An Interview with Kelly Conrad

Kelly Conrad Author PicKelly Conrad discovered her imagination early in life and has enjoyed love, romance, fantasies, and even scary stories ever since. She has taken a few side trips in her life for things like growing up, marrying, and raising kids until she ultimately found her way into writing M/M erotica and romance. She loves creating characters that take center stage and discovering the worlds that shine in her imagination like the stars in a dark and mysterious sky. When she discovered gay fiction, it was later in life, but it turned out to be a very important turning point in her life.

Q: Circus of Dreams is a fantastical, imaginative story set in the world of an old-fashioned circus. What inspired you to write this book?

A: I’ve had this in me for a long time, and I guess I just had to get it out. This is the story of an old ragtag circus full of mystery and romance. When the circus was abandoned by its owner, you would expect it to fade away, but it refused to die. The hero and the mistreated wild man in this story were about as odd a couple as you’d want to find anywhere, but with the help of the circus ghosts, and a cast of old circus performers dreaming of the way things used to be, it turned out to be a beautiful romance with a subtle touch of mystery.

Q: What do you feel you learned in the process of writing Circus of Dreams, and how do you feel this will affect the writing of your next story?

A: I’ve learned what a fictional daredevil I am, and I’m afraid I’m getting more so every day. Because I have many different worlds to choose from, my books are colorful, versatile, and have many unexpected twists and turns, so if you don’t like one genre, stick around, and maybe your favorite will come up next. The storylines may be vast and different, but one thing they’ll all have in common is, they’ll be gay erotic. I want nothing more out of my writing than to please my readers, and if I can do that, I’m happy. So, be sure to look for Kelly Conrad’s next installment. And prepare to be surprised!

Q: The plot of Circus of Dreams takes some nice twists and turns, and not everything turns out the way readers might expect. Why do think readers like shocks and surprises in fiction?

A: If my readers are anything like me, they’ll want to be anxious to turn the next page to see what happens. I want my eyes to be glued to every word. I want to laugh one moment, and gasp the next. I want the descriptions to be so vivid I can see in it in my mind. And when the last page is turned, I want to experience a certain sadness that makes me anxious for this author’s next book. While I was writing Circus of Dreams something amazing happened. I was reading through it one more time before I was to send it off to the publisher, and got so involved in the story I forgot everything else. When I realized I had to stop and continue the next day, I kept telling myself, just one more line, one more page, one more chapter! I didn’t want to stop! Is that great, or what? I knew what was going to happen, and yet my eyes were glued to the page. If I can feel that way about my own story when I know what’s coming next, I think I can safely say my readers will feel the same.

Q: You’ve written many books of various genres and subject matter. Is there any type of story you haven’t ever written that you have an interest in possibly exploring someday?

A: I’m ashamed to say that I’ve avoided werewolves and vampires, but it’s because I’ve been waiting for that special inspiration to come along, and I think it finally did. I already have an idea about a sexy kill ’em with kisses vampire. I don’t have a title yet, but I do have a storyline in mind. So watch for it.

Q: What’s the biggest thing that you’ve learned about/from writing that you didn’t know when you first started?

A: How vast my imagination is! Wow! Being locked into one genre is like being locked in a cage. I can’t do it! Today it might be a story in the present-day world, but tomorrow I might decide to write a fantasy, a gothic, a western, or even a mythological tale. No genre is safe with Kelly Conrad around. When I get hold of a storyline that will knock the socks off my readers, I go in for the kill! And what comes out is another Kelly Conrad original.

Q: Out of all the lines you’ve written (so far!), which is your favorite?

A: “There must be a reason they call the rich filthy.” This is a quote from Rox Forrester, the poor boy in my book Trailer Trash. I loved writing this book. It’s raw, sexy, and carries a subtle threat to the person who crosses the line between the rich and poor. But when the two lovers meet, each from a whole different way of life, there are fireworks, and appetites have to be satisfied. This is something I’ve had in me a long time as well. Ahhh, it feels good to get it out at last.

Q: What is the scariest thing that ever happened to you?

A: In my bathroom I have a mirror that extends over almost the whole wall above two sinks. One night, not long ago, the bathroom was dark, and I was in there rinsing off my hands when through the mirror, I saw a sort of white figure in back of me. I perceived it to be that of an older man, dressed in flowing robes, and he had a look of concern for me written all over his face. I didn’t feel any evil, or feel in any danger whatsoever. I don’t know why it happened since I’ve never been one to believe in ghosts and such, but it went as quickly as it came. Later I discovered that I came away from that experience with the title Gathering of Shadows lodged in my brain. I have no clue as to why this happened, or what it even means, but there’s a possibility that one day when I find a storyline to go with it, I will write a book with that title. It may be ten years from now, or it may be tomorrow—but it’s coming.

Q: What qualities do you think are important for the hero in a romance? Are there types of men you prefer to write about?

A: The best way to answer that is to refer you to my bio that says, “Some are good, others are bad. Some noble, others will scare the crap out of you. As a rule, I don’t give you the usual, I put men together who would never find each other in real life. But why not? I’m a fiction writer, and anything goes… They’re handsome hunks that talk like men, act like men, and make love like real men… Let me assure you that my men are not wimps. They’re restless and hot. Their eyes are bright, piercing, and unsettled, and as you read about them, you’ll feel that fire everyone’s talking about, that old black magic.” Personally, my favorite hero is tall, dark, and handsome. He’s big, rugged, tough, and has a romantic soul. He’ll also have blue eyes that seem to glow out of a swarthy complexion. I throw a blond in once in a while for those out there who might prefer them. Bottom line. My men are multi-layered. They’re good enough not to be the devil, and bad enough not to be a saint. They’re hot, sexy, and eager.

Q: Even in today’s world, men who are romantically involved with each other can face discrimination, violence, and bullying. What are some conflicts your heroes have faced, and how did they overcome these obstacles?

A: In King of the Avenue, the hero, Hud Spencer, is working for a company that discriminates against gay men, so Hud has to keep his proclivity a secret. But when his boss begins to insult his lover, who is not only gay, but a porn star, Hud comes to his rescue, admits what he is, chews his boss out royally, and quits. I was very proud of him when he did that. One not to be missed!

Q: If you could be any of your characters, who would it be and why?

A: I have two. I loved Sunset Carson in Rogue Preacher. He’s one of those fire and brimstone preachers that were popular back in the days of the rootin’ tootin’ cowboys. He’s not the usual mild-mannered reverend. He’s a double-fisted shooter who stands tall in the pulpit. Being both a saint and a sinner, he has a secret, and that is that he’s gay. Although he’s pulled between his love for God and the dark and dreadful sin of being gay, he finally gives in and takes on a lover. But the day comes when he has to tell everyone what he is, knowing it might mean the loss of his ministry. Being strong, he faces his congregation with the news, and God doesn’t abandon him, but backs him up with a miracle. Rogue Preacher is not an inspirational novel. It’s gritty, dirty, and digs down deep into a God-fearing man’s soul as he struggles to be good, but is haunted by the sins of the flesh. It is definitely worth the read. Great story!

I also loved the character of Shayde Damont in The Gay Blade. She’s an actress, and a drama queen, and lived it every day of her life. She was the type to smoke a cigarette in a holder, swish around her apartment like a real live diva, and at a moment’s notice she could become any character she wanted to be. There’s a scene in the book where she does several characters while talking to her son’s lover. Priceless!