I’d like to welcome the fabulous Virginia Kantra to the Chatelaines. Her current release Sea Lord is the third in her Children of the Sea series. If you haven’t checked out this lush paranormal series yet...why the heck not? They’re some of the best-written books I’ve read in a long time.
JA: Virginia: Thanks so much for talking to me here, and congratulations on the release of Sea Lord!
VK: Thank you for inviting me to the castle!
JA: For those unfamiliar with the Children of the Sea series, can you give us a little setup?
VK: Sure. In the time before time, when the domains of earth, sea, and sky were formed and fire was called into being, the elementals took shape, each with their element: the children of earth, the children of the sea, the children of air, and the children of fire.
After earth had flowered and life crawled from the sea, humankind was born.
Not all of the elementals were pleased with this new creation. The children of fire rebelled, declaring war on the children of the air and humankind. The others, forced to cohabit with the mortals, withdrew--the fair folk to the hills and wild places of earth and the merfolk to the depths of the sea.
Yet there are still encounters between the elementals and humankind. Of such meetings, souls are redeemed and lost, wars are waged, great art is created, empires are raised. Of such meetings legends—and children—are born.
For more about that whole world building thing, see my interview with Romance Novel TV here
JA: I found the world in your books...well, way cool!
The first book, Sea Witch, is about Caleb and Maggie. Book two, Sea Fever, features Caleb’s brother Dylan, and local islander Regina. Book three (Sea Lord) is about Conn and Caleb’s sister Lucy. Tell us a little bit about who Conn is, and about Lucy, and how they're related to the other characters.
VK: The series is based on the haunting Orkney ballads about the selkie. But I used another sea shanty from the 1700s to connect the stories:
My father was the keeper of the Eddystone Light
And he married a mermaid one fine night.
Of that union there came three . . .
The father in my series is a lobsterman in contemporary Maine. The mermaid is the sea witch Atargatis. And the “three” are the grown up Children of the Sea:
Steady, responsible Caleb, the human police chief of the island, who returns from war in the desert to fall in love with a woman from the sea (Sea Witch);
Dylan, the selkie, the loner, who must choose between the freedom of his mother’s kind and the bonds of mortal love (Sea Fever);
and finally, their younger sister Lucy, the quiet, dutiful schoolteacher, who's spent the previous two books being underestimated by everybody including herself (Sea Lord).
The whaleyn sing of a prophecy, that a daughter of the sea witch Atargatis will one day alter the balance of power between the elements. Over the centuries, the children of fire have grown strong, while the children of the sea have declined in numbers and in magic. The daughter of the prophecy could prove their salvation. Or the weapon of their destruction...
The prophecy is introduced in the earlier books. But it isn't until the sea lord Conn sees visions of the very ordinary human Lucy that he believes she might be key to the prophecy. And that of course leads to all kinds of problems.
JA: "All kinds of problems" is good! The fun of reading and writing romance--don't make it easy for them. :-)
One reason I was drawn to your books was because your shape shifters are so different. Instead of werewolves or were-cats, you chose…seals! What attracted you to write about Selkies? Please tell us a little bit about Selkies and their powers.
VK: I know, I know... Other authors are writing tall, dark, and dentally adept or big black beasts prowling through moonlit jungles and I'm in...Sea World. What was I thinking?
Except, you know, I've always loved the sea.
And the myths and fairy tales I grew up on - not only Beauty and the Beast, but all those god kings turning into all those animals to carry off and ravish the daughters of men, the seven swans, the white hart, even the frog prince, were full of unlikely romantic leads. I can't even take credit for making up the whole "seals who come ashore as beautiful naked men and women to have hot anonymous sex with human lovers" idea.
The Orkney ballads about the selkie (literally, in Orkney, seal) are haunting, beautiful, and nearly always tragic. The lonely sailor. The woman who loses her love to the sea. The selkie lover who knocks up and then abandons his human wife. The selkie woman who abandons her husband and child. You can always feel the pull of the sea and the very human reality of those stories. There’s a palpable, poignant conflict between their day-to-day experience and their yearning for something more.
That was my inspiration. That's where I wanted to set my books - that place between earth and sea, that tension between everyday human experience and longings and the mystical, magical world of the Children of the Sea.
JA: I got sucked into the Children of the Sea series by the novella in the Shifter anthology. For that one you wrote about the Selkies in the past. Why is that story important to the rest of the series set in the modern day?
VK: "Sucked in" is good.
I wanted to tell one very traditional selkie tale for readers who might not be familiar with the legend, and the historical setting really worked for me. (I described it to my editor as Anne of Green Gables sails on the Titanic, but with hot sex.)
You definitely don't need to read the novella before the novels; but the sea lord Conn makes a brief appearance, as do two other important secondary characters., Griff and Iestyn.
JA: I also adored your setting, the isolated island off the coast of Maine. What attracted you to this setting?
VK: The people. Their lives are shaped by the sea. They live very close to the elements, in that place between the land and the sea where you can imagine that myths and magic come true. I had a wonderful research trip up there.
In prehistory, the highlands of Scotland and the mountains of Maine were part of one great mountain range. The Celts settled whole areas of that coast. So it made sense to bring my Celtic legends to that part of the new world.
JA: Will there be more books in the series, or have you wrapped it up at this point? What’s next for you?
VK: Thanks for asking! I love this world and I'm definitely not ready to leave yet.
This story arc definitely wraps up with Sea Lord, but I deliberately left a few loose threads to pick up.
The next story, a novella, develops another aspect of Orkney folklore, the finfolk. It's sort of a "Lady of the Lake" story set in Regency Scotland with a finfolk heroine and a soldier returning from the Peninsular War. Very lush, very romantic, very fun to write. It's out next summer in an anthology with Angela Knight and Nalini Singh, which I'm excited about.
Then I'll go back to the contemporary island of World's End where the island's new doctor tangles with Morgan of the finfolk, warden of the northern deeps. It's a reunion story with a twist. Scheduled for October 2010, I believe.
Iestyn's story is after that. There's an arc between the three new stories, but I can't give it away yet.
JA: Thank you so much! I thoroughly enjoyed The Children of the Sea series and highly recommend it to everyone.
VK: Yay! Thank you!!!
JA: For much more about Virginia’s series, backlist, and upcoming books, see her website: http://www.virginiakantra.com/
And be sure to comment below to enter a drawing for Sea Lord!