I had the pleasure of speaking with P.G. Forte, author of The Oak King. Check out her interview and see at the end how you can win a copy of her ebook!
E: First off thank you for speaking with me today. Where did you find your inspiration for the Oak King?
PG: Hi Evee! Thank you so much. It’s a pleasure to be here. The tradition of the Oak King and the Holly King has always really resonated with me—in part because I’ve always loved trees. When I was a kid my family used to spend vacations in Vermont. I was appalled to learn there were no oak trees in the area (because oaks are awesome!) and spent the next year and a half attempting to establish an oak forest in Wilmington, VT. Sadly, it didn’t take. Too much snow, for too many months. Live and learn. lol!
Anyway, fast forward a bunch of years. I’d gotten the idea to write a series of paranormal stories set in Ireland in the 1800s. I already had story ideas representing the elements, fire, air and water, but I still needed one for earth. I knew it had to be a shifter story and I preferred for it to be a M/M/F ménage, AND I really wanted the men to be the shifters. Once I set down what I needed, The Oak King immediately sprang to mind.
E: The Oak King is set in 1800s Ireland, which is similar to previous works of yours. Are you a fan of Irish
lore? Is there any particular reason you chose to set it in this time period?
PG: My mother’s parents both came from Ireland. And they were both born in the nineteenth century. So, yes, Ireland has always been very dear to my heart. My grandmother was a great storyteller, and I did grow up reading/hearing a lot of Irish folk tales as well as learning about her own life. She was an amazing woman.
As I mentioned, I’ve planned four books in this series, but this is the second of them to be released. The first, IRON, represents the element fire. IRON tells the story of a faery princess who falls in love with a human blacksmith. It’s a very sweet story. Both characters get to be heroic and save the other from fates worse than death. I suspect my grandparents would be appalled to learn that I dedicated an erotic romance to them, but that’s how it goes.
E: The story is a ménage a trios. What can you say about writing a threesome? What were some of the difficulties with it? How did you find a balance for all three characters, without having one character feel “left out”?
PG: I’m finding I really love the dynamic of writing about three people in love—in large part because there is always that fear of being left out that they have to overcome. I love the tension that adds to the story. The characters in this book were actually easier to work with in that regard than in my previous ménage story, Finders Keepers. In The Oak King, both Fionn and Kieran have very definitely felt out in past relationships, so they come into this one already wounded and with the full knowledge of what they’re risking by getting involved with not one, but two people—and two people who are in love with each other at that! Fionn, the Oak King, is the one who struggles the most with this issue, and who grows the most during the course of the story. That’s why the book is named for him.
E: Aine Murphy is in love with both The Oak King and The Holly King. What inspired you to create a character like her? What would you say are some keys to writing a strong female lead?
PG: Well, in some traditions, the two kings fight each other (at midsummer and midwinter) to win the goddess’ favor. So Aine, as the representative of the Goddess—and the spirit of the Earth, as well—obviously had to be a strong, independent female. She had to know her own mind, she had to figure out what she wanted pretty quickly, and she had to be brave enough to go for it. But she also has a vulnerable side and, as it happens, both of the kings have something to teach her about love and trust and bravery and the importance of living life to the fullest. I think they all balance each other very well.
I think one of the most important keys to creating a strong female lead is that your character has to know herself. She has to know what she wants and she has to accept her own flaws and limitations. And then she has to go for it…whatever “it” is.
For Aine, this is also a bit of a spiritual journey. She worshipped the Oak and Holly kings for years. When she was forced to view them as people, rather than ideas, it shook her faith a little. She had to come into her own power, not just to find her faith again, but also to heal their wounds.
I’m not sure how much of that came across in the book, but that was the plan, anyway. lol!
E: What is your favorite scene in your latest work? Any reason why you like it the most?
PG: I think my favorite scene in The Oak King comes when Aine meets Kieran for the first time. I like it for a couple of reasons. First of all, it’s funny. She’s furious with Fionn. He’s just told her who he is and she doesn’t believe him. Then Kieran shows up and throws her for a loop. But the other reason I like it is because each of the characters are at a low point. Aine believes she’s on the brink of losing Fionn. Kieran shows up because he’s terrified of the same thing. He’s been denying his feelings for the Oak King for a very long time, but the threat of losing Fionn galvanizes him into action. Meanwhile poor Fionn—who’s already given up on having a relationship with the Holly King—finds himself on the brink of losing not just Aine, but a chance to be his own authentic self and possibly his last chance to be happy. He knows he’s failing in his role as the Oak King. Now it seems to him he’s losing everything else as well.
E: How do you approach writing sex scenes? What would you say are some taboos when it comes to sex scenes (both as a reader and writer)?
PG: I personally think you should approach sex scene in the same way you’d approach any other scene. And that’s to make sure that each one serves a purpose. I think all the scenes should all advance the plot somehow, or they illustrate something about one or the other of the characters, etc. On the other hand, I know some very popular authors whose philosophy is “there’s never a good reason NOT to add more sex scenes.” So, you know, I guess there’s no one right approach to anything.
As for taboos…I don’t really think in terms of taboos. And I’ve learned never to say never, when it comes to writing. That being said, however, I do tend to stay away from scenes—and stories—where I don’t have a grasp on the character’s feelings or motivations. For instance, I don’t write a lot of sadists, because I have trouble getting into their heads. That’s not to say I’ll never write one, just that I’m not currently doing a lot of it.
As a reader, I’m much more likely to have taboos when it comes to violence rather than sex. I hate when unpleasant scenes get stuck in my head. You know how they say you can’t unsee certain things? I can’t unread things. And when I stumble across something really icky in a book I’m reading… Shudder.
E: Are there any other projects you’re currently working on that you want to share with your fans? Any new releases or future endeavors that we can look forward to?
PG: I’m just finishing up the sixth book in my Children of Night vampire series. To Curse the Darkness is scheduled to release in December. I’m also working on three books in my Inked in O-Town tattoo series. The time-frames overlap, so I need to work on them simultaneously—which is more challenging than I’d realized! I’m hoping to get those out before the end of the year as well—along with two short novellas for two different anthologies. It’s a busy year!
E: Lastly, do you have any pearls of wisdom you’d like to share with our readers? Any advice for aspiring writers who are trying to break into the market?
PG: I’d say read a lot in your genre-of-choice, join some online or local groups (RWA chapters, or self-publishing groups, Kindle Boards, or something along those lines) so you can network and educate yourself. But then, write for yourself. There are no sure things in this business, and it can be difficult at times to stay motivated. But if you love what you’re doing—or, in this case, what you’re writing—then you stand a much better chance of succeeding and not burning out. Good luck!
“Who are you?” Aine asked at last, finally finding her voice. “How did you get in here?”
The man’s smile stretched wider. “I will tell you, since you ask, though I don’t expect you’ll be pleased with my answers, nor yet believe me.”
He’d held out his hand to her as he spoke and Aine was shocked when her own hand found its way into his grasp without any thought of hers to guide it. A shiver of excitement worked its way up Aine’s arm as he lifted her hand to his lips and pressed a gentle kiss against her knuckles.
“My name, dear lady, is Kieran Mac Cuilenn.” The stranger’s eyes twinkled with mischief. “But I’m better known to you, perhaps, as the Holly King. I go where I will and tarry wherever I find a welcome.”
“Oh, gods save me,” Aine whispered. “This cannot be.”
“Indeed it can. And why so surprised?” He gestured at the holly branch she’d hung over the fireplace. “It appears to me I was expected. Did you intend me to wait upon your doorstep when you’ve already invited me in by proxy?”
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PG Forte inhabits a world only slightly less strange than the ones she creates. Filled with serendipity, coincidence, love at first sight and dreams come true.
She wrote her first serialized story when she was still in her teens. The sexy, ongoing adventure tales were very popular at her oh-so-proper, all girls, Catholic High School, where they helped to liven up otherwise dull classes…even if her teachers didn’t always think so.
Originally a Jersey girl, PG now resides with her family on the extreme left coast where she writes contemporary and paranormal romance in a variety of sub-genres.
PG can be reached directly at: firstname.lastname@example.org
To win a copy of The Oak King, leave a comment with your e-mail below. The winner will be selected two days after the post.
P.G. Forte is also offering a free download of her novella, Such Fleeting Pleasures, to everyone who joins her Facebook group, The Crone’s Nest. The link to the group is here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/TheCronesNest/