I first met the beautiful and very talented Karen Kay at a writer’s conference when my girls were just babies (about 17 years ago). There are those rare people that make an impression on you when you meet them and Kay, as I call her, is one of those people.
Not only is Kay breathtakingly beautiful on the outside, looking like one of the heroines she writers about in her novels, but she is beautiful on the inside, which is always more important to me. She has a kindness that is evident in her eyes and her love for her husband is quite obvious and very precious to see.
It was later that I became Kay’s web designer. After conversing with her for more than 17 years, going through a few of those unavoidable website glitches with servers we had to leave or sites doing strange things, I can honestly say that she is kind, patient, honest and hard working. She is also passionate about her church, family, Native American heritage and fighting for causes she believes in.
I am so excited to share Karen Kay’s interview with you. I hope you enjoy getting to know her as much as I have. I know you’ll just love her.
Q & A with Karen Kay
Lori Soard (LS): Karen, you write Native American romances. Tell us a little about your own background and why you chose this genre…
Karen Kay (KK): As a child I took a look in the mirror and said to myself — I bet there’s a bit of American Indian in me. My mother said no, but it didn’t stop my fascination with our First Americans. Later, after I’d become an author and was writing Native American romance, I discovered that what I’d thought was true. There is heritage on my father’s side of the family — Choctaw.
LS: Your most recent release is THE SPIRIT OF THE WOLF. Tell us what this story is about…
KK: Well, this is the second book in the Lost Clan series, a Clan that is cursed because of their past evil deeds which involve murder and the Thunderer (of legend). But the Creator was wise when the god, the Thunderer, tried to kill the tribe. Instead, He intervened, and gave each band of the tribe a chance to end the curse every 50 years or so — a boy would be chosen to go out into the world and try his best to end the curse.
THE SPIRIT OF THE WOLF is about Grey Coyote, who has to solve a deceptively simple riddle in order to end the curse and free his people who are trapped in the existence of being neither dead nor alive. The heroine of the story — Marietta — has her own problems involving her estate and a need to hurry back to England.
Grey Coyote wins her in an American Indian game of chance — and neither of them want to be with the other. However…both Grey Coyote and Marietta begin to suspect that the answer each is seeking just might have something to do with the their hearts being united…
LS: Where did you find the inspiration for this story?
KK: The plot of the story is something I worked over with my husband and my brother-in-law. The characters and who they are and what they feel and say is really based on friends and people I know whom I love so much.
LS: What is your favorite trait of the hero and the heroine in this book?
KK: Probably honor and honesty in both characters — so much so that they believe they can never find love with each other.
LS: What is it about the American Indians in your novels that make them so darn sexy?
KK: You know, I think the key to sexy is a man who is not only a hero, one who is strong and handsome, but one who is kind, honest and who has integrity. There’s nothing sexier to me than a man deeply in love, and who, despite all invitations to depart from his integrity, never does.
Karen’s Next Book, Research Methods and Thoughts on Publishing
LS: Are you working on anything new right now?
KS: I’m working on a new novel that might possibly be book #4 in the LAKOTA series.
LS: You’re known for doing exhaustive research before putting hands to keyboard. What are some of the craziest things you’ve done to be sure your books are well researched?
KK: Crazy, huh? Not so sure it’s crazy, but I do travel to the places that I write about. There’s something about experiencing the actual environment of what you’re writing about. If it’s true that we leave a bit of us behind, then it might just be that one can feel the impressions of those who have gone before us. I go to pow-wows — ask a lot of questions, and most of all I try to understand the other person. Makes a difference, I think.
LS: There have been a lot of changes in the publishing industry in the last five years. What is the biggest change you’ve seen and what do you think it means for the romance industry going forward?
KK: The biggest change for me was the closing of most of the major bookstores. I used to tour with each book and the tour of 2010 was really my last city-to-city tour — I discovered, when making up the tour schedule, that most of the stores I was calling were closing. I had many moments of grief. What a loss. Waldenbooks, B. Dalton, Book Star, Borders to name only a few. It was an utter shock to me.
But as the saying goes, when the Lord closes a door, he opens a window and that’s what I think has happened with ebooks. Am so glad that ebooks exist and are getting more and more popular.
Her Personal Life and Her Love of the Romance Genre
LS: Those who know you well know that you’re a devoted wife, mother and grandmother. How does a writer mesh family with writing, promoting, book tours and everything else on your plate?
KK: Well, with difficulty, I must admit. At the moment, my husband and I are trying to move our entire household all the way across country in order to help our daughter with her new family, which includes a 3 year old and an 8 month old. Not an easy thing to do, but very necessary. Certainly gives me much to do — I certainly don’t experience boredom… : )
LS: People have accused romance novels of being formulaic, which couldn’t be farther from the truth, although they must have a beginning, middle and a happy ending to be a romance. What are some elements that you feel must be included in romance novels from the standpoint of being true to the genre without being predictable?
KK: Gosh, in this world that keeps getting more and more accustomed to seeing nude bodies and outright sexual promiscuity in movies and TV, I think that a real romance still must center on one heroine and one hero, who are deeply in love (even if they don’t know it). That sexy is really defined as a man and woman committed and work through their problems together, no matter what. I still find kindness, integrity and honesty extremely sexy in a man. Strength, yes. But Strength without Integrity is the sign of weakness in my humble opinion. There is no formula for that, I think.
LS: Writers love to read. What are some of your favorite authors and books and why?
KK: Well, Lori, I think you’re a terrific writer, for one. Some of my favorites are Amanda Quick, Emily Loring (an old romance author that I cut my teeth on), Joanna Redd, Joanna Lindsey, Lois Greiman, Cassie Edwards (of course), Jane Austin (another of course), L. Ron Hubbard’s stories of adventure and romance.
LS: Wow! Since you are an amazing writer, I will take that as a huge compliment. Thank you so much. I love Jane Austen and the others you mentioned as well, but Austen is my favorite. If someone has never read one of your books before, which one do you think they should start with? For example, THE SPIRIT OF THE WOLF is the second in the Lost Clan series. Would it be best to start with THE ANGEL AND THE WARRIOR, the first in the series? Or, do they stand alone enough that it doesn’t really matter the order in which they are read?
KK: While it’s true that THE ANGEL AND THE WARRIOR is the first in the series, and contains the entire reason why the Lost Clan is cursed, each book in the series — and there are four — stand alone. As an aside, THE SPIRIT OF THE WOLF is one of my favorites — not necessarily my most popular — but one of my favorites.
LS: Anything you’d like to add?
KK: In the world of high finance and the problem of “building a country”, a proud, honest people were made to look at little less than human — perhaps in order to wipe them out and steal their land. As a people, they had their shortcomings, of course, but what group of people don’t? What they did have was a very beautiful way of looking at life — a love of all people regardless of color or religious views — and a willingness to look at the other person’s point of view.
A friend of mine once said that it was inevitable that the American Indian would lose their way of life because they weren’t a technically oriented people. I disagree. Has technology really won? It might seem so, but if the “win” is at the expense of valuable freedom and love of family, then I think the incoming culture actually lost. The fact that it has made this loss almost planet wide in our world today is a result, I think, of lies and heavy propaganda. I truly do believe that the incoming culture was in too much of a hurry and didn’t take the time to learn what just might be the most valuable commodity to a society…love, honesty and integrity. I try to recreate an admiration for these beautiful traits in my books.
LS: Kay, thanks so much for answering my questions and sharing time with WM’s readers.
KK: Thanks, Lori, for taking the time to interview me. It has been a real pleasure.