Hi, Jamie! Thanks for having me here today and thank you so much for reaching out to me with the offer to guest on your site. You know, one of the most surprising (but absolutely wonderful) things I’ve discovered about this industry is the tremendous support network that’s out there for both new and aspiring authors. I’m not sure that’s really prevalent in other industries. Authors rock!
When did you decide to pursue writing seriously?
Well, at the end of 2008, I decided I needed to take a break from my ‘first’ career. A permanent break. I was working incredibly long hours and I had to travel sometimes with my job. I just wanted to be there more for my kids. I’d managed to juggle (somehow) everything fairly well up to that point, but I could see it was going to become really difficult. I laugh about it now, but I kind of had this ‘romantic’ notion of what it would be like to stay home, but the reality of it was vastly different. I quickly needed something else. I’m not exactly sure where it came from at the time, but I decided a few weeks later that I’d write a romance novel! Looking back on it, I realized I’d wanted to for a long time, but I’d stifled it in the face of other more pressing priorities- like making a living and having and raising a family.
How did you choose what genre to write – or did it choose you?
I’ve actually read across all the romance genres, but I love to read paranormal and contemporary, in particular. When I first sat down to think about what I wanted to write, I consciously decided on contemporary. I figured it wouldn’t require a great deal of research (like an historical would) or complex world building (that might be necessary with a paranormal). Also, I’ve lived in a number of fabulous US cities so had some possible locations, that again, didn’t require much in the way of research. I was ready to go!
Tell us a little about your writing process. How do you get from idea to completed draft?
My process is very much a hybrid process combining my analytical approach to most things and my ‘writing by the seat of my pants’ when it comes to the emotional aspect of my writing. Confused? Yeah, so am I sometimes! Here’s what I do. I usually start with some base idea, whether it’s a character, a scene, a premise, an occupation – it can be anything sometimes that provided the inspiration. I work extensively on characters first. Queue the analytical side! I have a comprehensive spreadsheet I fill out for every book. It lists everything you’d ever want to know about a person, I mean character . I develop complete histories for them and give them opinions, beliefs and thoughts about a range of different things. For instance, I think about their greatest wish, their biggest fear, their thoughts about the opposite sex and well, their feelings about relationships and sex, of course. This can take me two weeks. During this time, the characters come alive. I feel like they need to be concrete to me because I can then put them in any situation and I’ll know exactly how they’ll act. I chop and change my scenes sometimes, so it helps the mind catch up with the fingers! I only do a very rough outline at the beginning. Again, it’s a spreadsheet, but instead of outlining the WHAT for each scene, I compile the goals and consequences or result of each. Usually, I outline the beginning and the end and don’t provide a lot of detail for the middle. As an author, I need for there to be some surprises otherwise I feel like the book is already written! I’ll often go back and flesh this out further as I write to be sure the threads are being carried through. I start writing with a process I call ‘writing all over the book’. I literally write what ever chapter or scene I feel like writing at that particular time. I used to wonder how movie directors could film the scenes of a movie all out of sequence, but that’s exactly how I write! It’s probably not the most efficient approach, but it works for me right now.
What are some of your favorite authors to read?
I like a range of different books and authors. In terms of more mainstream authors for contemporary romance I like Jill Shalvis, Lori Foster, Linda Howard, Elizabeth Lowell, Erin McCarthy, Cherry Adair, Shannon McKenna, etc. ‘LaNora’, of course! I also read quite a bit of paranormal and just finished up the latest in the Black Dagger Brotherhood series by J.R. Ward. I also read Christine Feehan, Nalini Singh and Sherrilyn Kenyon regularly. Dara Joy is another one and I really love her Matrix of Destiny books. I also love Jayne Ann Krentz and have read her Amanda Quick and Jayne Castle books. There really is just too many to name but I have a lot of favorites that I auto-buy.
What do you like do when you’re not writing?
Actually, this was the most difficult question. I read, of course, but two things I love outside of books are art and interior design and decorating. Over the last four years we’ve completely renovated our house from top to bottom, inside and out. I love starting with the blank slate in a room and bring it alive, reflecting the personality of those that live there. With four kids, most activities usually revolve around something to do with the family, but when I do find some quiet time? I inevitably end up dreaming up more stories and characters of my own.
How do you balance writing with the other aspects of your life?
Gosh, I was hoping I could ask you that question LOL. It’s difficult and it requires discipline. I’m fortunate in that I’m not in a situation where I’m trying to figure out how to fit writing time in around a ‘day job’. I’m focused on writing as a career, but it’s still a challenge to juggle all the unforeseen things life can throw at you. My biggest challenge at the moment is summer and school being out! I try to stick to a set schedule each day. First thing in the morning I do the administrative type things- checking and responding to email, updating some of the social networking sites I frequent, doing research, etc. I can’t seem to focus on creative writing if I haven’t taken care of these first up. I then try and write for a multi-hour block of time and I’ll write again after all the kids are in bed. This can be my most productive time. I’ve developed into a real night owl in recent years (and this from a person who used to always be in bed by 10 pm)!
Who is your favorite literary character or couple?
Mmm, you know what immediately came to mind? I’m thinking the Cricket in Times Square, but that’s because my son did a book report on that for school for end of year and I read all of his books. Hey, I really enjoyed it and it was runner up for a Newberry Medal! Seriously, I’d probably say Heathcliff. He’s probably the most memorable for me and I first read Wuthering Heights in High School. I always wanted him to be able to redeem himself by the end of the book. I think the reader is constantly teased by the possibility that he’ll evolve and it’s hard not to hope for him. Perhaps that’s why I now write romance? I love the idea of the tough and ‘rough around the edges’ alpha male who’ll soften for the right woman. Sigh…
Is there anything else you’d like to add?
Only to say that I am so grateful to be doing what I am right now. I’ve just had my first book released and been exposed to reader and review feedback for the very first time. The response has been incredible. When I write I can only hope I’ve created something that will touch a reader in some way. And I hope I can continue to do that. I absolutely love what I’m doing right now!
Thanks again, Jamie for having me!
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Thanks so much Kaily for the excellent interview – it’s always fascinating to learn more about the author on both a personal and professional level. I think I could learn a thing or two from you about organizing my writing process. And I love interior design type stuff too…what a great creative past time!
You can connect with Kaily on her website , at her blog , on Twitter and Facebook – and of course you can buy her book by clicking that lovely cover above. For those of you who may not know, Ellora’s Cave Quickies are just that – decadent short stories that are quick to read and one of my favorite ways to spend half an hour or so. When you go pick up Kaily’s book, add some of their free Quickies to your cart too. You won’t be sorry…but you might get hooked.