Leap of Faith is a short story set in the same universe as Embracing the Dragon. It was originally published by Torquere, but was not renewed after its initial contract ended. It’s an explicit M/M romance featuring two of the minor characters from Embracing the Dragon, and takes place approximately a year prior to Embracing the Dragon. If you’d like to receive a copy, please send me an email request at kathryn.scannell <at> gmail.com, and I will be happy to send you one.
How long have you been a writer?
I started dabbling about six years ago. I sold my first short story two years ago. Not long after that the same publisher picked up Embracing the Dragon for their serial fiction site.
Tell us about your latest or coming soon book(s). What inspired it?
My latest book, Embracing the Dragon, released on the 13th of April. It’s a M/M romance in an urban fantasy setting. The world is one which a good friend and fellow author, BA Collins, and I have been sharing. Embracing the Dragon is the first novel length work in the series, but there will be other coming, both from BA and myself. It started out originally as a setting for a fantasy roleplaying game, created by BA. The game ended, but we both liked the world, and decided with some judicious editing it would be a good setting to write in.
This particular story started out as kind of an outtake from an epic fantasy novel I had planned. The romantic entanglements between several of the main characters were part of that storyline, but I didn’t expect them to be on screen, so to speak. So I thought I’d just write a quick little short with a scene that I was sure wouldn’t make it into the novel in detail – Danny’s first sexual encounter with another man. And like everything I touch, it expanded. First it was going to be one 10-20K story. Then it was going to be a set of three related ones. Finally it expanded to a novel, and then when we looked at the length, it turned into two. There will be a sequel in a year or so.
Was there a lot of research involved in creating this book?
Strictly speaking, there was very little research for this book. The Tengri Empire, where much of it takes place, shares common cultural roots with ancient China and Japan, so I did do some reading on those cultures for ideas for things like civil bureaucracies, and some other cultural tidbits. The Imperial Register of Sacrifices, which is a list of religious rituals the Emperor is obligated to participate in, is one of those. It sounds odd, but there was something substantially similar in ancient China.
Most of the development time behind the book falls into the worldbuilding category. The game where the world was developed was built up gradually over more than ten years of regular gaming sessions. Then we spent another couple of months of intermittent discussions and sifting through old notes from the game to decide how we needed to adjust the major plot arc to make for good novels rather than good gaming, what subplots should get pruned out, and how the world timeline should go beyond the point we’d developed during the active game. This included things like coming up with casualty numbers for the war which is part of the major plot arc. By the end of that we’ll have killed off in excess of 50% of the population of Asia.
How much time did it take from writing your first book to having it published?
The very first book is still in the trunk, so to speak. Someday I’ll salvage the plot and rewrite completely and try sending it out.
Embracing the Dragon was a very quick process. I was working with an editor who’d bought a short story set in this world, and thought a longer story set there would be a good candidate for Torquere’s serial fiction site. I pitched the plot for Embracing the Dragon, which was already about three quarters complete, to her, and she encouraged me to get it whipped into shape to take advantage of some upcoming openings in the schedule. I think it was about two months between turning in the draft and when it started running on the serial site. After it finished its run in December of last year, we did two more rounds of copy edits, which added another three months into the timeline.
Are any of your characters based on real people or events?
The characters are not. Some of the world history is shared with our world. The timeline diverged seriously from our in the 1980’s.
Has your life changed significantly since becoming a published writer?
Not really. I’m not going to be quitting the day job any time soon, and wouldn’t want to. I actually like my day job. I work in the field of environmental remediation, which means that I go home at the end of the day feeling that I’ve helped make the world a better place, quite literally.
Do you work on one project at a time? Or do you multi-task?
I generally focus on one project at a time. I may put a big one aside temporarily for a smaller one like a short story that has a deadline. I have a lot of ideas in the queue, but I’m not actively writing them. I find it works better to do a draft, then set it aside for a few weeks or even months if I have time, so I can go back to try to edit from a fresh perspective. I have a finished draft on another novel in that stage now, while I’m working on completing the first draft of the sequel to Embracing the Dragon. I’ll go back to editing the first book when I’ve got the draft done on the sequel done, then return to the sequel. There might also be a short story or two in the mix somewhere.
When not writing, how do you relax?
I do a lot of reading, both fiction and non-fiction. I’m also an active member of a medieval recreation group called the Society for Creative Anachronism (http://www.sca.org) . We recreate various aspects of life in pre-16th century Europe. We’re a bit different from historical reenactors, as we focus on skills and arts, rather than re-enacting specific battles.
What song would best describe your life?
Time in a Bottle by Jim Croce
Please tell us what you got coming up and what you may be working on in the future?
The next story I’ve sold is a short in Spells and Swashbucklers, an anthology of stories combining pirates and magic, which will be forthcoming in print from Dragon Moon Press in November of this year. It’s set in this same world, but involves different characters, and no romance elements at all.
My current active project is the sequel to Embracing the Dragon. I’m hoping to get that in to the editor this fall.
In a completely different arena, I have the first draft of a supernatural thriller set in contemporary Israel done. I’m hoping to finish edits and rewrites and get it out to beta readers by the end of the year, then I’ll start looking for a home for it. It has no romance elements either.
If you could be a paranormal creature, which one would you be?
I think I’d like to be a feline shifter. Cats manage to always look so totally, bonelessly relaxed. I envy them.
What’s a guilty pleasure you have?
Book shopping. Neither my wife nor I can pass a book sale or a used book store without stopping, even though we’re running out of places to put the books.
What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your books?
I tried my hand at a little historical piece. I thought it would be easy because I had done a lot of research on the period and location where I was going to set the story. Then I started to write and suddenly realized just how much I didn’t know, and how few of the details I’d learned in history class or reading histories of the period were actually useful when it came to writing the story.
I knew all kinds of things about major political events, who knew who, what they’d written, and things like that. But when it came to the actual writing and I started needing to do things like describe what the characters were wearing, things they would see on the street, and so forth, I had nothing. That’s a whole different area of research that I hadn’t considered.
How many books have you written? Which is your favorite?
Embracing the Dragon is my first published novel, so by default it would have to be this one. If you include works in progress, right now I’m still in love with the thriller I’m working on. It’s not perfect, and it still needs a ton of edits, but I love the characters and the chemistry between them.
What sound drives you crazy?
Snoring. There’s nothing worse than lying in bed when you’re having trouble drifting off to sleep, and having your spouse be out like a light, and snoring. Earplugs are underrated as a marital aid.
If you were a tool, what would people use you for?
I’d probably be something like a magnifying glass or a measuring tool. I’m a perfectionist when it comes to details in any project I tackle. So I’d be good for quality control or organization.
Where can we find you on the ‘net?
Live Journal: http://aishabintjamil.livejournal.com
Embracing The Dragon
Available at Torquere Books
In the days of Atlantis, in other lives, Danny O’Riordan and Emperor Mordellir were lovers. Now, they’ve found each other again. But Danny already has other commitments. Can he afford to follow his heart and embrace the Dragon of Heaven in this lifetime?
Danny O’Riordan’s life was complicated before he had the vision of a past life that forced him to admit to himself that he was bisexual. There’s a war going on, and being Liegeman to Aran, the Elven King of Avalon puts Danny squarely in the middle of the politics of two worlds, Earth and Avalon. Adding a romantic relationship to the mix could be explosive.
His lover from that previous life has been reborn as Mordellir, the ruler of the Tengri Empire. The Dragon of Heaven is the most powerful person in his world. Will he want Danny back once he knows he’s been reborn? If he does, how far will he go to get his way?
Danny knows it isn’t smart to get involved with the Dragon of Heaven. Aran hates the Tengri. Following his heart and renewing that old relationship with Mordellir will leave him torn between his commitment to Aran and those old feelings which are still frighteningly strong. If he yields to temptation, can he balance his love for both men?
Looking at him now, in this mood it was easy to see the resemblance to Demeth. Certainly there were differences. Demeth had been only part Tengri. He’d been shorter and a bit heavier built. Demeth’s hair had reddish highlights, which hinted at demon in his family somewhere. But there was still something in the body language, and the aura which reminded Danny achingly of those memories of Demeth. It wouldn’t be hard to put this man in place of the image of Demeth in those memories…
Thinking that had not been a good idea. Danny realized his mistake when he felt his cock start to swell. Just remembering the damned dreams he’d been having was enough to get him hard again, and the bathrobe he was wearing was not going to hide it. He could see a telltale bulge already. He shifted to cross his legs, hoping to keep things under control, but it just didn’t work.
Mordellir had noticed, too. His gaze followed that moving bulge, and he gave off a mix of amusement and interest. All the extra blood that wasn’t already in Danny’s cock rose promptly to his face as he realized that.
Mordellir grew even more amused as Danny turned bright red. “I didn’t think you were interested, Daniel. It’s certainly nothing to be embarrassed about. You’re a handsome young man. I’m not intimate with all my Favorites, but it’s certainly an option.”
Danny cursed inwardly. This was rapidly becoming a disaster. “No! I’m not– I mean I don’t– Oh Hell.” He ground to a halt. Doing anything would be stupid, and guaranteed to make settling the problem of those old memories worse, not better, but how did he say no without insulting the Emperor? Especially when his cock was obviously saying yes.
“Slowly, Daniel,” Mordellir said gently. “If I read that wrong, I’m sorry. Will you tell me why you’re so confused and embarrassed? It can’t be just having an erection in front of someone else, not after living among the Elves and the Kennakriz. What is it?” He looked probingly at Danny out of his good eye.
Danny took a deep breath to try to calm himself. “No. This isn’t simple to explain. You didn’t misread my reaction, but it would be a terrible idea to act on it.”
“Why?” Mordellir sounded genuinely puzzled.
“Because you’re the Emperor of the Tengri, and I’m the senior Liegeman to the King of Avalon, who happens to hate Tengri in general, and you in particular. That gives whole new levels of meaning to conflict of interest,” Danny said, wondering why he was explaining the obvious to someone this experienced in politics.
“So?” Mordellir felt perplexed. “Is this an Earth thing? A little sex hardly constitutes anything important. It’s not as if there was a commitment involved. There isn’t even a chance of children to worry about negotiating.”