Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Tuesday Special Author Interview: Julie Kenner

Author Name: Julie Kenner
Genre: women’s fiction
Latest book in shops now: (June)
The Givenchy Code, (July) Carpe Demon, (September), First Love

Before we begin this interview, I need to check that you’re still grounded and that your head isn’t swollen from all of your success, so with that in mind, what was the last thing you bought at Target, and do you know how much a loaf of bread costs? (grin)

LOL! I buy half my things at Target and the other half at Wal-Mart. Last thing at Target was a pair of black shoes for my 4 year old :) As for bread, about $1.29

Congratulations on your book
Carpe Demon: Adventures of a Demon-Hunting Soccer Mom being optioned by Warner Bros for a movie! How did you feel when you heard the news, and who was the first person you told?

Thanks! How I felt: pretty much over the moon, which is probably one of the world’s biggest understatements. First people I told (other than husband) were my critique partners: Kathleen O’Reilly and Dee Davis

Do you have any reservations in terms of the ‘artistic license’ that may be taken by the film producers whilst making
Carpe for the Big Screen?

Nope. For one, the book is a book and the movie is (or will be, knock wood) a movie. They’re different creatures. For another, some license will have to be taken.

One of the things about the book that (I think) works well is the humor and Kate’s running internal dialogue. But that drives much of the story, and it’s all in Kate’s head. Film, however, is a visual medium. Except for maybe Being John Malcovich, movies in people’s heads don’t work. I think the screenwriters have quite the task ahead of them. From what I’ve heard, though, they’re doing an awesome job!

What were your favourite books as a child?

From the Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler
A Wrinkle in Time
The novelization of Star Wars
Splinter of the Minds Eye
Chronicles of Narnia
Go Dog Go
Are You There God, It’s Me Margaret

Did you read romance books as a teenager?

Actually, I didn’t. I wasn’t really aware of romance as a genre (I’m sure I read the occasional book) until I was about 24.

What does a typical day as a writer consist of?

Get up.
Drink a million cups of coffee while listening to Dora the Explorer
Feed child
Read emails.
Urge child to get dressed
Look at calendar and figure out what I’m supposed to be doing.
Urge child to get dressed
Answer emails
Threaten child with no Dora if she doesn’t get dressed.
Help child get dressed
Drive child to day care
Drink more coffee
Read over what I wrote yesterday
Edit same
Surf Internet
Read over what I wrote
Wander aimlessly around the house thinking about story
Write more
Check email
Read and edit
Make more coffee
Write more
Do promo related stuff and feel guilty for not writing more
Swim for ½ hour
Wash, rinse, repeat until 4ish
Pick up child
Evening with family
Answer emails
Write until late into the night
Add up pages.
Curse or rejoice depending on how close I came to pre-set goal

(pretty glamorous, huh?)

Is that the equivalent of wash, rinse, and repeat? (grin)

Name your top five favourite books of all time.

Pillars of the Earth
Atlas Shrugged
Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy
A Wrinkle in Time
The Ghost and Mrs. Muir

Which authors are you glomming at the moment? (reading a lot of?)

J.D. Robb
Charlaine Harris

Do you have other close romance writer friends, and if so who are they?

My two closest friends are my critique partners: Kathleen O’Reilly and Dee Davis

When did you realise that you wanted to write books, and who or what inspired you?

From as early as I can remember, and I have no idea re the source of inspiration, other than all the wonderful books and stories I’ve read (or been read to) since day one!

How long has it been since you first got published?

First book came out in Feb 2000

How did you get your first book published? Did you have a mentor?

No mentor, but by that time I was critiquing with Kathleen O’Reilly, and I know her feedback helped. I sold my second manuscript after winning a first chapter contest sponsored by TARA. Brenda Chin requested the full, and soon after I sold. It was VERY exciting!

Which of your books do you feel that you are best known for?

In romance, probably
Aphrodite’s Kiss. Overall, probably Carpe Demon.

If you could have a one-to-one conversation with a famous historical figure, who would it be with and what would you talk about?

Ack! I don’t know! How about Leonardo Da Vinci: Who was really the model for the Mona Lisa?

What is your ultimate goal when it comes to your writing?

To entertain by telling a page-turner of a story

How has the romance industry changed from when you first started writing, and which of these changes were you happiest/unhappiest with?

Um. I guess the paranormal thing has been the biggest change. When I was marketing my first single title in 1999
(The Cat’s Fancy), I was told it wouldn’t sell in a million years.

Paranormal just wasn’t selling. What was this shape-shifting cat thing, anyway?? It did sell, got great support from Dorchester, and did really well. After that, though (actually, more after Aphrodite’s Kiss – a superhero romance) the market shifted. Suddenly, paranormal, which had been stone cold dead, was the hottest thing around. And I think it’s fair to say it probably is still sizzling hot (figuratively and literally).

In this day and age, do you think it’s possible for new romance writers to make it without having some kind of presence on the internet?

Anything’s possible :) Would I recommend it? Nope.

In your experience, what would you say was the most effective method of marketing a romance novel?

Placement, which can only be controlled by your publisher. And word of mouth (which, really, deserves the number one slot)

Which of your books is dearest to your heart, and why?

Well, they’re all my babies, so I can’t really play favourites. But I could say
The Cat’s Fancy because it truly was a book of my heart. I loved the concept and pursued selling that sucker despite tons of people telling me it just wouldn’t happen. After that, Carpe Demon, because I am absolutely head over heels in love with the heroine.

I just love writing her stories, and this is the first book I’ve been able to follow the same protagonist throughout multiple books – something that isn’t really feasible in pure romance because of the nature of the genre.

I’ve always wondered about this, but as an author, once your books are published, do you actually go back and read them yourself, and if so, are you able to enjoy them, or do you perhaps see things that make you want to chew your own arm off in frustration? (grin).

I don’t because:
1) I’m terrified they didn’t correct the mistakes I marked in the galleys and would just rather not know
2) I’ve moved on. I’m on another story now and don’t really have the inclination to re-read (honestly, by the time the thing is published, what with writing and editing before submission, then editing for your editor, then line-edits, then copy-edits, then galleys, you’ve usually seen the story so many times you do want to gnaw your arm off.)
3) I already know the story (see above). If I’m going to sit down and read, I want something I haven’t read before!

Even so, I have done it a couple of times. Once, I picked
Cat up off my shelf and opened it on a whim. Started reading, got absorbed in the story, read to the end, and cried my eyes out. That was very gratifying!!

More recently, I re-read Carpe Demon as I was working on the sequel because (ahem) I didn’t do as good a job on the series bible as I should have, and I wanted to go back and check a few things. I’m happy to report I was still happy with the story!

Has anything a reviewer or reader said or written about you changed the way you write?


Ok, that was to the point (grin).

Earlier this year, RWA attempted to try to define romance, and it caused a bit of a furore round the romance blogosphere, due to the limitations of the definitions. What were your thoughts on this at the time, and do you think it’s possible/necessary to define romance in a way that doesn’t exclude other sub-genres?

Well, I guess I have to admit that I didn’t really pay attention. I was probably on deadline (I usually am!). (Yes, with deadlines, various other commitments, and a four year old, I can be extremely tunnel-visioned!) So I didn’t actually have an opinion at the time!

When was the last time you went overseas and where did you go?

Paris. November of 1997 (might have been 1996). I took my mom there for Thanksgiving because she’d never been to Europe before. I left my poor husband to have Thanksgiving dinner alone at Luby’s :)

Who are your favourite romance hero and heroine of all time?

Roarke and Eve.

What kind of characters would you say you typically wrote?

Strong and smart. They have issues and vulnerabilities, but they know their own minds

If only one person could read your book, who would that be? (as in the person who you would want most to read your book)

Hmm. Not sure I can answer that because having my books “out there” is part of the reason why I write. So I can’t really pinpoint one person and say “this book is for you.”

If you had to pick, who would you say has been most influential within the romance genre?

Nora Roberts, maybe??

What was the last movie you saw?

Derailed (I’m assuming you mean in the theatre.)

Name your top five favourite romantic films.

French Kiss
The Cutting Edge
Bringing Up Baby
Notting Hill (primarily for the press conference scene at the very end )
I know I’m blanking on tons of fabulous romantic movies, but it’s late ...

What was the last book you read, and did you enjoy it?

I’m in the middle of Eragon, and yes!
I finished The Professor and the Madman a few days ago, and it was fabulous.

Have you ever written a book that you didn’t particularly care for, and do you cringe if you see people picking it up to read it?

Nope. They’re all my babies :)
Though, as an honest parent, I can critically examine them and say that some are stronger than others.

What do you enjoy most about being a writer?

The creativity, the schedule, and the fact that it gives an outlet to the voices in my head

What do you least enjoy about being a writer?

Nothing. There are some annoying aspects about the business of being a published writer, but even those I cherish because, hey, I could still be practicing law full time....
(Actually, I suppose one thing that’s frustrating is that it’s just physically impossible to write all the stories I want to write. So I have to pick and choose. And that’s hard!)

As you’ve been there, done it, and have the badge to prove it, what is the number one advice that would you give to aspiring writers out there?

Read, read, read and write, write, write! Seriously, I think you learn both how to write and the components of story by reading and absorbing, and you discover your voice and build your skill set by writing.

Since all authors are readers, too, do you have any books you've especially enjoyed over the last year or so that you'd like to recommend to readers who've enjoyed your books?

Tons. I really should keep a list because I get asked these questions and my mind goes blank.
Okay: The Professor and the Madman (non-fiction; wonderful)
Plum Island
The most recent In Death book (I can’t keep up with the titles!)
The Earth, My Butt, & Other Big Round Things

I can’t say they’d necessarily appeal to folks who’ve enjoyed my books, but I loved each and every one of them!!

Finally, when’s your next book due out, and what’s it about?

The next one is
The Manolo Matrix, and it will be out in February. It’s the second in a 3 book series that started with The Givenchy Code and will end in 2007 with The Prada Paradox. Each book totally stands alone, but once you read all 3 books together, the underlying questions will be answered (and, with regard to some plot points) even revealed!

Ooh what funky book titles!!

The book (and the series) is about a computer game brought into the real world by an unknown person, in which the players have to solve a series of clues in order to stay ahead of an assassin whose only goal is to kill them! Much fun to write, and so far readers are telling me the books are just as fun to read, which is always gratifying to hear!

Thanks so much for taking the time out to answer these very nosy questions!

Thank you!

That’s it for this week folks, next week’s author should be Lisa Valdez, fingers crossed!

Ciao for now!