Today I’m honored to interview historical romance author, Kaye Dacus. And, she’s doing a giveaway of a signed book to one lucky commenter so be sure to leave a comment to be entered to win.
First, a little bit of info about Kaye…
Kaye Dacus is the author of humorous, hope-filled contemporary and historical romances with Barbour Publishing, Harvest House Publishers, and B&H Publishing. She holds a Master of Arts in Writing Popular Fiction from Seton Hill University, is a former Vice President of American Christian Fiction Writers, and currently serves as President of Middle Tennessee Christian Writers. Kaye lives in Nashville, Tennessee, where she is a full-time academic advisor and part-time English Composition instructor for Bethel University.
Kaye, how did you become a writer?
Even though I started writing when I was twelve or thirteen (writing down the stories I’d been playing out with my Barbies so I’d remember the next day), it wasn’t until I was sixteen or seventeen when I really felt like writing was what I wanted to do with my life. I just didn’t have anyone around me who knew how to direct me. My parents encouraged me, but they weren’t sure how to give me guidance. I had a wonderful Creative Writing teacher in high school and that was when I knew for sure that I wanted to be like him—I wanted to be able to teach others how to do what it was I loved doing so much. But it wasn’t until much later in my life, at the age of thirty when I attended my first writers’ conference, that I truly realized I wanted to pursue publication.
Can you describe a day in the life of Kaye Dacus?
After dragging myself out of the bed between 6:45 and 7:00 a.m. (I’m not a morning person!) to get ready for work, I get to the office around 8:00 a.m. If I don’t have other plans at lunchtime (meeting friends or running errands or other appointments), I will have a sandwich at my desk while trying to get in my 1,000 daily words on my manuscript. At 4:30, when the workday ends, I either stay at the office until I finish my word-count, or I’m off to the gym (and on Tuesdays, it’s off to Panera to write with dear friend Liz Johnson). At home, I’m either grading papers for the composition class I teach or I’m working on something for one or more of my books (editing, proofing, marketing, etc.). At ten o’clock, I’m in the bed, where I spend the next hour or so winding down by catching up on blogs and then reading. Around 11 p.m. is lights-out. Pretty boring stuff.
What is your writing space like?
I can write pretty much anywhere, but mostly it’s in my recliner in the living room with my laptop. My spare bedroom is an office, but I rarely even turn my desktop computer on anymore.
How do you “write in the car” when you’re traveling by yourself?
A few years ago, when I was working freelance and traveling to speaking events, conferences, and appearances several times a month, I discovered that my laptop came with speech recognition software as part of Windows 7. With a microphone headset, I discovered that I could dictate into Word and redeem all of that travel time—and then I wasn’t having to try to furtively and frantically write when I got where I was going. Even though I don’t travel as often now, I do still occasionally use that as a time to get some word-count in so that I don’t feel so guilty about not writing when I get where I’m going.
How many complete manuscripts have you written? Which one do you have the strongest emotional bond with?
Counting the book due to my publisher on June 1, I have written fifteen complete manuscripts—three unpublished and twelve published (or soon to be). If I had to pick one book with which I still have the strongest bond, I’d probably have to go with The Art of Romance. Even though I put so much of myself into all of my characters, there’s just something special about Dylan and Caylor that makes them—and their story—continue on in my imagination long after finishing the book.
Any advice for aspiring novelists?
The best advice I got when I first started getting serious about learning the craft and pursuing publication: Above all else, FINISH YOUR FIRST DRAFT! You can fix anything but a blank page. The most important thing is to get your entire story down on paper before you start worrying about all of the technical craft things and stressing yourself out about “making it perfect.” Just write.
What’s your biggest time waster/distraction?
Let’s talk about your latest book, titled Follow the Heart, Book One of the Exhibition series. Can you give readers a one-sentence summary?
An American woman is sent to England to marry wealth, but finds herself torn between the poor man she loves and the viscount who offers the wealth and stability that can save her family.
Ok, that has piqued my interest. Can you give me the back cover blurb?
Kate and Christopher Dearing’s lives turn upside down when their father loses everything in a railroad land speculation. The siblings are shipped off to their mother’s brother in England with one edict: marry money.
At twenty-seven years old, Kate has the stigma of being passed over by eligible men many times—and that was before she had no dowry. Christopher would like nothing better than to make his own way in the world; and with a law degree and expertise in the burgeoning railroad industry, he was primed to do just that—in America.
Though their uncle tries to ensure Kate and Christopher find matrimonial prospects only among the highest echelon of British society, their attentions stray to a gardener and a governess.
While Christopher has options that would enable him to lay his affections where he chooses, he cannot let the burden of their family’s finances crush his sister. Trying to push her feelings for the handsome—but not wealthy— gardener aside, Kate’s prospects brighten when a wealthy viscount shows interest in her. But is marrying for the financial security of her family the right thing to do, when her heart is telling her she’s making a mistake?
Mandates . . . money . . . matrimony. Who will follow the heart?
How long did it take to write Follow the Heart?
I came up with the story idea in August 2010 and wrote up a proposal which my agent started pitching. In January 2011, I wrote three sample chapters at the request of a few publishers. But I didn’t write any more than that until August 2011 when I signed the contract with B&H. I turned the manuscript in the first week of May 2012. So it was almost two years from concept to completion, but about nine months of actual focused writing.
What do you hope will stick with readers when they finish the book?
Women, especially, tend to look at our choices as a series of obligations—we do what we feel we are obligated to do for the sake of our families, not necessarily what we feel our hearts are telling us to do. I believe, and it’s the theme of this book, that we spend too much time worrying about how we can fix/help/support our families (or those around us at work or in friendships) and not enough time listening to and trusting God. When we pray, we tend to tell God what’s wrong and ask him to fix it. But do we ever really take the time to just be still and listen to what God is trying to tell us? And can we really let God take care of those we feel responsible for and let go of that burden of responsibility that may not, in truth, be ours to bear?
Which character in the book was the most fun to write?
Christopher, being lighthearted and easygoing, was the most fun to write. I always found myself in a better mood when I was writing his scenes.
Which character in the book was the hardest to write?
Lord Thynne (pronounced tine, like the tine of a fork) turned out to be the hardest to write—to get his motivations right but also keep him sympathetic, since he comes back in Book 3.
And now, let’s end the interview with a fun question. What are three things in your purse you can’t live without?
My debit card, my Starbucks “gold card,” and my Blistex. I’m sure most women would mention their cell phone, but I don’t keep mine in my purse—I keep it on my person, on my desk, or on my chair-side table at all times to make sure I’m never without it.
Kaye, thank you so much for the interview. Readers, if you’d like to win a signed copy of Follow the Heart leave a comment at the end of this post to be entered in the contest.