Friday, November 2, 2012

Feature Friday: Kelly Keaton

Kelly is a multi-published author with six novels currently in print. She writes the YA series, Gods & Monsters (Simon & Schuster), and the Charlie Madigan series (Pocket Books), which are written as Kelly Gay. She is a two-time RITA nominee, an ARRA nominee, a Goodreads Choice Award finalist, and has landed on the Southern Independent Bookseller's Alliance's Book Awards Long List and their Okra Picks List. On the personal side, Kelly loves ancient history, fantasy, and mythology. She dreams of one day attaining magical powers, discovering the secret to immortality, ridding her home of pet hair, and being crowned Mardi-Gras queen. She likes pre-Raphaelite art, moonlight on snow, and RPGs. She lives in North Carolina with her family, one Great Dane, and two incredibly hairy cats.

Interview:

A.L.:
What piece of advice would you give to a budding author?

Kelly:
To keep writing and to learn how to look at your work with an open mind and a critical mind. It’s also important to realize you don’t have to be perfect right from the rough draft. Writing is about rewriting, crafting, editing, polishing. If the goal is a finished novel, finish it and give yourself something to work with. As Nora Roberts says, you can fix a bad page, but you can’t fix a blank one.

A.L.:
What's your favorite book and why?

Kelly:
I don’t have just one favorite. That would be like choosing between my children, LOL. THE BLACK STALLION, THE MISTS OF AVALON, INTERVIEW WITH THE VAMPIRE, A KNIGHT IN SHINING ARMOR, GAME OF THRONES, THE MERLIN TRILOGY... So many. All different, but I think what makes them favorites are the characterizations, the way every character comes across as real, no matter if they are paranormal in some way or not. It’s that relate-ability, the fact that they aren’t perfect and they don’t make all the right decisions. You can identify with their joys, sorrows, pain, and, therefore, as a reader, you care what happens to them.

A.L.:
Where did you get the idea for the Gods and Monsters series?

Kelly:
The idea was a formation of several things—my love of Greek mythology, New Orleans, and tough female heroines. It all came together and the combination really worked for me as a storyteller.

A.L.:
Did you hit any snags while writing the Gods and Monsters series? What were they and how did you fix them?

Kelly:
Nothing really major. I guess the biggest snag was in the second book, A BEAUTIFUL EVIL, when I had written a new character (a god). I fell in love with this character, but had to cut him from the story completely. That was hard. I wanted readers to meet him, to fall for him too. But my editor was right and it wasn’t his time. So I ended up cutting about three chapters and reworking a lot of scenes. It made the book tighter and drew the focus back to my main characters where it should’ve been. Plus, all is not lost -- readers will get to meet him in the third book. He found his place, after all. :)

A.L.:
Which one of the characters in the G&M series is your favorite and why?

Kelly:
This is a hard one to answer! I cycle back and forth between favorites. Violet has a very special place in my heart. So does Ari. And I know it might seem weird, but I absolutely adore Athena and all her psychotic behavior. I feel a lot of sympathy for her because I know her past and why she acts the way she does.

A.L.:
Can you tell us a little bit about your journey as an author?

Kelly:
My journey was very long. I’d tried for about ten years to sell my work, first through plays, shorts, and screenplays, before moving to fiction. Once I finished my first novel, it took me five more years (and six more manuscripts) to finally sell. Those years were peaks and valleys – some very disheartening and frustrating, and some filled with good things like contest wins, grants, and landing agents, etc... I gave up a few times, which lasted all of a few weeks, but my imagination never quit and I’d always have a new idea and the notion to try one more time.

A.L.:
What are you working on now? Sequel? Something new?

Kelly:
All of the above, LOL. I’m working on the 3rd Gods & Monsters book. And I’m getting ready to self-pub a ‘new adult’ fantasy novel called EMBERS IN A DARK FROST, which is set in the mythical realm of Innis Fail (of Irish mythology). And I’m working on a new adult proposal for my editor, which is probably the biggest thing I’ve ever written. So, yeah, keeping pretty busy!

A.L.:
Why did you decide to use New Orleans as New 2? How did you approach revamping this classic city?

Kelly:
I fell in love with NOLA when I was sixteen. I knew that one day I’d set a story there. I just never felt I had to right story until Ari came along. And I wanted to really highlight the things I love about the city – the gothic, lush, Old World, melting pot/diversity aspects. I wanted to make it more like the frontier days of old when it was more dangerous and not everyone had all the luxuries that the rich did. But I didn’t want to go back in time, so I went forward to an alternate version of the city. The goal was to hold onto to things I love about the city, to highlight the people, the architecture, the history, and traditions while making it a sanctuary for paranormals and such.

A.L.:
You’re a big fan of mythology. Who is your favorite mythological character and why?

Kelly:
I guess it’s obvious by now that I have a problem with choosing favorites! Isis, Athena, Artemis, Sekmet, Hades, Ares, Zeus, Horus, Anubis, Lilith... I could go on and on! They all have these great powers, but often times even greater flaws and that’s what I like about them. Yes, they’re gods, but in so many ways they are very human too, especially when it comes to their emotions and rashness and decisions.

A.L.:
Ari, your main character, is kick a**. Where does this girl get her sass? Should we fear you in a dark alley?

Kelly:
Yes. Fear me! LOL. Ari is a lot of things I wish I could be – she is stronger, braver, and more willing to jump into the fray. And I like writing that kind of toughness, feeling empowered, and making other women and teens feel empowered through a character.

A.L.:
Making Athena is baddie is a new one for me…Why her and not another Greek Goddess?

Kelly:
Athena, to me, has always been the goddess in the Greek pantheon that stands out, and who stands above the rest. She is the only one able to use Zeus’s aegis and lightning bolt. She is extremely intelligent, a patron of strategy, civilization, wisdom... She has all these great attributes. She never had a consort or lover; she thought love was illogical. To fill in the missing two thousand years, from when those myths were written until now, it was just a challenge I had to take. What things happened to her? How has she changed? Did she finally fall in love? What made her into this heartless villain? Only she isn’t heartless, not really, not when you start learning about that missing time...

A.L.:
Little do my follows know that I, like you, am also a massive fan of Pre-Raphaelite art. Dork Moment: What’s your favorite P-R piece and who is your favorite P-R artist?

Kelly:
Hands down J.W. Waterhouse, John Collier, and Edmund Leighton. I LOVE Collier’s LILITH and PRIESTESS OF DELPHI, Waterhouse’s CELINE WITH BOWL, LAMIA, LADY OF SHALOT, and Leighton’s ACCOLADES and LADY AND KNIGHT. There’s more, but those are some of my major favs.

The Giveaway:
Kelly will provide a signed copy of DARKNESS BECOMES HER for one lucky winner!

Darkness Becomes Her:  Ari can’t help feeling lost and alone. With teal eyes and freakish silver hair that can’t be changed or destroyed, Ari has always stood out. And after growing up in foster care, she longs for some understanding of where she came from and who she is. Her search for answers uncovers just one message from her long dead mother: Run. Ari can sense that someone, or something, is getting closer than they should. But it’s impossible to protect herself when she doesn’t know what she’s running from or why she is being pursued.

She knows only one thing: she must return to her birthplace of New 2, the lush rebuilt city of New Orleans. Upon arriving, she discovers that New 2 is very...different. Here, Ari is seemingly normal. But every creature she encounters, no matter how deadly or horrifying, is afraid of her.

Ari won’t stop until she knows why. But some truths are too haunting, too terrifying, to ever be revealed.


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