Can you tell readers a little bit about yourself and what inspired to write in this particular genre?
Katalina Leon: I’m primarily a visual artist so I got to the writing game a little late. When you read my work, you’ll notice I’m obsessed with color, texture and atmosphere. I try to match a color and a moral theme to each book as if I were acting as a set dresser and setting the stage for the reader to move in and have their own experience. The beauty of the digital realm is the extra lavishness cost me nothing but imagination and time. Subjects I used to struggle to paint on huge canvases, I can now share as written word. It’s a much easier way to spread magic and fun around. My new magic tools are electricity, language and light. What witch of yesteryear wouldn’t envy the simplicity of that?
What is it about the paranormal that fascinates you so much?
Katalina Leon: I love the paranormal genre because it provides a stage for the deeper mysteries in life to be played out in dramatic fashion. Lord Griffin’s Prize features an immortal griffin-shifter not a Vampire, but I’ve written Vampires in “The Strix and loved it! I’ll be returning to Vampire realms soon. As authors we can always fall back on the “it’s just entertainment” alibi but paranormal realms allow us to explore our darkest and most unacceptable fantasies in an acceptable way. Vampires are a glimpse into our fears and desires about our own mortality. There are overtones of power, domination and sexual submission. To deal with a seductive Vampire is to face the dual possibilities of annihilation or sweeping immortal bliss. It requires a leap of faith to trust another being who is so “other”, and no doubt that’s a big part of the fun as well.
What inspired you to write this book?
Katalina Leon: Griffins have always had a special place in my heart. According to 9th century Irish author Stephen Scotus, griffins mate for life and are “highly monogamous.” If a mate dies the other will never re-mate, and that played a big part in my story. Griffins rule both air and land with justice and loyalty. So you see its hard to not love a griffin!
A few years ago, as an anniversary gift, my husband gave me a beautiful bronze casting of a griffin to place next to my writing desk. The Griffin is there as a symbol of eternal love and loyalty. My husband’s a griffin at heart; he’s protective, loyal and he never turns his back on his responsibilities. I brought as much of that sentiment as I possibly could to “Lord Griffin’s Prize.”
Please tell us about your latest release.
Katalina Leon; Lord Griffin’s Prize is part of the Emerald Isle Fantasies book series from Ellora’s Cave. Here’s the blurb:
When guests check into the historic Castle Tullamore Hotel they expect bucolic scenery and luxurious service. What they don't anticipate is along with the 5 star accommodations they'll also get drawn into lots of otherworldly Irish mischief and erotic enchantment.
At Tullamore there are ghostly lovers, griffin-shifters, vampires, selkies, witches and werewolves waiting to lure the lonely and the adventurous into forbidden realms. The castle grounds are riddled with time portals where the unwitting can experience vivid adventures in other timelines. For the most part the hotel appears to be just a lovely Irish castle until things get wild and reality drops from underfoot like a swinging trapdoor.
My contribution to the Emerald Isle Fantasies is “Lord Griffin’s Prize” and it’s available now.
Do you have a special formula for creating characters' names? Do you try to match a name with a certain meaning to attributes of the character or do you search for names popular in certain time periods or regions?
Katalina Leon: I do try to match deeper meaning to a character’s name and when I do it’s always part of the plot line or story. If I don’t know what to name a character I often simply take a deep breath and type a name. I ask the character to tell me who they are. It can be pretty amazing how quickly and vividly hidden parts of the personality volunteer to step forward and reveal themselves.
Is there a character that you enjoyed writing more than any of the others?
Katalina Leon: I love both Maeve and Ronan equally. They both surprised me in so many ways. But I have to admit writing villains is my favorite thing in the world. It’s just so fun. My evil characters do all the work for me. They just show up in my head, put on a show and force me to keep with them and yes, Lord Griffin’s Prize has a wretched villain named uncle Aodhan.
Do you have a formula for developing characters? Like do you create a character sketch or list of attributes before you start writing or do you just let the character develop as you write?
Katalina Leon: I’m a visual thinker so I’ll collect photo files of potential characters. I’m sort of a hoarder of interesting men on Pinterest. I’ll start and collect files on real life historical characters and when a theme, character and setting come together voila! It off to the races typing an outline before it all disappears.
What is your favorite scene from the book? Could you share a little bit of it, without spoilers of course?
Katalina Leon: I love the opening scene between Maeve and Ronan when they meet in a semi-dream state and make love in a beautiful old bed in the O’Griofa suit of Tullamore Castle-a bed they’d shared seven hundred years ago as newlywed lovers. The whole incident feels convincingly real to Maeve and she’s left very confused by the visit from her phantom lover who morphs into a griffin and disappears through the castle walls. And that just the beginning of strange events.
Did you find anything really interesting while researching this or another book?
Katalina Leon: I always find a ton of interesting things-far more material than I can or should include. I consider these riches my repayment. I love finding these interesting things. When you really look at the human story it always makes me proud to be human. I believe we’re all part of something very special.
What is the most interesting thing you have physically done for book related research purposes?
Katalina Leon: My husband would be very unhappy with me for being a tattletale about personal stuff, but I love to experiment and try new sensations and new things. For my upcoming paranormal romance, I used enchanted Absinthe as a plot device that throws my heroine back to an artist loft in 1903 France. A tricky enchantress and La Fée Verte—the green fairy are involved in the mischief. While I was editing “Fairy In The Flesh” when I came to the Absinthe scene, I drank real Absinthe and caught a nice little buzz. I’ll do anything for my craft!
Can you tell readers a little bit about the world building in the book/series? How does this world differ from our normal world?
Katalina Leon: The Emerald Isle Fantasies collaboration was easy and came naturally. I’ve made a lot of good friends in the group. The project was started almost eighteen months ago. We were all Ellora’s Cave authors who were reassigned to a new editor based in Ireland. Our editor’s husband worked in the hospitality industry at a real Irish castle turned hotel. Pictures of his workplace were posted and the “Oohing and Ahhing” started immediately. Brainstorming to create our own fictitious castle filled with paranormal Irish high jinx and lots of unsuspecting guests was the next logical step.
With the book being part of a series, are there any character or story arcs, that readers jumping in somewhere other than the first book, need to be aware of? Can these books be read as stand alones?
Katalina Leon: All the Emerald Isle Fantasies books are strong stand alones and can be read and enjoyed in any order. We worked hard to coordinate a few shared characters and locations that have particular properties and we hope readers will enjoy everyone’s slightly different take on a few shared themes. For instance Tullamore Castle has an enchanted “lift”— a Victorian era elevator, that on its discretion might toss a rider back in time or cause amorous behavior that gets out of control. Phantom lovers enjoy riding this elevator and doing provocative things to the living. So if you think you’re being kissed or softly touched in the lift—you might want to glance over your shoulder…
Do you ever suffer from writer’s block? How do you deal with it?
Katalina Leon: I hit blocks all the time and no amount of mental pushing or shoving seems to get the show on the road. When that happens I close that WIP for a while and open another or start a new one. Almost immediately the writing energy returns. I always have at least a dozen WIPs going at any one time.
Do you have any weird writing quirks or rituals?
Katalina Leon: I always have a vase of fresh flowers on my writing desk. It can be a simple arrangement from my yard or the farmer’s market but I really love my flowers. Today I have a vase of big beautiful golden roses from my neighbor’s yard sitting beside me.
Do you write in different genres?
Katalina Leon: I do and I consider the genre changes as necessary as a wardrobe change—if it’s cold out put on a coat! The tone of the story needs to be matched to the right genre. I currently write erotic romance in the subgenres of paranormal, historical, Sci-fi and contemporary.
Do you find it difficult to write in multiple genres?
Katalina Leon: No it would be much more difficult for me to stick to only one genre. My own interests and tastes roam all over the place. Like most women I like having favorites but I don’t want to feel pinned down.
When did you consider yourself a writer?
Katalina Leon: The day I received my first book contract, quickly followed by three more was an overwhelmingly positive event and signaled a major life refocus for me. It was official in my mind that I was a writer and not just a dreamer. I’ll never forget that feeling.
What are your guilty pleasures in life?
Katalina Leon: Mild bondage even a firm grip on my wrists works and chocolate infused red wine. Why not?
Other than writing, what are some of your interests, hobbies or passions in life?
Katalina Leon: I love a challenging group yoga class or an all out sweat-soaked workout at the gym especially if I’ve been sitting most of the day…which is typical. It so hard to get to the gym but worth it, as much for my mind and stress levels as my body. I’ve long accepted that my extra pounds are mine to keep as my consolation prize. Fit is good, skinny is not for me.
What was the last amazing book you read?
Katalina Leon: I just finished reading Robin Maxwell’s “Jane—The Woman Who Loved Tarzan” from Tor press. There was a lot to love about that book. I fell in love with Tarzan too.
Where is your favorite place to read? Do you have a cozy corner or special reading spot?
Katalina Leon: I’m a bit of a gypsy, I move around the house following the light or moving away from chatty people. I have a favorite spot on a cushy leather couch next to a reading light but if I sit there and open a book it’s a silent signal for my son, dog and husband to plop down beside me and turn on the television… Bye-bye reading time.
What can readers expect next from you?
Katalina Leon: Expect more time travel and later this fall some Cajun time-traveling wolf-shifters as well. Fairy In the Flesh is one of my personal favorite fantasies of going back to 1903 and being part of the Bohemian modernist art movement. Sexy artist and enchanted absinthe is involved.
Here’s the blurb:
Fairy In The Flesh
Maya Rousseau’s fantasy vacation in Avignon France heats up when an eccentric enchantress tricks her into drinking mojo-laced absinthe.
An unexpected encounter with the green fairy causes Maya’s reality to have a serious melt down. She travels back in time and wakes up naked in the bed of her favorite bad boy Bohemian artist, the tall, dark and mysterious André Bosco. There’s nothing wrong with that except it’s 1903.
For André it’s love at first sight. He begs Maya to become his cherished model, muse and lover. The chemistry and shared passion between them is overwhelming. André’s a generous-hearted dream man but there’s a catch. Every hour they spend together bonds them tighter and time is running out. The same powers that flung Maya back to 1903 are preparing to snatch her back.
With a hundred and ten years separating these soul-bound lovers it’s uncertain if they can find a happy ending without the help of a little magic and La Fée Verte.
Note: Story contains super hot sex with an unattainable man, enchanted hallucinatory beverages, mischievous time-twisters and green fairies.
Where can readers find you on the web?
All Romance eBooks:
Night Owl Reviews Author Page:
Would you like to leave readers with a little teaser or excerpt from the book?
Katalina Leon: I sure would!
(In this scene Maeve has been in the O’Griofa suite for less than an hour, but she’s already become infatuated with Lord O’Griofa’s portrait, traveled back in time to a castle under siege, released the pain of a failed marriage and hallucinated that a griffin is walking the castle grounds. It’s been a very eventful night. She’s exhausted and jetlagged. When she climbs into the notorious O’Griofa “griffin bed” things really heat up.)
…She walked around the room, making sure the door was locked and switching off the few lights still lit. The fading red embers of the fire glowed. The fire’s soft illumination was lovely and provided just enough light to see. An errant sliver of moonlight cut across the room and lit Lord O’Griofa’s portrait.
Maeve pulled the covers back and climbed into the massive bed, which could have comfortably slept several adults. She gazed up at the silk canopy. The viridian curtains surrounding the bed were woven with a subtle pattern that suggested to her tired eyes the faintest hint of feathery wings.
She noticed that the bed curtains could be drawn around the bed to either block light or create an oasis of privacy. She drew the curtains in hopes of preventing the first rays of dawn from waking her too early. She allowed her head to sink deep into the lush pile of pillows and sighed with pleasure that the bed felt as good as it looked.
She stretched across the crisp sheets with her eyes squeezed shut, wishing she had the energy or will to take off the bulky bathrobe, but before she could rouse herself to act she became aware of the warm weight of a solidly built man pressing down on her.
As if by magic a naked man materialized beneath the bedcovers. His warm skin radiated the faint but unmistakable scent of musk. He unknotted the robe and pushed the fabric aside, baring her breasts. A soft sigh crossed his lips.
She made a halfhearted attempt to stop him.
With gentle but decisive action, he took hold of her wrists and slowly slid her arms above her head, pinning her beneath him.
She gulped a startled breath as he parted her legs with his knee. The sensations were real. The wet tip of his heavy erection brushed between her thighs. She started to cry out in surprise.
“Hush,” the man whispered. He grazed his lips against the side of her cheek. “Don’t wake, my love—this is only a dream.” The man’s comforting voice was pure reassurance. “I’ve been waiting so long for you.”
“Ronan?” She relaxed.
“Who else comes to your bed?” A quiet laugh crossed his lips as if it were a casual joke that often passed between them. He released his hold on her wrists. “Wrap your arms around me and make me feel loved.” He leaned close and his warm breath flooded the side of her throat. “I need you, Maeve.”
A shudder of desire seized her, impossible to deny. The man’s voice was drenched with longing and coaxed myriad buried feelings to surface. She realized that every lover should plead for touch with this much conviction, yet so few did.
Dream or not, it had been ages since she’d felt sensations so fiery and she couldn’t resist giving in. The dream man—Ronan or whoever he was—felt so good that she found herself wrapping her arms around his broad shoulders and drawing him close. The silky hair on his chest glided against her breasts. In a moment of uncharacteristic boldness, she reached down, took hold of his shaft and guided him between her legs. She rubbed the head of his cock against her with slow strokes, until he was slick and her clit peaked. Without further prompting she allowed him to glide inside.
“Oh Maeve.” A husky groan escaped his lips as he sank deep.
She arched beneath him and twined a smooth leg around his hip, wishing he’d start moving and pay out on the building excitement he’d caused. She skimmed the length of his muscular back with open palms before gripping his solid butt and pressing down with a demanding little push that said “get going”.
He moved with caution.
She tried to glimpse his face in the shadows but saw nothing beyond a vague silhouette. It excited her to be with a complete stranger. She’d never done such a thing and it really didn’t matter because this was just a dream. It was so freeing to give in to raw lust. “Fuck me,” she whispered.
“What a salty tongue you have.” He sounded amused as he nipped her throat. His lips lingered on her skin. “You’re sweet as heaven but you talk like a devil.” He took several long strokes, pumping his hips faster. The muscles of his back coiled and his breath sped. He was big and solid and the animal strength of his graceful body took her breath away. Each movement was controlled and decisive and every inch of his body tensed. “I can’t hold back.” A moment later he bolted into action like a racehorse sprinting. “Sorry, love. This is going to be sweet and swift.” He gripped her shoulders as his body covered hers and moved with fierce strokes.
The thick shaft of his cock glided against her wet clit at the perfect angle. She lifted her hips off the bed to intensify the sensation. “That’s good.” She encouraged him to move with her. She grabbed on to the hard muscles of his butt and pushed down with force. The brisk stroke of his cock brought her moaning to the edge. “I’m right there.” A beautiful rush of sensations heated her blood as the easiest, quickest climax of her life carried her away and left her limp with pleasure. “Ah...”
He lifted Maeve’s thigh higher and sank deep. A quiet growl vibrated low in his throat. He tipped his head back and arched as he came hard. The man trembled and nearly collapsed against her, with a dewy sheen of sweat on his skin. He brushed his face against her cheek and she felt a gritty hint of stubble.
Alarm shot through her. Those details felt all too real. She feared this couldn’t possibly be a dream. No dream was this vivid. She pushed against his shoulders and tried to get a better look at him.
“Am I crushing you?” He rose on his elbows so she could move and brushed his fingertips against her cheek. “That was wonderful. I wish I could stay inside you all night, but I can’t.”
A chill shivered across her skin. “Why can’t you?” “Because it’s not night anymore, it’s morning.” The man evaporated in front of her
eyes and the warm bed covers slumped on top of her with a swoosh as he exited.
Maeve bolted upright and smacked the empty covers with her palm. The man had vanished. The bed curtains remained drawn and still. Her bathrobe was open and the bedding was rumpled but beyond that only the faintest scent of salty sweat betrayed that he had ever been there.
She reached between her drenched thighs with caution and touched. Without doubt a man had been with her. What the hell was going on?
The quiet scratch of what sounded like claws against the wooden floor made her freeze. She drew a tense breath, listened with laser focus and heard a soft snort and what sounded like the padding of heavy paws crossing the room. A noise like an animal snuffling the fire grate made her blood run cold.
Now she was fully awake and certain this was no dream. Her heart hammered against her ribs. Beyond the bed curtains, someone or something was moving around the suite.
She drew the bed curtain aside a crack and peered out. The room was illuminated by the faint rays of an overcast dawn.
Near the fireplace beside the mantel, she saw a large animal the size of a male lion with black sweeping wings folded behind its back. The creature turned to the side, revealing the lethally curved beak of an eagle and keen, dark eyes. She gasped in awe and immediately covered her mouth with her hand.
The creature glanced over its shoulder stealthily, as if it were aware of her presence, and reached toward the wedding ring she had left as an offering. It picked up the ring with its hooked beak. The griffin tossed the ring into the air and swallowed it with a quick gulp.
She bit her lip to keep from gasping aloud.
The griffin turned and walked through the heavy wooden door, which posed no physical barrier. It passed through the locked door with the same ease as if it were walking through fog, and disappeared.
“Oh my God!” Maeve trembled with shock. “What just happened?”
She threw the bed curtains back, leaped off the mattress and ran toward the door while tying the bathrobe around her waist. She grabbed the doorknob and rattled it. The knob did not budge and she saw that the door was latched from the inside.
She turned and ran toward the mantel. Her gaze went straight to the clawed feet of the stone griffin. The wedding ring was gone. She reached out and felt the empty spot with her fingertips to reassure herself that this moment of utter madness was real. “I’m losing my mind. This isn’t good.”
She focused her gaze with suspicion on the disheveled bed before ricocheting like a bullet toward Lord O’Griofa’s portrait. Had all that been real too? Had she made love to a phantom?
“Nope. That’s too much crazy,” she said it aloud in a calm voice. There was no way a man from the distant past had materialized in bed and fucked her breathless with tender gusto. It was a thrilling but improbable fantasy.
It was more likely she’d been ignoring her true feelings and physical needs for so many months that she’d gone temporarily nuts. “Strange fantasy men in the bed” crazy was a bad development. That level of cuckoo should never happen again. It was obvious to her that dire needs must be addressed. She realized she should buy a vibrator on this vacation and start using it ASAP.
Fucking hunky medieval phantoms was without doubt a sign she needed to get off more often than she had been lately—which was not at all. She was pent-up. This situation simply wasn’t acceptable. She was a loaded gun ready to explode, for God’s sake. What was next? Would she throw herself at the first interesting man who crossed her path? In her current wounded-prey state of mind she knew that would definitely be a mistake. To make sure this type of weirdness didn’t happen again, a vibrator was a must, and she promised herself she’d get one soon.
Beyond the tall, narrow windowpane, the sun broke through a thick layer of cloud, lighting the morning sky in brilliant shades of blue and gold.
Maeve smoothed the bed covers. There would be no pretense of going back to sleep. Besides, she didn’t dare to climb back into that bed until she’d had a sobering cup of coffee and a long talk with her love-starved libido…
(Maeve dresses and heads downstairs and guess who she runs into walking the castle grounds dressed in contemporary clothing? Oh yes, it’s very awkward. How can she tell a stranger that she just finished having sex in her dreams with someone who looks and sounds just like him…Poor Maeve.)
Thank you Fangtastic Books for hosting me today! I loved the visit.
XXOO Katalina Leon
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Lord Griffin’s Prize
Genre: Paranormal romance shape-shifter
Publisher: Ellora’s Cave
Date of Publication: July 10, 2013
Number of pages: 114
Word Count: 50k
Cover Artist: Syneca
Part of the Emerald Isles Fantasies series
Tullamore Castle Ireland is an enchanted place where the unexpected happens. Phantom lovers materialize in haunted beds and a lonely griffin patrols the ramparts waiting to reclaim its mate. And that’s just the beginning.
For the adventure of a lifetime Maeve de’Burgo visits Tullamore to study genealogy. Through a magical act and time travel she becomes embroiled in a dangerous medieval romance and the unfinished life of her ancestor. Maeve gets thrown back in time to be captured, ravished and cherished as a war chief’s prize.
Ronan O’Griofa is a griffin-shifter, the most loyal of creatures. He’s been trapped in limbo as the avenging guardian of Tullamore since 1332 AD and longs to be free. When the soul of his wife returns to the castle he’s granted the privilege of becoming a man for one day to be her lover, win her heart and remind Maeve of a bond strong enough to last an eternity.
About the Author:
I’m an artist, an author, mother and wife. I write for Ellora’s Cave, Loose Id Publishing and a couple new publishers to be announced soon. I try to bring a touch of the mystical and a big sense of adventure to everything I write because I believe there’s a bold, kick-ass heroine inside all of us who wants to take a wild ride with a strong worthy hero.
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