Interview: The writing adventures of Inez Kelley

jinxed-300-smallWhat better day could there be than lucky 7/7 for an interview with Inez Kelley, author of the recent Samhain release, JINXED? Inez is not only a friend, but also an inspiration to me as a writer, so I was quite excited when she agreed to do an interview here. I’ve watched her work unfold in numerous online chat sessions, so it’s quite a treat to see them released to the world.

As you can see from the interview, her voice and personality radiates in everything she does. Welcome Inez!

Jeannie: Congratulations on your first release! Tell us about a little about JINXED and how you came up with the idea.

Inez: I have no earthly idea. I don’t. I wish I did. I remember sitting down to write, as I did eons ago, on my bed with a notebook and a pencil and thinking “I wonder what would happen if the hero and the heroine had the same name?” After that, it is pretty much a blur.

JINXED was my training ground, my learner’s permit about the ins and outs of writing from someone other than myself. I learned a lot in those pages. How to take critism and praise, how to listen to advice without getting all huffy, how to see where the flaws in my own style were, etc.

I see stories in movie form. They come full color with the plot, ending, etc already included. I don’t create characters so much as give them voice. I didn’t intend Steve to be bi-sexual, he just was. Tracey was a trip to write and she was herself, unapologetically snarky and funky. Frannie got on my nerves with her whining at times but that is her. Human beings are true to themselves and my characters are the same way, imperfect.

JINXED was my first ‘can I do this for real’ story and wow, I could and there is not stopping me now.

Jeannie: You write across so many genres. What determines what you’re going to write next? What are the great challenges as you switch from one genre to another?

Inez: The story screaming loudest in my head gets written next. I have one tale I have been tossing around for years. It will get written some day. But when a story screams, I have to write it. I consumes me every minute I am not writing it.

I am currently writing a YA. That is a challenge, not so much the actually story line but making sure I stay in a teen voice but don’t talk down. I hated being talked down to as a teen. I am not a teenager but I was once. I remember a lot about those emotions and I hope I can get those across without sounding like some old fart writing about her youth.

So yeah, I write across genres and am venturing into non-romance land. Why not? I read other stuff so when those stories pop into my head, I am not going to turn my back on them.

As for the greatest challenge…wow, I guess that would be atmosphere. For example, I wrote a contemporary that is very tense, emotional and somewhat dark. It has a scene where the heroine is drunk. I rewrote that scene like three times because I kept sliding into humor. It fit, it was funny but it wasn’t the right feel. The story needed more pain, more heartbreak at that point, not a laugh.

With my next book, Myla by Moonlight, I channeled all the humor to a secondary character Bryton. Not consciously, he just became my comedic mouthpiece for that story, it is part of who he is. He is a bodyguard, willing to die for his Prince without second thought. Because of that, he is very irreverent. He also is the Prince’s best friend, knows how heavy the crown can be and takes it upon himself to lighten that load by making Prince Taric smile. He does a good job. I like him.

One I get a few pages into a story, the tone is set and I can usually maintain the atmosphere but occasionally, like that drunk scene, I have to step back and remind myself that the story has the map and decides where to go, I am just the vessel of delivery.

Jeannie: Do you feel there’s such a thing as your true “voice”? And how would you describe it?

Inez: I don’t know. My boss read JINXED and then called to tell me she could “hear” me in the story. That surprised me.

If I had to describe my voice, I think it is slighty lyrical no matter what genre I write in. The play of words against each other I love and use without thinking about it. To me, words have to sing without music.

So many people have read my stories and tried to describe my voice to me. They are all different. I can’t describe my own voice except slightly purple, with a hint of poetry and a dash of pain. My husband says I like to rip your heart out, salt it then force feed it to you while laughing but I think he exaggerates. A little.
Jeannie: Best advice you’ve received so far?

Inez: Write what moves you and ignore the trends, the submission calls etc. Just because I can write it doesn’t mean I should write it.

I love vampire stories but have never written one. I have no vamp tales to tell. I hear voices like real whispers, those are the stories I have to tell. So what if everyone is clamoring for a m/m erotica and I know I could write one or there is a call for a detective romance. If I don’t ‘feel’ the story, it is like pulling teeth. Instead, if I let my stories come, they nearly write themselves. Then I am happiest and I think my love of them comes through. If MY passion can come through, then the reader can feel it and that is what I want.

Jeannie: We all have slumps, but you seem to be able to crank it out non-stop. What keeps you going? What do you think is your biggest challenge?

Inez: Oh, I have slumps, trust me. I just can’t be idle with them. I gave up writing for a while, a few years actually. Life was just too hectic and I channeled my energy into just living. I was afraid I had lost that drive to create for a long time, was afraid to try again. So now, when the slumps hit, that fear returns.

So during slump times, I edit, dabble with short stories, read for friends, crit other writers, pound out a few pages of a story I have no plans to finish with any deadline in mind. I play until the burning story hits again, then I write like a demon.

My biggest challenge is overwriting. I have to pare back because I get too detailed, to involved in the minute crap– like what the character had for breakfast, down to the fact that he didn’t like butter on his toast, just jam and then only strawberry. Yeah. Too. Much.

Jeannie: Something a little fun. What’s one of your guilty pleasures, writing or non-writing related?

Inez: I love to bake. I like cooking something completely off the wall for a redneck writer slash mother slash wife. Like I make French Onion soup from scratch or Dutch Apple Pie(which I don’t even like but my family does). I make a kick ass five cheese lasagna with homemade sauce too.

Jeannie: What’s in the future for Inez Kelley?

Inez: In September, I have my fantasy romance titled MYLA BY MOONLIGHT coming out with Samhain publishing. I just finished a contemporary novella and am working on another romcom for that publisher too. My agent has a few stories aimed at NY and print publishing and my fingers are crossed there too.

In a nut shell, what does my future hold? More. More stories, more laughs, more tears. More. And then even more.

I hope to be standing in line one day to get one of Inez’s books autographed by the lady herself. 🙂 You can find out more about Inez at her website. http://inezkelley.com/. Her recent debut, JINXED is available from Samhain and watch out for MYLA BY MOONLIGHT in September. I hear there’s a killer promo trailer for that one. 🙂

Interview with Author Jennifer Haymore

ahow-cover-smallI only write up book reviews here for books I love and it was easy to gush about A Hint of Wicked by Jennifer Haymore. She agreed to let me pick her brain, being a fellow historical romance author.

In celebration of Jennifer’s NY debut release today, I am giving away a free autographed copy of the book. I’ve never done a giveaway before on this blog, so I’m quite excited.

So enjoy and leave a comment for a chance to win.

Me: As a historical author, what are your sources of inspiration?

Jennifer Haymore: History, mainly. History is oftentimes stranger, wilder, and more intense than fiction, and it completely fascinates me. I love all times periods, all countries, all cultures, and all the wild and crazy thinks human beings have done for love through the ages.

I also have a long (and kind of eclectic) list of historical authors I find inspiring: Diana Gabaldon, Sharon Kay Penman, Anya Seton, Wilbur Smith, Colleen McCullough, Loretta Chase, Julie Garwood, Elizabeth Hoyt, and Laura Kinsale, to name a few.

Me: How did you come up with the storyline for “A Hint of Wicked”?

JH: The core idea for A Hint of Wicked was my husband’s—I use him as a sounding board and a brainstorming partner all the time. The story, however, has developed quite a bit from his original “vision,” which was of an enraged husband catching his mourning wife in bed with another man. I latched on to that scenario and ran with it…but I don’t think I ran in the same direction he envisioned for the story! I guess that’s my prerogative as the writer <grin>.

Me: Do you feel the Regency period lent itself to the conflict?

JH: Honestly, I feel like the essence of this conflict could have occurred in any period, but yes–the laws and morals regarding marriage in the English Regency were so strict and narrow, I believe they added to the intensity and depth of the conflict in A Hint of Wicked.

Me: Without revealing too much — what kind of challenges did you face when figuring out how to untangle this love triangle believably?

JH: Ooh, that’s a great question. One thing I knew when I started the story was that I didn’t want to make the heroine’s decision an easy one. I wanted her to be truly torn between the two loves of her life. What I didn’t know was who she would ultimately choose or what would drive that decision.

I went in circles debating the resolution. I argued with myself. With my husband. I talked to my critique partners. I discussed it with my editor and my agent. I pulled out clumps of my hair! Who would it be? Tristan? Garrett? Both?!

Thinking back on all of that now after having written this book as well as the second book in the series, all the angst I had over the ending seems so odd. After the fact, the heroine’s final decision is so clearly the correct choice, it’s difficult to think there was ever a question. There is no doubt in my mind that Sophie did ultimately end up choosing the right man.

Me: Were there any “Ah ha” moments while you were writing this book that you can share?

JH: As I was near the end of writing A Hint of Wicked it struck me like a lightning bolt who the heroine in book two, A Touch of Scandal, must be (yes, she appears briefly in AHOW!). It was a perfect “ah ha!” moment.

Me: Finally, for self-serving purposes, please tell us more about “A Touch of Scandal”. Tease us!

JH: It’s hard to talk about A Touch of Scandal without revealing spoilers for A Hint of Wicked! But I will say that it’s the story of the “losing” man from A Hint of Wicked. Most of the characters from the first book make an appearance, including the villain, and Rebecca, Garrett’s younger sister, plays a big part in the story’s conflict. The third book in the series (currently untitled, but I’m mulling over A Taste of Desire at the moment) is Rebecca’s story.

Me: The winner will be drawn this Friday, but if you can’t wait, order your copy here or check the shelves at your local bookstore. And don’t you dare peek at the ending!