USA Today bestselling author Kieran Kramer currently writes fun contemporary romance for St. Martin’s Press. A former journalist and English teacher, Kieran’s also a game show veteran, karaoke enthusiast, and general adventurer. She lives where she grew up-in the Lowcountry of South Carolina-with her family. Find her on Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, and at www.kierankramerbooks.com.
1. I first found you when I saw the cover for When Harry Met Molly in the bookstore. First of all because the cover models weren’t headless, as so many are, and secondly because the expression on Molly’s face is priceless! How much input did you have on the cover art?
When we were discussing the cover art for my Impossible Bachelor series, I told my publisher that I wanted the girls’ faces to look intelligent. I wanted them to appear to have a great joie de vivre, too. I think they did an excellent job with Molly!
2. How did you develop a relationship with St. Martin’s Press?
My agent called them. She felt Jennifer Enderlin would be the perfect match with my book. I had met Jen at a conference a few years earlier, but when she bought the book, she didn’t realize I was the same woman who had taken a walk with her on a beach at that conference. Later, when I sent her my photo, she recognized me. It was funny!
3. How much of television’s Brady family is re-interpreted in your House of Brady series?
I wrote my books so that people who had never seen the Brady Bunch wouldn’t miss a thing. But there are tips of the hat to the series. First of all, it’s a blended family with three boys and three girls. I use names from the show, too: this is the Sherwood family, for example. Sherwood Schwartz is the creator of the Brady Bunch series. Also, Gregory is Lord Westdale in The Earl Is Mine. He and Marcia went to Westdale High School in the series. There’s even a maid named Alice. I also follow general personality types. Marcia, for example, could have been an It girl in London society: she has the beauty and charm and wit. But my Marcia gave it all up for very good reason.
Gregory’s story took inspiration from the TV show episode in which Greg was selected to be a rock star but he didn’t fit the coat. So he was given the boot on the TV show by record company executives. If you look at the first paragraph of The Earl Is Mine, you’ll see reference to that coat metaphor. Gregory felt he was a fraud in my Regency tale.
In Say Yes to the Duke, Janice is the often overlooked middle sister. If you know anything about the TV series, you’ll know that Jan felt the same way. It was a lot of fun writing these three books, and I still have the remaining three to go.
4. You write both historical and contemporary romance. Will we see more of both?
Yes, I’m sure I will finish the House of Brady Regency series. I don’t know the timeline at this moment. My main focus right now is to develop my contemporary career. From the very beginning, I wrote both historical and contemporary. I just happened to sell my historicals first.
5. How long did the story Sweet Talk Me swirl around in your mind before you wrote it?
Good question! Not long, is my answer. I knew that I wanted to write Southern contemporary romance. The idea just came to me, and my editor loved it. Sometimes that happens. It’s fantastic when the stars align, so to speak!
6. Sweet Talk Me takes place out east, and You’re So Fine starts on the west coast, but then returns to the Carolinas. Is there anything significant to you about your stories’ settings, or do you look at a map and place your characters wherever there’s an interesting story?
The stories do open up on page 1 in the South, but some of the back story in both Sweet Talk Me and You’re So Fine involves other parts of the country, for sure. These are Southern-centric stories with universal themes that everyone, no matter where they live, can relate to.
And yes, the settings are significant to me. I grew up here. I want to write about this place that I love so much. I could write about it for the rest of my life and never grow tired of it!
7. Were you born in a log cabin that you built with your own two hands?
No, I was born at Walter Reed Hospital in Washington D.C.! But my dad built a large log home all by himself, although we kids and Mom did our best to help. We used old bricks from the plantation house that used to be on the site to make the chimney which goes up the center of the house. I cleaned a lot of those bricks. I was 12-years-old, and any time we sassed our parents they would send us outside to clean 25 bricks. So I look at that chimney and laugh because I cleaned an awful lot of bricks!
8. What did you do with your winnings from Wheel of Fortune?
Paid off the car loan. Put the rest in savings. Oh, but first I had to pay Uncle Sam about one third of it!!!
9. Did you used to work for the government?
I was at The Farm for while. Maybe some of your readers have heard of that. I also spent a good deal of time at Langley headquarters.
The worst assumption people make about teenagers is that they don’t wantyour love. They want to be independent, yet they also crave love and security. You could also say they’re looking for acceptance–unconditional acceptance, and someone saying, “You rock just the way you are.”
11. Do any of your musically-inclined children play the bagpipes?
I love this question! No, none of them do. But I did buy a bagpipe beginner kit, so I could learn. Somehow I wound up giving it to my brother, and I don’t think he ever did anything with it. Thanks for reminding me! I need to get that back LOL!
12. What is your go-to song for karaoke?
I have several. One is “Love Will Keep Us Together” by The Captain and Tenille. Another one is “Kiss Me” by Six Pence None the Richer. And then I also love “He Thinks He’ll Keep Her,” by Mary Chapin Carpenter, and “Bitch,” by Meredith Brooks.
13. Have you or your musically-inclined children busted out Meghan Trainor’s “All About That Bass?”
Yes, we have! We dance in the kitchen all the time, and that’s one of the songs we’ve been dancing to. I put it up on my author Facebook page and got a big conversation going about it. 🙂
14. What social media do you use? Do you combine your personal and professional or keep them separate?
I’m mainly on Facebook. I have a family/friends page where I post personal stuff including family pictures, and I have a professional author page. I occasionally post family pictures there, but not often. Having worked for the government, I’m still security conscious. There are kooks everywhere. But I do like to share my family life with my readers. I talk a lot about cooking and other homey stuff like that.
I also love Pinterest. I’m on Twitter, too. I need to blog more from my website. But I’m not sure about that. It just doesn’t excite me. So I stick to things that really resonate with me, and that is mainly Facebook.
15. What is your favorite electronic or digital writing tool?
My favorite is my MacBook Pro. I used a student MacBook for my first seven books, the very basic Mac you can get. I bought a new one a couple years ago. It still has the small screen, but it’s got a stainless cover instead of a white plastic one.
16. What is your favorite non-electronic writing tool?
My whiteboard. I do a lot of my plotting on that.
17. What is the most persistent distraction from writing?
My pets and social media.
18. What are your favorite writing-related events?
I really love luncheons, book signings, and conferences. I can’t say which of those is my favorite because I love them all. I get to meet readers at each one.
19. How do you use your street team?
I don’t have a street team anymore. I used to have one with Vicky Dreiling, but when I started writing contemporaries, it made no sense that we would share a street team anymore since she’s still doing Regencies. I haven’t started one up again on my own because most of my readers visit me on Facebook anyway, and I’d rather spend time writing more books than coordinating and overseeing a street team. Vicky and I found that there was a solid core of fans who helped out, but many joined and didn’t really participate, so…I’ll write more books, LOL!! I think that’s a good useof my time, and in the end, I’m hoping readers will appreciate that more than if I give out little prizes and free excerpts and stuff like that. Yeah, all that’s good, but I tend to offer the first chapter up pretty darned fast anyway. And I share free excerpts with my Facebook crowd.
20. Who shot first, Han or Greedo?
Han definitely did. I can’t believe George Lucas would try to rewrite that scene. It makes me wonder if someone in his personal life got to him and has tremendous influence over him and he changed it for that person. I’m just speculating! It could be that as he got older something in him made him regret his portrayal of Han. But the same way writers can’t go back and change their stories (okay, maybe they can now, with e-books), I don’t think filmmakers should, either. In other words, I don’t think stories should evolve over time—maybe that’s an antiquated viewpoint, but hey—that’s where I am right now. I want to be able to read a story or see a movie and know that it’s going to stay that way forever.
One of the beautiful things about story is that it’s a snapshot of a time—of a frame of mind—that later, readers can immerse themselves in and appreciate for what it is, a lovely creation that has a beginning and an end—a true end!!!!
Ever notice we value things we can no longer have? How we take for granted things we can clutch onto forever? Me, too. 🙂 That’s why we need to snip off a story and let it live its life where it is.
So George Lucas, that was a bad call.
Thanks for having me here—I loved your fun questions, and I hope you
and your readers have lots of great books on your bedside tables!!!