Friday, April 27, 2012

Welcome...Our Guest, Pat Kirby!

(Disclaimer. I give rotten interviews, so I’m gonna do my best to let Pat carry through on this…)

Hey! Welcome to Pat Kirby, who recently saw the release of The Canvas Thief from Carina Press! This is a novel of art come to life. I think…

Tell us a little bit about the set up for this book, Pat.

PAT: The Canvas Thief is a romantic contemporary fantasy. I see it as a romance, but since I don't always abide by genre requirements, mileage may vary.

Maya Stephenson is a talented artist who has a gift for depicting people and other living beings with a lifelike sense of gesture and movement. Instead of pursuing a career in fine art, however, she works as a graphic artist for a consulting company, putting together dry technical drawing and illustrations.

Why? Well, Maya has a secret. She sees demons, fairies and the other magical creatures who visit our world. Even though no one else sees them, Maya knows she isn't crazy. But she also knows that normal people--people who don't want to be locked up in padded rooms or hauled off by a mysterious government agency--don't see imaginary beings and if they do, they don't draw the things they see. So Maya's spent most of her 27 years being as mundane as possible.

But a bird's gotta fly; a bear's gotta poo in the woods; and artists have to make art.  Maya's primary means of creative expression is her unpublished graphic novel series that follows the exploits of Benjamin Black, a thief, and his nemesis, Adam Sayres, a cop.  Both are human and "safe" subjects to illustrate. Though she started drawing both characters as a child, it isn't until she is seventeen that she finally gets them just right, the perfect drawings, exactly as she sees them in her head, on paper.

Now, ten years later, two men who bear an uncanny resemblance to her graphic novel characters appear in her life. One, Benjamin, rather in keeping with his backstory, breaks into her house. The other, Adam, is an ATF agent who seems to be on Benjamin's trail. Each has an agenda; each wants something from Maya. With one man, she'll find an unexpected love; with the other, a face-to-face introduction to evil.

I’m reading at present and intrigued by the idea of the main character, Maya’s talent. Am I correct in reading that her sketch subjects become real from her talent or that what she paints is already real…just from another world?

PAT: Never underestimate the power of children's imaginations. In fact, childhood is the only time when ordinary humans have any magical ability. The collective power of children's imagination is so strong that it has literally created an alternate universe where favorite story characters, imaginary friends, and other fictional beings live--NeoVerse.

Most humans outgrow their magic at puberty, but a rare few don't. Maya is one such human, although she doesn't know it. A gifted artist, her magic gives her the ability to literally bring a being from NeoVerse into our world with the perfect drawing or painting. Maya, however, doesn't have a clue what she's doing: on the day she draws the perfect illustration of Benjamin Black, so exact she feels like she can see his soul in the work, she thinks, "Yay, me!" and goes on with her life.  Lather, rinse, repeat a few months later with Benjamin's nemesis, Adam. Ten years later....

Oh, I do love the idea of kids seeing things that are actually there, but told aren’t. So they eventually agree. So, granted, I’m just getting into TCT, but it mildly reminds of Charles de Lint’s Memory and Dream. Have you ever read any deLint?

PAT: Oh, yeah. I'm a big fan (although I don't have any de Lint on my keeper shelf; must remedy that.) I particularly like his Medford stories.  For those who haven't read any de Lint, Newford is a fictional Canadian city where a recurring set of characters, artist and musicians mostly, struggle with the usual creative angst--writer's/artist block, making enough to pay the rent, critics--all while their lives make unexpected intersections with the unseen magical side of life.  In Memory and Dream, an artist finds that some of the fantastic creatures from her paintings have somehow stepped into the real world.

While The Canvas Thief has a similar premise as Memory and Dream, the seed that became a plotline  originated from another DeLint novel--The Onion Girl. (No, I'm not one of those writers who claims she's never-ever influenced by other writer's ideas. I don't steal, but I'm frequently inspired by.) At one point in The Onion Girl, it's mentioned that fictional characters are kept alive by our belief, existing in a world all their own, fading away once we forget about them. The idea was also planted in the barren wasteland of my imagination by Neil Gaiman's American Gods, and fertilized by Bill Willingham's Fables series. At any rate, I soon started wondering how I could take this tidbit and make it my own.

(embraces Pat) I knew you were really my long-lost soul sister. Another deLint fan! I think most of the pirates here thought I was making him up…

I have to say, I remember the post on FB about how the females on both covers of your books both are looking over their shoulder. Do you think your publishers are seeing a common thread in your stories?

PAT: Erm, no. Wait, that sounded so negative. What I meant I think it's more a matter of what readers expect from book covers, how we've been trained by marketing to see a type of cover and automatically think, "urban fantasy" or "romance." With The Canvas Thief, the cover designer had the unenviable task of putting together a cover for a book that's a hybrid of urban fantasy with a dash of suspense, and a heap of romance. With The Music of Chaos, an urban fantasy, the designer went with the standard sexy girl against an urban backdrop shtick.

In both cases, the designer needed to include a female character on cover; it would seem that both had a fondness for stock photos showing women doing the "ovah the shouldah" thing.

No, conspiracy. Damn.

Now, I know this doesn’t have a whole lot to do with your book, but honestly, your movie reviews on your blog are hilarious and very pointy. Do you take notes while you and Critter Husband watch for these reviews?

PAT: Usually, no. I have a snarky dialogue running through my head (with wee track shoes) as I watch any movie. For the sake of my husband, I keep my thoughts in my head. But, the worse the movie, the more snark escapes into real space; if it's a real stinker, Husband Critter joins me in the merciless flaying of the movie. Later, if any of those observations survive my mental editor's enthusiastic culling of the previous day's events, I write the review.  Interestingly, I find it hard to review a movie I like, while I usually pare at least a few hundred words off a review for a stinker. There are sooo many ways to say, "This movie sucks like the vacuum of outer space."  Cranking out a few hundred contemptuous words for The Three Musketeers was effortless, while I've never gotten around to reviewing Midnight in Paris. My feelings for the former being summed up as "...really cute, but, uh, coulda used more Tom Hiddleston."

 We see a lot of you here on the Revenge…most who visit this regularly get a pirate name…one we usually pick. But! If you were allowed to pick your own pirate name, what would it be?

PAT: Erm, I dunno. I'm all about dragons...Draco the Mauve.

Thanks Maureen, and gracias to all the lurvely pirates here at The Revenge for letting me stop by for the day. Given that ya'll read way more romance than I do, I've got a question. Lately, I'm on an artists-as-protagonists kick (hero in current WIP is an artist). My question is, have you read any romances where one of the protagonists is an artist? If so, any you'd recommend? Leave your answer in the comments, and I'll give away a free copy of The Canvas Thief to one commenter.

The Canvas Thief is available from Carina Press and from Amazon. Also available as an audio book from Audible. Chapter One, deleted chapters and my snarky movie reviews can be found on my website.
(Pat has her animals ta animals ta settle this fine morn, but will be alone soonest. Be patient crew!)


quantum said...

Having spent many hours trying to teach reading to a youngster with traces of ADHD, I have been amazed at the clarity of the young imagination.

For example, on one occasion she was the princess sleeping for 100 years, and I had strict instructions to wake her with a kiss when the clock struck 5.00 pm. A quick peck on the cheek produced a slowly expanding smile and a dazzling excited gleam in the eye. She really was awakening from a 100 year snooze!

Pat, I have enjoyed your comments here on the pirate blog but had no idea that you were published. I like the concept behind 'The Canvas Thief' so will give it a try. I collect Pirate's books but only have Maureen and Donna so far (hint hint! LOL). As a dragon lover myself, it will be an honour to add you to my collection. I looked for the audio version on audible UK, but alas couldn't find it.

Considering 'The Music of Chaos', I saw that it involved vampires so I think I will avoid that one, unless you can assure me that they don't bite!

Congratulations on the new book! *smile*

In answer to your question, if I can take a liberal interpretation of 'artist', I would recommend Maeve Haran's 'The Lady and the Poet'. Its a historical romance involving the poet John Donne. I listened to the audio version from audible UK.

Janga said...

The Canvas Thief sounds fascinating. I really enjoy artist as protagonist books. Susan Vreeland has made a career largely of writing such books: Luncheon of the Boating Party--Renoir, The Forest Lover--Emily Carr, Clara and Mr. Tiffany--Clara Driscoll, Girl in Hyacinth Blue--fictional daughter of Vermeer, and Passion of Artemesia--Artemisia Gentileschi. Of course, these are not romance novels.

The romance novels that I can think of immediately are Mary Jo Putney's River of Fire, Loretta Chase's Captives of the Night and Lord Perfect, Tessa Dare's Surrender of a Siren, Nora Roberts's Born in Fire, and Lisa Kleypas's Rainshadow Road. In River of Fire, both hero and heroine are artists, but in all the others, the heroine is an artist. I find that fact interesting.

TerriOsburn said...

Which of Eloisa's is Rees and Helene? Now I have to go look. Your Wicked Ways. Rees is a composer living with his mistress when his estranged wife (who is the better composer) moves back in to beget an heir. There are some amazing scenes in that book, not the least of which is when the three sit down to dinner together.

I am amazed at the intricacies of this book and yet you claim to be a total pantser. I like the romance part, but the "face-to-face introduction to evil" sounds quite scary. :)

Maureen said...

Oh, man one of Jennifer Ashley's Mackenzie books features an artist and his estranged wife. Ah, Lady Isabella's Scandalous Marriage. And Emily Bryan wrote one with a female sculpture-er (sp?) and her model, who was a lord slumming as a model - I think...

I know I've read a fair amount of UF which featured musicians. None of which I can remember the titles of... Emma Bull wrote one??? More fantasy I believe but the title is gone, gone, gone from my brain!

P. Kirby said...

Quantum: Yep, a child's imagination is an amazing thing to behold. I'll definitely have to check out Maeve Haran's book!

(The Music of Chaos is a vampire book, but it's more funny than bitey. But I totally understand your aversion. Me, I don't read books about sports. We all have things on the avoid list.)

P. Kirby said...

Janga: *Scribbles frantically* Oh, boy. That's a mighty list. My requested queue at the library just grew exponentially. :) Thanks!

My guess is that often people think of art as a feminine pursuit, which is funny because, if you think about it, the most famous artists-DeVinci, Michaelangelo, Dali, Picasso, et al--were men.

P. Kirby said...

Terri: Two musicians. I'm all over that. :)

The Canvas Thief progressed the same way every one of my stories does: I first wrote all the fun, sexual-tension-y scenes, and then figured how how the hell they got there.

Since I wrote it, I don't know how scary the story is; mostly I was aiming for an out of the fire, into the frying pan approach to plotting. Give them a problem; let them solve it; throw more crap their way. :)

P. Kirby said...

Maureen: Emma Bull's War for the Oaks is my all-time favorite romance. Okay, technically, it's UF, but it has a HEA and the romance between the musician protagonist and her fey captor/protector is a main part of the plot line. Adore that book.

Maureen said...

Somehow I knew you'd know the title...My fractured memory hauled the author name out of the much, but nada on the title...

I know I've read other rock-n-roll faery books, but again...mucky brain...

quantum said...

Me, I don't read books about sports. We all have things on the avoid list

Hey Pat, you can't compare a few drops of blood shed in a rugby scrum or from a nose in the boxing ring, with a vampire feasting himself! LOL
Though I know what you mean.

I just downloaded the free sample from Amazon and loved the opening. Great voice!

I will buy it later tonight with other stuff, so please leave me out of the draw.

Any other (non-vamp) titles in the pipeline?

Maureen said...

My list of what I don't read is too big to list here. I just find with so little time to read, I don't bother with the things that I see as trends. I don't think I'm a snob, but maybe...

Maybe we need a rugby playing vampire?

P. Kirby said...

Quantum: I'm a slow writer (glacial), so I don't have anything new sold to a publisher yet. Current WIP is a kind of SF/superhero (supervillain, actually) romance. Totally vampire free.

"Hey Pat, you can't compare a few drops of blood shed in a rugby scrum or from a nose in the boxing ring, with a vampire feasting himself! LOL"

Hee. My objection to sports-oriented books/movies isn't the bloodshed (I'm all about action). I've just never had any interest or aptitude for sports or athletics.

And thanks for downloading!!! (Mild caveat: There's a vampire character in The Canvas Thief, but he doesn't does anything vampire-y. (Mostly he watches sports, drinks beer and makes obnoxious comments.)

P. Kirby said...

Maureen: Rugby playing vampire. Hey, how about an entire vampire rugby league? Now, there's a sports book I could read.

Since I get most of my books from the library, I'm usually willing to try anything. More often than not, it's individual authors that I won't touch with a million mile long pole. Like Nicholas Sparks. Ugh! OTOH, I'm quick to bail on a book that doesn't grab my attention.

TerriOsburn said...

You and Hellie are perfect for each other. She has no interest in sports at all. Personally, I love them, except basketball. Dumbest sport, other than hunting, which is NOT a sport. I don't care what anyone says.

Since you don't really fit into any specific genre, at least not entirely, do you ever run into resistance when trying to sell these? I mean, you're selling to maybe not, but I'm curious if you ever hear the "We wouldn't know how to market that" response.

TerriOsburn said...

A vampire Rugby player would give that scrum thing a whole new dimension. Though if it was the entire league, then I'm guessing they'd be okay. Since they don't bite each other. (They don't bite each other, do they??)

Maureen said...

Ok nice to Pat. I'm off to my sewing class!

P. Kirby said...

Terri: I think my aversion to sports comes from bad childhood experiences with PE; being the kid who was picked last. Just gave me a really negative impression of the whole team player thing. I like to watch the Olympics, but individual stuff, usually, not team events.

TMOC is straightforward UF, so really, that wasn't a problem. With The Canvas Thief, I sent out some queries to agents, got nothin' (I never have luck with agents); got impatient and sent it to a couple of epubs. Got an acceptance from Carina in a couple of months.

In general, I call my work "romantic" [insert genre here]. If or when I finish Lost in Paradise, it'll be romantic SF. Knowing me, I'll give up on agents after a few rejects and go with an epub again. I have no stomach for the usual round of no responses and form rejects.

quantum said...

Terri: Since they don't bite each other. (They don't bite each other, do they??

The occasional ear has been known to get detached in the scrum but it's not legal and the fellow with blood on his mouth is liable to be sent off!

For a team of vampires I imagine that the rules of rugby would have to be amended. You know, I might be interested in that!

There you go Pat, Vampire rugby. I might read that! LOL

TerriOsburn said...

I meant vampires don't bite other vampires, do they? I didn't even think about regular rugby players. They'd bite each other???

P. Kirby said...

Terri: In a some of the vampire books I've read, vampires do bite each other, although it's usually some kind of sexual thing. But most canons don't have vampires snacking on each other. But then, in the heat of competition, who knows... I bet vampire hockey might be fun too, especially when a fight breaks out.

P. Kirby said...

There you go Pat, Vampire rugby. I might read that! LOL

I'll get right on it! :)

P. Kirby said...

Hey, all you terrific pirate-y folk, I'm off to have a bit of lunch with an offline pal. I'll be dropping by later, but I reckon most of you east coast folk will be off to other things by then.

So, I just want to say, thank you so very much for putting up with me today. Ya'll rock!

TerriOsburn said...

Thanks for clearing that up! And thanks for being with us. You're a great writer and a loyal Pirate Pal. :)

Sabrina Shields (Scapegoat) said...

So glad to see your book up there!

Hmm...Thinking of books with artists...

I really enjoyed Amanda McIntyre's The Master & The Muses but it was more erotic if that matters to you.

P. Kirby said...

Sabrina: The Master & the Muses. Just the title sounds promising. Erotic's fine; me likes Teh Secks. :)

P. Kirby said...

Terri: Aw, shucks. *blushes* Thanks. :)

Maureen said...

Thanks for stopping by, Pat. I may take you up on the offer earlier this week for a beta reader... I'm curious about this new MS you're working on, "Lost in Paradise," considering I'm using the lyrics from that song by Evanescence to hit the emotional point of my current WIP!

Are we working parallel stories? (Furthering my theory that we are long lost twins...)

P. Kirby said...

Maureen: Thank YOU!

And sure, I'll be happy to do the beta thing. Critters Workshop trained me well. I'm good at honest and diplomatic.

Lost in Paradise has great lyrics; not surprising that it inspires emotey moments in stories.

Hubby is home. Time to be taken out to dinner. Cheers, all!