Author Kieran Kramer is thrilling historical romance fans with her back-to-back releases, November's When Harry Met Molly and December's upcoming Dukes to the Left of Me, Princes to the Right. These two Regency romps are full of witty dialogue and lovable characters and both received Top Pick! ratings from RT. So Web Editor Morgan Doremus had to ask the new author about the magic behind her fantastic books and what is up next.
Morgan Doremus: Two books in two months and both Top Picks - editors around the RT office are stunned at your accomplishment and wondering where did this author come from?!? You have to share your story.
Kieran Kramer: First of all, thank you for such a wonderful honor—to have my books chosen as Top Picks at RT is something I'm over the moon about, and I'm thrilled to be here today to chat with you! As for where I came from, I can't help giggling a bit at that. One thing I learned in the CIA—timing is everything. If my books felt like a sneak "romance" attack from out of nowhere, then that's awesome. I like making splashes!! <Grin>
The truth is, I've wanted this for years. I've envisioned it for years. But to get to this place, I had to go through a lot of phases. There was my initial, "I want to write a romance novel" phase. That happened a whole 15 years ago when I wrote a little Regency called Madeira, My Dear. There was a talking dog and absolutely no understanding on my part of plot structure, point-of-view, or pacing. I submitted it once to Signet for their Regency line and got rejected.
So…the manuscript went into a drawer. I assumed the rejection meant I wasn't a good enough writer. Which was true in that I needed more practice. LOL! The heart was there (which to me, is what voice is) but I needed to write more, without a doubt. Instead, out of fear of failure—and sometimes, I think, out of fear of success—I focused on the rest of my life while still reading ravenously. I put my dream on the backburner, as many women do.
You see, I hadn't reached the "Hey! Life is passing you by, so it's time to put yourself first!" phase yet. I thought I had all the time in the world.
Uh huh. <Grin>
When I hit age 40, I was a very busy woman. I felt happy and fulfilled. I believe strongly there's a season for everything, and in my case, I'd made my family and other types of professional work a priority in my 30s.
But I started having a tough time enjoying going to bookstores. This had never happened to me before. When I walked into a bookstore, I'd hear a strong voice in my head saying, "Hey! You're still not a published writer!"
And I began thinking: Had I romanticized this career of being a romance novelist? Was I a wannabe and not the real thing? How many manuscripts had I actually written? I'd started many chapters and begun several different books. But I could go a whole year without writing anything new. So, how much effort had I really expended to make a writing career a reality?
The truth was, not enough to propel me to where I wanted to be—firmly ensconced in a chair in front of a computer screen as a writer under contract.
So I started picking up the pace. I intentionally shifted my priorities, and writing went almost straight to the top of my list. Almost because, no matter what, I always put God and family first. However, the concept of putting family first had evolved into a new meaning for me. I was part of this family I'd always put first, yet somehow I'd left my own special dream out of the equation for years.
At this point, I had to be willing to teach my children an important lesson—that their mom has needs and wants, too. Teaching that lesson can be tough for nurturing people to do. I think that's why so many women don't pursue their dreams—we're natural nurturers of others, right? But we need to nurture ourselves as well. So I told my kids that together we'd create an interdependent environment in which all of us sacrificed for each other. That's what love is, really. That's what family is about.
So when my outward choices and behavior began to actually align with my own dreams for myself—when I made that commitment to my writing—all kinds of serendipitous things began to happen. So many incredible writer mentors appeared like angels. Some of these women I got to know personally and others I never met up close—they simply inspired me from afar, at conferences and within their amazing books: Susan Elizabeth Phillips, Jennifer Crusie, Cherry Adair, Janet Evanovich, Debbie Macomber, Teresa Medeiros, Nora Roberts, Julia Quinn, Christina Dodd, Jayne Ann Krentz, Eloisa James, Roxanne St. Claire, and Susan Wiggs come to mind. But there were many other writers who also said or did things that helped make me a better writer.
I always felt in my heart I had the voice to be a selling writer. I'd also heard that from people who'd read my stories. So I got to work. During this busy writing period, I wrote a couple of chick lit manuscripts that got rejected. I'd missed the boat—chick lit began to experience a huge decline in the market. So then I wrote a rather weighty single title women's fiction manuscript, but it was difficult for me to be so serious. I submitted it one place, and it got rejected. This time I put it in a drawer right away not because I was sure I was a terrible writer (as I'd assumed when that old Regency had gotten rejected) but because I knew serious women's fiction didn't represent who I really was as a writer. But I hadn't known that until I'd tried it. This is where writing practice comes in. You need to do that to get to know your own voice and the direction you want to take it.
What I discovered with all that sustained writing practice was that the real me couldn't help writing funny! And then I remembered that the first book I'd ever written was a Regency. Why didn't I go back to the Regency period? It was a perfect place to write about fun characters!
But now I needed a high concept to go along with my voice and my new Regency focus. I knew in my gut when I came up with the idea of moving a beauty pageant back into the Regency that I had a winning idea: the book's heroine would be a fish out of water in a competition between lightskirts!
And I was off and running. I wrote When Harry Met Molly when my husband was called up unexpectedly to Afghanistan for a year's duty, and I wrote it fast. The timing felt perfect, and I knew the perfect agent to submit to and I already had the perfect editor in mind, Jennifer Enderlin. You see, I'd been scouting everyone out in the publishing world, as I should have been doing as a writer with serious goals. My agent and I immediately connected and the book and the rest of the series sold very fast to my dream editor.
I was where I wanted to be. At last. Seeing my name in print in RT Book Reviews magazine has been surreal, especially as my books have been touted as Top Picks! Yet at the same time, I've prepared myself for this. And so I feel not only tremendous excitement but a deep, abiding happiness because...
I did this the way that was right for me. I walked this journey to publication listening to my instincts, bolstered by the belief that every single person has something lovely to offer the world. I determined that I was no exception.
I don't have to be like anyone else to succeed. I can be me. I should be me! We should all be ourselves...it's what makes our world wonderful and our stories memorable.