Kay Hooper Author Interview
Photo Credit: © Claudio MarinescoKay Hooper was born in California, in an air force base hospital since her father was stationed there at the time. The family moved back to North Carolina shortly afterward, so she was raised and went to school there.
The oldest of three children, Kay has a brother two years younger and a sister seven years younger. Her father and brother are builders who own a highly respected construction company, and her mother worked for many years in personnel management before becoming Kay's personal assistant, a position she held until her untimely death in March 2002. Kay's sister Linda works as her Business Manager, Events Coordinator, and is playing a major role in the creation and operation of The Kay Hooper Foundation.
Kay graduated from East Rutherford High School and attended Isothermal Community College — where she quickly discovered that business classes did not in any way enthrall her. Switching to more involving courses such as history and literature, she also began to concentrate on writing, which had been a longtime interest. Very quickly hooked, she asked for a Christmas typewriter and began seriously working on her first novel. That book, a Regency romance titled Lady Thief, sold to Dell Publishing in 1980. She has since published more than 60 novels and four novellas.
Kay is single and lives in a very small town in North Carolina, not far from her father and siblings. Deigning to live with her are a flock of cats — Bonnie, Ginger, Oscar, Tuffy, Felix, Renny, and Isabel — of various personalities who all like sleeping on manuscripts and whatever research happens to be spread across Kay's desk. And living amongst the many felines are two cheerfully tolerant dogs, a shelter rescue, Bandit, who looks rather like a small sheepdog, and a Sheltie named Lizzie.
Kay Robbins is a pseudonym used by her.
What inspired you to pen your first novel?
I think it was a couple of things. I was disappointed by some of the books I’d been reading, and there was a story of my own simmering in my mind. I had no idea if I could actually write that story, of course, but there was a drive in me to try. I’d had so many hours of enjoyment reading other people’s stories that it seemed to me a magical thing, that ability. So I gave it a shot.
Tell us your latest news.
Enjoying the feedback from readers on Hidden Salem, and working on the second book of the Salem trilogy, Curse of Salem. Also sheltering in place! I’m very lucky in that the coronavirus hasn’t altered my life as much as it has so many others’. I’ve always worked from home, so the major changes have been avoiding unnecessary errands, making sure the pantry and freezer are stocked, and binge watching/reading the news.
Who or what has influenced your writing, and in what way?
I don’t believe any one person, writer or otherwise, influenced my writing. It was more a distillation of everything I read and experienced in my life. And still is, really. I follow my nose in writing, and my interests always end up playing a major role in plot or character. My interest in the paranormal, for instance, has been with me since my teens; my respect for law enforcement has been lifelong; animals have played roles in my work from the beginning; I’ve always loved the puzzle of mysteries and the tension of suspense stories. One way or another, it all finds a place in my work.
Tell us your most rewarding experience since being published.
My most rewarding experience is one that continues, thankfully. It’s hearing from readers who tell me I’ve made a positive impact on their lives, from entertaining them for a few hours to helping take them out of their own lives during painful or scary times. I love that, and I never take it for granted.
What do you hope for readers to be thinking when they read your novel?
I hope they’ll have a good time, in whatever form that takes. My goal is only and always to tell a good story peopled with interesting characters.
In your new book; HIDDEN SALEM, can you tell my Book Nerd community a little about it.
Salem is a small, isolated town in the mountains of North Carolina with a long, somewhat odd and storied history. It was founded hundreds of years before by five families which even in the present still run the major businesses, employ most of the townsfolk, and control much of day to day life in Salem. Another “oddity” of Salem is that a large number of its citizens are, in varying ways and to various degrees, psychic. That’s one reason Bishop decides to send in a team of agents undercover when he discovers that several young people have apparently traveled to Salem from outside the area, only to turn up missing. Bishop has been asked, unofficially, to investigate by a member of the community troubled by the unknown fate of the missings as well as by dark and dangerous undercurrents in Salem. So Geneva Raynor is sent in quietly to have a look around, followed by her partner Grayson Sheridan about two weeks later, when the story opens. Also traveling to Salem is Nellie Cavendish, a descendent of one of the five families with her own unique and powerful psychic abilities. She’s been drawn back to the town after a lifetime away by a mysterious message from her dead father. And so it begins.
What part of Nellie and Grayson did you enjoy writing the most?
Their prickly relationship. Two very strong-willed and temperamental people who have similar talents, the drive to solve dangerous mysteries, and who both believe they work better alone. Bishop disagrees.
If you could introduce one of your characters to any character from another book, who would it be and why?
I think I’d want to introduce Daniel Kilbourne from Finding Laura to Bishop. Because it would be a fascinating encounter.
What’s the most ridiculous fact you know?
A male duck is called a drake.
What according to you is your most treasured possession?
My sense of humor.
Best date you've ever had?
A Halloween party thrown by a group of friends when I was in high school. Nothing else ever lived up to the fun, thrills – and a comical misunderstanding with my date – in the years since.
What was the best memory you ever had as a writer?
My first meeting with an editor face to face. I went with a friend to a writers’ convention, and the editor – who became extremely influential in my career – had gotten into my room by mistake. It was a very funny meeting, and in later years when she told the story, it became more and more comical.
If you wrote a journal entry today, what would it say?
Six weeks into quarantine. I watch and read too much news. Gotta stop that. Can’t decide if I look better or worse in a face mask. Can’t decide if the characters in the work in progress are being difficult because they are or because I want them to be. Must ponder. Have lots of time to ponder. Also have time for the TBR pile by my bed, which is finally growing shorter. A bright spot in the current pandemic is that I’m reading more.
What event in your life would make a good movie?
Nothing I can think of. An ordinary life, for the most part. And writers in general don’t make good subjects for movies because most of the fascinating stuff about our lives and careers goes on inside our heads.
TEN FAVORITE GUY CHARACTERS FROM YOUR BOOKS, INCLUDING RANDOM FACTS ABOUT THEM.
Trevor King from Belonging to Taylor because he’s the first of my guy characters to cope with a psychic lady. Random facts: Trevor raised his younger brother; he discovers a wonderful sense of humor within himself when he meets Taylor; and his arms are long enough to rescue hamsters from behind washers and dryers
Josh Long from Raven on the Wing and subsequent books in the Hagen series of Loveswepts. Random facts: Josh is an early incarnation of Bishop; he’s one of the few characters I created who smoked and who I portray comically after too many drinks; and he and his half sister never say goodbye to each other.
Falcon Delaney from Golden Fire (Delaney Historicals Book I) and Velvet Lightning (Delaney Historical Book II) because he’s fascinating and the first Old West guy character I created. Random facts: a secretive law enforcement agent, he’s another early incarnation of Bishop; his journal detailing amazing events is discovered by present-day descendants of his family; he gets into a chaotic brawl at a private gaming house partly in defense of his lady.
Daniel Kilbourne from Finding Laura. Random facts: Daniel copes with a kind of paranormal situation not explored in any of my other books; he wears a ring with a carved green stone; and he is a very, very patient man.
Noah Bishop because … because he’s Bishop. Random facts: Bishop keeps in shape by running and working out in martial arts and mixed martial arts with team mates; the scar on his cheek was the result of a deadly encounter with the first serial killer he pursued; and he’s a rare male descendant from a long, long line of females who tended to be psychic.
Rafe Sullivan from Sense of Evil. Random facts: Rafe has no idea he’s a latent psychic until he meets Isabel; his instincts drive him to try to help and protect Isabel, which is when he unconsciously encloses her in his own shield; Rafe benefits from one of Bishop’s very, very, rare decisions to try to avert a future he and Miranda see.
Lucas Jordan from Hunting Fear. Random facts: Luke fights his own ability – to find missing people in deadly danger -- for a long time because of how it was triggered, a not-uncommon trait in the SCU; he and Samantha have a previous very difficult relationship to get past; it is Sam who helps him to finally stop fighting himself in using his abilities.
Quentin Hayes from Touching Evil, Chill of Fear, etc. Random facts: Quentin has struggled with an inborn impatience most of his life; he has a cockeyed sense of humor; though he’s a seer, he doesn’t actually see a vision until nearly the end of Chill of Fear.
Reese DeMarco from Blood Sins, Blood Ties, etc. Random facts: DeMarco hails from “just outside New Orleans” but rarely sounds it; unlike many SCU members he can wear a watch, though if his primal instincts are triggered he inevitably destroys it; a former military officer, he possesses a wired-and-ready-to-go energy he’s learned to largely contain.
Jonah Riggs from Fear the Dark. Random facts: the first indication that Jonah is psychic is the fact that he’s a restless, uneasy sleeper who wakes tangled in the covers; he’s an excellent police chief and has been taking care of his town and his people for years unconsciously using the empathic senses he possesses; his deepest instincts to save lives has a cost he could never have expected.
A town shrouded in the occult. An evil that lurks in the dark. The SCU returns in a hair-raising novel from New York Times bestselling author Kay Hooper.
Nellie Cavendish has very good reasons to seek out her roots, and not only because she has no memory of her mother and hardly knew the father who left her upbringing to paid caregivers. In the eight years since her twenty-first birthday, very odd things have begun to happen. Crows gather near her wherever she goes, electronics short out when she touches them, and when she’s upset, really upset, it storms. At first, she chalked up the unusual happenings to coincidence, but that explanation doesn't begin to cover the vivid nightmares that torment her. She can no longer pretend to ignore them. She has to find out the truth. And the only starting point she has is a mysterious letter from her father delivered ten years after his death, insisting she go to a town called Salem and risk her life to stop some unnamed evil. Before her thirtieth birthday.
As a longtime member of the FBI's Special Crimes Unit, Grayson Sheridan has learned not to be surprised by the unusual and the macabre--but Salem is different. Evidence of Satanic activities and the disappearance of three strangers to the town are what brought Salem to the attention of the SCU, and when Gray arrives to find his undercover partner vanished, he knows that whatever’s hiding in the seemingly peaceful little town is deadly. But what actually hides in the shadows and secrets of Salem is unlike anything the agents have ever encountered.