Welcome, readers, to the first Table Talk of 2018! If you’re like me, you’ve made (or are going to make) goals for the new year. Again, if you’re like me, you’ll find keeping those goals to be an immense challenge. Perhaps a little inspiration is needed. Meet Kelly!
What sorts of things do you write and where are you in the publishing process?
I write Young Adult and New Adult speculative fiction, so I dabble in Science Fiction and Fantasy. The first two books in my Rogue Elegance trilogy were indie published, and the third and final installment is due out in spring 2018. I’m also currently querying a post-apocalyptic young adult manuscript and a new adult Peter Pan retelling. I’ve been keeping busy!
What inspires the stories you tell?
I draw inspiration from everything; reading, art, music, the real world, and human observation. My day job (before I became a stay-at-home mom) was as a social worker and working on that therapeutic level with clients really allows you to observe the full spectrum of human emotion. I think that’s why my books tend to be so character driven. I love taking people apart and finding what makes them tick, and then placing them in a high-stakes story and setting them loose.
What life experiences have helped you to become a better writer?
For me, I’ve become a better writer through writing a lot of really terrible things. I’ve improved by failing over and over again. The trick is to pick myself up, dust myself off, and get a little bit better each time.
When you write, how do you plan your schedule? Do you commit to a length of time, word count, or just write as time allows?
I wish I could adhere to a schedule. I write whenever I can, whether it’s for five minutes or six hours. As a first time mom to a one-year-old, my writing time comes in snippets. I often burn the midnight oil and write when the baby is sleeping, but I’ve been known to cram in a writing session in the grocery store parking lot a time or two.
What is the most challenging thing you’ve come across in pursuing this craft?
I would say the largest challenge to date has been mastering the indie publishing scene. When I first made the decision to self-publish, I don’t think I was fully aware of what exactly I’d gotten myself into. It really is a full time job, and you’re a one-man company. Books don’t sell themselves! It’s been an infinitely humbling process, but I’m slowly starting to figure things out.
Has anything come surprisingly easy for you?
Oh, good grief, no. Every bit of it is earned, from putting those first words down to editing, to working through writer’s block, to rejection and bad reviews and marketing. If I had to pick something easy, it would be how wonderful it is to connect with other writers. There’s a terrific network of support out there, and the combined knowledge of people who are more talented than me is really limitless. I’m a sponge around them.
How did you reach the decision to become an author? Was there a defining moment, or was the decision gradual?
I started writing when I lost my hearing to Meningitis. I had a difficult time adapting and so I threw myself fully into fictional worlds. Eventually, I started writing my own stories and creating my own worlds. I can’t remember when it went from being a passion to a career pursuit, but it feels like the desire to write has always been there.
If you could sum up a piece of wisdom you’ve gained in your journey to write, what would it be?
It’s hard to pinpoint just one. I heard Victoria Schwab speak last winter and she talked about putting your ideas on a backburner and letting them simmer before even starting to write about them. This has been the way I’ve tried approaching all of my writing since then, and it really allowed me to form more coherent plots well before tackling that first draft.
How would you prepare someone who wanted to start writing? What advice would you give him/her?
Read. Read, read, read and read some more. I read as much as I write, if not more. I also frequently try to read books that aren’t in my genre. You can’t know how to tell a good story if you don’t read good stories.
What do you enjoy reading?
I read everything and anything, so long as it’s fictional. I don’t do well with non-fiction, but I wish I did. My favorite author is Margaret Atwood. I think her prose is pure poetry.
Different people have different ideas of what makes a great story. What’s yours?
I think high stakes make a great story. If I’m going to get invested, the characters need to feel invested. Robert Frost says, “no tears in the writer, no tears in the reader,” and it’s so true.
What’s your dream writing job?
My dream writing job is to be a full-time author! I’m currently a full-time mom and part-time author, but I wouldn’t trade that for the world.
Do you have any writing resources you swear by?
Is a beta reader considered a writing resource? I work with alpha and beta readers like they’re going out of style, and I am grateful for each and every one of the wonderful writers and readers with whom I’ve partnered.
Where can people find you/your work?
People can check out my website at www.kadowling.com
Or find me being snarky on Twitter at @KayAyDowling
The first two books in my rollicking pirate adventure trilogy, The Changing Tide and The Forbidden City, are available for purchase on Amazon and on the Barnes and Noble website! They can be bought in hard copies or downloaded as e-books.