|McKenna Grey, Co-Author|
THE DRAGON'S STAIRCASE
|Everly Archard, Co-Author|
THE DRAGON'S STAIRCASE
Just-released, THE DRAGON’S STAIRCASE is a romantic suspense novel by award-winning authors McKenna Grey (pseudonym for historical romance and mystery author MK McClintock) and Everly Archard (pseudonym for paranormal and fantasy romance author D.D. Piers). It is the first of their Kyndall Family Thrillers. Reviewers say it’s a “heart-stopping non-stop, thrilling suspense….with a romantic touch!”
The two authors found that “the collaboration was a lot of fun” and are currently working together on the next Kyndall Family Thriller, Shadow of the Forgotten. Both authors are avid readers—when they can take a break from writing. McKenna likes the outdoors and also enjoys baking. Everly loves to garden and take photos.
Don't miss the except following the interview.
Q: You have described THE DRAGON’S STAIRCASE as contemporary romantic suspense and reviewers say, “The suspense level is amazing.” What makes the novel suspenseful?
McKenna Grey and Everly Archard: I believe it’s the build-up and intensity emanating from the characters and the events in their lives. We really wanted to take the reader on a roller-coaster ride. No matter how detailed the outline or notes, we didn’t restrain the characters, even the “bad guys,” and we ended up surprising ourselves a few times along the way.
Q: What are the characteristics of a compelling romance? How do you build the romantic relationships? Do your characters love each other at first sight? Do opposites attract? Does the suspense increase the romantic interest? Or vice versa?
McKenna Grey and Everly Archard: Romance should feel natural, as though two people have no choice but to acknowledge that they’re better together than apart. In this story, the characters’ passion is heightened by the intense situations in which they find themselves. There isn’t a chance to begin as friends and build up. However, they build upon trust, the need they both have to believe in each other and trust themselves.
I definitely think opposites can attract, but I also believe that a relationship has a much stronger chance when there’s a common ground, an accepted belief system about life in general, that they both share.
The suspense plays a major role in the romantic interest, but only in the beginning. They may be thrust together because of circumstances, but what happens afterward is all about two people finding their way to each other.
Q: One of your reviewers appreciates the “well-developed characters.” How do your characters connect to your readers? Why will readers care what happens to them?
McKenna Grey and Everly Archard: I love when someone comments on the characters because they’re always my favorite part of writing. I enjoy spectacular scenery well-described, but it all comes down to the people in the story. Alexa and Craig, I believe, are relatable. They have strengths, weaknesses, they experience fear, loss, passion, love, hate—they’re human, and they matter. What happens to them matters because on some level, most people have felt the same emotions, and they want their own happily ever after . . . or as close to it as possible.
Q: Does the concept of “hero vs villain” apply to THE DRAGON’S STAIRCASE? What makes an effective villain?
McKenna Grey and Everly Archard: Definitely. Except in this case we really have more than one hero. Both Alexa and Craig bring their own set of strengths to the mix, and both have to use those strengths in order to defeat both their metaphoric and real-life villains.
An effective villain, I believe, is one who is somewhat average. If you strip away whatever makes them “evil,” you’re left with an oftentimes pathetic human being who couldn’t find a way to live a better life. Perhaps they’re intelligent, but misdirected their smarts down a dark path. Something in them chose to become who they are, and I believe no matter what their reasons, something is behind why they do what they do. It doesn’t make it right, but it makes them less than the hero, less than a person worthy of a happy ending.
Q: Did you write THE DRAGON’S STAIRCASE strictly to entertain your readers? Or did you embed a few messages along the way?
McKenna Grey and Everly Archard: I believe any story can contain a few hidden messages, whether the writer realizes what they’ve done or not. In truth, I’m not sure either of us really thought about an underlying message, but you have me thinking now! Really, it’s ultimately about having confidence in yourself and believing that no matter how difficult, how challenging life can become, there’s always a way out, and there’s always someone to help. We don’t have to stand on our own; it’s okay to lean on a friend, a lover, or a stranger if that’s what it takes . . . And we wrote it to entertain our readers.
Q: Do you use your setting to either enhance your plot or add to your characters?
McKenna Grey and Everly Archard: I’ve always thought of settings as characters. The setting plays a part, albeit in the background. The area of North Carolina where most of the story is set, is beautiful. The vibrant colors of autumn and the lush forests covering the Blue Ridge Mountains can be quite breathtaking. Contrast that with murder and mayhem, and you bet, the setting plays a definite role.
Q: How helpful is humor to create your characters?
McKenna Grey and Everly Archard: A bit of levity is always appreciated in a story, but when you have a suspense or thriller, a touch of humor here and there is necessary if for no other reason than to give both the characters and the readers a break from the intensity.
Q: Given that you are two authors, how do you divide the tasks of writing? Do you brainstorm the plot? Is one of you responsible for creating a character? Do you assign tasks before you start?
McKenna Grey and Everly Archard: We certainly share in the creative process. I (McKenna) had developed the plot and characters for the first book and the series long before I met my co-author or even wrote a book, so I took point on the first outline. However, Everly also added her thoughts and notes to the outline, so by the time we started to write, it was two minds as one sort of scenario. For the other books in the series, we’ve both shared in the brainstorming for the plots and outlines.
We don’t assign tasks, but we do assign chapters. We work off of one manuscript and each take three chapters from the outline, moving in chronological order. When we pass off the updated manuscript, the other person will read through our chapters, offer notes, and then write their three chapters. We go back and forth until the book is complete. It just worked out to be a great way for us to collaborate, and to each have an equal voice in the story.
Q: What’s next for both of you? Will you write another in the Kyndall Family Thrillers?
McKenna Grey and Everly Archard: Absolutely! We’re already 1/3 the way through the second book, Shadow of the Forgotten, and it’s coming along great. There will be two more Kyndall thrillers in the series. After that . . . well, we’ve discovered this is such a fun process, we’ve planned more series and we’re currently developing those storylines. I’m certain we’ll each write our own books under these pen names (we both write under other names as well), but for now, the collaboration is a lot of fun.
Q: What do you both like to do when you’re not writing?
McKenna Grey: When I’m not writing . . . doesn’t happen often these days! Reading is a given; I’m never without a new book. I love spending time outdoors, whether it’s hiking, walking my pup and taking photographs, or gardening. I like to sit on a rock by the river and read a book, or walk along the lake and watch the sunset. I also love to spend time in the kitchen. Baking and cooking relax me.
Everly Archard: I love, and I mean LOVE, to read. So if I'm not in the middle of a good book, I'll be searching for something new to read. I also love to garden or practice amateur photography. If I'm in the mood to stay indoors and burn brain cells, I indulge in my favorite guilty pleasure, Bravo TV.
About McKenna Grey
McKenna Grey is the contemporary alter-ego of award-winning historical romance and mystery author MK McClintock. Never one to limit her imagination or ignore possibilities, she decided to venture into the realm of contemporary romantic suspense and thrillers.
About Everly Archard
Everly Archard is the pseudonym of award-winning paranormal and fantasy romance author D.D. Miers. Her passion for romance with an edge led her to explore the world of romantic suspense.
About THE DRAGON’S STAIRCASE
From two award-winning authors comes the first riveting novel in the Kyndall Family Thrillers, a contemporary romantic suspense series filled with spine-tingling thrills and alluring romance.
A woman haunted by her past.
FBI Agent Alexa Kyndall devoted eight years of her life to the search for justice, showing no mercy to the guilty and depraved. When she joins a special task force to bring down a serial killer, Alexa encounters the most unexpected criminal of her career.
A man willing to do whatever it takes to save her.
When a child witnesses a brutal slaying, Alexa’s life becomes intertwined with Craig Pierson’s, a man with his own haunted past. They join forces, only to discover they must put everything on the line in a pulse-pounding struggle to protect and survive.
A killer closing in.
Nestled in a small town in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina, The Dragon’s Staircase is an intriguing, nonstop adventure that will keep readers enthralled from start to finish.
Excerpt from THE DRAGON’S STAIRCASE
“Oh, shut up.”
The alarm beeped until she punched in the code. Alexa dropped her keys into the wooden bowl on the stand by the front door, dropped her handbag over a coat rack peg, and leaned against the closed door until she heard the click. She had seen in Craig’s eyes what must surely have been reflected in her own. The wanting, the need, and the impossibility of any kind of liaison between them. She was a wasted effort in the relationship department, and the sooner they both figured that out the less chance of heartache later.
She noticed the cold for the first time since entering, and this time the shiver through her body wasn’t from Craig. She pulled the pistol she’d slipped into her handbag back at Craig’s house. Jordan would still be out on the wilderness journey, or “trek” as they called them in their family. Why then did she not feel alone in the spacious house set back in the woods and away from anyone who could hear her scream?
“Get a grip, Alexa.” She walked through the lower level, checking every window and door, and did the same upstairs. The coldest of the air emanated from her bedroom and it was in the doorway she stood and surveyed the dark room. Everything was as she left it, except for the envelope propped against her mother’s old jewelry box on the dresser.
Her finger lay loose and ready near the trigger as she walked across the room, moonlight guiding her way. Alexa. The script on the front of the envelope appeared all too familiar and Alexa knew the nightmare had returned, but this time he was real.
McKenna Grey Website
Everly Archard Website