Friday, March 27, 2009

Special Guest: Author Keena Kincaid

Paris doesn’t sell.

I’ve heard that statement quoted with the fervor of the newly converted and the weariness of the ancient cynic since I first decided I wanted to write. So me being me, I set my current release, ART OF LOVE, in Paris.

As anyone who knows me will verify: I tend challenge assumptions (and authority, but that’s a different blog). And my perspective from a small coffee shop on the rue Voltaire, there was no reason Paris shouldn’t sell. It’s a fabulous city filled with the scent of age and weighed down history that is a historical romance writer’s nirvana.

And for better or worse, the hero that came to me while I meandered the winding, medieval streets was a Scotsman. I was so excited about Alain of Huntly Wood that I couldn’t not write his story even if it did take place in Paris and even if Paris is the kiss of death for a romance.

But Alain’s story is intricately bound to Paris of the 12th century and the exciting, overcrowded and malodorous Latin Quarter. If set in London or Edinburgh or even the absolute gorgeous landscape between Inverness and Thurso, Alain’s story would be a different tale entirely—and a much less satisfying one—because in ART OF LOVE, Paris is not “wallpaper” but a thriving character in its own right.

So my questions to you, the readers:
• Do you notice setting at all? If so, how much? If not, why not?
• Do you want “place” to be as active and interesting a character in the story as the hero and heroine or are you happy with “wallpaper” settings?
• Do you read stories set in your favorite places or those on your wish list?

About Art of Love
Abigail d'Alene has been sinfully in love with learning all her life. Now a widow, she has the means and freedom to indulge in her passion. Pretending to be Abelard, a fifteen-year-old boy from an outlying village, she heads to the Latin Quarter of Paris and the abbey schools that will one day change the world.
Shocked by her ineptitude at masquerading as a boy, Alain of Huntly Woods takes the young “Abelard” under his protection until she recovers her sense and goes home. But her audacity, intelligence and refusal to compromise spark enough friction between them to burn through his cold logic and carefully laid plans. In Paris as a spy for Henry II, Alain has sold his soul to the Angevin devil in exchange for the king's promise of an heiress, land and power.

As his good intentions bring him unexpected passion, he struggles to ind a way to have it all. Then he discovers Abigail's uncle, confessor to King Louis VII of France, plots against the English king, and Alain must choose between protecting his king or the woman he loves beyond all reason.

ART OF LOVE is available in both print and e-book formats from The Wild Rose Press, Amazon and other booksellers. ISBN: 1-60154-381-6. To read an excerpt, go to:

To buy:

Keena Kincaid, author of ANAM CARA and ART OF LOVE from The Wild Rose Press, lives on the frozen tundra sometimes called Chicago. Her only house rule: don’t talk to her before the first cup of coffee in the morning. You can find her at, as well as MySpace, FaceBook and Twitter. Her books are available at The Wild Rose Press, Amazon, Fictionwise, Barnes & Noble, Sony and other online and offline booksellers.


Teresa Reasor said...

I enjoyed your blog. The idea of a Scotsman in Paris could add a level of tension I imagine. Much like dropping a duck in the desert.
I believe that the setting has to be an important part of the story and can actually act as a character.
I also believe you have to set your story where you think your characters need to be to tell their story. Because place and time will have an effect on how they act, what they do, and how they survive.
And it can set the tone and mood for the whole thing as well.

So, yes setting is an intricate part of any story.
Write on,

Teresa Reasor

Storyheart said...

Interesting idea, as an Englishman, we went to PAris many many times, mainly as the rugby team I played for had a partner team just to the North of Paris and we stayed with them over Easter period for many seasons. Also I had several girlfriends who lived in our just outside Paris. So with them saw much of the city that perhaps the tourist never sees.
Sitting outside the bar in the Place D'artists watching the tourist getting their picture painted/drawn is still one of my favorite memories.I'm sure the book will be a hot.

Mary Ricksen said...

Setting for me is an integral part of the book reading escape. If I can't picture it, I can't get there in my head.
I am really big on imagery.

Keena Kincaid said...

Thanks for much for the comments. I'm glad to know that I'm not the only one who thinks setting can make or break a story.

One of my favorite memories of Paris, Storyheart, is sitting in a park outside the Louvre and watching the locals and tourists enjoy one unusually warm autumn day. It sat there for hours.

Celia Yeary said...

Excellent blog and great questions. I noticed them because the ideas struck a chord with me. I alwasy notice settings--sometimes I write too much and must remove the telling parts, but I'm the one who goes to a movie and comes out saying, wow, wasn't that music great? It was perfect for the setting,so, etc. Others say--Music? I didn't notice. Beautiful churchin the backkground up on the side of the hill? I didn't notice. So, in books, I want have a vision of the place. If you don't give me one, I'll make one up. I enjoyed this--Celia

LK Hunsaker said...

Relating your other post with this one ... there's a time to follow the rules and a time to break them. I think you found the perfect time to break the Paris rule. Anything can be sold if it's done right. ;-)

Julie Robinson said...


I do notice setting, or lack thereof. I've read some stories where I've gotten to the 3rd chapter, for instance, and have had to backtrack because I'm wondering if it was even mentioned where the story was taking place. It could have been taking place in a void, for all that it mattered to the characters and events. Which, to me, is like having a scene that does not further the story.

When selecting a story to buy, I base my opinion on the blurb, mainly, with Romantic Suspense being my favorite. Now if setting includes time period, then anything set in the past will have setting as an important component of the story. So, historical romances are a high second favorite.

I also check to see if a story is in 3rd person or not, because I don't care a whole lot for 1st person. And yes, I just checked yours out, and it looks like my type of story. I shall be cruising on over to TWRP to get a copy to read on my new Sony eReader, which I just won from them!

Thanks Teresa, for introducing Keena to me.


Mona Risk said...

A story set in Paris is a must-read for me. I love Paris, France and Europe. I have a story set in the Loire Valley, French Peril, and another set in Belarus, To LOve A Hero.

Oh yes, the setting is enough to hook me to a story.

Miriam Newman said...

Keena, I believe the setting is secondary only to the characters in terms of importance. And, frankly, if you hook me with a place I do like it's just possible I may follow to another one I might not have considered. That's the reader side of me speaking, of course!

Skhye said...

Ah, so you wear an iron helmet with a great big horn jutting out the front as I do. I really am a rhinoceros with my ideas... Who said we were wasting our time writing about places that wouldn't sell? Did I mention I just love that cover. Throw an orange/gold sunset on a cover and Skhye's paying attention!

Jeanmarie Hamilton said...

Yes, setting is an integral part of the story. The setting impacts, facilitates or impedes the characters in the attainment of their dreams and goals. I think setting is a wonderful part of any good story. And as you said, the right setting is so important to the story. Good luck with your Paris setting. :-)

Nicole North said...

Nice post, Keena!! I'm really into well described settings. I want to feel I'm really there when reading a book, but I don't like to see the setting take over. Paris is an awesome setting! Kudos to you!!

Julie Robinson said...


I purchased your ebook and look forward to reading it.

Delicious Romance From Cerise DeLand said...

Setting is ever so vital in the story--and it is the little things that count. The aromas in the air, the look of the buildings (for the time period, too), and the sounds of the locale all bring such drama and verisimillitude to the story.
We have seen so much of England and Scotland in our mass market novels that a change of venue is welcome!
And I want to add, I LOVE PARIS! In the springtime, in the winter, any moment of the year....

Bess McBride said...

I'm with ya, Keena. Setting is paramount in a book to me, although I hadn't actually thought of it as a character. For a reader and writer, it's all about the setting, then the plot and characters.

Great blog!

Bess McBride

Tracy Preston - Romance Writer said...

Just wanted to say a quick thank you to Keena for blogging with us! It was a pleasure having you...



Keena Kincaid said...

Thanks for everyone for the comments and for letting me think out loud. I'm glad I'm not the only one thinks setting is its own character.

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