to do was walk into a field, look down, and pick up a four leaf clover.  It baffled most of the people around me.  My family always teased me that I was the luckiest girl alive.

I pressed every four leaf clover I found.  They were hidden in books all over my mother’s bookcase.  She would open a book and a handful of them would flutter to the ground.  Alas, most of them did not survive, their brittle leaves crushed with the slightest pressure.

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As I grew, my knack for finding these tiny green treasures became a game to me.  I would challenge my brother to see who could find one first.  He has yet to win that contest. 🙂

One time when I was in college, I was horseback riding through a thick green pasture overlooking the soft valleys in Eastern Pennsylvania.  I happened to glance down and saw a four leaf clover burried in the lush grasses.  It stood out as if it was standing alone atop a mound of dirt, begging for me to pluck it and add it to my collection.  So I did.

All those four leaf clovers and I have yet to win a fantasy vacation or the lottery.  I’m still waiting on my book to be turned into a movie.  Meeting Tom Hiddleston or Benedict Cumberbatch would be nice too.  But the truth is, I’m already the luckiest girl in the world.

I have a wonderful husband and two beautiful children, a family that loves and supports me, friends who encourage and harass me on a daily basis, and a fantastic community of authors and readers who love romance as much as I do.  I don’t need a pot of gold to make me happy.  I just need to be aware of how lucky I truly am every day of my life.

Happy Saint Patrick’s Day!

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Click here to view the list of the rest of the blog participants!  Thanks for stopping by.  🙂

Her Favorite Vice Author Interview

Hello everyone, this week we have another special guest.

Holden Granger

Tell me a little about your book and what you write.

I’m Holden Granger, and my most recent book is Her Favorite Vice.  This story was a lot of fun to write, and I hope it will be a lot of fun to read! To sum it up, it’s the story of a young police detective, who has her first big case in which she must go undercover as a high-priced call girl. She has the help of her partner, who also pretends to be one of her clients. Together, they match wits with the corrupt judge who uses his office to run the call-girl operation.

Click on the Image for Direct Link to Buy this Book!

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Ten Questions:

  1. What motivates you to write?  I love to create stories, and I’ve found I love it even more when people can read and enjoy them.
  2. Top five most romantic films in your opinion:  Casablanca – Pretty Woman – An Affair to Remember – When Harry Met Sally – Say Anything
  3. Best Kiss scene in film: Undoubtedly the spaghetti scene in “Lady and the Tramp”
  4. Top three authors who have inspired you:  Mario Puzo, Anne Rice and Raymond Chandler
  5. What is your favorite subgenre of romance?  Right now I enjoy paranormal romance because it gives both writer and readr a chance to enter a new mythology, at least it should if it is done right!
  6. Do you have a favorite poem?  Shakespeare’s Sonnet 130 – it has fun with the classical ideas of romantic poetry
  7. What do you do in your free time, when you get it? I can’t remember!
  8. Any new projects on the burner? I always try to keep a couple going. I’m really excited about a paranormal romance I’m working on now.
  9. What is your secret indulgence? Pop music from the 80’s, I use it to set the mood when I write. Please don’t tell anyone.
  10. If you could do one thing right now, without consequences, what would it be?  Why? That’s the toughest question I’ve been asked! A lot of possibilities come to mind, but I’ll stick with a relatively tame one. I’d like to walk into the Oval Office and chat with the president. I’d love to get his perspective on a few issues.

Lightning Round:

Favorite season? Summer – less clothes

Biggest pet peeve? Know-it-alls

Favorite dessert? Anything with ice cream

Favorite color? A deep, dark red

Drink of choice? Vodka and water

Favorite band? Fleetwood Mac

Action flick or RomCom – why can’t I have both?

Cuddling  or making out – Making out for sure!

Video games or a good book – Good book without question

Pirate or cowboy – Pirate, I love the ocean

Sexy or sweet – sexy

Bonus: If you could meet one person in all of history, who would it be and why?

Maybe it is a cliché, but I would want to meet Abraham Lincoln. I’d like to tell him that all he suffered was not in vain.

Thank you very much, Holden, for taking the time out of your busy schedule to take part in this interview and congratulations on your new release!