Jen: Today we welcome Katie Kenykercz to Romancing the Book. Katie, will you share a short bio with us?
Katie: I live in Seattle with my husband and Motley the cat, and I write hockey romance. I played one season of roller hockey when I was fifteen—it hurt enough that I decided I liked it better as a spectator—and it’s been true love ever since! My fictional team is the Las Vegas Sinners, and my real-world team is the Pittsburgh Penguins. I like strong, capable heroines who bring out the vulnerability in their tough guys.
Jen: Please tell us about your newest release and where the idea came from.
Katie: In Home Ice, Las Vegas Sinners captain and wunderkind, Dylan Cole, hits his first ever slump. He’s the face of the NHL and has created enormous expectations of his performance that he now must maintain to keep the media, the fans, and his own teammates and coach off his back, but he’s his own toughest critic. He meets his match in Olympic figure skater Lorelai Kelly. She broke her ankle in the last Games and is desperately training to get back to where she was but moonlights in the mean time as the star of Sin City on Ice. Lori is the only one who truly understands the pressure Dylan is under, and while they can’t seem to mellow themselves out, they have that effect on each other. Trouble pops up when the two stubborn and determined athletes both think they know what’s best for each other and disagree.
Home Ice is the fourth book in my Las Vegas Sinners series, and from the very first book, I got requests to give Dylan his own story. He was inspired by Sidney Crosby, my favorite real-world hockey player and captain of my beloved Pittsburgh Penguins. I’ve always been impressed by his grace and poise from a very young age. He was the youngest captain to ever win a Stanley Cup, and he’s been the face of the league since he was eighteen. I’ve wondered about the kind of pressures he must deal with and what that could do to a player, and thus, Dylan came to be. When plotting out this book, I asked myself what type of heroine would be his perfect match? Who would understand the kind of pressure Dylan was under? Another world-class athlete of course. Making Lori a figure skater put them in the same rink, and the rest snowballed from there.
Jen: Are you a plotter or pantser?
Katie: I’m a pantser who desperately wants to be a plotter. I get an idea for a book and the general arc of the story. I start to write, and things go smoothly until I hit the dreaded middle. Then it seems like I have to figure out how to kill time until my black moment. That’s something I still struggle with. I end up plotting it out scene by scene until the end. I write small descriptions on Post-It notes and stick them to my board. If only I could plot everything before I started to write, I’d have a much easier time, but my muse just doesn’t work that way. I’ve tried.
Jen: Do you have a writing routine?
Katie: Three, sometimes four days a week, I’ll meet up with fellow romance writers in cafes or their homes, and we’ll sit down and write for a good two hours. This really helps if you tend to procrastinate, which I do. When I’m on a deadline, I set monthly word goals, but in general, I try to write 1,000 words a day. If I go over, great, but I have to hit that 1k to stay on schedule, and I know that’s do-able even for a slow writer like me. When I have to write alone, I turn off the TV and sit at the kitchen table so I don’t lose focus.
Jen: What’s the most challenging aspect of writing? Easiest? Most rewarding?
Katie: Plotting is the hardest! Blargh. Give me a scene idea, and the thing writes itself. Ask me to plot a complex novel from start to finish, and I’ll be pulling my hair out. I hate plotting, but it’s a necessary evil of course. For me, dialogue is the easiest. I have a good ear for how people talk, and can “hear” my characters talk to me. It’s more like eavesdropping. That’s the best way I can explain it.
Jen: What did you do to celebrate your first book? Do you do anything to celebrate a sale, new contract or release?
Katie: I had a big book birthday party with my family. I put up streamers and balloons and had my book cover printed on a cake. I held a Facebook release party, and it was a great time. I try to do this for every book release, but poor Winning Streak came out the week my husband and I moved cross-country, so it didn’t get any love. I’m making up for that tonight with a big author signing at Seton Hill University in Greensburg, PA. It’s my alma mater, and I try to make the yearly signing when I can. Since Home Ice releases on Monday, I’m having my book birthday party with my classmates and friends. There will be books to buy, cover postcards, tote bags, buttons, and yes, there will be cake!
Jen: What’s next for you?
Katie: Sinners book 5, Fair Trade. I’m currently writing it, and it will be out by the end of the year!