All about Kemberlee . . .
Kemberlee Shortland was born and raised in Northern California in an area known as America’s Salad Bowl. It was home to many authors, including John Steinbeck, and for a while Jack London and Robert Louis Stevenson. In 1997, Kemberlee had the opportunity to live in Ireland for six months where she ended up meeting a man who convinced her to stay. Kemberlee is now celebrating her fifteenth year in Ireland and has been lucky to travel the country extensively, picking up a cupla focal along the way—a few Irish words.
Kemberlee has been writing since a very young age and over the years, she has published many travel articles and book reviews, as well as worked some notable authors who’ve set their books in Ireland. 2006 saw the publication of Kemberlee’s first two short stories—Tutti-Frutti Blues and Dude Looks Like a Lady—both part of a themed anthology, the stories of which were based on unbelievable yet real laws from around the world. Kemberlee chose two crazy laws from her hometown of Carmel-by-the-Sea, California—the ban on eating ice cream on the town’s streets and the requiring of a permit to wear high heels. While the ice cream ban was lifted when Clint Eastwood became town mayor, the heels permit is still on the books, though not enforced.
Kemberlee has published a number of short stories since 2006, and in 2010 her first full-length novel was published, the award-winning A Piece of My Heart, part of the Irish Pride series.
Now Kemberlee invites readers to check out Rhythm of My Heart, another book in the Irish Pride series.
Bookmark Kemberlee’s website for information on the release of the next book in the Irish Pride series, Shape of My Heart, coming in the fall 2013.
1. How did your life as a writer begin?
I was an early learner so was spelling and writing early. I remember getting picture books from the library and writing stories to go with the book images. I wrote a short story in 5th grade called Mickey the Mouse (I know, very original) to which my teacher said, “Oh, no, not another one.”
That one, single moment where I said, “I’m going to be a writer” probably came the evening I was home listening to the radio while watching my sister play with her toys. The Beatles’ song Paperback Writer came on. I’d been playing with what’s now recognized as a Young Adult story (girl in high school looking for acceptance and a boyfriend) and on hearing that song thought, “Yeah, I can do that.”
I wrote bits and pieces right through high school, but it wasn’t until I was about 20 that I sat down to write the next great romance novel. That eventually became Sarah’s Secret, as of yet, unpublished. Maybe one day.
It can be anything. I love little interesting snippets of history or strange facts. Sometimes researching one thing can give me an idea for something else. Or seeing people interacting in public or even a piece on the news. For example, I recently saw an article online about a 19 year old Nigerian man who built himself a house out of recycled plastic 2-liter bottles. The bottles are filled with sand, which are then stacked in a particular way, bound together on the neck end of the bottle, then the whole lot is plastered for added insulation. The structure is bullet-proof, fire-proof, earthquake-resistant. After being amazed, I thought, “There could be a story here . . . two people join a group to build homes like this, meet, fall in love. The drama coming from resistance forces trying to keep the project from going forward, maybe a murder to be solved coming back to the founder of the program. The H&H bringing him down then living happily ever after in their own little bottle-house overlooking the sunset . . .” See? A story everywhere!
3. Tell us about your writing process. Do you outline, or are you more of a seat of your pants type of a writer?
I see myself as a bit of both. I put down a very basic plot (like as above with the news story piece), then come up with an opening line. Then I run with it and see where it takes me. To me, writing is like a car journey. There is always a little prep that goes into it before you can get in the car and drive. You have to have a destination, and a vehicle that runs properly, and have gasoline in the tank. Without these things, you could end up on the side of the road with a blown head gasket or an empty tank, or both. Anyone who’s been there knows that ain’t pretty!
4. What is your favorite scene in the book? Why?
My favorite scene in Rhythm of My Heart is when Eilis and Megan are in Killarny. Kieran has followed them in his quest to get Eilis to stop running from him long enough so they can talk about the feelings they share for each other. The girls are in a pub where Kieran finds them. He apologizes to Megan then pulls Eilis outside to the alley. Without giving her a chance to rail at him for embarrassing her in front of all those people, he puts his mouth on hers and kisses her like she’s only ever imagined. She’s dreamed of being kissed like this, by someone she loves and who loves her in return, kissed as if her life depended on it, a kiss so intense it makes you want to crawl inside the other person (so to speak) and be with them forever on some magical plain that only exists at that place where all of our senses meet and explode into a fiery, molten pool of feeling . . . and he does. She presses into his arms and kisses him back with all of the pent up emotion inside her which has been building up for so long and threatening to surface since his first declaration of affection. When the kiss ends, Eilis knows there’s nothing she won’t do for this man. Until . . .
5. What is the best piece of advice you would give to someone that wants to get into writing?
Four things, actually—
- Read everything in your chosen genre. See what others are doing so you don’t repeat. Be unique.
- Write the story you’d love to read if you weren’t writing.
- Listen to advice with an open mind. Good advice is not critical. Take it with appreciation and look at your work objectively as that person did to see where you can make amendments. No one, not even Dean Koontz or Linda Howard, produce stories that don’t need work.
- And if you get a couple rejections on your work, don’t just self-publish—listen to the advice given (see #3) and improve your work. Rejected work doesn’t mean your story isn’t good. It just means it’s not ready yet!
6. How do you spend your free time? Do you have a favorite place to go and unwind?
I’m an avid knitter. A new nephew gives me a reason to visit the yarn shops often! I’m also an avid castle hunter. Living in Ireland awakened this passion in me. Castles are like snowflakes—no two are alike, and their histories are incredible. We also have two amazing Border Collies I love spending time with—Daisie and Poppy.
7. What do you have in store next for your readers?
The next story in the Irish Pride Series is Shape of My Heart, which should be releasing this fall. This is Grainne Vaughan’s story, Kieran’s sister. Readers can grab an excerpt on my website at — http://www.kemberlee.com/mybooks/somh.htm.
Artist representative, Eilis Kennedy, gave up a singing career so that other women could have a fair chance at having their music heard. Having suffered rejection from callous men in the industry, she thought she would get away from ‘casting couch’ mentality. But when she finds herself in the office of Fergus Manley, all bets are off. Disgusted by his continual come-ons and lewd invitations, Eilis is looking for ‘the one’ who will take her career to the next level, getting out from under Fergus’s controlling thumb.
Aspiring blues guitarist, Kieran Vaughan, is looking for his big break. But after suffering near bankruptcy at the hands of an unscrupulous business partner, Kieran is left picking up the pieces. He’s unsure if the debts will ever be paid or if he’ll ever have a chance to do something with his music. At his whit’s end, he’s about ready to throw in the towel and find a full-time job with real hours.
When Eilis discovers Kieran playing in a seedy pub in Dublin’s Northside, she knows he’s the one rare talent she’s been searching for. With her know-how and his talent, Eilis will finally get everything she’s been waiting for. Neither of them count on the powerful attraction from first meeting. Eilis is so rocked by Keiran’s forthright words that it sends her running. Kieran risks being arrested as he chases Eilis across Ireland.
Seeing what’s happening between Eilis and Kieran, anger wells inside Fergus and he steps up his pursuit of Eilis. Refusing to let Kieran get in his way, Fergus vows to add Eilis’s notch to his bedpost, whatever it takes.
Will Kieran be able to protect her?
Long ago, Eilis had vowed never to set foot in the Northside again. But if it took this one last visit to get what she needed, it would be worth it.
The taxi pulled around the corner and the now familiar entrance to The Little Man Pub came into view. Nicotine-stained curtains were pulled across windows, reflecting the unkempt street. The façade’s red and black paint was weather-faded to pink and gray. The ‘M’ on the sign hung askew and swung in the breeze, and the ‘P’ was missing altogether. Had she not been here last night she would think the place was shut.
She pulled some money from her purse to hand to the driver. “I’ll wait fer ye, luv,” he said, waving her money away. “Taxis can be hard to come by ‘round here.”
Eilis was suitably taken aback. “Thank you. I won’t be a moment.”
She swallowed hard, then entered the pub.
Her eyes slowly adjusted to the dark room. The few men sitting around the bar turned their gazes in her direction. Understandably. A well-groomed businesswoman in the pub was surely a novelty. These men were long since retired, or long since employed. Their stubbled faces meant they hadn’t shaved in several days, or possibly weeks. The dim light hid the worst of their unkempt appearances, but nothing could disguise their unwashed clothes. A pong in the room wafted into her nostrils, causing her stomach to lurch again.
Shoulders back, she strode to the bar.
The same man from last night stood behind the counter. He was short and pudgy with missing front teeth. His disheveled appearance made him look like his patrons. Had he not been behind the counter she wouldn’t have been able to tell the difference.
His striped brown and white shirt had frayed cuffs and was open to mid-chest, showing a sweat-stained t-shirt underneath. His brown trousers had seen much better days and were held together not with a button or belt, but with a bit of twine looping between his belt loops, his round belly spilling over. The only thing holding up the trousers was his equally round bum. It seemed to push the waistband up in the back as his belly pushed it down in the front. The sight would have been funny if her stomach hadn’t been flip-flopping.
Her voice cracked when she first spoke, but it picked up strength in her determination to make something of this horrid trek. “A-are you the proprietor?”
A broad gap-toothed grin creased the man’s face and, loud enough for his patrons to hear, he said, “I’ll be who ever ye want me to be, luv.”
His friends burst into laughter. Eilis felt the flush rise in her cheeks. Not because she was embarrassed, but from frustration. She just wanted to get this meeting over with and she wasn’t in the mood to spar.
She stood her ground. “I’m looking for the man who played guitar here last night. Kieran Vaughan. We have business. Will you please tell me where I can find him?” She looked the man in the eye, much as she could, considering she stood a good half-foot taller than him, even without her heels.
“No, miss, I doubt you have any business with himself. ‘Speshly a fine lass such as yerself. Now, if ye were to come home with a real man like meself, well . . .” He left the rest unsaid, the insinuation hanging in the air.
Her gaze never wavered as she stared the little man in the eye.
“Sir,” she smiled sweetly, honey dripping from her words. She leaned over the bar just enough to give him a glimpse of the swell of her breast through the opening of her blouse. “I doubt you have anything I would be interested in. Besides, you don’t really want me to find out why this place is called The Little Man, do you?”
This earned the publican long oohs and sniggers from the patrons, who were now on the edges of their seats waiting to hear the disagreeable little man’s response.
Obviously taken aback by such a brazen retort, the man stood gaping red-faced at her for a moment before he got his wits about him. He winked at the men around the bar. “Oy does like me birds feisty!” That only encouraged more laughter.
Eilis could have enjoyed the banter if only the man wasn’t so repulsive. All she wanted to do was meet Kieran Vaughan and get out of Finglas as quickly as possible.
When the laughing stopped, Eilis’s gaze never wavered as she said, “Well?”
“Well what, loov?” he asked, wiping the tears from his eyes with a dirty bar towel.
“Are you going to tell me where to find Kieran Vaughan?” He was trying her patience, but she did her best to keep the frustration out of her voice.
Then she sensed someone step up behind her and straightened instantly. Somehow she knew it was Kieran. The feral scent of him permeated her senses and quickened her pulse. Butterflies replaced the strange ache in her stomach that had been there just moments before.
She turned slowly and looked up at the most handsome man she’d ever seen in her life. She found herself instantly speechless.
She’d seen him on stage the night before and knew he was handsome. But this close up . . . Never before had she seen such blue eyes. And as she gazed into them, they changed from the light steel blue to the color of storm clouds heavily ringed with gunmetal. That he had dark brows and thick lashes only made his gaze seem more intense.
“Ye’ve found him, loov,” said the little man, taunting her. “Now what are ye goin’ ta do with him?”
The hammering of her heart and the pulsing blood in her temples blocked out the noise in the room as she looked into Kieran Vaughan’s eyes. To her dismay, her knees actually quivered.
Something in the pit of her belly ached. No, something else. It was like warm melting honey running through her marrow. In that moment she longed to touch him, to brush the unruly wave of his dark hair away from his face, to feel his lips against the pads of her fingers, to . . .
When he spoke she almost didn’t hear him.
“Like the man said, now that you’ve found me, what are you going to do with me?” His eyes sparkled with unabashed mischief.
“Anything you want me to,” she heard herself whisper.
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