Erika Kelly is best known for her sexy Rock Star Romance series, but in October she launches a brand new series about hot and bothered brothers. Back in April Fresh Fiction critic Miranda Owen chatted with Kelly about her Rock Star Romance series, her favorite rock bands, and whether she plans to come back to band books in the future.
Miranda Owen: What inspired you to write about a rock band?
Erika Kelly: It’s funny because I’m originally from Los Angeles, which means I spent the first half of my life in the entertainment industry. And yet I’ve never written a book set in that world. I didn’t set out to write a rocker book. I was more interested in writing about a bad boy. I liked the idea of supremely hot, talented, charismatic man who was perfectly unattainable. Women could offer their bodies, men could offer their companionship, but no one would breach the wall he’d erected around his heart.
And the idea that one woman–the one and only woman–could inspire such lust and need and yearning and desire that he’d bust through all this barriers to win her. That was my starting point. The setting came after, when I tried to figure& out what world he’d be in. I wanted to put my essentially lonely man in a world teeming with people, which would only make him feel his isolation more keenly. And then, when he met Emmie, the reader would feel that utter relief that he wasn’t alone anymore.
Miranda Owen: Your characters seem so real and you can’t help but feel invested in their lives as you read their stories. How important is character creation in your creative process? Do you frame the story around the characters or make the characters fit the story you’re trying to tell?
Erika Kelly: It doesn’t seem to matter how I start. I could fill whole notebooks with character worksheets, and it won’t impact the actual characters that come to life on the page. Before I write, I have a very clear idea of my character’s goals, motivations, wounds, and arcs. I have a road map of the plot. But it’s only through revision that they actually emerge–and then they take on a life of their own. So, in other words, I wait for them to come, and then I let them take over the show.
Miranda Owen: Since you write about a rock band, I have to ask – who are some of your favorite bands?
Erika Kelly: So many! Right now I’m obsessed with Bear’s Den, DMAs, and Walking on Cars. But all-time favorites include Stevie Ray Vaughan, Tupac, Guns N’Roses, the Cure, U2, Bruce Springsteen, Van Halen…oh, um, you just meant a few, right?!
Miranda Owen: By TAKE ME HOME TONIGHT, the core members of Blue Fire are such a tight-knit family unit. Was it important to you to create that feeling of family in this series with these characters?&
Erika Kelly: I’m not sure I started out with that intention. I think in the course of the story, when conflicts hit hard and fast, my characters tend to band together to withstand the disturbances of life. Because, I guess, that’s what I would like for all of us. I think that artists have fires in their souls–issues or wounds they’re subconsciously working through with their art–and I tend to think that pain leads to isolation. As Lord of the Story, it’s hard not to want to heal that intense loneliness or sense of alienation, and I think by creating that brotherhood and later a family that grows to include wives and children, I’ve soothed their wounded souls.
Miranda Owen: As much as I love your sensitive and sexy rockers, Slater and Derek, I think Mimi is my favorite female character that you’ve written about. To me, she is such a kick-ass heroine. Did you deliberately set out to make her such a strong character, or is that just the way she came across?
Erika Kelly: Seriously, my characters spring to life on the page. Remember Irwin from YOU REALLY GOT ME? Initially, he was just a stick figure of a boss. And then one day, many revisions into that book, this voice came–kind of like Hugh Grant. It was so vivid, and I was smiling while my fingers tapped furiously over the keyboard. If you recall, Mimi shows up in I WANT YOU TO WANT ME. Believe me, she wasn’t a planned character at all. The band was in the kitchen, and the front door slammed, and this cussing, stiletto-clacking chick blasts into the farmhouse talking on her cellphone. But when she takes care of Violet so fiercely? That’s when I knew she had to star in my next book.
Miranda Owen: Calix’s family in TAKE ME HOME TONIGHT is an interesting mix of personalities. Do you plan on writing about his sister or brother in a future story – either as part of the Rock Star Romance series, as a standalone or part of a spin-off series? Erika Kelly: I hadn’t planned on it, no. But I do love that family. By the end of TAKE ME HOME TONIGHT, I’ve left the impression that Ben winds up with Lee, so that would be a fun book to write.
Miranda Owen: Will TAKE ME HOME TONIGHT be the last book in your Rock Star Romance series? If so, what do you plan on writing about next?
Erika Kelly: I’m not sure about that. I’m hard at work on another series right now, but I’ve got a draft written of Cooper’s story. And I love his woman pretty hard–I mean, he gets his reward in the form of this sexy, dynamic woman–so it would be nice to finish that book so you can meet her, too!
About Erika Kelly
Award-winning author Erika Kelly has been spinning romantic tales all her life—she just didn’t know it. Raised on the classics, she didn’t discover romantic fiction until later in life. From that moment on, she’s been devouring the genre and has found her true voice as an author. Over three decades she’s written poems, screenplays, plays, short stories, and all kinds of women’s fiction novels. Married to the love of her life and raising four children, she’s lived in two countries and seven states, but give her pen and paper, a stack of good books, and a steaming mug of vanilla chai latte and she can make her home anywhere.