"New Worlds Are Our Oyster."
Karen Kelley became very adept at how things worked in the publishing world. You write a book, you mail it off, you get rejected, you write another book. She did this for six years until one day she talked her husband into mailing her manuscript for her. She couldn't take one more look of pity from the postal workers.
Being the loving husband that he is, Karl mailed Bachelor Party to Hilary Sares at Kensington to be considered for the Precious Gem line. Three days later, Hilary Sares called to offer a contract. Karen writes full-time, mainly Brava for Kensington and has the fabulous Kate Duffy for her editor.
In her spare time, Karen collects junk which she fondly calls antiques. Her husband can still be talked into mailing her manuscripts, and also help with her publicity. She has two grown children, one son-in-law, one daughter-in-law, and three grandchildren and a very spoiled Pekinese. She loves sitting on the patio on a warm spring day and procrastinating about her approaching deadline.
An Interview with Karen Kelley
PNR: Welcome, I’m excited to have the opportunity to talk with you about your Planet Nerak series and your writing.
Karen K.: Thanks so much for inviting me! I’m absolutely thrilled to be here!
PNR: Can you tell us a little about how you started writing; was it something you have always wanted to do?
Karen K.: I was a reader first. I started out reading Gothic’s, but then ran across Sweet Savage Love by Rosemary Rodgers. I was sooo hooked after that. After a few years I decided I wanted to try my hand at writing.
But I made a very big mistake, I shared my dream with my mother. She laughed and said I wasn’t smart enough to write a book. What was really sad, I believed her.
A number of years passed, until one day my son found the first pages of my book. He came into the living room and told me it was really good, then he asked me why I quit writing. I didn’t have an answer.
Six years later I sold my first book. My mother passed away two months before it came out, but she saw the cover, and knew that dreams can come true. My mother’s dreams had been stolen so many times that she didn’t want me to be hurt by daring to dream so big.
This is always a hard story for me to tell because I loved her very much, but I want other people to know it’s okay to dream big, because dreams do come true. You only need to believe.
PNR: Are you able to write as much as you would like? Could you tell us about your writing schedule? What do you enjoy doing when not writing?
Karen K.: I have to be careful that I don’t get caught up too much in promoting a new book that I lose sight of what’s really important, which is the book I’m writing. Karl is really good about helping me out. He does all my contests for me, still runs things to the post office, and most importantly---he can load a dishwasher.
I write nearly every day. I don’t have a set schedule. Karl is a fantastic plotter, too.
We both love to travel when I’m not writing. The Texas coast is a favorite spot for us. No more deep sea fishing, though. I get so seasick!
PNR: Most writers are avid readers, is this true for you? What titles would we see in your TBR pile?
Karen K.: LOL Oh, yes.
My editor turned me on to Libba Bray (Young Adult). I’m reading the last book in her series right now and absolutely loving it. Anything by Sharon Sala. Lori Foster, Gena Showalter, Jane Graves….My TBR pile is huge! There are way too many authors for me to list. I just wished I had more time to read!
PNR: What do you feel are the essential elements of a great story?
Karen K.: Characterization. Voice. Plot. A twist on what’s already out there. For me, comedy.
PNR: Congratulations, readers are excited about the June 2008 release of THE BAD BOYS GUIDE TO THE GALAXY from Brava; this is the third book in your Planet Nerak series. Could you tell us what inspired this futuristic alien romance series and a little about your vision for the project? What direction will the series be taking?
Karen K.: They’re not really futuristic books. At least, I don’t think they are since they happen in now time.
Hmmm, inspiration for the series. I had this little bit of an idea that I took to a retreat. There were about six of us, lots of wine and Colorado bulldogs, gourmet food and chocolate. A fantastic lake view. A little more alcohol---well, let me just say that if you get your friends plastered, you can come up with some pretty wild and funny stuff.
I’ll have at least one more book in the series that will be out in 2009. That one is Lyraka’s story.
PNR: Could you tell us about the challenges you face in world building with paranormal elements and making it work with the ideas you have in mind for the progression of your characters and the series? How much research is involved?
Karen K.: Most of the Nerakian books are set on Earth. I consider them more contemporary, except the heroines are aliens. I have a lot of comedy in them as the Nerakian women discover Earth, men, and chocolate.
In the third book, The Bad Boys Guide To The Galaxy, I do have more of the planet Nerak, but I felt as though I already knew so much about Nerak it wasn’t hard for me to write about it. I do think with every book I write there’s a certain amount of research. I’ve researched Marfa, Texas, Big Foot, the Texas Hill country----most of my research doesn’t make it into the book, but it helps me get a better grip on my story.
PNR: Do you feel your writing is character driven or plot driven? How do you balance these two elements?
Karen K.: I think it depends on the book, but for the most part, character driven. If I need more plot, I yell for Karl, and hopefully, he’s not working.
PNR: There is a bit of a role reversal from the traditional plot device in that your heroines are feisty Alien women who find that their heroes are Earth men; could you tell us about the development of their relationships? Who has been your favorite to write?
Karen K.: I like a feisty female character. I was such a wimp for so long (see mother/daughter relationship above) that I want my heroines to have at least a little backbone.
I think each relationship is different because they’re different characters so the development of each couple will be different. The one common denominator is each heroine finds that special something in her hero that makes him stand out from all the rest.
I always think my last book is my favorite.
PNR: Your writing is infused with witty humor and clever dialogue; do you feel humor is an essential element in your writing?
Karen K.: Yes, I do. I don’t know where the comedy comes from and that’s scary. I always wonder if it will show up in the next book. Maybe it comes from being happy. I love my life.
PNR: How would you describe the sensuality level of your books; do you find it challenging to write love scenes?
Karen K.: My love scenes are explicit and hot. Challenging—yes, but I find the whole book a challenge, but a fun one. I felt a little uncomfortable writing love scenes at first, but I’ve grown as a person, and making love is a wonderful part of life.
PNR: Readers can’t get enough of the “Stranger in a Strange Land” theme; why do you feel the alien romance sub-genre is so appealing to readers? The paranormal genre in general?
Karen K.: Just my opinion, but I think anything with a different twist will appeal to most readers. I enjoy being taken out of my regular life, and plopped down in one that is going to surprise me.
PNR: You have written in the contemporary, romantic suspense and paranormal genres; is there a genre you haven’t written but would like to try?
Karen K.: Young adult. I glom it.
PNR: Could you tell us about your current projects, what can readers expect to see in the coming months?
Karen K.: I’ve ended my current contract, but I have three new proposals with my editor.
I’ll have three new books out in 2009. Two ghost books and my 4th Planet Nerak book. I also have some other projects I’m putting together.
PNR: Thank you, Karen, for taking time out to talk to us. Where can readers find out what’s new and how can they contact you?
Karen K.: Thanks you for having me! My website is www.authorkarenkelley.com I have a contest every month for my newsletter group. I’m the only one who posts so you don’t get a lot of e-mails. It’s a good way to keep up with what’s coming out.
June 24, 2008
Planet Nerak: Book 3
Take me to your leader. Come to think of it, just take me.
Planet Nerak was perfect—no disease, no darkness, no hunger—until an expedition to Earth brought back an unwanted guest. Enter one talented Nerakian named Lara, sent on a special fact-finding mission in the vast region called Texas. Fortunately, a warrior (he calls himself a “cop”) named Sam Jones has offered to help. Unfortunately, Sam's skill at sex is quite distracting—as are plenty other earthly delights, like the dangerously addictive substance called chocolate. Temptations such as these could seriously compromise Lara's—ahem—research...
Crazy, that's what Sam is. What sane man would voluntarily isolate himself in the Texas woods with an alien, not to mention a female one with a superiority complex, legs that won't quit, and a penchant for walking around buck naked? Between bragging about her home planet and levitating, Lara wastes no time getting on Sam's last nerve...and even less time getting into his bed. Talk about going where no man has gone before. Of course, when you’re from Texas, nothing—not even an entire planet—is going to stop you from getting what you want.
January 29, 2008
Planet Nerak: Book 2
March 27, 2007
Planet Nerak: Book 1
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