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Interview with Kimberly Killion, Her One Desire

Each year, RWA recognizes excellence in romance writing through the RITAs, considered the top honor in the genre.   Though awards are presented in a dozen categories, a writer has just one shot in her career to win the Best First Book award.   This interview series focuses on the debut authors nominated in that category.   Alyson H undertook to bring this idea to Dear Author and completed all the interviews.   Alyson is a great interviewer and elicited some fun information.   Alyson makes you, the reader, interested in the interviewee. It’s a great skill. Thanks Alyson and I hope the readers of Dear Author enjoy this six part series.

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Originally, Kimberly Killion had chosen The Executioner’s Daughter as the title for her debut novel. Maybe not the sexiest title for a romance, but the concept itself is pretty irresistible. No wonder an editor at Kensington wanted to see the book before Killion had even finished it. The title became Her One Desire, but the story of what happens when an executioner’s daughter rescues a prisoner from the Tower of London remains as intense and intriguing as the original premise. It also manages to be funny and charming. All this, plus a Richard III cameo–pretty irresistible.

About Her One Desire…

First, give us a six-word memoir for your protagonist:

Executioner’s daughter rescues Scottish spy forever-

What were the original "triggers" or inspiration points for this story?

While in the midst of brainstorming ideas for my next book, I found myself looking in the mirror. I thought if I kept staring I might be able to find something in my brain to trigger an idea. Unfortunately, my reflection hollered, "What the hell are you looking at?"

I didn’t find what I was looking for there so I went outside and looked at the fields of corn, the gravel driveway, a blade of grass. Nothin’. So I looked up and said, "Give me an idea, pleeeeease."

Yes, I was asking for the supreme being of all creation to take time out of His busy day and give me an idea for my next book. That was selfish when you think about it. I mean, He has more important things to do, right? So, I thought long and hard and what did I come up with? Lunch. Yep. Lunch. So I fixed myself a sandwich and flipped on the TV. A documentary was on about the lives and families of the executioner. It was really quite fascinating. So then I started playing that game-you know the one-the "What if?’ game.

What if I wrote a story about the executioner? Oh, he started out as my villain, then I mixed it up a little and he became the hero. It still wasn’t right, so I said the word’s that practically wrote HER ONE DESIRE for itself-What if the heroine was the executioner’s daughter. And there is was. An idea was born.

You know how long it takes the Road Runner to sneak up on Wile E. Coyote? Well, that’s how long it took me to google a few keywords: executioner, occupation, medieval, torture – This went on and on, and before I knew it I had educated myself on every form of torture between hung, drawn, and quartered to peine forte et dure (Pressing to death)

Your favorite line, moment, or scene in the book:

Favorite line: Thwack!

Favorite snippet: Keep in mind, Laird Broderick Maxwell prides himself on being skilled at holding his breath….

"I am the son of a man who sired twelve bairns. ’Tis expected of me to do the same."

"Twelve?" Lizzy practically drooled. She would have given anything for just one sister.

"I can say all their names in one breath."

The tickle dancing in her throat snuck out between her lips in a sort of hoot.

His head turned, popping his neck in two snaps. "Think ye I cannae do it?" He took a deep breath, held it, for extra drama, no doubt, and then-"Magnus-‘named after Da, but died in infancy; Aiden-‘named after my grandda; Broderick-‘that would be me, named after my da’s brother; Muira-‘named after my mam; then Radella, Jean, Lindsay-‘named after my aunts on my mam’s side; Beth, Deirdre, Lilian, Mattie-‘named after my aunts on my da’s side; and Ian."

He inhaled and beamed a wide grin.

Regarding your favorite line: That is a good one. The lead-in to it was powerful, and I didn’t know where you could go after that point. Did you? You said in another interview you tend to plot as you go rather than working from an outline.

I’m a pantser. I don’t plot, but obviously I knew I wasn’t going to do THAT! I knew I wanted a big dramatic scene where the reader would be convinced there is no way there would be a HEA. I hope I succeeded in providing the drama, the "oh-no", along with a believable HEA.

You started at a rather risky place with Lizbeth’s character: She thinks of herself as weak and cowardly, while in her past, it seems she’s been fairly passive. Yet she turns out to be one of several strong female characters in the book. It’s so interesting how the women demonstrate their strengths in such diverse ways, from the militant leadership of Broc’s mother to Edlynn’s wisdom and Grandmum’s eccentricity. Was this theme important to you from the beginning, or did it gradually evolve?

I wanted Lizzy’s character arc to be huge. She had to overcome a lot and Broc, along with the other female characters they helped Lizzy grow into a strong woman. Broc helped Lizzy overcome her weaknesses and to me that is love. He was her perfect match.

I take it you side with scholars who think Richard III has been much maligned over the centuries?

I really didn’t have an opinion one way or the other until I started researching the time period and the nobility. I read RICHARD III by Paul Murray Kendall, well I should say I studied this book, thoroughly. Kendall certainly did his research. I won’t say King Richard didn’t kill his nephews, but I won’t say he did either. As a writer, my goal in creating this plot point was to challenge the reader. When they finish the book, I want them to sit back and say, hmmmm. To me, if that happens, then I have done my job. Call me crazy, but I thinks it’s fun.

The best or most unusual fan mail you received about Her One Desire?

I had a woman gushing over the book, and then just as she was finishing up the post, she asked, "Just one question; why did Broc always pop his neck?"

However, this is my favorite all time quote from a fan: "The book was intense and I had to put it down a few times because I was afraid of what would happen next."

On Publishing-

HER ONE DESIRE is your first published book, but was it really your first book?

Her One Desire was my third book. I started out writing a Regency and that one is still collecting dust bunnies.

From the decision to write for publication to the "sold" call: How long?

11 years

How did you find your agent?

I called five agents after I got the offer from Kensington and asked if they wanted to represent me. I sent them my writing and within a 24-hour turnaround 4 of the 5 offered me representation. I would like to think it was the writing, but I had already got the deal right? However, I am so very fortunate to have Meredith Bernstein representing me. She is the "POO."

On Writing-

Your weirdest or most reliable writing ritual/habit:

Weirdest: I write in my camper.

Habit: I get up around 3:00 a.m. to write before I have to go to my "other" job.

Writing ritual: I listen to "Super Massive Black Hole" by Muse before I write the really hot love scenes.

Writing advice you’re glad you followed or ignored:

I’m glad I followed a friend’s advice to persevere.

Three items within arm’s reach when you write:

  1. Caffeine
  2. Walkie Talkie (so I can communicate with the family who actually live in the house)
  3. The cat

Biggest distraction and how you deal with it:

My major vice is the internet, email, IM-I love the blogs, the networking communities, and chatting up friends. How do I deal?…I get up at 3:00 a.m. when no one is around to play.

What’s coming up next from you?

HIGHLAND DRAGON comes out in October. Here’s the elevator blurb:

Eighteen years after hiding the secret of his betrothed’s lineage, Laird Calin MacLeod is forced to choose between avenging his father’s death and surrendering to the passion he finds in the arms of his enemy’s daughter.

As a RITA Nominee-

How did you celebrate the nomination?

I got online and spread the news all over cyberspace!

Wearing or carrying any lucky charms to the awards ceremony?

Nope. However, I am hoping to have my karma clean by then.

The author who, despite your usual poise and eloquence, would reduce you a blathering fangirl if you found yourself sitting next to her/him at the ceremony:

Teresa Medeiros

First person you’ll hug/text/call if you win:

Hug: Megan Kelly

Text: My daughter

Call: The list is far too long-

A Little More Personal-

Your paying job(s) pre- and post-publication:

I’ve been a graphic/web design instructor at a business college in St. Louis for ten years.

An author or book you recommend again and again:

Heather & Velvet by Teresa Medeiros

Your own "best first":

Proving to my children that dreams do come true. It just takes a lot of wishing, a lot of work, and a hellova lot of luck!

RITA winners will be announced at the RWA national conference in July. You can enter Kimberly’s current contest and read her blog at www.kimberlykillion.com.

Guest Reviewer

22 Comments

  1. Kimberly Killion
    Jun 03, 2009 @ 05:05:19

    I just wanted to pop over to thank Alyson for doing such a great job on these interviews. *Thx Alyson!*

    Also, I wanted to extend my congratulations to the other First Book nominees. Good luck in July, but remember we have all already accomplished a huge feat. :D

  2. Keri M
    Jun 03, 2009 @ 06:40:10

    Great interview, Ms. Killlion! The whole premise of the book sounds very intriguing and I have it on my list to be picked up. I think “The Executioner’s Daughter” was a great title. I am really looking forward to reading this one.

  3. Jeannie Lin
    Jun 03, 2009 @ 07:02:01

    Great interview Kim! I loved Her One Desire – the dark history and the colorful characters were fabulous. It was a very inspirational book to me as an aspiring author – so fresh and vivid. I’m going to be squealing so hard when it wins at Nationals!

  4. May B.
    Jun 03, 2009 @ 07:19:51

    I have to admit I bought this book because of the price. At 3.99, nothing can’t go wrong. But I got more than that. I really love the story. The unusual period make the story more interesting and not too predictable.

  5. Kimberly Killion
    Jun 03, 2009 @ 07:33:26

    Keri,
    Thanks for adding me to your TBR pile. I, too, liked The Executioner’s Daughter, but my editor didn’t think it was very romantic. And she was probably right. LOL.

  6. Kimberly Killion
    Jun 03, 2009 @ 07:44:11

    Jeannie,
    I’m glad you liked the book. :) As for a win at conference, I’m not holding my breath. The competition is fierce, but I’m keeping my karma clean for good measure!
    Best,
    Kimberly

  7. Meljean
    Jun 03, 2009 @ 08:38:38

    Great interview, and count me in as someone who liked THE EXECUTIONER’S DAUGHTER :-) I’m adding this to my TBR, too — and good luck!

  8. Vanessa Kelly
    Jun 03, 2009 @ 10:09:25

    Great interview, Kimberly, and what a great book! It’s just the most fantastically original idea.

    Can’t wait to cheer you on in Washington!

  9. Kimberly Killion
    Jun 03, 2009 @ 10:13:14

    Meljean, thanks for taking the time to read and post. I appreciate you adding my ‘baby’ to your TBR pile. :)

    Vanessa *waving madly*
    Thanks for stopping by. We girls have to stick together ya know! :)

  10. Sela Carsen
    Jun 03, 2009 @ 11:47:51

    Great interview Kim and Alyson! I like the original title, too, but what do I know? Fingers crossed for good news at Nationals!

  11. Kimberly Killion
    Jun 03, 2009 @ 12:10:51

    May B.
    The $3.99 was part of the debut program, but it looks like the debut books are going to $4.99. Still a great price and you’re not risking a lot to try out a new author.

    Sela, *waving* Thanks for dropping by and for the well-wishes.

  12. Angie Fox
    Jun 03, 2009 @ 12:24:20

    Great interview! I really loved this book, too. It’s a great romance and it’s different than most of the historicals I’ve read. I can totally see why it’s up for a RITA. Congratulations!

  13. Barbara Scott
    Jun 03, 2009 @ 17:14:33

    Loved the interview and love even more the reason for it. Karma is kind to those who prepare, so have an acceptance speech at the ready.

  14. Colleen Thompson
    Jun 03, 2009 @ 19:12:25

    Congratulations to you, Kimberly. Loved getting to know you better through the interview. LOL on writing in the camper. I can totally relate.

    HER ONE DESIRE sounds fantastic!

    Enjoy the ride and best of luck.

  15. Anthea Lawson
    Jun 03, 2009 @ 20:52:16

    Congrats, Kim! And your dedication to your writing, on top of everything else you do, is inspiring~ No way could I get up at 3am to write. But then, I STAY up til 2 writing on a fairly regular basis… (g) Good thing my whole family has night owl inclinations.

    Fun interview — it was great to hear about your journey so far.

  16. Pat
    Jun 03, 2009 @ 23:04:58

    I’ll be rooting for you, Kim! Great book, and I can’t think of anyone who deserves the success more.

    {{{Hugs}}}

  17. Megan Kelly
    Jun 04, 2009 @ 00:38:59

    Kim, I’ll be there for the congratulatory hug! This is a fantastic book–very fresh, very sexy, very full of the history most “historical” books are missing. I loved your take on the time period and it certainly made me go hmmmm. :) Sorry I’m so late getting here–crazy day.

  18. JenniferMc
    Jun 04, 2009 @ 11:44:07

    No ebook version? This book sounds like something I’d enjoy but I can’t find an ebook version other than the one for the Kindle (I have a Sony e-reader (which I adore)).

  19. Kimberly Killion
    Jun 04, 2009 @ 12:17:01

    Jennifer,
    I’m sad to say that HER ONE DESIRE never came out in ebook form from Kensington. :(

  20. Jessa Slade
    Jun 04, 2009 @ 13:18:57

    Congrats on the nomination. I’ll be in DC to cheer all of you. This series is a great way to “meet” you (and fill in some holes in my TBR list) before then.

  21. KeriM
    Jul 07, 2009 @ 07:17:13

    Kimberly, just wanted to let you know that I am 2/3s through your book and I adore it! At first I struggled with some of the old world dialog and their meaning, but once I got through that I was able to be completely pulled into Lizbeth and Broc’s story. My emotions were completely engaged when I finally got to read Lizbeth’s background and what brought her to this point. I have been into it so much this morning, I was reading at every stop light on my way to work. I don’t care what the publisher says, this book should have been called the The Executioner’s Daughter. That title completely works with this beautiful book. Big Kudos to you and I am completely looking forward to finishing this wonderful book (an A+ for me) and reading your next book.

  22. Kimberly Killion
    Jul 07, 2009 @ 15:10:21

    Thanks so much, Keri. I’m so glad you are liking the book. But do be careful driving, though I’m not one to talk. I do the same thing…sneaking away now…
    :^) Kim

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