Star Light, Star Bright...Interstellar Interview with KELLY GAY

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Star Light, Star Bright...Interstellar Interview with KELLY GAY

Kelly Gay is an average bookworm who turned her love of spending time in make believe places into an award winning series. The Charlie Madigan series made her a double RITA finalist, not to mention she was already a three time RWA Golden Heart finalist. Previously she’d received an NC Arts Council Fellowship grant in Literature. And under the pseudonym Kelly Keaton she’s branched out from Urban Fantasy into the YA realm.

Before becoming an award winning paranormal author, she learned to drive a backhoe, tar and shingle a roof and frame a house as a construction worker. She’s also waited on tables, threaded film projectors, managed a horse farm and sold men’s underwear.

Kelly loves ancient history, mythology and Pre-Raphaelite art. Like many people, she dreams of attaining magical powers and discovering the secret to immortality, though some might also come knocking in NC if she finds a way to rid a home of pet hair.

When she’s not writing or doing promo and appearances she might be found watching The Fifth Element, Legend, Indiana Jones, The Mummy, Star Trek, Ladyhawke or The Black Stallion. If she’s curled up with a book, her taste runs toward Marion Zimmer Bradley, Anatole France, Alexandre Dumas, Anne Rice, Neil Gaiman, Kim Harrison, Jenna Black and Stephen King to name a few!

I met Kelly several years ago as a member of HCRW, a powerhouse RWA chapter that has many published writers. At the time she was unpublished, but hungry to get her manuscripts accepted for publication. I still remember the day I sat across from her at Chili’s and we chatted about her upcoming trip to the RWA National Conference as a first time Golden Heart finalist. Of course she was ecstatic, but also nervous like any writer would be in her position.

Jump ahead and she’s got three books on the shelf (with another release coming up in 2011) and is cranking WIPS out for her editor and agent as fast as her hands and brain can go! She’s worked hard to earn her spot, and I never cease to marvel when I see her novels at my local store. Of course I don’t screech like a fan girl, but I do think, “I know her!” Though she’s rubbed plenty of elbows with publishing royalty in NC, Kelly is a brightly shining success in her own right.

What led you to create Charlie Madigan and her version of Atlanta ?

Charlie came about because I wanted to write a different kind of UF heroine, a single mom. In the UF world, it seemed very natural to me that there would exist heroines that could doll out the whoopings and also have family, a child, a marriage, a tight support group. I wanted to see what would happen if I placed that kind of character, one juggling a kid, an ex-husband, and work into the urban fantasy mold. I was hoping it'd bring a lot of conflict, relatability, and emotion into my alternate version of Atlanta -- a place where the beings from two other dimensions (the basis for our myths of heaven and hell) have come out of the closet and have been living and working among us for over a decade. Atlanta fit the bill nicely because I needed a southern city, one large enough to support the world building and in the influx of new settlers from other worlds.

Out of all the genres you dabbled in as a fledgling writer, how did you single out Urban Fantasy as your niche?

I dabbled in several genres when I started out. Mainly just writing things that spoke to me and not really making any conscious decision on specific genre. But it's funny because everything I wrote, no matter the genre, had strong heroines and paranormal elements. I don't think I could write a story with some supernatural element! The only thing I hadn't done was write in first person. Once I did, I found that the 'voice' coming out of me fit the urban fantasy mold. Charlie was born and everything seemed to come together. I knew it was the perfect fit for me and there was a sense of excitement I hadn't felt before with my other works.

How do you think your life experiences have translated into making your writing better?

I've translated my life experiences into my writing not from using actual events, but by taking from the emotions of those events. Being able to pull from my own dark or uplifting experiences have enriched my writing, I think. I hope! With Charlie, I pull a lot from my own feelings and emotions about being a mom and wanting the best for my kid--making good choices and sometimes making mistakes, too, all the hopes and fears, etc...

If you could spend the day in any make believe place, one you’ve created or someone else has, where would it be?

Narnia! (as long as Prince Caspian was there to show me around) :D If not, then Hogwarts!

Out of all the good things that have happened since you became an author, what still sticks out as a moment you’ll never forget?

One that held a lot of emotion and excitement, and made my heart pound, was getting the RITA call. It was so unexpected -- I never thought in a million years that an urban fantasy had any chance in hell in the NRE category. There was much celebrating between me, my editor, and family. And then hours later when a second call came in -- it was total and complete astonishment. Yeah, that's a moment I'll never, ever forget.

Do you have anything coming up in 2011 that fans need to know about?

Yes! My first young adult title, DARKNESS BECOMES HER, is coming out next month (Feb 22nd). It's set in one of my favorite places on the planet - New Orleans. Only this NOLA has been destroyed and left abandoned -- so creepy and lush and decaying all at the same time. Then, I have my third Charlie book, THE HOUR OF DUST AND ASHES, coming out Aug. 30th.

To find out more about Kelly and her work check out!

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4 Responses to "Star Light, Star Bright...Interstellar Interview with KELLY GAY"

K. said...

Thanks for such a lovely introduction! And for having me over. :-)

Lynda K. Scott said...

Hi Kelly, wow, Darkness Becomes Her sounds terrific! I'll have to put that on my TBB list. Thanks for stopping by!

Jacqueline Seewald said...

A very interesting interview! YA with a paranormal edge seems to be most popular. My latest YA novel STACY'S SONG is a realistic coming of age/romance. It'll be interesting to see if there's a readership for both. Wishing you the best,

Jacqueline Seewald

Pauline said...

You do meet the most interesting people, Lynda! Fun interview!