Before we begin our ‘serious writing talk’ Kelly, tell us some of the things you love.
As a mother of two and a prolific writer, I don’t have a lot of time for pastimes. When I have a spare moment, I usually watch something on Netflix. I am, however, a die hard X-files fan. I have followed and obsessed over the show for the last twenty-three years. My husband is a board game designer so we sometimes play games, though not as often as we used to.
Share with us five books you consider to be absolute favourites, and what aspects of their telling intrigued/entertained you.
1) Stephen King’s The Stand: I loved the characterization and suspenseful storytelling.
2) Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice: for its strong female characters.
3) Barbara Kingsolver’s Poisonwood Bible: I loved its varying points of view, and each distinct voice.
4) Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women: for its exposition and characterizations.
5) Margaret Atwood’s Blind Assassin: I love everything Atwood has written. She’s clever and witty, and employs snappy dialogue. I enjoyed this book most of all for its story within a story. She also finds ways to bring environmental and women’s issues to the forefront in truly creative ways.
After I finished writing my first novel I decided to have it looked over by an editor or two. They loved it, so I shared it with more people, who felt the same. My writing buddy, Cassidy Cayman, convinced me to take the plunge with self-publishing. Last March, I self-published Seasons and, a few months later, was invited to submit to Evolved Publishing. They liked what they’d read and asked me to join the Evolved family. Book #1 in my series is going to be published as a second edition, with a new cover and title, Red on the Run.
Every writer has certain knots to which they feel compelled to return, pulling at the threads. Which knots keep nagging at you to unravel them?
I have both my Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in social work. Over the last 15 years, I’ve worked for several social service organizations, including a women’s shelter. My work in the non-profit sector impressed upon me the need to give voice to the voiceless. In both of my series (Syndicate-Born and Book Cellar Mystery) and even my stand-alone novel (Summer of ‘78), which will be out this year, I address issues facing women: domestic violence, sexual assault, motherhood, and friendship.
Red on the Run is the first in a three-part suspense series. Two FBI agents stumble across a crime ring and must fight to stay alive and bring the groups to justice. It explores the themes of regret, friendship, addiction and choosing joy, despite great obstacles. I have a ‘pollyanna-esque’ way of looking at life. Pollyanna had the “just be glad game” and I choose joy. The book, and the series as a whole, looks at how characters handle challenge; some choose joy and others take a more self-destructive path.
What other projects do you have on the go?
The first book in my co-authored Book Cellar Mystery Series, Walker Texas Wife, was released March 1st. It will be a four-book, fast-paced, addictive series appealing to fans of Desperate Housewives, Gossip Girl and Pretty Little Liars. It will leave readers wondering: just how well do we know our neighbors?
How would you describe your writing style, and which authors’ works have most influenced you in achieving your own voice?
I am a literary writer in a genre writer’s body. In other words, I tend to be exposition heavy. I’m currently working to improve my dialogue writing and action sequences. I’ve been fortunate in working with some great editors, who’ve helped me improve my writing while allowing me to stay true to my voice. I’m a big fan of Joyce Maynard and Margaret Atwood. Both have influenced my writing.
What advice would you offer someone wishing to pursue a ‘commercial’ career?
Take it seriously. Luck, determination and hard work are keys to success. You can’t be afraid to fail. Samuel Beckett said, “Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better.” This is the best advice. Show up to work every day and keep trying again and again until you get it right.
What is your creative philosophy Kelly?
I have two things that I keep in mind:
- Enjoy the work! Find a way to choose joy when the going gets tough.
- Work hard all day, every day.
Kelly lives in Texas with her husband and two energetic boys.
Thank you for joining me Kelly.