I am thrilled to host this interview with Katya Armock, author of TO HISS OR TO KISS, her fantasy/paranormal book. It is an exciting and intriguing story, a very interesting contrast to the author’s introverted personality. (I wouldn’t have guessed from my exchanges with Katya that she is an introvert!)
Chloe can “talk” to animals…
so why can she hear the thoughts of this hot, green-eyed man?
Abandoned by her mother and raised by a father who’d given up on life, Chloe doesn’t let anyone get close. Lucky for her, she can communicate with animals—telepathically. Animals are the only people she needs. When a suspected dogfighting ring comes to her attention, Chloe decides to do a little spying. In her rush to win the dogs’ trust, she almost gets caught, but a sexy stranger intervenes, and she finds she can overhear his thoughts.
She’s never been able to hear people, and this man’s about as sexy as she’s ever seen. It’s more than intellectual curiosity that drives her to discover his secret: he’s a jaguar shape-shifter, and the presence of this cat among the dogs might be a bit too much to handle. But the animal attraction is just too hot to resist, and the passion between them makes both the sparks—and the fur—fly…
Katya, I love that in your book, To Hiss or to Kiss, your character, Chloe, can communicate telepathically with animals. Is this a trait that you possess? Please share an experience when this was a helpful gift to have.
I have studied animal communication. I don’t think I’m as gifted as Chloe is in that I can just have clear conversations with animals, but I would love to be able to. I have, however, had some experiences of being able to deepen my relationships with animals.
In addition to writing, I also pet sit. One dog I regularly sit for has a history of abuse and is very uncomfortable around strangers. When I first started taking care of her, it was a struggle for her to even let me put the leash on her. She would growl and snap at me, and I resorted to using a slip lead I could put on her from a distance.
I decided to try to reach out to her energetically over a distance and explain that I would not hurt her and was only trying to put on her leash to go for walks (which I’ve come to learn she loves!). I asked her to show me a sign of trust by allowing me to do this and I would in turn trust her not to try to bite me. The next morning when I arrived, instead of growling and barking, she walked to me, laid down by my feet and let me put the leash on her. She still has a lot of separation anxiety and moments where she has trouble trusting, but we’ve got more of an understanding now.
Wow! That’s wonderfully amazing!
Please tell us a little about the history of your book.
The story was inspired by my own study of animal communication and my volunteer work with the local humane society. I have always been an animal lover, so it’s no surprise that my book has a shape-shifter hero and pets who have dialogue. ☺
I’m not a plotter, and my writing process blends the first draft with editing. I’m pretty far along with writing my third book now, and each time I’ve written the first five or so chapters before going back to the beginning to start editing. Then I repeat, gradually adding more and more pieces of the puzzle until I got to the end of the book. For To Hiss or to Kiss, that process took me about five months. Then I edited it with the help of beta readers for several more months. It was published about 17 months after I started the book.
Thank you for that timeline. I know as a first time author, I’m always interested in hearing how the process goes for other writers.
Was there a particularly memorable moment in your life that helped to define you as a writer?
Becoming a Reiki Master Teacher has helped me solidify my views on life, and that greatly informs how and what I write. It also was one of the major steps in my life that gave me the courage to even try to write a novel.
What was your favorite book to read during your childhood?
When I was very young, I loved Marvin K. Mooney Will You Please Go Now! by Dr. Seuss. It was the first book I took into class to read aloud.
Any favorite line or phrase you wish you wrote first?
There are so many wonderful lines people have written. I am not the jealous type. I just hope that I write some things that make people laugh, cry or think about the world in a different way.
Getting a response from the reader is definitely what it’s all about.
Do you have an ultimate writing goal or project?
My ultimate goal with writing is to have fun.
If you could only share one thing with a young, aspiring writer, what would you tell them?
Be humble and honest with others and yourself. It will make it a whole lot easier to roll with the punches—in writing, as well as life.
What is your favorite dessert?
That’s so hard! I love food, and dessert in particular. What I eat the most often for dessert is ice cream.
I’m all about Chocolate Haagen Daas and any decent brand of Rocky Road.
You’ll find a number of desserts, and other foods, mentioned in To Hiss or to Kiss and the soon to be released To Growl or to Groan. I cook and bake a lot myself, and you’ll find recipes and discussions about food popping up on my blog now and then.
Great! Hear that everyone? Make sure you visit Katya’s blog at http://katyaarmock.com/blog/ for some yummy recipes and tasty discussions!
What is your greatest life passion after writing? (Or is there one greater than writing for you?)
I find it difficult to call any one thing my life passion. I try to live from a place of peace and compassion no matter what I’m doing. Sometimes I’m more successful than others, which is when I have to [have] compassion and peace with myself.
Why should someone who wouldn’t normally read a romance novel read your book?
One thing I’ve heard from several readers is that they almost didn’t finish the book when a certain tragedy happens, but they were all glad that they did. I know I love books that run a gamut of emotions, and I hope anyone choosing to read my book would have that experience.
I think it was Anne Lamott who told me once at a seminar that if you want to win a Pulitzer, a good guy that you love has to die!
These days you’ll find Katya writing, pet sitting, juggling a number of freelance gigs, and reigning as her home’s domestic goddess. She lives in the Midwestern U.S. with her husband, dog and cats. Alas, she has, as of yet, been unable to teach her husband how to purr.
Excerpt From To Hiss or to Kiss:
“Despite how things were left last night, I am still concerned for your welfare, Chloe. It was not my intent to upset you last night. I am, uh, I am…”
I want to jump in and finish his sentence with something like “stupid,” “mercurial,” “heartless,” “a cad,” et cetera, but I bite my tongue. I did, after all, admit I might already be in love with him earlier today. Perhaps I shouldn’t do anything to completely screw this up.
So instead of a biting retort, I soften my expression but still stare mercilessly, willing him to look back up and meet my eyes.
He finally looks up, his eyes pleading with me to understand. “…I do not do well interacting with people. And I don’t tell people my secrets.”
I find myself melting a little when I see some chinks through the wall he erected last night. “Yeah, well, I can understand that.”
He looks mildly surprised that I’m not berating him or stomping past him to get in my car. Am I really that harsh?
“You do?” He looks more vulnerable, and therefore more sexy, by the minute.
“I know having to hide a part of yourself puts up a pretty big barrier to maintaining relationships,” I say, and find I mean it. I smile. “And you do seem like kind of a nerd, too.” I’m relieved by the slight upturn to his lips.
“Yeah. You’re quiet and I bet you know a lot. You’ve got a bookish vibe.” At that he seems a little crestfallen, and I worry I just undid any repairs I’d made to this incredibly awkward conversation/relationship/future marriage/whatever.
“That’s not a bad thing. Nerdy can be cool. I’m somewhat of a science nerd and bookish myself. And you’re a pretty sexy nerd, so it’s all good.” Oh, God. There go my capillaries again.
I decide the best way to save face is to keep staring at him, so I see his mouth widen into a satisfied grin. His nervousness seems to have evaporated, and he’s back to cool cat. “You think I’m sexy?”
“And if I do?”