Interview with Kylie Brant

Jen: Please help me welcome Kylie Brant to Book Talk. Kylie, will you please share a short bio with us?
Kylie: I’ve written twenty-five books for Silhouette Romantic Suspense (Intimate Moments) and three dark romantic thrillers for Berkley. I’m a two-time Rita finalist, five time Romantic Times nominee and a 2008 RT Romantic Times Career Achievement winner. My books have won the Daphne du Maurier award (two-time overall winner) and one of my releases is listed on Romantic Times’s all-time favorites list.

Jen: Tell us about Waking Nightmare and where it’s available.
Kylie: Waking Nightmare kicks off my Mindhunters series for Berkley. Each book features a forensic investigator working for a private agency that consults with law enforcement on particularly puzzling or high profile crimes. Waking Nightmare features Savannah detective Ryne Robel and forensic profiler Abbie Phillips tracking down a vicious serial rapist. Abbie discovers the process by which the offender is selecting his victims—the seemingly random acts of torture are actually calculated to match each victim’s darkest fears. And the stakes are rising. While they study the devious psychopath, he’s watching them—the next objects of his horrifying obsession.

The book is available online and in bookstores and releases September 1.

Jen: At what age did you discover writing and when were you first published? Tell us your call story.
Kylie: Ooh, this gets embarrassing! I’ve been writing since 1990. My kids were ages 12, 11, 7, 4, and 4. I had thought with the twins getting older, I was going to have all kinds of time on my hands so decided to write a book like the ones I enjoyed reading. This was pre-Internet and I was totally ignorant of the process. I didn’t belong to any writing groups and didn’t know anyone who was writing. When I deemed the manuscript ‘ready’ I opened up the front cover of one of my Intimate Moments books I’d been reading and got the publisher address—from there got their phone number and told the very haughty receptionist at Silhouette that I had a manuscript to send in and wanted to do know how to go about submitting it.

Suffice it to say, that’s not the way to go about it! She told me about tip sheets and query letters so I went through that process, got an invitation to submit and sent it in. In my ignorance I figured I’d hear back in about six weeks. Ahem. Four months later I got a two-page rejection letter from a senior editor telling me everything she liked and didn’t like about the manuscript. She invited me to revise and resend, which I did.

This time, a little wiser, I went ahead and started another book. Which was lucky, because it was six months before I heard back this time. I got another two page rejection letter inviting me to revise and resend. I finished the second manuscript and submitted that before revising the first yet again and resending.

When Silhouette called in 1992, I was actually home from work in bed with laryngitis. Leslie Wainger’s (then senior editor of the line) assistant was calling for my contact information which—go figure—I hadn’t included in the information with the manuscript. She assured me that Leslie was reading the manuscript at that minute and would be calling me later.

After I hung up, I started to wonder if I’d dreamt it! I couldn’t figure out why she’d tell me that before it was a sure thing. I had half convinced myself the call was a product of a Vicks Vapor Rub induced hallucination, when Leslie did call a couple hours later with an offer to buy the book. When she learned I could barely talk she offered to call back the next day but there was no way I was lettering her off the line!

The offer was for my second manuscript. A few months later she bought my first one, as well. So while I can claim to have published the first manuscript I ever wrote, honesty forces me to admit that it went through major surgery several times first!

Jen: How does your family feel about your career?
Kylie: They’re proud, although my kids tease me unmercifully about it. Now that they are old enough for some of them to read the books, they understand how much research goes in to them and that they aren’t a string of love scenes tied together! My husband reads all my books, which is really something since he’s not a lover of reading. He helps out by bringing me meals at the computer when I’m under deadline and driving me to my speaking events.

Jen: Describe your writing in three words.
Kylie: Gritty, emotional, suspenseful

Jen: Do you have a writing routine?
Kylie: I also teach full-time so the routine depends on whether it’s summer or during the school year. During summer I get up and exercise a couple hours and sit down to write. My goal is ten pages a day and I don’t get up until I accomplish it.

During the school year my writing time is reduced to nights and weekends, and that gets a bit grueling. My next three books are due by September 1, 2010 so every spare minute is spent writing.

Jen: How do you pick the character’s names?
Kylie: I make note of any names I hear that I like. Professional sports rosters are one place I look for ideas. Occasionally I’ll go to an Internet site for baby names. For last names I peruse phone books. But often a last name just pops into my head once I’ve chose the first name.

Jen: Do you feel as if the characters live with you as you write? Do they haunt your dreams?
Kylie: Certainly they’re constantly in my head as I write the book. They can be very pushy that way! But because I work full-time, I have to compartmentalize my time quite a bit so during the day when I’m teaching I’m not really thinking about my books very often. And when I’m writing everything else ceases to exist.

Jen: Is there a genre that you’d like to write? Is there a genre you’ll probably stay away from and why?
Kylie: I’m writing in my favorite sub-genre so feel very lucky that way. I’ll probably never write straight contemporary or women’s fiction because I always feel the need for action, for something to happen. I’d probably have four women sitting down for tea and an escaped convict would kidnap one of them or something I get bored easily, both in books and movies.

Jen: What five authors or people, from the past or present, have been important to you as an author? What question or comment have you always wanted to say to them?
Kylie: My parents have probably been the most influential people in my life. They always made me feel like I could accomplish anything. Both have had books dedicated to them. Authors that have influenced me are Nora Roberts, Elizabeth Lowell and Linda Howard. I’d like to tell them that if they had only written faster, I wouldn’t have run out of reading material and felt the need to start writing myself!

Jen: What has been your highlight of your career to this point?
Kylie: The lasting friendships I’ve made with other authors. I remember going to my first RWA conference in 1992. I didn’t know anyone and I was totally star-struck whenever I’d see one of my favorite authors from afar. I love getting together with writing buddies and talking books and writing for a week. It’s great to have a support system who ‘gets it’ when you’re talking about the industry.

Jen: Who are some of your favorite authors and books? What are you reading now?
Kylie: Love Nora! My two favorites of hers are Carnal Innocence and Hidden Riches. I’m a huge fan of Lee Child and his Jack Reacher novels. Right now I’m reading Christie Reece’s Rescue Me.

Jen: What’s next for you?
Kylie: Books 2 and 3 in The Mindhunters series (Waking Evil and Waking the Dead) will be released in October and November. I’ve just agreed to three more in the series that will come out in 2010—2011.

Jen: Where can you be found on the web?
Kylie: I’ve just launched a new website fairly recently at www.kyliebrant.com. It features a monthly contest and breaking news, as well as a discussion forum. I blog with nine other authors at http://ridingwiththetopdown.blogspot.com and can also be found at http://freshfiction.com/author.php?id=5609 and http://www.romanceinthebackseat.com/csssrrhp.htm .

Jen: Is there anything you’d like to ask our readers?
Kylie: What draws you to a new author? Is it the cover? The title? Back cover blurb? Do you ever open the book up and read the first paragraph? Flip through the book to see if you like the writing? What motivates your new buys?

Jen: Thank you Kylie for stopping by the blog today. Reader, Kylie is giving away a signed copy of Waking Nightmare. If you’d like to be entered in the drawing leave a comment and be sure to leave your email address. If you’d prefer not to leave your email, send a message to admin.bookblog@gmail.com after you comment. The winner will be chosen on Thursday, September 10.