I’d like to welcome my friend, the lovely Renae Kaye to my blog today. Thank you for answering my questions Renae 🙂
Is there a book that inspired you to be an author?
The urge to write came to me after I read Anne Tenino’s Too Stupid To Live. I loved this book and it’s still my go-to book when I need to feel better. It was romantic, sexy and funny all at the same time. I wanted more. But there weren’t enough books out there like this. So I wrote my own. It was meant to be a “for my eyes only” piece. Unfortunately my BFF got her grubby little hands on it and encouraged me to send it to a publisher.
So if you don’t like my writing, please don’t blame me – all problems can be laid at her feet, please.
What is the inspiration behind your new story?
My newest story is The Blinding Light. It’s about a snarky guy named Jake, who has come from a really tough upbringing. He can’t keep a job, and in desperation takes a housekeeping job to a blind man, Patrick.
The character of Jake is my apology to a person I couldn’t help. Do you know when there are times in your life you have to concede that you’re not the right person for the job? Times when you just have to let go and hope the next person is the one he needs? I met a little boy once, who was heading down a very tough path – a path very similar to Jake’s path in the story. I tried to help him, but couldn’t, and I feel terrible about that. I didn’t have the skills or the strength. I often wonder about that little boy, and hope his life is beautiful. I know that he has a rocky road ahead of him, and in all likelihood he will be lost. But I hope, in odds against the statistics, that his life shines. I want it to shine. So I wrote him a happy ending, hoping that he will end up like this. Happy. Secure. Safe.
Can you tell me a little about your writing process?
My writing involves a lot of daydreaming. I think about the characters a lot before I try to write. I think about their strengths, weaknesses, experiences, hobbies, loves, families, etc. I like to have a firm fix on the character before I start writing him.
Then – OMG, I blush as I write this – I write like I’m acting out the story to an audience.
And that’s where it all comes from. I don’t plan scenes or write the ending before the beginning, I like to write as I go along, and grow with the character. So when he discovers something about himself, often, it’s me discovering that too.
In your new story, which character did you enjoy writing the most, and why?
Jake is very much who I would like to be in life – and that is partly why the story is only told from his point of view. Jake has had a really shitty life, and instead of being beaten down by it, he is amazingly upbeat. He keeps his smile on his face, he gets up every morning and he goes out there to battle whatever crap is going to be thrown at him that day.
His mother has treated him appallingly and he would be well within his rights to refuse to help her any more, but he doesn’t. Why? Because he loves her. No other reason. He doesn’t do it for loyalty, or for his sister’s sake, or because it’s the nice thing to do. He does it for love.
I wish I was more like that. I wish I could just keep doggedly ploughing through the crap with a smile on my face.
Are there themes in your stories you find yourself drawing on again and again? If so, what are they?
Family. My family is very important to me, and it has shaped who I am. I often put that experience into my characters. A lot of the time, the character’s biggest challenge of the story, is not falling in love, but how to deal with his family.
In Loving Jay, Liam didn’t know if he was gay or not, but a lot of that came from being repeatedly told by his father that gay was not good. Liam’s biggest challenge was not whether to fall in love, but whether he could come out to his father. His relationship with his father was paramount. Even though his four brothers were supportive of him, it was that bond with his father that Liam felt the most keenly.
In The Blinding Light, Jake has responsibilities of his family. The challenge of the story was finding a balance between the needs of his mother and sisters, and his own needs to love Patrick. Despite his love for Patrick, Jake couldn’t just cut his family off. I don’t think anyone can do this without a whole lot of blood and hurt.
My next novel out is called The Shearing Gun. It is an Aussie rural romance about a farmer/shearer named Hank, who is very much wedged in the closet. He is there because of his experiences with his family. His gay uncle was badly beaten when his sexuality became public knowledge, and Hank’s own father threw him out when he realised Hank was gay. Five years later, Hank is slowly repairing the rift with his father, but what will happen if his relationship with the new doctor in town becomes public?
What is your greatest writing ambition?
I would love to be able to earn enough writing, to stay home and not go out to work. I have young children, and so my long-term plan is to find part-time work next year when they go to school, then work part-time for the next 8-10 years while they need me. If I can produce about four books a year, I may be able to achieve this goal through writing, and not have to go to work.
So my greatest writing ambition is to continuously write. Initially my goal was to write six novels per year, but then I downgraded to four when I realised how much work that was. Unless I can get on my scooter and get writing this next novel, this goal may have to be downgraded again.
Some scenes are easier to write than others. What scene in your new story did you find the hardest to write, and why?
I’m not sure how to tell you without giving the end of the story away to those who haven’t read it. But the ending of The Blinding Light when the two men are having the most important conversation of their lives – in a car! – was the hardest thing to write. In this scene, Jake reflects on his upbringing – remembering all the bad things that happened. But then he remembers the good things too.
Jake has raised his three sisters, pretty much being their main carer as his single mother is an alcoholic. His middle sister, Lizzy, is probably the one that Jake’s had the most trouble with. He is close to Ellie because they are closest in age, and Ellie leans on him for support for her own child. Maria is the baby who he’s loved since the day she was born. But Lizzy is the one he has trouble connecting with. He is ever so proud of her, but he often doesn’t understand her. She is very independent and not as family orientated as the others.
But there is a line I wrote in which I broke down and cried: I remembered other things too—things I thought I had forgotten: the Father’s Day card that Lizzy made me in class, every single year for the eight years she was at primary school.
I still break down at the thought of this. Of the thought of a little girl who had no father, so she gave her big brother the Father’s Day card instead. How much does that say about how much she loves him?
Which would you prefer—great reviews or great sales (assuming they are mutually exclusive)?
Sales. Reviews are just cream on the top, for me. Reviews are an analysis of the story, and compliments or criticisms to the author. Sales mean that people are reading (and hopefully enjoying) my books. I want to spread love and happiness through my books. And sales would hopefully indicate that I am.
But no author will be anywhere without reviews, and I thank each and every one of them who took the time to review a novel of mine.
What do you feel is your greatest writing achievement so far?
That first contract.
OMG! That first contract. Waking up in the morning, logging on to your email and seeing those words… It’s a validation.
How do you come up with the titles for your stories?
All over the place.
For Loving Jay, it was a working title I came up with at the beginning of Chapter Two. The story was to be all about how Liam came to love Jay. I left it there as the working title, then realised it was perfect for the story. I ended up weaving the title into the book at the end.
With The Blinding Light, the title didn’t come to me until the second last chapter. I liked the thought of putting the word “blind” in the title, because of Patrick’s disability, but really, you will find out at the end of the book, it has more to do with Jake’s feelings. That blindness he had, and when it was ripped away, the light that he is now heading toward is blinding in its intensity.
My next novel is The Shearing Gun. That was the title from the very beginning. Nothing else was ever considered. This is an Aussie rural romance about a guy who is a shearing gun.
At the end of the year, I have a book coming out called Safe In His Arms. This title was considered, thrown out, reconsidered, thrown out, everything. I love the title, but it’s similar to other books. My working title for this book was “Encounters”, because it was supposed to be a single chapter encounter between two guys – a bit like an erotic short story. It turned out to be my longest story yet.
Do you have any hidden talents?
Yes. But they are so well hidden I haven’t discovered them yet. I’ve tried lots of hobbies in my life, without finding one I’m brilliant at – yet. I’ve done acting, singing and I can play the piano. I can paint a little bit, paper craft some and sew. I can quilt, cross stitch and knit. And I have dozens of half-finished projects. I guess my talent is never finishing anything!