Friendy Friday with Kilby Blades
Once upon at time this super rad chick came to my local RWA meeting and I was instantly smitten. She was smart, funny, and knew her shit! She minced no words, and took no prisoners, and I thought to myself, "Self? This gal is the sauce and you need to make her your friend." Fast forward and I am pleased as punch to consider Kilby Blades one of my good friends. We've embarked on two writing projects together (Worst Holiday Ever and Worst Valentine's Day Ever) with more in the pipeline, and I cannot say enough good things about her. She's a brilliant author and marketer of all things romance and erotica. Her stories are imaginative, diverse, and sexy and fun. She's won more awards than I can count in the past year or so and she's an incredible cheerleader of the authors she supports. I asked her to submit to the World's Most Dangerous Interview and she slayed. Check it out:
Name a liquid you’ve shot out of your nose while laughing… bonus points for what made you laugh.
Don’t be silly. I drink too fast to shoot anything out of my nose. There’s nothing funny about wasted alcohol.
Give us a visual of you dancing. The Carlton? Napoleon Dynamite? Solid Gold?
Mid-70s Soul Train. Always with a partner. Preferably Fred Berry (Rerun) from What’s Happening?
Name the first book you read as a young person with sexy times in it. How many times did you read it?
Hmmm…I want to say Forever by Judy Blume. After that, it was probably Flowers in the Attic or Heaven by V.C. Andrews, which were really, really different from Forever. I’ll leave it at that.
What is the most fascinating/creepy/disgusting thing you’ve discovered because of writing?
I had to do deep research on the Hatfields and the McCoys for a novel I wrote about a family feud. Growing up in the 80s, I remember when the Hatfields and McCoys were on the game show Family Feud, and I remember there being a mini-series on TV. Their story was portrayed in the media with a certain degree of lightness at the time. Like, “oh, look—this is the oldest, longest feud in America and it all started with Randolph McCoy accusing Floyd Hatfield of stealing a hog.”
Through the course of researching my book, I discovered that the feud was extremely vicious, with cold-blooded murder on both sides. It lasted for decades and it wasn’t about a pig. I find that a lot while doing book research. The origin of stories we’ve all heard, words we’ve all spoken and melodies we all know can be really dark…
Which book boyfriend/girlfriend (wither one you’ve read or written) sets the standard for all heroes/heroines in your writing?
Michael from my debut novel, Snapdragon, is my ideal hero—not that I’m precious about my own writing, but I don’t see many heroes like him. I like a man who’s strong, sexy and protective but who really knows how to let his woman shine. I also like men who are wildly creative—introverted but deep with some extraordinary magic to offer the world (in Michael’s case, his drawing). Michael (and all my heroes) are modeled after my own Mr. Blades. If I had to pick another great hero, I’d pick Max, the hero in The Gamble by Kristen Ashley. I love a man who’s quietly confident and solid as a rock, even when everything else around him is crazy. That book has a layered plot and Max takes it all in stride.
Name a book that scared the bejeebers out of you and why it scared you.
The Mindf*ck Series by S.T. Abby. Female serial killer out for brutal retribution. And once you find out why, you’re rooting for her. It’s one of the best series I’ve ever read. It’s dark romance.
If you had to choose a movie or book to live in, what would it be?
Probably Clue or The Rocky Horror Picture Show. Give me a great outfit, a mystery, interesting people and a drink and I’m happy.
Name your author superpower and how does it come out in your writing?
I’m really good at taking things that have happened to me in real life or characters who I actually know and bringing them into my stories. My work is more autobiographical than people think. If I ever get super-big, I would want my books to be produced into movies just so I could do a Director’s Cut with commentary for the special edition video. Oh, the stories I could tell about the people behind my stories.
Which book do you wish you’d written?
I identify a lot with Divergent. It brought to light “invisible” neurodiversity. Neurotypical people recognize and try to respect low-functioning neurodiversity, but high-functioning neurodiversity is utterly shunned. I really identified with Tris, the high-functioning neurodivergent heroine—I am high-functioning neurodivergent. It was nice to see a character who had to grapple with that directly. We live in a society that fears and marginalizes those with non-conformist brains.
Which musical describes your life?
It’s the weirdest tie in the world: between The Sound of Music and Hedwig and the Angry Inch. In my early life, I lived a very beautiful and charmed life in an idyllic place with a very safe and secure family and inner circle (that’s the Sound of Music part). When I left my sheltered place, I was excited to go out and experience the big, wide world but was simultaneously chewed up and spit out by said world. The Hedwig part of me is the part that had to figure out how to be tough and fabulous. I’ll even add a third to the mix: Fame (the 1980 version) resonates with me—learning to succeed and find your place and your friends, even as many around you are waiting for you to fail.
Ever get caught reading/writing sexy times in an awkward place/time/situation?
Sometimes, when I am giving someone a ride in my car, I have to immediately turn off my Bluetooth so my audiobook doesn’t start playing by itself.
Thank you so much for having me on!
ABSOLUTELY! We love us some Kilby over here! Kilby has been featured on a few podcasts recently AND she's currently giving a workshop through the Contemporary Romance Writers online chapter on Marketing Steamy Romance. Check out her Twitter for all the links!
(Ro, Eva Moore, Marie Booth, and Kilby Blades at the Almaden Barnes and Noble Store December 2018)
Now, on to the books! Kilby writes erotic romance, contemporary romance, and even put out a YA recently that is totally my jam!
Here's the deets on her latest, which was a part of the
Crazy Old Money Blurb
Marsh has spent ten years trying to spit out the silver spoon he was born with. When his octogenarian grandmother summons him home for an urgent family dinner, he tastes metal. Nevermind that Thanksgiving weekend was when he planned to propose to Jada, who knows nothing of his nine-figure fortune. Nevermind that Brewster family meetings always end in disaster. But the money may be the least of it—there’s a reason why he’s never brought her to Connecticut. The Brewsters are the special brand of crazy reserved for the ultra-rich. Subjecting his woke black girlfriend to his stuffy old money family seems like the least-romantic way to kick off his proposal weekend. And after his family's shenanigans, will Jada even say yes?
Heroine POV Third Chapter (
Marsh had that look in his eye—the one he got any time he was thinking about kissing her. Two-and-a-half-hours in the car without stopping was becoming a bit much. They had long-since turned off of main roads and hadn’t seen other houses for at least a mile. She hadn’t remembered Marsh ever saying that where his family lived was so remote.
When they crested a hill, Marsh’s eyes brightened in a way that made Jada follow his gaze. Looming in the distance, a grand estate stood alone.
”Is that it?"
She hadn’t meant to sound so astonished, but…could that really be where Maw Maw lived? Jada had expected something, well…smaller. Like a suburban mini-mansion or a really nice house. Spotlights illuminated what looked like a small castle. Jada was sure they flattered the estate, no matter the season. The golds, greens and reds that lit it up today were clearly in celebration of Christmas.
Other illuminated buildings orbited the surrounding lands. There looked to be car garages and utility buildings and guest houses and boat houses—you know, because behind the house was a huge lake. And the land beyond the lake and the buildings wasn’t just land—not just dead grass on a frozen plain—it was acres and acres of hundred-year-old forest. Deciduous trees stood leafless and bare, while evergreens closer to the house had been decked out in small white lights. Beyond grand gates, gas light posts lined a more definitive driveway and the space just below each light had been tied with red velvet bows.
"Nice place," she remarked when he didn’t answer.
"My grandmother has champagne tastes.”
But this was no $20 split of house sparkling—it was a nebuchadnezzar of Taittinger. Marsh said nothing more for the moment and Jada had the presence of mind to let it settle. It obviously made him uncomfortable. His voice was quiet when he finally spoke.
“Like I said before…this is my family. Not me.”
Marsh pulled the car to a crunchy stop behind another parked Suburban on the gravel driveway. Jada pulled her hood up and arranged her scarf and earmuffs as he came around to open the door. Temporarily enamored by the weather itself, she was delighted to see her breath freeze in front of her face as he helped her stand in the cold air. After he closed her door, he didn’t wait to pull her into his arms.
God, he smells good.
Even after airplanes and rental cars, Marsh still smelled like him. It seemed like ages ago that they’d showered together that morning, having so much fun they’d nearly missed their flight. Marsh brought the sexy times all right, but he always took time for the romance.
“I can’t wait to get away with you,” he murmured, touching their noses in an Eskimo kiss. “This time tomorrow, we’ll be in Vermont.”
“You promised me snow,” she quipped softly as he brushed a stray lock of hair behind her ear. “I’m gonna hold you to that.”
She liked the way his lips always melted into a smile as his cerulean blue gaze washed over her face, how he got his fill of drinking her in before he leaned in for a kiss. Marsh was a master kisser. A championship kisser. An Olympic gold medalist in kissing. He took his time even then, in the frigid cold, with a brisk wind stinging their faces, to devour her mouth deeply and right.
The heavy double-doors were three steps up from the circular gravel driveway. Jada was certain that the fountain in the center would be gorgeous in the summer when it was running and all lit up. She and Marsh walked to the doors hand-in-hand. She half-expected some sort of butler to swing them open—if a butler was even what you called the person who opened the door. Houses that looked like this seemed like they should be teeming with footmen and valets and lady’s maids and every other hierarchy of servant she had learned on Downton Abbey.
Stepping a bit ahead of her, Marsh reached out to grasp the right-most door handle. One firm push and the brisk, refreshing cold was replaced by a wave of fragrant warmth. Marsh’s expression relaxed just as he ushered Jada over the threshold. Her own expression might have relaxed, too, as she breathed in the scent of evergreen sap and mulling spices and ancient, polished wood. He slid his arm into its rightful place around her waist as they walked farther inside.
A grand staircase in the center of the space drew Jada’s gaze upward. It rose to stop at a mezzanine before splitting into two and spiraling off to a second floor. Downstairs, doors to two rooms flanked the staircase, which themselves were flanked by twin hallways. Antique rugs lined paths to opposite destinations.
The house didn't exactly seem empty. Classical music floated from somewhere. Decorations from nature that brought the outdoors in made the entire space look festive. But it unnerved her that she couldn't hear anything. For a house that was supposed to be full of people, it sure seemed like no one was around.
“Come on,” Marsh prodded, tugging her to the left. “Everyone will be in the big room.”
Jada was pretty sure that every room in the house qualified as a big room.
“Maybe we’re the first ones here?” She was still skeptical that any sort of crowd could be here at all.
He led her down one of the big halls. ”We’re probably among the last.” His voice was lower then. “I’m sure they've all been drinking for hours,” he muttered.
An antique clock that seemed built into the crossroads wall told her that the time was just past five. Marsh had mentioned that dinner was scheduled for seven. Jada tried not to peer with too much interest into this room or that. Her plan not to out herself was foiled when she stopped short at the sight of a lit-up painting, done in oil. She’d halted out of sheer surprise.
The man’s suit was dated, but the set of his eyes, the curve of his slightly-plump lips, his roman nose…he was a facsimile of Marsh. Letting her eyes fall upon the name plate at the base of the painting, she read the placard out loud: “Marshall Evan Brewster, Jr. - 1920 to 2008.”
She looked up at Marsh. “Was this your grandfather?”
He nodded. “Paw Paw.”
But her eyes were drawn to the painting and she looked again. Paw Paw looked more like Marsh than Marsh looked like his own father. “The resemblance is uncanny,” she breathed.
When Marsh just shrugged, she was suddenly certain that the same words had been spoken to Marsh a thousand times.
“I thought you were the only Junior,” she observed. “I didn’t know his name was Marshall, too.”
Marsh shrugged again, looking more uncomfortable. “My dad’s Marshall III.”
“Which makes you…”
“Marshall Evan Brewster IV,” he admitted.
Jada thought about this for a minute. She didn’t blame him for not broadcasting that little fact. But, when you were a third or a fourth, wasn’t that part of your legal name? And why hadn’t she, of all people, known Marsh’s?
He held out his hand and they continued walking. There was other art on the wall—many were portraits of other Brewsters, all done in oils. Apart from human portraiture, the ratio of canine portraiture was unexpectedly high. Maybe she’d never heard about all of this because he hadn’t grown up in this house. Hadn’t he just insisted that his parents had rebelled? Maybe his grandmother was the only one in the family with fewer portraits of humans than portraits of dogs.
The sound of a tiny infant rose above the ambient music at the exact moment they approached a perpendicular hall. Marsh had already stepped forward and craned his neck in anticipation, wanting to see who it was, when a woman their age with Marsh’s ash-blond hair and cerulean blue eyes came into view.
An infant did, indeed, lay with his head prone on the woman’s shoulder, and walking alongside them was a little girl. The girl spotted Marsh before the woman did.
“Uncle Marsh!” she exclaimed, dropping the woman’s hand. He let his hand fall from Jada’s waist just in time to absorb the shock of the cannonball greeting of the girl.
“Hey, Jillybean…” His deep voice was a stark contrast to her juvenile one. “You’re bigger than the last time I saw you. Are you six?”
“No…” she stretched it out into about three syllables in a way that only little girls could.
“Five?” he scratched his chin. She shook her head again. When she held out four fingers, he narrowed his eyes. “No, that can’t be right. You’re too much of a big girl to be four.”
When she giggled again, Marsh let her down gently before turning them toward his girlfriend and introducing Jada to the suddenly-shy girl. By the time Jill waved a tentative hello, the woman and infant who’d been on the approach finally caught up to the group.
“Suze.” Marsh said warmly, capturing his cousin in a one-armed hug before reaching out to stroke the sleepy-looking baby’s cheek. The baby seemed utterly uninterested in Jada, but perked up when he laid eyes on Marsh. Jada had rarely seen Marsh around kids, except for her own nieces and nephews. Seeing what a natural he was always made her think of what a great dad he would be to their children some day.
“Jada! I’m Susie.” The woman quickly moved on from Marsh, stepping forward to engulf Jada in half of a very warm hug. “It’s so nice to finally meet you!” she gushed in a not-at-all-fake way. “Marsh talks about you all the time.”
Jada smiled graciously and returned the hug. “Susie. It’s so nice to meet you, too.”
It wasn’t disingenuous, but it was a bit awkward. The first time Jada had heard of Susie was on the plane. Susie’s grandfather, Peter, was Marsh’s great uncle and Maw Maw’s brother-in-law. Susie was two years younger, but she and Marsh had spent summers with Maw Maw when they were little.
Even if Marsh hadn’t identified Susie as “one of the sane ones”, Jada caught a good vibe and got the feeling they would get along just fine. Susie had an edgy haircut, colorful tattoos down to the wrist of one arm, and her baby wore the tiniest pair of black-and-white checker Vans that Jada had ever seen.
“We’re on a walk,” little Jillian informed Marsh.
“Uh-oh…” Marsh’s glance at Susie was a question.
“Minnie and Steven are at it already.”
“What is it this time?” he asked
Jada had also heard about Uncle Steven and Aunt Minnie on the plane.
“Liz checked herself out. Minnie gave her money.”
Jada suddenly realized why they were talking in code. Liz was Marsh’s cousin who was supposed to be in rehab. Whatever they were talking about, they didn’t want to say in front of Jill.
Marsh swept his hand over his face and shook his head. “For real?”
Susie shook her head and made an equally disapproving sound as she threw Marsh a knowing look. “I know. And the rest of her trust fund? Gone.”
If trust funds and inheritances were floating around, and this was how Maw Maw lived, Marsh’s family was filthy rich.
Some of them, Jada self-corrected gently, reminding herself again that his parents had gotten out of the family business. Marshall Senior was a hotelier, though it occurred now to Jada that maybe he wasn’t self-made. Marsh’s mother, Kate, fancied herself to be fairly bohemian, though her lifestyle wasn’t without frills. To hear Marshall Senior tell it, Kate had more than a few frills, courtesy of the alimony he paid. Marsh did fine as an attorney, and Jada herself did five times as well as Marsh did, as a VC, but this…this was in a completely different league.
“She sold her shares a while back.” Susie lowered her voice, as if the walls themselves were listening.
Fire lit Marsh’s eyes and he hissed, “To who?”
Susie pressed her hands over her daughter’s ears long enough to utter a single syllable. “Biff.”
Marsh had made his cousin, Biff, sound like a colossal jerk. Jada mainly knew that he was Liz’s brother and worked full-time in the family business. He was jockeying for the CEO position after Maw Maw passed. According to Marsh, the saving grace that kept things going were Maw Maw’s instincts and her iron constitution. Everyone thought she would live to be at least one-hundred.
“Do I wanna know how much?”
Susie shook her head. “A lot less than they were worth. And lot more than any addict should have.”
She’d whispered it now that they were closing in on the others. Jada could finally hear party chatter and make out the silhouettes of several people through the double doors of the open room at the end of the hall. She did smell food now, though she couldn’t tell whether it was food for the sit-down dinner, or things that had been set out as hors d’oeuvres. Susie and Jill stepped into the enormous room in front of them. Marsh still looked troubled when he slipped his arm around Jada. Instead of following closely behind his cousin, he stopped.
“Maybe we should find my dad—you know—say hello and let him know we’re here. I don’t see him inside.”
Before Jada could react to her own strong suspicion that Marsh might actually be stalling, Susie turned back toward the door with a smile and a welcoming motion.
“Come on, Jada. We’ll introduce you around.”
The space seemed less of a library than it did a sitting room. Inlaid bookshelves covered two of the walls. Antique sofas and chairs were arranged around a grand piano. A long, narrow serving table sat between two windows on one of the unshelved walls. The table was laden with cheeses and canapés. A roaring fire burned in a shoulder-high fireplace and a punch bowl of egg nog sat on a separate table—egg nog that Jada sincerely hoped was spiked.
Six or seven adults, some of who looked like Marsh, were scattered throughout the room. Conversation slowed as their arrival was noted with interest. Marsh squeezed Jada’s waist a little and softened his expression into a reassuring smile. But suddenly, Jada wasn’t feeling so confident, despite her words in the car.
For hours—maybe for years—Jada had anticipated meeting the rest of his family. But nothing was as she’d believed. This was no regular Thanksgiving dinner. This was an episode of Dynasty. And it seemed
the other person she’d be meeting for the first time today was Marsh.
Pick up your copy of Crazy Old Money here!
HUGE thanks to Kilby for being here today!
I'll be posting a Merrill's Musings on Sunday about my time here in Portland and I will also have two Facebook events on Sunday the 7th, so Stay Tuned for more Rock 'n' Romance...