You can spot a Kimberly Lemming book from a mile away by the hilariously unforgettable title and its cover art of a painting illustration to match. Two years in, and the fantasy romance author has made a name for herself with her humour forward, sex positive, adventurous books. We sat down with her to talk about how she got her start, writing choices, and her ever growing fanbase.
What got you into writing romance?
Well, I've always just loved reading romance. In 2021 I got to a point when I really just wanted to escape. I hated my job at the time and needed a break from everything. My husband was like ‘well, you've been talking about this romance novel, you've been thinking up in your head, why don't you just quit your job and just rest for a few months, and then write it and see what happens.’ So, I did just that. I took a break and then everyday I wrote a little bit more of “That Time I got Drunk and Saved a Demon,” and it was so relaxing and so fun. When I was done, I put it up on Amazon.
Why fantasy, why is that the sub genre you chose to go with?
Because anything can happen in a fantasy. You’ve got werewolves, you could throw sticks of cinnamon and secure a dragon from a curse, whatever you want.
The world you build sometimes feels at odds with the language that you use. Some of the characters use casual language against a backdrop that is medieval. Tell me a little about that choice. Was it deliberate?
It was a little bit deliberate. I feel like a lot of fantasy just gets slotted into medieval Europe but really you can have it go off any kind of culture you want. You can have any kind of dialect. And even if we do go back all those years, they still used slang depending on what region you were from. So there aren’t any set rules on what the language has to be.
The women in your book are all super strong characters, except when it comes to their romantic affairs. Desire and lust for their partners turns them into completely different people. Tell me a little about that.
I think it's funny when someone gets all flustered around the person they like. I think it's adorable and pretty universal. Like Cinnamon is not scared of an alligator, she's used to them. But when it comes to this man that comes in guns blazing and he’s like, ‘you're my wife now, and I adore you.’ She’s like, ‘whoa, first of all, take several seats. Calm down. Let's get some tea.’ I just think that's just a fun dynamic to keep going with.
The couples in your book have an interracial element, although it’s hard to call it that because they’re not all human. Talk to me about how you toed the line with racial parallels from the real world but also just making sure that the books remain fantasy books.
So, I would say when it comes to picking interracial romance, I wrote it based on how I interact with my real life. I grew up in very diverse areas. So I'm thinking in this fantasy world, why does everything have to be sectioned off in the race? It could just be anyone. When I was thinking about the dragons, I thought it'd be so much fun if I had an Asian style dragon instead because in a lot of fantasy romance it’s usually just European style dragons. So I made Fallon. And I wanted to keep it going. Because honestly, men of all different cultures are gorgeous, and deserve to be in a romance.
Why did you choose to start off self-publishing instead of going through the formal publishing route?
Well, I never thought a traditional publisher would actually take me seriously. Like my book title was “That Time I got Drunk and Saved a Demon.” It was like a goofy fantasy romance. So I chose to publish on Kindle Unlimited.
What has it been like building a readership that is now massive and really resonates with your books?
It's been a crazy ride. I never would have guessed that was gonna happen. Especially when the second book came out and they launched it to like, the top five of fantasy romance on Amazon. It's like, I turned around one day and all these people were here cheering me on. Like, this is amazing. But also, where did you all come from?
Being self-published means you interact with your readers a lot more, so you're really privy to every opinion they have about your book. What's that like? Do you enjoy that? Is it weird?
I love it. And especially when I was first starting out, it was a lot of fun to just jump on a discord chat with some of my readers and talk about what they were reading, what they liked about the book, what they wanted to see in the next book. Some of them actually dared me to put the word “cheese puffs” in book two of the series. When they actually saw “cheese puffs” in the second book, they just lost their minds. And because they felt closer to it I feel like they were more than happy to just become super fans and spread it everywhere. So honestly, I love being able to interact with my fans. I think they’re a lot of fun. I've met so many kind people, I wouldn't change it.
You incorporate astrology in your character profiles and I don't know if that was intentional, but it taps into a whole other fanbase that is also very passionate.
I thought the astrology girls might enjoy it. But also, when I was creating different characters, I had a hard time thinking of how to make them sound different. So, I went to the astrology chart and was like, ok, well, Fallon can absolutely be a Scorpio, it just fits. And that kind of helped me flesh out the characters a bit more.
What do you think of the criticism around book-tok, and particularly romance book-tok and their penchant for likening characters to real life people?
I think it's more of a symptom of the internet as a whole. It definitely gets bolstered on book-tok. I think that the whole situation with the hockey player can be boiled down to, spending all your time on the internet in these more sexually positive spaces. You have to remember to stand up, go outside and touch some grass. Because the internet is not real life. And you cannot be screaming obscenities at real life men thinking they're going to enjoy it.
Do you feel like you have any kind of control when it comes to situations like that as an author?
So I've been lucky that my fans, and a lot of my readership have just been wonderfully polite. Like, they sort of just keep themselves in check. I don't really have to do anything.
What can we expect next?
Well, right now I'm writing Ambrose and Usha’s book. That’s been a lot of fun just because there is a lot of adventure. And then I've also been taking breaks to explore the idea of an alien romance.