Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to host K.A. Mitchell here today on tour with her release of Bad Company. Welcome!
~Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words Interview with K.A. Mitchell~
First of all, thank you so much for having me on your blog and for giving me such interesting questions to answer. It’s always much easier to answer questions than to try to think up something people might want to hear. My characters are always more interesting than I am.
- How much of yourself goes into a character?
It’s a weird relationship. I know they all are created in my head, but they seem to take on a life of their own once I pull them out. They’re like my imaginary friends, and like real friends, they don’t always do what I want or what I expect. Some characters and I share some personality bits, and some are completely unlike me. However, that doesn’t necessarily predict how fond I stay of them after the book. Sometimes my favorite characters and I have nothing in common.
- Do you feel there’s a tight line between Mary Sue or should I say Gary Stu and using your own experiences to create a character?
My life is pretty boring and routine, so there’s not much in it would be interesting for a book. I do like taking random stories or situations that I come across and finding ways to make them work for my characters, just like I love taking traditional tropes and using them to lay the groundwork for my characters. There’s a lot of What if?ing that goes on.
- Does research play a role into choosing which genre you write? Do you enjoy research or prefer making up your worlds and culture?
Most of my books, like the Bad in Baltimore series, are contemporary. I can find myself buried under research, like figuring out what real street a character would live on. It’s easier when I make up a fictional town or college setting, like I have for a few of my books. I have heard from readers who live places where I’ve set my books that the settings feel real to them, so that’s a big relief. The number one thing about that kind of research is making sure that it stays in the background so that the reader can be immersed in the story. I don’t want to include so many tiny details that the reader is pulled out of the story wondering if there’s a reason I’m describing exactly what a kind of flower or piece of furniture looks like. I also want those details to work from the characters point of view; I want both the reader and the character to have feelings about the details. Most of us don’t stop and think about the minutiae of the world, only the pieces that we’re interacting with.
- Has your choice of childhood or teenage reading genres carried into your own choices for writing?
Ha! One of my earliest memories about an intense interaction with books is having a teacher ask me why my fourth grade book diorama presentation was only about the relationship between the characters I shipped instead of the mystery and action. The characters and relationships always mattered more to me than anything else about a story.
- Have you ever had to put an ‘in progress’ story aside because of the emotional ties with it? You were hurting with the characters or didn’t know how to proceed?
Yes, I have. Sometimes I know the only way is through it, like with the fourth Baltimore book, Silver’s story. It was a hard book to write, but it was a story I had to tell. When I was writing Take a Chance on It, the third book in my Ready or Knot series with Dreamspinner, made me cry from about the tenth page in. I’m so thrilled with how that story came out, but there was much crying. In fact, I asked my brain for a happy place to visit while I was writing Take a Chance on It. The result was so much fun that I ended up needing another pseudonym for the very kinky erotic story my brain gave me.
- Do you like HFN or HEA? And why?
I happily consume either and to me, all of my KA characters are HEA. I think an HFN makes a lot of sense when you’re writing younger characters, or those in a first relationship, but I also think that some people meet their forever person early on and never fall out of love. I also really love reading and writing about adults who love each other, but have to work at their relationship, especially after life throws curve balls—or 103-mph fastballs—at their heads.
- Do you read romances, as a teenager and as an adult?
I’ve been reading romance novels since I was 14 (a very long time ago, which may require a geological clock to calculate). Suffice it to say that my first was Shanna, by Kathleen E. Woodiwiss and the book was new. I read science fiction, horror, and comedy, but always my favorite is romance.
- Who do you think is your major influence as a writer? Now and growing up?
This is a challenging question because I feel that by claiming them, I’m suggesting I’m like them, and I still feel that their skills far exceed mine. But as far as voice goes, I feel like I absorbed a lot of Ray Bradbury and his sentence style comes to mind sometimes when I read my favorite bits. As for now, I admire both the craft and professionalism of many writers. One writer who I think is amazing is K.J. Charles. She creates a conflict that is not only about the characters, but is deeply connected to who they are as people, then wounds them with it in such a way that I am always wonderfully convinced there will be no fixing this, and then the fix she crafts is perfectly believable and comes from the groundwork she lays in the story. I wish I could do that as well as she does.
- How do you feel about the ebook format and where do you see it going?
I see the three formats, print, digital and audiobooks staying about where they are. Ebooks are so wonderfully convenient that I do almost all my reading on them, but sometimes it’s nice to have a print book. And I still like using print for reference work/research. I love audiobooks, but I only listen to books I’ve already read, which I guess is kind of weird. One thing that does surprise me is that teens/young adults still seem to prefer print over digital. I’d expect that readership to embrace the digital more.
- How do you choose your covers? (curious on my part)
Wow. Covers are so important. To me the most important thing about my covers is what they tell a reader who is skimming thumbnails. I want the cover to communicate the genre and theme accurately (not suggest paranormal or action when there is none), to look professionally made so the reader is confident that the content is also of quality, and hopefully have an eye catching font or image. Most of the publishers I’ve worked with allow input during the cover process, and with my self-published books I’ve been able to choose my own. I’m always looking at covers that I feel do a great job and trying to find out why they work for me and who did them. I’ve been very lucky in that Dreamspinner has hired Kanaxa for the Bad in Baltimore rereleases. I think everything she’s done has really captured the feel of the stories. They have energy and a little hard edge.
- What’s next for you as an author?
I’m finishing up the sixth Baltimore book, Bad Habit. I have ideas (at least the meet cute) for two other books. I also have two more books that I’m dying to work on, plus ideas for my alterego, Cin.
- If you write contemporary romance, is there such a thing as making a main character too “real”? Do you think you can bring too many faults into a character that eventually it becomes too flawed to become a love interest?
I think that fault line is one that can be dangerous to sit on in any subgenre. You want the reader to love your characters, to fall in love with your characters, but you want them to be complex people. I feel fortunate to be writing two male main characters. I think readers are easier on heroes than we (yes, I include myself) are on heroines. Heroes can get away with stuff we’d never tolerate from a heroine. I’ve also noticed that when a former main character appears in someone else’s book, he can be a lot more snarky. He gets away with more when he’s a sidekick. contemporary or historical or science fiction.
- Have you ever put a story away, thinking it just didn’t work? Then years/months/whatever later inspiration struck and you loved it? Is there a title we would recognize if that happened?
My only (so far) historical An Improper Holiday is something I started *coughs* almost thirty years ago. I didn’t know anyone besides me wanted to read gay historical romance. When I needed a holiday story for a submission, I took it out again. I think only one or two sentences survived, but the plot was the same.
- Have you ever had an issue in RL and worked it through by writing it out in a story? Maybe how you thought you’d feel in a situation?
One of my books that I haven’t re-released yet, Regularly Scheduled Life, sprang from something that happened in real life. In the book, Sean and Kyle are a happy couple until high-school teacher Sean intervenes in a school shooting. He’s wounded and gains lots of publicity as a national hero. It puts a lot of strain on Sean and Kyle’s relationship.
It came about because my wife is a middle school teacher. One day I got a text from her that read, “Guess what I just took away from one of my kids? A gun.” My heart stopped. I couldn’t stop thinking of what might have happened. She is definitely the kind of person who runs toward danger in order to help others.
- Ever drunk written a chapter and then read it the next day and still been happy with it? Trust me there’s a whole world of us drunk writers dying to know.
I love repeating the “Write drunk, edit sober,” mantra, though I’m a super lightweight and don’t drink much. I still think it’s good advice. You need to get the story (sometimes with wrong turns) out in a wild frenzy, and then give it more of a critical eye.
I will say that sometimes I write something I think is awesome and look at it the next day and think it’s terrible. It’s usually somewhere in between and needs work. The best is when I can’t remember having written something that I like. I feel like the shoemaker’s elves must have gotten into my computer and strung together some perfect words for me.
Bad Company Bad in Baltimore Book 1
Some things are sweeter than revenge.
“I need a boyfriend.”
Hearing those words from his very straight, very ex-best friend doesn’t put Nate in a helpful mood. Not only did Kellan Brooks’s father destroy Nate’s family in his quest for power, but Kellan broke Nate’s heart back in high school. Nate thought he could trust his best friend with the revelation that he might be gay, only to find out he was horribly wrong and become the laughingstock of the whole school. Kellan must be truly desperate if he’s turning to Nate now.
Kellan’s through letting his father run his life, and he wants to make the man pay for cutting him off. What better way to stick it to the bigot than to come out as gay himself–especially with the son of the very man his father crushed on his quest for money and power. Kellan can’t blame Nate for wanting nothing to do with him, though. Kellan will have to convince him to play along, but it’s even harder to convince himself that the heat between them is only an act…
About the Author
K.A. Mitchell discovered the magic of writing at an early age when she learned that a carefully crayoned note of apology sent to the kitchen in a toy truck would earn her a reprieve from banishment to her room. Her career as a spin-control artist was cut short when her family moved to a two-story house and her trucks would not roll safely down the stairs. Around the same time, she decided that Ken and G.I. Joe made a much cuter couple than Ken and Barbie and was perplexed when invitations to play Barbie dropped off. She never stopped making stuff up, though, and was thrilled to find out that people would pay her to do it. Although the men in her stories usually carry more emotional baggage than even LAX can lose in a year, she guarantees they always find their sexy way to a happy ending.
K.A. loves to hear from her readers. You can email her at firstname.lastname@example.org. She is often found talking about her imaginary friends on Twitter @ka_mitchell.