Thursday, May 10, 2012

Who is the hero? Who is the villain? An interview with romantic suspense author Kristine Cayne

Today I'm talking with Kristine Cayne about her romantic suspense DEADLY ADDICTION.


1) Tell us about your book.

DEADLY ADDICTION is the second book in my Deadly Vices series. It’s the story of a half-white native man who teams up with a white policewoman to restore policing to his native community. Here’s a short description:

Rife with crime and drug abuse, the Blackriver Reservation is a powder keg ready to blow. Fed up with white interference, a radical sovereigntist sets off a chain of events that can only end in catastrophe. Two people, Rémi Whitedeer, a proud warrior, and Alyssa Morgan, a maverick cop, join forces to save a nation.

2) What inspired you to write this book?

I grew up in the Montréal area, where there are several native reserves. About twenty years ago, there was a huge altercation between the native populations and the provincial police that resulted in the Canadian Armed Forces being called in. Hard feelings still exist on both sides. The other aspect that drew me to this story is that although I had grown up within a few miles of one of the reserves, I knew virtually nothing about these amazing people.

Regarding the unpoliced reserve aspect of the story, one of the reserves in the area did disband their police services several years ago and has remained without a force ever since. This has led to even more difficult relations with the provincial police, because reserves fall under their jurisdiction if the reserve does not have a police service of its own. I thought all of this made for a fabulously intriguing story with opportunities to learn about a little-known people and explore motivations on both sides of the issue.

3) Tell us about your leads, Rémi and Alyssa?

Rémi Whitedeer is a police officer turned substance-abuse counselor who dreams of restoring order to his tribe. The tribe has been without law enforcement since their previous police force was disbanded four years earlier on charges of corruption. Matters are coming to a head though, as crime is escalating, and tensions are rising between the various factions on the reserve. As the mixed-race cousin of Chaz Whitedeer, the Guardians’ leader, Rémi is caught in a no-man’s land—several groups lay claim to him, but all want him to deny his white blood.

Alyssa Morgan is a sergeant with the provincial police (Sûreté du Québec). In her previous assignment, she infiltrated the Vipers to take down the leader of the outlaw biker gang responsible for her brother’s death. She got her man, but her superiors think she went too far. Her disregard for protocol and her ends-justify-the-means ethics have branded her an unreliable maverick. To salvage her career, she accepts an assignment to set up a squad of native provincial officers on a reserve.

Together, Rémi and Alyssa must find a way to bring policing back to the reserve. But fed up with white interference and his cousin Rémi’s growing affection for Alyssa, radical sovereigntist Chaz Whitedeer sets off a catastrophic chain of events.

4) Your book deals quite heavily with both Native American substance abuse and radical politics. Did you do a lot of research on these issues?
Substance abuse does have a role in my book. It is a big problem on most reserves and reservations, especially those with high poverty rates. However, many native communities are taking an active role in dealing with these issues and offering services to help those affected.

The political issues, I researched in-depth. I read reports and studies on the Akwesasne and Oka Crises (1990) both from the native and the military perspective. I watched documentaries, read fictional and non-fictional accounts. But most importantly, to understand the current political situation within the Iroquois, I went to Kahnesatake and spoke with various tribe members. I was fascinated to learn how divided the Iroquois are. And most of those divisions stem from the past. For example, there are tensions between people who believe in the traditional political system—the Longhouse—and those who support the government-imposed political system—the band council. However, the Canadian government only recognizes band leaders and will not negotiate with traditional leaders. Furthermore, because of residential schools and conversions by Christian missionaries, many natives are Christian, creating another divide. Traditionalists follow the Longhouse and its code of ethics and traditions.

One interesting note to be made here: in the Montréal area, since the Crises in 1990, there has been an upsurge in conversions to the Longhouse both politically and spiritually. In addition, many communities are now offering children education in their native languages and providing language classes to adults. A clear effort is being made to return to their roots.

5) This is the second book in the Deadly Vices series. Will people who have not read the first book be able to slide into this one without too much trouble?

Yes. The books are loosely connected through the friendships of the characters. When characters from the previous book are mentioned, I’m careful to introduce them in such a way that the reader knows who they are in relation to the hero/heroine of the current book.

6) Racial and ethnic elements in stories can bring with them potential controversy. Are you concerned about anyone taking issue with any of your depictions of Native peoples in this book?
Yes and no. I’ve done my best to represent in as truthful a manner as I could the great diversity among First Nations people. I have characters who are band council members and supporters, moderate traditionalists, radical traditionalists, Longhouse followers, Christians, etc. Some people will feel that Chaz Whitedeer is a hero, and that’s okay. Which character, Rémi or Chaz, the reader views as the protagonist and the antagonist will depend on the reader’s own beliefs. Many traditionalists will find that Rémi was not a hero because as Chaz says, he put his personal needs above those of his people. Of course, Chaz says this in a much more colorful manner.  Others will think Rémi is a hero because he did follow his heart. He didn’t give in to the demands of those around him. He had the courage to go his own way. It’s all a question of perspective.

7) What ingredients do you think make for the best thrillers?

Personally, I think the best thrillers are those that make us think. They shouldn’t be so far out there that the reader is detached from what is happening. The reader needs to feel it is believable enough and plausible enough to be real.

The other aspect they need is a great villain. To me a great villain is one where I can understand his or her motives. I might even feel that in their shoes, I might experience some of the same feelings. I wouldn’t go so far as to destroy a community or kill people, but I might be able to see why this person would think it necessary to achieve his goal.

8) Tell us about your other works?

I’m currently working on a short story/novella for an anthology coming out this spring. I’m also working on Deadly Betrayal, the third book in the Deadly Vices series. This book will take us to Afghanistan, where Kaden Christiansen, a character introduced in the first two books, will be forced to face some truths about his past and his present.


Thanks, Kristine.

If you'd like to see more from Kristine, please check out her website

DEADLY ADDICTION can be purchased at Amazon and Barnes and Noble.


Midu Hadi said...

A good author always does tons of research-it is one of the many reasons I'll never be one hehehe Loved reading the interview.

Kristine Cayne said...

Thank you, Midu! I love learning new things, especially about different cultures. So learning about the Iroquois was really very interesting for me. I'm glad you could stop by :)

MyFavoriteBooks said...

Great interview J.A. and way to wrap up your tour.

Sheri said...

I always love J.A.'s interviews. Thanks for sharing Kristine!

Alicia Street said...

Intriguing interview, Kristine! So great to get a more in-depth view of your characters and the milieu.

Kristine Cayne said...

MyFavoriteBooks - I agree! J.A. askeds some excellent questions. Thank you for stopping by and commenting!

Kristine Cayne said...

Sheri - I'm going to follow this blog from now on. With questions like these, people get a much better feel for the story. Thank you for all your support!

Kristine Cayne said...

Alicia - I've done many interviews, but this was the first (and only so far!) to get into the nitty-gritty of the conflicts and controversies. Thank you so much for stopping by and commenting.

J.A. Beard said...

I'm glad you enjoyed the interview. :)

Kristine Cayne said...

J.A. Thank you so much for taking the time to ask such great in-depth questions. I'll be looking forward to reading your interviews with other authors now :)

Michael Lorde said...

Having a bit of Native American blood running through my veins, this book intrigues me. Great interview!