In the Mind of Kerrelyn Sparks – 2015 PYHIAB Conference

On October 16-17, New Jersey Romance Writers will be celebrating our annual conference. We have a fantastic line-up of speakers and workshop presenters. Over the coming weeks, we’ll be highlighting our four special speakers who were kind enough to allow us to get to know them better.

First up is Kerrelyn Sparks. Kerrelyn will be giving a workshop at the conference and is our Keynote Speaker! World Building — Stop the World, I want to Make a New one! is one of many fabulous workshops we have scheduled.

For more information about the conference and to register, please go to

Welcome, Kerrelyn!

How did you come up with the idea for “CROUCHING TIGER, FORBIDDEN VAMPIRE”?

I was intrigued with the character, Russell.  Not only was he transformed into a vampire against his will, he was also abandoned in a vampire coma for 39 years. So when he woke up, he had to adjust to being undead and also adjust to the fact that everyone from his former life was dead or gone. Crouching Tiger, Forbidden Vampire is the story of him seeking revenge on the evil vampire that destroyed his life.

I also wanted to match him up with a were-tigress. I’d never written a were-tiger hero or heroine before, so I was excited to do something new. I also love world building, and this gave me a chance to explore the were-tiger culture.

How much research did you conduct for “CROUCHING TIGER, FORBIDDEN VAMPIRE” and what was the most interesting thing you did while conducting your research? 

Some scenes from Crouching Tiger, Forbidden Vampire take place in Tiger Town in China, so I wanted to show the Asian influence on the were-tiger culture. There were also were-tigers from South Korea in the story. I watched hours of Chinese and Korean television shows, especially historical ones, so I could see the costumes and customs.

What is your process for writing a book? For example, are you a plotter or a pantzer? Do you start at page 1 and write your book sequentially or do you skip around? Do you start with your characters or the plot?

For me, the characters always come first. Once I understand their GMC (goal, motivation, conflict) and what they want, need, and fear the most, the plot starts to take shape. I write sequentially, and I liken it to a road trip. If I’m driving from Houston to Dallas in the dark, I know I’ll eventually end up in Dallas, and I have a good idea what Dallas will look like, but I can’t see the entire road there. The headlights show what’s ahead for a short ways. So I can usually see a chapter or two ahead, but the rest is dark until I get closer and my headlights reveal it. Eventually I get close enough to Dallas that I can see all the lights, and at that point, I can speed toward the end!

Do you write multiple drafts or barely need revisions when typing, The End?

One draft for me. But I cycle back over and over. For the first hundred pages, I start with page one and edit as I go till I reach new material. In that way, chapter one ends up getting revised a jillion times. Later on, I’ll go back about three chapters and edit until it’s time to start new pages. I can never begin a new chapter until I’m happy with the previous one.  I’m an odd combination of pantzer and perfectionist. In other words, I may not know what comes next, but it had better be great!!  This, of course, leads to major frustration, since it usually isn’t great. But I edit until I’m happy with it. Eventually, I reach the end of the book, and by then, the book is polished and ready to go straight to the editor.

How do you make time to write?

It’s my job so I just do it.  What is harder for me is making myself take time out to exercise.

When you are writing, who is in control? You or your characters?

I would say me, but then my characters start laughing at me.

Who has had the most influence on your writing?

My old favorites who taught me to love Romance have influenced me the most. Kathleen Woodiwiss, Amanda Quick, Julie Garwood, and Jude Deveraux.

Would you tell us your story of getting “the call?”

I was in the kitchen folding laundry when the phone rang.  I don’t remember what I said on the phone. I was so stunned that I probably babbled like an idiot.  Even after I hung up, I stared at the laundry for a while before it really sank in.

Then I squealed and danced around the family room. Squealed some more.  By now, my son had wandered into the family room to see why his mother was behaving so strangely.

“I sold a book!”  I told him and squealed some more.

He watched me for a bit, then asked, “Does this mean you’re not cooking supper?”

What books can we expect to see in the near future?

I have lots of ideas!  The one I’m working on right now is a paranormal fantasy.  I also have a contemporary series in mind.  And I may go back to the Love at Stake gang every now and then.  I think it would be fun to jump into the future so that the children can be grown and take center stage.

What is the most valuable lesson you’ve learned as an author?

Believe in yourself.  Every time I start a new book, I still panic and have to fight off self-doubt in order to get started.  And because I’m a pantzer, I don’t always know where I’m going, so I have had to learn to trust myself and believe that I will make it through to the end.

With so many changes in publishing over the past year, where do you see the future of publishing going?

I think it’s a wonderful time to be an author.  We have a lot more choices available to us now than when I first started writing.  What I see in the future is authors having the freedom to do what they feel is best for them.  There are good things about both traditional publishing and self-publishing.  Most probably, authors will be trying to take advantage of both, and we’ll have more hybrid authors.

Do you have an ebook reader? If so, which one?

I don’t actually have an ebook reader.  But I have a Kindle app on my iPad.  I use that whenever I travel.  When I’m at home, I still prefer a paper book.  My eyes usually need a break after working on a computer most of the day.

If you could have one special, supernatural power, what would it be?

I would have the power that I gave to one of my heroines in the Love at Stake series.  In Eat Prey Love, Caitlyn Whelan has the ability to learn any language after listening to it for a few minutes. 

What makes a man attractive to you?

Intelligence. Smart is sexy!!  A sense of humor.  I love a guy who makes me laugh.  Good character traits, meaning he’s honest, dependable, respectful, and honorable. A friendly face.  Long legs, broad shoulders, and you know the rest!

What are you reading now?

I’m reading a new author, Lenora Bell.  The book isn’t released yet, but the title is How the Duke Was Won.  It’s a delightful book, and I hope she’s very successful.

What is your favorite quote?

“No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” – Eleanor Roosevelt

 How long have you been writing?

17 years.

If you were a millionaire would you still write?


Cat or dog person?


Okay, get ready, we have our rapid response portion. Don’t think about your answers, just say the first thing that comes to mind. Ready?  

Favorite color: Green

Favorite number: 7

Favorite Actor:  Tom Hiddleston  No, Benedict. No, Chris Hemsworth. No, Tom.  Definitely Tom.

Favorite Actress:  Judi Dench

Wine or liquor? Wine

Tea or coffee? Neither. Water!

Decaf or caffeinated? Neither, water!

Boxers or briefs? Briefs!

Chocolate or vanilla?  Chocolate

Donald Duck or Goofy? Donald Duck

Frozen (the movie) or Tangled? Haven’t seen them!  I’m too old!

Channing Tatum or Johnny Depp? Johnny!

Want to meet Kerrelyn or attend her workshop? Make sure you check out the information on our conference at Registration ends October 4th!

Kerrelyn Sparks _2


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