I have a special guest visiting my blog today, Candi Kay. She’s the author of one of my favorite series, Willy the Kinky Elf & His Bad-Ass Reindeer. I have devoured every book and can’t wait for Santa’s story which comes out next year.
KC: Hi, Candi. Welcome to my blog. I can’t wait to have you talk about your newly released book, Luke the Hybrid Reindeer & His Vivacious Elf, and for people to get to know you.
Candi: Thank you for having me. I can’t tell you how happy I am that you’re enjoying the series.
KC: You just released the sixth book in the Willy the Kinky Elf series called, Luke the Hybrid Reindeer and His Vivacious Elf. What’s it about? And for those who don’t know, why is this story particularly close to your heart?
Candi: I always try to put a little bit of me in every story, but Luke’s is probably the most personal one I’ll ever write. He’s suffered on and off from an eating disorder since he was fourteen. Unfortunately, that’s something I’m all too familiar with. Mine started when I was fifteen. I’m a lot better now, but the early years were pretty bad. Back then, eating disorders weren’t really taken seriously or discussed. Thankfully, things have evolved since then, but anorexia wasn’t known about beyond what happened to Karen Carpenter, the singer who died from complications of it. My two sisters were supportive, as was an amazing teacher at my high school, but nobody really understood it back then.
I went back into Luke’s story at least a dozen times to remove his eating disorder because it was so personal, but I couldn’t bring myself to. I wanted readers (who may be suffering themselves) to know that there is help out there and you can get better. The mindset will never completely go away, but you can get better. Reach out. Talk to somebody. There are a lot of resources available now that weren’t when I was suffering. Use them. Or contact me. I’ll always be here to listen and I promise anything you say to me will remain between us.
As for what the story is about…. Luke was kicked out of his family home a year ago and threatened if he dared come back. The reasons for his being kicked out come out as the story plays out. During his year away, he was forced to do anything he could to survive. After an attack by someone hired by his father to dispose of him, he’s brought back to Santa’s Village. This is where he meets his mate, a hot nurse, Micah Matthews. Little by little things come out that his parents don’t want known, one of which being that Luke’s biological father isn’t the man who raised him. The book also introduces Santa’s love interest for next year, a character I simply adore.
And, of course, Willy is up to his naughty, matchmaking shenanigans. He’s more over the top this year than in years past.
KC: How did you come up with the idea for the Willy series, and did you ever imagine it would extend to seven books?
Candi: The Willy series came to be when I saw a submission call from (now defunct) Torque Press for the Santa’s Little Kinksters anthology back in 2014. They wanted Christmas stories with a little bit of kink. I had no idea where I was going when I started the story but I knew I wanted it to be different. Torque never got back to me one way or another (after 16 weeks of waiting), so I pulled it from consideration and self-published it. There was no thought of it being a series. That didn’t change until a few months later when I reread the story and wanted to introduce Evan and Derek. Willy also wasn’t done being Willy. I honestly never saw it being two books, much less going on to seven. I’m thrilled that readers embrace my crazy version of the North Pole.
KC: The covers for the Willy the Kinky Elf series are cute and quirky as are the titles. How did you come up with the cover style and the titles?
Candi: The covers are so much fun to make. I don’t have the pressure of trying to find the perfect cover model who fits the story in some way. I’m most proud of Dylan’s because I was able to find a leather jacket wearing reindeer riding a motorcycle. When I saw it I knew it was perfect. It took me days to find out how to buy that photo but I knew I had to have it. I try to make each cover reflect the story in some way.
The titles are always a challenge. The original Willy title (and series title) came to be after a lot of back and forth with my best friend. She suggested I make a list about Willy’s story and then we took what was listed and Willy the Kinky Elf & His Bad-Ass Reindeer was born. The others, with the exception of Luke’s that was decided last year, have been a challenge. I always have the first part down pretty early – Willy the Kinky Elf, Evan the Virgin Reindeer, Blake the Rogue Reindeer, Barry the Lonely Reindeer, Luke the Hybrid Reindeer. It’s the second half of the title that always drives me nuts. I’ve not even started thinking about Santa’s title yet. I’m always open to suggestions from readers.
KC: All of your stories have a theme. Do you decide on the theme ahead of time or does it evolve and reveal itself as you write?
Candi: They evolve, with the exception of the first book. I knew that one would be love is love. The others came to me as I wrote each story or the one directly before it. A couple of bad guys – Blake Simpson and Santa Claus – were never meant to have their own stories originally, so their themes were basically already written without my realizing it. Also, almost every theme applies to something in my real world. It could be friends or family I’ve seen deal with certain things, or issues I personally have experience with, like Luke’s anorexia, or watching someone I love battle addiction.
KC: One thing I’ve noticed when reading the books, is that the secrets and clues in the plot are neatly tied up at the end or lead to the next book. How do you keep track of what’s happening so that nothing is missed?
Candi: I take a lot of notes, something I didn’t do well enough when I first started writing the series. I was heavily involved in writing Blake the Rogue Reindeer & His Cocky Human when I realized I’d never written a description of him in Evan the Virgin Reindeer & His Sexy Buck. I reread that story 4 times to make sure. Since then, I’ve kept a running list of things – ages, dates, descriptions – that I refer back to and add to often. I see each character in my head, but I sometimes forget exactly how they were described. The same applies to settings like Willy’s cottage, the workshop, etc.
I have to tie up a lot of things when I end the series next year so I’m being especially careful about making notes of what those things are. In another of my series (Taking Lance) I typed a long spreadsheet with details. I haven’t done that with Willy because it’s not really been necessary. Of course, that can change the more involved I get into writing the story.
KC: There are quite a few characters in this series. Who spoke the easiest to you? Who was the quietest or the one who didn’t want to talk?
Candi: Easy answer on who speaks easiest – Willy, hands down. Lord, that elf never shuts up. As for the most quiet, or who didn’t want to talk, I had to think about that one. I’m going to say Blake Simpson because he had so much to say – so much to prove – that he had a hard time expressing himself to me. He’d done some horrible things and wanted to do right by all those he’d wronged, including his parents. He wasn’t sure how to do that. And I admit to being real nervous over how readers would react to him being made into a good guy. Blake’s story was one of the hardest I’ve ever written. It’s also one I’m most proud of.
KC: Willy is a crack-up as is his cousin Micah. Are they based on people you know or are you as hilarious in person as those two guys are?
Candi: Willy and Micah aren’t based on anybody I know in the real world, thank goodness. Could you imagine having a real Willy in your life? I think we’d all be seeking out a liquor store to try to find that Peppermint Whiskey he’s so fond of. 🙂 Willy popped in my head one day and basically never left. I’m not the funny one in my family. That would be my husband who keeps me laughing. When he and my sons found out I was writing humor they were shocked, to say the least. I’m able to express my weird sense of humor in my stories, something I have a hard time doing sometimes in the real world.
KC: In the books, there’s an actual link to a website that’s sometimes mentioned by the elves or reindeer, where they post stories and pictures about the gossip and shenanigans at the North Pole. Tell us about this site.
Candi: Yes, ReindeerSecrets.com. It was mentioned first in Evan the Virgin Reindeer & His Sexy Buck. I bought the domain to keep things legal. I admit to being lax on keeping the site updated, but I’m adding stuff as time allows. It’s all things Willy’s World, including a giveaway for the first book in the series for those who might be interested in starting it but are still unsure.
KC: Let’s shift to some questions about you. Have you always wanted to be a writer? What was your first published work?
Candi: I’ve wanted to be a writer since I read my first book when I was quite young. It was a running joke in my family when I was growing up that “CK” could always be found with a book, a notebook, and a pen. Stories have always come easily to me in my head. I just always questioned whether or not they could transfer to paper or a computer screen. I still question that every single time I sit down to write something.
Taking Lance was my first published book. It’s bi-erotica. It wasn’t meant to be read by anybody but me, which was my norm. I’d never shared anything I’d written with anybody. I jokingly mentioned it to my best friend, who insisted on reading it. She gave me the encouragement to put myself out there. She still encourages me daily. I’ll forever credit her for every single thing I publish. I’ve since moved on to mostly gay romance, but I still enjoy writing bi-erotica and other erotica/romance when the mood strikes.
KC: What sparks the ideas for your stories? Images, conversations? Jokes?
Candi: I find inspiration everywhere. It can be from a silly conversation I have with my best friend or from things I see when I’m traveling or out and about doing other things. I’m also from the deep South where everybody knows everybody. I can spend 5 minutes in the grocery store and have enough inspiration to keep me writing for months.
KC: What is your writing process like? Is there a specific time or place you like to write? Do you carry around pencil and paper to write down ideas that pop into your mind or do you voice record ideas? Have you ever had to jump out of bed and write down an idea? What was it?
Candi: I’m not the type of writer who can plan. I have ADHD, which would make that difficult. I write whenever and wherever the mood strikes if I’m near my laptop. If the story is playing in my head I try to type it. If I’m not where I can, I use my phone to keep notes or I jot them down in my ever-present notebook.
I lost count years ago of how many times I’ve jumped out of bed to write something down. Most recently it was about Santa Claus in Luke’s story and in his upcoming one. His future love interest was originally written to be Andrea’s. I’d actually written a story within a story in ‘Luke’ with those two. The first draft was complete and I was working on the edits. Santa wasn’t having it. He said, “Nope, he’s mine.” I had to rewrite huge sections, with most of those ideas popping in my head as soon as I got into bed or shortly after.
I’m lucky to have a husband who understands my crazy writer girl moments.
KC: Are you a Plotter or Panster?
Candi: Mostly a Pantser. I obviously have to plan certain things, but anything plotted usually gets changed a dozen or more times before it’s over. I tried doing outlines early on, but it didn’t work. I’ve yet to write a story and stick to an outline. The characters and stories basically have minds of their own and let me know this constantly.
KC: I want to go back and ask a question about the Willy series again. Next year is Santa’s story, and it’s supposed to be the last book in the series. I’m going to be very sad when it ends. Is there a chance you might continue it? Possibly follow the characters on their vacations and any adventures or misadventures, they might find themselves in? Or maybe more happenings at the North Pole?
Candi: Walking away from this series is going to be difficult. I’ve grown to love every single one of the characters and learning about their stories as I write them. While the official series will end, I honestly can’t see me walking away completely from Willy and the gang. Time will tell on that after Santa’s story is published.
KC: Two final questions. What are you currently working on and what do you have planned after that?
Candi: Right now I’m working on Santa’s story for next year. I like to write what I can early because everything is still fresh from the previous book. I’ve already written 30,000-plus words so far. When it stops flowing, I’ll walk away for awhile and pick it back up later.
I have a few books that will hopefully be released after the first of the year. One is An Unlikely Romance – Brett & Casey. Another is a College Encounters story, Jace. Brett and Casey’s story is a gay romance. Jace’s is gay erotica with a hint of romance. I’m also hoping to work on Cupid, a sequel of sorts to Eros. Eros kind of threw poor Cupid under the bus in his story. It’s time for Cupid to have his say. That one will be more humorous than the others I just mentioned.
KC: Thanks, Candi for visiting and the interview. I hope readers will check out your Willy the Kinky Elf series because the books are wonderfully hilarious with great characters.
ABOUT THE BOOK
Author: Candi Kay
Published: November 1, 2019
Length: 88,500 words (approx.), 256 pages
Publisher: Candi Kay
Genre: Gay Romance, Christmas, Elves, Humor, Paranormal, Reindeer Shifters, Series
Series: Willy the Kinky Elf & His Bad-Ass Reindeer
From the World of Willy the Kinky Elf & His Bad-Ass Reindeer.
The North Pole isn’t exactly as it appears in fairy tales. It has the elves and Santa and his reindeer, but Santa and Mrs. Claus aren’t the jolly couple the world believes them to be. The reindeer are all shape-shifters who transform into gorgeous beings in human form and are respected by all.
Luke has always known he was different. He’s never fit in with the reindeer or the elves. When long-buried secrets come to light, he has no choice but to run. Forced to hide or risk his brother being caught in the crossfire, he does what he has to do to survive. He stays hidden well until the one moment he makes the mistake of letting his guard down.
Micah Matthews is one of the most loved nurses in the North Pole. He’s funny, cute, and good at his job. When the big man himself requests Micah as a private nurse for a special patient, he agrees without hesitation. What he doesn’t expect is to find his mate in the process. Micah knows it would be all kinds of wrong to stay as Luke’s nurse once he discovers the truth, but is walking away even an option? What if the attacker somehow manages to find him and finish what he started?
Between a matchmaking elf and Santa Claus actually being nice, Luke is convinced he’s been dropped into the Twilight Zone. Throw in some Peppermint Whiskey, a super-hot nurse, and a younger brother who may or may not have the hots for Santa, and Luke knows his life will never be the same again.
I’m trying to turn my body to climb off the bed so I can seek out a bathroom when the door opens and I stop short. The elf who just walked through it almost takes my breath away. An inch or two shorter than my five-six, he has reddish blond hair that looks long overdue for a cut. I swear my fingers itch to run through it. Wearing baggy green scrubs with Santa hats all over them, it’s hard to see much of his body. Even so, he’s easily the most gorgeous being – reindeer or elf – I’ve ever seen in my life.
Have you ever heard the saying shocked speechless? You know what I’m talking about. You’re so taken aback by what you’re seeing that your throat gets dry and you have a difficult time forming coherent sentences?
That would be me right now as I force myself not to drool over the beautiful sight in front of me.
He’s by my side in an instant fussing over me.
“You know better than to try to get out of bed without assistance,” he scolds.
“You’re Micah?” I ask again.
“No, honey, I’m Santa Claus, only better looking.”
He leans over me to grab my blanket and I swear I groan out loud.
“You’re really Micah, my nurse?”
“Have you hit your head again?”
“No. I, uh, have to go to the bathroom,” I mumble, trying not to make a complete fool of myself.
“We’ll get you there. Bad way to find out your catheter was removed, eh?” he says with a small laugh. “You slept right through it all. I’ve gotta say it’s bad for an elf’s ego when he touches a man’s private parts and they don’t even wake up.”
“I can see you.”
He pulls back and looks closely at me. I almost stop breathing when his fingers slide over my face to check my injuries, making my face tingle. Not in a bad, painful way. In an almost nice sensation kind of way.
“How many fingers am I holding up?” he asks when he pulls back and holds a hand up.
“You can see me?”
“Obviously,” I respond. “I can’t open my eyes fully, but I can see you a little bit when you’re close.”
He raises a brow and takes a step back and puts his hands on his hips.
“Honey, there’s a lot more to see than just a little bit,” he says with a lewd chuckle. “Just wait until those baby blues can open wide enough to see the whole shebang.”
If he only knew how bad I want to see the whole shebang right now. I swear I could look at the elf all day. I wouldn’t complain if looking at him all day involved him being naked and lying in the bed with me.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
A blogger by day, at night Candi Kay transforms into a writer of various genres, with an emphasis on LGBTQ and erotica. Author of the Willy the Kinky Elf & His Bad-Ass Reindeer series, Candi’s books are often filled with humor, lovable, kooky characters, and sweet happily-ever-afters.