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Saturday, November 27, 2010
Author Interview: Kaylea Cross
The Long and the Short of It: LASR is pleased to welcome Kaylea Cross, author of Cover of Darkness which recently won the Heart of Excellence Readers' Choice Awards, and is a 2011 EPIC Awards contest finalist, along with the 3rd book of her series, No Turning Back. She has been a very busy lady with the first book in the series, Out of Her League, being published by The Wild Rose Press in 2008. The fourth book, Relentless, is also out and the fifth and last in the series, Absolution is due out next month.
She also had some exciting news to share with us. Her next book has been contracted by Carina Press and is in the editing process now and will be released in ebook format next summer.
Kaylea makes sure she has an outline written down for her books to help her with writer's block. That way, if she gets stuck, she can jump to the next scene where she knows what she wants to say.
"Otherwise I'd never finish a book," she said with a laugh.
Sometimes she will even leave the project for a bit and take a breather.
Kaylea always dreams her characters up first and then she decides what situations would test them to their limits. She likes to know what terrifies them so she can pit them against it somewhere in the book.
"I like my characters to grow and change throughout the story arc, but I try to make it as hard for them as possible," she explained. "Before I write a scene, I envision it as though I’m watching it happen on a movie screen. That helps me get the characters’ expressions right, their tone of voice and all the visual things I need to put into the scene."
Every author has a unique voice, but the important things in a story are the same regardless of voice, Kaylea said.
"The plot, the characters and the emotions driving them throughout the book. I want all those things to be vivid and memorable for the reader."
When I asked which author was her favorite, she said, " I can’t pick just one, so I’m going to say Linda Howard for suspense, JR Ward for characterization, and Luanne Rice for breathtaking descriptions."
Kaylea, in addition to being a full-time writer, also has two active little boys. As a matter of fact, she received her edits for her first book while she was on bed rest during her pregnancy for the youngest. So, she tends to not only be an awesome multitasker, but she's also learned to work around them and their needs.
She has a big armchair (one-and-a-half wide) tucked up in a corner of her bedroom. It's cream with lots of pillows and she's added a sage green, velvet tufted French ottoman. She keeps her laptop on a table she painted a Civil War map on (she's a huge Civil War buff and has a Civil War novel that's still trying to find a home). Along with her laptop is a blue Victorian-beaded lamp her aunt made for her.
Kaylea is definitely a morning person, rarely being able to stay up after ten. So she answers email and gets her promo stuff done first thing in the morning, then she tries to get some writing in during the day when the kids permit it.
"Sometimes I sneak an hour while they’re having a snack or watching TV, and sometimes I work when they go to bed," she said.
She finds the hardest and longest part of writing the initial drafting, but then she works like a madwoman editing and polishing.
"I love polishing!" she told me. "The closer the finish line looms, the quicker I work. I tend to polish in longer stretches, too, because it energizes me. Same when my editor sends back edits and galleys—I try to get them done in one or two sittings if possible."
On a personal note, Kaylea admitted she would really like to have a dog, but her husband won't let her.
"Before we had our kids we had the worst Golden Retriever in the history of the world (think Marley and Me times ten), and now my hubby won’t let me get another dog," she explained, looking sad.
She hates how she looks in pictures, especially if it's a profile shot—"because I hate my nose," she said. "Thanks, Mom!"
The strangest thing she's ever eaten? Alligator. She told me that it didn’t taste too bad, but was a bit on the chewy side.
It's obvious from her books that Kaylea loves the military and special ops, so it's movies like Glory and Blackhawk Down that have her reaching for the tissues.
Her favorite pizza? "Whole wheat thin crust (because it’s gotta be crispy) with goat cheese, roasted red peppers, sundried tomatoes and artichokes. Yum!"
She also told me that she loves thunderstorms, however where she lives in Vancouver they are rare.
"Maybe one or two a year if we’re lucky, and they usually peter out in less than half an hour," she explained.
Finally, I asked Kaylea what advice she would give to a new writer just starting out.
"Read a ton of your genre, then find a dedicated (and if possible, career-oriented writer) critique partner to help you polish your work before you send it out to agents and editors."
You can keep up with Kaylea on her blog, http://kayleacross.blogspot.com