Monday, July 5, 2010

Author Interview with Kaily Hart

Please welcome the talented and newly published Kaily Hart. Kaily writes sassy and steamy contemporary romance with a delicious dose of alpha hero. Her debut novella, Picture This, released by Ellora's Cave on June 29th, is already stacking up fantastic reviews. No surprise there! Her strong voice, fast pace, and memorable characters make it hard to resist being drawn right into the 'picture'.

I had fun interviewing Kaily about her journey to publication, approach to writing, call story and more. She'll be popping in to answer questions, so read on and ask away!

1. You had a successful career in the IT industry. Describe the moment when you realized that you wanted t write romance. Was there a specific catalyst?

Yeah, I did, didn’t I? Think they’re hiring right now? LOL. Just kidding! I don’t think I’d swap what I’m doing right now for anything. I did the practical, responsible, ‘support my family’ route for a long time. I founded, built and sold my own company. I worked as an executive in corporate America for several years. Late in 2008 it was time to move on. Saying I was burned out was a severe understatement. At the time, I thought I was bowing out of that world to spend more time with my family, and the kids in particular. They were getting older, their interests were broadening and their homework was increasing! I wanted to be there for them, I wanted to be involved with their lives outside the house. I had I guess what you could call a romantic idea of what it would be like to be a SAHM (Stay At Home Mom). I had these visions of lunches with other Mom’s, taking classes in photography and art, learning about gardening and getting more involved at the kid’s school. Getting fit!! I had been so busy with my career, I hadn’t really had a chance to do any of that before, not really. Well, that lasted about 4 weeks! I was quite simply… bored. I’m a bit of a type ‘A’ personality. OK, probably more than a ‘bit’ and it just wasn’t enough to keep me engaged. Just like that I decided I was going to write a romance novel. Unbeknown to any of my friends or colleagues, I’d read romance for years. All genres pretty much. As I was writing I discovered (going through some old files, both electronic and hand written) something startling. I’d been jotting down ideas, stories and had even managed to write (kinda sorta) a novel over the years. It sounds weird, but it was a bit shocking. I’d actually been ‘writing’ and for awhile. I figure the urge and desire has always been there, but I’d suppressed it out of practicality. Now? It’s been unleashed full force!
2. What genres do you read? Did you know right off the bat which genre/category you wanted to write for?

I read across all the genres. Really, I’ve read probably everything at least once. I even recently read a male/male romance. It was interesting and well written, but not something I’d probably write. I’m too interested in the male/female dynamic for that. I don’t think of love, sex or romance as being genre specific, so if the characters are deep, the story compelling and the emotion intense, the genre doesn’t really matter for me. I started writing contemporary for a few reasons. For a start, I really love contemporary romance. I love current themes and modern language and being able to push things a bit. The alpha hero in contemporary romance has gotten a bit overshadowed by the vampires and werewolves in paranormal romance, so I like to think I’m able to still have a totally alpha hero who doesn’t have fangs or the ability to shift into an animal! For my first serious forays towards publication, I didn’t want to have to worry about doing extensive research or complicated world building, which would have been required for an historical or paranormal book. I wanted to just be able to focus on the craft of writing and penning the best story I could. I particularly love paranormal, so I’ll probably write in that genre at some point as well.

3. We all love call stories. Would you share yours?

The fact that I actually wrote a novella and submitted it to Ellora’s Cave (EC) at the time I did, wasn’t planned. At all! It just sort of happened. I was looking at their call for submissions for a special series anthology one day, and a specific idea for a story just came to me. I played with it for awhile in my head and basically had it all mapped out, but I exited and moved on. Or so I thought. The characters I’d thought up in that short amount of time wouldn’t leave me. Eventually, I relented and just wrote the story. It took me seven days and I fell in love with writing novellas! I figured at that point I might as well submit it. Twenty-two days later the editor emailed me. She let me know that if I was willing to make some revisions, she’d evaluate again but due to time constraints, the story could not be considered for the original series I’d submitted it for. My initial reaction? I was bummed that my story would not be in the special anthology. It took someone else to point out that that was probably a good thing because they were willing to possibly publish it as a stand alone story. It was a forehead slap moment for sure. When I really dissected the email, it was a very basic revision request resulting in minor changes. Sometimes the non-committal language an editor has to use is easily misunderstood! It really said, ‘there’s no guarantee, but if you make these changes to our satisfaction, we’ll publish it as a stand-alone book’. So, I revised it and sent it back. About 3 weeks later, I received another email. The editor was pleased with the changes and was going to recommend it for publication. Queue the non-committal language again. I wasn’t hugely excited at first, but on closer look, it was actually an offer of publication barring any major roadblocks. I was FINALLY excited!!

4. A writer's skills and methods are always evolving. How has your approach to writing (plotting, pantsing, outlining, drafting, playlists etc...) changed since your first manuscript? Do you tackle your novellas any differently than your fulls?

Well, I think of my first manuscript as a story I wrote at the end of 2008 BUT it was really a revision, expansion, rewrite of a smaller book I’d actually messed around with years ago. The thing about this first book that I’ll always remember, is that by the end? I’d found my ‘voice’, that unique way of telling a story that’s specific to a particular author. BTW I can’t write to music. I see a lot of authors talk about playlists, but the music just distracts me when I’m doing the grunt work of actually writing. It’s great in the car to get the creative juices going, though. I can write to background noise and just tune it out, but I can’t listen to actual music when I’m writing. The story of the music is competing with my own too much.

I’m not sure my approach has changed a great deal. Yet. One thing I do spend a lot of time on is characterization. I create a ‘character map’ for the hero and heroine. It’s a spreadsheet that lists everything about the character; their background, their history, their beliefs and thoughts along with all the demographic information about them. This is a time consuming and extensive process. Most of the information isn’t used explicitly in the book, but throughout this effort I know the characters so well, I can put them in any situation and know how they’ll act. For me, it grounds the book. I usually know the beginning of the story and how the characters meet. I usually know how it concludes and what draws it to an end. I know some of the scenes along the way, but when I start writing, I don’t have a complete outline. There has to be some surprises I feel, even for the author. I also have a style of writing I call ‘writing all over the book’. I don’t write linearly. I write whatever scene I feel in the mood to write or whatever calls to me that particular day. I used to wonder how directors filmed a movie with all the scenes out of sequence, but that’s exactly how I write. Perhaps it’s a longer process, but it’s what works for me right now.

I do write novellas differently than the full length novels. With the novella, I found I actually do develop an outline. It’s short so every chapter, every scene has to count and forward the story on, so I feel that when I start I have to know where every aspect is heading. I love writing novellas. It’s like instant gratification for the writer. They’re fast, every word has to count and the premise has to rock.

5. You have a wonderful blog at Are you glad that you started it before getting 'The Call' and would you recommend blogging (or having a website) to unpublished authors?

Awww thanks, Rula. I’ve actually put a lot of time into that blog and I’ve been happy with how it’s turned out. Absolutely. I’m so glad I started it before ‘The Call’! It takes time to figure out what you want to do with a platform like that and to connect with people enough that they would be interested in what you have to say. I always felt I needed to start to establish myself to some degree before publication, even if it was simply to familiarize myself with the different facets of social networking. Despite coming from the IT industry, social media is not natural to me. I didn’t think I would even like blogging, but I force myself to try everything. I ended up loving it and started the Just Published segment (talking to recently published authors) because I wanted to provide some educational value in an area that I was very interested in myself. Now, I’m addicted to socializing on the internet. In addition to several forums I frequent, I also now have a website, have started on Facebook, and am just about to tackle Twitter. I think it makes sense for unpublished authors to explore all these outlets and find which ones resonate. They’re not for everyone so you have to find what’s comfortable for you and fits with your style. Beware of the time suck, though! Writing should still be your priority.

6. Now for a little fun! If you were stranded on an uncharted island, which movie star/famous singer and book would you wish you had with you? Kindles are cheating! Plus, they'd run out of charge :).

Hey, wireless electricity is technically possible already and will undoubtedly be the way of the future! Besides, I have an iPad now J. You know, this was the hardest question you asked me. There’s not a lot of male celebrities that really interest me beyond the ‘oh, he’s cute’. I think if I was stranded, that would get old pretty quick. So… I’ll go with Angelina Jolie. I think she’s fascinating and between us we have a LOT of kids and we each have twins! I think we’d find a lot to talk about and I don’t think she’d just stand around waiting to be rescued. Neither would I! Now, for the book. The first thing that came to mind was the new book by Karen Marie Moning that’s due out at the end of this year. It will be the conclusion of a series I’ve been reading and I’m looking forward to it wrapping up. It’s gotten so that she’s been releasing a book a year and I want to see how it’s going to end! It would be nice to have extended peace and quiet to sink my teeth into it.

Thank you so much, Rula for having me here. I’m so glad you broke the ice with me at last year’s RWA annual conference in DC. I can pretty much be oblivious to my surroundings sometimes. Just knowing you’re there at the end of an email at any given time has provided great reassurance and support over the last year. Looking forward to catching up in person again in Orlando! All the best to you in your own writing pursuits!

Kaily, thank YOU for taking the time out of your busy schedule to be here. Likewise, you've been a wonderful, supportive friend, as well as my first blog visitor, follower, and interviewee. Thanks! I'm so glad we met, and I can't wait to see you again at RWA Nationals in Orlando. Best of luck!


Desperate and young, Jillian Moore did something she knew would one day come back to bite her in the ass. She’d posed nude. For money. Years later, and on the fast track to a successful career, she’s still haunted by her mistake. She can’t help but wonder when her past will catch up with her.

Samuel Steele is not short on female attention, but the women who warm his bed pale in comparison to the fantasy he’s created of the seductive temptress in the painting hanging prominently in his bedroom. A fantasy that has ruined his once satisfying sex life. When he discovers that her exact likeness works in his building—for him—things get…interesting.

The following links are intended for mature audiences only.

Find Kaily and read an excerpt at:

Don't miss her blog tour!

Kaily is holding a mystery prize drawing over at her blog. A lucky winner will be chosen at the end of the month. Just leave a comment and you'll be entered into the drawing!


  1. Hi Rula! Hope everyone here in the US has recovered from the 4th of July celebrations. We had the added bonus of watching lightening with our fireworks. Awesome sight!

    Rula, thanks again for the fabulous interview. I really enjoyed the questions. For those of you who leave a comment, I'd love to know- who would YOU have picked to be stranded with :)?

  2. Good Morning, Kaily! Congratulations on winning Book of the Week over at Whipped Cream's Long and Short of it reviews!WTG!

    Who would I be stranded with? Umm...are interviewers exempt from answering their own questions? LOL! I'm thinking...I'm thinking :)

  3. Fun interview, Kaily and Rula. Kaily, I love hearing about your journey from your "other life" in IT to writing romance. Picture This was amazing and I can't wait to read more Kaily Hart stories! :)

    I also agree with you about the instant gratification about writing novellas. It's addictive really! Wishing you lots of success with Picture This and all your future work!

  4. Oops, I forgot to answer the question in the comments...hmm, if I had to be stranded with one person, I'd have to say Timothy Olyphant. Hopefully I'd like more about him than just looking at him, but if not, that's okay too! LOL

    And Kaily, HUGE congrats on winning Book of the Week! That's awesome! :)

  5. Great interview, it was fun to learn more about you.

    Congratulations on your Book Of The Week win! Fantastic.

  6. Ooh, good question. If i was stranded, I'd want Jon Togo. Yup, I'd do a bunch of looking and exploring.

    Congrats on the BoftheW! You deserved it! :)

  7. Hey Cari, gosh am I going to sound ignorant here, but... Who is Timothy Olyphant? I'll assume he's sufficiently hot.

    KJ, thanks for stopping by.

    Wendi, thanks, but I have to repeast myself. Who? Guess I need to get out more!!

  8. Mmmmm...they are definitely hotties. If I may jump in here, Timothy Olyphant is on Justified and John Togo is on CSI Miami...right?

    As for me, I don't think I could get tired of Josh Hollway's (Lost) dimples and rugged sexiness.

    For a book I'd pick Hemingway's The Old Man and the Sea because it would inspire me to survive and to not give in to whatever nature throws at me (sharks, hurricanes etc...). I almost picked a romance because that's my favorite thing to read, but I realized that all my favorites are burned into my memory, and I could dream up more to no end.

    Thanks for stopping in Cari, KJ, and Wendy!

  9. Haha, what an interesting reason to have Angelina Jolie on your island with you. Great interview!

  10. Gerard Butler.

    Sorry...lost my train of thought, lol. That's who I'd want to be stranded on an island with :).

    Great interview Rula and Kaily, and Kaily I'm so happy for you! I also love writing novellas. I think they're my favorite length actually.

  11. Hi Heather! I had to grin at Kaily's answer on that one. Her creativity with that interview question is just a taste of how creative her stories are.

    Hi Helen! Oh yes...Gerard...oops, I lost my train of thought too, LOL!

  12. Hi Heather, of course my real plan is to pump Angelina for information on Brad!!

    Helen, Gerard. Yeah, finally someone I've heard of! Nice...ah...accent :). I've been completely seduced by the novella. It does seem to fit my style well, but the last few days my full length WIP is calling to me. I won't be able to leave it for long...

  13. Great learning more about Kaily!
    Writing a novella is such a talent in itself. Congrats!

  14. Hey Jennifer, thanks so much for stopping by! Talent, yeah. I keep telling myself that as I try and wrap up my current one :).