Meet awesome romance author Brynn Kelly. Recently I reviewed her first Harlequin romantic suspense Deception Island. I enjoyed this book so much that I invited Brynn to be a guest on my blog so we could get to know more about her and how she became a successful author.
So here she is all the way from New Zealand.
Take it away Brynn…
How did you choose the genre you write in?
I don’t think I chose romantic suspense. It chose me. I was a print journalist and non-fiction author for many years and wrote fiction in my downtime. Nothing publishable, mostly just stories and snippets scribbled in journals. I thought I would one day write a literary novel or chick lit (which might sound like polar opposites, but all genres blur at the edges). But over many years, my writing style—what writers call our “voice”—gravitated toward high-octane larger-than-life action and suspense, combined with equally epic and dramatic romance. And that’s what began to hit a nerve with publishers. I love writing romantic suspense, but I also love other genres, so I think my fiction career will eventually take me down several paths.
Can you tell us about the challenges in getting your first book published?
I wrote a couple of novels before the book would become my debut, Deception Island. Both came this close to getting published, but I think the problem was that I was writing inside the box, writing what I thought a publisher wanted. The stories weren’t standing out enough among the incredibly talented writers working in the romance genre.
With Deception Island, I decided to burst out of the box and think big and unique and cinematic and anything goes. And that worked for me. An early version of Deception Island won a Romance Writers of New Zealand contest, and the agent judge, Nalini Akolekar, offered representation before I’d even finished it. And it later finaled in the RWA Golden Heart, and won the Romance Writers of New Zealand’s premier award, the Koru.
I was fortunate that although my earlier novels hadn’t landed a publishing contract, they’d attracted the attention of an incredibly talented and passionate editor who went on to work for my dream imprint, Harlequin’s HQN Books. That editor, Allison Carroll, eventually bought Deception Island, and three books since.
Where do you get your ideas?
Usually, this is a hard question to answer because inspiration filters in from all sorts of places and might sit a while before it takes form as an idea. I don’t often have Eureka moments. But I can tell you exactly where I was when I got the inspiration for Deception Island. I was sitting on a local beach reading a Vanity Fair magazine while my young kids played in the sand, and I came across an article about the modern French Foreign Legion.
I hadn’t realized the Legion still existed. To me it belonged to the era of the world wars and the interwar years, bringing to mind Indiana Jones, Lawrence of Arabia and The Mummy. It got me thinking about—and researching—what would drive a modern-day man to run off and fight for another country for modest financial reward. Thus the tough but troubled heroes of my four-book Legionnaires series were born.
Do your travels influence your writing?
Oh my, yes. I live in New Zealand and we’re a very outward-looking country, perhaps because we’re such a young nation and so geographically isolated. It’s a rite of passage for young New Zealanders to live overseas for at least a couple of years. For me, that meant living and working as a journalist in London and Sydney, traveling extensively in Europe, and volunteering in Ethiopia, as well as visiting dozens of countries. I love exploring new-to-me cultures and countries, which is why my novels are set in the places that have left the most indelible impressions on me.
My debut novel, Deception Island, is set on a fictional group of islands in the Indian Ocean, inspired by my travels in Borneo. My second novel, Edge of Truth, is set in Ethiopia. And I’ve just finished a novel set mostly in Tuscany, London and Scotland, which will be released next year. I love exploring these evocative places all over again on the page, and I relish the challenge of doing justice to them.
Do you have a new book coming out soon?
My November release is a novella called Forbidden River that’s set much closer to home—in primeval forest on New Zealand’s wild West Coast. It’s about a soldier and a helicopter pilot who have to kayak for their lives to escape a mass murderer. Their developing romance forces them to face up to heartbreaking truths about their own pasts—and futures. After all the global wandering in my novels, it was wonderful to come home—though I still had to do some intense research on the setting. It turns out that seeing a place through a writer’s eyes is a lot different than through a local’s eyes.
Also Edge of Truth will be released in mass-market paperback by Harlequin at Christmas time.
A dangerous game at the end of the earth…
For French Foreign Legionnaire Cody Castillo, chasing deadly thrills is the only reprieve from a bloodstained past he can’t forget. But when the adrenaline junkie finds himself caught in a mass murderer’s crosshairs in the lonely wilds of New Zealand, he finds an unexpected—and intriguing—ally.
Former air force pilot Tia Kupa has always found safety in nature, until a killer turns the wilderness into a playground. In this life-or-death game, the guarded woman, who lives by the rules, must rely on a risk taker with a death wish. The sexy devil-may-care legionnaire may be the wrong guy for her, but desire is just as primal as terror. Even if they outrun a predator, they can’t escape the sizzling bond neither of them saw coming.
Forbidden River (releases Nov 1 as a $2.99 ebook novella)