Journalist and author Kiri Blakely’s romance card led her to write the bestselling book Can’t Think Straight. Read on how this vivacious woman was able to make lemonade when life threw her a lemon.
Hometown: Glastonbury CT
Current Residence: Brooklyn
Areas of Focus: Pop culture with a feminist twist
How long have you been writing for Forbes Magazine? What made you decide to write Can’t Think Straight?
I wrote for Forbes magazine for about 11 years. Then I began writing exclusively for Forbes.com and have been doing that for about two years now. I’m not sure I made a “decision” to write Can’t Think Straight, it was more of a compulsion. I express myself through writing, and when this huge life upheaval happened to me, I had no other choice but to write down all of my thoughts. It was more like keeping a diary in that way.
How long did it take you to write Can’t Think Straight?
I wrote compulsively for about a year, until I literally got sick of writing about myself. Then I let it sit for awhile, probably six months. Then someone wanted to see it, so I began editing it. I edited and shopped for a deal for another few months.
Why did you choose Citadel Press instead of self-publication?
At the time, self-publication wasn’t getting the kind of attention it is now. There was no Amanda Hocking making $2 million from self-publishing, so it simply never occurred to me. Kindle did not have its self-publishing platform yet. If self-publishing had been what it is now five years ago, I may have considered it. Certainly, if it had sold on Kindle what it sold via traditional publishing , I would have made more money. However, I have no guarantee that this would have happened. I was able to generate a lot of press for myself because I had a traditional publisher. I acted as my own publicist, but media outlets still take books published via traditional houses more seriously. Would The Today Show have had me on if my book was self-published? Doubtful. But I think that will begin to change.
I understand Can’t Think Straight is available in eBook format. What role has the eBook market played in promoting your work? Which did you sell more of, printed copies or eBooks ?
The dirty little secret of traditional publishing is that authors don’t really have a clear grasp of their sales, at least not for awhile. Publishers get sales figures through retailers, but you only get a sense of your numbers after the book has been on sale for about a year. Authors can look at BookScan numbers via Amazon, but frankly, I have real doubts about the accuracy of those numbers – BookScan doesn’t track international or electronic sales. That said, my Kindle and Nook rankings have always been higher than my paperback rankings, but that could just mean there are fewer electronic books than paper books. So it’s all a bit of a mystery.
Authors who publish through Kindle get raw numbers fairly quickly. Those of us going through a publishing house do not. If you do, please let me know who your publisher is so I can use them next time!
How could you not have known that your fiancé was gay after living with him for ten years?
I always find this question kind of amusing, though I understand why people ask it. However, if someone told you that their financial adviser had stolen all their money, you wouldn’t say, “How could you not have known?!” You’d be like, “Oh, that sucks!” But people have this idea that you should be omnipotent in relationships. The fact is, we had sex, he asked me to marry him and we lived together.
Why would all of that say he’s gay? He didn’t act, look or sound “stereotypically gay.” I admit that after ten years we weren’t having huge amounts of sex. But I don’t know too many people who have been together that long who are. It was a horrific shock to my sense of self and my belief in other people that someone could be lying and cheating on me for so long. But people can hide things. If they want to hide them, they will. That’s just reality. Anyone who wants to say I was in denial is welcome to it, but they will change their tune if someone ever fools them.
Did you get any feedback from male readers? If so, how did they respond to Can’t Think Straight?
Wow, I got some amazing feedback from male readers. They really enjoyed the book, and they definitely seemed to be in tune with my raunchy and politically incorrect sense of humor. One guy from Boston (a straight guy) emailed me several times, quoting passages and laughing. So I think guys will be pleasantly surprised if they read it. It really reveals what goes through a woman’s mind when she’s dating. The gay men who read it were extremely supportive too. The gay men who only saw somewhat sensationalized parts of the book on TV were less supportive and drew wrong conclusions about it, like that the book was homophobic or something. C’mon, I was engaged to a gay man! I’m not homophobic.
Who inspires you as a writer?
Charlotte Bronte was my big inspiration. After I read “Jane Eyre” when I was about 21, I decided I wanted to be a professional writer. She had a very powerful and emotional voice that spoke to me. Other than that, I love a good memoir. Suzanne Finnamore, Catherine Texier. They both have unique, smart, powerful, raw, honest voices. However, I don’t read too much fiction. I should probably read more.