1. On a scale of one to ten, rank your current level of insanity–where ten is belongs-in-lunatic-asylum insane–and tell us why.
I’m at about a level nine right now. My “normal” state is somewhere between a six and a seven, so the heightened state is not intolerable. The higher-than-normal rank can be attributed to just coming off a deadline, getting an idea for a single title series that I’m dying to pitch to my agent and editor, and recuperating from the annual RWA conference. I’m hoping to drop back to an eight by the end of the week.
2. In your website bio, you mention the romance novel an ex-colleague gave to you. Do you still remember which one that was?
Absolutely. My former law colleague (now music industry professional) handed me a stack of romance novels. Right on top sat The Bride by Julie Garwood. The other two books were Daniel’s Bride by Linda Lael Miller and Perfect Partners by Jayne Ann Krentz. I devoured all three and then ran through the authors’ respective backlists. Since Jayne Ann Krentz writes under various names, that turned out to be a significant undertaking. To this day, I’m a huge fan of all three and read whatever they put on the shelves.
3. Have you discovered the “Bad Boys” secret to topping the charts yet?
Lori Foster…actually, Lori or Erin McCarthy or Joann Ross or MaryJanice Davidson or a handful of other amazing authors. Brava editor Kate Duffy’s teams bestsellers with newer or lesser known authors to keep the bestsellers out there with new releases and give the rest of us the opportunity to benefit from the existing fan base. Add to that the Bad Boy label – one that brings in some readers no matter who the authors may be – and you have a winning combination. Or, at least I hope that’s true…
4. As one of the contributors to Paperback Reader, do you think that response to the site has been positive? Is there anything you’d change about it?
Except for the occasional angry reviewed author, response has been very positive. For a short time I wondered if I should have reviewed under a pseudonym. I toyed with that change but eventually decided that not being honest about who we are took something away from Paperback Reader. We review and put our name right there. If authors are angry, they know where to direct that anger…and they do.
Wendy Duren and I started Paperback Reader believing that romance novels were worthy of attention and could be reviewed critically and without personal attacks. We wanted to start a discussion. In the great should-authors-be-reviewers debate, we often take some shots, but for the most part I think people know we do this out of a love for the genre and not as a means of trying to hurt fellow writers.
The great news is that we’re growing. Over the last year, we’ve seen huge increases in readership and added a third partner in crime – Kassia Kroszer (aka Booksquare) – to the mix, as well as two new reviewers, Lorna and L.J. We’re trying to post reviews three times a week and run contests so that we can share some of our review books with readers. All of these steps, and the cool new website, have us excited to see what happens in this year.
5. Me and another person living outside the US won books from you that were sent out, returned, sent out again and went missing. What do you plan to do to the person behind your..uh…interesting international mail karma?
I’d fire her, but she’s me. See, I blamed – and continue to blame – the U.S. Postal Service for the mishaps. In return, the USPS insisted – and continues to insist – that I messed up the international declarations form. We’ve agreed to disagree. Either way, you’ll be happy to know that I’ve stocked up on the proper forms and am hopeful the mailing delays are behind us.
6. You debuted in Brava anthology When Good Things Happen To Bad Boys. Hardhats And Silk Stockings is a novella. As a writer, I think they are harder to write. As a reader, I think it’s much harder to find a good novella than it is to find a good full-length novel. Do you think you might have been better off starting with a full-length novel as opposed to a novella?
The novella versus novel decision was out of my hands. My editor likes to start new authors in novellas. The goal is to let the newbie feed off the fan base of the other authors in the anthology. It’s a good plan and seems to work, so I can’t complain. But, I do agree with you about novellas being harder to write. For me, shorter doesn’t mean easier. Shorter means I need to fit conflict, character arcs and a satisfying ending into a limited number of pages. I tend to make my life even harder and have my characters not know each at the beginning of the novella. That kind of thing gives me an extra challenge.
As a reader I love anthologies. My only frustration comes when reading a novella that’s less a full story than a “Day In The Life Of XXX” chapter. No matter the number of pages, I want a complete and fleshed out plot. Delivering that as an author is the challenge.
7. Viva Las Bad Boys, your sophomore title, is also an anthology. Is there something about the shorter form that appeals to you? Will your next title be a full-length novel?
The ideas for the Viva Las Bad Boys! novellas came to me as short connected stories, not as full-length novels. The plot ideas seemed perfect for the single author anthology format, and my editor agreed. My next Brava is a single title set in Kauai. The tone is humorous with a touch of suspense, but the story stays focused on the romance. We’re debating the title right now. I called it something ingenuous like, The Kauai Book. My editor jokingly referred to it as Two Wacky Macadamia Nuts. Thankfully, neither is the final title. Readers can check my website www.helenkaydimon.com for further information on that one. The release date is July 2007.
And now…for a contest!
Comment here or on my review of Viva Las Bad Boys and win a signed copy from HelenKay! You have until Friday, midnight, EST to enter.