Apr 21, 2009

Interview: Robin Kaye, author of the Domestic God series

It's the moment I've been waiting for. My FIRST Author Interview! Thank you to Robin Kaye for graciously offering 2 signed copies of her book, "Too Hot to Handle" during my giveaway. And also I thank Danielle from Sourcebooks Casablanca for setting this up for us.
As part of the giveaway, I had asked my readers to come up with Questions specifically for Robin to answer, and now we have those Answers! Pull up a chair, get your coffee/frappuccino/tea/soda and let's have a chat. (because we have some great questions and answers!) Feel free to comment along, as Robin will stop by to show me some love later :)

My review is here of "Too Hot to Handle"

First off a little background so you can get the feel of Robin; this is what I have learned from the web in a nutshell: Robin is New Yorker at heart, having lived in the midst of Italians with all that flavor she brings it out in her writing as well. After living in several different states, she is now in Maryland with her husband and three kids and her animals. "Too Hot to Handle" is her second published book with Casablanca Authors. You can find her new release at Sourcebooks.
And here we go, we really bogged her down with some awesome questions!

Marie~

Thanks so much for inviting me to your blog and having everyone submit questions. What a wonderful idea. Thanks to all those who did. I just received my first copies of Too Hot To Handle today and will be sending them out to the winners as soon as I get back from Romantic Times. I hope to see some of you there!
Thanks again for everything.

Best,

Robin Kaye J

Questions from Marie here at The Burton Review:
1. How long was the process from when you wanted to write a book, to the point of actually getting a publisher? I was toying with the idea for a while, but if I started the clock when I began “working” toward publication—the day I began writing Romeo, Romeo—approximately 3 years. I was incredibly lucky.
2. If you could not be a writer, what other profession could you see yourself realistically doing? I have no idea. Before I left work to stay home with my children, I was in insurance and investments sales and I hated it. I’ve done so many things, most involving sales, but I found that after I’d learned everything about the job, and it was no longer a challenge; I was bored to death. That’s what I love about writing. Once I learn everything I can, the book is done and I begin another and start learning everything there is to know about that one.
3. “Romeo, Romeo” and “Too Hot to Handle” are about Domestic Gods. Do you have plans for more in this series? Rich Ronaldi’s book, Breakfast In Bed should be out in November or December. I just spent the weekend at the Washington Romance Writer’s Retreat with my editor and she’s asked for a fourth Domestic God book. {Insert Marie squealing with delight!}
4. Do you think you would ever write anything other than a Romance? I never say never, but as of now I have no desire to write anything else. But, if I did, I wouldn’t hesitate. I’ve always written songs, poetry, short stories, whatever comes to mind. I believe if you can write, you can write just about anything.
5. What authors do you enjoy reading the most? In romance? Gosh that’s hard because I read so many. Susan Elizabeth Phillips, Nora Roberts, Susan Donovan, Donna Kauffman, Suzanne Brockmann, Janet Evanovich, Susan Mallery, Rachel Gibson, Maureen Child. The list goes on and on and on.
6. Which authors have inspired your own technique? I don’t think I’ve ever thought, “Gee, I want to write like this person.” and emulated him or her. I admire many authors, but I think it’s like looking at a beautiful person. You can dye your hair the same color, you can cut it in the same style, but that’s not going to turn you into a clone of that person. I think everyone can improve their writing, but how you write is as individual as your fingerprints. It has to do with your voice, your word choice, your background, ethnicity, so many things.
7. You have lived in several states. If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be and why? There are four places I’d love to live. Boise, Idaho because I absolutely loved living there. The people are great, the weather is perfect, and I spent ten of the happiest years of my life there. Florence, Italy is another place I fell in love with immediately. I stepped off the train and felt as if I was at home. It’s gorgeous, I love the architecture and the museums and the people were terrific. Plus it’s Italy, what’s not to love about Italy? The Park Slope section of Brooklyn is also one of the places I always felt at home. It has the energy of New York, without the stress.The other place I can definitely see myself living is on board a 100-foot sailboat in the South Pacific. I’d cruise between New Zealand and Australia, writing on the deck under the sun, slathered with SPF 2,0000.
8. Does your husband see himself as a Domestic God? Does he read your books? I don’t know if he sees himself as a Domestic God but I do and really, that’s what counts. He cleans, does laundry, and is a passable cook. Best of all, he’s very supportive of me and our kids. He’s the best Dad I’ve ever known and he’s definitely the best husband I can imagine. Yes, he reads my books and he is a great critique partner. I couldn’t have done any of this without him.
9.How important to you are online reviews/reviewers? I think they’re very important. Especially the good ones. {grin} I like that they’re written by people who love the genre and not someone who only reviews romances because it’s part of their job.

Questions from Fellow Bloggers/Lurkers:

10. Do you ever get a sudden burst of inspiration and just HAVE to write? I mean, in the middle of the night, while you're in the shower, or at other not-quite-ideal times. If so, do you actually rush to your computer/notebook and start writing, or what? (from Tiffany) Yes, I have been known to get out of bed in the middle of the night because I woke up with the answer to a problem I’ve been having and I’m scared to death I’ll forget it. I remember once driving home with my husband and then running into the house and right up to my office, still wearing my coat, to write down whatever it was. I also carry around my laptop wherever I go and will pull it out at inconvenient times just to jot something down. My brain is sieve-like and ideas come and go, so I have to write them down before I lose them.

11. Laptop or desktop? Hard copy or all on screen? Which provides better inspiration: washing dishes or being in the shower? (I guarantee Ms. Kaye will get that last one) asked by Susan Helene Gottfried at WinABook. Both, I write on my laptop at Starbucks while my daughter dances. I usually write on my desktop at home except first thing in the morning when I’m in bed. I’ll pull out my laptop and work while my three-legged cat cuddles with me.I do most of my editing on screen but will use a hard copy on the final pass. As for inspiration, it’s kind of both. In the shower is always good, but I also get inspiration while my husband washes the dishes. I don’t do dishes if I can help it.

12. I've always wondered what authors come up with first, the plot or the characters. Do you make up the characters and then fit them into a story or vice versa? (From Florida98) I usually have a scene in my head characters and all and then write a book from that scene. With Romeo, Romeo I saw Rosalie’s family around the dinner table. Then I thought about who would be the perfect, or not so perfect hero for Rosalie. Nick popped into my mind and I went from there. In Too Hot To Handle, Annabelle awoke wondering if ghosts have sex. The guy in bed with her was a dead ringer for her deceased fiancĂ©.

13. I would like to know what is the question that nobody asks you about being a writer, that you would like to answer in order to share your experience. And if it is not a question about writing, is it a question about yourself that you'd like to share the answer/experience? Thanks so much for your time, we blogger's and readers learn so much from author's interactions through the web...it's an amazing time we live in today!From Darby That’s a hard one. Hmm….probably what it’s like working on deadline. Maybe because it’s obvious, why else would the word dead be part of it? That’s the hardest part of writing under contract, that and the fact you’ll be in the middle of writing one book and have to stop and do copy edits, galleys or revisions on another. Switching gears is really difficult and the deadlines tend to overlap. Right now I’m in the middle of a blog tour for Too Hot To Handle and I have 2 ½ weeks to complete my revisions for Breakfast In Bed and one of those weeks, I’ll be in Florida at Romantic Times. Deadlines are hell but it’s better than the alternative.

14. Are all of your characters based on people you know? If not, where do they emerge from? (From MJ Coward) Yes and no. Some of my characters have some of the characteristics of people I know, but except for Dave the dog, all the characters are amalgams of many people. Dave was actually my dog Clancy with a sex change. In my next book, Breakfast In Bed, I have Tripod, a three-legged cat who is exactly my cat named Raja (we had him before he lost his leg or I would have called him Tripod.) He’s as real as they come, believe it or not.

15. - What has been your greatest inspiration for your writing? Greatest inspiration – Life and boredom. Writing keeps me relatively sane. If I don’t write, I’m not happy. It’s a form of therapy. I’ve always had characters running around my head. I can’t control it, I don’t know where they come from, but they’re always there and they force me to write about them. It’s a gift.

- If you weren't writing, what would you be doing now? I’d be doing the same exact thing I’m doing now except I wouldn’t have deadlines. I’d write, I’d home school one of my kids, I’d drive her back and forth to dance and I’d write at Starbucks.

- What bothers you the most about other author's work? (All from Rachie) There is only one time I remember being so bothered, I threw a book against the wall and refused to finish reading the book. It was when the heroine did something that was so grossly out of character, I couldn’t believe it. That was it for me, but that’s only happened once. I get mildly irritated when authors use sayings like “he thought angrily.” If we’re in his point of view, we should know he’s thinking and we should know he’s angry without being told.

16. Do you know any men who can cook and clean really good? That would be so nice if you did know a man like that. (From Pretty) My husband is a great cleaner a passable cook, and can fix anything. I love that about him. He can build you a house and then clean it. I do know several Domestic Gods, they’re out there ladies, but they tend to be quiet about it. Why, I don’t know. If I were them, I’d be screaming it from the rooftops. There’s nothing sexier than a man cleaning and cooking and if he wears a tool belt at times, all the better. {vbg}

17. Having a household with a husband and kids, it is difficult to switch gears from being a mother to a writer? Do thoughts of all the things you have to do on a daily basis pop into your head when you are writing? Do you zone out or are you swarmed with "What do I make for dinner, I really need to do loads of laundry...etc"? (From just.me) Yes, yes, and yes. I zone out while I’m writing at Starbucks, at home it’s much more difficult to not think about errands, making the kids eye doctor appointments, home schooling and everything else.

18. I would love to know if author's base their characters on people they actually know or if they just randomly think up these people in their minds! I am not a writer and that is one of the main reasons why. My characters have absolutely no depth. (From Katie) Some characters have characteristics of people I know. For instance, Aunt Rose is a little of my great aunt and a little of a friend of mine. Vinny and Mike are unlike anyone I’ve known so it’s really a bit of both.

19. I would like to know how to you get over writers block and if you even suffer from it at all? (From The Give Away Diva)Yes, I suffer from writers block. I’ve been known to just sit there and stare at the screen, if that doesn’t work, I’ll write long hand. I also have a deck of cards, The Observation Deck: A Tool Kit for Writers (Past & Present) by Naomi Epel, I pull a few cards out and try doing what they suggest. Sometimes I find when I’m blocked it’s because something is wrong with the plot. I’ll go back and reread what I have and see if I can find the problem. If all else fails, I call my friend April and she says something like “Well, you’re just avoiding writing the black moment because it’s going to be difficult.” I realize she’s right and get back to work.

20. My question would be: what would you love to write about but don't feel you know enough about yet to go into? (From Valorie) If I didn’t know enough about something to write about it, I would do a lot of research until I felt comfortable enough to jump in. I know I want to write a book about a sailing team. I know it’s going to take a ton of research—which is probably why I have yet to write it. It’s next on my list of things to do after the 4th Domestic God book. I have a great source who is willing to put up with all my stupid questions and is fun to pester, so I’m looking forward to it.

21. Do you believe in ghosts? Yes. My cousin’s grandmother haunts her house. She is not a scary ghost, just mischievous. For instance, after she died all her tax papers disappeared until the day before they had to be filed. She’s even come to visit me once. I’d sent my aunt a Mass/Christmas card so someone would pray for her mother every day for a year. I loved the woman, but no one is perfect and I figured she might need some help out of purgatory. That day I had all the kids down for a nap and was doing the lunch dishes when my toaster oven dinged. I hadn’t turned it on, I hadn’t used it all day, but sure enough, it was warm. Then I went to call someone and I noticed that my telephone book and napkin holder were both missing (I always kept both on top of my microwave.) The napkin holder didn’t bother me, but it was the Christmas Season and this was before speed dial so I didn’t have anyone’s addresses or phone numbers for over a month. Then, one day, the napkin holder and phone book just reappeared.

What's your favorite book?Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice or Reflections Without Mirrors by Louis Nizer

How long does it take for you to write a book? (All from another Marie)I’ve written a book in 3 months but I wouldn’t want to do that again. It was absolutely no fun.

22. Where is your favorite place to write and what is is one thing you have to have with you? (From Debbie) The Starbuck’s at Carlisle Crossing in Carlisle, PA and I must have coffee.

23. Which character from a book you've read, no matter how long ago, do you still find yourself wondering about? (From Amy Castellano)Mr. Popper from Mr. Popper’s Penguin’s.

24. When did you know that you were going to be an author? Are we talking childhood ambition, teen inspiration, or adult-onset? (From Vanessa) I’ve always been a writer and knew that from before I can even remember, but it never occurred to me to be an author. Writing was fun and not work. I didn’t think I could get paid to have fun. It wasn’t until I was probably 2003 or so that a friend of mine read some of my work and told me I should get it published. As if it were that easy! At first, I thought she was kidding. She planted the seed and I began thinking about it. After I finished the project I’d been working on, I began writing Romeo, Romeo and working toward publication.

25. What is the cover story on your book? What did you think when you received the first cover copy on "Too Hot to Handle?" did you make any changes from the first printing? What is your favorite part about it? I love to read about cover story's! (From Polo Pony) I’m not sure what you mean about the cover story. I did have a nightmare cover with Romeo, Romeo. The first cover they came up with was a man’s hand in a green latex glove with a spray bottle. All I could think of was OBGYN or proctologist. I called my editor and told her very nicely that real men don’t wear latex, at least not on their hands. {grin} Thank God she agreed.I love the cover for Too Hot To Handle. I think it’s perfect. I didn’t ask them to change a thing. I was thrilled because the guy on the cover even has blonde arm hair—I have it as a screen saver so I can tell. {grin} I can’t stand when they have pictures of the hero or heroine on the cover of a book and the character looks nothing like them. I also love the yellow and blue kitchen. It’s fabulous.

There you have it folks!! I thank Robin for taking time out of her extremely busy schedule, and I am so excited that we can look forward to the third book coming, Breakfast In Bed should be out in November or December, and she has agreed to do a fourth!

Please read my review of "Too Hot to Handle", I really recommend the book as pick-me-up, it was delicious!