Welcome to Writers' Wednesday! Today we're featuring an interview with mystery novelist Kelsy George. Pull up a chair, enjoy the conversation, and be sure to leave Kelsy a comment when you're through!
Hi Kelsy! So tell us, when did you first begin writing? Was there an event or moment in your life that triggered your desire to write?
I wrote for a living a lot of years ago – then got sidetracked to breed and show horses and dogs. Once my knees told me to quit (or else!) I went back to work in a ‘real’ job – hated it!. Finally decided I was better off at home and signed up to take a creative writing course at the local college. I lucked out there – my instructor was TOR published author Candas Jane Dorsey. I guess she saw something worth pushing – she took me under her wing, gave me a job in her publishing company (literary fiction) and taught me everything she knew.
Candas pushed me to write something other than romance (I’d signed up for RWA and kept trying to push out a romance novel but it just wasn’t working!) I kept getting sidetracked into mystery plot elements and taking off on those. Add a little paranormal and I was happy as a clam. My first full length mystery with romance elements finaled twice in the Golden Heart – 2004 and 2005 – unfortunately it didn’t make it into the RITAs because my publisher delayed the print version until it was too late to make the contest deadline. I would have loved to see if it could take the hat trick.
When we moved to our island retirement home (think full time living in an RV on Canada’s west coast) I got really serious about writing and was able to spend as much time as I wanted at the computer. My view was the ocean shore which occasionally got me off track but it was also the source of the idea that became my latest WIP – now being sent to NY agents and editors – a few at a time until I see what happens with them – the book crosses three genres and has a heroine WAAAAY outside the box.
Wow, very cool. How do you go about developing your characters?
Something I see, read or hear will make me think “Oh, that would be good!” and off I go. With my current WIP – Limits – it was someone I met who walked with the aid of a prosthesis. A couple of days later I saw a fishing boat off our little stretch of beach and watched what they were doing – found out they were diving for clams. Voila! A story is born.
OK, so what advice would you give to new writers just starting out?
Find a mentor. Obey the rules until you know them well before you start breaking them. Know what genre you want to write and research the daylights out of it. Expect rejection. Accept rejection and try and learn from it. (If you’re lucky, they’ll tell you why they rejected it – don’t just assume they’re right but consider that they may be.)
Don’t expect to be an overnight success – one writer I heard about took 20 years to get her first contract!
Don’t let your reviews go to your head. Before I learned to accept what was written – I took sentences like “this is even better than James Patterson” (about Blind Justice – my GH finalist ms) to mean I was so good I’d sell right away in NY. NOT!!! It’s just one person’s opinion (for which I was deeply grateful) but it doesn’t mean anything more than that.
Do balance your writing life with the rest of your time. Have an exercise program and stick to it (diet if you need to lose weight) – sitting in front of the computer vegging out just isn’t healthy. Try not to let your writing life destroy your health.
What kinds of books do you like to read? Who is your favorite author?
Mystery – especially if it involves horses or dogs and paranormal – guess that’s why I like writing it too! Favorite authors would be Dick Francis (mystery with horses) and Kelley Armstrong (Otherworld series)
Now the question everyone's trying to figure out: how do you balance writing with the rest of your life?
For a long time I put everything else on hold while I wrote – but a heart attack in 2004 (yeah, I know, bummer for one so young! J - it was 7 weeks before the RWA National to which I was supposed to be going) got me to organize my time. I had to make time to do the necessary exercise to get myself back in shape. I’d gained a lot of weight when I quit smoking (13 years ago) and become sedentary while writing – so I took up biking. Riding my 21 speed mountain bike all over our corner of this somewhat mountainous island and dieting helped me lose 60 pounds (20 to go) and get in such good shape that when I had my second heart attack this past February there was NO damage done to my heart. And they tell me all that exercise has nearly eradicated the damage from the first one. Now, between diet, exercise and the necessary meds, I’m in the best shape I’ve been in since I showed dogs and horses.
I got a little carried away at first with the biking – it was such fun I frequently rode to the beach and didn’t bother to write for days on end. Now…I’ve got it better organized and I get some writing done most days.
I also added horseback riding into the exercise mix – hadn’t done that for a long time so had to remember how to do everything – but again, because I was in shape, it didn’t hurt that first time I climbed on board.
I also bought myself a moped to make slightly longer trips than I could bike (I bike 30+ kms/20+ miles at least five times a week – but with the moped I can do my grocery shopping, go the library, travel to my favorite beach spots – without burning up gas and polluting the atmosphere. Unfortunately, a truck pushed me off the bike route I was on back in August and I crashed – that’s made me out of the running for ANYTHING but sitting – I’ve been in somewhat bad shape due to getting a bone infection where the road removed the flesh on my ankle down to the bone. Bad news! Has just about healed and any day now they’ll allow me back on the bike, the horse and the moped.
And finally, what was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your book(s)?
It surprised me to find out I was good at what I did. Selling what I wrote was the part I hated, but the writing? How good it feels to create an entire world on paper and know that somebody else will get to read it, and maybe like it.
Thanks so much for joining us today, Kelsy!
Want to know more about this author? Visit her website or her author page!