Dirty Sex and All with Imogen Keeper

This month I’m stoked to have one of my very first beta partners by to talk about her current project.

*Cue lights and fog machines*

Imogen Keeper, author of The Bonding. Take it away, Immy!

immyHi! I’m Imogen Keeper. But please, call me Immy. I’m from the East Coast, born and raised and back here now with my husband and our son, who is a handful and a half.

I discovered writing when he was about six months old. It was something I’d always dabbled at in the past, but never really put on my serious hat. So, bored at home with a kid who truly took magnificent naps, I started studying up on the how-tos and the how-not-tos of writing. With about six active works in progress, I decided to knuckle down and focus on one.

It made me blush, and it made me sweat, and it made me cry a few times, but The Bonding came out. I had to get over the embarrassment of having people read sex that came out of my head, but get over it I did.

My first novel was just published, and I have to admit, I’m proud of it. Dirty sex and all.

JR: Thanks for stopping by, Immy, and congratulations on The Bonding! What are your ambitions for your writing career?

Immy: This shifts. Daily. Some days, all I want to do is write, and it doesn’t matter a bit if no one reads or a million people read. Then the next day, I just want to see a hundred books. The next day, I want to earn X amount per year so I can do blank, or feel blank. Then one random, shiny day, I wake up and I want to be famous. The next Nora Roberts. So I can’t really say for sure.

I think happiness lies in the feeling of success somewhere between having a hundred readers and a million. I’d like to reliably produce a book a year, and enough people to read it to make it worth my time. I guess that’s the real goal. There’s validation in that.

JR: I love that answer! Some days I think I won’t be satisfied till I’m playing the RISK version of my worlds, and other days I’d be happy with just a few more satisfied readers. Which writers inspire you?

Immy: So many. I was English major in college and literature was my first academic love — even in high school. My little teenage mind was blown by the classics. Stevenson’s The Curious Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde and Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. I had the best English teachers. I cuddled up with Jane Austen’s anything and in college branched out and read some Magical Realism, some Caribbean and Asian literature, poetry from the turn of the century, beat poets, whatever they threw at me. And loved it. It broadened my thinking and I think influences some of my writing in ways I’m not really aware of.

suitcaseBut my first love, my guiltiest pleasure has always been the humble Romance novel — my own dirty little secret. I read them through college in my spare time by the suitcase full. The story may be simple, but the good ones, the great authors, bring the full magic of infatuation, love and romance to life in a way that it doesn’t really matter how many times I’ve seen the story, I fall in love all over again.

JR: Lol! Your secret’s not so secret anymore, and I’m glad for that. That Tam of yours! *swoons*

So, what have you written?

51io6ejro2lImmy: To date, I have completed 2 novels. One is The Bonding, which was published last summer. And the second is currently in final editing stages and should be released in March. I’ve also started seven other novels that are in varying stages of completion. And numerous English papers, a hundred art history analysis, a thesis document for my graduate degree on the design of an urban winery, and… I’ll stop so I don’t bore you.

I’ve written a lot. Academia had nothing on fiction. It’s so much harder. And finishing a novel takes blood, sweat, spit and tears, and something else… a tenacity I’m not sure I’ve really shown anywhere else in my life. I just refused to quit and eventually the novels were done

JR: Don’t stop on my account; I live for academic discussions! What are you currently working on?

Immy: The Taming, my third novel in the Tribe Warrior Series, is a speculative fiction series that sort of bridges the gap between Historical Romance and Sci-Fi. It’s a story about a woman whose husband sold her to the wrong man. She thought she’d be joined with one man, ended up with another and found the grit to escape, only to land in the clutches of the worst man of all, light-years away from home, stranded and helpless.

Without prospects, hope, experience, skills or contacts, she’s pretty much forced to fend for herself, step up to the plate and start learning the ropes of the real world outside of the academy in which she was raised. It’s sad, in a lot of ways, to see her lose her innocence and become harder, but it’s also fun. We all grow up sometime, as the MC says to her at one point. She can’t stay like that, not in a hard universe..

JR: I’ll be watching for this one–what an interesting mash-up! Could you give us an insight into your main character? What does she do that’s so special?

Immy: The Taming features a heroine who is extremely dignified and maybe a little haughty. She sees the world through her own lens and it’s all rose glasses and gilded cages. She’s breaking out.

She takes a fresh approach to everything and seeing her interact with her male counterpart, who is jaded and more of seen-it, done-it, move-on type is really fun for me. She’s funny.

JR: Let me know if you want an extra beta reader, because she sounds delightfully complicated. What’s your writing process like now?

Immy: Chaotic. There’s not really any rhyme or reason to how I write. It’s a jumble.
Though… come to think of it… that’s not entirely true. I think I have a system, it’s just not structured. Usually, when I set out to write a scene, I’ve thought about it. In the shower, in the car, while walking or doing chores, I’ve planned out the dialogue or the problem in the scene. So by the time I start writing, I pretty much know what’s going to happen.
fa5My characters still flip the tables on me, and I love it when they do, but mostly, I’ve got a plan in place, even if it’s not formalized or organized. Then I let my crit partners attack it and massage it and pound it into submission. After that, I usually do so many rounds of little dinky edits, it feels like everything’s changed, when really, usually, not all that much has. I almost never have to delete scenes, usually add some in for clarity or extend scenes for character.
After that, I usually continue rereading old scenes and editing as I draft, so by the time the last scene is written, I’ve got a pretty solid start toward being done. A round of major plot and character edits, followed by a read for sentences and cutting out every single word I can, and off it goes to an editor.

JR: That all sounds very familiar, except for the editor part. I just hired my first editor, Sione Aeschliman, and I cannot wait to work with her! Thank you for sharing, Immy, and best of luck to you!

Immy: Thank you so much, Jess! This was so much fun!

For more about Imogen Keeper and her steamy romantic mash-ups, check her out on her websiteFacebook, and Twitter.

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