Interview with Author Renae Kaye (Featuring Jake Manning)

you are the reason I was fortunate to have the opportunity to interview Renae Kaye regarding life, the universe and everything – or at least those bits having to do with her life, her writing universe and everything like that.  In the process, we also had the chance to ask Jake Manning of Blinding Light a couple of questions about his good mate Davo, who features in Renae’s latest release, You Are the Reason.  Over the course of our conversation, I think we covered some new territory on all these topics.  Have a look and see what you think.

JP:  Hi, Renae! I’m excited to have you here today and looking forward to learning more about You Are the Reason, which came out on August 7th.

RK: Hi Jacki **waves madly** Oh, wow. I’m so glad to be here. Thanks for having me. Where shall I sit? **looks around for a comfy chair** Phew – okay… Hit me with your questions!

JP: Around a year ago I stumbled across Loving Jay and was smitten with your characters and the charming Aussie flavor of your story.  I loved it so much, as a matter of fact, that the second I finished it, I went looking for anything else written by Renae Kaye.  Luckily, there were more books to dive into!

When I started thinking of things I’d like to ask you about, the list got kind of out of hand. I’ve tried to cut it back, but it may still look like one of those chain questionnaires that make the rounds on FaceBook. Hopefully, you won’t feel as if you’ve submitted yourself for Gestalt therapy!

You come from a large family. Has that been a significant influence on you? What was it like being a child in your family?

RK: Hang on… **googling Gestalt therapy** Oh, okay. Phew. It sounded something like electro-shock therapy and I was getting worried.

What was the question again? Ahh – my family. **sighs loudly** Family has shaped me significantly. You can’t be the youngest of nine kids without it influencing you. For a start, I can shout very loudly. The loudest person was heard, and so I discovered vocalisation early on in life. **winks**

But I also think it teaches you about relationships. To me, my relationships are a web of connections. There are strong threads, and weaker threads. There are threads made from blood connections, others by personalities, friendship and hardship. And they influence everyone.

Having a large, complicated family has made me aware of these things. As a teen, I wouldn’t understand that people couldn’t follow the web of relations like I did. I would say, “We went to my Uncle’s shack. He’s not really my uncle. He’s my Dad’s first wife’s step-sister’s husband. So I call him Uncle.”

It also made me aware of how actions can impact others. Things like gossip or opinions. If you say something, it will rebound through that web of connections. Everything becomes interrelated – which is good, because that’s how an author’s mind works. Connections, connections, connections…

JP: Do you have any favorite memories from your childhood?

RK: Oh, plenty! But one that I like to tell people, was about the time I ran away from home. Three hours later I was hungry – so I came back. No one had missed me…. #fail

JP: You make me laugh, poor unappreciated child! Did having children of your own influence your decision to write? And was there a specific day, when you said, “This is it. I’m going to become a writer today.”

RK: Children were my primary decision in “trying” to write. My husband and I decided before we married, that I would stay home with the kids until they went to school. Once they were at school, I would look for a job that would be only part-time (10-15 hours) a week.

But I had so much trouble trying to find jobs advertised that were school hours, close to home, and flexible enough that I could take off if the kids were sick. I was looking at what sort of jobs were available, preparing myself for the big “going back to work” year. Prior to children I held a number of office-type jobs that involved finance. If I was to take a part-time payroll position, it would probably be in a small company, and there would be days I would have to choose between my sick child, and paying the employees.

Writing seemed ideal: I could take the kids to school. I could attend assemblies. I could take a day off if the kids were sick. I looked at some figures of what people were earning, and gave myself a timeline. I would “practice” for 12 months. And I needed to somehow earn at least $2000 the following year.

So I tried writing – and it has been wildly successful for me. Of course I probably work 40 hours a week at it instead of the 10 I would in another job, but it fits around my life.

But calling myself a writer? Nope. It took 12 months after Dreamspinner offered me the first contract before I felt comfortable enough to call myself a writer.

JP: How do you juggle writing and family?

RK: Exactly that – juggle. I get up in the morning, make school lunches, and then check my email over breakfast. I take the kids to school, then work (which can involve anything from writing, to editing, to social media, to blogs, to interviews). I may write for 40 minutes, stop and put the washing on the line, feed the chooks, and then go back and write some more. I do that all day, until the kids need to be picked up. I also put in 2-3 hours minimum after they go to bed.

Family always comes first, and it’s only the odd week when I have first-edits on a manuscript that I ignore the kids and housework.

JP: I heard you say once that you “feel” your characters as if they are part of you. How does this affect you as a writer and what affect does it have on your novels?

RK: I think it makes the characters come across more realistically to the reader – or at least I hope it does. I recently had a conversation with another author, and we were sitting discussing our characters as if they were real people – and to us, they are. In a way. I never lose sight of the fact that they ARE characters, but I also don’t have control over them. They do weird and dumb things at times – all beyond my direction.

But it also can be painful – literally. They are so much a part of me that I feel their despair and pain when things go wrong. I’m often heard to say to my husband, “Hang on – I need to finish this chapter. I can’t leave my guy like this. It’ll kill him if he has to wait until tomorrow to find out {fill in blank}.”

On the up side for my characters (perhaps) there are times when I also say, “OMG – I have to finish this sex scene – the guys have been at it for three days and must be exhausted.”

JP: It sounds like you’re living multiple lives – between yourself and your characters! What would be your top three bits of wisdom for aspiring writers?

RK: (a) Write what you would want to read – not like someone else. Don’t try and recreate another Harry Potter, or be funny exactly like Amy Lane/{insert other author you feel like}. Write a story that you would like to go to the shelf and pick up.

(b) Finish it. OMG – how many people have told me they are “writing” a story? It takes guts and hard slog to finish the story. It takes bravery to make it through. I know, I’ve been there. You can’t be a published author unless you finish the book.

(c) Take criticism on board. Criticism can come from a beta reader, an editor, or a reader once the story is published. Embrace it and learn from it. It is hard, but it will help you. I’ve heard of authors who refuse to listen to beta readers, who refuse to edit a single word in the manuscript, and even who refuse to read reviews. That is no way to be an author. Sometimes beta readers/editors/reviewers will be unnecessarily harsh and clumsy in their feedback, but learn to read past it.

JP: Is it true you’ve been told your books would do better if they weren’t centered around Aussie culture?

RK: Absolutely. And I’ve seen it. I saw one review that said, “I didn’t realise this book was set in Australia. Once I realised, I returned it for a refund.” This was not an isolated event.

One person once summed it up like this: Your best sellers are American based contemporary novels. With each step you take away from this narrow path, you lose readers. If you write a western, you lose readers. If you write historical, you lose readers. If you write based in another country, you lose readers. Etc.

I know Australian authors who write American because they don’t think they could sell their book if it was Australian based. Me? I like to be different. I’ve embraced the Aussie-ness of my books.

JP: To anyone who holds that opinion, I say, “No Way!” That Aussie flavor is part of what I love about your books. Your sense of humor is priceless and that Down Under vocabulary is a wonder. I mean “smoko esky.”  Really?  How do you get lunch box out of that???

RK: Smoko = smoke break = morning tea. Esky = cooler = keeps it cold like an eskimo.

Eskies come in various sizes, and they make them small enough for your lunch. So when you go on smoko, you pull out your esky! Easy to translate!

Yes. I have a lot of fun writing. I wouldn’t be able to write American – not only the words and location, but I don’t think my humour translates to American men.

JP: Thank goodness! All I have to say is please, never stop writing these delightful idioms and abbreviations into your stories. They’re part of the allure.

RK: Done!

JP: Your newest book, You Are the Reason, is centered around Davo, a friend of Jake Manning’s from The Blinding Light. Briefly, The Blinding Light tells the story of Jake, a young man who has had some tough breaks, but never seems to let it get him down. He does whatever it takes to support his family, working multiple jobs and living in less than optimum conditions. The Blinding Light‘s other MC is Patrick Stanford, a chemist who happens to be blind. The two meet when Jake takes on the job of housekeeper for the reputedly hard-to-please, nit-picky Patrick.

When you were writing Jake and Patrick’s story, was it apparent that Davo had a story to tell as well?

RK: Nope. I never considered Davo for a story. I never considered a continuation of The Blinding Light at all.

It wasn’t until the readers got their hands on my book and started demanding more that it crossed my mind. I instantly dismissed it. Davo? Ha! He’s a jerk.

JP: I remember three things about Davo . 1. Davo is ALWAYS a top. 2. Davo is generous. 3. Davo avoids relationships. I heard all this from Jake, so if you don’t mind, I’d like to ask him a couple of questions about Dave. Could you scoot over so Jake can sit down with us for a minute?

RK: Oh! Dammit. Always the characters who are loved, and never the author. **mutters to herself** … **goes and picks up Maxine so Jake can talk**

JP: Hi Jake, and welcome. It’s good to see you. Tell me, are you still working at the Tav these days? If so, have you gotten Patrick back in for a drink and a dance?

JM: Hey, Jacki. Gosh, I’m tired. Miss Maxine keeps me up all night. Do you mind if I pour a coffee?

The Tav? Hell, I miss that place. I had to throw in the towel after Patrick and I got together. For a start, I didn’t need the money any more. Also, it was rather unsociable hours. Before Maxine arrived, I’d drag Patrick down for a couple of beers most weekends – just to have a catch up with the old codgers and have a yarn, you know?

And dancing? **blushes** You know it’s totally embarrassing that you know about that, right? But yeah. Mikey would play us a couple of slow numbers and Patrick would complain – for about two seconds before he was into it.

JP: How long have you known Dave? Or should I call him Davo?

JM: Now, you need to understand the Australian male here, Jacki. “Davo” is a nickname – and only close friends get to call him that. Now, no offense here, because this is Davo, not me talking, but Davo doesn’t… uhh… talk to women. Your gender will mean that he will be polite, but never a friend. So I would suggest you call him Dave.

Davo and I have known each other about five years now.

JP: Did you and he ever become an item? You know, did you try each other on?

JM: Ha. Let me tell you about how we met. I was working at this depot, driving the forklift, and one of the guys told me about a party he was having. Free drinks, and a chance to kick back and listen to some music while chilling? I said I would go.

I rock up at his house and there’s about twenty people. Mostly guys, but some girls. He had this big fire pit in his backyard, and they were all sitting around it. Frank says to me, “Great – I want you to meet a friend of a friend. He’s gay too.”

It really shits me off. People reckon that just because we’re both gay, we’re perfect for each other. So I smile while promising myself that I will “accidentally” scrape his truck tomorrow with the forklift, and he introduced me to Davo. It was a pretty lame party, so we spent the whole time chatting. Davo turned out to be a great guy, but really, there were no sparks with us.

And on Davo’s side, I think that once he learned that I had a name, he wasn’t interested in me either.

JP: Were you aware that Dave was seeing anyone right now?

JM: **goes off laughing** Yes, and it amuses me to no end.

JP: Does it surprise you? What kind of odds do you give that relationship?

JM: I was totally against him entering any relationship in the first place, so if it was only me making the decisions, he would’ve never contacted Lee again. I hadn’t met Lee at all, but I’d known Davo for five years and he’ never made it to the third date with another guy.

Now that I’ve met Lee, I can see they’re perfect for each other. Lee isn’t the type of guy that I would go for, but he has balls and he has patience. He listens carefully to what you have to say – you know one of those people who just listen? Yeah. That’s Lee. But at the same time, he doesn’t give up. So he listens to Davo’s bullshit without judgement, and then waits while Dave work’s out what a dick he’s being. He’s not a guy who will go flying off the handle at the first slight.

So their odds that in ten years we’ll all still be friends? And they’ll be together? Pretty damn solid.

JP: Thanks, Jake.I appreciate your thoughts. Renae, do you have anything to add?

RK: What? You mean I’m invited back now? **fake pout**

I would just like to say, I really see this book as a book of opposites. Sometimes someone has to change. Dave really needs to learn to grow up and grow out of his unfounded prejudices. But at the same time, this is a book where we also realise that sometimes people don’t have to change. Lee is fine how he is, and there is no need for him to change to fit into some other person’s idea of what he should be.

JP: Thank you both for your time today. It’s been great talking with you and I hope we’ll do it again soon. Jake, best wishes with all the good things happening in your life. And Renae, keep writing! I can’t wait for whatever you’re up to next!

RK: Thanks for having us Jacki. I’ve had fun.

JM: Yes, thanks for having us Jacki. I hope you enjoy Davo’s story. And… umm… Renae? Can I have Maxine back now, please?

RK: Maybe?

In order to celebrate my release of You Are the Reason, I’ve organised a scavenger hunt. I will be releasing ONE WORD as the hunt item on several stops of my blog tour. In order to WIN an eBook copy of the book, follow along the blog tour and find a minimum of FIVE unique words. Email the five words to me at renaekaye@iinet.net.au before August 16th to be in the draw.

Today’s word is: MAXINE

I look forward to hearing from you.

Here’s the scoop on You Are the Reason.

you are the reason

You Are the Reason
The Tav #2
Published by Dreamspinner
PressRelease date: 7th August 2015

Davo’s a pretty average guy. He has a decent job, owns his own home, and spends his weekends at the pub. He fully accepts that he’s gay, but doesn’t want to be one of those gays, who are femme and girly. He likes football and other masculine pursuits, and firmly avoids anything that could be seen as femme—including relationships that last beyond fifteen minutes.

Then Davo’s friend and gay idol not only gets a boyfriend, but also adopts a baby girl. Davo is seriously spooked and scuttles down to the pub in fright. That’s where he meets Lee, who is cute from her cherry-red hair, to her pretty little dress and pointy red shoes. Davo is charmed—but how is that possible? He’s gay. Isn’t he? Then Lee tells him he’s actually a guy—he just likes to wear women’s dresses occasionally. Thoroughly confused about an attraction that’s out of character for him, Davo begins the long journey to where he can accept himself without caring what everyone else thinks.

Where to Find – Renae (if you’re not in Perth)

 Email:  renaekaye@iinet.net.au
Website:  www.renaekaye.weebly.com
FB:  www.facebook.com/renae.kaye.9
Twitter:  @renaekkaye

 Where to Find – You Are the Reason
Dreamspinner Press
Amazon
ARe
Barnes and Noble
Kobo
(I like to include Kobo, because they work with independent booksellers. Sign up through your bookseller’s site before you begin purchasing. I can recommend Rose’s Bookhouse if you don’t already have a bookseller in mind.)

 

BIO:

Renae Kaye is a lover and hoarder of books who thinks libraries are devilish places because they make you give the books back. She consumed her first adult romance book at the tender age of thirteen and hasn’t stopped since. After years – and thousands of stories! – of not having book characters do what she wants, she decided she would write her own novel and found the characters still didn’t do what she wanted. It hasn’t stopped her though. She believes that maybe one day the world will create a perfect couple – and it will be the most boring story ever. So until then she is stuck with quirky, snarky and imperfect characters who just want their story told.

Renae lives in Perth, Western Australia and writes in five minute snatches between the demands of two kids, a forbearing husband, too many pets, too much housework and her beloved veggie garden. She is a survivor of being the youngest in a large family and believes that laughter (and a good book) can cure anything.

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For the most part, this blog is about reading and writing m/m romances, but there are a few personal reflections, some writerly information, and a bit of writing practice. Thank you for stopping by.

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Posted in book talk, Interview, M/M

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