Kris Kennedy, Author of the Month

Kris Kennedy writes sexy, adventure-filled medieval romances for Kensington and Pocket Books.  THE IRISH WARRIOR, winner of the 2008 Golden Heart(R) Award for Best Historical Romance, released June 1st.  Read a sexy excerpt!

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Tell us a little bit about yourself.

Let’s see, how long before I bore you all to tears . . .

I used to be a psychotherapist, working with high-risk, suicidal and self-harming women, doing therapy and training other clinicians and designing programs using the concepts.

It was exciting, highly-rewarding work, although the non-clinical work (regulations, cover-your-a** considerations, etc etc) started to be more draining than the work.  And I found I kept getting pulled to writing.

Finally, after I had my son, I really cut back on therapy and the consultations, and focused more on being a mom and writing.

You won the Golden Heart in 2008 for THE IRISH WARRIOR, your second novel. Can you please tell us a little bit about it and how you came up with the concept?

This was the craziest, morph-ing book.   I LOVE this book,. But at times, it seemed like the endless trek.   Fortunately, I love this book, so I could stick with it.  LOL  I love the hero and heroine: they’re funny, smart, truly in love almost from the first moment, but unable to admit it for a variety of reasons, not least of which is all the soldiers and barons hunting them down.  🙂

It started, though, as a much simpler story.  After the GH win, when my editor suggested we use that as the 2nd book in the Kensington contract, I decided I needed to amp up the stakes and make it more . . . stake-y.  🙂  Basically, I needed bigger plot, and I needed it organic to the character’s and their arcs.

And so, after many considerations and much tweaking, enter the beautiful weapons: the Wishmé Dyes.  This was amped-up external plot, and it was exciting and fun to research.  But I have to say, the best part of the book for me is Finian and Senna together.  And they are together, alone, for a great deal of the book, since they’re on the run, working together to survive.

I’m incredibly excited to say that Eloisa James read the ARC and is featuring The Irish Warrior in her June Barnes & Noble romance column!   I’m beyond honored, and thrilled to know the story is reaching further than the traditional medieval-reading reader.  Roxanne St. Claire also gave a quote for The Irish Warrior, and I can’t tell you how honored I am to have such stellar voices in the romance world taking note of IRISH.

What other projects do you have in the works and are they all historicals?

Ooh, yes!  Great question. 🙂

I am at work right now on a medieval for Pocket Books, set on the eve of Magna Carta with a dangerous knight on a mission who runs up against a very determined heroine.  She completely upends his world, but unfortunately, her mission crosses his, and threatens the tottering kingdom one of them is trying to save.

What inspires you? What were your writing influences?

Good writing inspires me.  The act of writing inspires me.  I love the creative well.  I get excited by the notion of being excited, and I feel tremendously blessed by that.  I think sometimes it’s hard to be persistent, if you have your eye on the prize, so to speak, say a publishing contract, or a certain level of talent or skill.  But I love the act of writing itself, I love getting better,  honing my craftsmanship.

Not to be trite and almost-useless in my reply or anything, but I suspect every book I’ve ever read has influenced me.   🙂   From Little House on the Prairie books to Anne of Green Gables to Julie Anne Long to E.M. Forester, I can sometimes feel the energy of those words–and the way I felt when reading them–running through me.

As far as specifically the medieval-ness of my stories….  when I first read Marsha Canham’s medieval series, Through A Dark Mist/ In The Shadow of Midnight/ The Last Arrow trilogy, I think it was that night I started writing medievals.  So, I dunno, does that count?  🙂

Tell us about the day you got “The Call”.

Oh, yes, the day of the Pink Eye.

I was tending my son’s pink eye when my agent called with the news. It was all, “Oh, wow, mmm, wow, yes, uh-huh” while holding a compress to my son’s ragingly pink eye, hoping I wasn’t getting pink eye germs on the phone.

Fun!  Glamour!  Whimsy!   Ah, the life of a romance writer…

What is the hardest part of being a writer? The easiest?

The hardest part is what I think must be true for all artists and athletes, for anyone who does something because they MUST, but that doesn’t they do it well every day.   Certainly, will alone is insufficient for the task.   Will and discipline are essential: with them, nothing meaningful occurs.  But alone, they aren’t enough.  The muse has to show up too, and she is fickle.

You can show up for work and will yourself to smile even when you don’t feel like it, but you can’t show up at the baseball game and will yourself to hit a homerun.  (Or, if you’re the Seattle Mariners, you can’t, apparently, will yourself into even a simple base hit.)

Likewise, I can’t sit at my computer and will myself to write wonderfully.

Don’t get me wrong.  I’m a craftsman, so I sit at the computer anyhow, and  write crap those days.  I keep writing.  It’s just that it’s painfully hard when you keep hitting a wall, and can’t access the creative the Well.

That is hell.

The easiest part…  Hmm.  Can I say the best part?  Accessing the aforementioned Well.  😉

What is the biggest misconception about romance authors that you’ve come across?

Cats.  We all have cats.  And we write ‘smut’.    That it’s easy.  And that I’m too smart for this, and one day, I’ll start writing ‘real’ things that have substance and meaning.

Do you have any words of wisdom for aspiring writers?

Persist.  And love the craft.

If you don’t love writing, the process of it, it’s going to be hard to be persistent over the long haul.

And by ‘love,’ I don’t mean ‘enjoy.’

At least not all the time.  I don’t mean you have to love the times your stuck, or the way you can’t tap into the Well, or whatever.  I mean LOVE it.    Love the craft, the process, that it exists.  Be devoted to it.  Appreciate its depths.  Acknowledge how it taps into you, and changes you.  Give it at least some of your high-quality attention & time.

And in that state of being, persistence will pay off.  Persistence like that always pays off.

Finally, what can our readers learn from your workshop this month?

It’s going to be a terrific week!  We’re going to talk about tension.  Your readers’ tension.

We’ll talk about how to build page-by-page tension and generally how to make your characters suffer.  It’s going to be a blast.  Hope you enjoy!  (Your characters might not, btw. They may even rebel.  But in the end, they will thank you.  It’s Tough Love for the Fictional Folk.)

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4 thoughts on “Kris Kennedy, Author of the Month”

  1. Loved your first book, Kris, and looking forward to reading The Irish Warrior and to the “Tension” class. Congratulations on the new release. Appreciate how you share your time and knowledge!

  2. Kris,

    I was nodding my head the whole time I read this. Yep, gotta LOVE the writing. And nope, I don’t have cats either, we’ve got snakes and a dog in our house. The pink eye story sounds pretty familiar too. Are you sure we aren’t related?

    I can’t wait for your workshop.
    Kimberley Troutte

  3. Loved your first book, Kris! Congrats on the 2nd! I just love Ireland! Have you ever been?

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