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Monday, September 5, 2011

Welcome Author Kaily Hart

Kaily Hart – Guest Blog – 9/5/2011

Where do you hail from and what do you love most about your hometown?
I always thought I had a boring, mundane, very uninteresting upbringing LOL. That was until I moved to the big city and then to another country! I grew up in a very small, rural town in country Australia. It might even be considered to be on the ‘edge of the outback’ to some. When I look back on it, it was such a special and unique way to grow up. I guess what I liked about it the most was that it was just so…simple. As a child I never could have imagined moving to the US and actually living in places like LA and New York, but that’s what happened. It gave me a very practical and grounded foundation for life I think.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up? How has that childhood dream affected your career?
I was absolutely one of these people who had no idea what I wanted to be. I didn’t always want to be a writer. Far from it. I remember choosing my High School final year subjects thinking I needed to be broad so that I could keep my options open. My heart wanted me to study art in college, but the practical side kicked in and I ended up doing a business degree. It served me well and I had a fabulous career in business and IT. Now I write. I guess that’s the creativity coming back out that was never completely squashed J!

Tell us about your latest book. Do you have anything new in the works and can you tell us a bit about it?
My latest book is a novella called POINT BLANK. It’s a story about secret yearnings and ‘what ifs’. I think everyone has things in their past they often think about, that they often wonder if they’d done something different what would have happened, what they’d do if they had a second chance. That’s the core of POINT BLANK. These characters both have an opportunity to make different conscious decisions. It’s fun to write about scenarios that skirt the edge of the possible. Plus, I’ve always wanted to write a long-ago, secret crush book. I mean, who hasn’t had one of those? I was supposed to be finishing another book when this (then unnamed) hero (of the future book, POINT BLANK) started talking to me. I did what I always do when this happens. I jotted down the details and got back on with the book at hand. Except this time, he wouldn’t quiet down. He was persistent, unrelenting and Rex ended up getting his story written way earlier than I’d intended to write it. Squeaky wheel and all that. Sound crazy? Such is the life of a writer J.

I’m currently working on a couple different things. I’ve just written another hot contemporary romance with an ex-special forces hero and a heroine that can more than stand up to him. Writing ‘sparks fly’ scenes was really fun with that one. I’m also working on the start of a brand new series. Its’ kind of my secret project, something along the same lines as I’ve written before (hot, steamy contemporary) with some paranormal elements. AND my first print book, PERFECTLY UNEXPECTED just came out which is a collection of my first three books from Ellora’s Cave. Very excited about that!

Have you ever used contemporary events or stories “ripped from the headlines” in your work?
Nothing literal ever really translates to my stories, but I get ideas from EVERYWHERE. Even the most minor, mundane thing can provide inspiration. Once I have that seed, my imagination takes over!

Is there anything you find particularly challenging about writing?
Ah….everything? LOL Writing is work. It’s hard work. There’s a reason only a very small percentage of people who want to write a book, actually do. Coming with the ‘bright, new, shiny idea’ is the easy part. It takes a lot of discipline and determination to make it through taking that idea to a full, complete book. Sometimes a story isn’t working. Rather than just leave it and start something else, a writer has to work through it and figure out what’s not working and how to fix it. Sometimes it’s something minor, other times it might be a rewrite of some part of it. Or all of it. I’d stay pushing through during these times and staying with the book when it’s not going the way you expect is what I find the most challenging.

What advice would you give to writers just starting out?
My mind explodes with advice and tips and encouragement I could throw out to those thinking of pursing publication. There’s so many factors that play into getting published. Luck and timing happen to be in there somewhere as well, but aspiring writers need to focus on the things they can control and let go the things they can’t. This is going to sound like ‘duh’, but you HAVE TO WRITE. You want to be a writer? Then you have to actually write. There are something like only 3% of people who say they’re going to write a book actually do. If you’ve done that, you’re already in a very small group of people who actually have the drive and discipline to sit down and write a book. You’re ahead of the game! OK, so you’ve written a book. The only way you get better at the craft of writing and understand what editors are looking for to ensure your work has it, is to KEEP WRITING. This was a mistake I made early on. I wrote a book, submitted it and waited, sure they’d ask to see more and probably even publish it. Yeah, right. I should have written another book while I was waiting on THE CALL. Instead, when they passed on my query (not wanting to actually see my writing) I should have had something else ready to go. Instead, it took me several months to get something else out there.

The other thing I would say is you have to want it AND WANT IT BAD because it’s up to YOU to make it happen. No-one can do this for you. It has to come from within you. You have to have the discipline to write (even around the challenges of everyday life), the courage to get it out there even if you’ll get rejected, you have to be open-minded enough to hear and listen to constructive criticism, you have to develop a tough skin because this business isn’t personal (but it can feel that way) and you have to learn to be comfortable in selling yourself and your work. You have to decide consciously you want it. If you want it badly enough, you won’t give up. Because that’s probably the most important aspect to this whole process. You can’t give up. If you give up it’s guaranteed you won’t be published. Perseverance does pay off. You just have to be able to last long enough.

Do you ever suffer from writer's block? If so, what do you do about it?
No, I can’t say that I do. Some sections of a book (AKA the middle) are more difficult than others and require more wrestling, but it’s usually because something is ‘off’ with the characterization. That’s what I find anyway. Once that’s shored up, the story usually flows for me.

Who is your favorite author and why? What books have most influenced your life?
Wow, I couldn’t name a favorite. I read all over the sub-genres of romance and it’s funny, but I usually don’t remember much about a story once I’ve finished. I remember authors and have a sense of books I’ve read, but don’t retain any of the details. Perhaps that’s because I have so many of my own stories residing in my head?

How did you deal with rejection letters?
Really, the best advice I could give about rejection letters is to take out of them what’s positive (if there is anything because sometimes it’s just a form rejection), take out of them what’s constructive (if possible), learn from it, file it (or burn it) and move on! The only thing I know for sure is that no-one got published by giving up and I don’t know a published writer who did it without being rejected at least once. I see it as a milestone in the road to publication actually.

What tools do you feel are must-haves for writers?
Well, they’re not really tools as such, but I think writers need to have a drive and determination to succeed in the face of rejection and a really tough market, a thick skin and a perseverance that can only come from within. Without these things it’s hard to get and stay published.

Where do you as an author draw the line on gory descriptions and/or erotic content?
It’s really what I would be comfortable as a reader reading. I don’t write anything that would contain gore, but my love/sex scenes do get pretty steamy. The reason for that is I believe it’s during these moments that there is tremendous opportunity for character development and relationship growth. I don’t like to use descriptions that are too technical, mechanical, or too crude in terms of labels for things. I really want these scenes to be emotionally intense first and foremost.

What's the weirdest thing you've ever done in the name of research?
Mmmm. The majority of my research is done on the internet. I cringe to think what I would have done years ago without access to that huge amount of data. And the ability to stay anonymous. Mostly. Whenever I do a search on some weird, ‘out there’ topic I always wonder if I come up on some screen somewhere as a ‘warning’ LOL. Can you imagine? “Seriously, I’m an author! It’s research!” You’d back me up, right?

Don't forget to give us links to your website etc.

Gosh, I’m pretty much all over. I’m constantly on Facebook and Twitter and blog regularly on my own blog as well as a group blog. I’d love it if anyone wanted to reach out to me. My social networking real estate is:


Anonymous said...

Welcome, Kaily!

Kaily Hart said...

Thanks so much, Brynna! It was a fun interview. And it made me think. I love that :).