Today I’d like to welcome an Author that just blew me away with her first novel “When Harry Met Molly” and quite frankly I’m tickled pink she agreed to come on over to b2b and do this interview with me!
b2b: Hello Kieran and welcome to b2b! Before I begin this interview, I want to thank you personally for pointing me to Ashley March and Romance Biggest Winner. I’m so lucky to be taking this journey with her and many of my fellow bloggers, book reviewers and some of the authors she assembled. To find out about what I’m talking about, click here.
b2b: So, Lady K. how’s your summer going? How does your typical writing day begin? What gets your creative juices flowing? If you have any tips to help other aspiring new authors out there, please SPILL!
KK: My summer’s going great! Thanks for asking! I hope you’re enjoying your RBW challenge. I admire all of you making that commitment to good health. It’s a daunting thing to take on, but exciting, too! When you’re on a team, it’s awesome to be able to lean on the others to get you through the rough spots. I can’t wait to hear about your progress!
Meanwhile, I’m changing things up myself. So first let me briefly tell you My Old Way of writing before I go on to my New Way.
Old Way: I’ve always written books sitting down. And I’d write when I could squeeze in the time. Both of those are the kiss of death for the selling, healthy writer! And those are big priorities for me—to sell and to maintain my health.
Now, I squeeze in the rest of my life around writing, with the exception of family…they always come first—but not 24/7, the way it used to be, LOL! Now I designate a block of time *just for me to write* unless someone’s having an emergency.
But I’d have to say the biggest change in my writing life is that I’m writing on a treadmill desk. I tried this about five years ago on another treadmill I had—I got the idea from the gorgeous, prolific, and immensely talented Stephanie Bond. I rigged a table between the rails of my treadmill and bungee corded it in place, but it wasn’t that great a set-up. It was unsteady, so I quit after no time.
Fast forward to now, when I’m fifteen pounds heavier. Part of that gain was the usual thing…as I age and lose muscle mass, it’s easier to gain. I was doing nothing to correct that—no weight-bearing exercises at all. And hardly any cardio (walking with my friend and my dog was it). But exacerbating my downward spiral health-wise was my sedentary lifestyle as a writer.
After I finished my first contract, I did a lot of reflection about how I could have improved the experience, the old “Lessons Learned” assessment we all should go through after completing a major project. I made the decision that I have to commit to this treadmill, no matter what. I told myself, “My health is too important to me. I simply will not give myself another choice. I either write on the treadmill–or not at all.”
How did I get my treadmill to become a desk? My dad took his old treadmill out of his barn (my previous one had bitten the dust) and he attached a very sturdy plywood desk on top. It’s not pretty—it’s practical. I now do all my surfing of the net, answering emails, checking Facebook and Twitter–and most importantly, writing my novels–on the treadmill.
I walk slowly so I can write at the same time (I go between 1.8 and 2.2 mph), but to make it really work for me, I set myself on a incline. I’m walking on a slight uphill slant for hours and hours and hours!!
It’s been truly freeing to be able to indulge my love of telling stories, my dedication to my professional writing life, and my commitment to health all in one place—my treadmill, which is set up adjacent to a large glass window with a ledge (which my cats like to occupy). They can’t keep away when I’m working, so I always have company. My dog isn’t fond of it, though. He stays away!
b2b: That sounds so cool! Maybe I should pitch that treadmill idea to my Boss! But he should buy me one of those; none of us are as handy as your dad. So, how’s the world of Romance treating you these days? I love all your novels, but Harry and Molly have a special place in my heart and I was thrilled for you when you got TWO nominations for RITA 2011, one for Regency Historical Romance and one for Best First Book. I was happy for the winners, Lauren Willig and Kaki Warner respectively, but boy; I brooded for couple-a-days…
KK: Haha!!! You’re too kind (blushing) . I was very happy for those two talented ladies. I already felt like a winner, so I didn’t mind a bit not getting the final prize, although I do have one small regret…I was so fascinated by how much Meg Cabot looked like and acted like Tina Fey, I wanted to win so I could go up to the podium and say, “Who’s our MC? Meg Cabot or Tina Fey?”
It’s probably a good thing I lost—me and improv aren’t so good together, LOL!!!
b2b: Don’t say that, or you’re proving my DH right when he says chicks don’t have a sense of humor! You have now three published books and one more is coming up by the end of the year. Can you tell me briefly about all of them and what’s coming up for you in 2012? Which of those were the hardest and the easiest to write and which couple did you like the best?
KK: All four of the books make up a lighthearted Regency romance series called The Impossible Bachelors, from St. Martin’s Press. In WHEN HARRY MET MOLLY, the fun (and, of course, entirely fictional) premise is that the Prince Regent, an extraordinary hedonist, sets up a decadent wager among five elusive bachelors, one of whom will have to marry at the end of it. And that wager involves a sort of “beauty pageant” scenario among the men’s mistresses, one of whom is my virtuous heroine trapped in the contest situation. The remaining three books are the stories of the bachelors who got away…and the women who caught them!
The hardest to write was the second one…I had never taken editorial direction before, and having pretty much written in a vacuum previous to the contract (except for a few contests and brief foray into a critique group), I had a learning curve. But I don’t regret how I came up at all…my editor, Jennifer Enderlin, was the perfect person to be my mentor!!! She’s a generous, gifted editor and a wonderful human being. I feel incredibly blessed to be with her and St. Martin’s Press.
b2b: I’m sure you are, but I’m thinking they feel as much blessed as you do! I love History. Always have. Most of the time when I’m done with the book, I’d sit in front of the computer or before the ‘internets’ you’d find me in the Library, reading about the real times and places that book was referring to. Sometimes it’s more fascinating then the fiction I just finished reading. How do you do your research and do you like doing it? If not, who does it for you?
KK: I do all my own research. I use the internet constantly. The best part about the internet is being able to talk to amazing sources. I’ve exchanged emails with whisky experts in Edinburgh, sheep breeders in Yorkshire, and many other people who’ve given me insight into all sorts of plot scenarios. I’m an avid reader, so I’m always reading when I’m not writing. I’ve got an extensive collection of books on all things Regency.
b2b: That sounds like so much fun! But if you EVER find yourself in a need of a ’research assistant’, I’m here! Do you let someone read your work during your writing process? Who and why? Or do you wait ‘till it’s finished, then you let someone read it…and who?
KK: I’ve always done most of my writing alone. I tried a critique group and met some lovely writers, but the critiquing group model doesn’t suit me. I used to lose track of my own voice. These days, with my editor, I tend to show her the first 50 pages to get her take on things, even though she’s already seen the synopsis. That way, I can charge ahead knowing we’re both on the same page. And about critique groups, I remember how relieved I was when I heard Nora Roberts say she shows her work only to her editor—when it comes to critique groups, she said she doesn’t play well with others! That made me feel a lot better about myself and my needs as a writer. We’re all different, and it’s okay.
b2b: The intimate, explicit scenes in your books, how hard are they to write? Or are they hard, no pun intended, at all?
KK: Haha!! I never used to write explicit scenes…I wrote very sweet manuscripts (they still are—I can’t help it! It’s the way I am, the way I see the world). But I decided to give writing sex scenes a shot, and it turns out I really enjoy it! Sometimes I have family and friends joke around and say, “Let’s get some wine, and I’ll write those scenes for you.” Everyone, it seems, wants to give it a try. But I tell them that sex scenes are absolutely no different from any other scene in the book. You, as the writer, have to know what’s going on in the characters’ heads and how this scene will affect the relationship. Sex scenes also reveal your voice as a writer as much—if not more—than the other scenes in the book. I love writing them and look forward to each and every one! :>)
b2b: And we love reading them, so more power to you in writing them! Cover Art in my humble opinion is really very important, and your covers are just gorgeous! I just wondered how much input are you allowed during this process.
KK: Thanks for the compliment, which I will pass on to Danielle in the Art Department at St. Martin’s Press! I love my covers, too. I asked that all my heroines in the Impossible Bachelors series look intelligent and fun, all at the same time. I think Danielle did a marvelous job fulfilling that wish. I also think the colors and tone of the covers, from the position of the characters’ bodies to the font of the title, stress that my books are romantic, lighthearted reads.
b2b: Well, you both have certainly done just that! I’m sure a lot of people have already asked you this one, but humor me. Your titles are unique to this genre, and I for one would like to know how in the world do you come up with them?
KK: I knew I wanted attention-grabbing titles, and I’ve always been a sort of maverick. I decided to throw my version of crazy fun into the Regency historical market—maybe I’d pick up interest from younger readers who’d never tried the genre–so in my proposal for a 4-book series, I came up with four titles based on movies, the first of which was WHEN HARRY MET MOLLY. We actually didn’t use the other three, but together Jennifer Enderlin and I came up with the rest, based on other pop culture references. I have to give Jen total credit for DUKES TO THE LEFT OF ME, PRINCES TO THE RIGHT and IF YOU GIVE A GIRL A VISCOUNT. We have a lot of fun brainstorming together!
b2b: I bet you do. It is very difficult for me to choose my favorite author or a book, but if I was put on a rack I’d be screaming from the top of my lungs ‘LAURA KINSALE and FLOWERS FROM THE STORM’! How about you? Are you willing to fess-up?
KK: You’re so funny–and so passionate about romance, both qualities I love about you!! If I were on that rack, I’d have to scream, “Mistress of Mellyn, by Victoria Holt!” It’s a Gothic, but the romantic tension was incredible!!! It was probably my first “grown-up” novel with a love story attached. As a young teen, I also fell in love with the love story between Laura and Almanzo in the Little House series. I cut my teeth on historical romance with LaVyrle Spencer. I still think she ranks at the very top when it comes to writing amazing love stories.
b2b: Can you believe I never read LaVyrle? I’m going to have to correct that. What do you like to read and what’s on your TBR now?
KK: Oh, my goodness. I read constantly, and often I read two or three books at a time, both fiction and non-fiction and in many genres. I just finished the HUNGER GAMES trilogy, which was simply astonishing and compelling. I couldn’t put the books down…read all three in a week. Right at this moment, I’m reading a truly wonderful book called A WOMAN’S BOOK OF STRENGTH, by Karen Andes. It’s old, but it’s a real inspiration for any woman who wants to become strong in all senses of the word, including physical, spiritual, emotional, and more! It’s helping me progress with my newfound dedication to getting some muscles on this weakling body! At the same time, literally switching off several times a day, I’m reading Mary Balogh’s A SECRET AFFAIR. I tend not to read nearly as much Regency as I did before I was published—Debbie Macomber told me she reads mainly out of her genre, too, which is why she likes Regencies, LOL!—but I’ve been with Mary Balogh since I was young, and she’s an exquisite storyteller, the master I aspire to be someday if I’m so fortunate to be blessed with her gifts (hey, God! That’s a request I’m putting in!)
b2b: OMG! Don’t even start me on Ms. Balogh! I just read her ‘The Secret Mistress’ and just loved it! I have yet to read a book by her that I didn’t love! Now, that ends up our ‘professional’ portion of this interview. Are you ready to get personal? Or are you going to chicken out on me?
KK: Bring it on!
b2b: Okay, Lady K. let’s get Personal: Why don’t you tell us a bit about yourself, something personal that you’d like us to know…anything that makes you comfortable…or not…like how many times did you fall in love? What’s your favorite meal of the day (food)? Flannels or Silk? Do you like to cook? What’s your favorite spot in the house? Cats or Dogs? Champagne or Beer? Your favorite time of the year?
KK: I didn’t have my first boyfriend until I was a freshman in college. My next one was in college, too, a Scotsman who wore a kilt on special occasions! That was during my junior year at the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow.
My husband is two years younger than I am…he was one of my younger sister’s best friends in high school. I gave up my CIA career to be with him.
I love breakfast. If I could eat eggs, bacon, buttered toast, grits, and coffee with lots of cream and sugar every day, I would!
I am definitely a flannel girl. I know nothing of Victoria’s Secret. It’s truly pathetic. I feel like I’m an alien from another planet when I venture into that store. I think I need a sexy, silky, romantic lingerie makeover! My husband doesn’t care either way, he told me to tell you. He just takes off whatever I’m wearing…
Oh, he’s so good at saying the right things, isn’t he?!? <G>
I can’t choose between cats and dogs. I’m like the crazy girl on that viral cat video who cried when describing how much she loves cats to potential eHarmony dates. When I think about homeless cats—or dogs, for that matter—I get depressed and teary. I love cats and dogs so much, I can’t live without them in my house.
I love champagne AND beer. I do like red wine, but if I had a choice, champagne first, beer second (only if it’s served in a frosty glass), then red wine.
I do like to cook and think I’m really good at it, but my cooking time has been reduced drastically since I’ve gone under contract. Which isn’t a bad thing! Other family members are picking up the slack.
Plus, we’re changing what constitutes a meal. I know this sounds a little weird, , but for lunch today, I broke up a few leftover taco shells into chips, scooped up some leftover Busch’s baked beans onto them, and spooned some guacamole on top. In our family these days, we’re thinking, “Lighter, faster, simpler.” Simple, rustic, unprocessed peasant food, and not a lot of one thing—we’re mixing it up, dabbling, experimenting, making do!!
And now for one more personal thing…my late sister Megan was severely mentally and physically challenged, and I have a special place in my heart for those among us who are vulnerable in the way Megan was. I think of those people as angels among us, sent to remind the rest of us to be kind and loving…and to remember joy.
b2b: Wow, that last one just broke my heart. You said it. I think God gives us those Angels for just that purpose.
KK: I’d like to give away one signed copy of WHEN HARRY MET MOLLY and one signed copy of CLOUDY WITH A CHANCE OF MARRIAGE to two different commenters who tell us something that really matters personally to them. I love to get to know other writers and my awesome reader friends better!! Thanks so much for having me here today, Melanie, and I wish you and all your team amazing success on RBW!! XOXO
b2b: I’ll pass along your wishes to my RBW team ‘Pink Ladies’. We’re doing great and my first month ended by me dropping a total of EIGHT pounds and I’m so pumped up now!