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1.Tell us about your current project.
I’ve started a new series—Bluegrass Spirits—and am so excited that book one releases Tuesday, March 28. Each of the books is set in Kentucky (my home state and where I live currently) and includes a couple of matchmaking spirits from the other side who are heaven-bent on bringing the hero and heroine together. In book one, JESSE’S HIDEOUT, my spirits are Amelia Foster (the hero’s grandmother and heroine’s protector and benefactor) and the legendary Jesse James, who once hid out in the house. They’re trying to bring two lonely, workaholics together—Tillie, who inherited Amelia’s house when she died and has used it as her hideout from the world ever since, and Greg, Amelia’s grandson, whose marriage fell apart as a result of his putting work ahead of family. He isn’t in Kentucky looking for love, though. Instead, he wants to debunk the woman claiming his beloved Gram is haunting her inn. I had a blast writing this book! It’s quite a departure from my dark, emotional Rescue Me Saga and ROAR novels.
2. What sparked the idea for this project?
I’m glad you asked! As a kid, every time we visited my dad’s relatives in Samuels, Kentucky, he’d point out this house (the one on the cover, a photo I took myself) and say, “Jesse James hid out there.” Those words stayed with me for 50 years. About 25 years ago, I started a story similar to this one, but didn’t keep the manuscript. So, when I realized last year it was time for me to branch out into a new subgenre (Mainstream Contemporary Romance) and a new series, this was the first one to call to me. I’ve had a ball with it, because it’s enabled me to include so many things that are dear to me—family names, favorite places, and even some family recipes in a special section in the back (all recipes for dishes prepared by Tillie Hamilton, the heroine and innkeeper at Jesse’s Hideout B&B).
What’s so neat is that I have a cousin living just a few hundred yards away and she went up to the door one day and told the owners’ son that this writer was doing a story set in the house and wondered if she might be able to schedule a tour. I heard from the owners, toured the house in December, and was able to incorporate some of their own real ghost stories and Jesse James lore into my story, as well as make the house come to life after touring it from cellar to attic. It’s a federal-style home that was built in the 1840s or earlier and is a treasure!
2a: When can we expect to see this project?
Book one releases Tuesday (March 28) in e-book, but the e-book is available for preorder until it goes live. (The links will stay the same for both preorder and live release.) Starting March 28, I’ll also be having an online book signing on my Web site at http://kallypsomasters.com/jesses-hideout-paperback-virtual-signing for those wanting signed, personalized paperback copies sent directly to their homes.
Book two in the Bluegrass Spirits series, KATE’S SECRET, is going into developmental edits this week, and I am hoping to release it before the last day of spring (on the calendar, not when it feels like the last day LOL). But my personal life is difficult right now with my big sister being in Hospice and family always comes first. So we will just have to say book two will release “when it’s ready,” a familiar refrain my readers have repeated many times over the years when others have asked when my next book will be out. I write by the seat of my pants and my editing process alone can take three months with the many stages (developmental, content, beta reading, line edits, and proofreading). So I will appreciate everyone’s patience!
3. How do you choose your book covers?
I’m one of those who likes for the cover to in some way reflect a scene in the book. Sometimes I look for stock art and then have it altered so that if someone were to see it on another cover, it won’t be identical. For instance, on NOBODY’S PERFECT we added a coiled whip to Damián’s belt and changed the jeans on the model to a pair of leather pants. I also play with hair coloring a lot. However, I have two exclusive covers with photos no other book is allowed to use—NOBODY’S DREAM and ROAR. For DREAM, my readers actually discovered the Australian trick-pony rider Cal Snell, and bombarded him with messages that he’s Luke (my character). So I approached him about using the photo for the book’s cover, and he agreed to an exclusive deal. For Cassie on that cover, I bought an alpaca shawl (she’s an artist using alpaca fibers) and asked a photographer friend to shoot her from the back wearing the gorgeous shawl. As for ROAR, I hired a photographer and chose my models for that one. They were shot together. For the bed on that cover (in the story, it belonged to the hero’s grandfather), I found an image at an online Norwegian museum site and got licensing rights to put it on the cover. (My artist altered it a bit to fit the story.)
4. Music seems to influence a lot of authors, what are your musical influences, if any?
I included a Playlist for each of the couples in my Rescue Me Saga. (It’s available in the free e-book MASTERS AT ARMS & NOBODY’S ANGEL, as well as each of the others.) Usually, I’ll be driving along listening to a Pandora station and a song will come up where the lyrics speak to me about a character or couple or situation. However, I don’t listen to songs with lyrics when I write. Instead, I turn Brain.FM (a web site, which possibly also has an app now) and set it for Focus. It usually has no melody that will distract me and I just go to town writing away. Mostly it’s to block out what’s going on around me. I like being in the middle of my house (the dining room currently), but with a TV on in the next room and constant traffic from there to the kitchen, this helps me stay focused.
5. How do you handle "writers block"?
If I’m blocked it usually means one of the following:
A) I’ve veered off the path my characters are on and they’ve deserted me—so I backtrack to figure out where I went wrong. To help figure it out, I might take a nap, a shower (certain characters love to come to me in the shower!), or a long walk and talk it out.
B) I don’t have enough conflict to keep going—so I’ll stop and brainstorm. Sometimes I send what I have to one of my developmental editors and let her read it, then we go into a Google Chat hangout and hash it out for 90 minutes or so. Then I head back to work and usually can fill in the holes and missing scenes. I don’t write linearly, which helps with both 1 and 2 because if I’m stuck in one scene, I can also just bounce to another one that’s calling my name. But ultimately, I have to come back and deal with the writing issues. And lastly,
C) There’s too much going on in real-life for me to be able to write. For those times, I just take a break and spend time with family or time tackling whatever is going on, if I can make it go away.
6. Who has been your greatest influence?
I’d have to say there are two. Rachel Lee, who writes the Conard County series for Harlequin. We first met online in the early 1990s and then face to face, but she’s encouraged me, told me I’m a natural writer, and even helped me through a major depression. I love the way she did her series, and while I write much longer, more erotic books in my Rescue Me Saga, I probably got the idea of recurring characters coming into each other’s lives forever from her. I liked the sense of family she created among her characters in that fictional Wyoming county.
Secondly, Cherise Sinclair. Hers was the first erotic romance with BDSM I’d ever read and it opened up a whole new world to me. After reading her CLUB SHADOWLANDS, I started NOBODY’S ANGEL. Later, I backtracked and added an introduction when I realized this would be a series and wrote MASTERS AT ARMS. (These two are now a combined volume that’s free in e-book format at this time.)
7. Do you or have you ever had a muse?
I don’t really refer to them as muses, but I have very vocal characters who talk to me. If those are muses, then yes. But to me, they’re real people who happen to visit my head and tell me their stories. I do listen to the voices in my head!
8. What one subject is TABOO in your writing?
I’d never write rape, incest, child molestation, etc., for titillation. I do write about the ramifications of such and how survivors can go on to find their way to loving themselves and then a significant other eventually, but never would exploit them in a story, not even a fantasy.
9. What do you do when you aren't writing?
I spend time with my 4-year-old grandson Erik. He’s the joy of my life. I even used him as a model for the hero’s son in JESSE’S HIDEOUT, sharing some of the many funny conversations we’ve had. I also love to travel. My husband and I are going to be in South Carolina touring houses and gardens about the time you read this. And I also am on a quest to meet with at least one reader in all 50 states and 10 Canadian provinces. In September, when I go to Passion in Portland, Oregon will become the 30th state where I’ve met readers. And in July, my KallypsoCon will be in Burlington, Ontario, Canada, which will be the second province I’ve met with readers. (The first was Nova Scotia in 2015.)
10. If there was one book you wish you'd written, which would it be?
Gone with the Wind. Because MY version would have fewer long, drawn-out war scenes, more interactions with Scarlett and Rhett, AND a Happily Ever After ending!
11. What is your greatest passion?
My grandson Erik, of course. And writing!
12. What one word best describes you?
I cheated and asked my readers on my Facebook Timeline how they would answer this. I’d say the one I most agree with is Resilient.
13. If you could change places with one of your characters, would you?
Which one and why?
Sure. Several, actually. Tillie from JESSE’S HIDEOUT. I’d love to live in that house! Angelina from NOBODY’S ANGEL and SOMEBODY’S ANGEL, because the type of bedroom relationship they have is the closest to what I’d enjoy. And Cassie, because she lives with Luke! For Valentine’s Day, my husband gave me a lovely card and among the sentiments he wrote on it were that he would always be the Luke to my Cassie. (These two are very similar to our personalities and relationship. My “Luke” said it was 15 years before I trusted him not to leave me—and we can both pinpoint the day it happened. But for fictional purposes, I got Cassie to trust Luke in a matter of months, not years.) Thank goodness, too, because that book didn’t need to be any longer. But showing realistically (to a point) how difficult it is for someone who has been violated to be able to trust again was important to me. That was also true in NOBODY’S PERFECT where the heroine was an incest survivor and her path to healing also was a long one.
14. Is there one, current, TV show that is "can't miss" for you?
Who Do You Think You Are? (genealogy show), Lost Family (reuniting adopted parents and children and others separated over time), and Long Island Medium.
15. Money is no object, where do you go?
Ireland—and I rent a farmhouse near the sea in perhaps County Cork where I write and explore to my heart’s content for three months. (Longer than that, I would need a visa. Yes, I have looked into doing this!)
16. Tell me, please, the first two books on your TBR list.
BIG GIRLS DO IT STRONGER, by Jasinda Wilder. I’m on p. 99 of 422 on my iPad. I loved the first book and this one is just helping me to get more fit and healthy—but I haven’t had enough time to finish reading it.
Melody Anne’s THE TYCOON’S VACATION. It’s book two in her Baby for the Billionaire series and I loved book one. The heroes in the trilogy are cousins who went from nothing to becoming billionaires. I don’t usually read billionaire books, but I adore Mel and started reading the first book while walking on the treadmill. But I haven’t had time to continue the series!
17. How do you choose character names?
Sometimes I go to baby name sites and go by meanings. In JESSE’S HIDEOUT, I included a lot of family names, although not always with given names and surnames together.
17a: Are you any of your characters inspired by someone you know in "real life?"
Oddly, sometimes I meet people AFTER the fact who are the personification of a character For instance, Top Griz, my Marine expert who is now Kennedy Layne’s hubby. (I am their fairy godmother of love for having introduced them. LOL) He is so like Adam Montague, the “patriarch” of my Rescue Me Saga family that it’s scary. He emailed me for the first time a few months after Adam’s book came out. And Adam had been a mainstay in the two books prior to that (including the introduction). So I must have channeled him.
As I mentioned above, my hubby is very much Luke Denton. And interestingly, I am Marc d’Alessio even more so than Cassie. It was so funny, but when my husband was reading SOMEBODY’S ANGEL, he got royally pissed at Marc for something he did, and when we discussed it, I realized it was something I would have done.
But all of my characters take bits and pieces from people I either know or have observed or read about. However, when they start talking to me and telling their stories, they morph into being their own persons. Sometimes even how they look changes in my head over time!
18. Tell us one thing we may not know about you.
I met my husband of almost 34 years by answering his Lifemates & Situations ad in The Mother Earth News back in 1981. (I tease him that he was looking for a lifemate and I a situation.) We corresponded for six months before we met and, being a writer, it was the best way to get acquainted with someone. I was hardened to romance and love (even at 23), but he won me over and we moved in together for 11 months before we married in 1983. My marriage taught me that happily ever after takes maintenance, and that’s a recurring theme in my Rescue Me Saga.
19. What do you want to be when you grow up?
I always dreamed of being a Romance writer since I read The Flame and the Flower in the 1970s. I did a number of other things over the next few decades, then in 2011, I quit my last day job and pursued my dream at the age of 53. I can’t think of anything else I’d ever want to do!
20. Of the 7 Deadly Sins, which one have you committed most recently?
I must pious, because after reading over the list, I don’t really think I’ve committed any recently, but MOST recently, I’d have to say gluttony. I’m diabetic and my doctor told me I couldn’t overindulge every day in December for the holidays, but that one day wouldn’t affect my A1C too badly. So, I considered my one day to be Christmas Eve at my sister’s party until 24 hours later after Christmas dinner and I ate anything and everything I wanted. I’ve since started Jasinda Wilder’s BIG GIRLS DO IT RUNNING group and lifestyle program, and have cut out sugar, white flour, and all the bad things I used to love. (See? Pious, I tell you! Never thought I’d cut out those things from my life—well, mostly. But I got my A1C down from 8.5 to 6.9 over three months, including the month of December!)
Tillie Hamilton is the latest person to use her 180-year-old house in rural Kentucky as a hideout—taking her cue from the infamous outlaw Jesse James who frequented the place. The house she converted into a bed and breakfast is the only sanctuary she’s ever known, ever since the old woman she inherited it from rescued her from neglect as a small child.
However, sparks fly when her benefactor’s handsome grandson, Greg Buchanan, accuses Tillie of exploiting his grandmother’s memory for her own ends by claiming Gram haunts the inn.
Greg vows to debunk the charlatan’s claims but quickly discovers the charming Tillie is not at all what he expected. Embarrassed to admit he’s another of the conspiracy theorists she scoffs at, he hides his other reason for showing up at her B&B. But while reading his grandmother’s private journals, he learned Jesse James returned to this house in the 1930s, half a century after historians believed he’d been shot dead.
And yet his attraction to Tillie keeps him torn between setting history right and forging a new history of his own in Tillie’s arms. Tensions mount, leaving his grandmother’s spirit to think her dying wish—something she’s wanted since Tillie and Greg were children—may never come true.
Can Gram and Jesse make the two lonely overachievers see they belong in each other’s arms before time runs out for them in this lifetime?
Amazon UK goo.gl/5ZTfP7
Amazon CA goo.gl/Tmc6zA
Amazon AU goo.gl/yftGUG
Barnes & Noble goo.gl/528Srj
Jesse’s Hideout available at Google Play on release day, March 28.
To try Kally’s adult contemporary romance Rescue Me Saga series, book one (the introduction and first romance) is FREE. Download links for MASTERS AT ARMS & NOBODY’S ANGEL are at http://kallypsomasters.com/master-at-arms-nobodys-angel/.
For buy links to ALL of Kally's books, go to kallypsomasters.com/books
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