Jen: I’ve been a fan of Kathleen Long’s for a couple years now. When I received a recent newsletter and saw that she had a book coming out in November, I had to contact her and ask if she’d like to be a guest on the blog. So, this week we welcome Kathleen to Book Talk. Kathleen, will you please share a short bio with us?
Kathleen: After a career spent spinning words for clients ranging from corporate CEOs to talking fruits and vegetables, Kathleen now finds great joy spinning a world of fictional characters, places and plots. She is the award-winning author of breathtaking romantic suspense for Harlequin Intrigue, a RIO and Gayle Wilson Award of Excellence winner, and a National Readers Choice, Booksellers Best and Holt Medallion nominee. Kathleen’s greatest reward can be found in the letters and emails she receives from her readers. Nothing makes her happier than knowing one of her stories has provided a few hours of escape and enjoyment, offering a chance to forget about life for a little while.
Kathleen: The “what if” for my upcoming Harlequin Intrigue, Christmas Confessions, hit me one day while reading a story about PostSecret, an online site that draws countless handmade postcards each year. Each postcard features a confession of some sort—made anonymously. I was amazed by the outpouring of emotion and heartache displayed on the cards shown on the site, and I immediately thought what if someone used a similar site to confess a murder? Christmas Confessions and the fictional Don’t Say a Word website were born.
The back cover blurb:
Jack Grant just couldn’t leave a case cold. Luckily a hot tip led the investigator to Abby Conroy. Her Web site—Don’t Say a Word—broadcast a stalker confessing his many sins, and every crime was committed to get Abby’s attention.
Establishing contact with Abby brought Jack closer to a killer who had haunted him since the death of his sister. It had left him frozen, yet focused beyond belief—the perfect condition to keep Abby safe. But if protecting her thawed the pain that had chilled his heart, would he still have a chance to bring her home this holiday?
Christmas Confessions will be available wherever books are sold on November 11th.
Kathleen: I’ve been writing on and off since the second grade. At that time, I won my first contest and I was hooked. All through high school and college I kept journal after journal of thoughts, observations, story ideas, poetry, angst, joy, you name it. For years, I wanted to write, but it wasn’t until the summer of 2001 that I knew I HAD to write. My transforming moment came several months after our first daughter died. I picked up a book—a romance—by Barbara Delinsky. For the first time in a very long time, I was transported away from my broken heart. My grief fell away. I lost myself in the pages of that book and found a wonderful, safe escape. I vowed then and there that if my writing might someday provide a similar escape for a reader, I had to try.
My Call came on February 12, 2003 at 12:25 in the afternoon. I was standing in the kitchen having lunch with my hubby when Hilary Sares of Kensington Books called to make an offer on Get Bunny Love. I don’t remember much of the details, but I do remember sinking to my knees and watching the sheer joy on my husband’s face as he realized what was happening. Get Bunny Love was published in March 2005 and another twelve books later, I’m still loving what I do.
Kathleen: My writer’s voice has deepened over the years, I believe. I think it impossible for a writer’s voice not to shift in subtle—or not-so-subtle—ways. Our experiences shape us. They shape how we think, what we question, what we do and more than likely, how we communicate whatever it is we want to say. I believe my writing has more poignant moments now than it once did. Let’s be honest, my first book, Get Bunny Love, wasn’t exactly deep. Did it have its moments? Sure. But my efforts now—be they suspense, straight fiction, or comedy—are much bigger, broader and deeper in scope.
Kathleen: My only must-have for writing is in my lap as I type my responses to your questions. That’s my Dana, by AlphaSmart. I write all of my first drafts on the portable keyboard. There’s nothing I love more than grabbing my Dana either late at night or first thing in the morning. I write quickly on my Dana, and there is little or no temptation to edit because of the limited screen the keyboard offers.
I also believe the scenes I write on my Dana are more fully fleshed out from the get-go than the scenes I write on my laptop. There was a time, I must admit, in which I’d say another must-have for my writing was peanut butter M&Ms, but I’ve tried to be a bit better about that. I do still slip up, no doubt about it. Matter of fact, I could use a few right now! LOL
Kathleen: The thing about the romance genre that appeals to me is the Happy Ending. That’s the simple answer to that question. What other genre guarantees that at the end of each book the reader will walk away with a sigh, a smile and the knowledge that true love conquers all?!
Kathleen: I don’t celebrate new releases, typically, but I do celebrate sales. I have the Isabella Fiore purse collection to prove it! For each new contract, I treat myself to a decadent, delicious and delectable new bag. I love purses! A new contract is an excuse to splurge, though I have to admit I’ve limited my splurges to decadent diaper bags for recent contracts instead!
Kathleen: I’d very much like to return to comedy, although I’d like to write a much bigger book this time—something encompassing an entire family—or families, the woman’s journey, humor, passion for living and the a-ha moments that make us think as well as laugh.
Kathleen: I never cease to be inspired by my family—my daughters and my husband. As far as other authors go, I am constantly awed and humbled by the likes of Susan Elizabeth Phillips, Jennifer Crusie, Lisa Gardner, Lisa Unger, Harlen Coben, and more! Many, many more!
Kathleen: My favorite character would be Bernadette Murphy, from my work in progress. She’s a little overweight, a little over forty and a little over her head as far as life goes. She’s dealing with the death of her father, the unresolved grief of losing her daughter and life in general. And although that sounds fairly heavy, her journey is filled with laughter and love and friendship, just like my life. She’s the most like me of any character I’ve written, right down to the ratty sweatshirt she adores and her obedience-challenged dog who chases airplanes.
Kathleen: While my first instinct would be to say the highlight of my career came the day I sold my first book, the truth is the highlight of my career comes each time I receive a note from a reader telling me how much she enjoyed my work—whether something I wrote helped carry her through a rough patch in her life, or whether my story simply kept her turning pages late into the night. I write because a book once saved my sanity and I decided to try to do the same for others. If I succeed in some small way, that’s the greatest highlight I could ask for.
Kathleen: LOL. I have a soon-to-be-three-year-old, so I don’t have much free time. These days, I spend my time walking to the playground or shaping masterpieces out of Play-Doh. What spare time I do have is spent writing, planning or reading for research. I try to read for enjoyment at bedtime, but more times than not, I only get through a few pages before the day catches up to me. When I do have a few moments to myself and I’m not pushing a writing deadline, I enjoy dabbling in jewelry design. Someday I’ll have more time for it. At least, I hope I will.
Kathleen: Next up for me is a continuation of The Body Hunters for Harlequin Intrigue. I hope to do two to three new stories in the series over the next year. I’m also working on finding a home for a women’s fiction project that’s near and dear to my heart, and I hope to break into the genre of straight thrillers. I’ll keep you posted!
Kathleen: I’m easy to find on the web. I can be found at the Writers At Play site and blog (www.writersatplay.com) or at my own site, www.kathleenlong.com. There, readers can keep up with my latest news and upcoming appearances.
Kathleen: Yes! How do you squeeze more hours out of the day and what’s your favorite way to recharge when you’re running low on energy? A quick walk? A jog? An energy drink?
Thanks for the invitation to spend time with you here, Jen. I look forward to visiting this week.