Interview with Purple Hazel

What is your writing process?
Ideas come to King and Caroline on a regular basis - sometimes in the form of a working title; and sometimes something happens to us in our personal lives that gives us an inspiration. After that we write a synopsis in the form of an Email to each other and review it. King usually comes up with the crazy ideas; and Caroline gives it a thumbs up or a "hell no". For example, Star Kitten: King wrote most of the story and did all the scientific research on geology and volcanoes so that it was plausible that the Nausties could ignite a volcano that wipes out the invading Earthers. He googled it and found a scientist who actually described how the Krakatoa volcano exploded and its causes...then the guy went on to describe how such a thing might be caused by human effort. Meanwhile Caroline thought the working title "Galactic Penal Colony" was boring, so King decided on Star Pussy, which is the floating brothel/space station in the story. King's brother Dan suggested "Star Kitten" instead, but King hated that name 'cause it sounded like a children's novel about a space cat. Caroline overruled him though, and the title became "Star Kitten" which was a smash it with readers. We got 200 downloads in less than two months! Our friend Doug Alexander helped us with the cover art, which King purchased from Shutterstock and then we blew it up a bit to make the cat-like being on the cover seem more curvy and voluptuous....
Do you remember the first story you ever read, and the impact it had on you?
Sure! "Steppenwolf" by Herman Hesse was the first book King read as an adult that he picked out himself and read cover to cover. This book inspired him to write one just like it himself one day. It delved into the mind of the main character from an Outside Observer's point of view; but seemed like the narrator was taking us inside the MC's thoughts and experiences which made him into what he was at the point in time where the story takes place. Flashing back to King's life as a younger man, he saw a lot of his own self in the choices the MC made in life. It was the first time he'd ever seen the word peccadillo too. It means indiscretion; and we've rarely heard the word used in conversation or literature since then. By way of comparison, Caroline loves Margaret Mitchell's "Gone with the Wind" and her identification with strong women who are brave enough when they have to be brave enough has influenced our female characters to be not only very human with all the flaws and foibles of human beings, but also extremely determined and even downright deadly when they have to be.
How do you approach cover design?
The female body is the most intriguing image the mind can embrace; and regardless of the viewer's gender. Whether attracted personally to the female form or not, a potential reader is almost instinctively drawn to it without even knowing why. Scenery might appeal to a person in the right frame of mind or because it conjures a memory of something bad or good in a person's past. However a nearly-naked woman draws a more base reaction. It captures a person's attention for at least a few moments just like an alluring billboard alongside a highway inspires a passing glance. A woman's back and ample buttocks are particularly appealing to us so we gravitate toward that for an image of what our female heroin might look like. She's usually going to be curvy and voluptuous; though it's difficult sometimes to find full-figured models when we search the internet for stock art.
What are your five favorite books, and why?
Steppenwolf (because Herman Hesse tells the story of a man looking back on his wild, misdirected youth and coming to grips with his mistakes as well as reviewing his more scintillating indiscretions), Raise the Titanic (because Clive Cussler used detailed, meticulous research to spin an adventurous tale that had the extra appeal of focusing on a tragic, world-famous event), The Odessa File (because Frederick Forsyth spun a terrific tale about infiltration of a post- WWII Nazi organization and all the intrigue the main character had to experience to achieve his mission), Gone with the Wind (because of the depiction of a strong woman who had to portray herself in public as a vulnerable, dainty female just to get along in Antebellum southern society until it was finally time for her to step up and face the insurmountable challenges of survival and near-starvation after the Civil War had devastated her homeland. This inspired Caroline to do very much the same with our female heroines), Treasure Island (because we love reading that incredible book to our Stepson), and finally Tom Sawyer (because it's the most well-written book we've both ever read...every chapter is so perfectly done and the phonetic dialogue is hilarious to read out-loud). Honorable mention, we'd also include Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone and Dostoyevsky's Notes from Underground/The Double.
What do you read for pleasure?
Historical accounts and news articles from long ago. The journalists and storytellers of the period they lived in laid the groundwork for what we consider to be the real history of the times they wrote about. Finding a news clipping from years past, detailing an historical event moments or even days after it happened immediately gets King's attention. The emotions are still fresh, the event has just occurred, and the cultural filter through which the reporter or eye-witness perceives the morality or motivations of the people involved is far more interesting to us than the watered-down or politically correct version we find in a history textbook. When we wrote The Wild Fields, we based a big portion of the chapter Slave Market on a first hand account from an Italian man who visited the city in the 16th century.
What book marketing techniques have been most effective for you?
Multiple publications. We're seeking to have five different books in publication at the same time - all mentioning and promoting each other. Star Kitten will be followed by Wild Fields. Wild Fields will be closely followed by Morgana's Handmaid. Then we'll launch Spanish Posse and Free Company within a year. Fans might love one and hate another; yet others might find they like the pattern our stories follow and get used to the formula that seems to develop in each one almost naturally, since the stories flow out of us onto the computer screen in largely the same way every time. Our biggest thrill is in developing an insurmountable conflict or obstacle that hooks you into sticking it out to the end to find out how the hero and heroine finally find love and happiness together. That's what we went through...and we figure everyone else does as well. Our website www.purplehazelbooks.com has now become our online "store" but our site links to Smashwords where all the transactions are made. Our Facebook page is a place where we announce news and create a fan community. Then lastly we'll produce Youtube videos of Caroline to promote the books.
Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
Oklahoma and Texas! The wild west is long gone and a faded memory at best for those of us who grew up there. Yet the world seemed so very far away already, growing up in in those places. New York was "back east". San Francisco and Los Angeles were "out west". There was incredible weather: dust storms still prevalent in the 1970's, tornadoes almost every May. There was history all around us too! Terrible things and evil misdeeds had occurred in sites and places all over our two states. Yet the shocking truth about them had inevitably been whitewashed by history to protect us from shame and recriminations over our ancestors' desperate actions to survive in such a hostile land only a century before. We're not apologizing for it. Things were done that we didn't personally have anything to do with and nothing can be done about it now. However we're not going to sanitize history for our readers just to avoid offending people either. Brutality and oppression were everyday realities in our nation's past - and there's no excusing it.
When did you first start writing?
Basically we fell in love...and King started writing erotic short stories to Caroline while we were still dating. That was way back in 2012. Most were fantasies or fictional stories based on things we'd learned about from each other's pasts. King would write something to see if Caroline found it awkward or if she'd find it appealing. In the process we learned more about each other and fell more deeply in love. The stories got longer and longer too! Soon we started turning them into real full length novels. It took about five attempts at writing to get the hang of it and really develop a writing style; and that's when we decided to launch Star Kitten on Smashwords and make a career of it.
What's the story behind your latest book?
Star Kitten was inspired by a picture King once saw of a terrified naked woman - with her wrists bound suspended from a crane above her head - being lowered into a pit filled with dark, dust-covered, human-like beings. She was kicking and screaming, legs flailing about trying to avoid being grabbed by the lustful creatures below her. The background was like that of a subterranean mine or cavern; and it conjured an image to him of a prison mine on some planet out in deep space where women were given to the inmates there for sport; or as some sort of a prize. From that one picture, King later imagined an intergalactic penal colony, established by intelligent beings on several planets, who could send their violent criminals away for life; just as they would discard heaps of refuse from their streets. A win-win for everyone! What could possibly be the consequences of that, we pondered? Plenty of course. Intelligent beings will inevitably organize and fight for their freedom or existence; and their capacity for violent atrocity will know little if any boundaries once their rage is unleashed. That's what led to Star Kitten. It's a book that points out how we all ultimately reap what we sow. If not immediately, then eventually.
What motivated you to become an indie author?
Our hearts are filled with stories to tell; and we didn't need a publisher to tell us what was selling just to give us ideas on what we should produce. We saw it in reverse actually. Build a fan following who want our books just the way we wrote them, and then let the world decide if our works are indeed literature, works of art, or nothing particularly noteworthy. Either way, we write books that we would like to read; and leave it to the reader to agree or disagree with whether we ever should have published them in the first place.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
If Caroline loves it; then it's literature. That's all King cares about. But when she really likes something King writes, it's very likely going to turn into a new book on Smashwords in a few months.
What do your fans mean to you?
Fans create readers without us spending a dime or even a minute of our time on marketing. The relationship is arms-length in that their input shows us possible directions to go with future books and sequels to old ones. Yet they are not involved in the creation of the story-lines. That's our job, not theirs. We just need their feedback and suggestions, whether we ever hit the big time or not as writers. Their ideas, like the premise for our next book Twin Paradox, occasionally pique our interest. That entire book coming out this Christmas was from an idea sent to us by a fan.
What are you working on next?
The Wild Fields. It's an historical fiction romance novel about two women growing up in Russia in the 16th century during the great Tatar Raids. Ludmilla and Tatyana have grown up in far different circumstances; however they meet almost by accident one day on the streets of a southern Russian city. Ludmilla is the masculine type who has lived most all her life as a boy. Tatyana is the girlish and voluptuous barmaid working at the little tavern in town. Yet they fall deeply in love with each other, pledging lifelong devotion. Captured by Tatars and forced into white slavery, Ludmilla is mistaken for a man and branded a prime field hand. Tatyana however is curvy, brunette, and beautiful... considered by her lustful captors to be a wondrous prize who will fetch a very handsome price down in the slave markets at Caffa. Perhaps she will be a nice addition to the Sultan's harem in Istanbul someday.... Ludmilla (who has always gone by the name Lyev) determines to search the ends of the earth to find her again someday. Yet it will be up to the courage and determination of both women to try and find each other within the strange and mysterious lands of the great Ottoman Empire. Wild Fields is about the enduring strength and extreme devotion that accompany true love... in all its beautiful and wonderful forms.
Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?
"Suzie and Max". That was our first full length novel King completed. But even before that we wrote "Spanish Posse", which we've since begun re-editing and will publish in a couple months. Both books were fantasy versions of the events that occurred in our relationship when we were dating. Spanish Posse is the better of the two. In this novel we presented a story about a saloon girl who runs off to marry one of her clients, and is doggedly pursued by the owner of her brothel who's smitten with her. It takes the reader from Fort Worth all the way to New Orleans, Austin, and San Antonio. Taking place in 1872, Spanish Posse has steamy hot love scenes, incredible violence and suspense, plus charming dialogue between the three main characters while they're having lunch together on the patio of a creole-style townhouse in the French Quarter of New Orleans.
How has Smashwords contributed to your success?
We've now been able to launch a website called purplehazelbooks.com and set up hyperlinks to Smashwords where people can actually purchase our three novels. That has worked well. We launched Morgana's Handmaid Friday Feb 12 and already sold a book (that very weekend in fact). In this way by marketing our website and then referring customers to our Smashwords page to download it we have created for ourselves a legitimate online business. The website links to our Facebook page too, causing us to get a better google rating and provide many different cookie crumb trails back to our SW page to buy the book. If you google "purple hazel books" you now see five or seven entries about us; some from book reviewers we don't even know. By the way, we learned to do that from Smashwords in Coker's Ebook about marketing.
Who are your favorite authors?
Mark Twain of course! Samuel Clemens did a great job of writing dialogue in a way where you speak/hear the words of the character exactly the way they'd speak them with an old American mid-western or southern accent...which is basically Scotch-Irish and yet varies regionally. We went on from there and wrote dialogue for characters in foreign languages using google translator then translating it into English in parentheses following. But King's favorite is to spell dialogues the way a person would speak them with their regional accent and we learned this from Mark Twain.
Published 2016-02-16.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.

Books by This Author

Morgana's Handmaid
Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 141,770. Language: English. Published: February 12, 2016. Categories: Fiction » Erotica » Women's Erotica, Fiction » Fantasy » General
Growing up as a peasant, struggling to exist in the grinding poverty and dead end world of English feudal society; a bright, attractive young woman makes the best of her lowly existence. Then one day she gets the opportunity of a lifetime when her tiny village is visited by Princess Morgana, half-sister to King Arthur. She becomes handmaid to Morgana and goes to work for her at castle Camelot !
The Wild Fields
Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 160,070. Language: English. Published: November 21, 2015. Categories: Fiction » Historical » General, Fiction » Gay & lesbian fiction » Lesbian
Tatyana and Ludmilla are both bright young teenage girls growing up in southern Russia during the Great Tatar Invasion of 1571. Captured and forced into slavery, one later becomes a lowly field hand working on a cotton plantation in northern Turkey. The other becomes a concubine working in the royal palace of the Grand Sultan....