Renae Kaye, an amazing gay romance writer of such books as, Loving Jay, The Shearing Gun, and Shawn's Law has agreed to be the first up on the stage. So, without further ado, here is A Piece of Me by Renae Kaye...
My Writing Influences
I love books. It was born in me.
My mother tells me that at four years of age, I used to have an argument with her each time it was library day and I had to take my beloved books back to the library. I was four – that sort of love for books is not taught, but intrinsic to your personality.
I’m a bit of a hoarder and I find it hard to let things go – like books. I wanted to keep every single book I’ve ever owned, but practicality won out. We were having a baby and we needed the bedroom that was full of bookcases. I had to give my treasures away.
In the end, the books that got to stay are my all-time favourites. It’s amusing to analyse them now. They are my first writing influences.
My paperbacks are 99% M/F romance, since I only discovered M/M romance at the end of 2011. Two months later I bought my first kindle, and so my buying has been mostly eBooks since then, which has helped with the financial pressures of having children, plus the physical space. So analysing my paperback favourites is a trip down M/F country lane. But it’s a telling story that shows the influences of my own writing now.
I write humorous tales. I can’t deny it. I adore a good giggle, and even when I try to write “dark and angsty,” it comes out with a number of jokes. And my favourite books confirm that.
Looking up on the top shelf of my bookcase, I immediately spy Susan Elizabeth Phillips – Natural Born Charmer, Nobody’s Baby But Mine, Hot Shot and Dream a Little Dream. The characters in these books are truly wonderful. Take-no-prisoners female leads, and tough block headed heroes. And humour. Oh, the humour. My favourite scene from her is when the brilliant scientist woman, angry with the stubborn male, takes every single packet of his favourite Lucky Charms cereal and stealthily opens them all. She picks out every tiny marshmallow charm from the cereal, empties the rest of the cereal back into the box and carefully tapes it up again. To every single box. Then she decorates the inside of his truck with her marshmallow booty.
He glares at her and calls her a cereal killer.
Next to Susan’s works are Sandra Hill’s Viking series. Some I loved, some I thought were okay. My favourite is The Bewitched Viking. Once again I find my stubborn hero pitted against an even more stubborn heroine. My favourite scene from Sandra is when the gorgeous, virile Viking male, frustrated with the plain-looking woman captive refusing his sexual advances for weeks, commands her to submit to him. She finally agrees and they retire to his room. She meekly tells him she will braid his hair before they get to the reaping, as his long hair will get in her face. He proudly agrees and sits in front of the fire on a chair, allowing her to dress his hair. So she braids his hair INTO the decorative holes of the chair’s back, then flees while he is tethered to the furniture.
Next to Sandra is Jennifer Crusie. My favourite novel of hers – Welcome to Temptation. A highly entertaining novel with many threads and storylines, all interwoven together and making one big statement. My favourite scene – and gosh, how do I choose between them? I don’t know. Maybe the bit where our heroine has oral sex with the town’s mayor, then rings her boyfriend in a panic to confess? And the boyfriend tells her (to her dismay) that it’s not really sex if it’s only oral, so she has nothing to feel guilty about. No, no… my favourite scene is when our heroine, who was trying to be normal, and feminine, and meek, and mild, thrashes our hero at billiards.
So, yes-o-yes, I can definitely see that these authors have had a huge impact on my writing. They love the snarky imperfect character too.
But then I look down at the next shelf of my bookcase – Lora Leigh’s Breeds. I have them all – maybe apart from the last couple if she’s released in the last year or two. Does Lora have any influence over my writing? Perhaps. Of course I’ve never published any writing that is paranormal or has to do with genetically modified humans, but the other thread common in these books are that they contain rather graphic sex scenes.
Next to Lora is Nalini Singh’s Psy-Changling series. I adore this series. The world that Nalini has created is complex and varied. But it brings hope: three “races” of people, separated because of a misguided piece of information, brought back slowly together and shown that it is better if we work as a unified force, instead of alone. Each person has a role to play in their life. Each person can shine, no matter if they think they are a very small cog. Nalini’s books are neither highly humorous or contain graphic sex, but I think they have influenced me a lot. The importance of secondary characters and world-building is firmly displayed in these novels, and I think Nalini is a superb writer.
Two more M/F books catch my eye – Tim by Colleen McCullough and Flowers from the Storm by Laura Kinsale. Written three decades apart, set in different countries, and even different historical periods – what thread connects these two books (apart from the fact they’re both physically falling apart, their covers and spines worn from the numerous readings) and influences my writing? It’s that the heroes in these books are damaged, flawed, and disabled. Tim has a mental disability and Jervaulx has suffered a brain injury. For the large majority of these tales, the heroine is forced into the role of carer and leader – yet they can still love. Their men are still lovable. The hero of the story doesn’t need to be perfect. In fact, imperfect makes him even more perfect.
These are only a few of the paperbacks I still own. There are many, many more – LaVyrle Spencer, Julia Quinn, Eloisa James, Jude Devereux, Anna Campbell, Stephanie Meyer, Linda Jones just to name a few. Plus my paperbacks that began my M/M collection. But the books I’ve mentioned are among the most read in recent years.
A glimpse of my bookcase reveals a lot about me. Each book has a history as to where I purchased it from, who I have loaned it to, and even where in my life I was when I read them. I can point out my Viking phase, my Victoria Era phase and even my Erotica phase. Some spines are so cracked I can hardly read the words. Some don’t even look like they’ve been read, and probably are only in my bookcase because they complete the series.
The second writing influence I have is my own personality. Stubborn, emotional and quickly angered are my flaws. But they can be my strengths too – I’m tenacious, caring and quick to smile. All good things for an author to possess. One thing I’m always amused about, is how much of me comes out in my characters. My writing is very influenced by me. Oh, of course my characters are mostly gay men (so how much alike can we be?) and therefore you wouldn’t think much could come out. But it does.
The term “verbal diarrhoea” was applied to me by a particular person – so I took it and used it in Loving Jay. Shawn’s veggie garden where he calms down is my own. Jake’s no-nonsense attitude is the inner me – the one that would come flying out of my mouth if I didn’t have a filter. Casey’s mental strength is me – a work in progress, but surprisingly functional despite everything. Patrick’s insecurity, but abilities and pride in other areas, is a large part of my psyche.
And then there are the other characters who are shades of people around me. Liam’s unperturbed attitude in the face of Jay’s hysterics and his motor-mouth is my husband’s reaction to me, Liam’s mother and her attitudes to her daughters-in-law was based on my mother-in-law, Hank is my father coming through in my memories, Corrine is someone I used to know but could never help, Jay is based on a friend of mine… Experience and experiences. They all combine to create an author.
To be an author you must observe, experience, watch, ask questions, learn facts, listen to people, read others, question everything, imagine huge amounts, and then write it down in some logical order. An educated but selfish person may be able to imagine great worlds, but their characters will be one-dimensional, as the self-absorbed can never see another person’s point-of-view in order to write that character. One who never thinks to question their own beliefs and knowledge will never be able to write an absorbing plot, as their characters will be stuck in a rut.
Which brings me to my third writing influence – the ability to laugh at myself.
Of course I must write something in this blog that has some sort of promotion on my up-and-coming work, so I need to tie this last influence into some promotional stuff. But I’m not sure which is going to be the first out. I have three stories – Hard Feelings, Out of the Rain and You Are the Reason. They are all very different stories – but they all are Renae Kaye novels.
With Renae you get three things: Australian, humour and strong characters. You get Australian because I can’t be anything but. The strong characters come from the bloody persistence they have as they hang around until I write them. The humour? Oh, probably my coping mechanism.
**Puts on a snooty, British accent** One must laugh at one’s self in order to cope with one’s life.
I recently went through first edits with one of my books. My editor took away so many of my exclamation marks that I asked her what she did with them. I wondered if she piled them up in the corner somewhere, along with my “just”s and my uncontracted words. In the last chapter of the book, she confiscated my hyphens too. After sulking at her, she sent me this quote from F. Scott Fitzgerald:
“Cut out all these exclamation points. An exclamation point is like laughing at your own joke.”
I don’t know who the man thinks he is. **wink** I like my exclamation points. Sometimes you have to laugh at your own joke – because you’re the only person who will. (!!)
RENAE KAYE BIO AND CONTACT LINKS
Renae Kaye is a lover and hoarder of books who thinks libraries are devilish places because they make you give the books back. She consumed her first adult romance book at the tender age of thirteen and hasn’t stopped since. After years – and thousands of stories! – of not having book characters do what she wants, she decided she would write her own novel and found the characters still didn’t do what she wanted. It hasn’t stopped her though. She believes that maybe one day the world will create a perfect couple – and it will be the most boring story ever. So until then she is stuck with quirky, snarky and imperfect characters who just want their story told.
Renae lives in Perth, Western Australia and writes in five minute snatches between the demands of two kids, a forbearing husband, too many pets, too much housework and her beloved veggie garden. She is a survivor of being the youngest in a large family and believes that laughter (and a good book) can cure anything.
How to contact Renae:
Thank you, Renae, for sharing this with us. I enjoyed every word and LOVE hearing about your writing influenced comparing to your own work.
Be sure you use the contact info above to check out all of Renae's amazing books.