Welcome to my blog spot- grab a cup of coffee and a good book ;-)
I met the sweet and beautiful--inside AND out--Kali Brixton on Instagram last year and reached out to her to review my debut romance series, of which, she kindly indulged me and wrote some of the most amazing reviews on my books to date. You can find them HERE
I recently read her debut novel and if you’re a fan of broken, alpha heroes and second chance romances then you’ll need to grab your copy HERE
After reading this touching and endearing book, I knew I wanted to know more about Kali and what inspired her to write these lovable characters.
Here’s what she had to say:
Me: Hi Kali, tell me a little about yourself? When did you know you were going to be a writer?
KB: Hey Shanna! Thank you so much for having me over for this interview 😉 I’m a KY living in a WV world 💖 I may live across the border, but my heart is tattooed with #bluegrassorbust on it. 😁 I am a high school freshman English teacher (and yes, I’m crazy). I’ve been married to my amazing husband for 11 years. I’m an avid romance reader and adore the crap outta HEAs!
In addition to being head HEA cheerleader, my body loves to be an overachiever at collecting ailments: breast cancer at 29, infertility, Hashimoto’s, depression, PCOS, and a few other weird things. Although these have enormously impacted my life, by sharing my story with others, it has also brought some of the most amazing people into my world that I wouldn’t have met otherwise.
Ever since I was a young girl, I loved to read and write. My love of reading waned in high school, but writing remained a favorite pastime into adulthood. I always geeked out a bit when we were presented with the opportunity to do some sort of creative writing project. It’s been a dream of mine to publish a book for years (and years and years), but going through breast cancer was a stark reminder that my time on Earth is limited and I needed to spend those moments doing the things I love.
Me: Aww, I understand medical illness all too well, my friend. Now, what inspired you to write To Have?
KB: The idea came to me. I know that's crazy, but it's the truth 😂. I had went on a reading bender and was thinking about how some stories fail to touch on real world issues. Then, I started thinking about a little boy whose only crime was being born to the wrong set of parents. A little boy who saw salvation in his kitchen window and eternal love in a little blonde-haired girl. I thought about the things that little boy had experienced, which were probably very similar to what some of my own students experience every day due to a horrible home life. And I thought: what if I gave them a name and a voice? What if I showed that hope is not lost and for every awful person in the world, there is a person who wants to love and accept them?
One of my favorite and most painful scenes to write dealt with the abuse Deacon suffered at his father's hands. I had had a time with D+C going silent on me for a while, so I asked Deacon, "If you won't give me your story, then give me your pain." He did, and it changed everything. 💖
Me: How many books will be in the Vows series?
KB: There will be 4 books in the original series. I am planning for 5ish for the spin-off and, if the inspiration continues to crank out, another 10 in the continuation series. 😯 That's a LOT of storyline to be written, but when I think I have it all figured out, another character comes out of the woodwork and the creative juices start flowing again. 😂
Me: Right! I know!! So, which character in your collection is your favorite? Why?
KB: Gosh… I legit don't know 😂. There are pieces of each character I adore so much (Charlotte's devotion to family, Nikki's creativity, Staci's sass, Grey's comic relief, Elsie's grandmotherly advice), it's hard to narrow it down. 🤔🤔🤔🤔🤔. I'd probably have to go with Mason and Deacon because broken characters are my favorites. They awaken the maternal instinct within me to protect them from all the hurt.
Me: Yes, broken ones are the best. Now, did anyone in real life inspire your characters? Deacon? Charlotte? Mason? Grey?
KB: Deacon came to me as-is, with his raven locks and haunted ice blue eyes. His imposing 6'4" figure hid the scared little boy within and I immediately fell in love with him. 💖. Charlotte was always a buxom blonde, but originally had curly, ash blonde hair. After spending some time with her and writing her dad's dream about his little girl, I made some changes to fit the much clearer picture of Charlotte.
Grey and Mason… Now, that's an interesting one 😁. When I was creating the twins, I knew they were very similar to Charlotte, with their blonde locks, grayish-green eyes and charming looks. I knew they'd have a bright smile (well, Grey at least because Mason mostly snarls 😂), and they'd have the typical all-American, boy-next-door good looks. What I didn't bank on was that my Grey and Mason already existed in a living, breathing Adonis: the handsome Anders Schnell. 🤗 Follow him on IG! http://instagram.com/andersschnell
Me: I’m gonna have to search him. Ha ha! So, what are you working on now?
KB: Currently, I have multiple irons in the fire. I am slated to release Books 2 & 3 of the Vows Series (Early Summer 2020 + Late Fall 2020). I am also collaborating with multiple authors on a variety of projects: a contemporary romance collection (tentatively June 2020), a novella for a dark romance series (tentatively Fall 2020), and a sweets-inspired rom-com collection (Late Fall/Early Winter 2020).
So much writing, so little time...but I couldn’t be happier to be a part of these worlds! ;)
Me: Super exciting ;-) Tell us a little about your writing process?
KB: I’m a total pantser who’s trying to morph into a plotser. :D In the past, I was satisfied to have a general idea of the story, then write scenes as I feel inspired. This makes for a much more chaotic WP, which is why I’m trying to corral the craziness in my brain and find my sweet spot of writing.
To Have was patchworked together because I wrote almost solely based on emotion and inspiration, but to create more works in a smaller time frame, I’ve learned that I have to have a better game plan.
I teach writing every day in class, but novel-writing is vastly different from anything I teach and have ever written in the past. There was a steep learning curve (mostly because I’m stubborn… LOL!); however, I had numerous authors who I now call friends to advise me to plan more, then write to save time and heartache.
All that being said, two of my favorite scenes were written solely from inspiration and emotion, so there’s a balance somewhere. Like many, I’m just trying to find mine ;)
Me: LOL! It’s a subjective process for sure! What drew you to the romance genre?
KB: Cinderella 😁 I watched it and The Wizard of Oz somewhere around a bajillion times growing up, so cheering for a couple’s or a character’s HEA became deeply ingrained into my DNA early on.
After I went through breast cancer, I suffered from severe depression. Writing had always been cathartic for me, so I decided to write about my BC journey in addition to a situation that my husband’s family went through when he was young. While taking notes and researching for both, I wondered how I would go about publishing those two books. I stumbled upon Wattpad when I found an article about self-publishing and was shocked at how many different stories were on there!
I found some amazing romances there and fell so in love with the characters and their struggles to rise above all the mess. One of my favorite Wattpad writers, Kimber Lee (@kanyeinyerruptedme), released two stories on Radish, so I followed her there to support her and the stories. This led me to Tess Oliver and Ella Sheridan, which then led me to Amazon to purchase their books because I was a woman obsessed. 😂 I came upon a book that was labeled as Kindle Unlimited and started researching what KU was. Needless to say, a few years later, I’m still a devoted KU reader and chose to put my book baby To Have there as well!
Me: So, who are your favorite authors/books?
KB: I have many authors I adore (the grand majority being indies), but to narrow it down: Ella Sheridan and Tess Oliver. These ladies have created several worlds and several book boyfriends that I’ll never forget and always want to revisit. Meghan March ranks high on my list as well, especially with her recent Legend trilogy. All these ladies are experts in romantic suspense and always keep me on the edge of my seat with their heart-stopping/wrenching/melting stories.
Me: I just got Ella Sheridan’s Assassin’s Mark and I’m eager to dig in. Now, what do you personally love about writing?
KB: I love the catharsis writing offers. It's amazing to take these wild ideas in my head and make them come alive. Pouring your heart onto page after page is a terrifying thing when you think about others reading your work, but what an amazing feeling it is to have others tell you they fell in love with the same characters who made you weep and scream and feel on so many levels.
Back when I went through BC, facing my mortality and the possibility that I might not be in the world anymore lit a fire under me to leave a piece of myself behind. Since I'm unable to have children myself, what better thing to leave of myself in the world than stories where people overcome the odds and find their own happy endings? 😉
Me: Amen to that! I always say, “I write for me. To be able to read what I want to.” Last question, Kali: What are you looking forward to in 2020?
KB: I'm looking most forward to connecting with more people in the romance community, doing a signing or two (hopefully 😁), releasing more book babies into the world, and working on exciting projects that are piling into 2021. 🤘 It's a full docket, but the excitement is intoxicating and addicting!
Me: Haha, yes it is! I am stoked to meet you face to face in Gatlinburg at the signing. I know you, me and Nic are gonna have a blast! I wish you all the best in your endeavors, my friend! Here’s to touching even more hearts in 2020!
Kali Brixton is the alter ego of a mild-mannered English teacher who adores the written word and a good ol'-fashioned love story (or song). Cinderella will forever be her bread, butter, and jelly, and glitter runs in her veins.
She believes in the healing power of hugs, humor, and HEAs. All things sparkly, cheesy, and Wizard of Oz-zy are guaranteed attention-grabbers.
Although rooted deep within the Appalachian Mountains, she has a heart full of wanderlust. Kali dreams of one day becoming a full-time author and traveling to faraway lands. Until then, she will continue to teach high school students the indisputable importance of Poe and puns.
Kali resides with her own Prince Charming/partner-in-crime/husband of more than a decade and the dreams that are now too big to stay within her wild imagination.
Shanna Swenson, author of the Abundance series
Where swoony cowboys await to take your breath away...