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Anne Kemp writes sweet romance but in her next book, her characters will be ripping off their clothes. There’s just one problem. Writing the naughty bits make her laugh.
Today’s guest is Anne Kemp. Anne is an Amazon best selling author of romantic comedy chick-lit and contemporary romance. Her stories are full of fun, love, and laughs that are sprinkled with the power of family: the ones were raised in as well as the eclectic and unconventional family we curate ourselves as we grow and step into who we are. She writes about ambitious and relatable women modeled around those who have inspired her. An American girl who grew up in Maryland and has called Virginia, Florida, St. Kitts and Los Angeles home and now lives in Wellington, New Zealand as the mom to two dogs and wife to a very supportive husband and welcome to Steve scenes.
Hello. Thank you for having me.
Thank you for being here at ridiculous o’clock in the morning where you know, it is so early
But you know, when you get up this early, you can’t help but feel like it’s gonna be a good day and by noon, probably be on the couch going What happened?
Check in again with you at around four o’clock. Okay, so Anna, is super cool. We’ve actually lost about 20 minutes just yak yak yak chatting before we even started pressing record, so it’s gonna be super fun. And one of the things that she said to me like, off the bat, I can’t wait to talk about this because sex make me laugh. And I was like, Oh! Can we start with that?
My god, it’s totally like therapy. We’re gonna unpack this one first.
Okay, so do writing sex scenes, make you laugh or reading sex scenes, or both, make you laugh?
Writing them. I will read them a lot of times and we’ll get to a certain point and depending on where I am with the actual story, sometimes if I’m reading them I’m like, Okay, I know but I got the basics of this. I’m going to keep going to the story.
I’m just gonna skip over the juicy bits.
I got to get to the story. But you know, I was still like I love reading a sex scene and especially when there’s ones that are done well there’s so many that are just done so lovely. I love a good buildup. When I sit down to write a sex scene, um, writing and chick-lit and and sweet contemporary romance, I have managed to evade the giant sexy and I actually had one sex scene and that my agent thought…that we took out of Sugar City Secrets. I like it.
It might go back in I thought about putting it back in. It was actually very well done. I was pretty happy with it. But writing it. I turn into an 18 year old frat boy giggling behind the computer. Laughing, just sitting there trying to go okay. Light a candle, get your crystals out, you know, get the moment. It’s like you then I usually psych myself into this point. And I’m like, oh my god. What are you doing?
Oh, okay. So do you find because you’re sort of psyching yourself into this sort of weird place does it take you longer to write them? I know for me, like I can have like the best writing day. And as soon as I come to the into the intimate moment…screeching halt. So I can go from like 1000 words in an hour and a half to like spending the entire morning fiddling over 200 words.
Yes, exactly. Something happens when I get to it. And I don’t know why. And it’s evaded me like I will. Write, write, write, write, write.. And then it comes. A lot of times, I get my first draft done, and you go back, and it’s like, insert sex scene here…
You do that? Yay!
LikeI don’t know what to do with this. I got to come back and think about it, like, Oh my God, because each person is different. And you want to write it just right. But yeah, I usually just insert and come back and half the time, if I go back and then read the sex scene in the story when I’m doing, you know, my own copy edit and check before it goes off, I’ll be pleasantly surprised by the interaction that is happening. Like, oh, who did that? Okay, that’s good. Doesn’t come across like a ding dong was trying to write it at our kitchen table.
I mean, I’m just sort of trying to figure out like, for me, where that sort of, I guess it’s kind of a block? Like, I don’t necessarily, I’m one of those writers that doesn’t necessarily believe in writer’s block. Like I sort of go, okay, you’re sitting down and you’re writing these words, and you’re writing 1000 words, and you’re not getting up until you do it. And even if I don’t, even if I’m not feeling it, I will force it. Because after a couple hundred words, then I get into the rhythm and I find it and I go, yeah. But then for some reason, I’m like, there’s my block right there. And do you know like, do you have any idea where yours might come from?
I don’t and I don’t know if it’s because maybe I leave those to last and it’s like that last thing It has to be done. I’m 48 now and procrastination is still a thing. But I do believe it must seep in, in that way where it’s just like I not the things are effortless, but I think I get so into the story and having fun telling the story. And I love developing characters, I get really into the story of the characters. I love the slow build. And the sweet contemporaries I’ve written. I’ve had people that have sent me notes, which are super lovely, from novellas that I’ve written recently, saying how much they like the sweetness of the build up of the romance that could be because we never really get behind closed doors in those books. And those are the parts I like, like the dating, sweet, what’s going to happen next, kind of moments. So I think maybe I get too lost into that part that then when it comes to writing the sex scene, there’s a pressure.
I remember reading 50 Shades of Grey when it first came out years ago. And it did so well. But, man, it got torn up by a lot of reviewers and people, and especially for the sex scenes. And it’s one of those things when you see it happen to somebody else, even at that time, it was the same time I had started writing and I’m not writing erotica or anything, but it is still within my purview in my industry. It just kind of makes me like… It’s that thing of having someone come to you, I guess later and be like your sex scenes sucked and not in a good way.
Okay, well, I have yet to read 50 Shades but the criticism, I thought, for that wasn’t necessarily the sex scenes as written more that she didn’t understand the BDSM community that she was purportedly writing about.
If memory serves, it was the sex scenes being repetitive as well as BDSM community being fired up. And then of course, there was the upset with the American audience. Her books came out to us and they were written in English, British English. And I can remember those three things being targeted hard in reviews, because it’s the first year I had an agent. And those were things they were like, wait, we’ve got to be careful. You’ve got to be you know, be careful of what you’re doing with your writing. And like I said a lot to think about, like, oh my god.
oh, man, I guess you know, I mean, I don’t know, I can’t really fault some. But I mean, I guess if you’re if there isn’t some inherent danger in what you’re writing… If it’s not something that’s putting somebody into danger, let’s say into a dangerous situation, like let’s say you don’t understand BDSM. And you’re sort of like, now curious about it. But, you know, you’ve learned from someplace that is not the place you maybe should have learned it from and maybe you know what I mean? I’m very much that first do no harm person, you know, but at the same time, I kind of feel like, I don’t know, like sex scenes are hard to write.
Yeah, they really are. Like, there’s just so much more to it than what I think people think, you know, because there are only so many descriptions that you can do. You know, doing a sex scene, I can think about, like, I have friends in that are actors. And yes, sex scenes in movies and television is hilarious, because it comes across so amazing. But you know, behind the scenes, they’ve got somebody with a boom mic, hair and makeup, there might be a ton of people in the room, you know. And there’s two naked actors and they know the families of all the people staring at them. Yeah, you know, it’s kind of the state like we’re sitting here having to think about a sex scene and take these moments of time based on things we’ve seen making it up off our own experiences. But we also have a thesaurus pulled up trying find a different way to say something because if you’re going to be describing somebody’s penis like how many times can you compare it to what? Here comes the eggplant emoji.
You know, I’m just going to start writing my sex scenes with emojis. Yeah, it’ll be all eggplants and peaches.
Insert eggplant and peach here.
So sort of to track back for a second. When did you realize you wanted to become a writer? When we were talking before, you worked in the restaurant industry. You’ve had other careers. So did you always want to be a writer and it was sort of like, these were your kind of survival jobs?
I wrote when I was little, I did speeches and did writing and acting, and then at some point, straight away from all of it, ended up in LA wanting to do acting. And it was while I was there, because I had an interesting time when I was in Los Angeles, I walked away from acting. I ended up becoming a personal assistant to an actor, Jason Alexander. He was on Seinfeld for a long time.
This is why we’re friends. We have almost the exact same story.
Okay. Oh, my God, I can’t wait to hear yours. I know, because I feel like something else I need to tell you as well from our early conversation, but I digress.
I went to New York, though. I didn’t go to LA but yes, anyway.
So you know, working for him, I put away all of my acting stuff and I had realized at that point, I like being behind the camera and working for him. I was just doing assisting. So I started doing projects in my free time. And one of the projects I took on I got talked into by an old friend. I threatened to do stand up comedy for a while. And he was like, we’re doing a class, we’re doing a class, you got to do it. You can finally say you did it. So I was like, Alright, I’ll do this. And it was while we were preparing for the stand up, that I realized, like one of the guys running the workshop, another good friend was like, he’s like, You’re doing good at this. Your writing. It’s good. Like, this is comedy writing, you get there’s something in it. And it was such a, like a first time with somebody that I looked up to who’s a comedy writer pulling me aside and saying that, in the industry, that just kind of made me look at it and go, Okay, cool. But there was still I was like, What do I do with this? I was still kind of in this like, okay, I can write but… So, long story short, I get laid off, not from Jason, I’d gone on to another job. I got laid off, ended up in the Caribbean with time on my hands reading James Patterson book after James Patterson book. And I looked at a book one day and went, well, I got time. Like, I’m gonna just try something. And I actually started taking a class through UCLA extension that, a fiction class. I wrote the first chapters of Rum Punch Regrets in 2011? Yeah. in that class, and the Abby George series was born while I was living on the island, I never thought it would end up getting published, like three years after I left St. Kitts.
Wow, that UCLA program I’ve heard is actually quite good.
It was epic. And this was back like 2000 must have been 9 because I was traveling. It was right after I got laid off. And I was super lucky that I was able to rent out my apartment take off to live with family in St. Kitts. And while I was in St. Kitts, a friend got work in London flew me over to help with him and his kids while he was working in London for a little bit and I went back to St. Kitts. I got to just bounce around and write and soak up a bunch of different culture and just oh my god, it was just a beautiful time in life.
Oh, man, okay, so that’s, so that’s kind of a really actually awesome route to where you are. And actually, I have to say, like, I have a friend. She’s actually the girlfriend of a friend and former colleague, who was an actor and did a lot of comedic stuff. She wasn’t stand up. I think she did mostly sketch, that was mostly her thing. And she’s the one that hooked me up with this romance publisher that I was with for a bit. And, she just sort of like one day was like, I can’t take my day job anymore, I quit. And ended up doing really, really well writing for this publisher, like just churning out these romances. And they eventually moved to LA where she pitched a pilot, sort of loosely based on her experiences as a romance writer. I don’t know what happened on that pilot. But it was in development for a while. Who knows maybe it’s still coming out. But it’s kind of amazing with people that have had that sort of acting, and particularly comedy experience, how they’re able to translate that really, really well specifically to the romance genre.
I mean, you can even you turn on Netflix, and there’s Cheryl Woods, The Chesapeake Shores. There’s um was it the Virgin River?
Yeah, Virgin River series? Yeah.
There’s so many authors that have written something you know, they’re on Hallmark, it’s on Lifetime, it’s coming to Netflix and it’s there is something about that sweetness, the romance. Plus i think there’s so many prolific authors out there now that are just sitting down and writing series, you know, these really great books – 2, 3, 4 in a row – so that people can just gobble them up and guess get lost and characters.
For you, because you sort of came through a comedy lens and reading James Patterson, right? Which doesn’t scream sweet romance to me, but maybe I don’t know. I mean, I could be reading the wrong James Patterson books. How did you get from like that like point A to sweet romance?
I tell you if we could figure this one out. My husband looks at like, my Netflix list. And he was like, Okay, you got anything on here from Real Housewives of Atlanta up to The Social Network? Like what are you doing? What happens in your brain?
We are an algorithms’ worst nightmare.
I went through like, James Patterson, David Baldacci. There’s a lot of those guys. And I would just always grab them when I was you know, traveling. And then I also got into, of course chick-lit and other authors that were in sweet contemporary romance. But, yeah, I if I’m presented with books to read, I usually I go back and forth between women’s fiction or like a James Patterson style, keep you guessing type of thriller. And to actually sit down and write this was just complete opposite. And I think I could see definitely at the time that I started writing it too. I was definitely not in a romantic place in my life. I was in my late 30s, I had just been laid off. I was living on an air mattress in my nephew’s one bedroom apartment next to a litter box. So when I say I went to St. Kitts, I didn’t go to St. Kitts and like pull up in my Real Housewife of Beverly Hills house. Mama was broke.
This wasn’t like a when Stella Got Her Groove Back by the, you know, by the swimming pool and all of that.
No, these were moments of Oh, hey, Dan, your aunt Anne is in the Caribbean drunk at 3am again, thinking that it’s funny. So there were some of those moments where I was trying to get it together.
Go pick up your aunt at a bar at 2am.
Your aunt’s having some moments. I couldn’t have been in a better place at that time with where I just kind of went, What do I do? Like I thought I had it all figured out. Right? Yeah, it’s being down there at that time. I think it just helped. I remember sitting somewhere. One of the characters in my book, there was a man called in real life. His name is Captain Crabby, or Kent Griggs. And I call him Captain Cuddy in the book and Crabby became a good friend of mine while I was down there. Salty dog, probably about 30 or 40 years older than me. And I was bartending one night – I had gotten a job bartending one night a week – and he and I just started chatting and he became my buddy to go do things with. And it was while I was with him, and also doing this UCLA extension class, I just kind of realized like, he made a joke one day like, “Girl, you just a tragic country song.” And I was laughing so hard. Like, seriously, I grew up in Maryland, that’s real. That hurts. Like we laughed about it, but I just realized it was like, a lot of this is funny. Like, you can’t help but look back. Nobody ever prepares for the road we get taken down. Because you can’t prepare for it. You know, it’s like, it’s life happens and you have to go with it. And I was in a place of just going with it at the time.
I think that’s so kind of crazy that you are actually in I guess, I don’t know, you’re kind of having, I don’t know, like, a professional crisis, maybe? Where you were in that like, Okay, what do I want to do with my life like, you know. Your your regular life gets put on pause. Kind of like what COVID has done to a lot of people, myself included, and you’re like, well, what am I going to do now? Like, what is the next step? And I kind of love that you went to the Caribbean.
Yeah. And they got so lucky.
You found yourself like, Okay, and now I’m going to write this romance stuff. And I feel like the place where it’s coming from, it seems very much like rooted into a really good start for a romance, if that makes sense.
Yes, yeah. No, it definitely, I think that that is what kind of got me with it. Like the being where I was at the time. I can remember sitting like out on a beach. And like, it was probably, you know, a late night just sitting there with the wind and just talking to some people. And just, and again, I was in that midst of, you know… I thought life was supposed to be this and even questioning choices I had made in with, you know, career path and going God, maybe I should never have left, working for Jason. When I left him to move on to somewhere else, he made a joke. He’s like, “you’ll always regret it.” And he got emails for a couple of years going “you’re right, I did.” But I also knew I had to move on. So I had to go. But it’s still the best decision I made, because I wouldn’t have had all the experiences because all of those experiences find their ways into my books. You know, even in Rum Punch Regrets. There was a younger man, that’s an Abby, Abby gets her groove back for a little bit, if you could say that. She meets somebody 10 years younger. Yes, I did base that on my experiences at the time. And it was some I met somebody while I was in the Caribbean. And it was like, kind of like that light of Okay. Okay. This is cool. Like, I still got it, I can still do things. And I just started writing and then having fun. And I just remember, as I started writing, just adding these people based on other people I was meeting and realizing that, you know, I’d left what I knew in LA and was so confused and unsure. But also it was at a time in my life when I was realizing I was okay and taken care of no matter where in the world I ended up.
Oh, that’s a nice feeling to have.
Yeah. And it’s like, it’s one that I do come back to a lot because that’s a hard one to keep. Even in the craziness of things going on, especially in this year, there are moments where I’ve had to just stop and go, no matter what, you know, you’re going to wherever in the world you are. That’s where you’re supposed to be. It’s cool. It’s cool. Right?
Right. Exactly, exactly. So, you sort of made a real conscious decision to write sweet contemporary, like not to go into the more the steamier aspects. And I’m kind of curious why that was.
Well, you know, the, for the rom com, it’s fine. Actually, I’m in the process of prepping a three book series that I’m going to be working on. And that one’s going to have, we’re going to be upping the heat level a little back. So it’s going to be rom com chick-lit. Definitely a little bit more sexy. We’re just putting this out here.
When that comes out. You’re coming back on to talk about that experience. Okay.
I’ll keep notes of writing those sexy bits.
Notes, copious notes with descriptions.
I think I know exactly where it came from. I got a little weird about putting it out there. Because at the time, it’s now 2020, when Rum Punch was coming out, I did want to be careful about how much I was putting into my books, because I had two young nieces that were in their teens. And I knew they were going to read my books. And I wanted to be a little careful with it. You know, just like even my mom, she passed away four years ago, but in the book, I had her pass away, you know, years ago, and when she read the book the first time, she was like, “I really like this, but the mother, why isn’t the mother around?’ And like “because I didn’t need you giving me notes” because she would have decided that character was based on you. I wanted to be careful of what my family was looking at so that they wouldn’t find themselves in or for my nieces to be reading something that maybe they weren’t ready to read. Because they wanted to read Aunt Anne’s book. So by that point, you know and I also realized that writing the sex scenes I was a little bit immature about. And then I’ve got three sweet contemporary novellas that came out since last year. And they have their full on sweet, you know, with some kissing and maybe a swear word. And I really like the challenge of writing them because a novella is such a different thing to write, but then also just keeping it super sweet for that sweet audience. Because there is like, a lot of times, I think that the folks that are in that sweet audience and even, like, they call it inspirational romance, but it’s not necessarily Christian, inspirational. It’s just that I guess that clean, clean, sweet and clean, contemporary romance. And I wanted to be able to deliver something like that. Now with Patience River, we’re going to be ripping some clothes off.
And that’s sort of brings me to, you know, your series, and do you consider it? Sweet, contemporary? Do you consider it more chick-lit? Like, I was sort of fascinated by what you were doing. Because it’s a series that’s following this one character, for the most part, because I think you’ve branched off with one of the novellas if I’m remembering correctly.
Yeah, three of the most recent novellas. Two of them are on my Amazon page, one is in a box set at the moment, and will be back, in about a month’s time. But those three, they’re still on the island, but it’s about three different characters. So you kind of get that small town romance if you read any of these books that are based on St. Kitts because the characters will flit in and out of the books. But I did branch off. There’s the Abby George series. And so that’s just about Abby and her changing. Being, you know, the single female who’s going through the hard knocks who now wants to step into her own, and she wants to kind of show her family and herself that she can do it because she’s just been through so many of her own pitfalls and rollercoasters through life. And it’s about her being on the island and taking control of her life. But at the same time, the rom com chick-lit part of it, there’s a thread of a bit of a treasure hunt. There’s some secrets, she comes to the island and she thinks she’s doing a favor for her family and her world gets flipped upside down. Everything she thought she knew, it’s not there, she’s uncovering things in each book and has a secret popping up in each book. That is meant to have romance. And it’s also meant to keep you kind of, I wanted people have to have something fun in each book to get to the last book where it all culminates for them. Hope I did a good job trying to explain that.
Yeah, I just was sort of like really kind of fascinated because at the end of each one with Abby, like did you give her happily ever afters or happily for nows? Because again, with the, with the way that a romance seems structured, and I was like, whoa, she’s breaking all the rules and I am there for this.
I know! I love that the book breaks all the rules in the first 50 pages. And most people came back to me with, You’re not supposed to do blah, blah, blah. And I was like, yeah, well, it tricks ya. It was the one thing I kept putting my foot down with, I kind of like ittricks you. But with that, it does break the rules, but I wanted to do that for her. In each book, she does have her happily at that moment. But it is about that journey, you know, her coming to the island and getting presented with the possibility of romance or two, as well as a suddenly she is presented with a giant family secret about a parent she never knew about. And she also finds out that the family has this beautiful home this bed and breakfast that she is now in the Caribbean to take care of. And all of these things start unraveling from there. And so each book, she’s dealing with something that has to do to getting her forward to her end goal, which is to figure out the truth about her family, but she is falling in love along the way. And just trying to figure out which of these two guys is going to be best for her and you know what? It might not be either one of them her happily ever after. It could be that it’s her, you know? Although I don’t think it will. I’ve already decided who I want her to be with. I know who she’s gonna end up with.
How many how many more books do you envision before you wrap it up?
Just one, the last one, we’ll wrap up, we’ll give her one of the two guys who have been around. JD and Andrew, you’ll find out which one and all the secrets will come out so that everything can get tucked away. So where I have fun with Abby, I did say about two years ago, and not in any horrible way to my characters, who I do love. But I was like, Okay, I’m ready to get off the island, which is where these books, the three sweet novellas that are part of the Caribbean romance novella collection. They are about characters on the island. But in the last novella, we follow this character from the island up to the United States. She’s going home. And then I get everybody off the island. And I’m going to start writing in Maryland, but I kept it tied. Because at some point, I might bring the two series and wrap them into each other. I don’t know how, but I figured it could be something that could happen. So why not?
I’m sort of fascinated how, like, when you first started writing Abby, did you have this sort of idea? Like, I’m gonna have XYZ, like, X amount of books, in the series? Or did you start with the idea? Well, I have this one book.
Um, it started with one book. And then I think at some point, when I signed with my agent, I was like, probably six books, because I really thought I could do so like it was like, pie in the sky at that moment, like, I got that. And then when I sat down was like, ooh, actually learn and learn, get educated before you open your mouth. Um, I knew always knew there would be three. So that it will be three novels. And then the other books, there’s actually a novella, Gotta Go to Come Back, which is the excerpt I sent you. And that was just something that my publisher at the time wanted me to write, to kind of in between books, he was like, “Can you put a novella together and between the two books, so we can just get something out for your readers so that they still have a little bit of, you know, we can keep them going with the story.” But yeah, it will be three books, which was the original vision.
Okay, okay. Because I feel like every series that I’ve written, whether it’s through my urban fantasy work, or going to now the rock star, it’s almost been an accident. You know, originally the rock star book, I think it was going to be three total. I’m now like, the third is going to come out soon. I’m working on the fourth. I don’t see an end. Like I can I see how I can continue to build on it. But I’m sort of kicking myself because I’m like, man, I could have set this up better. Or if only I had known three books ago, I, now I’ve just, like, written myself into a very bad situation here. And how am I going to write myself out of it? That’s why I’m sort of like the people that can plan.
Oh,how can they?
I’m sort of a pantser slash outliner. I think my writing style is weird to begin with
Me, too! That’s what I do. I’m a pantser outliner. It’s called plantsers.
I’m really bad. Like, when I’m when I want to start a book, I get really excited. And I write like, the first chapter. And then I’m like, Whoa, slow down, they sit down, I make myself do an outline. The outline eventually becomes really half assed towards the end, because I get really impatient with it. And then I’m like, you know, but but the first half is great. And I’m plowing through it. And then I get there. And I’m like, No way and I throw the I forget, I’m working from an outline. And all of a sudden, I’m like, 16 chapters in, and I’ve completely gone off the outline, and I’m just like, I don’t even know where I am. So that’s this is my process. And it’s a mess. It’s a mess. Yeah. And it’s just a book not a series.
I feel you completely. I have tried, I have a YA that I love that I really want to write but I have outlined myself into not writing it. I have at least two chapters. And I have over outlined it to the point that I turned myself off. Because you cuz you can get lost, I think in over planning when we do it because we’re writers! I like the pantsing and outlining method because like what I do now is I get a general idea of what I’m going to write and then if I can break down at least the chapter the day before I’m writing. And what I’ll do a lot of times is just kind of write a couple of notes like okay, I want the chapter to start like this. Here’s what I want to have happen to get across In this chapter. And I’ll kind of loosely outline what that chapter and maybe the chapter after will look like. And I find when I do that the night before I write, or in the half hour before I write, I can sit down and do the Pomodoro method and sit set my timer for 20 minutes. And I can jam out 1500 words in that 20 minutes when I do that
It’s really insane. And it’s like that, when I’ve sat down to write, I will drag my feet and procrastinate as long as I can. But then when I actually sit down and start putting like, rubber to the road, I’m super surprised what happens because in that 20 minutes, I’ve had that time already, where you know, you know the character, what’s happening, we’ve written it down. And so you know what’s going on, you got your meat. I feel like for me, it just works. I can get in there and go and not think about it and go back and go, bam, cool. Awesome. I think 1500 was my top but I can usually get between 995 and 1300 in that 20 minutes. And that is, to me, that was my big breakthrough of going, “Okay, if I can continue doing this, wow.”
Yeah, no kidding. I’m you know, I’m gonna try that tomorrow when I sit down to because I don’t know, this is this has been like a tough couple of weeks for me with my writing. And it has been like a slog. And so I’m going to give this a shot tomorrow.
Yeah, I think everybody’s like, 2020 is the year of the slog. It’s October today, here in New Zealand. It’s the first of October. I’m like, I want to put the Christmas tree up last week and be like, we’re done. Come on, you guys, we’re done with 2020.
Yeah, I’ve been wondering if that was me like the past because I’ve been doing great. through 2020. I hate to say it. I’m releasing three books. And that’s unheard of for me. Like I’m like a book every three years. I’m such a slow writer, partly because I had a full time, beyond full time, job, you know? Yeah. And now I’m like, just releasing, it’s been like, great. I’ve been super productive. I launched this podcast. And now if like, I feel like I’ve hit a wall.
In lockdown here in New Zealand, we went into that full lockdown. I actually overextended in lockdown. I at one point was sitting in my office going how did I do this? I think I’d signed up to Brian Cohen’s Facebook ad challenge. I was finishing a novella, working on a box set with 10 other authors. I’m in the midst of at least five other things all author related, none of it had to do with like work or a house. And I woke up one day and I just had hit a wall, where I was like, there was no inspiration. There was nothing, nothing. I couldn’t even put a Facebook post up. And I just kind of went, alright, you have now overextended yourself, you can’t even make it to like, go watch a video that’s been recorded about Amazon ads.
So how are you recharging yourself?
Well, where we live, we moved on lock down day of all effing things.
Oh, my God.
Oh, girl. It was the way it worked out here. Because you know, everything rapidly happened in New Zealand, where it was like, okay, we’re at this level. We’re at that one. 48 hours, we’re locking down. And we had sold our home, we’re living closer into Wellington. And we had bought out a little more rural out by the coast. And we had an RV at the time that we had decided, hey, we’ll sell our house on this date. Let’s take one week off, hang out in the RV just at some beaches, enjoy summer have some downtime before we move. Well, that was hilarious because there was no downtime. We basically like moved in on the Wednesday, the whole country is closing down, without furniture because everything got locked in storage because everybody closed. We came into her house pulling mattresses out of our RV and just grateful to have a roof over our head because no one knew what the hell was happening. So it was at that point. I feel like we went through the stages of grief. I was like, okay, what’s happening? We did manage to get furniture, fridge, and life happening here. We started walks. I meditate. I try to meditate every day and I can do yoga. I have a dog, George Clooney. He’s here with me now. He makes us laugh. If you ever if you follow me on Instagram or my Facebook page, George makes a lot of appearances because George is very ridiculously adorable. He really keeps our blood pressure down. And also this year, I went over to the dark side and started watching a lot of Real Housewives. And I love it.
I did too. But that was for research. And I did Beverly Hills, which I was told that was probably the worst one to do. But I had like, but and I couldn’t do it. I was like, I was like, Oh my god, I can’t do it with these women. I just can’t.
Oh, my gosh, we will have to have a conversation about that at some point, because I got pulled in the rabbit hole. I never thought I would. And I’ve seen all the Beverly Hills now. And I have a friend that I keep in touch with like, what have you done to me? I am now insane. I think it’s hilarious. It is such a social experiment. And it’s so interesting to watch human behavior.
Like oh, my god. Oh, boy.
My husband and I just work hard on keeping each other sane and making sure that, you know, with everything going on around us, I think we just make sure we’re laughing a lot. Yeah, you gotta laugh. You have to laugh.
So I want to dig in to the book. Now. What you sent me was an excerpt from Sugar City Secrets. And correct?
I think it should be Gotta Go to Come Back. Was it the abbey and Matt right? was it?
It was Abby and Matt. Yes. I’m sorry, that wasn’t from Sugar City.
Gotta Go to Come Back. Sugar City was the one that I was going to talk about.
Okay. Got it.
got it. Got it. But this was the sex scene. This was one that is not even quite a sex scene that I just enjoyed writing it. Okay.
So this is from the novella.
I Gotta Go to Come Back. It was going to be a sex scene. But then we did. We pulled it back. And so it gets close to.
Oh, that’s really interesting. Because so can you set this up for us?
Yeah. Are we in the story, so it Rum Punch Regrets, Abby ends up making some big decisions that lead to her making a huge life change and moving to the Caribbean. So Gotta Go to Come Back is the novella where we just kind of see her skip back to LA for a bit with a family member to pack up her apartment. So she can come back. One of the, I guess, reasons, you know, that made her leave LA was that her fiance Matt had cheated on her with a girl who did stats for his softball team. And she had found out about it. And that was just one of many things that made her just go, you know, FU LA, I’m out. I gotta get away. And so she’s come back to pack up her apartment. And Matt had used to live there. And he’s come by they’ve run into each other. And so he’s coming by. She’s had a lot of changes in her life. And he wants to come over to I think he has some things of hers. There’s some exchange and still some friendliness. And in this scene, I feel like the reason why I wrote this is because I knew a friend at the time who was going through a ginormous, their marriage was really falling apart. And she had a moment where her now ex had come over and they just kind of fell back into each other’s arms, and then she had stopped it. And to me, this was just that moment, you know, you get overwhelmed. Sometimes there’s feeling and emotion. And what I loved about the scene is that to me, it’s not about what could have been the sex, but it was the what could have been. But Abby, instead of being the girl to say, “Yeah, let’s do this” goes, “No, you did this to me. I’m not doing this to you. And Ann Marie. I’m with somebody now.” Like, she’s just kind of being that voice that moral compass. Finally, we’re Abby, two books ago would have been like, Yeah, let’s do it. I’m all about revenge.
Well, I think this was sort of what kind of like had me a little eye-pop in here. I was like, Whoa, danger zone with the character is because they’re all they’re all kind of like, Matt is a proven cheater. You know, he’s cheated on Abby. Now he is going to go cheat on Ann Marie and Abby…this guy Andrew is in the picture with her. And she is in LA, but she’s got that pull with the axe, you know? Did you worry about that sort of cheating aspect?
I remember talking to a good friend of mine about it as I was writing it and going you know, I’m nervous to write this because of the cheating part because it’s a romance. But I also feel like it’s a truthful part. Because whether or not we like it, cheating does happen, you know, and I wanted to add another dimension to who Abby. She is relatable. She had a moment of weakness in her life. Here she is building herself up growing, growing, growing, and she stumbles for a second because here’s someone in front of her. She was engaged to, who she had given her heart and world to, and he is suddenly in front of her. It’s all familiar, you know, the smell, the feels, the kisses. And of course, you start to get lost in that and then it’s like, no, no, no, no. And I wanted to, like commend her for that moment of she’s like, wait, no, I’m not gonna do this. I’ve learned my lesson. Yes, like, it happens. It does happen.
How did readers react? I was in a Facebook group doing you know, one of those, you know, caught like giveaway I don’t know that part Facebook parties or whatever. And I was sort of interacting with the, with the romance fans, and and I had thrown something out there about, you know, Gwen’s Stefani, and like, I loved her with Gavin Rossdale, and this person was like, he’s a cheater. I’d completely forgotten that he cheated on her. I just loved them together as a couple, you know, when they would be photographed and stuff like they were such like the quintessential rock and roll couple. Oh, my God. I was like, she was angry. And I was like, whoa, oh, shit. Oh, shit. Oh. And so I’m kind of like, there is like a serious, serious thing about that. Did you get any pushback from readers on that? Or where people sort of going? Yeah, okay. I understand that, that that sort of weird, like that ebb and that flow.
I had the readers that were more concerned they’re more concerned who she’s going to end up with with Andrew or JD. They saw Matt in me as a hiccup and we’re just kind of like, I’m so glad that she got rid of him. That was like good for her. It was more of Yeah, they’re more concerned. I have people very, very opinionated over which guy she should get to be with which is very comical to me. Like, like, Wow, you guys have super opinions like and I just I love that people have these opinions. But yeah, nobody really reacted to Matt. They liked how she handled it. And yet, because I guess, I’m trying to think. No, nobody said anything. It was not yet they’d like the way that she handled it. And I think it was just that snippet. I did have a couple people that were like, Oh, we would have loved to senior stay in LA a little longer. She’s gotta go back to the island. You guys. It’s time.
It’s okay, I’m going to read a little bit here. Let’s see. Okay. Okay, Abs that’s Abby. Abs. There have been times in my life. I haven’t known what the hell I was doing either. That’s Matt saying that. His voice was low, Husky and silky as he kept moving slowly toward her. Be could feel her heart racing faster. The palpitations were setting off an earthquake of epic proportions inside her chest. I get it, Matt and look, we’ve moved on. Okay. Her voice was much softer now as well. Her whisper laced with a slight tremor from her nerves, or was it excitement? Her back hit the wall as the realization hit her that she was literally backed into a corner, surrounded by boxes, memories, and her ex. Abby had no place to go. Oh my god. The pull of the ex we’ve never quite gotten over. Yes. I actually felt so much in this very, very short, small moment. Like it just it’s like, you know, there wasn’t even touching going on here necessarily. He was just really close. And I was like, Whoa, yeah. So how did you get how did you get? How did she get there? Hhow did you get her there?
Oh, you as far as with the that type of getting so close, but not really touching?
Yeah, there’s like, yeah, like there was no touch there. But again, there was that real sort of like moment of intimacy, even though there was no touching. And even she’s saying to him, we’ve moved on. I’ve moved on. We’re over. But then there’s the pull.
Yeah, I think it’s just that pull. I think because it’s that you know, and you’ve said the word intimacy, which now that it’s seven in the morning, I can see that that is a very good way to describe like what I write, more intimacy scenes than sex scenes. Because I love that built up. And letting you wonder what’s going on. I love that seeing how close I can get them to touching, to being up against each other, where you get that tingly sensation and you can feel like there’s that emotion that’s coming with it and the heat in that rush. But, yet, it’s not quite happening. Like you pull it away a little. There’s something in that tug of war in that moment that I love writing about, and I don’t know why. I just have the best time doing it.
Well, here’s another longer moment. We’re getting a little now we’re getting a little whooo, it’s getting hot in here. So… Matt grabbed Abby around her waist and fully pulled her into him covering her mouth with his, kissing her with more passion than he had ever been they’d been together. Avenue her mission was to stop it but for some reason the taste of his mouth and feel of his lips made it a lost cause. She struggled for only a second before melting back into his arms, reaching her hands up into his hair and tugging it as she pulled his mouth harder onto hers. She felt elated, guilty, excited, aroused, and shockingly in control. Matt picked her up and was angling to get her on the couch, but she wrapped her legs around his waist. A good move on her part from the groan coming from deep within his body. Stumbling he walked toward the kitchen vying for countertop and steady ground. Abby made his walk as difficult as she could teasing him with soft kisses that hit their mark, trailing up his neck to his earlobes. They reached the counter, Matt haphazardly dropping her onto its sleek, freshly clean tile surface in his haste to get her where he thought he could have his way with her. He pulled away, smiling at her kissing her forehead, and whispered, I’ve missed you, as he brought his left hand up the front of her shirt, caressing her breast on the outside of her bra.
Okay. Now we’re building
You’re a good reader.
And I’m very curious, where was the more sort of… Was it even in the scene that you sort of pulled back the more explicit writing?
Yeah, we had some other …it went in to…I’m trying to remember where it was in here. Because in this one and and Sugar City Secrets, we had sex scenes that were more explicit and both got pulled out. This one started to go a little bit more about here. And then it was either the agent, or the publisher was like, Ah, it’s just not gonna it didn’t feel right. And so we all decided mutually it just didn’t work for where it was going.
Okay, cuz in this particular instance, too, I think it made sense to pull back because I don’t know that she would have…because if she went any further, it really would have been a revenge fuck what and I mean, right?
It would have been like there because there would be nothing coming out of it. It would have been just to do it to do it, it would have been the wrong kind of empowerment.
The thing that I kept coming back to, and I go to it again, and the next little excerpt that I’m going to read from, is like, you know, her in control, her empowerment. And I thought that was really sort of interesting, to give her that strength or that power. And in these moments, particularly knowing that he cheated on her and she’s coming back to this home and cleaning it out. And he shows up and sort of seems to want to rekindle their relationship but, again, as a cheater.
Yeah, he wants to see if he can get her to stay like it’s the game of starting all over again. And I think for her in that moment of the “Here we go again,” falling down the rabbit hole. But you know what, I’m stronger than this. Now I’ve learned my lesson.
So, okay, last little bit. In the back of her head, she felt empowered as if she was cashing in on something she was owed. Hadn’t Ann Maria done this very same deed with Matt when Abby was out of town? Had he not done these things behind her back with someone else? Why shouldn’t she be able to do this too? Matt’s hands had found their way into her hair, pulling it ever so lightly, his fingers becoming tangled in her tresses. It was forcing her head back at an angle that allowed him easier access to the part of her neck that he knew made her more vulnerable. Abby’s eyes were closed and she felt his lips brushing against their prey, nibbling and biting her in a seductive dance. She couldn’t stop the small moan escaping her lips. Which was not only fortunate, but also most unfortunate, as it brought her back to present and reminded her of something very important. It was something more important than revenge or a feeling of empowerment. Andrew (that’s the boyfriend) Now see. And this I thought is the I don’t know. I love that this is an intimate scene, right? These are intimate moments. And most of the time in romance, we’re reading intimate moments that are supposed to be happening because it’s driving our hero and our heroine or two main characters together, it’s what’s driving them together. It’s sealing the relationship. In this case, you’re doing the complete opposite.
Yes, I wanted to make sure that Abby was not coming back to LA anytime soon. And to push away this last part of her to me was that Nope. This is it. I’m done. She’s been taken on a ride by this guy. I mean, he left her with all the bills for a wedding. She’s just having that moment now that says, you can come back and apologize. It’s been a while since I’ve read my own book, I do believe that does pay her back. But too little too late. He’s showing up a year later to the party. And she’s just kind of like, this, you know, done. Bye, I’m moving on Goodbye, we’re over.
I’m pretty much about how you have up ended all of these conventions. And I’m so here for it. Because, I’m so afraid to and I’ve had people that are sort of saying, you know, no, never do that. Because, you know, I always want to, you know, break convention. I actually enjoy it. And people are like, No, don’t do it. And I’m like, okay I won’t. And I love that you have.
Oh, all over. And I think it’s that beauty ofnot knowing, you know, at all at the time, because I was just learning. So I look back at the series and I love this series. In each book, when I read them or look at them, I can notice where something changes or something gets a little stronger or better. And like you get to the three novellas, the sweet contemporary novellas that I’ve done, the Caribbean romance series, they are definitely another type. They definitely go more along convention of boy meets girl, you know, boys got an issue, girls got an issue, they figure themselves out but there is happily ever after in each one of those stories. And that’s kind of the result of this, of Abby. Something fun that I can share with you and your audience is that this was considered as a television show back in 2012/2013. It was passed around to some places in LA when I was there. There were a couple of actresses that looked at it. I would have been blown away if if it had happened. And it did not which was you know, it’s totally fine. Again, the learning of it all Yeah, because if there’s so much happening, but Abby is that the mistake of starting to write not knowing what I’m doing and just I was like, I wanted to do it this way and finding agents and publishers that just went “You know what, let’s do it this way. We’re gonna get behind you and we’re gonna play with it for a while.” And it worked. Which was just so much fun but yes, you know, I’m am writing books now that are going to definitely be more along the lines of the conventional because I think there is something to that conventional format and being able to deliver what people expect them to have. But I will always be writing something off to the side because the Abby series, while I’m going to write a last book to tie her up, I want to keep everything threaded in some way that I can keep that unconventional-ness of that little group and come back to it. Because it’s more to me the Abbey series. It started about her, but it’s become about all of the people you meet in the books. The family she’s picking up along the way. I have emails from people asking for side stories for I bet four other characters they’ve requested so far. People want to hear about Lee and Daryl which, is her sister, they want to know about her. They want to know about Maria and Ziggy, which are you know, people that she knows from the bed and breakfast. They want to know about Tracy and Ben. Like they want to know about these other couples. So I think there will always be that fun. And I can dip in over there and make up some rules as you will. But yeah, it’s definitely that was the Learning Series. It is the Learning Series for me. I did a lot with that. And always a lesson.
Wow. That’s super cool. So what’s next? So you’re gonna write one more for Abby? Is that in process? Or are you still sort of like working out your no outline-outline?
It is still a note stage. Because that’s when when I do write it, I actually have two or three readers that are very, they want to be a part of the process, which is really cool. And so I actually go to a couple of my readers that I trust and go, here’s what we’re looking at for the last book. So I’m in that process right now of them, kind of looking over what I’m doing.
It’s kind of interesting. So what do they say? Oh, yeah, I love that. And this will work. But I don’t like that. So fix that.
Yeah, usually what I’ll do is there’s a couple of people that I’ll just send notes to, to trusted readers that they’ve become friends over the years, and I go, you know what, you know, the book, you know, the series, here’s what I’m looking at doing with Abby, I’m going to do XYZ and might throw in a little of this, you know, what do you think, how does that come off to you as a reader? And I just I get their feedback, because I know at this point in my life, I am too close to all the words I write. So I go to everybody I can. I have a girlfriend here in New Zealand that just read all of the Abby books, got into them during lock down, which was very cool. And so I’ve been going to her a lot going. “Tell me, what have you. What did you learn? Like in Sugar City Secrets? What was your takeaway? What was your takeaway from this book?” Because it’s helping me to see it with fresh eyes. I mean, I will forget about a minute detail that I think it’s minute, that is actually an important detail to the reader. Just because I don’t have capacity; my brain is full.
I actually am fascinated by the way that you do that and the way that that sort of led I think that’s great. It’s almost like a focus group, kind of.
Yeah, you know, it’s like definitely to get that feedback to know. But the Abby book, it’ll be one more and then dip and dive in if I need to the contemporary the or the Caribbean romance series is done. Once this other book comes back from the box set, that’ll be put together. I’ll have all three books up on Amazon. As well as actually there’ll be going wide those novellas I believe. And then the Patience River series is the one I’m working on right now, which I am super excited about. I grew up in the state of Maryland, and my family right now lives in a little town called Chestertown which is near the Chesapeake Bay on the eastern shore. And I’m basing this town of Patience River on Chestertown and this came out of my own sadness that I can’t come home. I was supposed to be in the states the month of August this year and I’m not allowed out of the country of New Zealand unfortunately. So I’m going to write about where I should be for these next three books because I miss home and I cannot wait to dive into this. I actually I have a map that I’ve drawn for this one. So I know where people are on the main street where the stores are.
Oh, that’s awesome.
Yeah, like I’m having more fun I think drawing the map and doing a Pinterest board.
Yeah, sometimes the research is like you go down that rabbit hole and you just have like a grand old time with it.
Oh, that’s so much fun. But yeah, anyway, yeah, I gotta get words to paper and it can’t be an email. So let’s write something but yet the Patience River series is all actually set to get ticked off. I’ve begun it we do have a at least part of a chapter. I’m actually away in two weeks at a writing retreat with a bunch of ladies for three days and I have a feeling I will probably walk out of there with a couple of chapters and have a good kick in the ass to take into the end of the year. Fingers crossed.
Cool. So where can readers find you?
Oh my goodness. I got a website, www dot anne kemp dot com. I’m on Instagram at MissAnneKemp, same on Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter. I hang out on all of those. And if you come by and say hi, I would be thrilled. So with George Clooney, we’d all be happy.
I’m totally there for George Clooney.
Here’s there for you.
And thank you so much for doing this.
Oh, thank you. Thank you so much for having me.
It’s been super fun to have you. So, yeah, and once once the steamier books come, you know, give me a give me a heads up.
Oh my god, I definitely well, like, you’ll probably be getting messages for me when I start writing the sex scenes.
That’s what I’m here for you. I am here for you. I will totally support you. I understand. I know your pain. Anne, thank you so much.
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