Author Spotlight Interview: Kristen Echo
In our continuing series of author interviews, we’re chatting to Canadian romance novelist Kristen Echo – the talent behind the hockey-themed Puck Battle Series, and the steamy Single Dad series. With more fast-paced, emotionally intense romance on the way, it’s great to be able to catch up with Kristen and find out what motivates her to write, publish and entertain with her richly-imaginative stories.
HG: First off, who is Kristen Echo? I know a bit from your author bio, but how would you describe yourself to readers who are only discovering you for the first time?
KE: What you see is what you get with me as a person, and it’s the same with my books. I’m a voracious contemporary romance reader and avid sports fan. I love reading steamy scenes with passion so hot it sizzles off the pages, and I strive to write love stories that often make me blush. Life is full of challenges, and I enjoy putting my characters through turmoil before they find their happily ever after. Being an author is a dream come true.
HG: When did you start writing?
KE: I fell in love with writing in Grade Two. My teacher was passionate about writing and I’ve loved it ever since. I was one of those kids that wrote poetry and short stories for fun. When Amazon’s Self Publishing opened up, I took the opportunity to get published. I’ve been lucky so far. I did a load of research before I took the leap, and I’m glad people enjoy my books. It’s been an adventure so far!
HG: How did you settle on hockey-themed romance?
KE: I could say it’s because I’m Canadian but there’s more to it. I chose to write my first series as a hockey romance as a way of saying thank you to my dad for always being in my corner and supporting my dreams. He loves hockey and took me to my first game. He’s also read everything I’ve written and encouraged me to keep trying when publishers turned down my submissions. When I decided to try publishing my own, he helped me with the business side so I could focus on the writing.
HG: That’s AWESOME! I love that. So, who’s your team?
KE: I’m from Winnipeg so… Jets all the way!
KE: After I had my second daughter, I decided it was time to accomplish something from my life list. I’d always wanted to be a published author, but I knew nothing about the industry other than what types of books I liked to read. I wrote Deceptive People because at the time I wanted something action-packed with plenty of heat. I was thrilled when I hit the button, sent it out into the world, and dipped my toes in the self-publishing waters. But I had a lot more to learn. It took me over a year to write another book.
HG: You’ve taken a path through different genres during that time – where are you now in your writing journey?
KE: All my books are contemporary romances and I’ll continue to write this genre. My writing journey is evolving as I get better at my craft and learn more about the business of self-publishing. I have lots of book ideas, and several projects in the works. I love writing and don’t think I’ll ever stop!
HG: What’s the actual process for you? Are you a plotter? Do you plan your books out beforehand? Or just jump right into it?
KE: I’m a plotter. When an idea for a book strikes, I love writing the outline and beats. I must have close to a hundred outlines waiting to turn into full stories. If only there was more time in a day…
HG: Where do your characters come from? And they appear in different books in the series, don’t they? Like a literary universe?
KE: My brain works in mysterious ways and my characters often surprise me. I plot the story and series arc but let my characters flow naturally. If I was more organized, I’d make a series bible or something to keep track of all the players but it’s mostly in my head. My series are interconnected and character cameos are a given. Each book I’ve written can be read as a standalone.
HG: What are you working on now?
KE: Too many things, lol! I’m currently writing a book with help from my newsletter subscribers which has been a blast so far. I’m hoping to get that out by then end of summer. I’m writing the next Single Dad book, and I’ve got something in the works that my readers requested.
HG: What is your writing process is like? Do you have a set time to write? Do you write in Starbucks? In your office? When and how does it happen? Do you use a laptop?
KE: I’ve tried writing at coffee shops or at the parks near my house, but I am more productive at home plopped on my couch with the radio playing music while I type on my laptop. I do most of my writing after my kids go to bed. I’m not a fast writer, so I dedicate a lot of hours to writing and editing. I rarely watch TV and don’t sleep much.
HG: How long does it take you to write a book, normally?
KE: I don’t have a ‘normal’ time frame yet. The lengths of my books vary. Despite being a romance writer, I’m not hung up on length, lol! It’s all about writing a complete story. Sometimes 17-20k is enough. I love short reads. To be honest, I have a tough time concentrating on one book for months on end. Too many other new and exciting story ideas distract me. Forbidden Single Dad is my longest book at just over 70K. I think that took me maybe two months from start to finish. I write every day.
HG: Do you ever get writer’s block? How do you deal with that?
KE: Never. I have more ideas than I can keep up with. My problem is sticking with one and seeing it through to completion. The fact that I actually finished an 8-book series still blows me away. I do get discouraged by the business side and let negativity influence me more than I should, though.
HG: Oh, the business side is TOUGH. I work from home and have three kids, so I’m always struggling to find time to write AND time to do the business side.
KE: Being indie means we do it all… and our platform keeps changing the rules. I do everything, no assistant or co-author so keeping up with Amazon is grueling. But I still love it!
HG: I hear that. When they changed things in February it really nobbled a lot of authors for a couple of months.
KE: It’s volatile and unpredictable, but every time I feel like throwing in the towel I reread a positive review or email from a fan and I’m back in the game. The fact that a stranger read something I wrote and liked it still blows me away.
HG: How much time do you spend on marketing?
KE: I am not a salesman! Marketing is a weak point in my business and no matter how many courses I take it’s not natural for me. What works for one author fails for another. I’ve spent thousands and it’s a steep and unforgiving learning curve. End rant!
HG: Who are your favorite authors and books?
KE: I don’t pick favorites, it depends on my mood. If I like an author, I’ll binge read everything they’ve written. Ilsa Madden Mills, Sylvia Day, Ella Fox, Celia Aaron, Georgia Cates, Anne Rice… there are seriously too many to name. I’ve been reading more short reads lately because it’s all I have time for.
HG: What’s the best writing advice you’ve ever received?
KE: Best advice: Don’t over think it and if you’re stuck on a scene start with dialogue.
HG: Okay, final question for the interview – where can interested readers find out more?