Author Interview: Kristin Harmel

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Kristin Harmel is a talented author whose novels include “The Blonde Theory”, “Italian for Beginners” and “When You Wish”. She is friendly and down to earth, and we love that she is smart AND feminine.

Read all about Kristin in the following interview…

B&L: How would you describe your writing style?

Kristin: I think I write fast-paced novels with strong storylines and heartfelt messages. I like creating characters that readers can identify with and hopefully learn from, and I like sending readers to interesting destinations, whether it is Paris, Rome or a magazine office in New York City.

B&L: Where do you get your inspiration?

Kristin: I think I’m inspired all the time. I have a wonderful group of friends across the United States, and I’m always talking to them about problems, issues, etc. When there seems to be a recurring theme among my friends in terms of what they’re thinking about or worrying about, I begin to think about whether it might be the seed of an idea for a novel.

I like to tackle subjects that hit close to home (such as the pressure to get married, which Cat, the heroine of ITALIAN FOR BEGINNERS, is feeling), but I like to do so in a way that entertains and keeps the reader enthralled. Hence the decision to send Cat to Rome to solve a mystery and have a romantic encounter with a Vespa-riding Italian – all while figuring out an issue that will resonate with lots of readers.

kristin harmelB&L: Who are your favourite authors right now?

Kristin: Oh, there are so many! I particularly like Emily Giffin, Megan Crane, Liza Palmer, Jane Porter, Alison Pace, Sarah Mlynowski, Brenda Janowitz, Lynda Curnyn, Melissa Senate, Cecelia Ahern, Jane Green, Marian Keyes, Wendy Holden, Jodi Picoult, Anita Shreve, Audrey Niffenegger, Sue Monk Kidd, F. Scott Fitzgerald, and young adult novelists Sarah Dessen, Stephenie Meyer and Meg Cabot.

B&L: What are you currently working on?

Kristin: I’m currently on tour promoting my most recent release, ITALIAN FOR BEGINNERS, which came out in the U.S. on Aug. 13. I have a new teen novel coming out in February, called AFTER, and I’m also ghostwriting the autobiography of rock’n’roll legend Chubby Checker, who sang The Twist and Limbo Rock. That has been great fun! I’m also in the midst of drafting proposals for new women’s fiction and young adult novels.

B&L: Name one thing we wouldn’t know about you?

Kristin: Hmm, I’m only five feet tall! But I cheat with three-inch heels!

B&L: Do you ever suffer from writer’s block, and if so how do you overcome it?

Kristin:Not often. I’m a strong believer in outlining, so I occasionally get blocked at the outline stage, but once I’ve figured out the major plot points of a novel in outline form, I won’t let myself get caught up or stalled by little details. If you have an outline, you can always refer back to it if you get stuck.

Sure, there are days when I feel a little frustrated with the writing, but in those cases, I’m able to skip ahead in the outline. I simply force myself to continue, and if I have a bad day of writing, I can always come back and fix it later!

B&L: Do you have any advice for people wanting to become an author?

Kristin:I think that the number one thing that defeats aspiring writers is their own self-consciousness. If you want to write a novel, you must write!!! It doesn’t matter how badly you feel like you’re writing; just get the words on the page and clean them up later. Even the best of writers go through numerous drafts, and all of us hate our work at times. But if you get too caught up in worrying, you’ll never put your story on paper – and without a story on paper, you have nothing to work with. So stop worrying; begin writing!

B&L: How long does it take you to write a book?

Kristin: After I’ve written an outline, the actual writing takes between 3-6 months.

B&L: Have you always loved to write?

Kristin: Absolutely, I’ve wanted to be a writer for as long as I can remember. In fact, my mother recently uncovered the first “novel” that I wrote – a handwritten, stapled “book” that I wrote when I was 6 about the Bobbsey Twins (a series I loved at that age) coming to visit my family to solve the case of my dad’s missing tuxedo.

It’s pretty funny! I attempted my first real novel at age 13 and got about 120 pages into it before I realized I had no idea where the story was going. And I’ve been writing professionally for magazines since I was 16.

B&L: What does being a woman mean to you?

Kristin: Wow, that’s a tough one! I think that as a woman, we often get to be both tough and soft at the same time, which I think is a beautiful thing. I think that in today’s world, women are very lucky not to have to confront many of the obstacles that our mothers and grandmothers faced in the workplace, but there are still challenges of equality.

I think we’re still in a place where there’s some confusion about stereotypical gender roles; there are many men out there who feel threatened by a woman who’s smart, successful and driven, and I think it’s unfortunate that all of those strong, wonderful qualities would ever be considered emasculating to anyone. It makes for a confusing scenario, where even the most successful, confident women occasionally feel the pressure to dumb themselves down to be more societally acceptable. I don’t have children yet, but if I have daughters someday, I’m hopeful that in their generation, there will be less confusion, and women will be better able to simply be themselves.

That said, even though I consider myself smart, ambitious and driven, I also like being a girly girl at times! I have a huge drawer full of makeup (my favourite is an American brand called Tarte, which has the coolest cheek stains I’ve ever seen); I have long hair that I alternate between wearing wavy and straight, and I’m obsessed with clothes and fashion. I have a whole closet just dedicated to shoes and handbags! So that’s the fun part of being a woman!

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