Friday 4 July 2014

Kim Iverson Headlee: Snow in July

Some years ago, I had the pleasure of reading Kim Headlee's debut novel, Dawnflight: The Legend of Guinevere. In my review, I had said --

"Dawnflight" is as seamless a story as they come . . . First time readers of Arthurian legend will find "Dawnflight" packed full of action and adventure with a generous dollop of romance. Well read readers of this legend will find themselves enthralled, sitting back to contemplate the validity of the this new theory on Guinevere's legend, as well as Arthur's. "Dawnflight" has been compared to "Mists of Avalon" by Marion Zimmer Bradley; no truer a compliment. All I can say is "Wow!!"

To this day, I stand by my previous review, and Dawnflight has remained one of my most favorite reads.

Today, Kim celebrates another release in her repertoire -- Snow in July.

This is the story of Sir Robert Alain de Bellencombre. He's been promised a great estate as a reward for his service at the Battle of Hastings. In order to claim his prize, he must marry the estate's Saxon heiress. Alain hadn't counted on this being a condition of the reward, and before he'll agree to anything, he disguises himself as a squire and takes a little look around the estate -- the lands, the rumors of evil sorcery, and of course, the lady.

Lady Kendra of Edgarburh suffers the guilt that her mother's powers of healing have not been passed down to her, making her unable to save her brother's life. Then she has been given the horrible news that she'll be wed to the man suspected of inflicting her brother's mortal wound. She vows she will not marry this Norman . . . unless it snows in July!

Kim Headless has penned another wonderful tale in this story. Her captivating voice draws readers in from the first paragraph, her story rich and engaging, and her characters leaping from the pages. She makes it easy to understand the plight of both of her protagonists, and weaves her own sorceress tale of love and forgiveness. Snow in July is a must read, and will certainly capture readers' hearts, as it has mine. Yet another favorite Kim Headlee tale.

Kim took some time from her busy schedule to have a quick chat with me --

Welcome, Kim, to Heart of Fiction, and thank you for taking some time to share some interesting tidbits about yourself from the other side of the computer screen.

I know from reading your books that a vast amount of research is done before you even put 'pen to paper'. Between research, writing, running your own self-publishing company, and everything else, how do you fit it all in? Do you have a daily routine, and if so, what's that routine like?
Lately I’ve been swamped with a ton of editing, and learning to create my own print book layouts via Adobe’s InDesign. Plus it’s now summer, which means EVERYone is home, including my husband, the high school math teacher, so my efforts to write new fiction won’t start back up until fall, at least. But whether creating, editing, or formatting, my day is pretty much like this: check email & social media for an hour or two, then get to work and try like heck to ignore the Facebook notifications I get on my phone… :-)
Ha! Sounds like me. I had to finally turn off Facebook notifications if I was going to get anything done. A total Pavlovian Effect! :-)
Please share for us what it's like in your writer's world. What's the space like around you in which you write?
I’m lucky enough to have a couple of options these days. 
When doing work that’s interruptable – editing & formatting – I usually set up on my recliner couch for maximum neck support. Eleven years ago I was in a near-fatal car accident that left me with pins in my neck, so I place a high value on being comfortable as I work. (Regular deep-tissue massages are a must too, but that’s for a whole other interview!)
For those times when I need to minimize interruptions because I’m deep into the process of creating new material, we have a second house on our hundred-acre property – two pastures removed and deliberately devoid of TV, Internet, and a land line. We have dubbed it The Retreat, and it is exactly that: a fully functional 2-story, 1-bedroom house decorated with all the inspirational items I’ve collected in my decades of travel and attending conferences. Wonderful energy, and wonderfully quiet!
OMG! Every writer's dream to have a personal retreat to escape to for writing. You'd never get me out of it. How do you stand not moving into it? LOL A topic for another conversation, I'm sure!

Okay, when you're not writing, editing, formatting, and not cocooned in your retreat, what do you enjoy doing in your spare time?
Since I’ve been in the throes of having to prepare TWO books for release – of which Snow in July is the first – there isn’t a lot that I do that’s not writing related. But when I do take a break, I usually fire up Netflix; lately my husband & I have been enjoying going through the old episodes of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. When my daugher is home, all of us have been watching Remington Steele DVDs together. Nostalgic? Who, me??
You're as bad as me. Lately I've been rewatching old episodes of The Streets of San Francisco and Hawaii Five-O LOL Something about those older programs that you don't see today.

Thank you so much for taking time out of your day to visit with us and share more about yourself. I, for one, am looking forward to reading your next release.

Readers -- Be sure to grab a copy of Snow in July on Kindle. It's currently just 99c on Amazon US, and 77p on Amazon UK . . . Almost a steal, and most certainly, it's a keeper :-)

• • •

Sir Robert Alain de Bellencombre has been granted what every man wants: a rich English estate in exchange for his valiant service at the Battle of Hastings. To claim this reward, the Norman knight must wed the estate's Saxon heiress. Most men would leap at such an opportunity, but for Alain, who broke his vow to his dying mother by failing to protect his youngest brother in battle, it means facing more easily broken vows. But when rumors of rampant thievery, dangerous beasts, and sorcery plaguing a neighboring estate reach his ears, nothing will make him shirk duty to king and country when people's lives stand at risk. He assumes the guise of a squire to scout the land, its problems, and its lady.

Lady Kendra of Edgarburh has been granted what no woman wants: a forced marriage to an enemy who may be kith or kin to the man who murdered her beloved brother. Compounding her anguish is her failure to awaken the miraculous healing gift bequeathed by their late mother in time to save his life. Although with his dying breath, he made her promise to seek happiness above all, Kendra vows that she shall find neither comfort nor love in the arms of a Norman…unless it snows in July.

FIFTEEN THOUSAND MEN and horses writhed across the valley below, appearing as toys in a children’s game.

Many might consider war a game, but Sir Robert Alain de Bellencombre, knight of Normandy bound to the service of Duke William and commander of a unit in the cavalry reserves, did not number among their ranks.

Edward the Confessor, King of England via his Saxon father but Norman by his mother, was dead. This battle, raging near the coastal hamlet called Hastings, would decide the right of one man to wear the English crown: William the Norman, acknowledged by Pope Alexander to be Edward’s lawful successor; or Harold the Saxon, brother of Edward’s wife, the man alleged to be Edward’s deathbed choice.

Stroking his war horse’s glossy charcoal neck to calm her, Alain pondered Harold’s claim. It had to be true. This many men would not sacrifice their lives for a lie. Yet the vast majority of Harold’s supporters were Saxons harboring no wish to bear the Norman yoke. Perhaps such men might be desperate enough to fight for a lie that promised to restore Saxon rule.

A trumpet blared. He signaled his men forward, couched his lance, and spurred Chou to send her careening into the melee.

Harold’s shield wall, which had seemed impregnable, began to crumble under the onslaught of Alain’s unit, hastened by the desertion of men who no doubt decided they weren’t quite so willing to die. Their lord stood exposed just long enough for a Norman archer to sight his mark. Harold fell, screaming and clutching an arrow that protruded from one eye.

Harold’s supporters closed ranks around him, blocking Alain’s view and giving him more than enough to do as the Saxons redoubled their efforts to guard their lord’s body.

A familiar whirl of colors caught Alain’s attention. The saffron leopard prowling on a green field—Étienne! A Saxon knight, with a blue arm and fist blazing defiance across his gray shield, bore down upon Étienne with leveled lance. Étienne tumbled from his horse. He scrambled to his feet and retrieved his sword, putting it to good use on the Saxons surrounding him, although the knight who’d unhorsed him had already ridden in search of other targets.

Lance long since discarded and sword now rising and falling with fatal precision, Alain surged to reach his brother’s side. Protection of her youngest son had been their dying mother’s wish, and he had sworn on his own life to keep Étienne safe.

Before he could close the distance, another Saxon knight fought past Étienne’s guard to thrust a war-knife into his throat. Through the visor the knight’s eyes gleamed with startling, fathomless malice. Alain could only watch in stunned disbelief as he laid his hand upon Étienne’s chest for a few moments. Uttering a soul-freezing howl, the Saxon yanked out his seax and disappeared into the press with Étienne’s shield, denying Alain vengeance.

Shame and grief rent his heart asunder.

He had failed the two he loved most; failed them so utterly that he could never beg their forgiveness in this lifetime.

Pain slammed into his shoulder, toppling him from the saddle. Étienne’s body broke his fall. He tried to roll clear, but a spear through his chest pinned him to Étienne. His gut convulsed, and bile burned his throat. Blinding agony killed his struggle to free himself. Death’s stench invaded his nostrils.

He closed his eyes and waited for his final journey to begin.

• • •

Kim Headlee lives on a farm in southwestern Virginia with her family, cats, goats, and assorted wildlife. People & creatures come and go, but the cave and the 250-year-old house ruins—the latter having been occupied as recently as the mid-20th century—seem to be sticking around for a while yet.

Kim is a Seattle native (when she used to live in the Metro DC area, she loved telling people she was from "the other Washington") and a direct descendant of 20th-century Russian nobility. Her grandmother was a childhood friend of the doomed Grand Duchess Anastasia, and the romantic yet tragic story of how Lydia escaped Communist Russia with the aid of her American husband will most certainly one day fuel one of Kim's novels. Another novel in the queue will involve her husband's ancestor, the 7th-century proto-Viking king of the Swedish colony in Russia.

For the time being, however, Kim has plenty of work to do in creating her projected 8-book Arthurian series, The Dragon's Dove Chronicles, and other novels under her new imprint, Pendragon Cove Press. She also writes romantic historical fiction under the pseudonym "Kimberly Iverson."

Find Kim online --