My interview with Country Interviews Online:
The Hot, New Country Music Novel everyone's talking about
CI: In a few sentences, what's your book, Guitars
& Cadillacs about?
SK: Guitars & Cadillacs is the ultimate fantasy - it's the love story between a country music star and an everyday person like you or me. Like any love story, it's not without its problems and ups and downs -and quite a few secrets from the past - that's what makes it so much fun.
CI: You dedicate your book to your Dwight Yoakam (and
your dog). How did Dwight influence your book?
SK: I've listened to Dwight Yoakam's music since his first album came out and I love his stuff. Dwight can nail down a single emotion in three verses and a chorus and I've always wondered about the 'story behind the song' so I decided to make up my own.
CI: I'm assuming you are a country music fan. Who
are your favorite artists?
SK: I'm definitely a country music fan foremost, and
that's what my radio is tuned to on any given day, but I'm
also open to listening to all kinds of different music and
to be influenced by it, from opera to rock & roll. If
you were to look through my admittedly vast CD collection
you'd find everything from Abba to ZZ top to Sinatra &
James Last and, of course, a huge country collection.
One of the things readers will find in my books is a lot of references to country music songs and artists. There are some real obvious things, like when Reanne is singing "Forever Love" to Colton, which we had to pay to use, to lots of more obscure references you'll see in things like the names of the bands, bars or just in conversation. I think that makes it more fun for the true music fan.
CI: When did you decide you wanted to write country
music romance novels?
SK: First off we called Guitars & Cadillacs a romance novel because it had to fit into some kind of genre for initial marketing purposes, but it, like all the other books in the series, is really just a basic story with a good romantic element. I have to confess to an insane curiosity about what makes people tick and an unshakable belief in the powers of true love - that's the thread that runs through my stories and makes them what they are.
CI: How did you get started?
SK: I've had stories and characters running through my mind for as long as I can remember. I actually wrote my first book when I was fourteen years old, it lingered in a drawer until a very good fried had it printed and bound for me. I was well into my thirties before I finally decided to set those characters in my head free and to write down their stories.
CI: Where do you get your industry knowledge?
SK: I read a lot - I read an insane amount of books, magazines and internet articles and I retain most of what I read. I've traveled almost all over the world and met a lot of interesting people along the way - and I've never been shy about asking a question. If I need some specific info for a story point I just delve into the research..
CI: When is your next book coming out?
SK: The next one will probably be Long Way Home or a Christmas release of Come on Christmas. We'll also be looking at some kind of a boxed set of the first few stories in the series - maybe just in time for Christmas.
CI: It says that Guitars & Cadillacs is from the
SoundMaster romance series. Will all the books be following
the same characters; and will they all be titled after country
SK: Guitars &Cadillacs was supposed to be a stand-alone novel, but as I wrote it, it sort of became its own animal. All the secondary characters had their own lives and their own stories and they all demanded to be told. Right now I'm working on number eight in the series. They can all be read as stand-alone titles, but if you read the early ones you'll keep running into familiar characters and story lines. It's become like a good-luck charm to name each one after a song - and it's working so far
CI: How long does it take to write a book? What's
the process you go through?
SK: It takes anywhere from four to six months from the time an idea starts kicking around in my head to the day when I'm ready to write down 'the end'. I'll write down a general outline of what I think is going to happen, I create my characters and start writing. The story changes and evolves as I write it, it goes down dark corridors sometimes that I hadn't expected earlier - and that's when I know that I'm right into the story, when it starts taking on a life of its own. There is a kind of magic to writing - something that I'm at a loss to explain or to define, except with my favorite quote by Dwight Yoakam - "listen to the voices in your head." My characters all have a voice in my mind and I've learned to live peacefully with those voices. I think I would feel lost if they were gone tomorrow.
CI: Do you have a website, is the book available in
stores as well as online?
SK: We've developed our own website, www.thinkingdogpublishing.com, where you can not only order the books, but look at pictures from the many concerts I've gone to (for research, of course!), play a couple of cool games and read excerpts from the upcoming books. You can also order my books at amazon.com. As the demand increases we're hoping to get into some other larger stores - but that's a bit down the road.
CI: Where do you get your ideas?
SK: I've never been at a loss for ideas - on the contrary, they're crowding my mind, fighting for space. Sometimes it's a song that makes you wonder what kind of a story could be behind it, a newspaper article, a comment I overhear - anything. Writers play a constant game of 'what if' - what if this happened or that And we take it from there.
CI: The books seem to all have similar titles to Dwight
Yoakam songs - are they based on those songs?
SK: No, they're not really based on the songs. Obviously I have no idea what was going through his mind when he was writing them. The books have been inspired by the songs, by the emotion they awaken in me and the images they evoke - the rest is my own imagination and, of course, - those voices
CI: Is it fun?
SK: Writing is a lot of hard work and discipline and perseverance - but it beats having a day job any time. Writers are supposed to be a little crazy too - so that's a great excuse right there for a lot of things. You get to go to a lot of concerts and shows; you get to meet a lot of interesting people - all in the name of research. And, as the writer, you always have the last word, you get to give the annoying characters their just desserts - now that's fun!