This interview is part of our Paranormal Romance Author series of interviews where we interview some of today’s top paranormal romance authors! Be sure to check out our past Paranormal Romance Author interviews to learn more about various authors working in this growing genre!
Today we have an interview with Kharma Kelley, an up-and-coming paranormal author who recently released her first paranormal romance thriller, Tall, Dark & Deadly. Tall, Dark & Deadly is the first book of her Agents of The Bureau series. And be on the look out this year for further titles in her Agents of the Bureau series as well as new series, ShadowShifter.
In this interview, Kharma talks to us about her beginnings as an author of erotic fiction, how WattPad has influenced her as a writer, about her favorite paranormal romance books, her new book and series, and treats us to a steamy excerpt from her latest release, Tall, Dark & Deadly!
For those who are new to you and your work, can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
Sure! I was born and raised in Texas to a pair of Cajun parents. I was a Tomboy growing up, despite my Dad trying so hard to keep me a lady. Now my husband still fights that battle LOL. I’ve been writing fiction since I was 13 and after my much older friend smuggled me some romance books, I was smitten.
I fell in love with romance and urban fantasies and it keeps me plenty busy. I venture into many genres of fiction, but I always seem to come back to paranormal romance. It’s my “cornerstone.”
What led you to start writing?
I’ve always enjoyed writing, but I think it was my brother that continued to inspire me to keep writing. We both were big movie buffs and loved creating dialogue, so we both got into screenwriting. Mark continued on that path, but I kept exploring writing in different styles of fiction. I remember telling him that I was a bit embarrassed to write romance because so many people looked down on it. He told me to forget what others think and to just write for myself because I enjoy it.
After that discussion, I wrote what I enjoyed and never looked back. It’s been awfully fun and I have to say I’ve written more in the past year than I’ve written since I was a kid and not planning on stopping!
What has your experience using Wattpad been like? Is it something you see yourself continuing to use in the future?
So my BFF persuaded me to give the app a try and I’m forever grateful that she did. I mean, so what if she was a nag about it until I finally did it to shut her up? Between her shutting her pie hole and me finding a fun community to write openly, it was one of the best things that ever happened to me.
I’ll be honest in that I had no idea what to expect. I’ve been a writer without a cause or community of my own as I don’t have any friends who are writers. It wasn’t until I joined Wattpad that I realized I flourished best in a group of like-minded writing folks (novel idea, right?) I used to feel weird and alone in my writing, but with Wattpad I’ve managed to meet some great authors who are now friends. I love fostering a community of readers and writers where feedback is constructive, we support each other and even get a few fans. You got to work at it, but it also gave me writing discipline that I didn’t have before.
If you’re doing serialized stories, you’re gonna have eager reader fans if you’re doing it right. And they will be ready for the next chapter to devour, so you can’t screw around for a week or two before writing again. It took me 5 months to write the first draft of “Tall, Dark & Deadly”! As I’m publishing books, I may change the way I introduce new stories to Wattpad, but I definitely see myself staying with it. I’ve met some loyal readers there and it’s where I started my writing renaissance.
Your first work, The Boudoir Chronicles, is a collection of erotic short stories. Were these your first published pieces of work?
Yes, it was. When I was meeting writers on Wattpad, I mainly connected with more contemporary and new adult romance authors. They were just more active on the site. For years, I had been predominantly a PNR reader, but on Wattpad I started reading some really impressive work in the new adult and contemporary genres. Enthralling storylines with HOT freaking romance! LOL (fans self). I felt challenged to get out of my comfort zone with paranormal romance and write a few sexy stories in the contemporary world.
At first, it felt a bit awkward and I was thinking, “Wait, he’s not a vampire or dragon shifter or anything? He’s just gonna be a regular dude? How’s that gonna be interesting?” But writing the one shot stories were super fun and keep me in practice on writing steamy sex scenes. I’m happy to announce that Wattpad on Cosmo will feature an excerpt of the book March 8th!
Have you always been a fan of paranormal romance?
Yes, and probably before I ever knew that was the genre in fact. The first paranormal romance book I ever read was a YA novel called “The Silver Kiss” by Annette Curtis Klause. I was pulled into a very dark coming-of-age story where a 300 year old vampire becomes enamored with a teen named Zoe in the midst of her dealing with her mother’s terminal illness.
It was a fascinating read as a teenager and enjoyed the mature themes of love, loss and vampires. I soon followed up reading “Blood and Chocolate” by Mrs. Klause and I new that I thoroughly enjoyed stories about ‘monsters’ falling in love and wanted to read more.
There’s some amazing authors out there who possess such a beautiful imagination to create entire worlds that readers can wrap themselves in. As an avid reader of the genre I could always appreciate the level of dedication it takes for an author to spin up a new reality for us to enjoy. Paranormal Romance/Urban Fantasy books are just so much fun and my generation was inundated with it growing up with “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” and “Angel.” That’s why I just had to mention Buffy in the book regardless of how dated it made the book feel. I wanted to pay homage 🙂 I know this generation is all about “The Vampire Diaries” (which has become my guilty pleasure), but when I started falling in love with writing and reading paranormal romance/urban fantasy, it was all about Miss kickass Buffy!
If a friend of yours wanted to read a paranormal romance novel, what three titles would you suggest?
OOOOH Good question Paranormal Lovers! First one, hands down would be “Fantasy Lover” by Sherrilyn Kenyon. I became a huge fan of her Dark Hunters series as a college student and that was one of my first Paranormal Romance books that made me seriously fan myself! It's the tale of a Greek commander that was punished by a god and cursed to live as a sex slave for women. He's trapped (and conjured) from a book, where only a certain woman could finally free him. The sexual tension is maddening, but awesome! The second would be "Feral" by Laxmi Hariharan. I enjoy her writing style and it's a great intro into the rest of her series.
Care to tell us more about Tall, Dark, & Deadly, your first foray into the paranormal romance genre?
Yasss! It’s so funny it turned into a full length novel!
When I first started “Tall, Dark & Deadly”, I wanted to make a short story. I’ve always found making short stories challenging because I always end up fleshing it out more and more until it turns into a full length. I had written my first draft of my other book, “Selenium Night”, but wasn’t ready to publish it. I wanted to write something short and sweet--a “friends turn lovers” story with different characters--but not another full length book. My rationale was to make a fun short story in the same vein of urban fantasy/paranormal romance to put out to the masses to see how people would like my style and storylines. Only then, would I have decided to be brave enough to put my full length novel out there. (Laughs)
Well, that was blown away after I decided to write it on Wattpad. Turned out, writing the story through the app forced me to think big picture and for the first time, really help me understand how to pace my story and keep my little audience engaged. Thanks to the readers on Wattpad, the story became something bigger than I ever hoped for. It was amazing, so I just ran with it. Chloe and Ethan were too fun to turn away and I’m glad I didn’t.
Tall, Dark, & Deadly is the first in your Agents of The Bureau series. Do you have this series planned out? If so, can you give us some teasers as to what the series has in store?
Yassss! I do. You will get a nice intro into this universe and the many different supernatural beings that exist with the first book, but as the series go on, readers will delve deeper and start to realize that there’s lots of drama there (haha!) When you have creatures this old and conflicted, there’s bound to be some predicaments, especially when they are running around falling in love.
There’s creatures from different cultures and backgrounds who will be featured: Shifters, Soulseekers, Vampires, Maneaters, and Tengu demons. Leto’s story, “Nocturnally Yours” will be the next book due to the large reader demand and it is going to be an action-packed, steamy ride. You’ll learn more about the world of the Fae along with a deeper look at the different factions of supes and why the Bureau is so important.
Do you have any desire to work in any other genres?
OMG Definitely! I have several story plots queued up in the realms of New Adult Romance, Science-fiction Romance and my most exciting idea falls under Historical-Paranormal Romance 🙂 I’ve have a supernatural western I’m itching to write, so rest assured, I don’t plan on slowing down anytime soon and there’s a lot in the romance genre to get into.
What future projects do you have planned?
“Nocturnally Yours” is currently in the works and will be slated for late spring along with my 1st installment of a wolf shifter romance series titled “Selenium Night”. The world centers around two factions of feuding shifter creatures (Aristans & Thesians) called “Shadowshifters”. It’s all about sexy, weapon-wielding, motorcycle riding werewolves! Woot! There will also be a vampire/demon romance coming in the summer!
Before we let you go, can you share with us an excerpt from Tall, Dark, & Deadly?
Chloë felt the thousand little tingles on her flesh dissipate as the fading subsided and found herself in a small loft condo. She reluctantly unlocked her arms from around Ethan as his hands slowly slid from around her waist. As Chloë looked around, she noticed steel shades that were pulled down in a beautiful, sleek living room with a sofa, an ottoman, and a quaint coffee table. The walls were a deep gray with a few paintings from Dali scattered about.
"Where are we? This isn't your place."
Ethan took off his coat and laid it on the arm of the sofa. "Actually, this is my place," he said. "One of them at least."
Chloë pointed at one of the paintings. "You like Dali?"
Ethan looked at the painting of Dali's The Sandman and smiled. "Yes. I enjoy surrealism. I find it very...dreamlike."
Chloë turned to look at him. "How many homes do you have?"
Ethan looked around, turning on more lights. "Enough. I've lived a long time and all over the world, Chloë. I have a few places to call home when I get bored or need some space. Some are known to the Bureau, some of them are not. It comes in handy when I need to be off the grid. No one knows about this particular safe house." He met her eyes. "Except you."
Chloë gave him a soft smile as she took off her jacket, laying it on top of his. "I feel mighty privileged. Are we still in New Orleans or are we in Bora Bora? Please say Bora Bora."
Ethan smiled. "No, sorry, but we're still in the New Orleans area. We can stay here until we're ready to intercept the Woe. The Bureau is probably running full force by now, so it's good we're off the streets. We need to stay that way."
Chloë nodded. "Agreed. Also, this is much better than the digs we would've had rooming with Keturah. She owns a string of apartments in Metairie, but they could use some upkeep. She's not much on maintenance on stuff outside of Pale Riders."
The mention of her Soulseeker acquaintance piqued his interest. "How did you and Keturah become friends? Seems like a rather odd kinship. A Soulseeker and a vampire going shoe shopping?" To him, it sounded a lot like a bad parlor joke.
"Hey, there's nothing odd about going shoe shopping, Ethan." She smirked to compliment her sarcasm. "How dare you."
Ethan scoffed and simply returned a smirk of his own. "You know what I meant."
Chloë shrugged. "Keturah doesn't see me as a vampire. In fact, she's always just been fascinated by what I am and decided long ago not to judge or label it. We don't know how we work, we just do. Like a lion befriending a gazelle. It's odd, but somehow it works. During those dark days when I was alone and saw the streets as hunger and survival, it was she who found me. She gave me work in her revues, helped me understand what I was. In hindsight, I should have never left from under her wing, no pun intended. If I hadn’t, maybe I wouldn't have found the Boyettes." She eyed him curiously. "Why do you ask?"
"I found it interesting, that's all," Ethan said, walking past her to the kitchen. He kept remembering her tenderness and concern for Keturah, seeing her nurture with a warm heart. There was a selflessness to Chloë that drew him in. Even with her determination to help Bethany, a woman she didn't even know, she hadn’t cared that the woman had betrayed her. She’d just wanted her to be okay. He was right that Chloë was so much more than what she seemed to others. "To your point, like seeing a lion befriend a gazelle.”
Chloë nodded. “True. But wouldn’t people say the same about your camaraderie with Leto? A vampire and Faery sprite working together seems just as odd. I know Leto isn’t much on vampires.” She paused. “Or maybe she isn’t much on me.”
Ethan groaned. “Most likely a little of both.” He thought about Leto’s run-in with vampire years ago when he’d found her. He knew she despised them with good reason, though she would never let it interfere with her job. Leto knew that Ethan wasn’t like other vampires, and, like Keturah, Leto didn’t judge what he was. “Like you said, we don’t know how exactly it works. Just does. Still, it’s impressive to see you with a Soulseeker friend. I didn't know much about your time before you met the Boyettes."
"Well, hate to surprise you, boss, but not everything about me is detailed, neatly in my dossier at the Bureau." Her voice wicked with arrogance. "I am still capable of a few secrets that your boys in black didn't scrape up."
"Well, I wouldn't fault them too much. Perhaps it was hidden in the Bible-length epic that is your criminal record."
Many thanks to Kharma for doing this interview with us! And be sure to check out the links below: