Your book, Hot Water, has gotten fabulous reviews. Is this your
first novel? If so, were you surprised at the response you've gotten?
As I mentioned, Hot Water is my fourth
novel, but first to sell. Hopefully others will get picked up now. Surprised at the response? Yes and no. I think I knew I
was onto something with the concept, a woman who escapes her stifling life for a weekend, rents a red Lamborghini and hires
a gorgeous male escort. Even before the book came out, when I told women the premise their eyes immediately lit up. Like,
whoa! Sometimes I didn't get past the word "escape."
But I'm surprised and delighted that so many women tell me they read it in
one sitting, couldn't put it down and how they're telling their friends. Also that many reviews have commended both the style
and what I call the "deeper levels" of Hot Water. And that men really like it too! One man read his wife's copy and went out
and bought 12 copies to send to friends. Helped put me on a best seller list in Central California! Hot Water was #2 and Da
Vinci Code was #4. That, I'll definitely frame.
One more thing, I'm surprised how my marketing ideas worked. Touring spa resorts
with the "ultimate spa novel" (Hey, tough job but somebody's gotta do it), holding Hot Water House Parties in private homes
(like Tupperware or lingerie parties, but steamy readings and fun door prizes like the turquoise thong that says "Get Into
Hot Water.") And I was completely blown away when a lady set up an event at the Hot Licks Barbecue and Saloon in Bisbee, Arizona,
complete with belly dancers and a sexy lingerie fashion show. I kept pinching myself. OMG, I'm signing books in a bar!
Hmm, February 3rd I'm doing an event at a hot lingerie store in Santa Barbara
In your opinion, what separates mainstream romance from
erotic romance? Is it simply a case of more explicit sexual scenes, or are there other differences?
think stories qualify as erotica when we sense that a main purpose is to turn the reader on, and yes that usually means more
explicit sex scenes. But for women it also goes deeper (excuse the pun). In Hot Water, the male escort, William, has a philosophy
degree and Julia is an avid, almost compulsive reader, so they meet on an intellectual level as well. The biggest sex organ
is after all the brain. (Okay, it helps that he's a gorgeous combination of Antonio Banderas and Johnny Depp). So a full connection
between realistic characters can be more of a turn on than mere explicitness. And if it gets crass, I think that sometimes
pulls the reader out. At least for women. I tried to make the sex scenes steamy hot and real, but not coarse. My rule is no
anatomical terms, unless something humorous happens. Which it often does with sex. Sex is so complex and there are always
a myriad of emotions and thoughts going on, which makes it real. And if we feel and believe what's happening, now THAT'S a
Our readers love to know about the backgrounds of successful
authors. Could you tell us a little about how you got started in writing?
I started a novel when I was sixteen, but set aside my writing dream when
I married a few years later and was concentrating on getting my teaching degree and some years later, a baby. I left the marriage
when I was in my late twenties (yes, there is a character in the book that resembles my first husband). Then I taught overseas
for some years, taking my son with me. Egypt, Spain, the Philippines, then back in California. But as much as I loved teaching,
I always wanted to be a writer, and, well, see answer # 1.
We all love reading about various writing habits. What's your typical
writing day like?
I write early in the morning, first thing, unless I have too much email to
answer. When I was teaching I'd get up at 4:00 A.M. or even earlier, and get 3-4 hours in before work. Now I start a bit later
and sometimes don't stop until 2:00 or 3:00 P.M. I almost never write in the evening. Also I write fairly slowly. I can work
half the day and get out a page. But the good part is, my work doesn't need much editing once I finish. I wrote Hot Water
in eight months, fastest book I've ever written.
I don't do a detailed outline of the whole book. Notes, at first until I know
where to start. Then when I stop writing for the day, I make a few notes about what will come next. I mainly follow the characters
and things happen that I don't always foresee.
Do you have a goal of a certain number of pages or words written in
Not really. There have been rare times when I've churned out 5 or 6 pages
in a day. And I really love it if I can do a chapter or two or even three in a week, but I just let the process happen.
Also I do a ton of writing while I'm doing other stuff, like house work, gardening,
driving, dancing or riding the bike at the gym. (Which I haven't done enough of lately). That's when I get ideas of what to
add to a scene I've been working on or where to go next.
Was it difficult to get Hot Water accepted by a mainstream publisher?
What was your process?
Well, Leona Nevler, the editor who bought Hot Water for Berkley / Penguin,
had tried hard to get my previous novel but couldn't quite get it past whoever else had to decide. So she was waiting for
my next book and grabbed it up. Hot Water is kind of a cross genre book. It is a romance, yet always shelved with mainstream
fiction. My agent sent it to other houses, all mainstream, but Leona Nevler got it first.
Kathryn, what advice do you have for new romance writers? Or writers
who haven't managed to break into mainstream publishing?
Try to write every day even if it's only an hour or two. Really work to
learn the craft. Read books on writing and the genre you're aiming for. Go to conferences. Get in a critique group. Remember
you're writing to entertain the reader so keep the pages turning. A fresh or quirky concept helps. Most of all, believe, and
never, ever give up.
I took an early retirement from teaching five months before Hot Water sold
and have been on the ride of my life. The sequel, Steam, is in the works. And I'm about a third of the way through a new novel
based on the true story of silent screen star, Gladys Walton who was also Al Capone's girlfriend. It's worth waiting for.
Oh, and if you have something sexy to write, don't worry what anyone thinks.
Just write it. My 88 year old mother loves Hot Water. A 93 year old lady in the home where Mom lives says it should be in
large print! "Women our age need books like this," she says. If I'd known that I might've written it sooner!