Please join me in giving a huge welcome to Diana Reep, today’s Spotlight guest at A Writer’s House.
Diana Reep has been making up stories since she told horror tales to classmates in elementary school. As an English professor, she published a Silhouette romance, but she wrote primarily academic nonfiction, including a technical writing textbook. No longer grading papers, she’s writing fiction again and specializing in historical stories set around 1900. Her first YA release was a boy’s adventure, The Dangerous Summer of Jesse Turner, about the Spanish-American War, called a “vivid historical outing” in Publishers Weekly. Her new YA adventure, Kiss’d, combines danger with romance. She is a member of the Authors Guild, Historical Novel Society, Romance Writers of America, and the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. Living in the Midwest, she crosses her fingers and hopes every fall that the coming winter will be mild.
Thanks for being with us today, Diana. I’m excited about your new release, Kiss’d. Please tell me more about it.
Kiss’d is a romantic time-travel story. The girl is suffering from a concussion which allows her to see the ghost soldier, a Canadian teen in the British army at the start of World War I. The story is a mix of danger and romance during wartime as the teens struggle to reach safety while discovering first love. My heroine is courageous and clever dealing with danger, but she’s also confused about her feelings and being caught between past and present worlds.
My grandfather was a soldier in World War I so the setting is of great interest for me. Was there anything in particular that inspired you with the story?
I wish I could say characters and plot just pop into my mind, but alas they don’t. The 100th anniversary of WWI gave me the idea for another war story. After researching, I discovered many Allied soldiers were caught behind enemy lines during the quick German invasion of Belgium. The soldiers had to try to reach neutral Holland to escape capture. For main characters, a young soldier was inevitable, but I also wanted a modern girl to save him. The spelling in the title is from a poem that is important in the plot.
Anytime a writer uses an historical setting, or introduces a paranormal element, it can present unique challenges. Was there anything that stumped you about the story? And if so, how did you overcome it?
I wanted an unusual device for the time travel. Aside from the science approach (a time machine), the modern character in time travel often opens an old book, tries on an old dress, or passes through a mirror. I struggled with finding something new. One of my favorite movies is The Ghost and Mrs. Muir. Every woman who has seen it wants the ghost to be solid enough to kiss the heroine at least once. Since Kiss’d is a romantic adventure set during a war, I decided being kissed by a ghost soldier would be a good way to handle the time travel.
What says romance more than a kiss! That’s wonderful. Has this story given you any more ideas?
I’m staying in my favorite time period with a story about three sisters in the early silent movie days. This book has a more complex plot than the YA books because there are more characters and more complications—romantic and otherwise.
It’s a great time period and I think one that has not been explored as much as other historical settings. To change the subject a bit…writing. The world of writing has changed a lot in recent years. What are your favorite and least favorite changes?
I think self-publishing has been the most dramatic change since the introduction of paperback books. The advantages are obvious—stories that don’t conform to New York marketing preferences do get published and find readers. The disadvantage is the time the writer must spend on marketing. Writing press releases, setting up book sales, wandering through social media all take time away from writing the next book.
Now to completely step away from writing…tell us something about yourself. What are your favorite…
Place to visit—Historical sites are my favorite vacation stops, especially Civil War battlefields. The roaring guns are silent, but standing quietly on what are usually grassy fields and picturing the battle, I sense the boys are still there.
Movies—I love the film noir movies from the 40s and 50s. They tend to run about 90 minutes, have tight plots, and devious characters. They’re excellent for demonstrating pace and plot, and the sexual chemistry is usually intense in these stories. I have many favorites and highly recommend Out of the Past, Gilda, The Killers, and Double Indemnity.
TV Shows—I like the trend to shorter seasons of continuing dramas, such as The Vikings, Reign, and Hell on Wheels. These shows move through plots quickly—the fast pace contemporary audiences seem to prefer.
I’m currently watching Vikings and can’t wait to see the start of the second half of the season. Luckily it’s happening soon because I’m dying to see what happens.
Thank you, Diana, for being with us today and sharing a little about you, your writing and especially about Kiss’d. Now I’m happy to share with our readers an excerpt from the story.
D.C. Reep and E.A. Allen
The air’s warm and humid, the moon half hidden under clouds. I forgot to turn out my bedroom lamp, so light from my window shines on the stone path. Walking slowly across the flagstones, I keep lifting my feet over and around Snowball who’s twisting around my ankles, demanding attention. Near the arbor, I stop, waiting—waiting for something. The clouds shift, and the moonlight breaks through, changing the shape of the shadows in the garden. The only sounds are Snowball’s purring and the crickets. Then Snowball hisses and races back to the house.
“I know you’re here.” I strain to see into the shadows.“Why did you come?”
He seems to form out of the darkness, looking more substantial than before. Definitely a soldier. Brass buttons. Heavy boots.
My pulse jumps. “Why did you come?”
“You called me.” His voice sounds like an echo.
“I already told you—you’re wrong about that. Who are you?”
“I need your help.”
I dig my fingernails in my arm. A jolt of pain. I must be awake. “Why do you need help?”
Edges of him break into pixels, but only for a second.
“Who are you?” I repeat.
“I’m looking for Jenny.”
His eyes lock on mine, and he walks slowly toward me. “I know a poem about you.”
“Jenny kiss’d me when we met,
Jumping from the chair she sat in . . . .”
He holds out his hand. While I try to decide whether to stay or run, he moves—he glides—close enough to touch me. Not transparent anymore.
He’s so close now I have to tilt my head to see his dark eyes. He puts his hands on the sides of my face, his fingertips slightly rough as a soldier’s would be. I can’t pull away. I can’t resist. He bends his head toward me. My heart pounds. My blood whooshes through my body.
“Jenny, come with me now. You belong with me,” he whispers.
Slowly, he leans down and presses cool, soft lips against mine. My head whirls, and darkness blots out everything.
Don’t miss out on more of Kiss’d, available now through the links below.