Booktalk Friday – An Interview With Alison Kent

(Just a note – I’ve loved Alison’s writing from the first Blaze of hers I picked up – The Sweetest Taboo (in the Men to Do series where I discovered other favorites like Jo Leigh), then I found her Girl Gear and she did the first SG-5 book, The Bane Affair which remains a favorite to this day and I could go on but then I’d probably scare her with my squealy fangirlishness at the fearless way she writes. That’s the key for why I come back to her books over and over – she just puts the story out there and she’s always pushing the boundaries.)

LD: One thing about you as an author that always appeals to me is that even when you’re writing category you’re taking risks. Risks with characters and storylines and my favorite of all, risks with sex. Is it just me or do you push the envelope on purpose?

AK: I don’t push in that I think about doing it. It’s just the way I write, and I do take a lot of hits from romance readers who don’t want to go where I’m going but still want to read what I write. I understand that because I have authors whose stories compel me, but with twists and turns that make me uncomfortable, even as they work for the book.

I wrote my first published novel in 1993, and during the editing stage had one scene cut completely because it was too raw – and this was fourteen years ago, so this isn’t something I’ve done for a market or to sell books. It’s just how I write. I never liked closed bedroom doors in the books I was reading. I wanted a detailed a look at the intimate moments between the characters as everything else. So that’s what I set out to write.

LD: Tell me about The Perfect Stranger:

AK: I started THE PERFECT STRANGER years ago, 1994 maybe? It was before I made a sell to Harlequin, but after my first sale to Meteor. I had read AMAZON LILY and loved it so much that I wanted to write my own story of “jungle love.” I still have the coolest rejection letter from Carrie Feron of Avon that she loved my writing but couldn’t do anything with a book set in the jungle. Then Denise Little wanted to buy it for her “Denise Little Presents” imprint at Kensington, but was on a buying freeze at the time.

I put the book away, used tidbits of it (Hank Smithson) when I started the Smithson Group series for Brava, and then finally had the chance to tell Jackson Briggs’ story. He’s the SG-5 chopper pilot, but he’s not one of the group’s operatives, so his is a personal story when he meets Jillian Endicott during a humanitarian work project on a Caribbean island. Though . . . meets isn’t really the right word since she drugs him and kidnaps him for reasons of her own.

LD: What makes a hero compelling? And a heroine?

AK: For me, any character needs intelligence to be compelling. I don’t mean education or experience, but common sense and what my husband calls “snap.” As a reader (or an author) I need a character to be pro-active, never passive, and part of that requires the intelligence to reason their way through a situation – even if they make bad choices. I don’t care about characters who allow a plot to happen to them. They have to belong to it and shape it logically, and that requires a good head on their shoulders. I don’t have to like what they do. I don’t have to agree with it or think it’s the best thing under the circumstances. But I do have to understand it.

LD: How many books do you usually write in a year and is there a process for what you decide to write and when?

AK: Lately, too many, and so I’m cutting back a bit. I’m probably comfortable writing three, with at least one of those being a shorter project, whether a novella or a category book. And the process consists of looking at how far out the deadline is and whether or not it’s time to start the next book. I have new ideas popping up constantly, so sticking with what needs to be written first isn’t always easy.

LD: I know you didn’t start writing until you were 30 – what made you decide to do it?

AK: I picked up a book and said, “I can do this.” I might even have been one of those horrible people who said, “I can do better than this.” I remember the book, and no I’m not going to mention the title or the author because it’s humiliating enough that I ever thought writing a successful book couldn’t be all that hard! But what I said above about closed bedroom doors. I wanted more of that physical relationship in the books I was reading, and so set out to write just that.

LD: What’s the best thing about writing?

AK: The end. And hearing from readers. It can be what they liked, or what they didn’t like. It’s interesting to hear both sides, and I’ve had some great “a-ha” moments after hearing from a reader that she didn’t like a choice I’d made, or how I’d constructed a scene.

I’m not a natural storyteller, so the process of writing is excruciatingly painful for me. The ideal writing situation would be complete solitude from page one to page last while I *am* the book – but who can live like that?

LD: Anything you want to add?

AK: Just a big fat thank you for having me visit and for sharing THE PERFECT STRANGER with your readers!

You can see my review of The Perfect Stranger here and read an excerpt here.

I’m a techno dumbass, Alison has a fabulous trailer for the book, she sent me the code but it won’t work so I’ll link you.

4 comments to “Booktalk Friday – An Interview With Alison Kent”

  1. Cathy
    March 23rd, 2007 at 2:55 pm · Link

    What a great review. I am also a huge fan of the SG5 series, got them all on my keeper shelf, and can’t wait to get my hands on The Perfect Stranger.

  2. Nicole
    March 23rd, 2007 at 7:55 pm · Link

    I really really want to read TPS. Just looks so good.

  3. kris
    March 23rd, 2007 at 11:21 pm · Link

    Great interview, I can’t wait to read this one, I love her books they are always great.

  4. laurendane
    March 24th, 2007 at 7:45 am · Link

    Cathy, Nicole and Kris – you won’t be disappointed, it’s a great book!