Intimate Conversation with K. L. Brady
K. L. Brady is a D.C. native but spent some of her formative years in the Ohio Valley. Her writing career started in the pages of diaries when she was 7 or 8 years old. But it wasn't until her 40th birthday and an Oprah "Live Your Best Life" moment that she finally answered her calling and wrote her first novel–The Bum Magnet. The originally self-published, award-winning novel was picked up by Simon & Schuster in a two-book deal, and K.L. hasn't looked back since. She penned the follow-up, Got a Right to Be Wrong and self-published the first books in two young adult series and a spy thriller series based on her 20-year career in the U.S. Intelligence Community.
She earned a B.A. in Economics, an MBA, and is a member of the Maryland Writer's Association, Romance Writers of America, Sisters In Crime, and International Thriller Writers. She's addicted to writing and chocolate— not necessarily in that order—and currently lives in the Washington D.C. area with her son. She is hard at work on several projects, including the next installment of her spy thriller series.
BPM: Share with us your personal journey into publishing. Was this a fun time in your life?
My personal journey into publishing came on the heels of a major break up and right before turning the big 4-0. After a "What am I going to do with the rest of my life?" moment, I dug deep down and finally decided to explore this gift of writing that I'd had since I was 7 or 8. I never thought I could be a published author. To me, authors were like gods on Mt. Olympus that worked a special brand of magic unavailable to mere mortals to write my favorite books. They didn't sit down and grind every day and type. Oh, what a rude, but happy, awakening it was when I realized how wrong I'd been. This is definitely something that everyone can do, but you have to work really hard to do it well, and consistently well, through every book. I wrote my first book in four months, published it a year later—and the rest, as they say, is history.
That was five years ago, this year (2014), and I'm eight books in now. Pretty incredible journey. Has it been fun? I can say without hesitation that finding my voice as a writer has not only been fun, but it's been satisfying, enjoyable, and often cathartic. I found myself, and my true purpose, through writing. How often do people get to do that? More than that, it is often the only thing that stands between me and insanity.
BPM: How did you get to be where you are in your life today? Who or what motivated you?
My life is a universal lesson in perseverance and finding success through failure. That's it. I had a successful 22 year in the U.S. Intelligence Community as a Senior Intelligence Analyst at the FBI, on the Joint Staff, at the Director of National Intelligence, and Coast Guard Intelligence. My success is largely due to learning from every mistake and using them to help me grow and get better. Learning to take criticism (e.g., getting my head ripped off) by full-bird Colonels, and 2,3,4-star Generals at the Pentagon really strengthened my backbone and resolve—it takes a lot to rattle me now. More than that, the experience made me learn how to get things right quickly. I earned respect through achieving excellence and got the opportunity to support a lot of amazing operations—military, intelligence, and law enforcement.
What motivated me most was refusing to fail—twice. In other words, I'd spot myself the first failure, we all make mistakes. But what I couldn't accept is knowing that I'd failed once and then do things the exact same way again. I forced myself to find ways to succeed, and that worked well throughout all of my careers, including being an author. Lord knows, I've made my mistakes there, but I've overcome them, too.
I think in some measure I used to fear success. Now I fear failure more than success, and for me failure is not trying, not fulfilling my purpose.
BPM: Who does your body of literary work speak to? Do you consider authors as role models?
Collectively, I think my body of speaks to strong, funny, flawed girls and women who make a lot of mistakes, but fight past their setbacks and personal problems to become better people—and make others around them better, too. I've never thought about it before, but, actually, this is the theme that ties all of my books together, even though they are in very diverse genres.
I think authors can be role models, especially for up and coming authors like myself. I learn a lot through osmosis, especially on Facebook where authors post so much wisdom and industry knowledge. I learn from whatever I see, and I pass on what I know to authors who follow me.
BPM: Could you tell us something about your most recent work? Is this book available in digital forms?
I have this theory about how people find their purposes and destinies. Some people know what they are meant to do, almost from birth. They go through every day of their lives knowing what their gift or talent is and spend most of their time trying to figure out how to bring it into the world.
For others, they have zero clues about who they are meant to be. These people seem flighty and switch from job to job or "thing" to "thing" because they are desperately searching for their purpose and won't stop searching until they find it.
For yet others, they discover their purposes at a very early age, but they talk themselves out of believing they can't do it. Some fear failure, others fear success. They don't have faith that if God has given them a purpose, he has also equipped them to fulfill it. So they bounce around aimlessly from "thing" to "thing" trying to discover what they've already known for most of their lives.
This book is about Miki Vincent, a woman who fits squarely into the latter category. She's known her purpose from a very early age but fears failure and perhaps success. She's addicted to beginnings because she's afraid of endings—in life and love. So, instead she's accomplished nothing, committed to no one and gets into a lot of trouble because of it. This book chronicles the part of her journey where paying for her mistakes and some rude awakenings help her to embrace what's she's already known her entire life.
BPM: Give us some insight into your main characters or speakers. What makes each one so special?
Miki Vincent is the main character. Her caring, generous nature is cloaked by an exterior that, at times, seems shallow and thoughtless, even a bit narcissistic. She's lost, hasn't discovered her purpose or the love of her life. After too many disappointments, she tries to flip the script on life but learns the hard way, that
Pam, her best friend, is Miki's savior and going through issues of her own. She knows her purpose is being an artist, a painter, but she's so busy creating this secure home and giving her husband the chance to find his purpose that she's sacrificed her dreams for his. But that all comes to an end when she finds evidence that suggests he's having an affair. She flips the script on her hubby and begins to find herself again with the help of a handsome stranger.
BPM: What did you enjoy most about writing this book?
I started this book five years ago and then put it down because I got stuck. I couldn't figure out what the story was supposed to be. Took five years later, but I figured out what it was supposed to be. I really allowed the story to come through me rather than impose my will on it, and I think that's why it's one of my favorite romances to have written. And it truly is much more romantic than any book I've written today. There's more "heat" in it than in any book I've written to date. It feels close to a category romance, but not quite because of Pam's story.
Also, in every book I find an inherent challenge that I have to meet for it to feel like a success. In this book, my goal was to maintain the humor of my books with minimal or no cursing. The characters, as I heard them, didn't curse, so I didn't want to force the words in there when the characters weren't speaking them. So, we'll see how the audience likes it, but I think I accomplished the feat successfully.
BPM: Where do your book ideas come from?
Mostly from life and living. Thinking about challenges I've faced in my own life—romantic issues, finding my destiny—and then translating my experiences into stories that will not only entertain but may help someone else figure out the mysteries of their own lives. If I can make someone laugh, identify with my characters, and think, I'm a happy author.
BPM: Are your books plot-driven or character-driven? Why?
My stories are all character-driven no matter the genre. For my stories, the character is king. When readers care about or identify with the characters, they will follow them through the twists and turns of just about any plot because they want to figure out how the story ends and the character's fate. I write very tightly plotted books in other genres but what I believe makes readers love them even more is the fact they want to know what happens to these characters they care about.
BPM: How does your book relate to your present situation or journey?
In my writing journey, I too fell into the category of someone who knew who they were meant to be from a very early age but allowed my dreams to be drowned alive in self-doubt…at least until I hit the big 4-0. I'm hoping that anyone who reads this book and denies their true purpose, will be inspired to stop being afraid to pursue it.
BPM: What projects are you working on at the present?
It's now back to the spy thrillers for me. I'm writing the 4th book in the J.J. McCall series next and then two young adult novels, back to back for release in 2016.
BPM: How can readers discover more about you and your work?
They can always find me online and busy in the social networks.
Order 12 Honeymoons by K.L. Brady