Kaye Dacus has been one of my favorite inspirational authors since I read Stand-In Groom a few years ago, then connected with her via her amazing blog at http://www.kayedacus.com. Since then, I’ve had the pleasure of getting to know her in person, and she’s as much fun in person as in print. 🙂
So, while we’re visiting with Kaye, let’s pretend we’re breakfasting at the Starbuck’s in the lobby of the Indianapolis Hyatt at last year’s ACFW conference, enjoying a muffin (Mine was pumpkin-cream-cheese – YUM) and a Grande coffee (or for Lorna, we’ll offer tea, as well!).
Me: Kaye, how old were you when you started writing, and what compelled you to write?
Kaye: Even though I started writing when I was a young teen (because I wanted to be able to continue the next day the story I’d been playing out with my Barbies—until one day, I forgot to pick up the dolls and just went straight to the pencil and paper), it wasn’t until I was sixteen or seventeen when I really felt like writing was what I wanted to do with my life. I just didn’t have anyone around me who knew how to direct me. My parents encouraged me, but they weren’t sure how to give me guidance. I had a wonderful Creative Writing teacher in high school and that was when I knew for sure that I wanted to be like him—I wanted to be able to teach others how to do what it was I loved doing so much. But it wasn’t until much later in my life, at the age of thirty when I attended my first writers’ conference, that I truly realized God was calling me to pursue publication.
Me: If you could set a book anywhere in the USA, whether you’ve been there or not, where would it be, and why?
Kaye: Las Cruces, New Mexico, the city where I grew up. Because it means I’d have to go there to do research (I’ve only been back once in the more than twenty years since I graduated from high school). And if I’m there, it means I have to eat New Mexican–style food, which just so happens to be my favorite kind of food on the face of the planet! Plus, it’s beautiful, charming, and welcoming; it was a wonderful place to grow up; and it’s chock-full of history.
Me: Cowboys or pirates? Businessmen or construction workers? What kind of man is your favorite pick for a hero in a novel?
Kaye: Let’s see . . .a personal assistant–chef–lawyer–law-enforcement agent–artist–advertising executive–navy captain–pirate. Can one man fit all of those categories? 🙂 For me as an author it’s less about what he does and more about who he is. Can he make the heroine (i.e., me) laugh? Does he have depth—of character, soul, and mind? Is he someone I want to spend time with? As a reader, because I prefer reading historical romance, I do tend to gravitate toward heroes with slightly more alpha-male qualities. . .but with occasional flashes of beta tendencies, just to keep him balanced (after years and years of reading the Warrior/Caveman type of hero in the general-market romance novels of the 1980s and 1990s). In my contemporaries, I think my heroes lean a little more toward the beta-male end of the spectrum (Dylan in The Art of Romance in particular). But more than anything else, he has to be someone I can fall in love with. Daily. For as long as it takes me to read someone else’s book or to get my book written, revised, edited, and off to the publisher.
Me: The ACFW conference is coming up in two weeks! I know you’ve been involved in ACFW for a long time and have been an officer in the past. How has the organization changed over the years? How has the CBA changed over the years, in your opinion?
Kaye: The most obvious change in the time that I’ve been a member was when I was serving on the board and we changed the name—and the scope—of the organization from American Christian Romance Writers to American Christian Fiction Writers. (Which seems like it’s a simple, obvious change—but, believe me, we discussed and brainstormed and debated for quite some time before we came up with the idea to change “romance” to “fiction.”) And second to that, also obvious, is the growth the group has seen since I joined in 2001 as member number 120. It’s amazing to see how we’ve gone from forty or fifty people at the first conference in 2002 (Kansas City) to almost twenty times that many last year in Indianapolis—and I’m sure even more will be in St. Louis in a few weeks! (And I have to share—since that first conference in 2002, I’ve only missed attending one, 2009 in Denver, and it about killed me knowing everyone was there having a good time without me.)
The changes in Christian publishing. . .wow! Used to be the only Christian fiction books available were prairie romances with an occasional retelling of a Biblical story in fiction form. But now—spy thrillers and science fiction and epic fantasy and romantic suspense and mystery. . .every genre in the general market is now represented in the Christian market (and thank goodness romance, both contemporary and historical, continues to be popular).
Me: For those who follow your blog faithfully and see you on Facebook and Twitter, we know you have minions and that they are thrilled to be called such. What is the best part of mentoring new writers?
Kaye: I’ve shared on my blog about how, twelve years ago, God told me that I will not have children of my own (and given that I’m still unmarried at forty years old, this seems like a no-brainer at this point) but that He would still give me the fulfillment that other women find in motherhood—and He’s done that through the writers I mentor. My minions (a term that came about through a slip of the tongue during a conversation with an agent at ACFW last year) are my “quiver full,” the personal fulfillment for me of Isaiah 54:1: “‘Shout for joy, O barren one, you who have borne no child; break forth into joyful shouting and cry aloud, you who have not travailed; for the sons of the desolate one will be more numerous than the sons of the married woman,’ says the LORD.” And just like any parent, my greatest joy comes from seeing my “children”—my minions—successful in their writing journeys.
Me: What author, dead or alive, would you like to mentor YOU? Why?
Kaye: Considering that I’ve loved both her fiction and her nonfiction, it would have to be Madeleine L’Engle. Her book Walking on Water, to which I was introduced in 1999 when it was used as required reading for a college creative writing class, has taught me more about myself as a writer—not so much storytelling or the craft of writing, but the spirituality of being a writer, what it means to be inspired, and how to replenish my soul so that my creativity can continue to flow, even when I’m at my lowest point physically or emotionally.
Me: What, to you, is the best part of living in a city like Nashville, TN? I’ve always said that if I had to live in a large city, Nashville would be at the top of my list.
Kaye: Having lived in the Washington DC area before moving to Nashville in 1996, I quickly discovered that even though Nashville has a large population, it doesn’t feel like a big city (except when sitting in rush-hour traffic) because it’s maintained a neighborhood/community feel that makes it seem like a much smaller town. Plus, it’s Nashville! What isn’t there to love about living here? It’s the best of Southern living, yet with the cosmopolitan experience of being a melting pot of people from all over the world (I know very few people who aren’t transplants from elsewhere).
Me: Why do you write in both Contemporary and Historical romance? Is one easier than the other?
Kaye: You do realize I did two blog posts about this a couple of weeks ago—and still didn’t fully express an answer to this, don’t you? (Yes, I know, but inquiring minds want to know! 🙂 ) The short answer is: I write both contemporary and historical because I’ve had ideas for both contemporary and historical novels. I also enjoy writing both. While they take the same amount of effort creatively to come up with the storyline and develop the characters, there is more work that goes into writing the historicals due to the higher amount of research (yes, contemporaries take research, too) and making sure I’m using era-appropriate language as much as possible. For me, I like alternating writing them, because one is almost like a palate cleanser for the other. Each challenges me in a different way, and I do truly love writing both.
Me: You have a new book out, Ransome’s Quest, another coming out in November (Turnabout’s Fair Play), which means you’ve basically completed three series: Brides of Bonneterre, Ransome Trilogy, and Matchmakers (well, almost). Tell us what’s next for Kaye Dacus?
Kaye: Well, from my point of view, I have completed all three. . .as I turned in TFP in May and finished all edits on it last month (and it’s already in the hands of reviewers through Net Galley). Next for me is another historical series with a new publisher, B&H Publishing Group. This time, I’m taking readers to early Victorian England and featuring Prince Albert’s Great Exhibition, one of the first world’s fairs, drawing millions of tourists from all over the world. The series will be more like my contemporaries in that the books will be able to stand alone, each focusing on a different story. It will also give me a chance to write more of the “sitting room” type of romance novel, which I was able to do with Ransome’s Honor. Each book in The Great Exhibition series will also feature two romances—so hopefully, they’ll be double the fun! The three books will be out in May and October 2013 and April 2014.
Me: Wonderful! I can’t wait to get started on these, and Turnabout’s Fair Play can’t come too soon, in my opinion!
Now it’s time for me to turn the tables and get some feedback: what question would you like to ask our readers?
Kaye: Imagine you’ve been chosen to star in a film version of your favorite book. What book would you choose, what character would you play, and what actor would you choose to play opposite you?
Tough question, but one I’m sure our readers will have fun answering! Thanks, Kaye, for visiting with us today! Anyone for a second muffin? More coffee?
Remember, there’s a bundle of inspirational fiction books up for grabs for one blessed commenter over the last two weeks!