Interview With Karen Kay on Writing and the Life of an Author


And welcome to another spectacular Spring and Tuesday blog. 

About 3 years ago, E.E. Burke interviewed me when the e-book release of SENECA SURRENDER was just coming on the market.  Upon reading that interview over again, I noticed that it says a lot about the writer’s life and what inspires one to write.  So I thought I would revisit that interview again for any of you who might have missed this three years ago.

So grab that cup of coffee (or tea or protein drink), sit back and get ready to comment, because I’ll be doing a drawing and will be giving away a free e-book copy of SENECA SURRENDER to one of you who leave a comment today.  Please, also, have a look to the right here which has a link to our rules for the drawing, and know that I will depend on you coming to the blog Wednesday or Thursday eve to see if you are the winner.



  • E. E. Burke: What drew you to write in the genre(s) you do?


Karen Kay:  As long as I can remember, I’ve been attracted to the life and times of the American Indian.  I grew up in the 50’s and still remember always being on the side of the Indians, even if they were portrayed in an unfriendly light.  Always, I felt that there was another side to the story.


And then there’s my daydreaming about love and romance when I was practicing the piano.  I’d make up stories or scenes to what I was playing – I still do this.


And so when I picked up pen and paper (literally), two things drew me to this genre:  My love of romance and my love of the American Indian culture.


  • E. E. Burke:  What inspires you daily?


rwa-2012-001Karen Kay:  In truth, this would have to be my husband.  I met him when I was writing GRAY HAWK’S WOMAN.  Our first kiss is in that book, and he continues to find his way into my stories, even if I don’t intend it.


Then there’s history – real history – or perhaps I should say the truth.  : )  It’s a real eye-opener to read accounts of people who were there at the time.  I think I can truly say that the old saying that  “the winner is who writes the history” is true.  The truth is rarely found in history books in school.  At least this is what I’ve found.


And so I find it inspiring to find the truth of different aspects of the American Indian way of life and to write about it.


  •   E. E. Burke:  Is writing or story-telling easier for you?


Karen Kay:  This is an easy question for me.  Story-telling is hands down easier for me.  As a matter of fact, I consider myself a story teller first and a writer second.  Lately I’ve been telling my grandchildren stories off the top of my head – mostly because my grand daughter found out that I write stories and she’s asked me to write a story about mermaids for her.  And so I’ve been telling her several stories lately to see which she likes the best.


So definitely story-telling.


  • E. E. Burke:  Do you write while listening to music? If so what kind?

Karen Kay:  Yes, I do write to music – sometimes.  When I’m actively creating a story I find music helps.  However, if I’m editing my work, sometimes it detracts, cause I get lost in the words of the song or some such thing.  Then, there’s just the fact that I love music and so it’s a real pleasure to turn on music that I love and write to it.

When I was growing up, my brother and sister and I had to practice the piano and our other instruments every day.  As piano playing grew easier for me, I found I would start making up stories to fit the song – especially if that piece was beautiful and romantic.

I write to all different kinds of music.  The only thing I look for in a song is if it inspires me.  If it does that, then I’ll play it while I write.  Right now, country music inspires me, particularly Keith Whitley songs.  But in the past I’ve written to classical music, opera, Jeanette McDonald and Nelson Eddy operetta, and sometimes contemporary – but rarely contemporary unless it’s country.  I find the classical and the old country  sad songs have a lot of heart and that makes a difference when I’m writing creatively.


  • E. E. Burke:  How often to you get lost in a story?


Karen Kay:  Actually I get lost in almost every story that I read.  I have my favorites, of course, but I get lost in these stories. ..particularly if the stories are about something that I write.  And that includes all genres.  I’ve had to give up horror stories, however, as they can cause me to lose sleep.


Once on a writing tour, I was driving at night (not something I usually do).  But this time I was.  I had a book on tape playing in the car – and it was a scary story, and I was really frightened.  I decided after that to never listen to this kind of story if I’m driving when it’s dark – even if it’s early evening.  : )


But I get lost in stories and am known to stay up getting no sleep whatsoever rather than put a book down.


  • E. E. Burke:  What’s the first book you remember reading?

Karen Kay:  That would be Fairy Tales, I think.  It might have been Cinderella or maybe Alice in Wonderland.  It might even have been Woody Woodpecker – remember him?

Or it might have been Dick and Jane from school.  But I like to think it was Fairy Tales.

Now the first romance book that blew my socks off was a library book entitled THE PINK DRESS.  I read it over and over and over and over.  It was a teen romance, and I literally fell in love with the genre right there.


  • E. E. Burke:  Can you tell us about a real-life hero you’ve met?

lila-paul-me-313Karen Kay:  This is a really easy question for me.  A real-life hero I’ve met is my husband.  And who has he saved? Well, me for one.  After my divorce early on in my career, I wanted nothing more to do with men, marriage, relationships, or even dating.

My husband turned all that around for me by simply being kind.  Yes, he’s a real man, who very much loves things that men do (cars, gadgets, trucks, etc).  But he is one of the kindest people that I know.  He tempers the forcefulness of a man with kindness – and that’s about the most beautiful thing I’ve seen.

Who else has he saved?  Two of my cats – he literally saved one of my cats lives, and found a lost cat, whom he saved.

He is a hero.  Truly a hero.  Above here we are with our granddaughter.


  •  E. E. Burke:  What is your real opinion about books?  Why are we drawn to them?

Well, I think of books in a rather intense way.  I believe they help us through difficult times, and some of the stories I read are as though those characters become real people.

It was when my own children were young that I sat up and took notice of romance books.  I’d always read stories – mysteries, romance.  But if I’d had a choice to play outside or read – it was always outside that I would choose.

But when my kids were young, my husband was often gone.  And he didn’t support me or the kids when he was gone – usually because he was doing some study or apprenticing, and so he wasn’t making money.

This left it to me to be everything, from earning the money – to paying the rent – to buying the food – to taking the children out each day – to planning and cooking the meals, etc., etc.  Yes, daycare helped.  But the brunt of the raising of the children was left to me.

It was during this period that I discovered that books could take me places, could ease fears, could sympathize when I needed it, could even educate me on things I didn’t know.  And all of these books were romance books.  Every single one of them.

I gave up reading almost any other genre at this time because romance books ended well, and I knew that no matter what, the characters would work it out.  They were…delightful, inspiring and they helped me through a tough time period.

I’ve never forgotten that.  And so when I write, I try to entertain, yes, but I always remember that I need to take people to other places, other times and that the most important thing is that this book becomes a companion when one needs it, and sometimes that’s all we need to get through these trying times.

I love writing.  I love this genre and I fall in love with my characters – and other people’s characters too.  And this is one reason that why I write.  But there’s another:  Not always can people go to the places they’d like to see or experience the things one might like to see.  Maybe they’re sick or maybe they are crippled in some way.  I’ve never forgotten that I write for these people, too.  Books can take a person places, can be a friend when in need and books can uplift and help us to live through another day.  A true romance book accomplishes all these wonderful things.  I’m so honored to be able to write in this genre.

Well, that’s it.  I hope you enjoyed the interview, and I would really like to hear from you and what you think about romance books and this genre in general.  Do you also love it?  So come on in and leave a comment.


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KAREN KAY aka GEN BAILEY is the multi-published author of American Indian Historical Romances. She has written for such prestigious publishers as AVON/HarperCollins, Berkley/Penguin/Putnam and Samhain Publishing. KAREN KAY’S great grandmother was Choctaw Indian and Kay is honored to be able to write about the American Indian Culture.
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24 thoughts on “Interview With Karen Kay on Writing and the Life of an Author”

  1. Love your Blog Karen Kay. I love Romance especially Historical Western Romance I have learned more Native American History and other American History from reading romance than I ever did in a school book!! I also agree books can take us to places when we can’t go physically. Books have literally pulled me from the deep dark pit of Depression. Certain authors have many here from Petticoats and Pistols help keep me from Falling back into depression as I have chronic depression if I am not reading. There is one author from Petticoats I literally get pure giddy with happiness when reading her books. I will definitely be putting you on my to be read list as I love how you feel about reading. Hope you have a Wonderful Summer May God Richly Shower you with his His Blessings!!

    • Hi Glenda,

      Thank you so much for your compliment. Yes, these books are friends. That is my viewpoint on the romance genre. We create books that are friends. Am so happy to get to know you here on the blog. Thanks for the post.

  2. This was a wonderful interview. As you know Kay I love reading, especially your books. I’ve read or listened to every one of them.
    I too love the Indians. I believe they got a raw deal from the White men. I lose sleep to finish a book because I just cannot put it down.

    I’m trying to figure out why I’m not seeing the pictures here. Any ideas?

    May God bless you and your hero husband! You have a good man there.

    Love ? Starr

    • Hi Starr,

      Thank you so much for posting, my friend. No pictures, huh? Please let me know if this still is a problem, and I’ll send you the blog in email. : )

      Love you too!

  3. Great post. Reading became a life line for me when my then eight year old daughter was diagnosed with bone cancer (osteo-sarcoma). I hadn’t read books while raising my 7 children but the year I spent with her in the hospital had a nurse drop off a romance novel by Nora Roberts and that was 23 years ago and I’ve been reading ever since. 🙂 I also have to say that an Author’s research has taught me more history then I ever learned in school. Reading is so therapeutic because it took me through a horrible phase in my life. My daughter is now a healthy 31 year old. 🙂

    • Hi Carol,

      I feel so much as though I know you because of our emails and books and such, and I don’t recall your telling me about your daughter before. Yes, I can imagine that these books helped to bring about an escape from that trying time. So glad that your daughter is now 31 years old. I love this story. Didn’t know that you had 7 children, either. It looks to me as though you are very blessed. I thank you, also, for your friendship through the avenue of books. Means so much to me.

  4. Awesome blog! I’m one of those people authors you write for. I’m a single mother on disability income that has never had child support so traveling and vacations are not in my budget. I’ve only been reading again since November 2016 after decades of not reading. For a very long time, my cognitive levels because of MS were too bad to read. I’m blessed to have two awesome friends that have sent me tons of books to read. I look for books at yard sales, at second-hand stores and keep an eye out for free and 99 cent books on Amazon. I have also been blessed enough to win several books from authors. I actually have quite a library now and have read 237 books since I started reading again.

    I totally agree with you about learning more from books. I have been taught more from Historical Romance books about history than I ever did in a classroom. I also fall in love with the characters in romance novels as well as I wish I could kill the villains. Books are escapes from my daily reality. I’ve yet to read one of your books I believe. A giveaway is a great way for me to find a new to me author to add go-to go to authors list. You’ve came very highly recommended to me by one of my bff’s.

    • Hi Stephanie,

      I love your story. Am so sorry that you once suffered with MS. I have a very, very good friend who had MS and conquered it through diet and that sort of thing. Am so glad now that you can read these books.

      Thank you so much for your wonderful email. I really hope to get to know you better through books and also through our blog here.

  5. I love romance books and the western ones are my favorite. Books take me away from real life for a change and its good to get away.

    • Hi Quilt Lady,

      I can honestly that that books do this for me, also. Plus, more. They become friends — not only that, but through writing and this blog, I have made some wonderful, wonderful friends. I love you each and every one.

  6. I enjoyed your interview. I like how your husband seems to pop into your stories when you least expect it. I love reading romance books. They fulfill a part of my life that is missing. Sure, I am married, but my husband is as romantic as a rock in my backyard.

    • Hi Janine,

      You had me laughing out loud — literally. Even reading your post now makes me chuckle. Men sometimes show their love in different ways that might be unromantic — yet, I bet they’d be there for you in an instant if you had a need.

      Still laughing…

      • I’m glad I could make you laugh. I actually laugh about it sometimes too. I can even joke with him about it without him getting all mad . Well, I guess my rock does put gas in my car every weekend and he washes it for me. Maybe that is his romantic side.

      • Oh, Janine, you made me laugh again. Puts gas in your car and washes it every weekend sounds like a loving caring man to me. I’m off to bed now with a smile on my face. : )

  7. I enjoy many genre, but romance is still my favorite. I enjoy learning about the characters, their struggles and their HEAs. Then, in times of stress or difficulty, I can temporarily escape into their lives before returning to deal with my own. I have always loved print books – the weight in my hands, the smell of a new book, the turn of the page. Now I have added audio books, especially in the car, on planes, when lights would bother someone else, etc.

    My husband is also my hero. He is an old fashioned gentleman, who keeps a much more even temper than I do! He also quietly handles problems as they come without complaint or hesitation. He helps me the same way. He isn’t into cars or gadgets, but he can watch ANY sport at any level.

  8. Hi Karen,

    Thanks so much for your post. Yes, books can get us through so many different difficulties in life — and can take us places when either time, money or physical difficulty might not allow us to go there. And romance books in particular have, in the past, gotten me through some trying times.

    I loved hearing about your husband. Paul is also much more even tempered than I am. These men are worth every bit of love we give them, and more — as are our children, also — a product of our beautiful love. Thank you for the post.

  9. Been quite some time since I have visited here. Much has happened since then. I met my hero, Grizzly and we have been together for 12 years this august. Yes, we have our ups and downs but he is good to me and treats me like his Queen. I still love to read historical romances and I have always loved Karen’s books. She inspired me to write, or rather, told me that I should and could do this and that to be prepared that the characters do come alive inside your mind and will, as crazy as it sounds, nag at you to finish their story and tell you how they want it to go. I didn’t understand that until I actually began getting serious about my stories. I published my first novel, “The Beast of Tapley Woods” last August. Sales have been not what expected but reviews have been good. Hey, at least I am out there. I know I need to polish my works and become a better writer, but I am enjoying my new status as Author and have many more stories to tell. Working on book 2 currently though it is slow going with working 2 jobs and preparing for my youngest to go off to college this fall as well as working on fixing up and redecorating the 1855 stone house we just bought in December. Next book of mine is actually a trilogy but in a single bound edition, at least that is the plan. I don’t want to give any details on it yet but it is intriguing and has a twist and has a real life element of the inspiration for the creator of my vampire character. He was a chieftan in ancient Ireland just around the time of Christianity arriving. Lots of research had to be done and still ongoing but I do love the Celtic history of my people. SOmeday I hope to be in the caliber of writers such as Karen/Gen, E.E Burke, and some other favoirtes of mine like Karen Marie Moning. I am currently at work but only one in the office int he off season so plenty of time to do my writing here and they don’t mind that I do.

    • Hi Beth,

      Gosh, it’s great to see you here and get up to date with what you’re doing. Yes, the characters do come alive and do talk to you, don’t they? Sometimes in this field, it’s considered bad form to wish luck, so let me avoid that and instead say that I know you’ll have a fun time creating this new book. So glad to see you are writing.

      I also work two different jobs in order to make ends meet, but I guess that’s just the way it is nowadays. Similarly, life has thrown a few curves of late that have created a little bit of “being behind” in the story. But there you go. We do the best that we can.

      Again, it’s so great to see you here. I hope you’ll be more frequent blogger. I loved reading your story here.

      Much love to you.

  10. This was a great interview! I agree with you in many areas of reading romance books. I definitely stay up too late reading many nights. I also use the books for escape (as well as enjoyment). I’ve been going through a “daughter situation” for the last four years and if I didn’t have these books to take my mind off of the way she is living right now, I don’t know what I would do. I’m barely hanging on as it is with them.

    I also like what you said about your husband. I believe it takes a special kind of man to help us when we’ve been hurt by another. I’m glad you found that.

  11. Hi Linda,

    What kind observations you have to make. So appreciated. Am sorry to hear about the daughter situation. Hopefully all will be well as time goes on. Somehow these things, when we put attention on them, have a way of solving themselves. Am hoping that this comes your way.

    Yes, I think you’re right. It’s worth saying, also, that in going through all of that, I did see where I had gone wrong, and I think that this helped a bit. But my husband is a man’s man — so to speak — but a very kindhearted individual, whom I love with all my heart.

    Thanks so much for your comment.

  12. I read WOLF SHADOW’S PROMISE and loved it. I’ve been searching for an author that wrote about American Indian romance and I’m thrilled to have found you. I will be reading many more Karen Kay books.

    • Hi Karen,

      Oh, my, you have made me feel wonderful. : ) So glad that you have come to the blog and that you left a comment. What a pleasure to meet you here.

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