Author PE Kavanagh
I have personally known PE Kavanagh for several years. We met on a writing site we are both members of. She is also one of our reviewers. We have reviewed her book, Coming Home.
PE Kavanagh combines the unlikely pursuits of spiritual counseling, creativity coaching, and authoring steamy romance novels into a beautifully messy life. Ultimately, all her work is about strengthening resilience, transforming suffering, and keeping life sexy. That includes her six published novels and a slew of stories and articles.
Her past includes stints as an MIT-trained engineer, biotech executive, professional dancer, yoga teacher and business owner, and entrepreneur.
These days, her favorite titles are author, guide, and hot mama.
I would like to introduce you to PE Kavanagh.
Interview Conducted by Sherry Terry
TNR: Why romance novels?
PE: I’m completely obsessed with the human mind and spirit, which I’ve been studying for at least twenty years. I also think that the greatest incubator for human development is the intimate relationship, so all my stories (so far) include that element. They sometimes veer quite a bit toward psychological fiction, but I love the central theme of a love story.
I understand the desire to escape to these worlds as well as the desire to see ourselves in the flawed and lovable heroes and heroines. Romance tells me, over and over, that so many more things are possible than what I might find in my ordinary life. It is exciting, inspiring, and emotionally satisfying.
Unlike many authors I talk to, I’m rarely happier than when I get to write about some sexy time. Writing a fight scene or a chase scene would have me hitting my head against a wall. But a sex scene puts a big, fat smile across my face.
TNR: Great outlook! How are you publishing your writing and why?
PE: When I first began, I had the idea that only traditional publishing would provide me the exposure I was looking for. Boy, was I wrong. After years of research, testing, and experimentation, I continue to choose independent publishing. I also choose to give my books the same professional level of attention that any book from the top tier publishers might receive, including several levels of editing, design, publication, promotion and marketing.
As an entrepreneur, I understand the difficulty of single-handedly juggling all these balls. I love having control over all aspects of the process and I also appreciate those who’ve mastered the various aspects and who can help me make my book the best it can be.
I would never proclaim a position that precluded any existing or new means of publication. I’m a professional author and I’m ready to make decisions and choices that support the creation of the best books I can write and distribution to a large, receptive audience.
TNR: How long have you been writing?
PE: That’s so hard to answer! I began writing non-fiction, inspirational articles for my spiritual community almost twenty years ago. Storytelling comes naturally for me and I always infused these lessons with a narrative quality. My first exploits in fiction happened much later and culminated in my doing NaNoWriMo (on a dare!). Before that point, I had only written very short pieces and did not anticipate ever being able to sustain a novel-length work. That NaNo project, through years of revision and rewriting, became my very first novel.
TNR: I’ve never done NaNO. Too much pressure. Congrats for winning! What does your process look like? Walk us through a typical writing session for you.
PE: I don’t follow a set schedule, primarily because my life – as a bicoastal mother and business owner – is fairly chaotic. Sometimes I write just a few hundred words or spend time cleaning up pieces prior to publication. Then there are periods where I’m cranking out 10,000 words or more a day. I follow the rhythms of my body and my creative uprisings. Thankfully, they always come. My MacBook Air is never farther than arm’s reach away.
As for the creative process, I have been shifting, with each manuscript, from hardcore, determined ‘pantsing’ to allowing more and more plotting earlier in the process. As opposed to strangling my creative flow (which I had assumed in the beginning), understanding structure is allowing me to create much more cohesive and coherent work. So, after the typically messy first draft is done, I then start applying an overlay of 3- or 5-act structure to the whole thing. It’s like making a huge sheet cake, then carving it to resemble a landscape. Or a face.
TNR: What has been your most rewarding experience as an author?
PE: I work with many levels of subtlety in my stories. It’s fine to read them on the surface, but when a reader sees the deeply buried ideas and resonates with them, it’s the best feeling in the world. It’s as if all the boundaries between us as humans dissolve, and we are all just a collection of the same inner thoughts and experiences.
I get notes like, “Every man in a relationship with a woman should read this book,” or “This gave me certainty that I could bring love into my life.” There is NOTHING better than that!
TNR: Great feedback like that is awesome. What is the best writing advice you have ever gotten?
PE: My very first writing coach was as harsh as he was famous. As I would whine about being too sensitive to handle criticism or complain that I didn’t like this aspect of writing or that aspect of writing, he would blaze his baby blues at me and say, “Grow a set.”
As much as I didn’t like that advice when I got it, that set has come in very handy in my career. This is not a career for a Delicate Daisy. It requires strength, stamina, and the fortitude of a whole platoon of Navy Seals. For some of us, growing that strength is most of the journey.
TNR: How would you describe your style of writing to someone that has never read your work?
PE: I write novels that explore the broad issues of being human – honesty, kindness, forgiveness, trauma, regret, desire – in the context of love relationships. If my readers reconsider their long-held beliefs or learn something that makes their lives more vibrant and beautiful, then I will feel like I’ve done my job. I also love how a beautiful sentence lingers on the tongue like a delicious meal. I want to create an experience for the reader that transcends their analytical understanding and goes right to the heart.
TNR: Aww, what a great way to look at writing. Tell us about The Friends & Lovers Series! What inspired these stories?
PE: Like all my stories, the ones from Friends & Lovers came to me in a series of dreams and daydreams. I’ve always had an extremely overactive imagination (which I appreciate!) and snippets of stories are always weaving in and out of my mind.
When I began fleshing out these tales, I didn’t know they were connected. It was only much farther into the process that I realized the cast from one story had a variety of connections – from family, history, work, and social – to the others. What I’m left with is a world with three strong, primary families, and the stories they tell. They deal with issues of the legacies their families left, the beliefs they carry with them, and the paths they choose to follow.
My readers are always asking if side characters will get their own stories too, which I’m open to. As of now, I don’t know how many books will comprise this series, (there are currently four), but I’m guessing it will be at least five. Keep an eye out!
TNR: Is there a message in your novels that you want readers to grasp?
PE: Resilience is a major theme in my life and in all of my work – as a counselor and as an author. I’m most interested in the forces that conspire to lift people up after tragedy. All of my books center around that transition from broken to whole, from a loss of faith in themselves to a re-ignition of self-awareness, personal power and love. I think we are the compilation of the stories we tell ourselves, and all my characters figure out how to tell a better, more uplifting story. My message is that we always have the means to heal and grow. Sometimes it’s the hardest possible option, but it’s always there.
TNR: That’s why your books are so good. What is one thing about you that people probably don’t know?
PE: I have an extremely diverse background. I am a Caribbean immigrant, a former engineer and biotech executive, spiritual teacher and counselor. Writing romance novels, although it is all consuming these days, has only been part of my life for less than five years. I’ve always been captivated by the journey of an intimate relationship, so when I think about the process of growth, maturation, and becoming fully adult, I think about love and sex and connection. I can’t really explain why my stories come to me in the way that they do, but it all makes sense in my head. I want to write about people who discover the best in themselves and others. It just happens that the way. I see that discovery unfolding in emotional, sexy, exciting relationships.
TNR: What a great interview! Thanks so much for stopping by and sharing a peek into your life with us.
Please check out her catalog. Each cover is a direct link to the book.