By THERESA WINSLOW
The Capital of Annapolis
ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) — Four years ago, Laura Kamoie hit her head on the edge of a cabinet while emptying the dishwasher. The accident led to a concussion — and a second career.
Kamoie is now a best-selling romance writer with a six-figure deal for a four-book series.
The 42-year-old married mother of two writes under the name Laura Kaye.
“I’m truly living the writing dream,” said the author, who is also an associate professor of American history at the Naval Academy.
Kamoie has produced nine books in four years — the most recent of which climbed to No. 24 on The New York Times Best Seller List for combined print and e-book fiction — and has contracts for 20.
She views romances as hopeful stories that prove there’s someone out there for everyone.
“You not only sympathize with her characters, you empathize with them, that’s a real talent,” said Liz Pelletier of Entangled Publishing, which has released four of Kamoie’s books. “In a couple phrases, she can make your heart clench.”
Kamoie, who lives in St. Margarets, is finishing the third novel in her fantasy romance series “Hearts of the Anemoi” — in-between grading finals. Next, she plans a brief vacation before starting the first installment of the new four-book series “Hard Ink,” which is due in April.
“Hard Ink” is about an ex-Army special forces officer who performs covert missions while based out of a tattoo shop. Spoiler alert: romance ensues.
“They’re very hot, they have a good story and a nice plot,” said Kim Sowards of Dundalk. “It keeps me up all night reading her books, because I don’t want to stop. Instead of having a drunk hangover, I have a book hangover.”
Kamoie usually writes in a home office, or at the Edgewater Panera with a fellow novelist, Lea Nolan. She typically cranks out 10 to 12 pages at a sitting, and has written an entire novel in just 3 1/2 weeks.
“She’s a natural-born storyteller,” said Nolan, who recently had her own young adult novel published.
The dishwasher accident resulted in six months of complications, including severe headaches. As she was convalescing, a friend recommended she read the `Twilight” series.
Kamoie loved it — and also thought she could write something similar. She completed her first novel, “Forever Freed,” in 12 weeks. As in “Twilight,” vampires are involved.
“I like to play `what if” games,” she said. “What if a male vampire ended up raising a human child?”
After her accident, doctors told Kamoie her behavior might change — and it did. She took guitar lessons; while she used to prefer pop, she took to alternative rock. And there was her sudden urge to write romance.
“I feel like something magical happened,” Kamoie said. “I feel like I’m my true self right now. It’s not that I changed so much. I’m still the same mom I was and wife I was, but I feel like I’m a better me now.”
She spent a year trying to get her first book published. By the time she found a willing company, she’d already completed her second novel. She ended up selling both, which led to a flurry of activity.
Amanda Bergerson, associate editor at Avon, the division of Harper Collins with which Kamoie signed her “Hard Ink” deal, said Kamoie is an expert at “tapping into the emotions of characters.”
“You can’t teach that,” Bergeron said, “and she’s got it in spades.”
Although a dual identity as history professor and romance writer might seems incongruous, Kamoie doesn’t see the two as dissimilar.
“A big part of being a historian is telling stories,” she said. “Everything I’ve done before has led me to this.”
Of course, history books, as Sowards said, usually don’t have the kinds of scenes that make readers crave a cigarette and chocolates.
But Kamoie’s time at the academy might be one reason some of her books have characters with military backgrounds — minus the Navy.
She felt it was off limits because of her teaching position.
Her job situation is about to change, however.
After 7 1/2 years at the academy, she’s taking an unpaid leave of absence to write full-time.
“Likely, I’ll end up leaving what is an incredible job to do this,” she said. “But I just feel like it’s an opportunity so few people get to do what they love the most and get paid for it.”
Information from: The Capital of Annapolis, Md., http://capitalgazette.com
(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)