Writer Caryn McGill writes steamy romantic suspense under her penname Kendra Greenwood. She's my guest today with a look at UNBOUND, Book two in her Steel and Desire series. Kendra tells us about her writing journey and the way she writes. It's always fun to learn a little more about a new-to-me author. Welcome Kendra!
Hi Jana, thanks for having me!
My new book just released and I’ve been reflecting on how I wound up a romance writer. It certainly wasn’t on my bucket list. My background is in science, having taught AP biology and chemistry at a Long Island high school before moving into administration. The only writing I’d done was scientific and professional, the complete opposite of writing fiction. My first published novel was book one in a paranormal trilogy called The Wives of Lucifer, released in 2016. The story is about reincarnation—homage to my little brother who died at three, when I was five—and a result of my years spent as an astrologer. I know, sounds like the complete opposite of being a scientist. Truthfully, scientists are just dreamers who take the next step and transform their dreams into reality. Dreams are also important in my writing and I often dream my endings.
I’m a self-taught writer and spent years in workshops and at conferences to hone my skills and learn the business. It took nine years to secure my first publishing contract, which turned out to be primarily a romance publisher. I’d never considered my story a romance and had actually never even read a romance novel. After Fifty Shades of Grey came out my writer pals teased that someone should jump on that train since it seemed to be a hot trend. Jokingly, everyone decided that I would be the one to write it. I laughed it off but soon a story thread began to unwind and characters starting talking to me. I’m a die-hard pantser. I always start with characters and a nugget of a plot and then let the characters talk to me, mostly when I’m falling asleep or as I wake. When I’m in the heat of it they often wake me in the middle of the night to tell me something important. The result was UNSUB and I quickly found a publisher. To my utter shock it did surprising well and my editor convinced me to turn it into a series: The Steel and Desire Series and book two, UNBOUND, just released. I write this series under a pen name to protect my two sons who are mortified that I write sexy stuff, plus I wouldn’t want someone who reads my paranormal stories to read one of these by mistake.
The third book in the series, UNGUARDED, is percolating, but it’s still in spitball mode while I’m working on the launch of the second book in my paranormal trilogy. I have two other manuscripts under my bed but they’re for another day. I usually have several projects going at once but I invest my efforts totally in one project, then switch to something else for a while. It’s good to take a break then return with fresh eyes.
So, I have a confession to make. I’ve become a terrible reader! I used to love to read but now I’m so critical about technique, story, plot, dialogue that my self-editor can barely get past the first chapter. My mentors trained me that the first page is vital, not only that, the first paragraph, first sentence…first word! Now, if that first page or chapter doesn’t grab me I’m loathe to keep reading. I sound like the younger generation who’s stereotyped as having a poor attention span. Guilty as charged, however I attribute it to my Aquarian nature, I get bored easily. I remember lamenting to my first astrology teacher that I had a terrible habit of immersing myself in something, learning to do it expertly, then walking away: macramé, embroidery, wood sculpture, silver jewelry making, fusing glass. Why couldn’t I stick with something? Her response, “…because for an Aquarian the fun is in the discovery, the learning. Once you master it you move on to a new challenge.” Well, la-de-da…let’s hope this writing gig sticks around for a while!
You’re not allowed to be a coward and be in love. You must choose one.
Special Agent Laura Logan had a difficult childhood and that’s putting it mildly. Laura channeled her buried rage into her studies, earned a law degree and joined the FBI. As a member of the new human trafficking task force, Laura wants to impress and she wants to make the perps pay.
Detective Lieutenant Steve Moretti moonlights at a very exclusive adult club, his reward is a free membership along with other perks. His family is pressuring him to find a nice woman and settle down, but that bridge was burned by his ex. His new view: Marriage is betting half your stuff that you’ll love someone forever.
A kidnapping shocks Steve’s town and the FBI is called in. Steve and Laura meet at the crime scene, sparks fly, and they work the case together. As passion ignites, their no-love commandment is tested. Can they overcome the heartbreak of betrayal and learn to love before it’s too late? Are they so afraid they refuse to love at all?
Detective Steve Moretti was at the end of a twelve-hour shift and wanted nothing more than to go home, take a hot shower, imbibe a few cold ones and watch the NY Rangers hopefully humiliate the Penguins. The black sedan swerved into the driveway too fast, the driver slamming on the brakes. As she approached, he inexplicably held his breath, like she was walking in slow-mo. A movie goddess. She strode toward him— regal—shoulders squared, chin tilted upward. The stridency of flashing police lights lit her up like a dancer onstage, the image surreal, features blinking in and out of clarity, until she stood before him. Although the afternoon was gray and dismal, her strawberry- blonde hair and violet eyes stood out as if she was the only thing of color in a black and white movie.
Her handshake was firm, even with that petite hand, with no gold band on her ring finger. They presented their credentials. He found her prickly, like she wished he wasn’t here and could work the case alone.
He cleared his throat. “Been hearing rumors about a new sex-trafficking ring tied to the Russian mob. I think it’s worth looking into.”
Special Agent Laura Logan shoved her hands into the pockets of her coat, staring at her feet. She hesitated, then said, “How reliable is your intel?”
That didn’t take long. Steve had no intention of confessing that he’d heard these rumors at the exclusive sex club where he moonlighted a couple nights a week. He couldn’t afford the dues so in exchange worked as a dungeon master, bartender and since he carried off-duty, security on occasion. His duties included supervising the training of new submissives, a task he found incredibly satisfying. But this would be revealing way too much about his personal life. And he never talked about his involvement in the lifestyle with a vanilla. Never, ever.
Kendra Greenwood has always been a storyteller. She often told stories to her kids at bedtime in lieu of reading to them. A serious daydreamer, she used to think it the complete opposite of her education and work in the sciences, but now realizes scientists are the ultimate daydreamers. Fantasy has always been an escape for Kendra…weaving a thrilling romantic tale around TV and film characters, her favorite way to fall asleep at night. Inspired by authors J.R. Ward, Cherise Sinclair and Sylvia Day, she decided to write her own series: Steel and Desire.
Kendra grew up on the beaches of Long Island’s bucolic east end, but recently relocated to Virginia. When she’s not writing you can find her in the kitchen whipping up something scrumptious or in the studio painting, or fusing glass into decorative dishes.