Say hi to Alice Abel Kemp!
I asked Alice to talk about herself, and she very kindly opened up in all kinds of fun ways.
Take it away, Alice!
What I want readers to know: I would like readers to know that I have a passionate commitment to women’s equality. Trained as a research sociologist, my dissertation and subsequent research publications focused on women—why their earnings remain low compared to men’s, the effects of job segregation, and the burdens of poverty. I am most proud of a textbook I published in 1994—Women’s Work: Degraded and Devalued. I still receive small royalties for reprints although the book is long out of print.
I loved teaching women’s studies classes. Just this summer I heard from a former student that my class from over twenty years ago transformed her life. She’s now an Associate Dean of Business at a big university in New Orleans.
But after twenty years I was ready for something different. Writing academic stuff was always hard for me. In contrast I found the freedom of fiction writing exhilarating. When Debby Gilbert told me she loved my first romance (The Red Halter Top), I was hooked. One of my rewards now is that I have my women characters face difficult situations but succeed and thrive.
When did I become serious about writing romantic fiction: My first exposure to non-academic writing was a workshop at my university on writing memoirs. I drafted one, but never finished it after Katrina overturned all our lives in New Orleans in 2005. Several of us academics formed a writers group that exposed me to all kinds of seminars, conferences, and the Romance Writers of America. The Red Halter Top resulted from the local RWA chapter’s writing challenge. I wrote the novella in a month and published it in 2013. Since then I had two romantic suspense stories published in 2014, and another accepted this Spring.
My writing process: Most importantly, I strive to write every day. A yellow stickie on my desk says “Write First,.” and another pink one says “Write Every Day.” I write in the morning when my household is mostly quiet. Our three dogs finally settle down, and the parrot stops complaining. I need quiet to focus.
I have a tiny altar on the desk – with a votive candle I light, a few crystals sitting on a small ceramic leaf, a tiny crone figure, a small statue of a Goddess found in the ruins of Knossos in Crete, a tiny amethyst penguin, and tiny blue dolphin from Sicily. These items inspire and comfort me.
Hobbies: I’ve always loved to sew and fell into quilt making while still on the faculty. Current quilt is for my daughter and her partner. Across the years I’ve made over twenty quilts, mostly for family members and for our beach rental house on the Gulf. In addition I crochet. My favorite pattern is a Prayer Shawl http://www.shawlministry.com/crochet_patterns.htm. These are made with a prayerful intention for the well-being of the recipient. Both are satisfying hobbies because you have a tangible result in your hands. Publishing either academic articles or romance novels is a long process—sometimes a year or more before stuff is in print. With my hobbies I have something to show for my efforts today.
Current Work: I’m currently working on The Tenure Scandal, a sequel to The Jury Scandal. The protagonist is a women sociology professor (big surprise). Her husband is a homicide detective she met in the first book. In this story she’s drawn into the intrigue of the history department where professors are being killed, apparently to eliminate competition for tenure.
Inspiration comes from all over the place. Often I include crimes that have been in the news. The most fun inspiration I’ve had is with the plot for The Taste of Her, my most recent publication. I have an Idea folder where I intend to stick scraps of possible stories, meaningful quotes, and images that catch my attention. Ready for a new manuscript last year, I opened the folder, anticipating a treasure trove of goodies. There was one yellow stickie in the otherwise empty folder with the phrase, “he loved the taste of her skin.” In a flash, the whole story appeared—a villain who licked women’s bodies before stabbing them, a woman homicide detective who chased this creep and was almost his victim. Published last December, the wonderful cover and blurb are here.
THE TASTE OF HER is the story of Margaret Angelo, a New Orleans homicide detective. Despite the sexism of the NOPD, she works to catch a serial killer, the Slasher, who kidnaps women, assaults them, and gets off on licking their bodies before he kills them. Although devoted to her job, Margaret longs for a life partner. She reconnects with a high school acquaintance, Jim, whom she hires to paint her house. They begin a relationship, but Margaret is kidnapped by the Slasher and faces certain death. The other detectives manage to rescue her, but the Slasher escapes their trap. He is losing control and hunts Margaret down, determined to finish her. With Jim’s support, can she escape this mad man?
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Thanks so much for visiting with us today, Alice! And best of luck with your newest writing ventures!