Lisa: We’re so pleased to have author K-lee Klein joining us today. Although this isn’t a part of the official Countdown to GayRomLit blog tour, K-lee is a Featured Author at this year’s event, so I thought it might be fun to sit down and have a chat with her about GRL in general, get some advice on being a first-time attendee, and whatever else we can think of.
Tell us which was your first GRL and what made you decide to attend that one as a first.
K-lee: Thank you Lisa! I was one of the lucky ones who went to the first GRL in New Orleans in 2011. None of us really knew what was going to happen or whether it would be good or not, but it was as so magical, especially to be in on the premiere event. The next year, everyone wanted to go. Lol. That was the only year I went as a reader too.
Lisa: Sadly, I didn’t get to attend the first, but I remember seeing pics on Facebook as it was happening. That’s what convinced me I needed to attend the next one, that sense of “Tribe” was so evident.
What is it about this particular con that keeps you going back?
K-lee: The people definitely. Most of my social life is online so getting to hang out – in person – with the people that I love so much. I’ve met some of the people I adore most in the world at GRL. I feel like I can just be my introverted, weirdo self.
Lisa: Yes! The fact that it’s all so “free to be me” is awesome, for sure.
What are some of your most special memories from past events?
K-lee: What automatically comes to mind is meeting Rick Reed. It was at the first GRL and I was hanging out with William Neale, JP Bowie, and ZA Maxfield – squees all around – and Rick walked in. I must have squeed (again) and Bill said, “You haven’t met Rick yet?” I said, “No but please…no…it’s okay…I don’t need…well, okay.” Bill dragged me over and I was so nervous I nearly fell in the pool. I believe Rick still thinks of me as that Canadian lady who almost fell in the pool.
I will always be grateful for that GRL year since I became good friends with Bill Neale. He passed away the following year so I cherish my time with him.
Also, I had a major panic attack – several – at GRL Atlanta and I must have stated as much on Facebook. Wade Kelly saw my panic and asked if she could drop by and she did. I feel very supported and I love Wade to death.
Of course, my first time as a signing author is a very good memory too.
Lisa: Oh, Rick… He’s such a dear man, and I can totally understand your squee attack!
I can honestly say I was scared poopless at my first GRL in Albuquerque (LOLz), at least for the first little bit. Were you nervous at your first, and what advice would you give new attendees to help them ease into the first day of the event?
K-lee: I’ll take this back to my online social network, because I swear they got me through more than one day at every GRL I’ve been to. In New Orleans, I had Twitter encouraging me to dip a toe in the water, try five minutes then ten and so on.
I’m still nervous at every GRL, but one thing I have learned is that’s okay. There are so many authors, readers, and bloggers who feel the exact same way. I hug the corners most of the time unless I’m drawn-out. I love people, but damn, I just get so anxious and self-conscious. Online I seem very extroverted, and though I have my moments, generally I want to crawl back into my cave or hide in my room. I’m not sure how much advice I can give except you’re not alone. Find someone who looks just as nervous and just say hi. It’s amazing how much alike we all are in certain situations.
Lisa: That’s one thing so many of us have in common—the need to isolate and recharge every so often. It’s so easy to burn out otherwise.
I think we readers sometimes forget that authors are also fans. Who are some of the authors you’ve been most excited to meet over the years?
K-lee: TA Chase and ZA Maxfield were two of my first m/m authors, so meeting them was very exciting. Kaje Harper had been one of my best friends online before I met her, and I might have peed a little when I got to hug her. I was ecstatic to meet Amy Lane and sink into her fabulous hugs. I’m also a huge fan of Carol Lynne’s Cattle Valley series, so meeting her was surreal too. There really are way too many to list.
Lisa: I love that we all get to fanboy and -girl over authors, and authors get to fangirl and -boy over each other too.
What are some of your most favorite events to attend at GRL, both as an author and as an attendee? What event(s) would you recommend to a first-time attendee as ‘not to be missed’?
K-lee: I was totally a dancing queen in another life, so I love those evening parties too. GRL was actually the first time I dressed-up in a costume as an adult. I was so nervous when I became the Winter Soldier, but then had a blast. Last year I was a dancing queen witch.
Obviously, the signings are a must and I also enjoy the Q&As, and the special panels are cool too.
Lisa: It’s hard to pick and choose, too, when things overlap. That’s one of the hardest parts of attending!
Will you have a new book out by then that you hope to introduce to attendees? If so, what book is it? Tell us a bit about it.
K-lee: I do! Unbroken Hearts, my second book in the Unbreak My Heart series with Dreamspinner, comes out on October 11, so I’ll have print books at GRL too. This series is my baby. The first book, Unbreak My Heart, was angsty, often painful, and a very slow burn, but still hopeful. It’s been called an ugly cry book. Unbroken Hearts is more light-hearted and continues the love between Brett Taylor & JT Campbell. The story spans four holidays in my guys’ lives; Valentine’s Day, Halloween, Christmas, and New Year’s Eve.
Lisa: Excellent! We’ll all make sure to visit you during the author lounge and signing, especially to see that pretty cover Reese Dante made for you.
Do you have any last pearls of wisdom or advice you’d like to share?
K-lee: Lol. Not sure how pearly I am. I can tell you what I’ve learned from GRL, though. I’ve learned it’s okay to feel like an outsider because I’m not the only one. It’s okay to be shy and scared and to take a chance, to step out of my comfort zone, because in general, our community isn’t malicious and doesn’t dissolve into “Mean Girls” territory.
If in doubt, find the shy Canadian with the walker, walking sticks, & superhero T-shirts. She won’t mind at all and will take care of you. See y’all soon.
K-lee Klein loves guys with long hair and tattoos, and you’ll often find her front and center at her favorite rock concerts. She has bounced around Western Canada all her life, but will always consider the solitude and beauty of the British Columbian mountains home. Her life is blessed as the proud mother of three now-grown but still spoiled kids, the servant of two bossy felines, and the wife of a truly patient husband.
Her writing muse is terribly temperamental, so to keep him close by and in check, she had him inked on her left calf. The gorgeous, long-haired, mostly naked, kneeling angel that resulted is truly a work of art, although he’s still a handful and hopelessly uncontrollable. She writes on his schedule and inspiration.
K-lee tends to fall easily into obsessions. When something grabs her attention, she jumps into it headfirst with complete abandon. Actors, musicians, superheroes, fictional characters, and brainwashed assassins all hold spots on her cannot-get-enough list. She once followed Thirty Seconds to Mars around the United States and Canada and saw them perform fourteen times that year. Obsession sometimes leads to ideas for her kneeling angel to turn into stories.
Although an introvert in person, she’s extroverted online and has met many wonderful friends there, sometimes with the added fun of meeting them in person at gay romance conferences. She’s grateful for all the people in her life who accept her as she is and support her through her ups and downs as mom, wife, and joyfully obsessed writer.
About the Book
Title: Unbroken Hearts
Series: Unbreak My Heart, book 2
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Release date: October 11, 2017
Pre-order Link: Dreamspinner Press
Blurb: Country singer turned rancher Brett Taylor fought his way out of the bottle, so he could have JT Campbell in his life. JT’s patience, intelligence, and humor broke through Brett’s walls of depression, and now the once-isolated rancher and his young California guy in search of himself are together on Brett’s Texas ranch.
While Brett and JT are more in love than ever, they’re still dealing with past baggage and learning how to move forward. Brett’s former lover casts a long shadow over their lives—one JT tries to pretend doesn’t bother him. Can Brett soothe his fears with the sort of sappy, sentimental Valentine’s Day JT was taught to shun growing up—but secretly always wanted?
When Halloween rolls around, a costumed night out at the local bar might lead to another romantic first. And on Christmas morning, JT awakes to some sweet loving and the most meaningful gift he could ever imagine. The New Year truly brings a new beginning—ushered in by some silly, sparkly, and sexy fun.
One year. Four important holidays. Two men who have worked hard for the love and trust they share and the bright future that’s finally within their grasp.
Enter to win an e-book from K-lee Klein’s Backlist!