KK: I love to read contemporary romantic suspense – so that’s what I write! My first 4 books are all heavy on suspense. I tried for years to get into period pieces – Westerns, Victorians, and the like – but I just don’t enjoy the damsel-in-distress gig. I plop my heroines on a beach somewhere and have them be FBI agents or U.S. Marshals – I have them rescue the men. I like that dichotomy better.
SC: Do you consider yourself a romantic?
KK: In real life, I’m not a romantic whatsoever. In fact, I’m told by editors that I “write like a man” and have to force myself to go back during revisions and add internal monologue to my characters. What she’s thinking… what she’s feeling… and so on. It’s not in my nature to put that stuff in a first draft – I must consciously add it later.
SC: What about the romance genre appeals to you?
KK: The genre appeals to me because I’m interested in how couples relate to each other. My daughter recently talked to me about “Love Languages.” She said, “Mom, you like men to cook for you, clean for you, stain the deck, rotate your tires and fix things around the house. That makes you feel loved.” She’s dead right. I hate cooking and I don’t even like being in a kitchen since it’s usually in a state of some sort of dishevelment and I’m a neat-freak. I can’t write a word if there are dirty dishes in the sink. And my office is on the other side of the house.
But, I’d never thought about “Love Languages” in just that way before… She’s pretty wise for seventeen! I asked her what her own “Love Language” was, and she said, “Cuddling and flowers and physical affection.”
She explained that men often prefer being appreciated or acknowledged for their good deeds – like paying bills on time – and that’s a unique sort of love language itself. Some women like expensive gifts such as diamonds and trips around the world and convertibles.
It’s funny to think that my daughter nailed it on the head – I feel loved if someone cooks me a meal. Of course, my heroines are not so easily led by their bellies! I prefer the men in my novels to be alpha-men, whereas in real life I date (and marry) beta-men. I’ve been married three times and each of them were Betas. I’m not sure what that says about me, but there it is.
SC: Do you have a writing routine? What does it involve?
KK: I’m a Pantser. I was a pantser long before I’d ever heard the term. I don’t plot, I don’t do story arcs, I don’t do character outlines, and I do not talk about what I’m working on until it’s done. That sucks all the joy out of writing for me. Why talk about it? If I talk about a story, I’ll never write it down. I don’t write synopses until after the book is done, either. Here’s how it works for me – I wake up after a good sleep with the entire story written in my head. Ending, middle, and start. The whole shebang. But, the ending is paramount. I can’t begin to write until I know the very last line in my head. And then I sit down to write after a few days of pondering. I write in a linear fashion. A to B to C. I don’t hop around. I don’t cut and paste. I don’t move paragraphs or chapters. I write the whole thing as fast as humanly possible. My first book took four years. My second took four months. My third took four weeks. I’m getting better.
I love to write humor – roll on the floor, wet your pants humor, ala Janet Evanovich. She just slays me. Dialogue mostly. If I’m laughing while I’m writing it – and if I still snicker after reading it over for the tenth time – well that’s the best, the purest part of writing for me. On the flip side, I hate similes and metaphors. I have to add those in later during Revision No. 3. “The snow glittered like diamonds on an ermine blanket” type stuff. Just gags me. I do admire writers who have a knack for similes; but I don’t. So, I avoid them like the plague. I wish I was clever and they came to me easily, but they don’t, and I’m not. I have to force them. Unfortunately, when you force something in a novel, the reader almost always notices – and the writing suffers. So, I avoid them for the most part.
I work best on a deadline. I kill it every November for Nano. I try to reward myself – to goad myself into a higher page count… For instance, I’ll reward myself with two episodes of something on Netflix if I write six pages tomorrow. Some writers have daily projections, word counts, calendars and apps. I just don’t. I wish I was more disciplined, and maybe I will be once my teenagers are all off to college. But, I must say, I write even when I’m sick, even when I’m tired, even when I’d rather be doing something else. Waiting until your muse smacks you between the eyes doesn’t work. You must write even on the days you don’t feel like writing. You must. Or you won’t finish anything
So that’s my advice to new writers. Write any way, any time, any place you like. Just write. Or you can’t call yourself a writer.
SC: Good advice Karen! And best of luck with your writing.
Article submitted by Mary Brand. Photo credit to Amy MacConnell.