Renae Kaye is a lover and hoarder of books who thinks libraries are devilish places because they make you give the books back.
She consumed her first adult romance book at the tender age of thirteen and hasn’t stopped since. After years – and thousands of stories! – of not having book characters do what she wants, she decided she would write her own novel and found the characters still didn’t do what she wanted. It hasn’t stopped her though. She believes that maybe one day the world will create a perfect couple – and it will be the most boring story ever. So until then she is stuck with quirky, snarky and imperfect characters who just want their story told.
Renae lives in Perth, Western Australia and writes in five minute snatches between the demands of two kids, a forbearing husband, too many pets, too much housework and her beloved veggie garden. She is a survivor of being the youngest in a large family and believes that laughter (and a good book) can cure anything.
Tell us a bit about yourself. How would describe yourself?
An interesting first question, and do you know – I had to stop and think about it.
If you were to ask me “Who are you?” I’d probably tell you “I’m a mummy and an author.” I consider my role as a parent to be the primary role. I allow myself to be an author only when all the other requirements of being a mother have been fulfilled. Of course, the mother role for me also comes with the housekeeping role, so most days I fit my writing in around the laundry, cooking, cleaning and so on.
If you were asking me about my personality, I’d tell you I’m talkative, bubbly, zany and outspoken. That’s the side that most people see. When you force me out into public, I can be a little crazy, and I’m never what you could call shy. But that’s only the public face. I’m more than content to spend hours and days alone with my thoughts and my books. I need calm and familiarity around me. I’ve very tied to my home where things are my comfort.
How do you start your day?
Crawling out of bed in protest. I do most of my writing and working at night, so I sacrifice sleep in order to fit it all in. I get up at seven in order to prepare breakfasts for the kids and make their lunches for school.
I fit in some breakfast for me and the necessary coffee while I check my email and skim the news.
My “working” day usually starts around 9am which is when I return from the school drop-off. Once home it depends if the housework or the characters are calling me more desperately as to what I do.
Are you a morning or a night person?
Neither. Both. I’m fine with whatever you need me to be. My energy levels peak in the morning. I’m most productive between 10am and noon. But I can also be relied on to be working furiously at 10pm.
I actually believe I’m a very adaptable person, which is great because I can fit in with everyone else’s needs, but can also be terrible because I’m always shuffling things around and putting myself last. I drink coffee in the mornings to get the energy boost, but I think it’s psychological more than physical stimulation. I accidentally drank decaf coffee for a week before discovering my error. I didn’t see a difference.
If you could do anything else in the world besides writing, what would that be?
You mean apart from living in a castle with a hundred servants to obey my every command?
I adore writing because it fits in around the kids and family, and also allows me to be home in my safe spot. If income wasn’t an issue, I think I would spend more time in the garden and more time being crafty. If I had the money I’d buy a large property where I would have fruit trees, vegetable gardens, chooks (chickens) and sheep. I’d have a pool to swim in during the summer, and a big roaring fire during the winter. I’d have a large (ie humongous) craft room that would hold all my sewing stuff, my paper craft, my books and my writing desk. And I’d be halfway through about seven different projects at the same time.
Where would you like to live? Is there a special place you would love to get the chance to move to at some point?
I love Perth. It’s home. We have a wonderful climate for 10 months of the year. I don’t think I would ever consider moving from Perth unless it was temporary.
Of course, then you’re stuck with where in Perth would be ideal to live? We have the best beaches in the world, and the view and lifestyle of living on the beach is hard to resist. But gardening is hard in the salt-laden air.
So you could live on the river instead – the beautiful views of the Swan River but without the salt and sand. But you still have problems gardening due to the soil.
So you could live in the hills – the bush is beautiful, and I’d love to go bushwalking daily, see the native plants and watch the native animals. It’s quiet and isolated – but you still have problems, especially with the fire risks.
Perhaps I’d go rural and live on 100 acres, but if you’ve ever been to Perth you know that the flies can be chronic.
So, I think I’ll wait until I win lotto before I decide….
Have you ever thought of quitting and trying your hand at something else? What made you keep writing?
Only on a daily basis.
Writing is hard. Don’t get me wrong – it’s not the creation of stories that is the hard bit, it’s the bits that come with being an author. Some days the words flow and it’s wonderful – but reality is you can’t always put aside everything else to be a writer. Then there are the days you have to force yourself to write because writing means income, and income means you can afford to buy more than just the budget cuts of meat. Then there’s the editing process which can be brutal if you’re not used to accepting negative opinions on your work. Editing is hard work because it’s also long winded. Every single word in the story needs to be considered – is it the right word? Is it progressing the story? Is it weighing down the story? Would your character use that phrasing? Will the reader be confused?
Then, once you’ve done the hard yards, there are the reviews to come in. I think it’s the reviews that make me wish to quit the most. The brutally and unnecessarily harsh reviews. The ones that make you want to curl up in the corner and die. They’re the ones that often have me saying, “You know what? I don’t need this. I’m quitting.” There are the reviewers that I say, “I don’t understand you. You’ve hated everything I’ve written. Why do you continue to read me if you don’t like me?” and the ones that I say, “Wow. You just called me every name under the sun because a character in a fiction book didn’t say the politically correct thing?” They’re the reviews that are hard to take.
So yes, in these days of social media where everyone has an opinion and doesn’t hesitate in giving it, it can be hard to deal with the negativity thrown your way.
But there’s also the beautiful and wonderful readers who tell you your stories meant something to them. I love hearing that Jay brightened someone’s day, or Shawn made someone laugh, or that Casey made someone vow that they too can carry on. The readers that beg me for more, the readers who are generous with their praise, and the readers who are there to offer support to a poor, struggling writing – they’re the ones that make me continue on.
But the main thing that makes me not quit is that I love writing. Even if I didn’t publish, I’d still be writing. Even if I didn’t write, I’d still be creating the stories in my head. Those who choose to be negative can’t take that away from me.
If you could start all over, would you still be a writer? What would you do different?
I always wanted to be a writer. Stories have been with me since I can remember. I have examples of me creating stories before I could even spell the word. It was born with me.
But just because something was born in you, if it’s not nurtured, it cannot flourish. I never received encouragement from family or teachers to follow my heart’s desire. I understand why – because it’s hard to make a career and liveable income from writing. I also excelled in maths and science, so it was logical to encourage that aspect of my life. I never tried writing until 2013. That was when I gave in to the desire and poured out that story onto the page. That was when I gave up on pleasing my parents and decided to please myself for once.
That’s when the “real” Renae was born.
If I could start over, I think I would breathe life into that smouldering desire a lot earlier than I did. I would feed the flames. I would believe in me. I don’t consider any of my life a waste because everything goes to experience. Those years of working in a hostile office environment made me grow in character. Those years of working for a not-for-profit organisation brought me into contact with a lot of people who I never would’ve met otherwise. Those years of working for a global company taught me about appreciating the skills I have and stop trying to fit the mould of what people “think” a good woman is like.
I’m happy with my life’s journey.
What is your writing process?
Renae’s writing process: Open up Word document. Start typing.
Writing is different for everyone. Some people plan. Some people fly by the seat of their pants. Some people have degrees and courses behind them. Others rely heavily on editors to put a sentence together for them.
I’m a pantser and a linear writer. It means I write the story from beginning to end – I don’t write the third chapter, then go back. I also don’t plan where my characters are going, apart from them ending up together. I let them dictate to me. Which is when you can often find me arguing with them.
I tend to favour writing in first-person, which means I’m in the head of (usually) a single character and I only hear and see what they see. It doesn’t mean that I don’t have to know the motives and personality of the other characters in the story, it just means that my main character’s reaction to the actions of the others drives the story forward.
In my new release coming at the end of November, I have a character who is experiencing his first instance of same-sex intimacy. The story is from dual points of view – Aaron, who always believed he was straight and never had to deal with this stuff before, and Vinnie, who’s always known he was gay and is a little confused about how can someone not know? Each section of the story told in alternating POVs, drove me to the next part. So Aaron’s first experience touching another man intimately was played out in his head and pushed the story a certain direction, which then caused Vinnie in the next section of the story to act in a particular way. This is the pantser part of me writing.
I limp along on my word-count on a daily basis. I also frequently get stuck in stories and need to think about what a character would do, which means I jump around and frequently write on multiple stories in the same day.
Once the story is finished, I put it aside for a couple of weeks before coming back and reading it with fresh eyes. I read it as if I was picking up the story for the first time and look for plot holes or things I never considered on the first draft. I add bits to make the story clearer, edit along the way, and smooth all the wrinkles until I’m satisfied. Then I may send it to a couple of beta readers to check, especially if it’s a sensitive subject.
Then I call it done. Draft completed.
What do you find most challenging about writing and publishing?
Most challenging about writing is pushing through to the end. There comes a time in every novel where I believe it’s all crap and nothing can save it. Having the faith and tenacity to push through, keep writing that story, go-gurl-go, is very hard. Which is where a lot of writers give up.
The publishing challenge is to deal with the crap that flies around – bad reviews, popularity contests, social media sinkholes. It is very easy for a published writer to fall into the bottomless well of comparing themselves to other writers and feeling crap about themselves. You can compare number of reviews and Amazon rankings, how many friends they have and how many social media platforms, and how often they picked up an award in that contest. There are the negative reviews (which I touched on earlier) that have a lot of impact on your self-esteem, and then there are the arguments on social media. I’ve seen authors spotlighted for tiny missteps or for something taken out of context.
How to deal with it is a very personal thing. I know a lot of authors say “I stay off social media because of that” which can be a good way to deal, but you also make a lot of friends, connections, and promotions from social media. For some authors, it’s not an option. There are times I don’t deal well, and other times I do. I’m still figuring it out as I go along.
What came first: the chicken or the egg? OR in this case: the title or the story?
My new story is The Straight Boyfriend (the third book in the Loving You series). The story came to me first. From the time when Loving Jay was released (the first book in the Loving You series), people asked me whether Liam’s best friend, Aaron was going to get his own book. I’d always say to myself – duh, Aaron’s straight. I knew there was no way he would be getting his own story.
Then I started writing Don’t Twunk With My Heart (the second book in the Loving You series) and in that case the title definitely came first – LOL. It came to me late one night and I knew I had to write a book about a twunk. But during the writing of this book, I noticed a strange relationship develop between Vinnie and Aaron. The idea sparked and I pushed the storyline.
The story’s title came from a scene that I saw played out in my head before I’d finished writing Don’t Twunk. I didn’t have the exact form the scene would take, but I ended up writing it into The Straight Boyfriend about two-thirds of the way in, when Vinnie is talking with his friend, Shane.
“So when are you going to tell him?”
“Tell him what?” I said in confusion.
“That he’s your straight boyfriend?” Shane said matter-of-factly.
“What? No, he’s not.”
Shane stared at me. “You guys live together, shop together, keep house together. You sleep together every night, and he reciprocates on the oral. Neither of you have a significant other, and neither of you are searching. As far as I’m aware, you’ve been faithful to each other for three months. What part of that says he’s not your boyfriend?”
I had a boyfriend. And he was straight. It was worse than a boyfriend in the closet. Aaron was going to be horrified.
What are you working on now?
I’ve started work on the fourth installment in the series. This one is Shane’s story. I’m not sure if it will get finished.
What are your plans for the future?
I wanted to write five books for the Loving You series, but it will depend on how this newest release is received. I wanted to finish off the Safe series I started. There’s one more story to go in that one – Ash and Devon’s story. But I’m unsure. Do you know that daily quitting that I spoke about earlier?
Long term I wish to be able to draw a decent income from writing for at least the next ten years. Therefore I’m looking at diversifying and have made plans to enter two other genres with my writing. The market of ebooks is moving rapidly and I don’t know if I have the strength to keep up or knowledge to keep up.
Loving You: Book Three
Aaron Hall has never been able to remain faithful to a single woman, and for most of his life, he’s dated two women at once. Recently his girlfriend tracked him down and knocked on his door—and his live-in girlfriend answered. Now he has no girlfriend and a mortgage he can’t pay by himself.
Vinnie Rosello needs to change his life—get a better job, stop drinking all his money away, find himself a serious boyfriend… and move out of his parents’ house. Aaron needs help with his expenses, so they become housemates.
Even though Aaron harbors some misconceptions about gay men and Vinnie misses his large Italian family, both men find comfort in their friendship. It’s a good arrangement until everything between them changes
Vinnie falls in love with Aaron, and Aaron is shocked to realize he feels the same. There’s only one problem—he’s still straight. He’ll have to overcome his fear of labels in order to love the man who’s captured his heart.
Currently only available for pre-order on Dreamspinner:
The Straight Boyfriend By Renae Kaye
He stormed over to me and used his height to try to intimidate me. I could tell from his expression it wasn’t anger, but outrage. “Your little stunt got me pulled over by the cops.”
I chuckled before I could think better of it. “What did they get you for?”
I saw his jaw clench. “Using my phone while driving. If you hadn’t teased me about touching my lawn, then I wouldn’t have gotten caught.”
I stood up and held out my hands. “Now, you can’t put that on me. You didn’t have to look at your phone while you were driving.”
“You said you were messing with my lawn. Of course I had to look. It was an emergency.”
“I don’t think—”
My sentence was cut off as he grabbed my wrist, yanked me forward, and boosted me over his shoulder. I screamed like I always did. I had no idea why he insisted on doing it, and I had no idea why I always fell for it. He made for the lounge room. My head was swimming, but I remembered to call out, “Oh, take me now. I’m ready.”
Then I flew through the air and landed with a thump on the beanbag. They may look soft, but when you’re being dropped from a height like Aaron’s shoulders, you hit with a thud. My legs sprawled, and my head swam. By the time I could move again, Aaron was already striding from the room.
“Don’t even think about touching my lawn,” he called over his shoulder as he disappeared into the bedroom. “Next time I may accidentally on purpose miss the beanbag.”
I wouldn’t let him have the last say. I grabbed my phone and marched outside. I defiantly sat down on his grass and sent him another message.
I’m touching your lawn.
The door slammed, and he raced outside. I was reclining on my side, stroking the spiky ends of the grass. “Hi, Aaron. I’m touching your lawn.”
With a tribal yell, he charged at me. I yelped my fright and scrambled to get away, but he was on me within seconds. He flattened me to the ground. I put up a good fight, but it still only took him less than a minute to have my arms pinned above my head and me completely at his mercy.
He had obviously gone to have a shower before I interrupted him, because he was shirtless and only wearing the jeans he’d gone out in the night before. I found it arousing, but knew I couldn’t tell him that.
“I’m sorry. I’m sorry,” I gabbled through my laughter. “You’re too easy to tease.”
“Now I have to think up a suitable punishment,” he threatened me. “Do you have any ideas?”
“I guess feeding me chocolate until I get fat is out?” I suggested.
His lips twitched. “Not severe enough.”
I thought hard. “Make me watch Seinfeld reruns for twenty-four hours without a break?”
“Take my hair straightener off me for a week?”
His eyes flicked up to my hair. “You use a hair straightener on that?” he asked in disbelief.
“Oh, you are so heterosexual,” I teased him.
“Don’t change the subject. You need punishment.”
“Take me to bed and ravish me?”
There was silence. Damn. That joke probably should’ve stayed inside my head.
To my surprise Aaron gave me a considering look. “What exactly is ravishing? I’ve been meaning to ask you.”
I stopped and thought about it. “You know what? I don’t know. Isn’t it something pirates do in romance books?”
Aaron let go of my hands and sat up, still straddling my waist, but not holding me down. “You want me to dress up like a pirate?”
I tried to picture it. It wasn’t working. A Scotsman in a kilt maybe, but not a pirate. I gave a wince. “Not really.”
“Huh. I guess Google is needed.”
He pulled out his phone and began to tap at the screen. Most of his weight was resting on my hips. I didn’t mind. I actually quite enjoyed the view. His chest was naked, and I could look my fill. He was taking some time with his Googling. I wasn’t about to hurry him.
“Huh,” he said again. “Ravishment is the act of forcing or coercing someone into having sex.”
“Oh.” I was a little distracted by his nipples.
“So by asking me to ravish you, you want me to force you to have sex. Isn’t that one of those oxymoron things? How can you ask someone to force you?”
I nodded. “Apart from the fact you wouldn’t need to force me to do anything. Coercion is not required if you want me.”
Aaron stared down at me. His face was completely serious, and it was as though he were trying to telegraph a message to me. He swallowed. “But I’m straight, Vinnie. How can I want you?”
I was almost whispering. “I don’t care that you’re straight, Aaron. I’ll take any part you wish to give me.”