June 22, 2005

Three Questions: Alison Kent

It's a GCC day!

Alison Kent sold her first book to Harlequin on national television. The sale was a featured segment on the “Isn’t It Romantic” episode of CBS 48 Hours. Since then, she has sold eighteen series romances, eight novellas, one non-fiction pop culture essay, and four single title trade releases to four different publishers. Alison is a 2005 Quill Award nominee for her February 2005 release, THE BEACH ALIBI.

Reviews of her SG-5 releases from Kensington Brava have compared the series to Mission: Impossible, James Bond, I Spy, Alias, and Die Hard, and the latest in the series, LARGER THAN LIFE, hit bookstores on June 5th.

Alison lives in Texas with her husband, four vagabond kids, and a dog named Smith. And she actually manages to write in the midst of all that madness. And she gives good interview!

JJ: Can you talk about selling your first novel on national
television? Were you surprised? How did they pick you? When did you find out this
would happen? Tell it like a story!

AK: I was such a pup when this happened! There had been a lot of buzz in
the romance community about authors being contacted by a producer at
CBS. No one knew exactly what it was for, and there was mucho fear that
they planned to do a tabloid style slam of the genre. I was seriously a
nobody, so imagine my surprise when I picked up my phone at work one
day, and it was this same producer. (Don Dahler, who can be seen now on
ABC.) He wanted to arrange to meet with me and film me as an aspiring
author working to sell to Harlequin. This, of course, resulted in a
panic attack and days spent cleaning baseboards and the inside of my
toaster. The crew came down for the requisite forty-eight hours and
followed me around. They arrived at my home before I drove to work and
wired me for sound. At this time, I was doing a lot of my writing by
dictating in the car. (Yes, it was quite the site, driving down the
tollway with an open van beside me, camera crew hanging out the door.)
We did an offical interview during my lunch hour, and then they came
that first night to my critique group. The second day, they met me
after work and followed me home, set up their cameras in the house to
talk about my process, etc. The interviewer was Susan Spencer, who
still works for CBS. Halfway into that interview my phone rang. I
picked it up, and it was the senior editor for the Harlequin Temptation
line offering to by my book, CALL ME. (Apropos, no?) What the final
edit didn't show was me asking her to hold on, turning to Don and Susan
and saying, "Y'all set this up, didn't you?" Truly, until that moment,
I was clueless that they had another crew in Toronto with Birgit
Davis-Todd filming her side of the phone call. What I learned later is
that they'd gone to Harlequin first looking for an author who had
submitted to the house to profile. I lucked out by having a manuscript
in the right place at the right time!

JJ: Books about SPIES are traditionally manly man reading material
written by men for men with lots of grunting and hairy scratching and
GADGETS---and yet your SG-5 series appeals to women. How are
you bending the genre to your readership?

AK: Honestly? I'm following ground broken by a couple of fabulous romance
authors who have written series featuring Navy SEALS and covert
anti-terrorist operatives. I've always been a big fan of adventure
movies, and consider what I'm writing to be similar - with the added
appeal of having women tame these big bad men. *g* I employ a lot of
gadgets, some manly man language, a bit of grunting - but no scratching
that I can recall. And the women are not just arm candy. They're quite
capable of wielding their own semi-automatic if necessary! Actually, I
was told long ago with my first book that I had a voice that would lend
itself to detective fiction - and this was before I'd sold a thing. Now
I'm having a ball combining my love for romance with my love for

JJ: A lot of writers read this blog---How do you balance X-treme
motherhood with a full time writing career?

AK: I'm very lucky and in a situation that's fairly unique. My husband also
works at home, and what kids we still have here are twenty-somethings
going to college and working. They come and go and fend for themselves
and make the motherhood part of my job almost redundant. *g* I so
admire authors who write amidst the demands of babies and toddlers and
kids in school. I remember sitting at my daughter's volleyball games or
my son's football games with a pencil in hand as I either edited or
jotted notes! My family has grown up used to writing being my job and
as much as they may grouse when I can't pop up and head to the movies or
the mall, they know where their bread is buttered. *g* That said, I
make sure - even at their age - to "play" with the kids daily, even if
it's no more than teasing and joking in the kitchen while we're all
futzing around on one of the nights we actually make dinner as a family!
Also, I don't clean. Seriously. I gave it up for writing. Our house
is now a home happy in its clutter!

Posted by joshilyn at June 22, 2005 6:51 AM

Joshilyn, I'm trying to get a handle on my book buying obsession and you are SO.NOT.HELPING. Okay. That having been said, Thank You for pointing me toward another must-read author. You're a dear.

Posted by: David at June 22, 2005 8:08 AM

What David said!!!!

Posted by: DebR at June 22, 2005 9:06 AM

Ditto! my obsession is getting out of hand. err, into hand?

Posted by: Cele at June 22, 2005 12:00 PM

Heh my obsession has been out of hand for years. That said Alison sounds fabulous and her SG-5 books sound like just my sort of thing... and so my Amazon wishlist gets ever bigger :)

Posted by: Kitty at June 23, 2005 8:41 AM