1) You have quite an interesting entry into the booksellers market. Would you talk about how that came to be?
Oh, it isn’t all that interesting. I started like every other writer—I was rejected. By everyone. I was only eighteen, and while my drive was there, my skin was not thick enough. So after the planet rejected my first attempt at a novel, I kept writing but stopped submitting. Life happened—college, husband, children, though not necessarily in that order—and I continued to write.
I eventually started a website for the horror genre and began reviewing books. Fear of my reviews led to editing jobs. Editing led to friendships. Friends snooped and found out I wrote. And I got pushed off the nice safe editing/review cliff and into the lion’s den, as the two snooping “friends” gave me a deadline, telling me to write my own rather than fix theirs. I quickly realized my skin had grown thicker, thick enough to try again. More importantly, I remembered being a child and never saying I wanted to be a webmaster or reviewer or editor. I wanted to be a writer. It was time to get back on track. So I did. The rest is what everyone knows… my first published novel, Six Days, and everything that’s followed.
2) If you could live during any era in any land, real or imaginary, where would it be and why?
Live? Now. Now is exciting—it’s an ever-changing field with a make-your-own-adventure plot twist on an almost daily basis. The past is the past and we know what happened there. However, if we change “live” to “visit” then the question becomes something else entirely.
I’d like to hang out with Mary Shelley for a month, and just talk about how ideas swirl and flow and form into things too big to keep inside. I’d love to have a helluva drunken weekend with Edgar Allan Poe, getting tossed out of bars and lost in Baltimore’s alleys while we make up stories about the people we see around us. And I’d like to throw rocks at Emily Dickinson’s window to see if I couldn’t get her to come outside and stroll in the gardens, while we chat of all things unrequited.
3) Would you talk about your upcoming books and the production schedule?
No. Haha… Kidding. While I find I hate to talk to in depth about works in progress, or ideas in general, I don’t mind teasing. That said, I’m currently wrapping up the the final installment of my serial novella Wilted Lilies for Lamplight quarterly magazine (volume 3). I am working on The Hatch, which is the sequel to Waiting Out Winter and starts with the lovely ominous sentence, “I miss the fucking frogs.” Then I have a muse battle to the death between Cthulu-esque monsters and vampires to see which one wants to be this year’s requested novel to Thunderstorm Books. And then the loser will be written anyway.
The schedule is pretty much that order. The timeframe will depend on how well the keyboard adapts to the changes in my life this year. I’m hoping more keyboard, less banging head on wall. In which case, you can add two more horsemen and the completed prequel collection to Tomorrow by the end of the year. Then Tomorrow and Man in the Moon will be on deck. But before I go adding more to the ever-growing list (which goes well beyond what I’ve said here), I need to start crossing them off. So, Wilted Lilies, The Hatch and then the thunderdome winner for Thunderstorm.
4) What are the next three books you’re planning to read?
I have The Calling by Robert Swartwood on the nightstand. Jonathan Janz’s The Darkest Lullaby is loaded on the kindle app. And I just got my hands on The Shell Collector by Christopher Golden. Those are known.
The unknown I blame on the snow melting.
There’s something green popping out of the garden, which just makes me go digging through my herb and wildflower books to see what I want to plant this year. And because I have a book problem, it’s inevitable I’ll end up shopping for more non-fiction herbal, gardening, or who-knows-once-I-get-in-the-store books, and then I’ll read those in between the fiction choices and washing the dirt off my hands.
5) What have you never taken the time to do that you really want to do? (bucket list item)
Ahh the bucket list question. Tricky devil, this one. Usually better asked (read as “easier to answer”) in a group setting, with a lot of “Yeah, I’d do that” and “Oh that reminds me, I want to…” Without the stimuli and an actual list somewhere, I’ll have to go with old favorites. It isn’t so much a matter of “do” but rather “visit” with me.
Always at the top of the list: white sand, black sand, my sand—visit, visit, live on—because I have a problem with sand, rocks, beaches in general, water. And by problem I mean, some days I think I’m a mermaid stuck on land. Water is my zen, from oceans to rivers to puddles. Sand and rock tend to surround them. I’ve been to white sand now though, so cross that one off.
I’d like to go to New Orleans and wander through the graveyards and Garden District, though I’ve been informed it will never be the pre-Katrina glory it once was, I still want to go. Matter of fact, I tried to spontaneously go last weekend. No, really. I looked up from my coffee and said “F*** it, let’s go to New Orleans for the weekend. Pack a bag. We’ll hop a plane and come back Sunday night.” Of course, I was met with groggy blinks of disbelief and the weekend carried on as normal, but I was serious, damn it!
I’d like to hop another plane, go to Italy, climb a hill to an old family winery, and watch the women stomp grapes. Afterward, with a bottle procured from said winery, I’d go back down the hill to the beach, drink a lovely glass of Italian wine, while in Italy, and enjoy the sounds of the water crashing against the rocky shore. (Note how the water made its way into this item!)
Certain worldly sights round off the rest of my off-the-cuff list: Stonehenge, a castle in Germany, one in Scotland, and of course, to visit Disney World… in Japan.
6) What if you could trade bodies with one person for one day? Who would that be?
Oh, I don’t know if I would. Nothing good can come of that. Either you would find out things you really don’t want to know, or karma kicks you in the teeth and gives the body a horrible 24-hour flu bug for just that day. I’m a karma-conscious kinda girl. I don’t skydive, I wouldn’t open a door that appeared in the middle of my living room, and I think changing bodies with someone else is sketchy at best, the set up for either a horror movie or Disney comedy at worst.
7) Who are the authors that influenced your life the most?
Yes. No, really… everyone. Everyone I have ever read has influenced me. I either want to be like them, or not like them. I like the way they did something, or didn’t agree with something else. I want to have command over my words and the flow of my prose like they do, or I want to punch something because they got published in the first place and I swear to myself I’ll never ever do *fill in offending item here*.
If I absolutely, gun to my head, have to answer the question of who influenced me “most”, then Mary Shelley wins. I brought Frankenstein home in kindergarten, fell in love with monsters not being monsters, and learned this was an option besides police officer, doctor, lawyer, and beautician as a career. Everything after that my mother thought was a phase. She was wrong. She admitted it long ago.
8) If we were to look in your refrigerator right now what would we see?
I’m out of milk and down to only one strawberry beer. Of course, you’d also notice I seem to have a cheese habit, which may or may not need some form of counseling (pick a flavor, go ahead), but I’m going to blame it on growing up in Wisconsin. Deli ham, hard salami and roast beef lunch meat for wrapping around or serving next to the various cheeses. A plethora of buy-one-get-one fruit covers the half-shelf on the right—also good with the cheese.
You will also see fixings for Teriyaki pineapple meatballs which are to die for and now I’m hungry—good job. A good chunk of one of the door racks holds half a dozen bottles of various bizarre sauces—the remnants of a recent lettuce wrap experiment. And all the normal condiments and meal prep particulars you would expect.
9) What five people – living or dead- would you invite to a dinner party? (Universal translators will be provided)
Johnny Depp, Audrey Hepburn, Steve Jobs, Guillermo del Toro, and Jon Stewart. Yeah, go ahead and Freud that list… I could explain how the evening would go, but it’s more fun if you and your readers try to figure it out.
10) How do you want the world to remember you?
As a good person—with a poetic soul, welcome smile, and open heart… who also happen to write some okay stuff.
Thanks for stopping by CatAfterDark, Kelli! That was a terrific interview. Readers can find Kelli on Twitter — @kelli_owen, on Facebook — (author page only, the other page is private. Thank you) and on the Web.