Author Interview & Book Highlights – Brandi Kennedy

indexHere is the interview that I did with talented author Brandi Kennedy for the A Romance Book a Day Keep the Grumpy Ladies at Bay Book Party. Her book Selkie (which is book one in the The Selkie Trilogy) will be highlighted today so make sure to grab your copy!

What do you like best about romance books?
It’s the way romance books make you feel, right into the deepest part of your soul – with the good ones, you laugh, you cry, you want to shout. You wish, you hope. Maybe most importantly, adulthood is where we learn that as women we aren’t princesses and there is no knight in shining armor; we learn that real life is nothing at all like the Disney movies we were raised on. We’re hurt, we’re brokenhearted. We’re jaded. But a romance novel? That’s hope. Hope that an average everyday woman like you or me can be somebody’s beloved princess, and that there are still honorable knights in this world. It’s hope that we can have a happy ending after all … I think that’s the root of why the HEA is so important to romance readers in general.

How many books do you currently have on the market that has some form of romance in it?
Seven. There are four books released in the Kingsley Series (classic contemporary), one in the Selkie Trilogy (fantasy/romance), one in the Freedom Series (women’s fiction/romance), and Courageous (short story/novella – contemporary).

When it comes to Romance do you like a Happy Ever After or do you like struggles and issues along the way?
Well I definitely want struggles and issues along the way … I think that’s what makes that happy ever after so happy. If a couple have fought for each other in some way, whether it’s man vs man or man vs self … that fight is what makes the love so rich, what makes it feel real. Our varieties of human conflict make our lives real, and I think that applies to how we feel when we read, too. Boy meets girl, boy likes girl, instalove, married. Boring, right? No, they need to overcome something together, they need to create an authentic partnership, otherwise it isn’t believable. But an HEA? I think that depends on the story. Some characters … they just don’t get one. And I can accept that.

If you could live the life of any romance character who would you choose and why?
Whenever I see this, I always instinctively say Claire Fraser (from the Outlander Series). I generally choose her because her life is full of adventure. Because she’s brave and strong, smart and kind. She’s wise in ways that I’m not, and reading her has changed me. And her husband, Jamie? Mmm. But to really actually live her life, and to choose her hardship? No, maybe I’d choose to be Harmony Kingsley, from my third Kingsley book. Then again, maybe that’s just because she’s young, athletic, and gorgeous. Maybe it’s because her parents are beautiful people, and her support system is rock solid. Or maybe it’s because I know how her story ends.

Would you consider yourself a romantic person?
Yes. I get jaded and I can’t watch princess movies without smarting off the whole time, but … yeah, I’m a romantic. I still watch Hallmark movies and read romances and believe in the possibility of them. I love a good love song. Yeah, I’m definitely a romantic.

What is the most romantic thing that you have ever had done for you?
Oh, now that’s a secret.

What do you think one of the biggest challenges that romance authors facing when writing in this genre?
The sheer number of authors who want to make it in this business is daunting, and with the ease of self-publishing, the genre is bogged down. It’s challenging to find your readership and have your voice be heard amongst the crowd … and the truth is, this genre is one of the ones most filled with unedited and unprofessional garbage. Readers are being forced to wade through it, and the sheer volume of disappointment makes them untrusting of any author they don’t already know. And to make it worse, they aren’t allowed to say what they don’t like without being attacked as “bullies” anymore. It makes authors of this genre in general seem like a spoiled and petty bunch, especially the indies. However, the genre as a whole is in possession of more than a few solid gems, including business-minded, serious indie writers like myself who are willing to put in the work and the time create a solid product for the reader to enjoy, and who are honest enough (and tough enough) to appreciate even the inevitable unfavorable reviews.

If you could go out on a romantic date with any of your book crushes who would you choose and what would you do on the date?
Oh, Jamie Fraser for sure. I wouldn’t be bored, he’s incredibly gorgeous and strong and charming, honest and honorable, dependable, trustworthy … and the Scottish accent? Yes, please.

Can you tell me about the worst date you have ever had?
I can’t, actually. I don’t usually find myself in many short term relationships – my shortest relationship (not counting middle school) was actually two years long. I also tend to stay friends with most of my exes because with the exception of two, we were friends before dating each other. So I’d hate for anyone to see this interview and recognize himself in it. Let’s just say the date ended with a horrible kiss I didn’t ask for or expect. Kind of like having a fish attach itself unexpectedly to your face, and then just … hang there. Waiting. Yuck.

For readers that are just coming across your books what would you recommend they start with for their romance fix?
Since I write in cross-genres, that really depends on what you  prefer and can tolerate in a book. The Kingsley series is very much in the classic contemporary (dare I say Harlequin?) format, so the conflict is largely internal for the couples in the Kingsley family. There isn’t really a villain, and as the conflict is internal, the books are emotionally deep but a little slow. If you like that, read the four that are out now, fall in love, and then wait and see what’s in store for the fifth member of the Kingsley family in book five, which is planned for release this year. The Selkie Trilogy has a little more of the external drama some readers prefer, with external forces in question and bad guys on the horizon. If you prefer that, read Selkie and then wait in anxious anticipation for Selkie II to release this year and take you on the next part of that wild but terribly romantic adventure. If you can tolerate (or prefer) a more gritty story with language and a real actual bad guy, you’ll gravitate more toward Fighting For Freedom, where you’ll watch Christine Matthews struggle with life after domestic violence … only, her abuser isn’t quite done with her yet. Her story continues in Still Fighting For Freedom, also set for a 2016 release. Should you feel unsure of what to try, my short story novella, Courageous, is currently available wherever books are sold, and is only 99 cents. It’s got my voice and my style in an easy to read short story format, so that you can test me out without breaking the bank. And you won’t be missing anything, because that story has a heroine you’ll love, a hero you’ll wish you knew, and a story you can’t help but want more of.

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