I have a very special treat for you all, today. This week I had the privilege of interviewing New York Times best selling, author, J. Kenner. She is as gracious as she is talented and delightful to work with. Her newest erotic romance, Release Me, rates very high with readers (which does not surprise me in the least!).
Please welcome to Brain Fog Blog, J. Kenner!
To start things off, Julie, when did you realize that you wanted to be a writer?
I can’t remember a time when I didn’t want to be a writer. I used to sit in my dad’s study and pound out “books” on the typewriter. This was before I could really read, and waaaaaay before I could type, so the books were, of course, gibberish. And then I used to do the same thing on an IBM Selectric. Now, that was a thrill (really, a computer keyboard just doesn’t compare). I guess I’m just addicted to stories … and always have been.
I didn’t get into it right away. I majored in journalism, but then switched to film, and then ended up practicing law. So I took the long route … but ended up in the right place!
How long does it take you to write a book?
It really depends on the book. Some write very fast, and some take a long time (for me). I suppose I write reasonably fast, in that I can write several books within a year, but there is definitely no set time. And even if the first draft of a book comes out super fast, that doesn’t mean that the revisions won’t add a lot to the overall count!
I understand what you mean about that. You’re a multi-published author with a long and successful track record. Where do you get your ideas?
When I was young, I couldn’t read in a car or a plane (I got car sick), which meant long hours traveling between my mom and dad’s house either on the highway or in my dad’s very turbulent single engine plane. I would close my eyes and make up stories. I’m not sure if that’s an origin story or a symptom story – but I will say they were long and involved and even when I was young involved gorgeous men sweeping me off my feet. (I remember one involving Han Solo …sigh ….)
So either by nature or nurture, story telling is part of me J
Ha! You weren’t alone in your crush on Han Solo, that’s for sure. What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
Ah, yeah, well, there’s that whole multiple-books-in-a-year-thing. Am I ever not writing?
Okay, yes, there are times! I love to hang out with my husband and daughters. We go poke around small towns. I work in the yard. I read (which is a huge luxury, as I always feel like if I have time to read I should be writing). And I really love to travel, but the logistics are hard!
What do you think is the best way of publishing a book these days?
Well, I think the bottom line is: write a good book that readers want to read. But I have a feeling that your question is hoping to delve into the question of publishing digitally yourself or going through a publisher (and even then, the question arises of whether to accept a digital-only offer, as those are becoming more and more common). I know a lot of authors, some of who will never indie-publish, and others who swear they will never again accept a traditional contract.
Personally, I am living happily in both camps. I am indie-publishing my backlist at the moment, and have plans to continue some series (my Demon-Hunting Soccer Mom series, my teen vampire series, my Shadow Keepers series, and probably my urban fantasy series). But I am also thrilled to be with Random House and have only good things to say about the experience I have had over the years with my editor and publisher and all of the staff.
There are successful authors who indie publish, and there are authors who indie publish who don’t even make $50 a month. There are successful authors who publish traditionally, and there are some who don’t do well and are dropped after the first contract.
Every journey is different, but I will say that an author who chooses to indie publish needs to be as professional—or even more so—as an author who is traditionally published. By “as professional,” I mean that the book needs to be edited and copyedited. The cover needs to be professional. The product needs to be high quality, because you are competing with a huge number of books, both traditionally and independently published that are excellent. By “even more so” I mean that the indie pubbed author must wear more than one hat. That author is also the editorial director, the marketing director, the CEO and the CFO (among other roles) and that takes a lot of time and energy. So be aware of what you’re jumping into before you jump.
And be realistic. Are there authors whose first traditionally published or indie published book caught fire and launched them to superstardom? Of course there are. Just as there are tech guys who start small and then burst on to the scene (the YouTube guys for example) or singers who hit and hit big. But you can’t bank on being that person. Being a novelist is about building a career, not winning the lottery. So if you look at it that way, and consider what is the best route for the book that you are writing, then you will have a better chance of making the right choices.
The bottom line? As far as I’m concerned, there is no easy answer. Just as you can’t definitely tell someone that they will only be happy if they marry and have kids, or that they must take a corporate job in order to find success, you can’t tell someone that there is only one right way to be published.
Very well said, Julie. Every journey is an individual one. In your journey, what would you say was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your books?
Oh, good question. Hmm. I guess the most surprising thing I learned is that laundry and housecleaning are not the horrendous time sucks that I thought. Rather, they are rather useful for going “mindless” to let a plot or character problem bounce around in your mind. Often, problems are solved after a basket of laundry!
What is your most recent book about?
It’s an erotic romance that centers around a highly emotional and sexual relationship between two very damaged people. Damien has a very dark past, and Nikki has a history of self-harm. Although it started as only one book, it has evolved into a trilogy Release Me is followed by Claim Me and Complete Me. And all three will be out in 2013. Yay!
Can you tell me and your readers something about the main characters?
Damien is a former tennis star turned entrepreneur, so he has been a celebrity all his life. He’s had some pretty nasty stuff in his past, and he’s dealt with it by seizing control—of his life, of his business, and of the woman he wants.
Nikki is a former beauty queen who did the pageant circuit not because she loved it but because her mother pushed her into it. She’s got a head for tech and she has moved to Los Angeles to launch a business. She’s focused and determined and she has a plan. And when Damien makes her an offer she can’t refuse, Nikki’s life changes in more ways than one.
They met once, years ago, and this is how Nikki sees Damien when they meet at the beginning of the book at an art opening:
We’re on the move again when a barrel-chested man in a plaid sport coat shifts to the left, once again revealing Damien Stark.
He is even more magnificent now than he was six years ago. The brashness of youth has been replaced by a mature confidence. He is Jason and Hercules and Perseus—a figure so strong and beautiful and heroic that the blood of the gods must flow through him, because how else could a being so fine exist in this world? His face consists of hard lines and angles that seem sculpted by light and shadows, making him appear both classically gorgeous and undeniably unique. His dark hair absorbs the light as completely as a raven’s wing, but it is not nearly as smooth. Instead, it looks wind-tossed, as if he’s spent the day at sea.
That hair in contrast with his black tailored trousers and starched white shirt give him a casual elegance, and it’s easy to believe that this man is just as comfortable on a tennis court as he is in a boardroom.
His famous eyes capture my attention. They seem edgy and dangerous and full of dark promises. More important, they are watching me.
Wow. I’m not sure I’d ever want to be released from Damien! 🙂 Is there a message in your book that you hope readers will grasp?
Though it is not a hit-you-over-the-head theme, the book very much deals with concepts of self-awareness and living your life for yourself.
What new project are you working on?
I’m currently working on revisions for the second book in the trilogy, Claim Me, and then I’ll turn my attention back to Complete Me, the final book featuring Damien and Nikki. In addition to those two, I have several other projects in various stages of plotting or drafting. And I’m also working to get several books from my backlist scanned, formatted, proofed and uploaded, and as soon as I have the backlist books from my Demon-Hunting Soccer Mom series up, I’ll be uploading Book Six from that series, Pax Demonica. I’m very busy at the moment!
For the record, I love that series! So, what’s the funniest thing that ever happened to you with regards to your writing career?
Oh dear! My mind is a blank. This isn’t haha funny, but it goes to show you how insane writers can be. I was on my way to one of my first book signings back in 2000, and I ended up in a horrible car accident (not my fault). My wrist was shattered, my car totaled, and I was only half conscious.
People are pounding at the window asking if I’m okay. What am I doing? I’m fumbling for my cell phone. Not to call the hospital. Not to call my mom. But to call my best friend and critique partner so that she can call the bookstore and tell them I won’t be at the signing!
The next thing I know, I’m at the hospital. That was what I managed to stay conscious for! (I ended up writing two books after that with the metal posts sticking out of my arm from the surgery. That was rather interesting, too!)
Oh, my gosh, I’m so glad you were okay. And very dedicated to your readers!
Where can readers purchase your books?
Pretty much anywhere! My current book, Release Me, is a New York Times and USA Today bestseller and should still be on the “new release” tables at Barnes & Noble, and it’s part of a February feature at Target as well. It’s also available online through any of the e-retailers, in both print and digital format.
It will be available in the UK in print on January 31, and is already available in that market digitally, and it’s coming to a number of different countries later this year (France is next, I believe, with a February release date!)
Thanks so much for the great interview!
J. Kenner is the pen name of New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Julie Kenner (who also writes dark, sexy paranormal as J.K. Beck). Release Me, an erotic romance, is the first in the Stark Trilogy, and is a New York Times bestseller, and has been on the USA Today bestseller list for multiple weeks. It has already sold to over a dozen countries, and the international editions are starting to roll out, with the upcoming U.K. and French paperback releases.
You can hang out with J.K., learn more about Release Me and her other novels as Julie Kenner and J.K. Beck, or just poke around and see what catches your eye at her website, www.jkenner.com, and also at her J. Kenner Facebook page, www.facebook.com/jkennerbooks and on Twitter at www.twitter.com/juliekenner
Thank you, Julie. We enjoyed getting to know you!