A Chat with Kerrelyn Sparks, 2012 Librarians Day Luncheon Speaker
You were first published in 2002, and you’ve had more than 14 books published since. What’s inspired you to keep writing throughout the past 10 years?
When I first started writing, I had no idea if I’d ever get published, but I wrote anyway. It was something I had to do to free the characters in my head and bring myself joy and a sense of accomplishment. My next goal was to get published. After the first sale, I progressed to the next goal, which turned out to be even harder: to sell a second book. That was the beginning of the Love at Stake series that started in 2005.
Over the years, new goals have kept me writing, such as making a living, hitting bestseller lists, and so on. Along the way, I started hearing from readers—e-mails and letters and personal contact at book signings. Can you imagine the impact of being told that one of your books helped someone survive illness, chemotherapy, or the loss of a loved one? More and more, I draw inspiration from my readers. So now, I not only write to bring myself joy and a sense of accomplishment, but I write to bring my readers joy and encourage their hopes and dreams of accomplishment.
What is it about the romance genre, especially paranormal romance, that appeals to you?
I could go on and on about how much I love the romance genre! Happy endings, reconfirmation of the power of love, strong heroes and heroines who overcome conflicts and obstacles to emerge victorious. Even in the darkest of black moments, the romance hero and heroine refuse to give up. Everything beautiful and inspirational about the human spirit is encapsulated in a romance book.
Why paranormal? My first published book was a historical, but after that, I made the plunge into paranormal, and I’ve been happily swimming in the dark side of the pool ever since. It’s very liberating as an author to create your own world and do just about any crazy thing your brain can imagine. You have to be consistent, of course, but I’m thrilled to be consistently crazy.
You’re published in print and e-book format with a traditional New York publisher. Why did traditional publishing appeal to you? Do you have any plans to self-publish in the near future? If so, what about self-publishing appeals to you? If not, why have you chosen not to self-publish at this point in your career?
Here’s my confession: I have no business sense whatsoever. I am happy to let HarperCollins deal with editing, formatting, printing, promoting, distribution, and so on. When I hear from readers in far-off places like Tasmania and Borneo, I am really thankful that I write for a publisher with that sort of distribution capability. And their art department has given me the most beautiful covers! It’s a wonderful, comforting feeling to have a whole team of professionals behind you, making sure each book will be a success. And it’s also great fun to hang out with the other Avon authors!
I suppose I have an even worse confession: I’m lazy. The learning curve for self-publishing is more than I want to handle—at this time. But I’m delighted that there are so many options for writers now! I will cheer for those who self-publish just as I do for those who go with a traditional New York publisher. These are very exciting times!
You’ve been an RWA member since 1998. At this point in your career, what keeps you renewing your membership each year?
There’s nothing better than hanging out with other writers! I am inspired by hugely successful authors like Nora Roberts and Jayne Ann Krentz, but also touched by the new writer who attends her first conference with stars in her eyes. Her excitement and enthusiasm is contagious and reminds me how excited I was when I first started down this path. Remember that first meeting you attended where you realized you weren’t alone, that there were other people out there with characters in their heads, just like you? When I give a workshop and see all the fresh new faces beaming at me, drawing inspiration, I wonder do they know how much they are inspiring me? What other organization is like RWA, where we all inspire each other?
Can you share an instance when a fellow romance author, or a community of romance authors, has provided support or advice that made a difference in your career?
I had a rather bittersweet debut where I was orphaned by my first publisher, then dropped just as my first book hit the bookstores. I was so looking forward to participating for the first time at the RWA literacy booksigning, but my books didn’t arrive. All of this happened at the same time, so I was devastated and afraid that my dream and my career had died before it could even get started. And I had to face this devastation in public at the RWA conference. The support and kindness I received from other writers helped get me through. They gathered around me like a band of warriors and let me know that I had not failed. In this business, we all get knocked down, but we can all rise again, stronger and more determined. Our strength is shared.
What’s the thing you most enjoy about the RWA Conference?
Companionship and support. It’s a celebration of who we are and what we hold dear.
What does it mean to you to be the Librarians Day Luncheon speaker at RWA2012? And do you have a fond or fun library story you can share?
I am so honored to be the Librarians Day Luncheon speaker! I haven’t quite figured out why I was given this honor, but one of the things I have learned as a writer is to celebrate the good things that come your way, don’t question them, just celebrate because you never know when another good thing will pass your way.
Librarians are special to me. I learned to treasure books from my grandmother, who was a librarian for over 50 years. My fondest memories, growing up, centered on the week I would spend at my grandmother’s house in the summer. She put me to work, helping her in the library, and I loved being surrounded by books.