Thank you for taking the time to interview with us! K.T.’s debut novel is Picking Cotton, an Interracial Sports Romance novel, will be released sometime this fall by Red Rose Publishing.
Readers can check out my websites at www.myspace.com/kenibird and
1. When/how did you know you wanted to write?
K.T.: I developed a passion for writing at an early age. It’s something that has never left me. I have always enjoyed some form of writing, ranging from letters to compiling term papers. I’ve gotten compliments for my letter writing days. Some liked the twists; others say it was too long.
2. Is being an author your full time job?
K.T.: No. I began my career as a sportswriter at a Deep South newspaper in the early 1990’s. I still have that profession as my day job.
3. How did you end up on this side of the business?
K.T.: I’ve always wanted to write a book. I’ve done everything on the print media side: write at a newspaper, having several stories published in magazines through the years. This completes the trifecta for me. I just hope to have the same success in newspapers and magazines.
4. Who are some of your favorite authors?
K.T.: Best-selling novelist Carly Phillips. I lovd her four-book Hot Zone series, which explores the Public Relations side of professional sports in New York. That was one of my inspirations for the Cotton series. I’m also a big fan of Pamela Britton, an award-winning NASCAR author. I enjoyed her six book series. Those two authors took the time to give me pointers recently meant a great deal to me.
5. What was the reason behind writing a football romance?
K.T.: I’ve seen sports romance books in bookstores across the nation, and on the internet. I’ve rarely seen any about football. I just felt it was time to explore that avenue and give the gridiron its due. Football has a lot of interesting storylines.
6. Interracial romance seems to be selling at an all-time high.
K.T.: Tell me about it. There are some many multi-cultural and bi-racial stories out there via e-books or in print. It’s red-hot right now. I’m honored that Red Rose has given me a chance to be part of it.
7. What makes the Cotton franchise stand out in this broad field?
K.T.: I’ve seen countless interracial romance angles between white men and black women. Rarely have I seen any about the black men/ white women. Some people have said that doesn’t sell, but I disagree. That side needs to be explored. I intend on blowing the doors down on this subject, damn it (LOL).
8. How long did it take you to get contracted?
K.T.: A month. I wrote the story in three months, submitted it to Red Rose and they called me 30 days later. The calling-back process usually takes around two to three months, and I got a huge break in that regard.
9. Do you have any advice to fledgling authors?
K.T.: Don’t get discouraged about getting your manuscript rejected. Rejection is part of the business. I was down in the dumps about Picking Cotton getting rejected around the Christmas holidays. The editor showed me what I did wrong. I had two authors sit me down and encouraged me to regroup. I did and corrected those mistakes. If this is what you want to do, keep plugging along.
10. Tell us about PICKING COTTON
K.T.: The interracial football romance story takes place in the summer of 1985 where M.L. Cotton begins his dream of becoming a Division I-A quarterback at a Deep South school from Coastview, Alabama. It’s the first book in the Cotton Series.
11. Not to give away too much, what makes this book enticing?
K.T.: The last thing M.L. Cotton had on his mind was romance. He was focused on landing a football scholarship. They meet by accident, triggering a bizarre set of events that connects them. He falls for her quicker than a Vanilla Ice record on the music charts. It’s an enjoyable story to write.
12. What made you write about the 1980’s?
K.T.: I am still fascinated by that time frame. It’s where I grew up. I was so moved that VH1 did a “I love the 80’s’’ series. That was really cool. I enjoyed going down memory lane. I loved everything about that time frame. The music, TV shows, sports. A lot of novels have stories from the 19th century, present time, the 1950’s; I felt the 80’s deserved its place in the sun. Prince’s Purple Rain, Michael Jackson’s Thriller and Madonna’s plan ‘’to rule the world’’ remain fresh in my head to this very day.
13. Do you write your stories out with pencil and paper first or do you work straight on the computer?
K.T.: It depends where I am. If I’m covering a game near my office, I usually jot things down on paper and type them in later. If I’m out of town working, I put them into the computer and email myself. Ideas for storylines and plotlines have entered into my head virtually from everywhere. I’ve made notes in restaurants on paper napkins. I even keep a notepad near my bed, in case something comes to me during the middle of the night.
14. What do you do when preparing to write a story?
K.T.: Lock myself in a room with the computer and begin writing (LOL). I can never write with people in the room. It blocks my concentration. On days off or vacation someplace, I just let my imagination take over.
15. Do you have any projects you are currently working on?
K.T.: This month on Red Rose, I have a short story called Curing a Cajun Cold. While I’m focused on the Cotton series, Cajun Cold was a break. I’m about to begin the editing process on Book 1. Then, have books 2 and 3 released sometime next year. M.L. Cotton and Jennifer Monet’ will both keep me busy for a long time. From time to time, I’ll write shorts as well.
16. How do you create your characters? What determines their characteristics and names?
K.T.: I wanted to make my hero very unique. I hated the first name, which didn’t stick. One afternoon driving down the Interstate, the name Cotton came to me. It was a last name from one of my sister’s classmates in high school. Guess something good did happen when I used to tag-along with her. I chose to give him a historic name: Martin Louis. M.L was named after Civil Rights icon Martin Luther King and boxing legend Joe Louis. Jennifer is virtual French descendent of painter Charles Monet.
17. Where do your story ideas come from? Do you use people you know as characters sometimes or even sometimes a certain event from real life happenings?
K.T.: This storyline came from my days playing high school football in Alabama. One of my friends, a running back, dated a white girl who was a cheerleader. They never had a blast-off because of her parents’ preventing her dating a black guy. They used to sneak around until a black girl who wanted him blew the whistle. What a shame, they could’ve been great.
18. Is there any character in the book you would want to be?
K.T.: M.L. Cotton of course. He’s a quarterback, the most glamorous position in sports. He’s good-looking (we share that trait, LOL), and has unbelievable skills. I was a defensive lineman, an unappreciated position. The QBs got the women.
19. What is your favorite part of writing?
K.T.: Writing an outline of what I want to explore in a possible book before beginning the first chapter. I’ll throw ideas to fellow authors and get their feel as well. Interacting with others really get me going in the right direction because they’ve been published before.
20. When and where can we purchase your book?
K.T.: As soon as I get a release date, I will inform my good friends at DeadlyVixens.blogspot.com, and we’ll go from there. I appreciate them giving me a chance to pimp my book.
Bonus round: Can you give us an unedited excerpt of your book:
Once M.L. crossed the Louisiana state line, he was greeted by a third panic attack. This time, it was the chest pain that plagued M.L. He began experiencing heavy heartburn, fearing that the end is near. He slowly drove over the bridge that connected Slidell and New Orleans, then stopped at a gas station to get himself together. The non-cardiac chest pain eventually went away. M.L. rested for an hour before heading to the University of New Orleans.
For the third time, M.L. Cotton circled the UNO campus. Where’s the damn camp? Frustrated, he gripped the leather steering wheel of his Accord. He hated asking directions, but when he saw cheerleaders passing out flyers in front of the auditorium, he
A slender, brown-haired girl was waving a pink flyer in the air and rushed over. “Car wash today.”
He hit a button and rolled down the passenger window.
She shoved the flyer into his brown hand and then fell halfway into his car. “Oh, my. I think I’m stuck.” She struggled for a moment before pushing herself up with solid, fair arms. The name Jennifer was printed on her hot, pink T-shirt.
“Jennifer, how much is a car wash?”
He fumbled for a ten and handed it to her. “What I need most is directions.” He held up a camp brochure.
She blinked. “I don’t have my glasses on.” She squinted at the sheet of paper and then looked at him with green eyes, the color of life itself. “Go straight down and hang a left at the bank. You won’t miss it.” Her eyes were as bottomless as a pond.
Speechless, M.L. felt himself melting into them.
She laughed. “You don’t need me to take you there, do you?” Her tone was melodic and sweet.
From the steps of the auditorium, the cheer coach yelled, “Jennifer. We need you over here.”
“Hate to go, but you know the rules of a cheerocracy. I’ll be here for the next three hours.”
Finally breaking free of the love spell, M.L. said: "I'll be back for you, count on it.''
The heartburn episode was a welcome distraction for M.L., who appeared to have found love for the first time.
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Disclaimer (because we don't have a choice): The views expressed by the guest blogger do not necessarily reflect those of The Deadly Vixens.