This year, 2014, Changeling Press celebrates a decade of publishing. I’m B.J. McCall and today, I’m interviewing author Kate Douglas about her books and her decade of writing for Changeling.
Kate, welcome to the Changeling Blog. You’ve been writing for Changeling since the beginning. How did you learn about Changeling?
I’ve known the company founder, Margaret Riley, since we were both authors at Ellora’s Cave. I joined up in 2001.There was a whole group of us in the early years—Margaret aka Shelby Morgen, Treva Harte, MaryJanice Davidson, and Lora Leigh, to name a few. By 2003, MaryJanice and Lora Leigh were off to fame and fortune, Treva, along with a few other authors, had started Loose Id, and Margaret decided to start Changeling Press. M’s idea was to sell sexy stories that were short enough for people to read on their PDAs. Remember those? The precursor to the smart phone, though they didn’t make calls, but they were one of the first small, hand-held devices you could actually read an ebook on. We were definitely pioneers!
Anyway, she asked me if I would write something that would really “knock the readers’ socks off.” We talked about it, decided shapeshifters were the coming thing, that wolves were sexy, and I went online to research wolves, since I didn’t know a thing about them.
I remember coming across an article about a Tibetan wolf with the local name, “Chanku.” That single paragraph was the basis for the entire Wolf Tales (and now Spirit Wild) world. I called the series Wolf Tales, though I can’t recall if it was my idea or M’s to name it that. The first story was titled “Stefan.” I think it’s around 15,000 words, but it was just different enough that it really caught readers’ attention. I think it was the Beauty and the Beast concept, of Xandi, the heroine, having a truly erotic sexual encounter without seeing her partner’s face, but recognizing he wasn’t quite human.
BJ: It’s been ten years. What was the most exciting moment you can recall?
KATE: Beyond getting an offer from a NY publisher for my Changeling Press series, after twenty years’ of trying to get a contract? I think it was the moment Anton Cheval entered the story. In my mind, Stefan was going to be the hero for the series, but when I wrote the second “chapter” to my CP serial, the one titled “Alexandria,” I introduced Anton Cheval to the story. I don’t think I’ve ever had a character appear fully formed in my mind and take over the way Anton did.
What’s interesting is that the first scene where he appears, when Stefan and Xandi drive to his home to meet with him, almost got cut.
It broke way too many rules—a violent anal rape between two men, one caught halfway between wolf and man, and the more dominant Anton, who shifts from man to wolf in the midst of the act. The editor said absolutely not, no way, wasn’t gonna happen.
I knew it had to be part of the story, so I went over my editor’s head and sent the piece to M. She approved it, the story appeared as written, and sales jumped. I still remember the way it felt to write that scene, as if Anton were guiding it. Stefan sort of pulled back and turned the stage over to the alpha wolf, and from then on there was no stopping Anton Cheval. I don’t think there’s any greater thrill for an author than the moment the character comes to life and takes control. Or maybe I’m just a submissive at heart...ya never know.
BJ: You’ve written many books. I’m sure you love all your stories, but which book is your favorite Changeling story?
KATE: It’s My Valentine. Not sexy at all, but it’s always made me feel good. It was written in a single weekend in 2005 when M had a sudden opening for a Valentine’s Day story when an author failed to deliver. It happens on occasion, and I told her I could have something for her by Monday. This was late on a Friday—I thought about it overnight but had nothing until I took a walk around the block. It was a cold, wintry day, and by the time I got home, I had the concept for the story. Wrote the whole 12,000 words on Saturday, spent Sunday tweaking and smoothing it out, and had it to M on time. It’s the story of St. Valentine getting his shot at love—and mortality—with an abused woman intent on killing herself.
BJ: Who is your sexiest Changeling hero?
KATE: If you’d asked me this last year, I would have said it was Lester Ondáge from Finding Magic and Chasing Dragons (both in the Dragons and Dreams collection) but that was before I wrote A Very Good Thing and met Caj and Marc. It’s a toss-up. Marc is openly bi and Caj has always thought he was straight. Both of them are just too hot for words.
BJ: Your latest Changeling release was Something Even Better. Tell me about it?
KATE: The precursor to Something Even Better was A Very Good Thing, which was one of those “flash fiction” challenges. The original idea was, ‘someone comes up to you in a bar and whispers, “Help me out. Pretend you’re my lover.”’
I got the idea of a straight guy planting a kiss on a guy he thinks is gay in order to discourage a clingy ex-wife. That story ended with Caj and Marc dining in the same bar/restaurant where they’d met, when a beautiful young woman walks in, sidles up to Caj and whispers, “Help me out. Pretend you’re my lover.” And that is where Something Even Better opens.
Both Caj and Marc are in love, but they’re bi, not gay, and they realize something is missing. And that something is actually some one—one Ginny Kalani, a beautiful woman with issues about her weight. As she explains to the guys, she’s genetically designed to survive long sea voyages, but what she sees as something bad, Caj and Marc see is lush sensuality they both want to sample—and keep. It’s a fun, feel-good story.
BJ: Thank you for taking the time for this interview. And on a personal note, I want to take this opportunity to thank you for the years of friendship and mentoring you have given me over the years.
KATE: That goes both ways, B.J.! If you’ve got room, I have to tell our story. B.J. and I lived in neighboring towns when we were both new to this writing gig, and we occasionally met for lunch and a chance to visit. I think it was a Subway in Windsor where we were going over plot ideas for our stories, arguing about the various scenes, and definitely getting into the conversation. All I remember is that it was just you and me in the place, and a teenaged boy behind the counter.
Now, B.J. and I both write pretty steamy erotic romances, and we weren’t really censoring our conversation. After an hour or so, it was time to take off, and we started packing up our stuff to leave when the young man walked over with a plate of cookies, obviously wanting us to stay.
He’s been eavesdropping the entire time we were talking about whatever sex scene we were working on—probably the most excitement he’d had on the job in months!
B.J., I wish you still lived close—those gab sessions were great for charging the muse! Thanks so much for the opportunity to reminisce. Writing for Changeling Press has always been so much fun, and I still need to do another story in my series of sexy short stuff, It’s All Good, but for readers who want a couple of fun, sexy, short novellas, A Very Good Thing and Something Even Better are definitely entertaining.
And, if you don’t mind, I’d love to take this opportunity to thank Margaret and Bill Riley for the amazing opportunity Changeling Press offered me—the chance to write beyond the rules that had constrained all of us for so long. If not for Margaret and Bill’s generosity in returning my rights to me when a NY publisher offered a contract on the series, I wouldn’t have enjoyed as much success as I have.
I will always be grateful to them and to Changeling Press. I still think it’s one of the best, most ‘author friendly’ publishers around, and I recommend it often to those writers looking for a publishing home. It’s also got one of the most supportive groups of authors and editors I’ve ever had the pleasure to know. A little warped at times, but I think that’s the best part!
Kate’s books are available