**UPDATE: Congratulations DANICA AVET for winning an autographed ARC of BPOD. If we can't find your email, Please send me your name and mailing address to jaxcassidy@gmail.com to claim your prize!**

This interview isn't just a one-on-one with another author, it's an interview a long time in the making... Five years ago I met Kelly in Los Angeles while she was participating in a screenwriting fellowship. At the time, I was working on my own screenplays and struggling to figure out what I really wanted to do with my life. Kelly and I just clicked and became fast friends. During one of our weekly outings, she told me about her desire to write a romance. In fact, she had already started one and was practically done. She urged me to try my hand at it since I already had one foot in the door with writing romantic comedy screenplays. She thought I'd be good at it and even handed me a stack of Karen Marie Moning books as research. I think I devoured those Highlander stories in a few days and that's when I made the decision to try my hand. I had read romances in my teens but it struck more of a chord in me as an adult. I began to understand how different I viewed these stories now, including the strong heroines and engaging storytelling. Kelly had thrown down the gauntlet and, of course, I wasn't one to refuse a good challenge! Starting our romance writing journey together wouldn't have been so much fun without her constant enthusiasm. Although all good things did come to an end (kinda) when she moved home, and there were some large patches of time where we didn't contact one another, but I could never thank Kelly enough for introducing me to romances. Without meeting her, I may never would have found my calling.

Yes, we've come full circle and although we took different routes to reach publication, Kelly THANK YOU for planting that seed in my head all those years ago. With that, I'm thrilled to have her visiting HoR and proud to introduce my dear friend and fellow author...

You've won the Laurie for your paranormal contemporary BED & BREAKFAST and finaled in the Golden Heart for the same manuscript, yet had you ever imagined your urban fantasy would be the genre that would launch your writing career?

Nope. B&B had gotten a lot of recognition, and for a while there, especially after it won the Laurie, finaled in the GH, and landed me an agent, I really thought this was the book, the one that'd get sold. But it never happened. That was a tough year. I watched a lot of friends sell and move on with their careers, and while I was super happy for them, it was still hard to keep my chin up and be optimistic. There was nothing else I could do but continue writing. So, I wrote a few more manuscripts -- a paranormal romance, a YA fantasy, and I revised B&B into BEDKNOBS & BROOMSTICKS. It, along with the YA, finaled in the 2008 GH. (I had also finished the urban fantasy and decided to enter it in the GH as well. It was the only one that didn't final. Little known fact there.) Figures the one that didn't final would be the one to sell. My world is so backwards! :-)

Seriously, though, once BPOD was finished, I had a very special feeling about it. It was unlike anything else I'd written. I followed my own rules, and it was the only book I had written without the market or anything else in mind. You'll hear people tell you to write what you love and not to write to the market, but you'll also hear agents and editors say how they're looking for more of this or more of that. So, for an aspiring writer (or at least for me), it was hard not to write with the market in mind, to not think "Editor X said at the panel she's dying to see more paranormal zombie romance. Maybe I should write that..." When you're constantly knocking on doors, you want to give folks what's hot, what they're looking for. But, after a lot of failed attempts, and getting so close, I finally just sat down, put the romance aside, and decided to write the dark story that had been stewing my head for a while. I love reading romance and getting to the Happy Ending, but as a writer I learned that my voice naturally gravitates toward a darker side.

BETTER PART OF DARKNESS is the first release in your urban fantasy series and it's already garnered a lot of excellent reviews, including the Fall 2009 SIBA Okra Pick. How do you feel about all the buzz and is this added pressure for you?

I feel great about the buzz! Relieved, actually. Before the book started on the review rounds, I felt a lot of pressure. My publishing house had invested time and money in me. I wanted to do well for, not only my own sanity, but for them as well. And I kept telling myself, "Just one great review, that's all I ask. I'll be okay as long as someone out there likes it." But, so far so good. I'm still prepared to get some 'meh' reviews. If there's anything I've learned through the years it's that you can't please everyone. Someone is bound to not like or 'get' your work. It's like art. It's subjective. But, yeah, it's a big relief that people are responding well to the book. The pressure has now shifted on the book selling well. And if this book does well, the pressure will no doubt move to another area -- like my second book. :-)

What have you learned most about the publishing industry since you began? How much has the economy impacted your career?

I've learned to relax, trust, and have patience. The publishing industry is one of those things that teaches you patience or demands it -- how ever you want to look at it. :-) Once you sell, decisions are taken out of your hands and you have to be okay with that. I've learned to chill out about what's going on behind the scenes and to focus on my work. This economy really drives that point home. There are no guarantees that just because I sold once, I'll keep selling. So the writing has to be stellar, and I have to leave the stress about things I can't control behind me, or it ends up affecting my work.

How tumultuous was your writing journey and where do you hope to see your career going? Any secret desire to write different genres?

It's been full of ups and downs. I'd been trying to break into 'working writer-dom' since I was in my late teens, so about fifteen years or so, first with plays and screenplays and then with fiction. It's been, quite frankly, full of frustrations, full of 'almosts' and a lot of times I wanted to give up. (Which I did a few times). But the thing that always brought me back wasn't the need to sell, sell, sell; it was the spark of an idea. I couldn't stop being a creative person, couldn't stop the scenes and story ideas from coming. It's part of me. So I decided to keep going, keep writing new material, keep putting my work out there, because that's who I was. I couldn't stop writing, and I couldn't stop wanting to share it with the world. I figured if I kept going that at some point, the planets would align, the book would be the right book at the right time on the right editor's desk, and a sale would be made. Of course, the only thing I knew for sure, though, was that I sure as hell wouldn't sell if I quit.

And, yes, there are a few genres that I'd love to write in. I've been writing young adult for a few years now, and finally have a project that I really love. Fingers crossed! I also really love historical fiction and commercial fiction with a paranormal slant. I can definitely see myself working on side projects of that nature.

Writers either work alone or with a group of other writers. Do you have a posse you write with and do they write in the same genre you do? Do you meet them for writer dates?

No. No posse. For the most part I write alone, in a vacuum. I have an excellent CP in fellow urban fantasy and YA author, Jenna Black. We typically share our work once rough drafts are done, but that's usually on new work or a new genre where we still have those the first-book uncertainties. We don't critique everything and on contracted work (sequels and such) we don't usually share unless we feel the need for a second pair of eyes or there's an issue with the story. We've known each other for several years now, and we have very similar creative minds, and we like the same kinds of stories. It's a wonderful partnership. We meet for lunch about every other week to discuss the publishing biz, our own writer neurosis, and just to eat and gab. It's a great way to connect and have some face to face time.

Tell us about your latest release BETTER PART OF DARKNESS? Would you like to share an excerpt for our readers?

THE BETTER PART OF DARKNESS started as 'what ifs'. What if our myths and traditions of heaven and hell were grounded in some obscure truth? What if the beings in these places were nothing like we had imagined, but as real and as diverse as the human race? And what would our world be like if they integrated into our society?

The story takes place in Atlanta about a decade after the Revelation (the discovery of two alternate dimensions: heaven-like Elysia and hellish Charbydon). Atlanta has become a crossroads of sorts, a thriving melting pot of human and off-world races. My heroine, Charlie Madigan, is a divorced mother of one and her job with the Integration Task Force puts her right in the middle of the off-world population. It's her job, along with her partner, Hank, a siren from Elysia, to see that everyone obeys the law, but when a new off-world drug is released in Underground, her daughter is targeted, and her ex-husband makes a fateful bargain to win her back, there's nothing in heaven or earth (or hell for that matter) that Charlie won't do to set things right.

There an excerpt of Chapter One HERE.

What is the most extreme sport you’ve ever done, or adventure you’ve ever taken, and what did you learn about yourself?

Good question! I am not one to jump out of airplanes (I can hardly get myself inside of one to travel), but I have done a few daring things in my time. I drove my little mini-bike off a cliff one time. But I was ten when I did that. I jumped into an icy river in the wintertime -- exhilarating at first, but damn painful after you realize you have to walk a half mile to get home. But I was a teen when I did that. Um.... Okay. I'm realizing that as an adult all those daring things that were just on the tip of my tongue are all in my head and not real-life. ;-) I live vicariously through my characters!

If you were a nail polish, what would it be called and why?

Hmm. Probably something like a 'Bleeding Soul'. Dramatic and serious and dark. That's a place where I spend a lot of my creative time. :-)


Kelly Gay is the author of the upcoming urban fantasy novel, THE BETTER PART OF DARKNESS. She is a three-time RWA Golden Heart finalist, and recipient of a North Carolina Arts Council fellowship grant in writing. She lives in North Carolina, where she is currently working on the sequel to her debut novel and a new Young Adult series. You can learn more about Kelly at www.kellygay.net

Comments (15)

On November 5, 2009 at 9:49 AM , Kelly Gay said...

LOL. I totally forgot about those Highlander books, Jax! They remain some of my all-time favs -- love those stories intensely. *sigh* Those McKeltar boys... and Adam Black... Yum! :-)

Thanks for having me on the blog!

On November 5, 2009 at 9:55 AM , Jax Cassidy said...

I'm just excited your book is finally coming out! I miss those days in LA and it's all true, without you being there I wouldn't have found out about romance writing and the RWA!

I still love those MacKeltar boys and I still re-read those stories! No, I don't have any of your books...if I do, I'm not giving them back :P

On November 5, 2009 at 12:50 PM , Rain Maiden said...

Hey girls...So Kelly, who introduced you to your first romance book and do you remember what it was?

On November 5, 2009 at 1:58 PM , RKCharron said...

Hi Jax & Kelly :)
Thank you for the excellent interview. I really enjoyed learning more about Kelly and her writing. I am very glad Kelly followed her heart and it led to The Better Part of Darkness. I'm looking forward to reading it.
Thanks again,
All the best,

On November 5, 2009 at 2:02 PM , Andrea said...

I'm looking forward to the release of Better Part of Darkness. I enjoy seeing your interviews and learning more about you.

On November 5, 2009 at 2:28 PM , Kelly Gay said...

Jax -- you know, I think those books are with my mom now... Not sure she'd give them back since she's hooked on them too!

Hi Rain! My grandmother got me hooked on romance. She used to get the Avon book club and Doubleday book club selections (and more) and some of the first books I read were by Johanna Lindsey, Jude Devereaux, Kathleen Woodiwiss, Bertrice Small. I remember 'A Rose in Winter', 'The Flame & the Flower' as being some of the first I read (By Kathleen Woodiwiss). But I think the very first one I read was called 'Spanish Rose'...

My grandmother was instrumental in my love of books. She taught me all about fairies and would take me for walks in the woods, making up incredible stories about things we saw. She died a month and half before I sold, and she was the one person who I'd always dreamed of calling and saying "I did it! I sold a book!". Bittersweet, but I hope she is watching from somewhere and is proud of me.

On November 5, 2009 at 2:30 PM , Kelly Gay said...

Hey there, RK! Glad you could stop by. ;-)

Thanks for the nice words, Andrea! :D

On November 5, 2009 at 4:48 PM , Danica Avet said...

Great interview.

I know I've been looking forward to this book release. It is on my list of must reads.

Congrats on your success and thank you for sharing your experiences with us!

Adam and Hawk were the nummiest, I think. *cough* I might have to go read those two books again.

On November 5, 2009 at 5:14 PM , Kelly Gay said...

Thanks, Danica! :-)

Yes, Hawk, was quite yummy, too. But, my *all* time favorite is Daegus. How can you resist a guy with with one good conscience and thirteen bad ones? :D *LUV!*

On November 6, 2009 at 10:29 AM , CrystalGB said...

Great interview. Kelly's book sounds good. Love the cover.


On November 6, 2009 at 11:11 AM , van_pham said...

Great Post, Can't wait to read this book when it comes out. :)

On November 6, 2009 at 12:13 PM , donnas said...

Great post. Congrats on the release! Im sure it must be exciting to see your book come out. Cant wait to read it.

bacchus76 at myself dot com

On November 6, 2009 at 3:39 PM , Wendy said...

Hi, Kelly! I really can't wait to read your book! Great interview. :)

On November 6, 2009 at 10:20 PM , BrigidsBlest said...

I've heard so many good things about this book I just can't wait to get my hands on it.

BrigidsBlest at yahoo dot com

On November 7, 2009 at 2:56 PM , Kelly Gay said...

Thanks to Jax for having me, and to everyone for coming by and commenting! You all ROCK. :D

And congrats to Danica on winning a copy of BPOD!