Helena Lancaster: Hearts on Fire: The Story of Vlad the Impaler and the Women He Loved is a Romance/Historical/Medieval novel that is part of The Passion of the Dragon Saga. In a nutshell, twin sisters, Erdenia and Erzsébet, meet Prince Vlad Drakul, the rightful ruler of Wallachia. Unbeknownst to them, they both immediately fall in love with him. The rest of the book is their fight for Vlad’s love and how they deal with his decision when he chooses his bride.
Rachel: Helena, I know you just released a collection of poetry called Behind the Mask, so this is your second publication. But Rayna, this is your first professional publication, correct? I can only imagine how excited you are! Can you tell us a bit about how you two came together as a team on this project?
Rayna Kingston: Yes, this is my first paperback baby! I honestly never thought I would see my words in print. So, this is all still quite a shock for me. Helena and I met back in 2008 and were in and out of touch for a couple of years. In the beginning of 2012, she moved in with me and my daughter. We both have a fascination with Vlad, the real man, not the vampire myth. We were discussing his life and wondered if he had ever loved a woman other than his first wife who was, in our opinion, murdered. There is a rumor that he did in fact have another love before, during, and after the death of his wife. Next thing we knew, we were writing out these characters; what they were like, their mannerisms, their role in Vlad’s life, etc. Voila! Hearts on Fire was born!
Rachel: What was the hardest part about co-writing a book together, especially since it is the first novel publication for the both of you?
Helena: In the beginning, it was quite rough. There were a lot of fights. I am very thankful that we worked through it. At times, it really was like we were turning into our characters and taking on their feelings like our own. Now we are able to keep their voices a little more quiet when writing the tough scenes.
Rayna: The fights were over what or how we feel a scene should have gone. It was bad in the beginning, but thankfully, we got better at discussing our suggestions.
Rachel: Since people have learned a bit about Helena already, I want to ask you Rayna: why do you write? How did you get into it? What's the driving force in your writing? What style or genre of writing do you prefer?
Rayna: I remember writing a few poems for my eighth grade English class and my teacher telling me they were really good. I actually wrote a poem about my daughter in 1996 that was published in an anthology. But I write because writing is cathartic. I have written another novel that was just to get my feelings about certain things out of my head. It will never see the light of day, but I felt better after it was basically finished. Usually I write songs to clear my head and release my inner demons. For novels, I love writing romance. I'm a hopeless romantic, so I love writing the boy meets girl stuff.
Rachel: Since Hearts on Fire is a historical piece of writing, what are your favorite time periods?
Helena: Oh gods! How do I answer this without sounding like a complete nerd? I love to study the Middle Ages through the Early Modern Era of Europe. Overall, I find it very fascinating the way cultures evolved, changed, and what not. I love to study the Arthurian legends, Political and Religious corruption, wars, and such of those time periods. Among my favorite things from back then are Vlad the Impaler, The Tudors, and The Borgias. I, also, have a big love for Imperial Russia, Victorian England, Ancient Rome, and the Byzantine Empire. If it is European History in general, I most likely going to enjoy reading about it and studying it.
Rachel: What would be your advice for aspiring Historical fiction writers?
Rayna: Do your research. By including history into a novel, you have to research the period of time to ensure what you're writing is accurate.
Rachel: Where can people buy Hearts on Fire?
Rayna: Hearts on Fire is available online at Barnes & Noble, Amazon, Smashwords, iBooks, and at our website http://kingstonandlancasterbooks.selz.com, among many other retailers.
Rachel: Are there any promotional giveaways taking place for Hearts on Fire?
Helena: Yes! KCL Publishing is running a giveaway for a free signed paperback and three free e-book copies. We are, also, doing a giveaway on Goodreads where we are giving away two signed paperback copies.
Rachel: Do you have any other projects in the works, as a team or individually?
Rayna: I have a novel I have started writing back in 2009 I would like to finish, as well as a collection of poetry possibly in the future.
Helena: The big thing we have going on right now is the next book in The Passion of the Dragon Saga. I will be releasing another collection of poetry this November titled Phoenix from the Ashes: Poetry from Person Struggle, Rebirth, and Triumph. I do have a few other projects in development that I'll dive into when Rayna and I finish writing the series.
Rachel: Where can people stay up-to-date on your current and future projects, as a team and as individuals?
Rayna: We both have Facebook, Tumblr, and Twitter. We also have a joint Facebook page for our books. And we have author pages on KCL Publishing’s website.
Rachel: If Hearts on Fire were to be made into a movie, who would you want to play the role of Vlad?
Helena: Oh, that’s easy.
Both: Jonathan Rhys Myers
Rayna: But there are specific reasons why. We watched the Dracula series on NBC and he played the part very well. He had the attitude, the swagger, the anger, the passion, the glare, everything that made Vlad what he was. He was able to characterize Vlad very well.
Helena: And he wears leather pants very well. I was, also, a huge fan of The Tudors. He is great at playing a tough ruler with an attitude.
Rachel: Thank you again for this awesome interview! And to those of you reading, be sure to check out my last post that shares my review of Hearts on Fire: The Story of Vlad the Impaler and the Women He Loved. You can also visit Helena and Rayna's tumblr blogs as well as the KCL Publishing tumblr and website to learn more information about Hearts on Fire and other news.
*This is a reposted feature. Hearts on Fire is now on sale and can be purchased through multiple avenues. For more information visit the "Our Titles" section of KCL's website. You can also click here.