I first became aware of Kaily Hart when I read her short story, Picture This, about a woman who poses nude for a painting, later regrets it and tries to buy it back. Unlike a lot erotic romance authors who focus on niche markets such as steampunk, m/m romance, sci fi, etc., Kaily writes good old-fashioned contemporary romance—but not your mama’s romance. She writes about love, steamy style.
Kaily: LOL. I guess I have said that. I think the alpha males in contemporary romance were kind of superseded with the explosion of the paranormal sub-genre. Suddenly, you had those big bad shifters, kick-ass vampires and everything in between. They were ultra aggressive, super strong, mega protective and had the leeway to really do anything to get the job done. The poor contemporary hero can’t really kill the bad guy for real, there isn’t that many opportunities for him to literally put his life on the line for the heroine, and he doesn’t have any special powers or capabilities to differentiate him from mere men. Perhaps in suspense or intrigue there are plots to explore these elements—but the regular, everyday, contemporary romance? Not so much.
Cara: What characteristics make for an alpha hero?
Kaily: I love to write the alpha male and in particular I love to write in the male Point of View (POV). Actually, my heroes often skate the edge of ‘assholeism’—at the beginning of the stories, anyway. There’s always something to redeem them of course and ultimately they’ll do anything, sacrifice everything, for the heroine. I think a true alpha has to have a core of strength—not just physical or mental—but also of courage, integrity and honor. Of course, a hot, ripped bod doesn’t hurt either J.
Cara: You’re currently writing contemporary, but you see yourself headed toward paranormal. Why? What is it about paranormal that you like, and what type of paranormal do you see yourself writing?
Kaily: I’ve always been fascinated with science fiction, time travel, ghosts and aliens—anything really that’s…unexplained. I have an open mind and like to entertain the thought that anything is really possible. It might be implausible (and I have a healthy dose of skepticism), but that doesn’t mean it’s not true, right? I read across all the romance genres, but I really enjoy paranormal. Now J. I remember the first vampire book blurb I read. “Ewww” might have been my first thought. I couldn’t understand how a guy biting your neck to suck your blood could be sexy.
The other story elements in the blurb were just so interesting though, that I bought the book. I believe it was a Christine Feehan. I’d read previous books that had elements of paranormal, but this was my first full-blown-all the-way paranormal/fantasy book. And I was hooked. I think the thing I like about these types of books is the ability to explore outside the boundaries that usually exist for contemporary stories. An imagination could just really run wild and I have SO many story ideas in my head. I have a couple of paranormal series loosely outlined, but you won’t see any vampires or shifters. I have some new things I’ve been exploring J and I’ll just have to get them on paper one day. That or my brain will probably explode.
Cara: Who are your favorite erotic romance authors?
Kaily: Gosh, I hate the ‘favorite’ questions. I have a bad memory when it comes to stuff like this and I know I’ll miss mentioning someone LOL. Plus, my definition of ‘erotic romance’ might be different from others. There are authors and books out there that I consider ‘erotic’, but they’re not really labeled as such. The first five that came to mind are (in no particular order):
J. R. Ward
It’s a pretty mixed bag and there are a lot more authors out there that I enjoy. I also really love discovering “new to me” authors.
Cara: Have you learned anything from reading romances that you’ve tried to apply to the romances you write?
Kaily: Mmm, I think so. I hope so. I really do subscribe to the idea that you have to be a prolific reader of the genre to be able to write in it well, especially if you’re targeting a particular publisher or imprint. You really do have to be familiar with the “feel” of the books—what types of plots and characters they’re looking for, and what the trends seem to be. Of course, there’s a whole lot to be gained from reading books, but an exercise I used to do was to read a favorite book and dog ear each page where I felt something. It could have been elation, misery, sadness, desire, trepidation, anxiety, humor—anything that generated an emotional reaction.
Then, I’d go back and try and figure out what the author had done to generate that type of reaction in me, the reader. I figured that was the mark of a good writer—being able to have a reader so invested in a story they could experience the emotions right along with the characters. It was very illuminating and a very powerful exercise.
Cara: What was your profession before becoming a romance author?
Kaily: Would you believe I was in the IT industry? I actually had my own business and IT consulting company for many years and before I started writing full time, I was a Vice President for a global consulting firm. Pretty far removed, huh? The business and management experience has proven to be very valuable. When you’re a writer, you’re kind of the CEO of your very own little company.
Cara: Tell us a little how Picture This came to be? What gave you the idea? What did it take to get it published by Ellora’s Cave?
Picture This was my first published book. It’s kind of funny how it came about. I was (and still am) targeting “traditional NY publishing”, but I like to keep up on what’s going on in the industry in general. I was looking at the EC Call for Submissions page and they were asked for stories to do with “the arts”. Right then and there in a flash, the idea for Picture This came to me. What if a woman had done something she’d regretted in her youth and it still played on her mind? What if a “take what he wants, when he wants it” alpha male was completely thrown off by something—something he had no control over?
Of course, I closed the page and moved on, but the story was so tangible, it wouldn’t let go. So, I wrote it in a week or so and I thought—“now what?”? The call was still open, so I submitted it. EC got back to me quickly with revisions. The timeframe wasn’t going to work for inclusion in the theme series, but they could publish it as a stand alone book. Ah, sure. So, you see? It was all kinda by accident or some might say fate.
Cara: How many stories do you have published? Are there any ready to launch? What are you writing now?
Kaily: Picture This came out in July of this year, Pay Up just released in October and I’m in the final stages of polishing Play Me, another book for EC. I’ve really enjoyed Play Me because it involves an unlikely couple thrown together under extreme circumstances and all hell (and everything else J) breaks loose. After that, I have a couple more contemporaries in the works and my first paranormal to tackle. Should keep me pretty busy, right?
Cara: What would you like readers to take away from your books?
Kaily: I write because I want to create stories people will read—and not just read, but enjoy. I want readers to finish one of my books and immediately search for others I’ve written. I just want to simply provide an alternative reality for a short period of time and create a “feel good” afterglow. I want to reaffirm the possibility and magic of love, laughter, great sex and happy ever after. Isn’t that what we all want J?
Cara: What is your writing routine?
Kaily: I try to write everyday (with the emphasis on “try”). If I’m not writing, I’m doing admin stuff or marketing or research or trying to educate myself more about the industry. I’m pretty much doing “writing related” things all the time. Sometimes the words flow and it’s a beautiful thing. And sometimes I have to drag them kicking and screaming onto the page. Either way, it’s okay with me J. I’m doing what I love.
Kaily: Cara, thanks again for having me. If anyone would want to contact me (which I would love by the way) or just keep up with what I’m doing, they can find me all over:
Web – www.kailyhart.com
Facebook – http://www.facebook.com/kaily.hart
Twitter – http://twitter.com/kailyhart