Kristina is giving away a physical copy of The Daughter He Wanted to one reader - please be sure to leave your email so we can contact you if you win!
When did you first have the thought you'd like to write a book? Was that first thought related to writing romance?
I can't remember ever not wanting to write a book! I know, weird, but even as a little kid I would read a book and think, "Oh, but what if ____ happened?" And I would be off in another world thinking about that story. The first time I thought I was writing romance was kind of accidental: I'd decided, during the summer of my 6th grade year, to write a girl-power version of The Three Musketeers. Everything was going along swimmingly until all 3 of the friends decided to fall in love rather than save the king, lol. From that moment, it was all romance for me.
What was your path to getting this book written and published? What type of research did you do?
Long and meandering! haha The Daughter He Wanted is kind of the story of my heart. My husband and I adopted our daughter 6 years ago, after a long battle with infertility. While most of the people in our lives were completely supportive of our decision to adopt rather than continue that roller coaster, a few had ... inappropriate questions. I'll leave it at that. But I wanted to write a story about choosing a family. There is an saying in the adoption world that family isn't necessarily blood but the people you go into battle for (and with). In my book Paige and Alex have all kinds of obstacles and they each have baggage they have to learn to live with and let go, and at the heart of it is the choice Alex has to make: can he be a father? Does he want to?
As for the path to publication, it was fairly simple! I had the idea and wrote the first three chapters in about a day and a half. I showed them to my agent - who is so talented! - and we shipped them off to my editor at Harlequin. I'd just finished a novella series for their E line, and my editor loved the idea and bought the book for SuperRomance.
Where did the idea for your story come from?
The basis - choosing family - came from my life, but I didn't want my own experience with adoption to color the book too much...so I made Paige the natural mother rather than an adoptive mom and gave Alex the role of sperm donor/dad...or is he?
Why did you pick the setting you did?
Well, I'm from Missouri and I love all the different parts of it! St. Francois County, though, is one of my favorite places. Some of the old timers there still speak Paw Paw French, which is a dialect that is nearly dead and is a hold-over from the old trapping days. The land is rolling and hilly and just beautiful.
Are your main characters completely imaginary or do they have some basis in real people? Do they reflect aspects of yourself?
They are purely my imagination, although some real people served as inspiration in the looks department! lol You can check out my Pinterest board to see who inspired them...and, a disclaimer, when I say 'inspired' I mean a hairstyle or type of clothing...not the actual features!
Did you face any blocks while writing the book, and if so, how did you handle them? If not, what's your secret?
I don't really believe in writer's block. I know if I'm having a problem in a certain area there is probably something in the scene or chapter before that needs to be smoothed out. I did have a problem with Alex, though, because he did NOT want me to go as deep into him as I did. He was perfectly happy to pretend to be completely over his past...I got in there, but it was a ride, let me tell you.
What have been surprises you've encountered while writing the book and after?
How excited people are about this book, and not just my friends or my agent or even my editor. I've received such great feedback from people I've never met in person about the book, how much they loved that Paige was far from the perfect mom and how they cried when Alex...I don't want to spoil anything. But, a decision Alex makes in the book is really gut-wrenching...
What did you learn? For instance, what did you learn about yourself, your process, the writing world; about being a park ranger, fertility clinics, and single parenting issues?
Gah, more than I ever wanted to know about how 'donations' are made at the fertility clinics, how samples are coded...and how those codes can be messed up. I didn't get to hike the trails that Alex hikes in the book, but I studied so many pictures of them that I feel like I know them. And I learned that I can turn off the internal editor and just write what is in my heart. I have to clean it up when I'm done, but getting those words down, even imperfectly, is a win.
Tell us about your writing space and how or why it works for you.
I have two writing spaces. 1) while I'm drafting, it's anyplace with my iPad and lapdesk. I move all over the house - living room, bedroom, even in the carpool line while I'm waiting for bebe. I love the versatility. When I'm editing, though, I'm more sedentary. My desk is a mess with a plethora of 'stuff' hanging about - my fitness watch, a half-empty jar of Mentos gum, a couple of CROC keychains (I don't know why they're here, they just are), a stress ball with orange Troll hair and a goofy grin, my To Do lists, calendar and a broken bottle of nail polish that I'm determined to get open again...some day. I can't tell you why the mess works, but when my desk is clean I can't focus and when it's messy I can lose myself in writing/editing for hours at a time.
What are some of your favorite books and why?
In general, romance books are my favorites. I love the character journeys inside the stories, how the characters grow and change throughout the book. I love Suzanne Enoch's "Billioniare" series (Samantha Jellicoe) because the growth of that heroine in each of the books was so spot on. I was so sad to read the last line of that last book! Delores Fossen wrote an amazing series for Harlequin Intrigue a couple of years ago, set in Silver Creek Texas and filled with cowboy lawmen brothers who were just yummy. And I can't not mention Pride & Prejudice because I think my Romance Writer Card will be revoked if I don't...more Mr. Darcy, please!
What are you working on now?
I'm in the middle of two sets of revisions - my second SuperRomance for Harlequin (a reunion story set near my home - yay!) and another single-title project that I'm hoping to start shopping around in another couple of weeks.
Would you like to try your hand at writing a different genre? Which one and why?
I would love to write a cozy mystery series some day. I'm not sure I ever will because I can't keep a secret to save my life and cozies are built on red herrings and not giving away the whodunnit...But I would love to try it!
If you were not a writer, what would your dream job be?
I already had it! I worked as a producer in television news for 10 years before leaving the business to write full time. I loved my job, the people (well, most of them) and the stories! Gah, the things I saw.... If I had to choose something new to do...maybe travel writing, because who wouldn't want to travel the world and write about the places you saw?
What aspect of writing gives you the most trouble?
The outlining. I work from a basic outline and it really helps me get my drafts down fast...the only problem is getting the outline actually DONE. Those 5,000 - 10,000 words are the hardest of any book I write!
Who is your favorite hero/heroine?
Of the ones I've written...I'm going to say Paige and Alex. They're the newest, so there is that...but also, they were so real to me as I was writing. They just came alive. Of characters I didn't write. Hmmm...I absolutely LOVE Cilla and Ford from Nora Roberts' Tribute.
The Daughter He Wanted
Harlequin Superromance, January 2015
The Daddy Surprise
Since the loss of his wife, Alex Ryan has been living a half-life. But with one phone call, Alex discovers he's the biological father of a four-year-old girl and everything changes.
Single mom Paige Kenner preferred to have a family without the man. Now suddenly there's Alex, who desperately wants to be a father to her little girl. A gorgeous, kind and committed father. Letting a stranger into their lives is far too dangerous—especially if his presence stirs a part of Paige that she longs to forget
About Kristina: Once upon a time, Kristina Knight spent her days running from car crash to fire to meetings with local police--no, she wasn't a troublemaker, she was a journalist. Her career took her all over the United States, writing about everything from a serial killer's capture to the National Finals Rodeo. Along the way she found her very own Knight in Shining Cowboy Boots and an abiding love for romance novels. And just like the characters from her favorite books, she's living her own happily ever after. Kristina writes sassy contemporary romance novels; her books have appeared on Kindle Best Seller Lists. She loves hearing from readers, so drop her a line!
You can find Kristina here: