Romance to Mayhem
by Kimila Kay
February 10, 2022
My mother, Rita, loved reading romance novels. I remember her sharing The Legend of the Seventh Virgin with me when I was fifteen. As I read the story, I became lost in Victoria Holt’s prose, and by the end of the book knew I wanted to be a writer.
As with all readers, my mom’s tastes changed over the years and she continued to share her novels, exposing me to fabulous new authors and different genres. In my twenties and thirties, I enjoyed reading Jane Austen, Ken Follett, and Diana Gabaldon to name a few. Each book narrowing my personal preference to more mystery and suspense, than romance. But it wasn’t until I read John Grisham’s A Time to Kill, that I realized my creative storyteller is dark and twisty.
Other factors played into my blossoming narrative; a messy divorce, an Autistic son, nine years as a single mother of two. All of which served to assure me there was no such thing as a “meet cute”. That “happy endings” only happen to other people. And if Prince Charming ever rode into my life, he’d likely be passing through on his way to someone better.
I’m not bitter about my challenging past, but thankful instead. Where better to find the resources for broken female heroines than in the pages of my life. After all, I’d survived a cheating husband. Experienced dates that would make most women’s hair stand on end. Learned the hard way “I love you” is simply a means to an end for most men.
Of course I want my heroines to find their soulmate, but not until they’ve overcome a few trials and tribulations along the way. My muse’s version of a “meet cute” is a damsel in distress wondering if she can trust the hero coming to her rescue or if she should shoot him and ask questions later? In Peril in Paradise, Clara is swept off her feet by Damian, a psychopath posing as Prince Charming. Before she can extricate herself and her daughter from the madman she married, a tragedy unfolds. Clara’s quest for justice parallels the path of Brady, a mysterious man she’s forced to trust along the way.
I find it interesting that despite the character back story and biography I draft for my heroine, she generally makes choices I didn’t see coming. Does Clara fall in love again … well I wouldn’t want to ruin Peril in Paradise’s ending for future readers.
From the beginning of my writing career, I’ve had a knack for catchy titles, or at least that’s what I tell myself. I strive to generate a title that encompasses the story within the novel and to work the title into the storyline.
My imagination can’t help but create turmoil for my characters; but I also strive to weave in enough mystery to keep the reader guessing. Lacing in a dash of hope that my heroine will find her true love. But my main focus is mayhem. I recently read Where the Crawdads Sing and found myself hoping Kai would find romance. When I read the end of the book, which I had to read three times, I smiled and applauded author, Delia Owens, for knotting her threads of mystery, chaos, and murder into a satisfying bow.
Kimila Kay lives in Donald, Oregon with her husband, Randy, adorable Boston Terrier, Maggie, and feisty black cat, Halle. Her professional accomplishments include three anthologized essays in the CUP OF COMFORT series. In three separate contests, Peril in Paradise, has won two first place awards, and a third-place award in the romantic suspense category.