She's swapped a fast-paced career as an editorial director of a major magazine publisher for a life as an author.
Writing for the Berkley Sensation line her books are a delightful combination of romance, mystery and dogs!
Please welcome Aussie Berkley author, Kandy Shepherd.
Kandy, thanks for agreeing to do this interview. It's great to have you here!
I love visiting your blog Kylie and it’s quite a thrill to be here as one of your guest authors—thanks so much for inviting me to visit!
Can you tell us a little about yourself?
I write fun, feel-good fiction. My contemporary romances, LOVE IS A FOUR-LEGGED WORD and HOME IS WHERE THE BARK IS, are published by Berkley Sensation. As well as writer and magazine editor, you can also count me in as wife, mother and “guardian” (so not PC to say we “own” our pets!) to a multitude of four-legged friends.
You can't beat living with some four-legged friends, they're great company. I'm a "guardian" to three of the feline kind!
So, when did you start to write and how long did it take you to be published?
As a kid, I was always making up stories and forcing my family to read them—the teachers at school were much more encouraging than my brothers!
Barely out of my teens I had my first short stories published in women's magazines. Talk about beginner's luck! Then I got sidetracked into magazines—a career I loved. But the urge to write fiction—like an addiction—wouldn’t go away.
I kept plodding away in the time I could snatch between a challenging job, a family, those numerous pets and, of course, the dreaded housework. I had quite a few years wandering in the unpublished wilderness until I had my first novel MITCHELL’S NANNY (I didn’t choose that title!) published by a small Australian publisher and then went on to be published in the US by Berkley. I still work as a consultant editor on a food magazine.
What a great early experience you had with getting published and you're so right about writing being an addiction, LOL! And I think a lot of people are surprised when they realise many published authors juggle other jobs as well as our family life to pursue our passion. Making a living from publishing our books isn't the lucrative business some assume it to be (unless we're Nora or JKR or Debbie!)
I bet all that juggling of jobs, relationships and commitments gives you plenty of fodder for your books. What sparks your creativity?
People, relationships, snatches of overheard conversations, odd pieces of information I pick up from reading and observing.
For example, in LOVE IS A FOUR-LEGGED WORD the heroine Maddy has a best friend Serena who is a dog nut. Visiting San Francisco, I heard about an upscale doggy day care center. What a dream job for Serena to run such a center! What if I created a hero who was as scathing about pampered pooches as the guy who told me about the doggy day care? And what if there was a mystery involved and he had to go undercover at Paws A While, my fictional pooch-pampering parlor? That’s how Serena’s story, HOME IS WHERE THE BARK IS, was born…
Ahh, so next time you notice someone eavesdropping on your conversation you might discover they're an author in disguise!
This meeting and observing of people leads me into my next question. You've done a lot of travelling around the globe. What’s the most unusual place you have visited?
Quite a few years ago I travelled around the south of India with a charity I was helping with some publicity. It was like stepping back in time when we visited way-off-the-beaten-track villages whose people had not seen Westerners before—places no tourist ever sees. I will never forget those people, especially the children.
|Kandy & Molly|
I am rarely without at least one cat on my lap as I write. Animals are such an important part of my life and sneak into everything I write.
The doggy characters in LOVE IS A FOUR-LEGGED WORD and HOME IS WHERE THE BARK IS are as important as the human characters. (BTW, my dogs don’t talk and we are never in their viewpoint. They’re dogs!) Characterization is all-important in a romance and creating unique characters who connect emotionally with the reader is vital—whether they are human, feline, canine or equine.
With two books now out with Berkley, what's next for you? What are you working on?
I’m working on another doggy-themed romance and hope to have good news to share soon.
Can't wait to hear what that good news will be, Kandy (a new contract perhaps?). Hmm, we'll have to wait and see - doggone it!!! (heh, heh, couldn't resist, sorry)
To finish up, do you have any advice/handy tips/craft skills you'd like to share with unpublished authors?
I wish I’d grown a tougher skin a bit sooner and not been so easily discouraged by early rejections. But I believe everything happens at the time it is meant to happen. Life and all its various experiences are a writer’s raw material. The more you engage in life, the more you have to write about.
The most important thing is to be true to your vision, develop your own voice and don’t give up. Oh, and keep butt on chair!
Thanks for sharing your insights about writing and some fun facts about your life, Kandy, it's been a hoot having you here.
The goodness doesn't end there though, folks. Kandy has generously donated a copy of HOME IS WHERE THE BARK IS to one lucky person.
All you have to do is leave a comment or question for Kandy by Saturday, 5th February, 2011, and you'll go into the draw for this book. (open to everyone here in Oz or overseas).
For more information about Kandy or her books, please visit her website, blog, or follow her on her Facebook page.