In which Kathrese McKee gets into character

Kathrese McKee, author of Mardan's Mark
Kathrese McKee, author of Mardan’s Mark

It’s always a pleasure to introduce a friend with a great book. Kathrese is a member of a local writing group, and I got to know her before I ever read her book. Being a fellow Speculative writer, we hit it off and I was happy to read Mardan’s Mark pre-release. When she told me she changed some things before publishing, I was happy to go back and reread it again.

Mardan’s Mark is a great story with wonderful characters. Like Harry Potter, these characters stick with you and become your family. When you put the book down at the end, you miss them. For that reason, and because I’m curious to see what happens next, I can’t wait for the next installment!

Please welcome Kathrese!

The first question is the toughest (not) – do you have any pets? If so, how many and what kinds?

I have a dog named Tiggr (no e, just like the character from Winnie the Pooh.) He’s a Plott Hound with tan and black brindle fur and a black mask. We rescued Tiggr from the pound, and we love him to death. As I write this, he’s sleeping in the chair next to mine.

A writer with a plot hound? You’ve got to be kidding me. 😉 But seriously, that’s a new breed to me.

Telll us – what is your favorite Bible story and why?

I have to go with the story of Deborah. She stepped up when no man was willing. It’s funny because that story includes another woman, Jael, who took out the enemy commander. I love strong female characters. Apparently, God does too.

That story was a bait and switch for me. I always assumed it would be Deborah that got the glory for the defeat, but it was another woman entirely. A plot twist I didn’t see coming. But God is like that. 😉

Which part of your book was the most difficult to write – the beginning, middle, or end? Is that always the case, or only for this book or story?

As I get closer to the showdown, I slow down. I don’t know whether it’s dread that the story won’t be good enough or that the story is about to be over. It’s probably a little of both. But once that climactic scene is over, then the writing speeds up.

Showdown…slow down. Funny.

Which comes first for you, the characters, the story, or something else?

The characters are the thing. The plot reveals the characters’ motivations and hang-ups. Sometimes, the characters and the plot come to me at the same time because I wonder how a certain kind of person would react to a particular situation or dilemma. Either way, I have to have a kernel that includes both character and plot before I can begin writing.

Can you tell us something about your book that you know but isn’t in the book? Perhaps share some back-story on a character?

Samazor, who goes by Sam, was born in Pt. Azor. His mother died when he was a toddler, and his ne’er do well father, who lived by his wits and gambling, taught Sam little besides basic math. Sam pretty much raised himself on the seamy streets and wharves of Norland’s capital city, home to pirates and other disreputable sorts.

Sam’s father lost when he gambled with Captain Rozar, commander of the Cathartid, the most successful pirate ship on the Great Gulf. It’s never safe to owe a pirate money, so Sam’s father gave his son to Rozar to make good on his bet. Sam became Rozar’s slave and never saw his father again. I think Sam’s history explains so many things about his attitudes and beliefs.

If you could tie your book to a modern issue, what would it be?

Mardan’s Mark touches on the issue of slavery, and I would like to raise awareness of modern-day slavery. Sadly, there are more slaves today than at any time in the history of the world, and people need to learn the signs that someone is a victim of human trafficking. Awareness can lead to rescue and prevention of this terrible injustice.

What are you working on now?

I’m working on a novella called Healer’s Curse, about what’s going on back home during Mardan’s Mark. It centers on a young woman, Lady Elilan, the granddaughter of the king’s counselor. She has the gift of healing, but she’s afraid to use her gift because her past efforts have ended in tragedy. Elilan must risk failing once again or lose her gift and the stranger she’s learned to love.

And before you go, what is one thing you’d like your readers to know?

The print version of Mardan’s Mark will be available on Amazon by March 10th, so mark your calendars.

Thank you, Kathrese!

You can connect with Kathrese on her website, and on Twitter, Google+, Goodreads, and Pinterest.

And now for an excerpt from the wonderful Mardan’s Mark…


A firm knock broke the silence in the cabin, and Mirza woke from her doze with a start.

“Come,” the witch said in a shrill tone.

The slave, the one Rozar had called Aldan, pushed open the door. He carried a heavy tray laden with food and water. He carefully set it down.

Mirza’s face turned purple with pent-up rage. “You locked me in, you bilge rat! You’ll pay for that. Serve me first, you son of a sea serpent.” Her insulting harangue continued but Aldan, who looked like he might be twenty or twenty-one years old, paid no attention to her vitriol.

His appearance had suffered terribly during his absence. A long smear of drying blood ran down one side of his tattered trousers, and he wore a makeshift bandage tied around his upper arm. His cheek sported a deep purple bruise. Large patches of sweat stained his tunic.

Aldan ladled soup into a bowl without haste and handed the bowl to Mirza.

Her wrinkled lips latched onto the bowl’s rim, and she slurped noisily. She emptied the bowl in seconds and held it out for more. “What happened?”

“The Falcon attacked,” Aldan said. “They came aboard and we fought.” He handed a cup of cool water to Srilani and another to René.


“Their captain’s dead.”

“Ha!” Mirza smirked. “Thought he’d steal our prizes, no doubt.”

Srilani studied the young man between sips of water. Aldan’s clothes fit poorly over his tall, wiry frame. His trousers were too short and so were his shirtsleeves. Fetter marks ringed his ankles, ridges of scar tissue, lighter than the deeply tanned skin beyond.

Aldan handed Srilani a steaming bowl of soup, took her cup, and refilled it with water. His dark brown eyes met hers and held.

“Thank you.” She spoke in Marstan.

“You are welcome.”

His Marstan was far better than Mirza’s and lacked the Norlan accent of the captain’s.

Curious. He’d probably been taken from Southern Marst, going by his speech and his name. There was something about his name. Her eyes dropped to his wrists. They, too, bore manacle marks. Would she have scars like that?

GIVEAWAY: Kathrese is giving an ebook of Mardan’s Mark to one lucky commentor.

TELL US, which do you prefer – pirate or princess stories?

Kathrese full


4 thoughts on “In which Kathrese McKee gets into character

  1. That is such a hard question to answer! DX I love both Princess and Pirate stories. Though, I do believe that I like Pirate ones just a little bit more. I have read very many and written a couple as well . (One really great one I have read (aside from Mardan’s Mark 😉 ) being ‘Swept to Sea’ by Heather Manning). So, yes. I will have to say that I do love both but Pirate stories intrigue me a little more


  2. Great interview! Kathrese, your cover is beautiful! Congratulations on your release. I pray you sell a million copies! Oh, and I suppose I like princess stories better. Princesses are generally much deeper characters than pirates 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Thanks, Annette and Adriana. Sparksofember, I noticed that you read and reviewed Glass Girl on your blog. I was privileged to have Laura Kurk as my critique partner during the making of Mardan’s Mark, and I feel as though I had a stake in the making of both Glass Girl and Perfect Glass. If you haven’t read Laura’s second book, put it on your list. Wow. Thanks for your comments!

    Liked by 1 person

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