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Kelley St. John Interview

Posted by Michelle on February 14, 2008

Kelley St. John’s previous experience as a senior writer at NASA fuelled her interest in writing action-packed suspense, although she also enjoys penning steamy romances and quirky women’s fiction. Since 2000, St. John has obtained over fifty writing awards and was elected to the Board of Directors for Romance Writers of America.

Q. Is writing fiction something you’ve always enjoyed, or something that you discovered at a certain point in your life?

A. From the time I was a little girl, I knew I wanted to be a writer. However, I actually wrote for NASA before pursuing the true dream, writing romantic fiction. I grew up spending quite a bit of time telling stories with the rest of the family on my grandmother’s porch. Holidays found us all gathered together and creating stories. Writing seemed a natural progression of my love of storytelling.

Q. Can you tell us a little about your books, and what you write?

A. My single title books (Warner/Grand Central Publishing) are sassy, sexy contemporary romances. My category books (Harlequin Blaze) are sexy paranormal romances (stories about mediums who help ghosts stuck “in the middle”).

Q. This must be one of the dreaded questions, but do you have a favourite…and why?

A. My favourite typically changes based on the most current book, because I’ve been “close” to those characters more recently. For my single title books, I’m very drawn to each of my heroines for different reasons:

a) Good Girls Don’t – Lettie was the “bad girl” in high school who always wanted to be good. Twelve years later, she is determined to prove she can, but because she needs to support her younger sister (Amy Campbell Brooks, who is also in To Catch a Cheat), she ends up working for an alibi agency and providing alibis for cheaters. And just before she can quit the “bad girl” job, she ends up lying to her best friend from way back when. Then she ends up falling for him, but she’s already started their relationship with a lie. Lettie truly touched my heart, because she depicted the person who truly has to work to overcome their past.

b) Real Women Don’t Wear Size 2 – Clarise was the sweet “fluffy” girl that everyone liked (but nobody dated). She had more curves than she thought any woman deserved, and she had never learned to use those curves to her advantage. In this book (and with the help of some fabulous friends), she does. I enjoyed writing about Clarise learning to embrace her shapely self and the sensual desires that she’d kept hidden throughout the majority of her life and received an abundance of mail from readers who enjoyed rooting for her during her journey.

c) To Catch a Cheat – Marissa has been cheated on by every man in her life and decides to get even with a cheater database (www.TheGuyCheats.com). But one of the cheaters was falsely accused and renders payback in the form of his site (www.TheGirlLies.com). The World Wide Web War that ensues is only the beginning when the two end up trying to coexist for a week. This one is my favourite to date, because To Catch a Cheat captures the reality that everything in your past plays a part in your future, and overcoming your past experiences can be a journey that can change your life…for the better.

Q. What was it that drew you to writing romance, and are there other genres that you would consider?

A. Romance came naturally for me, writing about life’s relationships. Typically, those relationships stem around a couple working toward that happy ending, even if they do experience a few bumps along the way. However, my books always encompass the additional relationships that make one’s life complete—relationships with family and friends. You’ll see that all of my books include friends and family, because those are also relationships that truly define a person’s character.

For other genres, I have also written women’s fiction and romantic suspense and hope to release those in the fairly near future.

Q. Where do you get the inspiration for your stories from…is it all imagination, or based on real life events?

A. Most of my books are based on real life events. The alibi agency in Good Girls Don’t was based on alibi agencies that currently exist in Europe. I read an article in Time magazine about alibi agencies and then thought, What if someone worked for a place that required her to lie for a living? And what if she really doesn’t want to, but she has no choice? And what if she ends up lying to her dearest friend? And then…Good Girls Don’t was born. Likewise, in To Catch a Cheat, the cheater database is a concept that already exists on a few Web sites (www.dontdatehimgirl.com and www.womensavers.com).

Q. How about your characters…do you base them on people you know?

A. That question could get me into SO much trouble! {wink} I will admit that I have a couple of characters that are strangely similar to family and/or friends. And I should probably leave it at that, LOL!

Q. It seems to be hard to get noticed as a writer these days. What was your experience, and do you have any advice for others?

A. I believe my background stood out in the media world. The fact that I’d written for NASA seemed to help me with exposure. Also, with my very first book, I gave away several vacation packages that showcased the location for the novel. My readers loved the opportunity to win a trip to Tybee Island, where a portion of Good Girls Don’t was set. Then for Real Women Don’t Wear Size 2, I gave away a couple of trips to Indian Rocks Beach in Florida, which was also a very popular contest.

Currently, I’m giving one cheatee a chance to win a $500 Spa Getaway for To Catch a Cheat. To enter, check out www.TheGuyCheats.com or www.TheGirlLies.com. The contests have also been a nice way to stand out and get noticed. My recommendation for other writers would be to identify what makes you and/or your books unique and then advertise that quality to your readers.

Q. Do you enjoy reading for your own pleasure? What are some of your favourite books and authors?

A. I read at least four books per week, if not more. I love anything by Linda Howard, Iris Johansen, Catherine Coulter, Diana Gabaldon and J.D. Robb. Oh, and naturally, all of the Harry Potter books are on the keeper shelf!

Q. Author’s websites are becoming more and more common these days. Do you think they’re important, and do you enjoy working on yours?

A. I’m blessed that my hubby (who I call the Sexy Cajun) designs websites and keeps www.kelleystjohn.com up-to-date and fun. I do think they’re important, because websites give my readers a means of staying up-to-date with books, appearances, etc.

Q. Finally, what comes next for you? Which book is next to be published, and what are you working on beyond that?

A. I have another Harlequin Blaze trilogy that will be released next summer and is a continuation of the trilogy that came out this year. Then, next November, my next single title, The Trouble with Men, will be released. That book features Babette Robinson, sister of the heroine in Real Women Don’t Wear Size 2. After Babette was introduced in Real Women Don’t Wear Size 2, I received a flood of emails asking me to write her story. Thankfully, my publisher agreed that Babette’s story needed to be told 

Q. Having just read To Catch A Cheat, I have to throw in one extra question here.. is ‘pinky’ based on something that already exists, and where can we get one?! {grin}

A. You know, you’re not the first reader who has asked. Yes, Pinky really is a product that’s available to the public and can be found at quite a few “specialty” stores. In Good Girls Don’t, Amy first invents the unique product, and then since readers wanted to see Amy and Landon again, I brought her back in To Catch A Cheat – naturally, I couldn’t bring Amy back without also mentioning her most prized invention.

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