Hot Damn Designs founder Kimberly Killion

- by Dara Girard

Tell us about yourself.

Well, I’m a Jill of all Trades. I wear many hats on a daily basis. I’m a writer. I’m the president of the Missouri chapter of RWA. I’ve been a designer for 20+ years. I teach graphic design at a technical college in St. Louis where I also work as a placement counselor. I have the freelance design business and now the stock site. I’m a mother of two, wife of one, and friend of many.

You’re the owner of and How did you come up with the name?

Hot Damn! is just something I’ve always said and it’s catchy and suits the audience I’m targeting perfectly. is a branch of my design company. However, I did start out throwing a few “.coms” around with a male friend of mine for the stock site, none of which were professional. and were two of his personal favorites, but he’s a bit off the wall. *grin*

You’ve recently launched a new website called What inspired you to create it?

I’ve been designing for romance authors for many years now and the hardest part of any project was finding the right image. I spent hours upon hours searching stock sites, but the models on those sites just didn’t have the look I was searching for. I had mentioned to a friend in jest that I was just going to hire my own models, and she said, “I know a guy who could be a model…” The whole thing exploded from there. I got in touch with Angela Brewer of Todd Studios and the whole thing exploded from there.

How do you pick your models? Are they all local? If not, do you travel around the country or solicit applications nationwide?

Casting the models was an interesting task to say the least. We did stay local and started on Craiglist and I then contacted a few local modeling agencies. That’s really where we got our best models. We were quickly inundated with emails from models wanting to be a part of our project. But I’ve quickly realized it takes more than a pretty face and rows of muscles to pose in this sort of setting. One has to get REALLY close to another when they are going in for that “almost” kiss. I found myself saying, “closer, closer…” And then they would get the giggles, which was all part of the fun.

How do you plan and staff a photo shoot?

Very carefully! *grin* I spent 5 days on the schedule for the first shoot. 5 days! It was nothing short of insane. I had 13 models to juggle on the first shoot. In addition to them, I called in a few friends from my local RWA chapter to help with dressing/undressing the models. My photographer had two assistants. We had three hair stylists and one makeup artist. And let’s not forget about the snake handler and his assistant. Sheesh! We had a studio full of people, some naked, some not.

How many covers do you generate as a result of a shoot?

I can’t say for certain how many I can get from just one shoot. I’ve got over 30 covers to my credit at this point and lots more on order, but the images are very versatile. For example, I can take a couple and use them on multiple covers because I have them in multiple positions. I can change the color of their clothes, their hair, their skin. I recently put one model’s breasts on another for a cover and since I removed all the freckles and beauty marks, there’s nothing to give me away. Plus, I typically cut their heads off anyway. *wicked grin*

Can you tell us about a memorable moment that took place during the cover shoot?

The most memorable moment—hands down—was when the snake handler got bit by a ten foot python. The snake’s jaws had to be pried open to get his hand out. And this happened AFTER the snake had posed with one of our models! Yikes!!!

At your site, you offer your services for print and website design. Please tell us about that.

I’ve been a designing for 20+ years, and since becoming a published author, I also know what types of products do well in our industry. I have already tried out various vendors and have my favorites because of costs and quality. I’ve been down the road that authors travel, which makes me unique from the average designing out there.

What’s a big misconception people have about what you do?

Most people tease me about getting to work with sexy cover models. Now, don’t get me wrong, they are hot, and I was totally excited about rubbing the “boys” down with baby oil, but when it comes right down to it, it is work. And it can be embarrassing for a woman of my age to get these beautiful people into position so that their “bits” are hidden.

You are an award-winning author. How do you balance your various businesses?

I don’t sleep!

Anything you’d like to add?

If you haven’t already done so, please visit my design site at and swing by the stock site as well at


  1. What a great interview! Kimberly designed my website and I am beyond thrilled with it. Truly, there are no words. This is one talented lady!

  2. Aww…thanks Kendall! I enjoy designing it. Pink is one of my favorite colors, but it MUST be HOT pink. *wink*

    I also want to thank Dara Girard for setting up this interview. I love talking about the adventures of HatDamn! (((HUGS!)))

  3. Aww…thanks Kendall! I enjoyed designing it. Pink is one of my favorite colors, but it MUST be HOT pink. *wink*

    I also want to thank Dara Girard for setting up this interview. I love talking about the adventures of HotDamn! (((HUGS!)))

  4. Wonderful interview! I can’t believe the snake bit your model – now that would’ve been an amazing photograph! :)

  5. Great to have you here, Kim!
    Kim and I our chapter mates (but I wasn’t there for the snakebiting!) and she’s designing a new website for me. She did a brilliant job of taking one of her shots and creating the character in my mind. I really hate using real people because they never fit the image in my head (unless, of course, they’re Pierce Brosnan, et al!), but she came close.

    And we really want her to do good so she’ll hire that blond Chicago model next!

  6. Yes, yes…I’m working on a blond among other things. Thanks for the support and I’m glad you’re happy with the website I’m building. I love it and can’t wait to show it off!

  7. I got fantastic covers for a couple of my old books to put up on Amazon and an absolutely gorgeous website all designed by Kim. I couldn’t be more pleased, and she worked really hard with me and my “just-one-more-tweak and it’ll be perfect” pickiness.

  8. Holly coo :-} you do have a lot of hat’s . Amazing incite to one of my NEW favorite Authors.

  9. I follow her for a long time, I mean since last year when I started to take some design classes, I found her website and I knew that if I’ll have the goal to become half as good as her I’ll succeed.

  10. Hi, Kim!

    I’m hoping that when I get the WIP off my desk this month, I’ll finally be able to upload my contemporaries with the gorgeous covers you did. Then I can start harassing you for a new trilogy. BUT

  11. (con’t) I NEED A BLOND GUY!!! Soon, please. *g*

  12. Cheers for the information. I found it extremeley helpful and I am really looking forward to reading your future posts. Great website.