Hi, readers! I am beyond pleased to announce a very special post today on ILRB. We’re doing something a little different. This is our twenty-fifth official author interview on this romance blog! I know in the past, we did character interviews then switched over to the author’s take on it, but this approach is a bit unusual.
We have a real treat for you, readers. Today we get to speak one-on-one with a talented author. Please join me in welcoming Alice Von Kannon to ILRB! 😀
Marie Lavender: Hello, Alice. Please have a seat.
Author Alice Von Kannon: Hi, Marie!
Marie: Hey, such a pleasure to have you here!
I’m going to throw in some standard questions first.
Obviously, we know your occupation as an author, but some writers have other jobs as well. Do you have another occupation? Do you believe you’re any good at it? Do you like what you do?
I know I’m overloading you with questions, but we’re really interested in finding out more about you…
Alice: After 20 years working in advertising, with some gofer work on the side in commercial production, my husband Chris and I got involved in writing, particularly for Wiley, the Dummies books. They’ve been great for us, and we spend major time on the road, doing promotions. We also do some TV stuff, though they typically don’t pay for appearances – you’re supposed to do it for the promotion. We’re two people with about ten jobs between us, but that’s the main one. Like every other writer I know, it’s difficult to make a living only writing, but we slug away.
Marie: All right.
So, tell us…what is your family like?
Alice: I’ve lost my family, my parents and my two brothers, and we have no children. So, at home it’s just Chris and I, as it’s been since just after high school, believe it or not. We also have family on his side that we visit often, in California.
Marie: Oh, no! I’m so sorry to hear that. 😥 But I am glad you at least have each other.
Let’s try something else, okay?
If it doesn’t bother you at all, can you let us know what your childhood home looked like?
Alice: The entirety of my childhood looked like Leave It To Beaver. Incredibly happy, filled with love. I grew up in a middle-class neighborhood in Lawrence, just outside Indianapolis.
Do you have any hobbies, Alice? What do you enjoy doing?
Alice: I enjoy doing so many things, but most of them are connected with my writing in one way or another. I adore history, and I actually enjoy doing research. Right now, I’m polishing up the sequel to Heart’s Blood – I want it to be ready to go out the door. Consequently, much of my research is on Napoleonic Paris, but I’m also working on another Regency, that takes place in the world of boxing. I’m very excited about the research I’m doing into my Georgette Heyer dictionary, another web page we just finished. I’m convinced this copy of Pierce Egan’s Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue, with detailed additions, was done by her.
So, what is your greatest dream?
Alice: I guess my greatest dream, after three agents and no contracts for fiction, is to close a deal with a major publisher, for any of my books. Self-publishing has taught me one thing – hard as I work, I’ll never be able to promote a book in the way a Big Five publisher could, if they’re standing behind you, and believe in your work, putting it on the corporate front burner.
Marie: I know what you mean… 😕
Let’s try another question.
What kind of person do you wish you could be? What is stopping you?
Alice: I wish I could be like my mother. It sounds sappy, but there it is. She was the greatest soul I ever knew, and the most unselfish person. I’m afraid selfishness is just baked into my cake. Like most people, I guess, I get too involved in my own stuff.
So…we’re curious, since you write romance. Who was your first love?
Alice: My first love, last love, only love, is my husband Christopher.
Marie: Aww! ♥♥♥ That’s wonderful!
I have a Chris too, and he is definitely my soul mate. 😉
(Sighs.) I love romance.
With the next question, I hope I’m not prying too much.
What’s the most terrible thing that ever happened to you?
Alice: That’s a tough question. Losing my parents comes to mind. My mother died too young, age sixty-five, and my father followed her a year later. He just stopped eating, and no matter what we did, or the doctors, we couldn’t make him want to live. But really, Chris’ cancer diagnosis, out of a clear blue sky in 2006, was perhaps the worst. You expect to lose your parents. Chris put up a five-year battle to live, and in many ways, he’s still fighting. It was a grim time, and it changed me. Life isn’t as much fun as it was before Chris got sick, but we’re trying to find that time again. One day at a time, as they say.
Marie: 😮 How heartbreaking! You’ve been through a lot in recent years…
Let’s move on to another topic, shall we?
What was your dream growing up? Did you achieve that dream? If so, in what ways was it not what you expected? If you never achieved the dream, why not?
Alice: I went through phases, like most teenagers, wanting to be a social worker, then a history teacher. But the truth is that writing was always the major dream, since I was a kid.
Marie: Me too! ♥
Now, who is your role model, Alice?
Alice: Does it matter if your role model is dead? Because, as a writer, it would be Georgette Heyer, which is why all this has excited me so much. I’m just a sickening fan. No matter what happened to her, she just kept writing. And her love of history and language is one we share. Like her, I’m a fanatic on the subject of historical slang.
Marie: Nice! 😀
Let’s try another tactic.
Is there someone you pretend to like but really dislike?
Alice: Not really. I don’t work outside of home anymore, in a situation that traps you. So, I try not to be around people I don’t like. There aren’t many of them. I’m the affable sort. But I do think, if you intensely dislike someone, you should really try to rethink it, try to understand them. I’ve salvaged some odd relationships over the years in this fashion.
Marie: Hmm…that’s great advice! How admirable.
So, what is your deepest desire?
Alice: To find an afterlife, a genuine heaven, instead of an ending without purpose.
Marie: (Nods.) Oh, sure, I think we all want that. 😉
Let’s go for a different approach now.
Just curious here, but what is your greatest fear?
Alice: Flying. It’s not original, it’s just the truth. I’m impossible on a plane, and have to be drugged. You see, I don’t believe that jet air travel is scientifically possible. If I had my way, I’d never set foot on an airplane.
Marie: 😕 I guess I can’t blame you there!
I haven’t flown anywhere yet, but I got close. One of my companions had a panic attack, and we had to cancel the trip.
But I can understand your anxieties about the situation. I mean, I’m definitely afraid of heights. However, I still take elevators and escalators, even though my stomach does a weird flip each time. (Chuckles.) And somehow, I managed to brave being up in the St. Louis Gateway Arch. Hopefully, I can truly fly again somewhere, someday…I’d love to visit Ireland.
So, let’s switch gears for a second.
If you were trapped on a deserted island, what five essentials would you need with you? They don’t have to be practical.
Alice: First, Christopher. Second, I’d suffer a mental breakdown without my books. Preferably all of them, although seven tons does seem a lot to ask. Third, my dog. Fourth, a comfortable pair of shoes. And fifth, seeds for a vegetable garden. My father lived on coconuts when he was in the South Pacific. He could never look one in the face again. I can’t stand coconut either.
Marie: (Chuckles.) Right?
Uggh, I hate the taste of coconut. But I don’t mind the smell of it, or with suntan lotion. I just think I’m allergic to the food, though, because I get nauseated when I ingest it. Plus, the texture of coconut in anything is a huuuge turn-off.
Okay, readers, let’s get the author’s perspective on one of her characters.
We’ve heard rumors about the hero of your story – Captain Isaac McCallister. Quite an interesting character. Can you tell us a little about him?
Alice: Captain McCallister is the hero of my story, a seaman born and bred. He’s lean and dark, with a face like Timothy Dalton or Jim Caviezel. Isaac is a high-quality human being, a leader, a man who achieves the respect of others seemingly without effort. Like a handful of people I’ve known, he is quite simply good, and doesn’t really understand evil, nor can he cope with it when he encounters it.
And what are Isaac’s greatest strengths?
Alice: His greatest strengths are his courage and his faith.
Marie: Any weaknesses of which we should be aware?
Alice: His greatest weakness is his tendency to hold himself responsible for events that are outside of his control.
Marie: (Nods.) I bet a lot of people are guilty of that one…
Let’s try something fun, shall we?
What are Isaac’s favorite foods?
Alice: Isaac’s favorite dish is New England clam chowder, but he loves all the foods he grew up with, especially an old-fashioned clam bake.
Marie: Yummy! 😀
How about another question?
What’s a positive quality that your character is unaware that he or she has?
Alice: Isaac is completely unaware of his own goodness. He sees himself as the honest person that he is, but he’s truly unaware of the aura that clings to him, a comfort factor for the people around him. In dark or dangerous situations, people look to him, and he doesn’t realize this.
Marie: All right.
So, will readers like or dislike this character, and why?
Alice: The best part about the reviews I’ve gotten so far on NetGalley is the number of readers who’ve said they love Isaac. In fact, it’s the most common remark I find. That’s enormously satisfying for me, because in some ways, it’s easier to write about a man who’s a rake, or a man who’s deeply flawed. People have seen in Isaac what I saw in him, and that’s immensely satisfying.
Marie: Great! And I know what you mean. It feels like the work has paid off somehow, when people truly ‘get’ our characters.
Now that we have a real taste of Issac, we have a few questions for you as well as the author, about the writing process of your book.
What first gave you the idea for Heart’s Blood?
Alice: I was doing some general research on the age of sail, and the many dangers the men faced, and I read the Barbary Captivity Narratives, the memoirs of men who were enslaved in North Africa. From that moment, I knew I had to write about their remarkable experience, in a composite character. Since I was already in love with the maritime history of Salem, Massachusetts, putting him there was the most natural thing in the world.
Marie: It’s fascinating how the muse works, hmm? 🙂
Oh, man, I love books which are set at sea. I did similar types of research when I worked on my Victorian maritime romance trilogy.
So…let’s try something else.
What is your writing style like, Alice? Are you a pantster or a plotter?
Alice: Again, every time I read about Georgette Heyer, I get the willies, because we’re the same. I write solid characters, and good history, but plots are something that cost me blood and tears, and she always said the same thing. I have to rein myself in, or as Chris is fond of saying, ‘remember the story you’re trying to tell, and stay on target’. Plot has to be god in this, and you can’t run off on an historical toot because you want people to know what it was like to sail a frigate to China in 1805. These things must take a back seat to story, and every scene has to move you forward on the plot diagram, or it needs to be pitched overboard.
Marie: True! That’s a hard lesson to learn for many writers.
So, I’m throwing this one in for our aspiring writers. Did you come across any specific challenges in writing Heart’s Blood or publishing it? What would you do differently the next time?
Alice: My challenges were odd, I think. Most people assume that, if they get a big New York agent, they’re in. For me, that wasn’t so. I’ve had three big New York agents, and none of them got me into print. I self-published, and spent major bucks doing it, because I just couldn’t leave the book in a drawer until I dropped. I’m not sure I’d ever self-publish again, unless the circumstances were different.
Marie: Yes, it’s not for everyone, especially when we have to wear so many hats at the same time. Definitely stressful!
Well, it was a total pleasure having you here on the I Love Romance Blog! And how apropos is that, considering what a great story Heart’s Blood appears to be… ♥
Let’s learn more about this book.
Title: Heart’s Blood
Genre: Historical Romance/Family Saga
Publication date: April 21, 2020
Congrats on your new release! 😀
Captain Isaac McCallister, five years a slave in North Africa, has returned from the grave, and Salem has put out a wary welcome. It is 1803, and the village of Salem, once known only for the dark horrors of its witch trials, is now a cosmopolitan seaport and the richest city in America. Everyone in Salem knows that Captain McCallister lost his mind in the desert of Barbary. Isaac is a damaged man, looking for a reason to go on living. He finds it when he meets Eleanor Hampton, his step-brother’s daughter, an eccentric young painter living in genteel poverty on his estate along with her mother and sister. Despite the long-standing bitterness between the two families, Isaac is bewitched by this determined, gifted woman, while Eleanor is unexpectedly drawn to him. He’s not the man she expected – no coarse merchant prince who could reduce the beauty of art to the banality of dry goods. There is a gallantry in Isaac that couldn’t be snuffed out by the hell of Algerian slavery. But his unexpected proposal of marriage sets dark forces out of the past into motion, resulting in a stunning betrayal and a brutal murder. And as her passion for her enigmatic husband consumes her, Eleanor finds there’s no danger she’s unwilling to face to save him from the hangman.
Alice is giving us a peek at the story…
Universal Amazon link: https://bookgoodies.com/a/1545674582
Add it to Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/50420579-heart-s-blood
What are people saying about Heart’s Blood?
“An engrossing tale of navigating new love and finding one’s way back home after a perilous journey.” – Kirkus Reviews
“Intimacy versus desire is explored in depth in HEART’S BLOOD, a sprawling historical romance by Alice Von Kannon, as Isaac and Eleanor learn to fully love each other, not only in body but also in soul.” – Indie Reader
“HEA ♥️ Addictive ♥️ Couldn’t put it down ♥️ Issac is my new book boyfriend ♥️ Can be read as a stand-alone because there will be a book 2 ♥️ I loved the intense romance between these two, it was incredible ♥️ I’m still smiling about it ♥️ I highly recommend ♥️” – JP, Goodreads
“I love a relationship where two people heal, bloom and grow together and this story had that! They were crazy about each other and it made me so happy. I definitely recommend this for romance lovers.” – Jennifer, Goodreads
“How I love this story! Issac is such a scarred man, as he has survived hell. Eleanor comes into his life and he is smitten. Much goes on in this book. The characters are so interesting. You will find yourself aching for their pain, and cheering their joy. I want more of this author.” – Marianne Denning, Goodreads
“I really enjoyed this book. It has adventure, romance, betrayal. The characters were three-dimensional and real. I really felt their pain and suffering. I didn’t feel as though it was a slow-burn but more of a slow realization. I think they fell in love at first sight, however, it took time to actually realize it. Is that the same? LOL…This is the first book I’ve read by this author and will not be my last.” – Joanna E. Lopez, Goodreads
“This was a beautiful story rich in detail and wonderfully written with characters you couldn’t help but love. Isaac spent years captive in a harsh environment, suffering untold horrors beyond imagining, to come home again and try and regain some semblance of the life he once had. He’s barely home a day when his stepbrother’s daughter propositions him in the most interesting of ways. She is delightful and stubborn, headstrong and he can’t seem to take his eyes off the enchanting woman. This is a story of love and healing, with a little intrigue and suspense. I could honestly not put it down!” – Erin Remen, Goodreads
Looks fantastic! 😉
We’ll be sure to get a copy of this Regency romance! ♥♥♥
About Alice Von Kannon
Alice Von Kannon is an author and historian who’s appeared on History and Discovery Channel programs including America’s Book of Secrets and Hunting the Lost Symbol. Most recently, she has been seen on the American Heroes Channel’s America: Facts vs. Fiction and Inside Secret Societies, Codes and Conspiracies.
Alice is co-author, with her husband Chris Hodapp, of several books in the popular “For Dummies” series for Wiley publishing, including Conspiracy Theories and Secret Societies for Dummies and The Templar Code for Dummies. She attended California State University at Northridge and Los Angeles Valley College, majoring in both history and motion picture production, and worked for many years in advertising as a writer and broadcast producer.
She’s traveled throughout Europe and the Middle East, always looking for the nearest ruin, and she’s written extensively on the subject of the Barbary Wars and the birth of the United States Navy.
Heart’s Blood is her newest historical romance, and grew out of her love for the town of Salem, Massachusetts, and its glory in the age of tall ships. Always in search of the history of America, Alice and Chris recently acquired an Airstream travel trailer and now spend a great deal of time on the road startling wildlife, seeking adventures and cool Masonic lodges. When home, they live in Indianapolis with their pup, Sophie the Flying Poodle.
And, if you want to know how to connect with the fascinating Alice Von Kannon, here are some author links…
Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/Alice-Von-Kannon/e/B084WKZ53V/
Once again, I want to thank Alice Von Kannon, the brilliant author of this historical romance novel, for stopping by! It was a pleasure to have you here! Readers, check out her work! ♥