Tell us a little about Land of the Falling Stars.
The brain-child for Land of Falling Stars came about shortly after I read a true-life story about cousins who fought on opposites during the Civil War. It was more common than what people might think. Often a thin county line separated families; one side sympathizing with the North; the other loyal to the South. The article sprouted a seed in my brain – what if two men who loved the same woman fought on opposite sides, what if one was killed by the other on a smoke-filled battlefield, and one was left to bring her the devastating news. So you can see where this is going. Of course there are other little subplots tossed in or I wouldn’t have much of a story.
Are you a Gone with the Wind fan?
You know, so many people have remarked that Land of Falling Stars reminds them of Gone with the Wind. I don’t see that; and didn’t even think about it when I wrote the novel. The only commonalities between the two are the plantation and the era. The stories are nothing alike. There is no “love triangle” because we never meet Jesse, Sophia’s fiancé; he’s already been shot before the story begins. In the first scene, we meet Sophia and Gavin, the hero and heroine, when Gavin returns from the war. There is very little Civil War history in the book, a smattering here and there. The novel is not about the southern way of life, carpetbaggers, or Sophia’s life after the war (think sequel maybe) but rather the novel focuses entirely on the volatile (think love/hate) relationship between Sophia and Gavin, past and present.
And again, in Gone with the Wind, there was this enormous cast and a trillion subplots underfoot, with the main focus on Scarlett’s life and those who loved her. In Land of Falling Stars, the third most important character is a wolfhound by the name of Ricochet.
What research did you do for this story?
Well, I certainly had to have knowledge about the battles around Fredricksburg at the time, near Arbor Rose, Sophia’s beloved home. One must always know what people ate during certain eras; make sure you’re not talking about canned peaches when they didn’t exist at the time. I did some research about what Gavin would have carried in his haversack because it’s an integral part of the story. Sophia rifles through his haversack one day believing she might come across some love letters. What she finds on her snoop is devastating, and changes her life forever. A thorough writer needs to know the landscape, particularly when you’re writing about slaves, their quarters, and what they ate and practiced in their daily lives. Sophia develops a medical condition (it’s a secret) and so I had to research what they knew about this malady at the time, what were the treatments and where would she go to seek medical help. The aspect of seeking help conjured up another problem. How would Gavin transport her across the states when there was a war underfoot? And you always worry about that ‘sagging middle’ so you have to make sure their journey is filled with complications and strife. Who would they likely meet along the way; who would also be traveling at the time and not fighting in the war?
Do you have any other historicals? Or any planned?
Yes, thank you for asking. Last year I finaled in the prestigious Molly Contest with my novel Decadent Deceptions. It was the first contest I entered, and I knew nothing about contests. In fact, I forgot I entered. Imagine my surprise when I received an e-mail saying, “Congratulations, Keta Diablo, you finaled in the Molly Contest.” I had to go online and read up about the Molly. Then I fell off my chair. Noble Romance released Decadent Deceptions last December and it too is a book of my heart. The plot centers around another story about star-crossed lovers and what risks they took to win the other’s affections – including exploring the world of voyeurism. Like LOFS, Decadent is rife with conflict, duplicity and murder. I like to keep a lot of conflict happening in my novels, and neither one lacks for that.
Ravenous Romance has asked me to write a sequel to LOFS, as have many readers. And I’m at work now on another Civil War story for Ravenous. Both will be full-length novels (I’ve not mastered the short stories they’re so fond of).
In the interim, I write for Phaze Publishing, Noble Romance and the Dark Roast Press under Keta Diablo and for The Wild Rose Press and New Concepts Publishing under another name (also historical). Whew! I’m tired now just thinking about that!
What’s your favorite part about the era?
The fact that men were men and the women who loved them courageous and self-reliant. They had to be. In LOFS Sophia was, of course, at one time a coddled, pampered young woman, but the war came and changed all that. It was wonderful to see her rise to the challenge and become a true survivor in the end. I think there’s something to be admired about their way of life, the grandeur, the balls and gowns that we know nothing about other than what we read in books. We have all these conveniences, and they had none, yet they forged ahead under often horrific circumstances and survived.
What are you working on now?
A story for Phaze called Crossroads Revisited, the sequel to what else, Crossroads that was released last week. And I’m working on the Civil War story mentioned above, and a pirate novella that I have no idea where it will end up.
What’s your writing schedule like?
People always ask me this question. I think they believe writers live the life of luxury – limos and bonbons. I don’t know about other writers, but for me, that couldn’t be further from the truth. I write at least six hours a day, promote and market another three, and answer e-mails for at least two. Toss in a meal at my desk, a few bathroom breaks and incidentals like feeding my cat and dog, and you can guess what I do with the rest of my time . . . sleep. In those rare moments I’m not writing, I might sneak in a chapter from a book I’ve been reading for months, take a walk with my dog or putz in the garden in the summer.
Anything else you’d like to say?
Yes, thank you so much for having me today. It was great fun. Who doesn’t like to talk about their own books? I hope your visitors will take a moment to visit me on the web and learn more about Land of Falling Stars and my upcoming releases. You can find me at:
http://ketadiablo.blogspot.com – Author Home
http://ketaskeep.blogspot.com – Author Blog
http://thestuffofmythandmen.blogspot.com – Another Author Blog
http://tiny.cc/Onmvx – Info about LOFS at Ravenous Romance