Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Author Spotlight: Kelly Hunter

The first book I read by Kelly Hunter was Misbehaving with the Magnate which had me hooked from cover to cover. The most recent, Red Hot Renegade, turned me into Kelly Hunter's number one fan (in a non-Misery sense of course!). This book is the last in her Bennett family series - they're all great reads, but each one seems better than the last. Red Hot Renegade kept me flying through the pages and into the wee hours. With an Asian heroine far wealthier than the seriously seductive, tough martial arts hero, this novel was certainly different. It was fresh, fun and sensual - all the qualities of the new Riva line. Her first Riva novel, With this Fling, looks like it will be just as good a read and I'm looking forward to opening my brand new copy!

And now that I've had my fan girl moment, here's Kelly ....

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1. Where were you in your writing career 5 years ago?
Unpublished and unsure which line to target. Harlequin Temptations had just left the building – much to my dismay – and there was rumour of a fun, flirty and sexy editorial stream somewhere on the horizon. When the guidelines appeared for a HMB London edited line (then) called Nu Temptation, I snail mailed off a partial. A week and a half later HMB London asked to see the rest, at which point I had to fess up that the rest didn’t exist. Yet. I still remember Ed’s long suffering email sigh and her very patient, ‘just send it when it’s done’. That story became Wife For A Week, and Ed bought it, and it helped launch a new editorial stream (Modern Extra which later became Modern Heat). It also gave me quite a few more Bennett Family stories to write.

2. Where did you get the idea from for With This Fling?
It all started with wanting to write a back-from-the-dead hero. But a back-from-the dead hero was unlikely to work tonewise for Riva. I needed fun. Flirty. Not a hero who’d had amnesia or who’d walked away from the heroine in order to protect her, and I certainly didn’t want him to have been held prisoner somewhere nasty. Nope, I wanted a daisy fresh back-from-the-dead hero, and he couldn’t be a vampire either. I headed for the gin. I decided my heroine would invent a fictional hero for some terribly convincing reason and then kill him off when she no longer needed him. And then he would reappear, so to speak. In the flesh. Daisy fresh. And twice as sexy. More gin ensued. Of course I could make this premise work…

3. Where do you hope to be in 5 years time?
Still writing. Still selling.

4. Which was the last book you read that you wish you'd written?
Barbara Samuel’s No Place Like Home (and pretty much every Barbara Samuel/O Neal book since then).

5. Was there any particular author or book that made you want to be a writer?
It was a cumulative effort that began with Enid Blyton’s The Faraway Tree and gained momentum with every story that ever swept me away.

6. What do you wish you'd known about being an author before you were pubbed?
That you need to work even harder once you’re published to stay published and captivate new readers.

7. What's the best writing advice you've ever been given?
Every word counts.

8. What does the new Riva imprint mean for you.
It means I get to help launch another new line. Woohoo! That was the mememe answer. In a general sense, a bold new line means there’s room for authors to boldly go where no author has gone before. I love that kind of freedom. It’s not for the faint of heart though, because – count on it – somewhere along the way you’re going to go where no one wants you to go.

9. Tell us about your Riva launch release.

With This Fling is about a reality challenged heroine who invents a fiancé to appease her dying godmother. He's dashing, honourable, supremely accomplished, and above all, absent. When he's no longer needed Charlotte kills him off but the gossip grinder has done its work and Charlotte’s workmates believe she’s lost both her godmother and her fiancé. They want to help and go searching for a memento of Charlotte’s beloved fiancé to give to her because lo, she doesn’t even have a photo of him. Then the contents of a man’s office turns up on her doorstep. Then the owner of the office arrives to collect it. He shares the same surname as Charlotte’s fictional fiancé. Perfect he most definitely is not, but he is rather dashing. You can see where this is going...

I really enjoyed stacking my poor, imperfect, in-the-flesh hero up against the fantasy of the perfect man. That my poor, imperfect, in-the-flesh hero was a category romance hero and not real(istic) either amused me no end. Small things amu-- ah, never mind.

10. What’s next for you?
An April RIVA release called Man She Loves To Hate.
You know those historicals that start with the heroine disguised as a stable hand or cabin boy and the hero thinks he’s losing his marbles along with his lust for women? I love those stories (possibly the small minds thing again). I love the deception and adore the reveal.
I decided to open a contemporary story in similar fashion, and try and make it believable, and flirty, and fun, and it’d help if I had some handy dandy reason as to why the hero and heroine wouldn’t declare undying devotion the moment the ruse was up. What If ensued and the Man She Loves To Hate was born.

This segues into a question for the Minxes. Anyone have a favourite story opening, premise, or scene that you’ve never forgotten, even though it’s been years since you read the book? What made it so memorable? Try breaking it down. Which bits of the premise or scene intrigued you the most? Then, for the writers here, have a quiet think about the kind of story you might be able to wrap around that lovely old favourite story bit.

I hope you enjoy reading the new Riva stories and thank you so much for the invitation to come and talk stories and play with the Minxes.

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With This Fling is a January release in the UK through Mills & Boon and Amazon, a February release in Australia and a June release in North America.

Red Hot Renegade is available through Mills & Boon and will be released in North America in March as a Presents Extra, under the title Her Singapore Fling.

To find out more about Kelly, you can visit her website here.

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Congratulations to Desere Steenberg, winner of last week's Kimberly Lang contest.


Nas said...

Hi Minxes, Hi Kelly,

Congrats on the Riva release. I love the witty dialogues in the Riva series.

I think one of the first M&B I read "With All My Worldly Goods" I even remember the name! It's like back in 1980...the heroine suspected the hero of trying to poison her but then trusted was a very intriguing story!

Jackie Ashenden said...

Ooooh, Kelly, I already read this and all your backlist. Love your books (especially the dialogue)! And the new one sounds fantastic. Can't wait till it's out!
*breathes* Ooooookay, favourite opener? Ummmm...*mind goes blank*...

Maya Blake said...

Thanks so much for hanging out with the Minxes today. Your books are truly awesome and an absolutely fave of the Minxes! I read an excerpt of WTF on Liz Fielding's blog and adored it!

I've read some pretty awesome openings and scenes in my time but my absolute favourite has got to be my CP Sutton Fox's first line - "It's only Thursday and my ass is on fire!" from her Lion Tamers - Travelling Circus Series.

Joanne Coles said...

I read the excerpt over on Liz's site too, loved the premise, so tried to pick it up in my local supermarket ... but it was sold out :-( If my search of local shops doesn't lead to a copy I'll be ordering because it sounds so fab and original.

Hmm ... fave opening scene. One of my fave books ever was a SSE by Debbie Macomber which opened with the heroine throwing up and hoping she wasn't pregnant. Although it's maybe not the most pleasant of topics, it's a scene that's stayed with me :-)

Kelly Hunter said...

Hi Nas,
Have just added With All My Worldly Goods to my must find list. Sounds like a great way to externalise trust issues. Thanks for mentioning it.

Kelly Hunter said...

Hi Jackie, am really pleased you're enjoying my stories, and thrilled that you've read them all. Wow. Just wow.

One of my favourite SEP love scenes involves spanking and dust bunnies and envy inciting banter and characterisation. Up until that scene SEP had played the hero of this secondary romance strand staid and nerdy, and the reveal that he had his heroine's measure and then some was delicious.

Kelly Hunter said...

Hi Maya,
I've not read any CP Sutton. Something to rectify.

Kelly Hunter said...

Sold out sounds good to me, Joanne.

There are some fabulous reads within SSE, aren't there? And that opening scene definitely sounds like it would pull a reader into the story from word one.

Ros said...

Kelly, you already know how much of a fan I am of your books and With This Fling did not disappoint! Though I think Wife for a Week is still one of my favourites. It's the M&B that makes me laugh more than any other.

I'd love to see someone attempt a contemporary version of Georgette Heyer's fabulous cross-dressing romance, The Masqueraders.

Romy Sommer said...

Thanks for that idea, Ros. My favourite Georgette Heyer is The Grand Sophy. I love the idea of the cousin who arives like a whirlwind and sets the entire household upside down. I'm sure there'd be a great modern spin to put on that!

Sally Clements said...

Fighting breaks out amongst the minxes for the title of top fan! Love your books Kelly, thanks so much for being here! Great advice about thinking over story openers/scenes etc, I'm doing lots of this sort of stuff as I'm 'between stories' at the moment, and it's great advice!

Ros said...

Romy, you could try Katie Fforde's Flora's Lot, which is essentially a contemporary re-telling of the Grand Sophy.

Kelly Hunter said...

More books for the tbr pile! Thanks, ladies.