Karmen Lee has always been an avid reader of anything and everything, but romance has a special place in her heart. Her characters are a little flirty, a lot sarcastic, and often far more emotional than they realize. She’s a lifelong Southerner living it up in Atlanta, Georgia with her kid, her cats, and humidity. When she’s not packing lunches or working her normal nine-to-five, you can usually find her drinking coffee too late at night, watching House Hunters International and dreaming up ways to show her readers a good time. You can find out more about her on Twitter (@Author_KLee) or Instagram (@authorkarmenlee) where she occasionally shares pictures of just how much coffee she consumes on a daily basis.
Harlequin: Tell us about yourself. Our readers want to know!
Karmen Lee: I was actually born in New Jersey, but both sides of my family are from TN and that’s where I grew up. The Southern is strong within me and most of my characters reflect that. I love adding regional quirks into my stories, including some Southern phrases I’ve gotten from my grandmother over the years. I’ve lived in quite a few states even as an adult and lived in South Korea for a couple years teaching English. And yes, I love K-pop!
H: What do you love about being a romance writer?
KL: I love weaving the story of two people falling in love. You know the end result is a happily ever after, but the journey of getting there still leaves you on the edge of your seat every time. And when it comes to writing queer romance, I love being able to showcase that falling in love can happen for everyone especially when you least expect it.
H: What were the big steps in your journey to becoming a published author?
KL: I’ve been jotting down stories since I was a teen and fell in love with comic books. I self-published my first novella back in 2014 and then was a ghostwriter until 2020 when I finally decided to continue writing for myself. It wasn’t until I connected with an amazing writing community, and we started talking about the sports we did when we were younger that I got the idea to write The 7-10 Split. From there, it was like a domino effect. I decided to participate in my first pitch event ever, #DVPit, and that is when my now editor, Errin Toma, and my now agent, Taj McCoy, both liked my pitch. From there it was, as they say, history.
H: What advice would you offer aspiring writers?
KL: As cliché as it sounds, write what you love. I think when you truly enjoy what you are writing, readers can feel that, and it comes through in your words.
H: What did you do when you got the call from Harlequin?
KL: I think I remember asking, “Wait, are you offering?” I was shocked and giddy and I’m pretty sure after the call was over, I shouted with excitement and did a couple laps around the living room. After, I sat semi-calmly and read over the email with the biggest smile on my face.
Now let’s hear from the editor, Errin Toma:
If you’ve ever seen my manuscript wishlist, I’ve been on the search for a book like this since I became an editor. Engaging dialogue, charming tropes, lots of heat, well-crafted supporting characters and queer, Black leads – this book is a dream! Seriously, from the moment I read Karmen’s pitch for THE 7-10 SPLIT, I knew I was going to fall for this story. I felt so lucky getting to read the manuscript while she was querying, and it just solidified by initial feelings ten-fold. Karmen is an amazing author, and I could see these characters, this setting, and the unfolding of the romance so clearly, which is a testament to her writing. I can’t wait to publish the entire swoon-worthy series!