Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Today's Special - - Kieran Kramer


I'm delighted to welcome Kieran Kramer to The Romance Dish today! Kieran first hit my radar when I bought a copy of her debut historical romance, When Harry Met Molly.  I was utterly charmed and Kramer has continued to charm me with each successive novel that she has published. Nowadays, she's writing small-town contemporary romances with a Southern flair.  Her first contemporary, Sweet Talk Me was released in March and her next book, You're So Fine will be published in late December.  

You can find more information about Kieran and her books at her website and connect with her online at Facebook and Twitter




Hi, Kieran! Welcome back to The Romance Dish. I just finished reading the first book in your new contemporary series and was thoroughly charmed. Please tell our readers what they can expect from Sweet Talk Me.

Hi, PJ! I'm so glad to be visiting with you and your readers. When they read SWEET TALK ME, they can expect a fun, romantic read with colorful characters, laugh-out-loud moments, some super sexy scenes, and even some poignant ones. The setting is Southern, but the themes about love, family, and connection are universal.

Sweet Talk Me is set in the Lowcountry of South Carolina.  What qualities make this area unique?  Why were you inspired to use it as a backdrop for this book?

Wow, I could go on all day about what makes the Lowcountry unique! It's a magical place. I grew up on a sea island, where my family’s land overlooks a saltwater marsh and a tidal creek called Bohicket. The Atlantic Ocean is just around the corner, so we get dolphins a lot. There's a sense of time standing still here – in a good way. You can relax, reflect, and just enjoy being in the present moment. I was inspired to use the Lowcountry as the backdrop for this book because it's a truly romantic place. It's also filled with fascinating people, many of whom wear their hearts on their sleeves. What you see is what you get. That can make for some great entertainment—and awesome conflict! In other words, things are never dull around here. That’s how I try to make my stories!!

My car radio automatically tunes to the nearest country music station so drooling over…um…I mean…appreciating a bad-boy country music star as a hero was pure pleasure.  Are you a country music fan? Is Harrison a complete product of your imagination or does he have his roots in a real-life country crooner?

Oh, PJ! I can totally relate to your appreciating that boy country music stars, ha ha! Yes, I'm a country music fan, although my love affair with country music didn't really start until I was older. As a child and teen, I loved the soft American sound of the Eagles. I can do all their harmonies very well. My brothers and sisters and I would sit around with guitar and piano and sing the Eagles. It wasn't really until my 20s that I began to appreciate serious country music, and it started with my love of Patsy Cline. Now I also enjoy a lot of the crossover country music, and I'd have to say my favorite country music artist today is Tim McGraw. I also love cute bad boys like Blake Shelton. I'll take me some Keith Urban, too (watching him play the guitar is quite a treat). My hero Harrison has a little bit of those three superstars in him. But he’s his own man, too. I love his big heart and his bad boy cool. He writes awesome song lyrics, too, if I say so myself, LOL (that was one of my favorite parts about writing the book).

True is a wonderful heroine and so uniquely southern.  I especially admire her refusal to buckle under her family’s reversal of fortune and her determination to make a good life for herself and her sister.  In that regard, she has a bit of a Scarlett O’Hara vibe.  Was that intentional? What is it about growing up in the South that infuses the women with that core of grit and determination beneath the cotillion exterior?

Oh, I am so excited that you love True! Yes, I was definitely influenced by Margaret Mitchell's iconic character Scarlett O'Hara. Scarlett is one of my favorite book characters of all time. I love how honest she is even when it's definitely going to make her unpopular. I love how she messes up, but does she ever give up? Never. I wanted that sort of backbone in True. But Scarlett was only a partial influence. I'm actually much more inspired by real-life Southern women I know. You are so right that the women here have that strong, unfailing sense of survival. Yet they also love their makeup, their hair, fashions, entertaining, and making a beautiful home, especially one that welcomes guests with open arms. Southern women have a lovely mix of strength and vulnerability. I find them endlessly fascinating.

Which character or characters surprised you during the writing of this book? In what way?

That's a very good question. I think Harrison surprised me most of all. And I'm specifically referring to what wound up happening between him and his brother Gage. It's one of my favorite parts of the whole book. I think I was surprised by Harrison’s ingenious way of solving the conflict between them! It was quite frankly adorable. It made me love Harrison more than ever.

You live in the part of the country where your book is set.  Is it easier or more difficult to set a story in an area from which you hail? Do friends and family ask if they’re the inspiration for certain characters in the book? Has anybody claimed Vince? *grin*

Ha ha! I don't know where I came up with Vince. That's the fun part about writing. I can see him so clearly in my head. I like to have surprise characters, someone you might not expect in a certain setting. That was Vince.

I think it's easier to write about a place you live. You know all the nuances. You live and breathe it. It's a certain passion that you can organically infuse in your writing that you perhaps can't do as well if you have never lived and loved in your setting!

So far no friends and family have asked if they are the inspiration for certain characters, LOL! And honestly? My characters are totally original – they may be inspired by certain people but they are their own selves. How do I know this? They’re in my head just like a movie. I simply write down what they do and say and how they look as they journey through the story of my book.

Let’s talk about you a bit.  Have you always wanted to be a writer? Please share a bit about your journey to publication.

PJ, when I was 10 I wrote a short book about a talking baseball that lost his owner. It was called The Adventures of Tom Nooley. I put the small book between the strings of an old guitar propped in a corner, and occasionally I would go by and shake the guitar until the book fell out. I’d read it and put it back. I grew up in a military household with seven children born in nine years, and now I look back and realize this hiding of the book was one way of protecting my dream, of developing as an individual within the unit that was my family. 

I often wrote poetry in high school and took a stab at writing short stories in college. But it wasn't until I was a stay-at-home mom with a husband who was deployed overseas for six or nine months at a time that I began to write actual novels. My kids were very small. I wrote one and when it got rejected, I put it away thinking that I must not be a real writer. I quit for a long time. I spent my entire 30s rearing my children and just being a “regular” person (we all know writers are a bit crazy, LOL!).

But when I hit 40, I realized that my dream was slipping away. As much as I enjoyed my family, I also had my own passion for writing. I believe there is a season for everything, and we all come to our seasons at different times. So it wasn't until my husband was unexpectedly plucked from his Naval Reserve unit to deploy to Afghanistan for a year that I got serious and determined that I was going to become a published author. When my husband was gone – when I missed him desperately and worried for his safety – I wrote When Harry Met Molly
He inspired me to write about true romantic heroes. I wanted to write about good men who appreciate and fall in love with good women. And I wanted to laugh! I still laugh so hard when I read When Harry Met Molly!

What types of books do you enjoy reading when you’re not busy writing your own?

Oh, that’s another great question! I love reading both fiction and nonfiction. For example, I just read a great nonfiction title called Decisive, by Chip and Dan Heath. It's all about learning how to make great decisions. My self-help audio and book collection are huge reasons for my being published today. I need constant inspiration to reach my potential. I love reading other people's stories and honing my skills in my personal and professional toolboxes.

I also just finished Susan Elizabeth Phillips’s new book called Heroes Are My Weakness. I absolutely loved that story! I'm also a fan of Victoria Holt, Daphne du Maurier, and other gothic-style writers who inspired Susan to write this book.

What would readers be surprised to learn about you?

They might be surprised to learn that I was in the CIA and that I've been on two game shows: Family Feud and Wheel of Fortune.

What’s next? 

Next for me is the release of You’re So Fine on December 30. I absolutely loved this book because I think Lacey and Beau make a great couple, and the setting was inspired by Folly Beach, right outside of Charleston. I call it Indigo Beach. I laughed a lot writing this story, and I cried at parts, too. I also had fun writing some sexy scenes between these two! The contemporary romance I'm working on now is set in the mountains of North Carolina in a small town. But it’s a stand-alone, the same way that Sweet Talk Me and You’re So Fine are stand-alone books.

Thanks for visiting with us, Kieran!  Would you like to ask our readers a question today?

It's been a real pleasure, PJ. I'd like to ask your readers to describe for me their favorite kind of heroine and favorite kind of hero. Here’s another one: I’d love to know what they think about stand-alone contemporary romances versus series. My books are all set in places that I could revisit later, but right now, I’m writing new settings each time. What’s your take? Do you have a preference? There was Biscuit Creek in SWEET TALK ME, Indigo Beach in my upcoming YOU’RE SO FINE, and Kettle Knob in the book I’m writing now (the title’s still a secret!!). I always love to hear what romance readers have to tell me about our beloved romance genre!!! Thanks again, PJ. I hope everyone has a great autumn filled with terrific reads!

Kieran will give away an autographed copy of Sweet Talk Me to two randomly chosen people who leave a comment on today's blog.  U.S. addresses only. 


35 comments:

  1. Hi Kieran! Thank you so much for graciously answering all of my questions.. I had such fun reading Sweet Talk Me and am looking forward to You're So Fine.. I'm traveling today but I'll check in when I can.

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    1. Hi, PJ! Thanks so much for having me. I am so excited to be here!! :-)

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  2. love your writing and settings for your books!

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  3. I prefer stand alones because I don't like keeping track of books in a series and 3 is my personal limit (usually) in a series. I don't plan to stop but it just seems to happen

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    1. I'm kinda the same way. I don't like series that go on forever. I like to stop at a certain point--I'm the same way about TV. I was glad Seinfeld quit when it did--same with The Office. In fact, sometimes those shows can drag on too long. Jerry Seinfeld said he wanted to quit at the top of his game!

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  4. Your interview was fascinating and the locale is so appealing.Best wishes and much success.

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  5. Hi Kieran, (This is Judy C.) I had the immense pleasure of meeting you at the RT2014 and purchased this wonderful book there. I laughed out loud so many times, it was such a joy to experience the story of True and Harrison. I would love you to go back and continue this story. I enjoy both stand alone and series, so I'm no help to you with that question. "I put the small book between the strings of an old guitar propped in a corner", I love that you put this idea in your book. So special! Enjoyed reading this blog! Waiting anxiously for "You're So Fine". I still need to go back and read your earlier books.

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    1. Judy, meeting you was one of the highlights of my time in New Orleans!!!! And I love seeing you here today. Thank you for your incredible support! Guess what? Tomorrow is MY birthday--remember the po' boy discussion? I'm going to ask for a picnic on the beach and a walk afterward. Haha! I'll let you know if I get it. Meanwhile, big hugs, my sweet new friend!!!

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  6. Southern literature is my primary academic field, and my interest and affection extend to Southern popular fiction as well. I loved Sweet Talk Me, which I bought the day it was released, and I look forward to You’re So Fine.

    I never turn down a great standalone, but I confess to being a series addict. I blame it on all my girlhood rereads of Alcott’s March sisters books, Montgomery’s Anne books, Lovelace’s Betsy-Tacy books, and Ingalls’s Laura books. I agree that some series run too long, but I recently read my 19th Deborah Knott mystery and eagerly await #20, I’m still smiling over Jennifer Ashley’s promise of more Mackenzies, and I remind Anne Gracie every chance I get that I’m still hoping for Marcus’s book.

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    1. Wow, Janga, I'm thrilled someone whose primary academic field is Southern lit enjoyed my little ole book, LOL!!! Thanks so much. Your compliment means the world to me.

      Hmm, you're reminding me of my favorite childhood series...the Little House books. I was totally addicted, too! I was also crazy about the Bobbsey twins, although I remember being aware that those books were written for the generation (or two) before me. They were kind of corny, but I still loved them. I loved all the Beverly Cleary books--and I know she had repeat characters, but they weren't series, as far as I recall.

      When I grew up, I fell in love with Sue Grafton and Janet Evanovich. But as far as romance goes, I've read mainly stand-alones. I'm writing down these names--I'm embarrassed I've never heard of Deborah Knott--but the mystery angle reminds me, I love MC Beaton and her two series, one set in England and one in Scotlan. And THAT reminds me that the first romance series I ever read was her hilarious Regency one about the sisters. She wrote it as Marion Chesney. So many romance readers have never heard of her, but she's one of my romance "idols," and she's been prolific in mystery.

      Janga, what do you think of Dorothea Benton Frank? Some people adore her, and some people find her too twee. I happen to like her, and I aspire to write some mainstream Southern women's fiction on the light side. I love her and Mary Kay Andrews (who writes for my editor at SMP). Mary Kay has the mystery angle, of course.

      Wow, I prosed on, didn't I? I wish I could meet with all of you in person and have a comfortable coze, as we say in the Regency world!! Haha!!

      Thanks again, Janga.

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    2. Kieran, Benton is a sometimes good, sometime meh read for me. I'm a big Mary Kay Andrews fan. I also love the books of Karen White, Wendy Wax, Deborah Smith, Emilie Richards, and Mary Alice Monroe. Jean Brashear's The Goddess of Fried Okra is a favorite too. All are very different but authentically Southern. Deborah Knott is the best known character of North Carolina mystery writer Margaret Maron. She's my favorite mystery writer, followed closely by Julia Spencer-Fleming, who has Maron's knack for capturing place albeit with a different region.

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  7. Hi Kieran! I really enjoyed your interview! I love your books! I like both stand-alones and series books. If I am buying a book from a new to me author and it is a series book (not the first one), I might buy it if it sounds appealing. If the book is good, I will buy the others. If it is one of my favorite authors, I love to follow their series books, and do so in order. It doesn't matter to me how many books are in the series if I like them.

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    1. Oh, no! I wrote you this long reply and it never showed up. Your way makes sense--you have more at stake with a favorite author. You can be a little less obsessive (meant in a nice way!) about reading in the right order with an untried author. Thanks for your kind words, Cathy! This answer is about half the length of the last one, LOL!!!

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  8. Southern fiction is enticing and allows me to escape. Your books have brought me hours of enjoyment and entertainment. Series and standalone books are all beautiful for me since I am an avid reader.

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    1. Petite, I'm so glad my books can help you escape. We all need that, right? Everywhere we look on the news is stress, stress, stress!! It's awesome to escape for a few hours and recharge!! :-)

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  9. Don't really care about settings

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    1. bn100, you don't? That's actually cool because I guess that means you'll read a romance set anywhere!! Thanks for stopping by!!

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  10. Thanks for visiting with us today, Kieran and many thanks to everyone who stopped by. Sorry I was so scarce. I've been off the internet all day.

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    1. So glad I could visit, PJ! Thank you!

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  11. I am honestly not a picky reader - as long as a book is well written with a great story line and compelling characters, I am all in.

    While there is great appeal in a series - you know the characters and the town and (hopefully) feel a sense of belonging - the drawback is the addiction to reading every book in the series and not wanting to miss out on a single piece of the story. I'll admit there are many series I am addicted to but there are also several series that I have not started because there are so many books and I feel like I am already so very far behind the story arc.

    That is why standalone books with unique settings are also a wonderful thing. I can read the novel and enjoy it without anxiously awaiting the next installment or frantically searching for previous books and praying that I can afford to buy them at that time (or at least can justify the purchase to myself and my ever patient husband). :-)

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    1. That's a very good point, Glenda! You don't suffer that angst you do when you're waiting for the next book in the series!! Thanks for stopping by to say hello!!

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  12. congrats Kieran on the new release!!! I love her historicals and her contemparies sounds a lot of fun! Ummm... I want a couple with a lot of chemistry and humor. I trust the author with the details like location and time period and I flow w/ the story... so I don't have a particular favorite "type" of character. I just look to be pulled in and lose myself until the last page! Thanks for sharing!

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    1. Erin, thanks for all your support! And I really appreciate hearing your point of view!! I'm the same way--I like to be pulled in and forget about the rest of the world while I'm reading!! :-)

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  13. I love stand alone books and series... stand alones because the story is finished.. and series because some characters return time and time again.... I must be a writer's worst nightmare or best friend... Keep on wriiting Kieran because I've always liked your books!!

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    1. Haha, what a great answer!! Thank you so much!! We're all a little bit of a combination of opposites, aren't we? :-)

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  14. I want a book to be read on it's own merit whether in a series or by itself. I dislike series books that are repetitive or cliffhangers. I want a complete book with an ending. I do follow series: Debbie Macomber Cedar Cove, Susan Maller Fool's Gold, Jill Shalvis Lucky Harbo,r Julia Quinn the Bridgerton family, Jillian Hunter The Boscastle family ...

    My favorite heroine is intelligent, feisty and independent. My favorite hero is hardworking, compassionate and passionate.

    I'm not familiar with Southern settings and values. I do like to be introduced to new settings and customs.

    The familiarity factor and sense of belonging to a community is a draw with a series. I can't say a set number /series. It depends on the author. I like visiting Jill's Lucky Harbor and as long as the characters are interesting I'll be back.

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    1. Laurie, it's always good to hear what readers are thinking!! Thanks so much for sharing!! And those series you named are excellent examples of really compelling storylines that draw you back in over and over!!

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  15. Another book I will have to look for....

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  16. Hi Kieran! I like series books, but also standalone. Standalone comes with less pressure to read them all at once! I love When Harry Met Molly & that whole series! Don't enter me in the contest - I already have the book! Best of luck with the new release!

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    1. Yes, less pressure. Sometimes that's the type of read I want--one I can read, put aside, and not wait anxiously for the next book in the series. Thank you so much, Sharlene, for stopping by!! You're so sweet!! :-)

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  17. I enjoy series, but the stand alone books are a treat. You get the whole story in one book and don't have to wait or worry about what will happen next. The open door to revisit the locales is nice. It will allow us to visit a place we like without revisiting or having to remember someone else's story to complete the picture. This is especially true when there is a long time between books.
    I look forward to your book set in the mountains of NC. We live on the TN side of the border and our daughter lives outside Asheville where she works. It is a favorite area for us. I grew up in the Adirondacks and we lived in the Rocky Mountains. The Blue Ridge and Smokey Mountains have satisfied my need to be in or near the mountains. We have visited the Low Country a few times. It has its own special flavor. We will be visiting it again in a few weeks.
    I enjoyed your historicals and appreciate your sense of humor. I think it is a quality in writing that is under appreciated.
    I hope the release of YOU'RE SO FINE is a big success.

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    1. Dear Library Pat,

      Thank you so much for your insights about your reading experience and for your kind words!

      I love the area of the country where you live. When I lived in Hickory, NC, we often went up to the Blowing Rock area. I also love Asheville! My husband and I spent our tenth anniversary there. (We just hit 25, so we need to go back for another weekend!!).

      I hope you have a great autumn up where you are. What bliss to see those leaves on the mountainside!!!

      Hugs,

      Kieran

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