Monday, July 25, 2011

Interview with Author, Kaki Warner

I first met Kaki Warner at the Crested Butte Writers’ Conference, in June, where she was a guest speaker. She writes gripping western stories with romances that capture the reader’s heart and lingers there; and she does this with finesse and humor (and oh dang, is she funny!).
As evidence of Kaki’s phenomenal story-telling ability, the first novel in her Blood Rose Trilogy, “Pieces of Sky,” won the 2011 RITA Award for First Book.
Huge Congratulations, Kaki.
She likes to say she’s a “nearly almost semi-famous author,” but the rest of us think of her as totally a soon-to-be famous author and I can’t wait for y’all to get to know her. You can go to her website, , to learn even more about her, and I’ll post her bio at the end of the interview.
So, let the grilling…er…questions begin….
Welcome to Cowboys and Dragons at the Café, Miss Kaki. I’m so happy you’ve taken time out of your writing and chicken and owl watching schedule to interview with me. Thank you. (She’s a bit of a bird twitcher, but just specific birds... a subject for another day)

Thanks, Marne, for inviting me to the Café today.  And thanks, too, for all the kind words.  You’re very astute—I especially like “phenomenal.”  So few people realize that about me.  By the way, Chicka-Boom-Boom and Owly send their love—tattered though it is.

They say a good author writes what they know. Is that the case with your writing, Kaki? Will you tell us a little bit about why Western settings and why these three brothers in your Blood Rose Trilogy?

I love the west—the landscape, the mindset of the people, the raw openness of it when you get away from the cities.  There’s a lot of stuff out there that can kill you—other than people and climate, of course—which adds drama to the story and allows the setting to become a character on its own.  The people who survived those hard years after the Civil War had to endure alot to prevail, and I admire that.  As for the brothers…that sort of evolved.  I started with a guy with a troubled past who had inherited a bit of a mess—a blood feud with the previous owner of his ranch, two brothers to watch out for, thousands of cattle running wild over tens of thousands of acres in the desert mountains in New Mexico.  But that was the task he’d been given, so he did it, and not always in a gentle, civilized way.   But by the time I’d finished that book, his brothers were all like “so where’s my story and I want a woman, too”—whine,  whine,  whine—so I thought, heck, I already had the setting and knew the characters, so why not?  Also, thinking it might help sell that first book, I lied on my queries and said it was book 1 of a trilogy.  Berkley fell for it, and suddenly I had to write two more books in the next nine months.  Gads.

People often ask an author what their favorite book to write was. I’m not asking that… Twist it, just a bit. Which book is your favorite one to return to? The one that you find yourself remembering and quoting, daydreaming about?

Well, here’s the thing.  Once a book is accepted, the editor will probably want revisions—which will necessitate a re-read.  If those are accepted, the book goes on to copy editing.  They fix all your dumb mistakes and send it back for your approval, last changes, etc., and another re-read.   Then the advance copies come out (ARCs) and you get to look that over for any problems before the final printing.  Re-read number three.  And then, if they decide to re-release the book in mass market (if it was previously released in Trade or Hardback) you get to read it over one last time.  That’s four readings on a project you’ve already gone over maybe a ga-zillion times before it’s finally finished.  Don’t get me wrong.  I like my books.  I’m proud of them.  But remembering and quoting and daydreaming about them?  Not so much.  The characters, though, they’re in my head forever.  Bless their hearts.

Talk to us about how you first became published, about your journey there.

It was long and twisty and full of potholes.   Sort of like that run between Gunnison and Montrose earlier this summer.  Twenty-five years ago I read a crummy book and thought I could do better. I eventually did, but it took me a long time because I’m easily distracted.  Life kept getting in the way and I’d put the project aside for years at a time.  About five years ago we retired and I looked at my husband and thought, holy crap—I gotta get a hobby quick.  That was when I got serious about writing.  I dug the ms out of storage, entered contests, made changes, polished and buffed.  Then I stopped weenie-whining about it and finally sent it out.   You know the rest.  But the point is, no matter how long the journey is, you have to get to the finish line if you want to be published.  So don’t ever give up.

Again Kaki, congratulations on your newest release, “Heartbreak Creek.”  It isn’t a part of your Blood Rose Trilogy. Tell us about it. Is it a different animal altogether from the Blood Rose (other than, you know, the Blood Rose Trilogy being stories about three brothers and all.) It is the first in its own series. Can you dish any goods on future stories, so we know what to look forward to?

HEARTBREAK CREEK is Book 1 of the Runaway Brides trilogy.  It’s lighter in tone and heavier on humor than the Blood Rose books.  Probably because it centers around four women who are clueless about life in the west:   A southern belle mail order bride and her half-black half-sister, both of whom are desperate to escape the Reconstruction south—an English photographer who has given up on her absentee military husband—and a Yankee with a checkered past, a valise full of purloined railroad shares, and a really pissed off groom back in New York.  Add to that a burdened rancher/sheriff and his four rambunctious children, a Cheyenne Dog Soldier, a wounded Scottish cavalry officer, and the best friend of the really pissed off groom in New York.  Then top if off with assorted bad guys, set it in a dying mining town in the Rocky Mountains, add some romance, railroad issues, yadda-yadda, and you’ve got a real dog and pony show—especially since there’s also a deaf horse, an Irish wolfhound, and a yapper whose mother was a sound sleeper with questionable morals.  And of course there’s still the obligatory cussing and killing and creepy moments, but overall, it’s a fun group.  But then, I’m prejudiced.

Writing a series is more detail-sensitive (I think) than writing a stand-alone novel, because you have to keep track of your hero and heroine as well as the threads from the other stories. Writing historically accurate novels is even more of a challenge. How do you keep it all straight? Do you have any tools/strategies you use in your writing to share with other writers?

Google.  A writer’s best friend.  Especially the timelines.  And doing a series is not that hard if you know your characters well.  Think of it as a family.  The action and the setting are basically the same.  It’s the individual motivations and reactions to the plot that will be different.  The Blood Rose books were easier because even though each brother had a different story, the family history, the setting and main characters were basically the same throughout.  The Brides books have been harder, since there is no common backstory or shared history.  I had to start from scratch with each lady—then bring her to Heartbreak Creek, where their lives weave in and out of each others’ stories.  There was a lot more research for this second trilogy, too, because their interests were so varied.  Not to mention having to juggle so many speech patterns—English, Scottish, Irish, Cheyenne, Southern.  What was I thinking?

The one sad, sad thing about your stories, in my opinion, is they are set in a time when the poor fools just didn’t know they were missing out on great coffee experiences… Sad day. Since we are in a café, I have to ask you, what would you like to drink ma’am? Are you a coffee, black? Tea with cream? Café Macchiato with a double shot kind of gal?

Mocha latte.   And lots of it.  Maybe a pastry.  Or a scone with jelly.  Quiche.  Whatever.

Thanks so much for coming and hangin’ with us at the café, Kaki… and for not killing any horses.

It was great fun.  I thoroughly enjoyed you Montrose ladies at the CB Conference this summer, and hope to see you again next summer.  And I love your website.  Cowboys AND Dragons…what’s not to love?  Thanks for inviting me to visit.   

In honor of Kaki’s new release, “Heartbreak Creek,” we are giving away one copy of Kaki’s book to one lucky winner. Here are our rules: You must leave a question for Kaki or a comment (preferably about how great she is). You must leave an e-mail addie where we can contact you to let you know you won. Oh, and if you let your friends know, via Twitter or Facebook or another medium and send us a link, it'll earn you another entry into the drawing for her book. Total win/win for you, yes?
 Hmmm, what else… you must …? That’s it. That’s the Marne Ann Rules…

And here is Kaki Warner’s much anticipated bio and pic (although you can stalk her so much better if you go to her website:
Kaki Warner is an award-winning
author and long time resident of the
Pacific Northwest.  Although she now
lives on the eastern slopes of the
Cascade Mountains in Washington
State, Kaki actually grew up in the
Southwest and is a proud graduate
of the University of Texas.  Her years
spent riding horses and enjoying the
expansive views of Texas became the
inspiration for the backdrop of her novels - the wide-open
spaces of historic New Mexico Territory.
Several years ago after their two children had left for college,
Kaki and her husband, Joe, moved from the city to their hilltop
cabin overlooking the scenic Methow Valley.  Kaki now spends
her time gardening, hiking, reading, writing, and soaking in the
view from the deck with her husband and floppy-eared hound


  1. Okay, so I cannot figure out how to make her picture show up... To see Kaki's very gorgeous pic, go to her website,
    Thanks again, Kaki, for coming and visiting us at the cafe.

  2. I just finished Heartbreak Creek and It's great . . . but then consider the source. My husband and I have the whole Dr Quinn Series and love watching it.
    I love the names, Kaki. How did you choose them? I've never heard of Declan. And Edwina reminds me of the victorian time in history.

  3. Hi! I love the Rose Blood triolgy, I started reading the last book for I won it and never had heard of Kaki and boy,couldn't put it down. I had to run to the nearest bookstore to get the other 2 for my library didn't have any of her books, then after I read them I donated them to my library for its a small town and money is always getting cut- and thought let someone enjoy her books, like I do! I'd love to win this for I really want to get a hold of this series-Heartbreak Creek.another good book under your belt for sure.”
    (posted for Carole)

  4. Glad to be here, Marne. Thanks for having me.

    Thanks, T. Names? I have a baby book I thumb through. Declan is Irish and I heard it on a TV show once and thought it was neat. And I thought Edwina would be a perfect name for a Southern belle who was a bit too full of herself.

    Carole, I'm glad you donate my books to the library so others can read them. Maybe you'll win a copy of Heartbreak Creek and can donate that. Good luck!

  5. What a nice blog, what a nice interview, Marne Anne, and what a nice person to interview! I can't wait to get my hands on Heartbeat Creek. Kaki Warner tells a great story. And I can't add anything more but that she's so much fun to hang out with and makes a great co-pilot!

  6. Great interview Kaki!
    Particularly the line about:
    *** "and you’ve got a real dog and pony show—especially since there’s also a deaf horse, an Irish wolfhound, and a yapper whose mother was a sound sleeper with questionable morals." ***
    Hysterical stuff :D
    I have read your new book 'Heartbreak Creek' and I loved it!!! You're definitely one of my favorite authors, I enjoy your writing immensely! Looking forward to the sequels!
    Cynthia G.

  7. “nearly almost semi-famous author”? Really?

    Try Googling "Kaki Warner" and see how many pages come up. I guess you're going to have to take off the "nearly" LOL.

    I bought Heartbreak Creek on my Kindle the day it came out and read it on vacation. Had to. I had just finished Kaki's first series and I wanted more. HC didn't disappoint. What an awesome read. Kept me up all night. Good thing my sis, who I was vacationing with, isn't an up-tight kinda person.

    You go girl. You deserve every bit of recognition you're getting. I'm so glad we met.


  8. Aw...Vicki, ya'll are great. And it was such fun meeting you ladies in Crested Butte. How is your WIP coming?

    Donnell, if you want a co-pilot, best stick with God--not that a midnight run to Montrose wasn't great fun.

    Cynthia--thanks for reading my book. I had a lot of fun writing it. I hope you'll like Maddie's story, too. (If you enjoy a bit of a brogue and a kilt with your heroes, I think you will).

  9. Someone brought up the subject of interesting names & I'd just like to say that Kaki is a most unusual name? In my local language it actually translates to foot or leg.

    Trivia for the day!

  10. I am delighted that I popped over to this blog. Cowboys and Dragons--what fun! So original too!
    I read the excerpt of Pieces of Sky and LOVED it! FANTASTIC! Please add me to your fan club. I LOVE historical westerns and historical novels--period--even though I've never written one.

    CONGRATULATIONS ON YOUR RITA! I'm thrilled for you.

    Have a great day all,


  11. LOL, Linda. Kaki is really a nickname for Kathleen/Kathy (I had a 2 year old brother with a lisp--he's better now). And in Japanese I think it means apricot. Who knew?

    Cher, thanks for coming by, and thanks for checking out PoS. I hope you like it, and good luck on winning HEARTBREAK CREEK.

  12. Great interview! Congrats on your new book, Kaki! I've read Pieces of Sky and loved it (rest of trilogy is still in my tbr pile)! I'm so looking forward to reading your new book!

    claudigc at msn dot com

  13. Kaki,

    I can't wait to get my hands on this new series of books, especially since you mentioned they are even funnier than the Blood Trilogy series (which all sit on my bookshelf as I type this).

    I tweeted this interview (for extra points and because Kaki is awesome!) and would love to win Heartbreak Creek.

    Christi Corbett

  14. Thanks to both of you--Claudia and Christi. So glad you dropped by and I'm so appreciative of the kind words. Good luck on winning a copy of HC! And thanks for reading my books (and for the retweet, Christi). Ya'll are great.

  15. I've heard of Declan as a name, though I can't think where and I believe it was spelled differently. ;D That's a good thing. Course, I write fantasy, so I'm used to some really unusual names. ;D

    Congrats on the wonderful books, Kaki! Wish I could have seen you and the crew again at Crested Butte this year!

  16. Hopefully next year, Victoria. T. has some great speakers already lined up.

  17. Wow! Great comments, everyone. Thanks again for stopping by, Kaki. We will be drawing the winning name for Kaki's newest novel, "Heartbreak Creek," today (so keep an eye out for it).

  18. Okay, after a long, drawn-out process of cutting names out (do y'all know how hard that is on a computer screen), randomly assigning numbers to the names, finding someone to draw a number, then a hat... (I could go on and on with the process)...
    The winner is...
    Carole Fiore!!!
    You are our FIRST EVER WINNER of ANYTHING! Isn't that COOL???
    Congratulations. If you contact me (Marne Ann) at I will get some information from you and we'll be good to go!
    Thanks again, everyone, for showing Kaki some love!