I am SO excited to be able to introduce you all to a very good friend and author of mine, Kali Willows. I was lucky enough to meet Kali through an anthology project and have completely fallen in love with her! Sweet, sassy, spunky, honestly, you're missing out if you haven't taken a look at her books yet.
When I asked if she'd be interested in doing an interview, she said Sure! So here it is, straight from her fingertips to your eyes(?), please welcome:
Why did you first start writing? What was the inspiration for your first book?
I’ve been writing since I could remember. It’s always been the best venue for me to sort out situations and feelings. Shifting into fiction made it even easier to process life in general. Aspects of events spark “what if” scenarios and they take on a life of their own.
Did you ever consider traditional/self-publishing? Was there a reason you chose the way you did to go about publishing your works? Do you have any insights for future authors trying to make the same choice?
I’m a hybrid author. I started with a small press publisher with my first two stories and learned as I went. After an inspiring trip to L.A., I met a fantastic group of ladies who welcomed me with open arms and went on to publish over 20 titles with them. Through this journey, I’ve also self-published a few titles. Both have their pros and cons.
For anyone trying to decide the best route, my biggest suggestion is research and inform yourself. Publishers have established channels and resources to perfect your manuscript and get it out to the masses. Most have built a fan-base and distribution can go a long way in that regard. My experience with my publishers has given me knowledge and education you simply cannot buy.
As for self-publishing, again, it has its ups and downs. Distribution capability is a major factor to consider. If you don’t have a fan-base, you need to put together an amazing marketing plan and have the resources to make it happen. With so many published books and established authors and publishers, new authors and titles easily get lost in a sea of algorithms.
No matter which you choose, or even if you do both, your work is your baby, nurture it, hone your craft and seek resources to help you build your presence in the writer and reader community. It’s a fabulous place to be.
How many books do you have published now?
I have over 20 currently available titles, two I have received my rights back to, three self-published and at least four full manuscripts I’ve yet to polish and plan for.
Do you have any books in the works at the moment?
I always have blurbs, half-written, stories and pages of outlines. There are four different ones I have on the go and a new series to launch with a very talented author. More to announce once the details are finalized!
Any advice you’d offer up-and-comers looking to find their place in the literary world?
Establish your online presence on every available platform you can. Maintain it and always keep your public posts and interactions professional, engaging and entertaining. Avoid any negative interactions as it can cost you, potential readers.
Join writers groups, Romance Writers of America and your local chapter, get critique partners to work with. And Read, the most talented authors are almost always avid readers!
Your covers are STEAMY! How hot is hot for you in your writing?
I’m so happy with all of my covers! My writing ranges from sweet to knock-your-socks-off, downright 5+ flames! Depending on the line I’m writing for, the submission call and the level of inspiration, some of my books could make an adult entertainer blush *insert evil grin*
What thought process do you take when you begin writing a romance scene? How do you find the balance between passion and emotion in your writing?
I’m so fortunate when it comes to passion and emotion in my writing. When my characters develop in my brain, a connection solidifies, that I can only describe as a character-possessing the author. Half the time I can’t recall writing the most powerful scenes in my stories. Some would call it automatic writing. I would more describe it as slipping into the virtual skins of my characters and breathing their experiences, and emotions into life through the words I type. When authors joke about how their muses or characters speak to them, most often, it’s not really a joke, but a fixed inspiration you have to write out. The creative spurts in a writer’s mind are by far one of the most powerful experiences I have in life.
Do you have any good advice for young romance authors trying to find their footing when writing a romance scene? Any good resources that maybe helped you when you started writing?
I will admit, the romance scenes are often the ones that take me the longest and often delay the completion of my stories. Not because I can’t envision it, but more because the urgent desire to keep every scene fresh and different from any other I write drives me to the brink of madness. For me personally, cookie-cutting approaches of slapping characters together for a get-your-rocks-off interlude don’t resonate with me. Sex scenes for my characters have to be as sincere and inspired as real life. The times I get stumped are often because the lead-up to that moment hasn’t gelled right for the chemistry and reaction I want for them.
If you are writing a story and find yourself stagnating at the romance scene, I would suggest, re-read the scene before or even the entire story up to that point. Do the plotlines and character development feel succinct? Are the traits and mannerisms you’re trying to infuse in this scene generic or are they what your characters really would feel or do at this point? If you can’t answer that for yourself, I would suggest revisiting the character developments and establish a strong sense of who they are to know better what they want or feel.
As for resources, I have a few trusty erotic thesauruses I’ve collected over the years, and sex scene descriptors that give more options to keeping it fresh. Research sight, smell, taste, sound, touch. There are so many online resources for free, find the ones that resonate most with your voice and use them!
You have multiple different series in the works right now, can you tell me a little bit about them?
I’ve been so fortunate to be invited to write for a number of series. My publisher, Decadent Publishing, has a variety of shared-world series that I just can’t help but sink into!
The 1 Night Stand series, is a multi-author, shared world series of stand-alone stories about romantically impaired people being brought together in ideal matches by the mysterious Madame Evangeline. No one ever sees or talks to her and she’s not in the stories, but every story has the premise of a date being arranged by her agency. (Think Charlie from Charlie’s Angels) It covers all genres, sub-genres, and matches, from MF to multiple partners, MM, FF and more. The stories are all HFN or HEA. I have at least 10 stories in this series, some of which are in box sets.
The Wiccan Haus is a paranormal romance series about a sibling group with amazing talents, who run a secluded island resort intended for healing and relaxation. Danger is always afoot, but security on the island is always paramount. It’s a shared-world, multi-author series, that again ranges from all types of matches, sub-genres, and events. It’s a gripping series that always has at least one if not more of the main characters make an appearance in every single story.
Although the stories are stand-alone, some events that occur on the island do remain constant knowledge in the following titles. (Like a boathouse that keeps having issues staying intact.)
The series is now branching out into some fantastic sub-series, including the para-elite forces, dragons and more! My second story is currently in edits right now and soon to release!
The other series I was fortunate to be a part of, is The Black Hills Wolves. Again, it’s a paranormal, shared-world, multi-author series. This shifter series one is based on a very protective wolf-pack in Los Lobos. Although the premise it the Black Hills Wolves pack, you’ll find an assortment of different shifters grace the pages in these action-packed stories. Without giving too much away, I can say there is a certain bear everyone loves, and there have been cougars and other shifters running amuck!
What are your feelings on Happily Ever After endings? Happily For Now?
My feelings are they are necessary to qualify a story as romance. If it is wrought with tragedy or sad endings, it’s no longer romance. I’ve been known to write some gut-wrenching stories that tease the boundaries of romance’s HEA and HFN, but I’ve always been a sucker for happy endings, so naturally, it’s what I write. If I want to be sad and hopeless at the end of a book, I’ll read horror, lol. I see storytelling as a venue for emotional expression and healing, so the HEA just feels like the right dose of medicine for life’s harshness at the end of the day.
I just wanted to give a huge THANK YOU to Kali for taking the time to walk with me. It was an absolute pleasure working with her on Stoking the Flames: 13 Tales of Dragons, Destiny, and Desire (and it's SEQUEL! which shhh...is still in the works but look for it soon!).
As a special bonus treat, Kali sent me a teaser for her upcoming release (as in, like, in the next couple of days release!) Mythic Iron! I hope you enjoy it as much as I have!
Flames of Venom…
When the president of Mythic Iron is brutally slain, the VP, and the Sergeant of Arms set out to protect the club’s legacy, and next target. Sai is a world-class MMA champion, and a half-breed dragon with a fiery temper. After the vicious murder of her mother, she fled the arms of her two mates and the MC, and made her way to the ring. A fighter with an edge, she doesn’t apologize, never holds back and doesn’t need saving. The unexpected arrival of her estranged mates coincides with the biggest fight she’s ever had; the one for her own life.
Dragons of iron…
A leather-clad soldier of fortune with a patch, was all Levi could be anymore without her. His lost identity before the MC took an injured child in left a mystery for him, one no one can fill in the blanks for. Now, a purple dragon with a propensity for danger, he evolved into the ultimate weapon for their club. Can he ever reclaim their mate, or will she kill them first?