Thanks so much for taking the time to be with us today, Kari. Why don’t we start by having you tell us a bit about yourself and your background?
Hi, thanks for having me! I’m a M/M erotic author who started out in the romance market targeting category het like Silhouette Intimate Moments, but once I found M/M, I was HOOKED. In real life, I’m a part-time secretary who runs a food pantry and handles minor accounting.
When did you discover your passion for writing? Was there someone in particular who encouraged and inspired your love of storytelling?
I was bored one day, waiting for practice to start…I think it was the 6th grade? Whatever, I was a kid. Anyway, I was bored as hell and dashed off a version of Casey at the Bat featuring players on my school’s basketball team to entertain myself. The team hadn’t won a game all season, though, so instead of Casey striking out, I turned it around so my school’s team (miraculously) won. When it was time for my practice to start, I left the paper, which a teacher discovered. The chick typed it up, matted the thing and stuck it up on the school bulletin board. That was the first time I realized I could make people laugh with what I wrote and not just with what I said. BLISS.
What was your first book and how long did it take for it to be published?
My first book shall remain nameless and I’m reasonably confident I’ve destroyed all evidence of it, thank GOD. The second book was only marginally better, which is why there’s no evidence of it either, LOL. What Rough Beast (m/f vampires) was either my 4th or 5th book — how awful is it that I can’t remember anymore — but my first contract, offered by Loose Id. While WRB was in edits, Lovely Wicked (menage contemporary) and Spoils of War (m/m fantasy) were published with Noble. How long did it take me? Keeping in mind that I took quite a few years off at one point to produce offspring…Oh, let’s call it an even decade. LOLOL
Is there a particular sub-genre in which you enjoy writing more than others? (i.e. paranormal vs. historical vs. contemporary)
I adore paranormals and creating new worlds. Shifters, vamps, zombies…I love them all.
Do you prefer writing in the 1st or the 3rd person? What advantages do you see in writing in one vs. the other?
I don’t prefer one or the other…Whatever fits the story best. 1st is good when you want that tight, intimacy with one narrative character. 3rd allows you a little more distance, just that tiny step back. For me at least, other characters come into sharper focus when I’m writing in 3rd, though not always. I do a limited 3rd (told only through one character’s POV) that’s more observational without being quite as intimately experiential, if you see what I’m saying. (LOL)
How long does it generally take for you to finish a manuscript?
I work on 2-3 books in a bunch…It takes however long it takes. I tend to write the bulk of a book in a mad rush. We’re talking extreme binge-writing here. And then I let it sit. And sit. I fool with it. I add to it, take away. I clean and polish and scrub. I let the story grow and mature. For example, with Collared, I wrote the bulk of it in 2 bursts that lasted around 3 weeks and fiddled with it for several months more before I signed it with Riptide and finally filled in the last remaining bits.
How much creative input do you have in the cover design for your books?
With Riptide, I had input from the first rough cover sketch and on up to Riptide asking my opinions on the font of the final lettering. With my other publishers…They gave me the cover and I either liked it or I didn’t, LOL.
Do you write full time? If not, how many hours per day do you attempt to dedicate to your writing?
No, I have a day job. How many hours do I write? Depends on if it’s a work day (when I’m not at my best, to put it mildly) or if it’s a day off. Or if I have other commitments in my regular life. When I’m coming at it fresh (day off), I can generally produce 3K words, max, of solid work. It’s much stronger if I limit myself to 2K words, though, requires less cleaning up. On a work day, 1K words is stretching it. Sorry, that doesn’t answer in terms of minutes, but these days I process everything by my word count.
Do you typically outline your plots before you begin the writing process, or do you write in a more freestyle fashion?
Oh no, I outline. I invest a lot of time in world building, creating and fleshing out my characters before I start Page 1.
How much do your characters resemble you and the people you know?
I think pieces of me are in all my characters. Maybe one hero has my temper, another my sense of humor, but they probably all have shades of me inside them. I don’t base character on people I know, though. No way.
How much do you draw upon your own life experiences in your writing?
If I’ve visited or lived in a location I’m using as a setting, of course, I draw on that. Or careers I’m familiar with. But most of what I draw on is emotional experience. I remember what it felt like to be lost & confused, or happy, angry, whatever. I focus on the emotion, intensify it if need be and then I use it when my characters are experiencing those same emotions.
What has been the most difficult topic you’ve ever approached in your writing?
Oh, dude, that would be soooooooooo spoiler-ific. Collared quite simply has the most excruciating scene I’ve ever had to write. It wasn’t that what happens in the scene was so atrocious. The scene itself is actually very mild. But the emotions had to bring forward to write that scene the way it needed and deserved to be written took me to such a dark place. It was horrible, but so very, very rewarding.
Of all the characters you’ve created, do you have one in particular who stands out among the others as a favorite? If so, who and why?
Micah from Spoils of War is still one of my favorites. He has a child-like innocence to him, in spite of what he endured, that touches me so deeply. And oh lord, his vanity. I love his vanity.
When someone reads one of your books for the first time, what do you hope they take away from it?
I hope the story takes them on a journey. I hope, for just a little while, my story draws the reader into walking in a different world and breathing in my hero’s skin. I hope the story makes them hot, makes them angry when my characters make mistakes and makes them smile when my characters finally get it right.
Are you surprised by the ever growing female fan-base of Male/Male fiction?
Nope, not really. I’m a voracious reader myself. Love, love, LOVE it.
When did you begin writing in the Male/Male genre? What about it interests you the most?
I talked to several digital writers at RWA’s National conference in 2009 and came home from the conference, determined to give digital a try. It was love at first sight. I was enthralled. I read book after book after book…and then I stumbled over a Josh Lanyon title. Wow. Granted, the stories I’m drawn to tell are very different than a Josh Lanyon book (to put it mildly, LOL), but I was captivated. I started reading M/M and the more widely I read, the more convinced I became that this was what I wanted to write too.
What was the best piece of advice you’ve ever received with respect to the art of writing? How did it change the way you approach your craft?
Don’t quit. Keep learning, keep growing in your craft. Even when I took time off from writing to have kids (although I still wrote on a hobby level), I focused on craft. I didn’t stop and NOT quitting has made all the difference.
Will you share three things you’ve learned about the business of writing since your first publication?
Only 3? LOL. I’ve learned that there’s a whole lot more I still have to learn. I learned a good editor is priceless. I learned that you need a couple of writerly compadres who will listen when you need to whine and give you a kick in the pants when you need that too. ;D
If you were to offer a word of advice to a new author just starting out, what would it be?
The same advice that was given to me — Don’t quit; keep learning & growing in your craft.
Do you generally have the titles of your work planned before you begin writing, or does that occur later on in the writing process?
Sometime the title is there from Day One. In the Red and I, Omega both were like that. Sometimes, the title comes while the story’s in-progress. And on at least one occasion, the damn book was finished and I was appealing to twitter for title ideas. (Sadly, the editor said no to Hot Pervy Smut. LOL!)
What is the question you’re most frequently asked by your fans?
Is there going to be a sequel? 😀
What is your most memorable fan experience?
I don’t know that you’d call it a fan experience really, but I met a writer friend and a reader friend while I was in NYC for a conference last summer. That was SO MUCH FUN!!! I lost the friend who’s a fellow writer in the crowd at the book signing, but my other friend and I hung out for a while talking about books and authors we both love. It was FABULOUS. 😀 😀 😀
Digital media—the e-reader/tablet computer/Android apps—is changing the way people access and enjoy books. What pros and/or cons do you see surrounding the business of e-publishing? How do you see digital media evolving in the years to come?
Now that Kindles are available for under $100, I see more people buying them which means more people reading ebooks. Happy dance! I think the growth in digital will continue for some time yet and that’s definitely giddy-ful news to me and other digital authors.
When you have the chance to sit down and enjoy some quiet reading time, what sorts of books are you most likely to pick up? Who are your favorite authors?
Oh, I read everything. Seriously. My Kindle’s loaded with paranormal (which I usually prefer), contemporaries, mysteries, comedy, sci-fi and fantasy…There isn’t a single sub-genre that I haven’t found something to love in. My favorite authors tend to be eclectic as well: Josh Lanyon (I’m a fangirl, LOL), KA Mitchell, LB Gregg (no relation), Kim Dare, Joely Skye, Jet Mykles…So many favorites, too many to name them all really. My auto-buy list is shamelessly ginormous.
If you weren’t a writer, what would you be?
What I am for my day job. I’m a secretary, sure, and I’m responsible for a fairly huge budget that gives me hives around this time of year when I start working up my year-end totals and drafting next year’s budget, but…My passion is for the food pantry I run in conjunction with my day job. When I started work, the pantry was visited by maybe 6-8 families/year? I see that kind of traffic in a week now. I stocked it. I got the word out. And we are making a difference for families struggling to make ends meet and retirees with too many bills and not enough pension. What I do helps people, every day. Who wouldn’t love that?
Shameless, preachy sidenote: contribute to your local food pantry! What you give DOES make a difference!
Aside from writing, what else do you enjoy doing? Do you have any hobbies?
I like reading, of course. I’m big on watching zombie movies, but any cheesy horror flick will do in a pinch, the cheesier the better. I also volunteer with a kids program and I enjoy hiking (as long as hiking does not involve my sleeping in a tent ON THE GROUND, no thanks).
If time travel were possible, what time period(s) would you most like to visit? Why?
I’d like to be on the Titanic, any class, as long as I could get off that ship before she foundered. I’m somewhat of an amateur historian about the RMS Titanic, started back in high school before Ballard even discovered the wreck.
If we were to look around the desk where you sit to write, what would we find there?
Hm, looking around…My cat. My laptop bag. Work I brought home from the office. Bottle of Mountain Dew and a clip magnet shaped like an alligator that my daughter and I made together when she was 4 with last night’s note still attached: “Went to Mtg, Back 8:30.” Huh. Not sure how that got there, but at least it’s not still hanging on the door. LOL
How would you describe your sense of humor? What makes you laugh?
Quirky. I enjoy life’s little absurdities.
Do you have an all time favorite fictional character?
Everyone in Stephen King’s The Stand (a book I re-read every cold & flu season). In M/M, it’d have to be Jake and Adrien from Josh Lanyon’s AE Mysteries.
What’s your biggest pet peeve?
Right now, it’d be people who don’t respect my personal boundaries, but that’s a RL issue, not a writing-related one.
Do you have a favorite personal mantra, quote, or saying that describes your outlook on life and the way you approach each day?
“Integrity is living the way you claim to believe.” I have no idea where I got it from, but I stumbled over it somewhere in junior high. It’s been the standard by which I live ever since.
Do you speak more than one language? If so, which one(s)?
I don’t speak it, but if you give me plenty of time to parse, I can read Koine (biblical) Greek.
Of all the modern conveniences, which one would you most likely say you couldn’t live without?
Coffee pot. Friends have invested years trying to produce decent coffee over a campfire to try to convince me to camp more. No. Just no.
Do you have any new projects coming up you’d care to share with us?
Collared will release with Riptide on November 28th. It features a world in which genetically engineered crops have mutated and propagated in the wild, causing a biological shift that affects the aggression centers in the human brain. Connor Witt is an anomaly. Instead of stimulating his dominant behavior, the disaster has suppressed his. Security consultant Emmett wants him. CEO David wants to protect him. One man offers safety, but the other is the safer bet. The problem is Connor isn’t sure which is which. The only thing Connor knows is he wants them both.
Thank you again for spending some time with us, Kari. Will you tell us where we can find you on the Internet?
Thanks for having me! If you would like to catch up with me, caffeinate yourself and head on over to http://www.KariGregg.com.
Friend me on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/home.php?#!/Kari.M.Gregg
Follow me on Twitter: http://twitter.com/#!/karigregg
Find me at Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4366316.Kari_Gregg
Leave a comment for Kari before 11:59pm Eastern time today (11/18/11) and you’ll be entered for a chance to win your choice of books from Kari’s backlist! (excl. Collared) Good Luck!