K. Elle Collier is the author of the widely popular trilogy My Man’s Best Friend, Alana Bites Back and Kai’s Aftermath. She started her writing career by participating in The Bill Cosby Writing Workshop, The ABC Writing Fellowship and Warner Bros. Comedy Writing Program. She later became a staff writer on the CW sitcom Girlfriends. K. Elle has written screenplays and adapted the best-selling novel Friends and Lovers by Eric Jerome Dickey for the stage. She’s also the author of From Concept to Kindle: A Step-by-Step Guide to Writing, Publishing and Marketing your Novel on the Amazon Kindle. I’m happy to welcome K. Elle and happy she said yes to an interview!
R: Can you tell us what sparked the original idea for My Man’s Best Friend?
K: The moment I decided to write My Man’s Best Friend I began the process of reading several novels in that genre to see what was out there and what other writers were writing about. One thing I noticed is that there were a lot of the same type of stories being told. Girl meets boy. Girl and boy break up. Girl and boy get back together and live happily ever after. Well, I wanted my novel to stand out. So with that in mind I started to play my favorite writing game called What If… What if girl meets boy but boy has a “girl” best friend… hmmm… What if that “girl” best friend is gorgeous? Now what is one supposed to do? What if she befriended the best friend to overcome her hidden insecurities but ended up having an affair with her behind her boyfriend’s back.
So as you know, if you have already read, My Man’s Best Friend, I veered off the beaten path so to speak.
K: Did you know from the beginning that My Man’s Best Friend would become a trilogy? Will we be seeing Kai again?
I didn’t. When I started writing My Man’s Best Friend I just wanted to get it out so I could breathe a big sigh of relief knowing that I did it. Then midway through writing that first book, the characters really started to come alive and I knew then that I didn’t want it to end. So a year later I wrote Kai’s Aftermath, the 2nd book of the series, and that was intended to be the last book of the series until I started to get fan mail asking for a third book. The fan mail requesting a third book continued to come on a weekly basis, so I had to really give it some serious thought. At the time, I was actually working on another book with different characters, so I stopped that project and turned my attention to the third book of the series which I titled Alana Bites Back, and I am glad I did because I felt that was my best book out of the series. As far as seeing Kai again, I’m not sure, but who knows where my pen will take me.
R: Do you write with an outline?
I definitely write with an outline. I am a structure fanatic! I literarily have to know my whole story from beginning to end before I start the writing process. I relate writing an outline for a novel to taking a road trip. You sort of need a road map to know where you are going.
Another reason I write with an outline is because I hate doing things twice, especially when it is such a huge endeavor like an 80,000 word novel, so an outline is the way to go for me.
R: That’s interesting. Can you tell us more about your process?
K: First of course I think of an idea. The idea will be pretty basic but what I do from there is add my twist and turns to make it different and unique. That also helps me in developing my full plot. I then think about the characters in the story and how they will relate to one another. Who do I see? What are their goals? Why do I like that character for this story, etc. Before I start on my outline I really get to know my characters. I think about them when I’m working out, cleaning and going about my day. I have to really feel them before I can write them. From there I do a detailed character bio for all of them; it’s like meeting a person for the first time and getting to know them as a close friend. After all the foundation is laid out, I start with a short outline or beat sheet, plotting out the major points of the story. This leads me into a full fledge, chapter by chapter outline. I do a chapter by chapter outline mainly because it helps me feel the flow of the story I am telling. From there I put myself on a strict 2,000 a day word count and try my best to stick to it. The best thing I do when I start my novel is give myself an end date, which also keeps me on track for completion.
R: You sound pretty focused. Do you ever procrastinate? If so, what keeps from getting to your writing?
K: I would have to say the internet as a whole, but mostly Facebook! Facebook is the devil! There are times when I know I should be writing and I find myself on Facebook for hours peering into other people’s lives. Some days in order to focus I have to literarily turn off my internet. Yep, that usually does the trick for me. I realized that in this day and age the internet is a writer’s best friend, but it can also be a writer’s worst enemy.
R: Do you listen to music when you write or do you prefer to write in silence?
K: It really depends on my mood. If I decide to write with music it has to be instrumental, that way it won’t interrupt my flow. Although, my main preference is silence when I write, and that is mainly because the smallest things (even some instrumental music) can distract me and I always feel the need to keep my distractions to a minimum.
R: You adapted the best-selling novel Friends and Lovers by Eric Jerome Dickey for the stage. Do you think you’ll ever return to playwriting?
K: Well I never set out to be a playwright nor do I consider myself one; that project just kind of fell into my lap. I immensely enjoyed the process but don’t have any plans as of now to do any more plays.
R: But do you think you’d ever want to turn one of your own novels into a play?
K: Haven’t really thought about it, but I guess if the opportunity presented itself, it might be an interesting journey, although I think I would rather see one of my books on the big screen rather than in a play.
R: A young writer wants your advice. What three things do you tell her?
1. Read as much as you can in all genres. The best advice I ever got from a writer was to read what you love as well as what you don’t. A lot of writers tend to read what is in their comfort zone or what they like, but I have found that reading all genres opens you up to so much more.
2. Write everyday. I believe writers are not born but made. My motto is: The more you write the better you get. I see that in my writing everyday. The more I write on a consistent basis I see two things happening: 1. it’s easier to sit down and start my writing each day; and 2. the writing process just gets easier and faster.
3. Go out and experience life. As writers we tend to be a bit reclusive. I get it; I can be that way at times myself. However, in order to write good stuff we usually have to experience good stuff. If you don’t get out there and explore new things from time to time, you could find yourself stifled.
R: Miss K. Elle, would you describe your perfect Sunday for us?
K: Relaxing at home with a good movie or hanging out with close friends.
R: If calories didn’t matter, what would you pig out on?
K: Anything made of dark chocolate with almonds.
R: You’ve written the helpful book, From Concept to Kindle: A Step-by-Step Guide to Writing, Publishing and Marketing your Novel on the Amazon Kindle. What are one or two advantages to self-publishing?
K: I think the biggest advantage of self-publishing is that you can pretty much write whatever you want to write. Before I started on my self-publishing journey, I submitted “My Man’s Best Friend” to numerous publishers and agents who quickly rejected my book. I realized my subject matter was not of the “norm” with the other contemporary romance books, so I don’t think anyone could actually see it selling. Boy were they wrong! Ha. So without the avenue of self-publishing, my book may not have ever made it to the large readership that I have today.
A second advantage of self-publishing is the author gets a bigger piece of the so-called pie. There aren’t any publishers or agents there to take their cut, so in essence you can sell half the amount of books of a traditional author and make just as much in residuals.
R: Are there any disadvantages?
K: Now, the disadvantages of self-publishing are that you are the publisher, so the success or failure of your novel falls exclusively into your lap. Being a self-published author is hard work; you have to wear multiple hats which can get a bit overwhelming at times, and if you do not like the business side of writing then you may not be able to sell as many books as you like. I find myself working from sun up to sun down, dividing my day up between writing, marketing and the publishing aspects of the writing business. I personally love being in control of what I do and what I make.
R: What are your favorite hangouts in Los Angeles?
K: I like to people watch so I find myself at the beach or a favorite coffee shop.
R: Any hidden gems you can tell us about?
K: A friend of mine just told me about a place in Malibu called “Moonshadows” so recently I decided to visit and it was amazing. If you like dinning right on the water with the sound of the waves crashing onto the shore while taking in a beautiful sunset with great music and tasty drinks, then this is the place for you!
Thanks, K. Elle!