Thanks for being here Kelli!
1) Kimani is still a fairly new imprint – can you give our readers a basic taste of what it’s about?
Of course! I’m all about Kimani, lol. In a nutshell, Kimani is the African-American imprint at Harlequin. There are four parts that make up Kimani/Harlequin: Kimani Tru, the teen line; Kimani Press, which publishes select non-fiction and women’s fiction from established authors only; Arabesque, our single title romance line of established authors only (formerly BET Books); and my personal baby, Kimani Romance (KMR), the only series/category romance imprint that exclusively features African-American characters. KMR features established, published authors as well as new, debut talent. Harlequin launched Kimani in June 2006—and we’ve been going strong ever since. And, I’m proud to say, getting stronger.
2) You’re doing a pitch session on Eharlequin. Is this for all the Kimani lines, or one in particular?
Yes, I’m excited to hear some really terrific pitches! The pitch session will be for Kimani Romance exclusively. However, if a writer is interested in writing for the other Kimani lines, they should check our guidelines on eHarlequin for how to submit.
3) While Kimani speaks to the African American experience, they are at heart romances to be enjoyed by everyone! What themes are proving popular with readers and writers alike?
Oh, absolutely!! This is something I really want to get across. First, a little history: for decades, African-American heroines in romance novels were few and far between. There were so few of them, but African-American women were incredibly rabid readers. Fast-forward to no: Kimani ensures that those readers have heroines who look like and represent them.
5) Are you open to settings outside the US?
Only occasionally. Out of the 48 books that Kimani Romance publishes each year, roughly 42-46 are set in the U.S. and the Caribbean, while the remaining 2-6 feature settings split between international countries and the U.S.
6) Several popular African American authors write for other lines as well. What does Kimani bring to the table that is different and special?
Yes, we love this because it broadens the author’s audience, and it allows the author to stretch creatively. I believe a lot of our authors are loyal to Kimani Romance because of the frequency of being published twice a year; because of KMR’s extremely loyal readers, many who have been with us since the BET Books days; plus, the wide range of storylines we cover; and the focus on pure romance without having to delve into multiple subplots. Also, we get a lot of attention from niche and blog reviewers….Plus, our covers are looking pretty hot lately, if I do say so myself, lol.
7) Finally Kelli, we’re dying to know…what has crossed your desk lately that has made you super excited? And what would you love to see from aspiring authors?
Oooh, I am crazy excited about our Kimani Hotties theme in 2010! First of all, the men on each cover (1 Hottie a month) looks a-ma-ZING. They are the most unforgettable heroes ever. Sexy and driven and passionate. Can it get any better?
What I’d lovelovelove to see from aspiring authors are:
- Proposals/chapters/manuscripts that show you’ve read the eHarlequin guidelines and Kimani Romance books. It should be clear that you understand what the KMR mission is.
- Romances revolving around a hero or heroine from a prominent family. You can have a ball creating how the family made its mark (i.e. in art or media or politics, etc.)
- Love stories with humor in it. That can be hard to pull off on the page, but I’d be very impressed if it was done well. Readers would be too!
Last, as you sit down to write at your computer or brainstorm away from the keyboard, don’t forget to HAVE FUN!
Thanks Kelli for visiting!
Now, for details about the pitch session:
Info on how to participate (January 6 deadline): http://community.eharlequin.com/forums/write-stuff/editor-pitch-kimani-romance
Kimani Romance Guidelines: http://www.eharlequin.com/articlepage.html?articleId=1169&chapter=0
To listen to the VERY helpful Kimani podcast with Kelli Martin and Alex Colon: http://www.eharlequin.com/images/splash/podcasts/KelliMartinAlexColon.html
To check out the Kimani threads on eharlequin: http://community.eharlequin.com/forums/kimani