Thursday, 26 December 2013

Kat Simons: Once Upon A Tiger You can say you read it here first. Kat Simons is the one to watch for 2014. Her debut novella, Once Upon A Tiger, was released not even two weeks ago and already has shot up the ranks at Amazon.

I don't normally read paranormal romance (I know! Authors hate it when reviews with that line), but Once Upon A Tiger took me by surprise. The plot of this story could have gone down a common road, but the author keeps things moving in new directions.

At the core of the story, there is an imbalance of male tiger shifters to females, so the community elders have instituted a run for a mate -- males chase a desired female during her estrous, the end of which she must chose her mate. Should she fail to become pregnant, she must run again.

Alexis is a Tracker and has been excluded from the Mate Run, but unbeknownst to her, she's been let go from her job as Tracker and is now subject to the run. She discovers this when a pack of males show up at her doorstep with the news. Alexis would consider running if the man she loved was available. As he's not, she will kill any male who forces her to run.

Victor has been shunned in his community for his mutism, some calling him a freak or defective. This defect has also excluded him from the Mate Run. That's fine with him though, as the only woman he wants refuses to run. When he learns his friend Alexis has been fired and now forced into the run, he goes to help her. He knows she's capable of killing and will fight to the death before being forced into running. As her friend, Victor will do what it takes to protect her.

This story was fabulous on many levels -- The emotions between Alexis and Victor were palpable, the battle scenes were dramatic and well-written, the author's unique voice moves the story quickly without the slow bits that make some stories drag, and Victor's inability to speak bumped this story up to a new level rarely seen in romance.

Once Upon A Tiger is a great introduction into paranormal romance for first timers to the genre, and a fabulous first effort by this author. I love the title, and the cover is muy sexy! This book is first in a series, and I can't wait to read the next.

Kat took some time from her busy schedule to have a chat with us. As we do, we like to focus on the author away from her work.

• • •

Welcome to Heart of Fiction, Kat. As you can see, I just loved Once Upon A Tiger. Before we share your excerpt with our readers, let's learn a little about YOU.

With such a busy schedule, how do you find time to write? Do you have a routine you stick to or do you grab a few words as you can?
I write whenever I get time between the kids and life. When the baby naps, I write. When the kids go to bed, I write. I don’t sleep a lot :-) But I get the writing in where ever I can. Turns out I write really fast under pressure, too. The less time I have, the more I seem to get done. No time to make excuses or give myself permission to spend a baby nap playing Sudoku instead of working. That nap might only last 20 minutes! (I know, I have the most disastrous sleeping baby ever! He’s super cute and lovely, but he’s a rotten sleeper. And I thought my oldest was a bad sleeper. Little did I know.) If all I have in a day is 20 minutes then I have to get as much in in 20 minutes as I can. I look back to the time before I had kids and wonder what the hell I was doing with all my time! LOL. But since it seems I work best under pressure, it’s probably good I had kids. I’m a writing madwoman now.
Sounds like you are! You know, it's kind of like when you're working full time at an outside job, or going to school, that we can always make more time for writing. I think it's that schedule or obligation to something else when we can say, "I'd rather be writing" and take the day off and actually stay home to write. Whereas, when you're home all the time and have all kinds of free time that we say, "Sure, I'll do that later" then never do. Sounds like with kids, you have that obligation to something else that makes us appreciate that free time a lot more, and get 2 hours of writing done in that 20 minutes.

So, when you get that 20 minutes, where do you get your writing in? Do you have an office, or a desk in the corner, laptop on the table (or go figure, on your lap), or . . . ? Will you describe your writing space for us?
Like my schedule, my writing space is wherever I happen to be when the baby falls asleep. I carry around my writing laptop or a tablet and keyboard, keep my current WIP in a cloud account, and sit down to write when I can. Mostly I sit on my living room couch, which is super comfortable so a great place to write, or if the baby is awake and I’m still trying to get more work in, I stand at the kitchen counter—where he can’t reach the keyboard. (Because my baby would try to add to my word count with a lot of baby type. Everyone wants to write a book, right?) I will be forever grateful for laptops and tablets so my writing can be mobile. I know, I know, I could always use pen and paper, that’s super portable. Pen and paper are great, but eventually I still have to put everything into the computer. And I type a lot faster than I write so typing I can keep up with my imagination. What can I say, I’m a techy-type. Oh, but I do have to use pen and paper to make notes, write out my ToDo lists, marketing plans, etc… So maybe I’m only techy when it comes to the actual writing of my books… What was the question again?:-)
LOL Sounds like your baby will be the next writer in your household.

I know what you mean about typing as fast as your imagination. I've tried going back to hand writing my stories, but end up getting frustrated because my hands won't write as fast as my brain is talking to me. Or I start worrying about reading my handwriting, which has suffered severely in recent years since I spend so much time on the computer. I definitely prefer typing. Just wish the keys were quieter so I could take my laptop to bed with me at night and keep himself awake!

With two young children, writing, and trying to catch up on sleep, what do you do for fun or to relax?
I play a lot of Sudoku. Maybe too much. Oh and I have this cool Majong game on my iTouch that I play all the time. Obviously, I spend lots of time with my kids. I love spending time with my husband, too, when we can squeeze it in around the kids. I enjoy going to sporting events with the family, and I love traveling. Of course I love to read, but I actually don’t read near as much as I’d like to. I find it hard to read someone else’s fiction when I’m working on my own. So I take the occasional reading holiday—a week off where I read as many books as I can get it. I really love those weeks. I also like to take long walks and swim when I can get to a pool. And someday I’ll get back to doing cross-stitch and crewel. I love needlework and have been collecting projects, but with the baby I haven’t been able to sit down and work on one of those projects in awhile. I’ll get back to it though. What else? I love to bake. That’s my most dangerous habit because I love to eat what I bake and that is not good when my “day job” is sedentary. That’s the other reason I stand to write sometimes—to offset the chocolate chip cookie dough I nibbled for breakfast. :-) The rest of my life is writing.
Cookie dough for breakfast? Love it!

Sounds like a very busy lifestyle but a very fulfilling one.

Thanks for taking a few minutes out of your obviously very busy schedule to chat with us. Best of luck with Once Upon A Tiger, and get that next book out soon!
Thanks for having me here today! This was a fun interview.
Before we get to the excerpt, be sure to leave a comment for Kat. I'm sure we can twist her arm into offering a free copy of her book to one lucky commenter ;-) Be sure to include your email address, as that's your sure ticket into the random draw.

• • •

She’ll never run.

Among the tiger shifters, Alexis Tarasova is regarded as fierce and dangerous, with a reputation that would make even the most daring tiger think twice about challenging her. Female tiger shifters may be rare and the mating run a critical part of their species’s survival, but Alexis is the only female Tracker and will not back down, even at the threat of tiger law. She will not be forced to mate. So when a handful of males band together to force her to participate in the run, Alexis chooses to stand her ground and fight instead.

He's forbidden to run.

Outcast from the tiger shifters after a vicious childhood attack left him mute, Victor Romanov has never taken part in the mate run. He’s never particularly cared, though, since the woman he loves refuses to take a mate. However, when he learns Alexis may be in danger, all bets are off. Nothing will keep him from her side.

Together, they’re unmovable.

The chemistry between them burns wickedly hot and forges them into an unbeatable pair. Alexis knows that being with Victor means she will have to break another one of her people’s laws—a move that might push the tigers too far. But, for Victor, she will risk everything, including her life, and do what she thought she’d never do—run.

Alexis worked at squashing the rapid increase in her pulse, but from the way Victor’s nostrils flared and his eyes narrowed slightly, she knew the effort was pointless. He could smell her lust rising. And there was no way they’d be able to remain this close without falling into bed. She’d wanted him too much for too long. Even out of estrous, she’d barely been able to resist him. Alone with him, she knew her body would get the better of her brain.

Just the thought made her glance toward her room. When she looked at Victor again, his expression was serious, his gaze focused on her mouth.

“That’s probably not a great idea,” she murmured, even as she leaned a little closer. “Not while I’m in estrous.”

She felt his heat, smelled his desire. The combination was driving her nuts. Every fiber of her being strained toward him, wanting to strip off those borrowed clothes and do all sorts of naughty things to his delicious body. When she realized just how close she’d gotten to him, she jumped up and stumbled back toward the kitchen.

“No,” she said once she was at a safe distance. “No, you hanging around is not a good idea.”

He dropped eye contact long enough to write a note, then rose slowly, his every movement holding her attention. So graceful and strong. What would those big hands feel like on her body? Her skin quivered at the thought. She closed her eyes for a moment to rein in her wayward thoughts. When she opened them, he was standing in front of her, holding the notebook up so she could read.

I won’t stay here. I’ll keep to the woods. But I’ll be near enough to help if you need me.

She didn’t want him to go. She wanted him to stay, to drag her off to bed. She could barely think around the thick need racing across her heated skin, the only relief for it in Victor’s arms.

He dropped his hands to his side and took a small step closer. Alexis was so overwhelmed by him she stopped thinking. To hell with the elders and their damned rules. She eased near enough that their clothes brushed. She felt the contact across her entire body. Her nipples hardened, her breathing increased, dampness soaked her underwear.

Their mouths were a breath away, the suspense and desire almost more than she could take.

Then she blinked and he was gone.

An involuntary gasp blew past her tingling lips. She stood exactly where she was for long moments as she concentrated on breathing. Finally, she went to her still-open front door. There was no sign of him. But her keen senses picked him up about a half mile away. Far enough that she was no longer so driven to drag him to bed but close enough he could reach her if she needed him.

True to his word, she thought. Honorable on top of everything else.

No wondered she’d been in love with him for most of her adult life.

• • •

Kat Simons earned her Ph.D in animal behavior, working with animals as diverse as dolphins and deer. She brought her experience and knowledge of biology to her paranormal romance fiction, where she delights in taking nature and turning it on its ear. After traveling the world, she now lives in New York City with her family, their funny little dog and a library’s worth of books. Kat is a stay-at-home mom and a full time writer.


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