Hello! My name is Kendall McKenna (www.kendallmckenna.com) and I write M/M Erotic Romance novels. Yes, that’s right, not only do I come bearing the man-love, but it’s also the yummy, graphic kinda man-love. Just wanted to say that in the interest of full disclosure.
Are you still here? I didn’t clear the room with that paragraph? Awesome.
If you have never read one of my books, the first thing you need to know about me is that I write about U.S. Marines. My tag line is Love and Dog Tags! One of my swag items is a set of authentic dog tags embossed with the names and ranks of one of my romantic pairings. When I decided I wanted to try to become a published author, I realized that I could write a high quality military romance that wasn’t like most other military romances out there. I have carved out a niche for myself by writing about regular Marines; no USSOC or MARSOC (the closest I get is Force Recon), and by writing stories that are technically accurate and have a great deal of action and combat scenes.
Each story I write, I set out to do something different. Either different from what I’ve done before, or different from what other authors are doing. My first book, Brothers In Arms, was more plot than romance, which really set it apart. I turned right around and wrote a story that differed stylistically from myself, just to show that I could! It was a more traditional short love story (the relationship IS the plot), almost venturing into insta-love territory. When a friend challenged me to write about werewolves, I deliberately didn’t go out and read paranormal stories so that I couldn’t be influenced. Strength of the Pack is vastly different from most shifter stories, because of the positive way I integrated the werewolves into a world that looks just like ours. Also, my werewolves are not self-loathing, and they’re not a secret.
When my publisher, MLR Press, put out a special submission call for vampire stories, my editor (who wasn’t my editor at the time, but became my editor when the crook who owns Silver Publishing went into breach of contract and I pulled my rights) challenged me to write a story for the submission call. I’ve been reading vampire fiction for a couple of decades now, so I couldn’t avoid that influence. What I did with Nights In Canaan was write a story that doesn’t fit into any kind of existing mold. I took my favorite aspects of vampire lore, and wrote a story with a very different structure and an atypical HEA ending.
While I tried to set my story apart from others already out there, it was more important to me to write in a way that set me apart from myself! Because I write about active duty Marines, the ‘voices’ of my POV characters, as well as my narrative voice, have a certain style and tone. My narratives have been direct and perfunctory. They’re stripped down and no-frills. One reader even remarked that it almost felt like one of the after-action reports one of my characters would write. That’s intentional, because it suits those types of characters. I used Nights In Canaan as an opportunity to demonstrate that I can write a different style of narrative. I showed that I could write a character’s voice in a less technical, more lyrical manner.
The sequel to Brothers In Arms (which is Book #2 of The Recon Diaries) is called The Final Line and is currently in the hands of my beta reader. I set out to make Book #2 different from Book #1 by giving my Marine a civilian love interest. It opened up an opportunity to write a less brusque, more casual character voice. It gave me dialog options that I don’t have with two Marines, because the civilian isn’t quite so hesitant to talk about his feelings! (I tell you, sometimes these alpha males are annoying with the whole not wanting to talk thing.)
At this point, it might sound like I’m calculating different ways to sell lots and lots and lots of books! I won’t lie, it’s kinda cool when that happens! But don’t forget; I’m a reader, too. I don’t like picking up book after book that’s the same as the last 10 I’ve read. I’m disappointed when an author I like writes a book that is the same as their previous ones, seeming as though a ‘find and replace’ was done on names and descriptions. Readers are the real winners, if I succeed in making each book stand apart from the crowd, and stand apart from the others I’ve written. Readers are the winners when I try something new or learn something new because it results in a fresh idea and a change in my writing style.
And the best part of all, is when readers recognize the effort, and mention it. It’s very gratifying when I work something into a story and a reader writes a review that says, ‘I see what you did there!’
It makes me happy, cause I do it all for you!
If you’re curious about any of the stories I talked about, you can find more information on them here on my website. http://kendallmckenna.com/books/
My most recent release is Nights In Canaan. It came out last Friday. Yes, it’s about vampires. I warn you, I’ve made four readers cry with this story, and a couple of others have threatened to hurt me for almost making them cry.
Love and hate. Good and evil. Life and death. The universe requires balance, whatever the cost. An ancient vampire rises, time after time, threatening the survival of the human race. An ancient warrior is reborn, again and again, with the singular purpose of halting the vampire’s bloody rampage. With each encounter throughout time, their passions burn and their emotions deepen. The vampire shares his body and the warrior shares his blood. When they are no longer able to cause one another harm, the lovers hesitate to fulfill their destinies. Will the ancient warrior sacrifice the whole of the human race, in exchange for eternity in the arms of the vampire he loves?
Reaching over his own shoulder, Jesse silently unsheathed the powerful sword at his back. With his free hand, he pushed aside the cloth covering the dwelling’s doorway. Jesse burst into the small room, knowing he held the strategic advantage of surprise.
The sight that greeted him froze Jesse in his steps. A beautiful young man lay sprawled on the dirt floor, his thin clothing askew. His skin was dark and smooth, his shoulders broad, hips narrow. An equally gorgeous man lifted his face from the neck of the first. He tilted his head back, a look of ecstasy on his features. Dark blood covered his mouth, running down his lightly bearded chin. He smiled, baring a set of wicked fangs.
Jesse gasped when the man ran his tongue over his full, bloody lips and slowly opened his eyes. The pale blue irises shone bright in the darkness, confirming this was no blood-drinking minion, this was evil in the flesh.
“Saul.” Jesse’s rough whisper was loud in the quiet of the room.
“Hello again, Jesse,” the vampire greeted languidly.
Jesse lifted a hand that felt almost too heavy, and removed the cloth that obscured his face. Saul knew very well what Jesse was and how he looked.
“You were in Yerushalayim.” Jesse accused. The fingers that clutched the hilt of his sword were numb.
“And now I am in Gina.” Saul’s elegant, long fingered hands caressed the smooth skin of the young man in his lap. He lifted the nearly lifeless body in his arms so that he could nuzzle the young man’s throat while holding Jesse’s gaze.
Jesse ached with the memory of those hands gliding over his own body. He swallowed hard, the human heart in his chest racing uncontrollably. “Set the boy aside, Saul,” Jesse ordered.
“Wouldn’t you rather join us?” Saul punctuated his question by dragging the flat of his tongue over the wound in the boy’s throat. “He’s going to be beautiful when he turns. A lovely angel of death. Can you picture it?”
“No!” Jesse tightened his grip on his sword. His wings burst into visibility as he unfurled them as much as the confined space would allow. “You will not turn him. Let the boy alone!”
Saul’s suggestive smile displayed his fangs and Jesse remembered the feel of them on his own flesh, pressed to the back of his neck, nipping sharply at his hip.
“I’ve drained him, Jesse,” Saul replied, just above a whisper. “If I don’t turn him, he’ll die.”
“And if you turn him, he will die, along with all your minions, when I kill you.” Jesse lifted his sword higher, fanning the tips of his wings.
Saul’s smile faded. He let the boy fall from his arms as he slowly rose to his feet. “After Yerushalayim, I thought perhaps this time you would finally join me.”
Jesse’s face flushed as memories assailed him. He could almost taste Saul’s skin on his tongue, feel the coarseness of Saul’s sparse beard along his throat. “After Babylon, I thought you had grown wise enough not to return.”
Saul’s expression grew hard and angry. “Why do you protect them? They are not worthy of your attention. Do you not realize what we could be if you joined me, and I turned them all?”
Of course Jesse realized. He had known for millennia. No matter his desire for Saul, or whoever he was or will be, Jesse was reborn each time for a sole purpose. That purpose was to ensure the humans did not become an army of blood drinkers while their race was mere children.
“You are defeated, Saul. I will always defeat you,” Jesse said angrily, taking a step closer. “Why put us both through it?”
“Why do you put us through it?” Saul demanded, stepping over the now dead body of the young man and reaching for Jesse.
Their lips met and Jesse tasted sweet blood and bitter ashes. He fisted his free hand in Saul’s bisht, opening to Saul’s aggressive tongue. How he hated being the immovable object to Saul’s irresistible force.
Saul broke the kiss abruptly. He slowly backed toward a cloth draped window, watching Jesse with a thunderous expression. “There is no Hittite army at your back to drive us from Canaan.”
Righteous anger flared hot in Jesse’s belly at the memory of how many Amorites had fallen victim to Saul before Jesse had driven them out of Babylon. His chest tightened when he remembered Saul on the tip of Jesse’s sword as the Euphrates rushed past.
He lunged, but Saul was already fleeing out the window. Jesse tucked his wings and pursued.
Nights In Canaan will be available from MLR Press on March 15th.
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