Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Author Spotlight Segment: Ann Kellett, Author New Release: Demon Fire


Hello everyone!!! Lill Farrell here once again. I'd like to welcome Ann Kellett to the author spotlight.  Ann is one of our new authors here in the dark side of the garden and has a wonderful short story releasing on July 24th.  Demon Fire is a little bit cowboy, a little bit demon and filled with sexy demon warriors. 

What inspired you to write your first book?

A wise person once said something to the effect that writing success is a matter of getting all the voices in your head to talk to one another about the same thing. Although I don’t hear voices, I often play out scenes in my mind, thinking “what if” about everyday occurrences or the news in the headlines. Getting it on paper is cathartic.
    
I hear you on that.  I've had authors tell me how their characters demand that their stories be told!!!  How many books have you written?

If by “written,” you mean brought to completion beyond the first chapter or two, then the answer is a measly one. And even that is very, very short, at about 70 pages!

My writer friend wanted us to attend the retreat sponsored by The Wild Rose Press in Bandera, Texas (Cowboy Capital of the World, ladies!) in fall 2012, and I wanted to be able to tell the other participants that my “latest work” was “with an editor.” I left out the part about having written only one! (And the retreat exceeded all expectations. I encourage any writers reading this to attend.)

Learning that The Wild Rose Press accepted my manuscript for publication as an ebook was one of the happiest moments of my life, and motivated me to get to work on two more, still in progress: another paranormal romance and a murder mystery set on a university campus.

Well we are very glad you decided to share your work with us!!  And I am happy to hear you enjoyed the retreat.  I haven't made it to one myself but I hear that they are a rocking good time!!  How do you decide on your books topic?

I was drawn to romance because figuring out how to keep readers turning the pages when the outcome is known all along is a fun intellectual exercise. In addition, real life can be so odd, so intriguing, that I like to build on something “real.” I love the legend that the Spanish left behind caches of gold and other treasures as they moved across the Texas Hill Country in the mid-1750’s. Asking myself, “what if?” led to the premise and plot.

I've always loved a bit of "real" worked into a "what if" myself.  It really makes you start to think!  What works best to keep you focused and on track?

I outline thoroughly before writing. Plot and structure are much more difficult for me than the writing (although that can be time-consuming and frustrating as well).

Last year, I emailed Erik Larson, author of narrative non-fiction best-sellers such as “Isaac’s Storm” and “In the Garden of Beasts,” with an idea for a future project and a question about how he stays on track. He was nice enough to respond, saying he always ends a writing session knowing exactly how he’s going to pick it up the next time, so the words flow easily from the beginning. This has worked well.

That takes some dedication!  It must be very satisfying to end your sessions knowing you've accomplished what you've set out to do AND know where you are going.  Do you write to make money or for the love of writing?

 Strictly for love! The most talented and hardest working writers don’t always achieve the success they deserve, and focusing on the bottom line can turn writing from a thrill into just another chore. I’d rather have the thrill!

That is wonderful that you find so much fulfillment in writing.  When was the first moment you felt comfortable saying, “I am a writer?”

At age eight or nine, with a story about giant, talking cats who ruled a planet that collided with Earth. Writing is liberating because all it takes to be a writer is to sit down and write! Plus, it’s one of the rare professions in which practitioners can get better and better as they grow older.

I will have read that story!  It is wonderful to hear authors talk about stories they wrote as children and how their craft has grown through the years.  What type of stories do you like to read and why?

Reading, for me, is a way to experience hundreds of lifetimes during this single, relatively mundane lifetime—to find out how others act in all kinds of situations.  I prefer romantic thrillers and murder mysteries, but occasionally go back to the classics I read (or was supposed to have read) as an English major in college.

I totally agree that reading opens doors, windows and the mind to things we would never be able to experience otherwise.  That is one of the great things about writing it can take you anywhere you want to go and places you haven't even dreamed of.  When do you write (daytime, nighttime, on your lunch hour, before the kids get up, after everyone is asleep?  In large chunks of time or stolen snippets?)

Having the discipline to write after sitting in front of a computer monitor at my university job all day has been my biggest hurdle. I found success by writing during my lunch hour when possible and on weekends, and spending weekday evenings either thinking about the plot/structure or reading about the craft.

Outlining the whole thing before starting page one (and revising as needed) has cured me of writer’s block and its evil cousin, procrastination. No more, “Oh, look—another episode of Law& Order!” or that sudden compulsion to vacuum.

I can't say I have fallen victim to the sudden compulsion to vacuum but even editors find themselves visited by procrastination or in my case "Let me see what's on FB."  Staying focused seems to get harder in the day and age of constant digital distraction.   Do you put pieces of yourself or your life in your stories?

Not deliberately, although novelists generally write about what interests them, and I hope readers find my story interesting, too.

I can say that Demon Fire is quite interesting.  What is your least favorite thing to do as an author? Allow me to clarify: query, write a synopsis, write a blurb, market, you get the pictureJ

Marketing and promotion! I hated selling Girl Scout cookies door-to-door way back when, and I haven’t changed much in that regard.

I hear you on that.  I think a lot of authors feel that marketing is one of the hardest parts of the writing world.  Would you share some personal information with us?  What are some of your favorite things?

What is your favorite type of music? Classical and classic rock.

Favorite pass time? Sitting on the back of my husband’s motorcycle going through

the Texas Hill Country, Big Bend or the mountains of Arkansas.

Favorite food? Sushi or eggplant parmesan.
 
Perfume/cologne? The crisp, green scent of Eau De Cartier, although I think it’s intended for men!

Time of year and why? Any time but December, January and February, when it’s rainy and dark and the Texas humidity makes the cold seep into your bones. (Don’t laugh, Northerners. The guy I dated back in 1989 barely survived—and he grew up in Vermont!)


Prizes: If you can’t guarantee that a sexy (shapeshifter?) cowboy will appear under your Christmas tree, you can at least try to win his favorite critter to put on your tree! I will give away an armadillo Christmas ornament (two-inch, cast stone, hand-painted resin, with a red or green knitted scarf) to five random commenter's who post ideas for my next paranormal romance (and if it’s based on a real legend, even better)!

Blurb: Meredith Stone has an enormous case of writer's block and has no idea how to
start her second novel.  Even more embarrassing she has no idea how to explain to her editor that the ideas for her first best seller came to her in a dream.

Dax Thelassian's problem is that nearly every word of Meredith's novel is true.  A portal from the demonic underworld really does exist on a ranch in the Texas Hill Country. Dax and a few other half-human half-demon warriors have spent the last two and a half centuries watching evil energy build.

Now that battle is imminent, Dax is determined to pry the truth from the sexy but naive writer. Does she hold the key to the one item that could keep the world safe and allow him to embrace life as fully human?

Bio: Ann Kellett earned a degree in English from Hendrix College in Arkansas, then moved to Texas, where she has translated real estate research results into plain English; written training materials for emergency responders; and provided content for newsletters and websites at various organizations within The Texas A&M University System. She lives with her photographer husband, Michael, and four cats in Bryan, Texas. She would love to hear from you at

7 comments:

  1. Great interview! I love the thought of demon cowboys. After all, "There is no Sunday west of St. Louis – and no God west of Fort Smith"...

    I'd love retellings of the old outlaw tales from a paranormal POV. Hope you are inspired!

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  2. Oh, wow! Love your premise. Very unique and most intriguing. Love the way you researched before writing. I love research myself and love reading odd bits of true trivia I find in my casual reading.

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  3. I loved your story and would like to see a sequel. Hmm, how about an angel who's lost her memory and doesn't know why she's in a cave in Texas?

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  4. Aww, c'mon! Who wouldn't want an armadillo ornament - super cool! I love demon/human stories (ask Lil) :) so how about incorporating armadillo folklore into your next story...see

    http://armadillo-online.org/history.html

    I like the idea of "An ancient Maya legend says that the first armadillos were created to teach a lesson in humility to a couple of minor gods. According to the legend, Hachakyum, the Maya Sun God, sat the two unruly deities down on a bench before all the other gods. The bench was suddenly transformed into a pair of armadillos, which immediately jumped up in the air — tumbling the two disobedient gods onto their backsides in disgrace."

    So how about more disgrace and redemption? You can have more of the Spanish Conquistador what ifs...? What if the Spanish came across a Mayan town were demi-gods were in training?

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  5. It shouldn't take you long to write more since it sounds like you have the basics of plotting and planning down. And Texas should be a gold mine for stories. There's some wonderful history there. You should look into the archaeology stuff for a plot.

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  6. Thanks, everyone! You've given me a lot to work with--the next book should write itself, right? : )

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  7. @Kathlee and @Debbie,

    You've got an armadillo Christmas ornament headed your way if you'll let me know your mailing address!

    akellett--at sign--mac.com

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