Kristen Callihan’s debut novel, FIRELIGHT, has been getting fantastic reviews. Publishers Weekly gave it a starred review and called it “compulsively readable.” RT Book Reviews listed it as a Top Pick and called it “one of the finest debuts of the season.” New York Times bestselling author Diana Gabaldon says Kristen has a “talent for sexual tension and jaw dropping plots that weave together brilliantly in the end.”

I first met Kristen almost a year ago at a Science Fiction and Fantasy Author Panel. Since then, we’ve met several more times and each time she is as warm, witty, and wonderful as the last. To celebrate her February release of FIRELIGHT (available here from Grand Central Publishing), I asked if she would come answer a few questions.

Jill Archer: We heard that Miranda was forced to marry her husband, Lord Benjamin Archer. What’s her biggest pet peeve about him? Does he leave the toothpaste cap off or forget to pick up milk on the way home from work?

Kristen Callihan: Hehe. Luckily for Archer, he has servants to do those pesky things for him! No, what peeves Miranda about Archer in Firelight is the fact that he won’t dance with her. She knows he is good at it, and yet he refuses. That, and he has the most vexing habit of avoiding questions! 🙂

JA: Archer, huh. What a cool name for a hero! What was the inspiration behind Lord Benjamin’s surname?

KC: (g) Yes, Archer is a cool name. Ahem. 🙂 When I was picking a name for my hero, I had a few requirements. I wanted it to sound cool –back to that, you know? 🙂 And it had to have meaning in regards to his personality. I knew this man would be somewhat combative, and he is hunting for a cure. Hunter was too obvious, but Archer, which is sort of a hunter, worked brilliantly.  And although his full name is Benjamin Archer, I always think of him as Archer.

JA: Your heroine, Miranda, looks like a feisty girl with fiery magic. Can you tell us a little bit more about her? How deadly is she?

KC: I knew from the start that Miranda would be a no-nonsense sort of woman. She had to be, otherwise she could never handle Archer! 🙂 But there was also the problem that in Victorian England, she would be essentially helpless in the physically sense –unless she had power of her own. By giving her the power to control fire, Miranda can venture into places where it would be plain stupid for one of her peers to go.

How deadly is she? Well, that depends. Miranda actually loathes letting her powers go. But if she is defending someone she loves, I’d say those in her path don’t stand a chance!

JA: FIRELIGHT is a paranormal historical romance set in Victorian England. RT Book Reviews’ summary even hints there might be a bit of a mystery for Miranda to solve. Do you have any tips for writers on how to write a blended genre story? What drew you to write a story that straddles more than one genre?

KC: Upon reflection, it was probably utter madness to straddle two genres! Lol. Because it is hard! Especially in regards to the mystery aspect. There is a constant need to balance what to give away, and what to keep secret. Facts must be kept straight, and so on.

To successfully blend a mystery with a romance story line is really a matter of making sure the murder plot works in conjunction WITH the romance. Which is to say that both plotlines drive the other forward.

JA: Your upcoming series is called the “Darkest London” series. Can we look forward to more books with deadly magic, thrilling romance, and mysteries to be solved, all set in a darkly imagined Victorian England? Any hints you want to give readers regarding future books?

KC: Yes to all of that! Lol. The underlying connecting thread in the books is that there is this “other” London in which supernatural creatures hide in plain sight amongst regular people. But I’d like to think of the books almost as chronicles, for each book shows you a glimpse of a different type of beastie, and their struggle to remain part of humanity while embracing their darker nature.

Blog readers, how about you? Have you read FIRELIGHT yet? Doesn’t Miranda sound like a fun heroine to read about? Writers, are you working on a story that straddles more than one genre? How do you make it work? Tell me about YOUR story in the comments. Readers, do you have a favorite genre? What do you think about stories that combine genre elements? Many thanks to Kristen Callihan for taking time to answer these questions and share her thoughts with us!!