Today, I’m happy to introduce you to debut author, Kiersten Hallie Krum. Kiersten and I go back all the way to Grand Central when I was writing Odd Mom Out and Mrs. Perfect and Kiersten was hired to the write the back cover blurbs!
I have been rooting for Kiersten as she pursued her writing and was so excited about her first release, Wild On The Rocks which is available now on Kindle Worlds on Amazon. I had to have her on my blog to share about her publishing journey!
Please tell us a little bit about yourself that is not commonly known.
Ever play that ice breaker game at party where you had to write down one thing nobody knew about you and then go around the room with a list asking people “are you the one who hates the ocean?”? Yeah, I always draw a blank in those cases.
But, I do alphabetize my cash money…or I did when I carried cash rather than use my debit card for everything. See, dollar bills carry the name of the city in which they’re printed and each city is assigned a different letter of the alphabet. New York is B, Boston is A, Philadelphia is C…and so on. So, whichever city you live closest to is the letter you’re likely to see most often. I alphabetize my money (outside in, in my wallet) so I’m spending the most common letter first and preserving the rarer letter as long as I can manage. I’ve gotten as far as “N,” though I don’t remember from which city it derives.
How long have you been writing? When did you first get interested in writing?
It’s a bit of a cliché these days for writers to say “I’ve been writing all my life,” but I can remember writing a play about Alexander the Great and his horse, Bucephalus, in 6th grade. I’ve been reading romance novels since I was a young teen (and hiding them from my mother) and started thinking “I could do that” not long after that. I spent the first years of my career working for publishing companies in New York City, sort of a back end run around way to maybe, someday being published. During this time, I got my Masters in Publishing from NYU. Then 9/11 happened and six months later as the publishing industry took a huge hit from people not reading so much as recovering their lives, I was out of work and simultaneously struck with the need to care for my suddenly disabled mother.
Those are things that make you re-evaluate your life in a big way. By 2008, five years into a steady job in a new career, I realized it was time to pony up. I used my tax return to join Romance Writers of America and determined that I would finally allow myself to aggressively pursue my dream of being published. I started small with monthly meetings and somewhat affordable regional conferences, branching out to the RWA national conference in 2011. I’ve spent that time polishing my craft and networking, building a network of friends and colleagues and learning, learning, learning.
Why did you choose to write Wild On The Rocks? What keeps the attraction alive for this genre for you?
I didn’t so much as choose to write this book as had this book thrust upon me—in the best of ways.
Last fall, I received an email from New York Times bestselling author Roxanne St .Claire asking me to be a part of her launch of the Barefoot Bay Kindle Worlds. Roxanne and I began as Twitter pals in the years since, she has become a mentor and close friend. I was deeply honored that she asked me, an as yet unpublished writer, to launch my debut romantic suspense novel under the Barefoot Bay umbrella…and terrified too!
I love to read and write romantic suspense novels because I like me a good action story, sure. My shelves are filled with 007 films and spy thrillers. There’s something about being taken on a wild adventure that’s deeply entertaining…especially when you know you’ll spend your day at a desk job and not running through a European city with a hot alpha hero (sadly enough).
But I’m of the opinion that romantic love is hard work and takes time. I’ve always found it difficult to believe in the veracity of a romance that ends in “true love” when the heroine and hero have only known one another for about a week. Romance novels offer the suspension-of-disbelief by nature of being a work of fiction, but you always want to believe that those relationships are at least possible in real life, that they are, perhaps, even achievable for a regular lady like myself (and they are, BTW).
In a romantic suspense story, the danger of the situation ramps up the true natures of the hero and heroine—it’s hard to hide behind an emotional mask when bad guys are gunning for you. I find those stories strip people down to their cores, making it much easier to believe that a woman and a man could fall in love in such a short period of time.
So when Roxanne asked me to join her Barefoot Bay Kindle World launch, I immediately knew that I would write a romantic suspense novel (‘cause that’s what I do) and I also wanted to take the opportunity to use one of my favorite tropes—reunited lovers—and one of my favorite kinds of heroes, a Navy SEAL.
Please tell us about the premise of your new release.
In my debut romantic suspense novel, Wild On The Rocks, mixologist Quinn Forrester wanders down the wrong hallway of an Atlantic City casino at the wrong moment and witnesses a murder by the Russian mob. She goes on the run and winds up a week later in Barefoot Bay on Mimosa Key, a small island off the coast of Florida. Though she’s been divorced now for about a year, Quinn takes back her married name to hide in the swanky resort, Casa Blanca, where she tends bar until she can figure out her next move. She never expected to see her ex-husband, Navy SEAL Lt. Jasper McQueen, walk through the door.
Jasper has never gotten over his wild wife even though she ran out on him more than a year ago. With his career in shambles after a devastating incident with one of his men, Jasper came to Barefoot Bay to decompress and decide his next steps. Now with Quinn unexpected back in his orbit, Jasper’s determined to use their still crackling chemistry to work out a ton of sexual frustration while getting some straight answers from his wayward ex-wife. Provided the Russian mob doesn’t catch up with her first.
Will there be more books connected to this one?
There will! The sequel, SEALED WITH A TWIST, will be available in October 2016! It is about Jasper’s best friend, Twist, who is a featured player in Wild On The Rocks.
What’s your writing process? Do you have a set routine? Do you work every day?
I have a demanding full time job that often has late hours, so I’ve found through trial and error that trying to write every day doesn’t work for me. This means I spent most weekends cramming in the words to make up for the lack…and therefore have little social life! This works some weekends better than others, but it gets the job done. I use a laptop but I like to work away from the desk since I sit at one for long hours for the day job, so I’ll write in bed with my cat as companion or outside or at Starbucks…wherever I can plug in.
Does your main character have any characteristics (personality quirks) that are similar to your own?
All my characters have some piece of me in them, yes. For Jasper, it’s the peace he finds whenever he’s near a body of water. Wherever I am, the water calls to me, be it ocean, river, lake, or a trickling stream. I gave Quinn my motorcycle boots, because I love them, and my love of a man’s delicious arm porn.
What’s your own favorite scene from the book?
There’s a scene toward the end of the book where Jasper takes Quinn on a sail. My uncle sailed and, while I was growing up, he’d take me, my sister, and my cousins out for sails. We’d hang our feet over the edge and when he caught the wind, drag our feet in the water as we flew along. The last boat he had before I went to college was a Catalina 22. Jasper takes Quinn out on that same kind of boat and some of my memories from that time are what Quinn experiences during their sail.
Do you flesh out all your secondary characters before you start the writing process or do they sort of take life as you write?
I guess I’d have to go along with “both”. For example, I knew Jasper’s best friend would be called Twist and I knew why because I stole the nickname (with permission) from a co-worker of mine whose known as Twisti Sisti (though I promise that’s the only thing my co-worker has in common with my character). But when I started writing the book, Twist unfurled along with the story and had more than a few surprises in store for me. Though I had no idea that he would be such a fan favorite! Now I’m getting lots of reader requests for Twist’s story, so I’m glad I can answer that it’s coming soon!
Is it hard for you to get back in the zone if you take a break from writing regularly?
It really is! Turns out, I do my best worked locked away from everyone and everything—and by “locked away” I’m mean in my spot at Stsarbucks with my ear buds in and the world tuned out. Leave me there for 10 or 12 hours and I’m good. Since I also have a full time day job, this is usually how I spend my weekends. Fun stuff, right?! But I’ve learned there’s no going home and picking up where I left off. Once I’ve made the break from the regurgitation of words, I’m done for the day.
How much time do you generally spend on research before you start writing or do you do the research as you write?
Research for me is usually current events, like magazine and or newspaper articles that catch my attention or a documentary film. The event that puts Jasper’s career in jeopardy came from a feature article in the New York Times about an incident with a Navy admiral that surprised everyone who knew him. Once I had that, the rest started to fall into place. I spend a lot of time thinking about a project, shifting things around in my head while I’m driving to and from work or in the shower or watching T.V. I find that, when I get to the keyboard, sometimes without knowing what’s going to happen next, that there are more words ready to come out than I expected, because it’s allbeen percolating for a while.
What are you working on at the moment?
Twist’s book! And a books I’ve been noodling on for a while that I playfully call my therapy book because I’m using it to deal with some issues that have interrupted my life in the last five or six years. Cheaper than a shrink! (Don’t tell Twist I said that.)
Are you involved in a critique group, plotting group, any kind of writer’s group? What advice do you have for someone looking for a critique group? Anything specific they should keep in mind?
I have two or three critique partners who are with me every step in the life of the project. They talk me down from ledges and help me flesh out the plot and character journeys for the book. I absolutely couldn’t do it without them. But I find a smaller group of trusted partners works better than a large critique group. Having too many different voices and opinions in my head tends to do more damage than good because it makes me start questioning every little comma and character decision. In the end, outside of the technical things, like grammar and sentence structure, you need to trust your gut because it is your story and your vision that you’re putting down on the page.
How big an impact would you say a book cover plays in the process of a reader’s buying process?
Oh my gosh, HUGE! I can’t tell you how many compliments I’ve received on the cover for Wild On The Rocks, which makes me super happy because I love it and feel it visually conveys the spirit of the novel—sexy, romantic suspense in a tropical clime. Really sexy. 😉
My first book publishing job at Avon Books (many years ago) was as a publishing assistant and one half of my duties were about the cover conferences that were held with the editor, the art department, and the publisher to discuss the direction in which the cover would go and what visual elements that would include. That’s the level of importance Avon felt the cover deserved as part of its marketing strategy and it’s stuck with me to this day.
The cover is the first thing that will grab a reader’s attention. It immediately tells them the kind of feeling they can expect to feel while reading the book, be it sweet, sad, sexy, funny, romantic, scary…you name it, the cover should communicate it. We are a visual culture, perhaps now best evidenced now by the “GIF culture” of social media, which makes the cover of a novel more important to its success than ever. An eye-catching cover is what makes a reader choose your book—or someone else’s—off the shelf and want to learn (and read!) more about it.
Describe your personality in 5 specific words.
Hmmm. I’d say funny, dramatic, passionate, stubborn, and ballsy. I tend to be polarizing—people either like me or they don’t. There doesn’t seem to be much middle ground on that one. 😉
You’ve got to take a trip suddenly, with just twenty minutes to pack and you don’t know how long you’ll be gone. What 5 things would you absolutely have to take with you – besides clothing?
Music, I can’t live without music, so definitely my iPod (which is my only Apple device). My phone (so I can get books). My cat, Baxter. My meds. And wet wipes. You’d be surprised how key portable wet wipes are to a messy life. Or maybe not. I can buy a toothbrush anywhere.
What’s your astrological sign? Do you read your horoscopes or is it all malarkey in your opinion?
I’m not into astrology but I’ll occasionally take a gander if only for fun’s sake. That said, I’m a Leo and I’m practically a textbook case of that signs components. But I don’t believe the configurations of the star decides the paths of our lives. While I’m a woman of faith, I also believe that we make our own fate through our free will and by the choices and decisions we make and what we do with the fallout from those decisions, good or bad, right or wrong. Or as Linda Hamilton puts it, “no fate but what we make.” What can I say? I am a complicated lady.
For your personal reading preference, do you prefer ebooks or print books? What are you reading for pleasure right now?
A few years ago, I would’ve died side by side clutching my paper books tightly in hand. But since I’ve had to start reading advanced reading copies of other books on my Kindle for Android app, I’ve been converted to the convenience of the ebook on my phone. But I still love the smell and feel of paper.
Writer, singer editor, traveler, tequila drinker, and cat herder, Kiersten Hallie Krum avoids pen names since keeping her multiple personalities straight is hard enough work. She writes smart, sharp, and sexy romantic suspense. Visit her website at www.kierstenkrum.com and find her regularly over sharing on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and Tumblr via @kierstenkrum.
Congratulations on your new release, Kiersten and thank you for taking the time to chat with us today! Readers, get your download of Kiersten’s book soon and to add more fun to this celebration, I’m also giving away a fun prize to one lucky winner! For a chance to win, leave a comment for Kiersten and you’ll automatically be entered to win! Contest ends Monday with winner announced Tuesday.