Kindle Editor Alyssa Morris sat down to interview J. Kenner, winner of the first ever RITA award for erotic romance. The author discusses the challenges and benefits she faces writing in various genres, as well as how her past career as a lawyer inspires her writing today.
Alyssa Morris: Thanks for taking the time to talk to us today. You write in a ton of different genres. What are the challenges and benefits of writing in all of those different genres for you?
J. Kenner: The challenges are keeping your readership and recognizing that the readers who like the really steamy stuff may not like the light and funny stuff. And even more likely, the people who like the light and funny stuff might not like the steamy stuff. So just to know that you have different readers. But that also expands your readers. I’ve been surprised at how many crossovers there are, really, which is great. Time, also, obviously. I like all sorts of stories. If I could write in every genre in the whole wide world, I would be such a happy camper. But you have to kind of rein yourself in at some point. So that’s a benefit, it’s fun for me. And also, like I just had an indie-published demon hunting soccer mom book come out, which is a series I love. I was very sad when it was traditionally orphaned and the series ended so I was thrilled to have the opportunity to bring it back to life. And it’s really nice because I’m doing this super steamy stuff on the Random House side with my Stark trilogy and my Most Wanted, but sometimes you want a palette cleanser. So I was able to finish doing some edits on the demon hunting soccer mom in the midst of that and it kind of gives you a break and lets you get back into the really intense characterization of the erotic romances that I write. Because they’re very—the characters are messed up and the plots are very emotionally driven, so sometimes you want just a really light and funny break. Not that the demon series is totally funny, it’s got issues. But it’s a different vibe to it. So it’s nice to have that change and just get into the different mindset.
AM: Definitely. As a Texan, are you happy to be in San Antonio?
JK: I am! Although I have to say, it’s always fun to go someplace else. I’m looking forward to New York next year because who isn’t. I love New York, so that’ll be fun. And I love to travel, so one of the cool things about conferences is travel without guilt, because I’m going for work, so on the one hand I really like to go someplace that I’ve never been before, you know, maybe someplace on the west coast which RWA doesn’t go to very often. But on the other hand San Antonio is a really cool town. The River Walk is a lot of fun. I’m already used to the heat, so it’s not as big a deal for me, and I can drive. So I have all my stuff in the back of the van instead of having to deal with suitcases so that’s a benefit and makes it a lot of fun.
AM: Talking about travel, I talked to Julia London yesterday and saw you guys were just in London together?
JK: We had so much fun! Yeah, we had a blast. I had gone—we had talked about just doing a vacation together and going to London over the summer or this year, really, and then I had the opportunity to go to the Edinburgh signing that RARE did (Reader and Author Romance Events) and it was a wonderful event, but I had told Julia since I’m already gonna be over there I don’t really want to make that flight twice, so let’s meet up. So that’s what we did. And we shopped and we ate and we went to this wonderful cabaret and met some lovely ladies who were having their hen ‘do, which is their version of a bachelorette party. So we danced with them and just had a fabulous time. Really fun. Too much shopping, too much eating, lots of walking. Lots and lots of walking.
AM: So there are, as far as I can tell, a ton of romance writers who used to be lawyers.
JK: It seems to be a breed, yeah.
AM: Like you. So does that influence your writing at all?
JK: It does. Not as much as you would think. I originally wanted to be a writer and when I got serious about it I thought I must be John Grisham because I’m a lawyer, and that didn’t work out so well for me. That wasn’t really what I wanted to write. So I’ve done some characters who are lawyers, I’ve done some characters who are just in the legal world both real and imagined in a paranormal series that I had. But directly relating to the writing, it’s not so much. It’s more—lawyers live by deadlines. You have to have papers turned in on such and such a day, you know, the trial will start on such and such a day, the motions will be heard on this date, so that makes it very, coming into the world especially of traditional publishing when you have your deadlines, it makes it much, it feels normal. And you learn to work towards a deadline, You get that very clear, so yeah, it impacts everything. I’m pretty detail-oriented. You know, certainly used to being edited for trying to get—I’ve done Supreme Court briefs and everything so you edit those, you really edit those. So yeah it makes an impact.
AM: Are there any genres you haven’t written in that you’d like to explore sometime?
JK: I’ve written romantic suspense but I’d really like to take it up a notch and write it a little bit more thriller-esque because I just love reading those. Now whether or not I would ever make that a career I don’t know but I think it’d be fun to do. I have an idea for a mainstream women’s fiction, not even really women’s fiction. Whatever genre you would say like Water for Elephants is in, that kind of a book. Kind of spread over a lifetime, almost literary but very readable. Commercial literary I guess you’d call it The idea, I love it, but it doesn’t make sense for me to write it right now, so you’re kind of going oh. I would love to write YA because my kids are aging up and I would love for them to have something to read that I wouldn’t have to say no, no that's not appropriate. Here, go read my demon series. So yeah, apparently there are a lot of them! I just did a horror short story for Cemetery Dance and that’s a lot of fun, you know, but. You can spread yourself so thin and you can’t always grab the new shiny. It’s like oooo squirrel! (laughs) Which I have a tendency to do because I get so excited about the stories and I want to write them, but if I had Hermione’s time turner or something it would make life a lot easier. But I don’t.
AM: I just read Wanted, I read it in one sitting, I got totally sucked in, so what’s next in that world for you?
JK: Heated came out June 3, so it’s out and doing really well and I really love that character. And then Cole’s story, Ignited, came out September 2nd. So I’m excited about that. So that’s a lot of fun. And then next, I’m actually going back to the Stark world, so I’m excited about that, too. That’ll be a lot of fun.
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