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Thursday, September 22, 2011

Author Spotlight...Kelley Smith

I am very excited, Imaginarians. You know how I love discovering new to me authors. Today, I am shining a huge spotlight on Kelley Smith, author of the terrific YA tale Glittering Ashes. I'll have a post about her fantastic debut novel in the very near future, but right now, let's get to know Kelley. She's a terrific author with whom I connected a short time ago and I am just blown away by her.

Kelley holds both a bachelor's and a master's degree in English literature. Having been a word smuggler from way too far back to remember, she has always been obsessed with language, stories, and throwing these two together to make sense of the world she knows and the worlds that she doesn't. She is currently working on other novels, from the young adult genre and beyond. Glittering Ashes is her first novel.

What was the inspiration behind your debt novel Glittering Ashes? Tell us a little about your main character, Roe Daniels. She seems like quite an intriguing person.

Glittering Ashes started out as one of those stories that brews in your head for a long time. I first imagined all of the things that happen after the first book, but then I realized that there needed to be this as a beginning to have the rest of the series make sense. Roe Daniels was/is fun to write. She's adventurous to a point, but remains cautious. I liked writing her next to Jordyn, a more wild and crazy character.

World building can be so enjoyable for some writers and quite challenging for others, what side of the line do you fall on?

I think coming up with worlds can be really enjoyable, and I think a lot of worlds that people build start off from whimsy, from a person being imaginative enough to want to make a place totally different, but actually executing that world after finding a passion for it can be difficult. I'd say I'd definitely fall on the "it's enjoyable" side though.

This is a YA novel. How do you feel about exploring issues like sex, domestic violence, drug abuse and suicide in teen stories? Do you think there needs to be open dialogue with YA authors and their readers?

I've talked about this before on people's blogs when they've asked, and what I said then is similar to what I'd say now, it has to be integral and authentic to the story. If it makes sense for those types of things to occur without being gratuitous for the sake of being gratuitous, then I think there's a place for conversation and dialogue about just about anything within the YA genre.

What made you decide to embark on the writer’s journey? Who are some of your writing influences? Is there one author or title that had the biggest influence?

I've always wanted to write in some capacity. I was the girl with the notebook who scribbled story ideas and beginnings that never went anywhere but entertained me. I couldn't wait to have a laptop or access to a computer whenever I wanted to write everything down. I remember being saddened when I finally got to type up THE STORY I had been working on and it only amounted to a few angsty pages typed. lol.

My writing influences are really varied. I love to read. A lot. YA, romance, chick flick books, New Adult, Non-fiction, thrillers, horrors, magazines, blogs, how-to's. If it's interesting enough for me to pause and think about, I'll read something about it. I think anything can be inspiring, so I always like to be looking at any and everything to see what sparks something in me.

I wouldn't necessarily peg a specific author who made me want to write, but there were authors who made me want to read, and reading is definitely what made me get into writing. Robert Cormier was mind-blowing to me as a young teen, but, like I said, I look for inspiration everywhere.

What has surprised you the most about the business side of writing? Is there any part of publishing that you find especially challenging?

I was surprised about how much you have to work to get your book out there. Sure, I knew you had to direct people to it, but your book is one of so many books out there, and it is really important to steer people to your book, rather than just let them find it. At least in the very, very beginning.

I think choosing to self-publish with Glittering Ashes was challenging in that there are a lot of steps that could snare someone who doesn't research how to self-publish well and correctly (formatting wise and distribution wise), but if you want to learn, the information is all out there so it does become easier.

Do you write every day or only when inspiration strikes? How do you keep the creative juices flowing?

I don't write every day. I think every day. I stew on things almost every hour of every day (yes, I dream about WIPs sometimes), but I haven't yet decided how beneficial it is to force myself to write when I'm not feeling inclined. Goals are important, though. That I completely agree with.

I think reading is the best thing to keep the creative juices flowing. If I read something really awesome, it makes me more excited to write, to get my turn to try to be awesome. If I read something really bad, I want to write better and that gets me writing. Reading always helps.

Aside from writing, what are some of you favorite pastimes and pursuits?

Well, I've mentioned this on my blog before, but I am knitting a quilt that never ends. I knit many squares (SO many) that are roughly 5x5 inches. I have them piled in a bin in my closet. It's my dream to someday connect them all and have this crazy quilt of many colors. I also have been googling hand embroidery lately, so I'm interested in starting that. I really like looking at artsy things and trying to be creative. I love looking at and designing crazy tshirts too.

Do you have any favorite indulgences that might surprise your readers?

Hmm, I like looking at literary tattoos and looking at different ways to write text. I'm really into typography. Is that surprising? lol

What’s next for you? Is there a genre that you have not tried before, but would like to attempt?

I have a numbered list of book ideas written down. I think I have 33 on the list, last time I checked. Some are series ideas. Some short story collections. Some romance, some New Adult, some horror/thriller or script ideas. I would never rule a genre out. I'd like to take a try at everything. I'm really looking forward to doing something like a flash fiction collection or small book of poetry some time. I'll keep you posted :)

If you could pass along one piece of advice to an aspiring author, what would it be?

Write everything. Give everything, every idea that seems worth it, a shot. You never know what could stick and what you could amaze yourself by writing.

You can find out more about Kelley at these cool links

Her Blog: Writtled
Her Author Page: Amazon
Follow her on Twitter

You can purchase Glittering Ashes here or at additional retailers here.


  1. Thank you so much for being here Kelley. I'm going to have to do more reading on literary tattoos. They sound fascinating.

  2. nice interview, my darlings!
    Didn't know Kelley was a fellow Master in English Literature :) That's nice!

  3. @Dez Why thank you, sweetie. Kelley is too cool and I love that you both have Master's in English Literature. Wish I'd gone for mine.

  4. Thanks for having me, Melissa!

    DEZMOND: You're always too sweet :) And now we're English MA buddies too. Good to know

    And aw shucks :). It's never too late, Melissa. I'd root for you :)

  5. Thirty-three new ideas? Can I borrow one?

  6. Alex: lol. Ideas aren't the hard part; it's getting them down in some kind of order resembling a novel :)

  7. @Kelley Thank you for the kind words. I may one day go back.

    @Alex All those ideas just amazed me. I wanted to borrow one, too. :)

  8. Great interview, Kelley & Melissa. Kelley, I agree with you - what has really surprised me is how hard you have to work to put your book out there. I used to think writing the darn thing was the hardest work, but now I realise that's the fun (& easy!) part!

    Good luck with your book!

    Judy, South Africa

  9. Love the advice! Especially about thinking every day, even if you can't write every day.

  10. Great interview. I was intrigued about how reading sparks your creativity.

    I always worry I'm going to be influenced by a book and end up with the author's style wandering into my WIP! But you mentioning a great story inspiring you to try to write a great story, and something bad making you want to write something better, reminded me that those things have happened to me. Maybe I need to read more when I'm writing...

  11. Great interview! I have a lot of ideas as well but I try my hardest to keep them down because it makes me crazy until I write them.

  12. Great Post! followed :)

  13. Judy: TOO true :) and TY

    Meredith: Glad you dug it :) (Meredith has an awesome blog too btw, to any lurkers out there)

    C D Meetens: I wouldn't worry about it. There's a great piece called "How To Steal Like an Artist" you should see. I should mention it on my blog too. Here's the link:


    Clarissa: Yeah, I get that. I think I'm most worried about forgetting them so I write furiously and then I stop worrying :)

    Bones: Hi :)

    Thanks for all the comments on my little ol' interview :)

  14. @Judy Thanks!I agree, promo is very difficult to do.

    @Meredith Good to see you here. I don't have a chance to write everyday myself, so I can appreciate thinking everyday, too. It makes me feel like I'm at least working on my story. :)

    @C D Welcome! I worry about that kind of creative influence, too, so I loved Kelley's take on the reverse inspiration.

  15. @Clarissa Thank you!! I keep a notebook with me at all times for when inspiration strikes. I also try to write as much as I can so I at least feel like I've gotten a good start.

    @Bones It's great to see you here. I glad you enjoyed the post and thank you so much for the follow.

  16. 33 book ideas! Wow! Enjoyed your interview.

  17. @kirsten Hi! I'm so happy you enjoyed Kelley's interview. I, too, am impressed with all those book ideas.

  18. Very interesting interview like always, Mel!
    Thanks cause I can learn many positive things from this.

  19. @Jaccstev Aww.. Thank you. I'm so happy you enjoyed Kelley's interview. I love spotlighting great writers and books.

  20. Hi, Melissa! Wonderful interview. You asked great questions and I enjoyed getting to know more about Kelley!

    Kelley, I keep a list of book ideas too! No genre is ruled out (except horror–I'm a wimp, LoL!) and I hope to publish in various genres some day. :) I really liked learning more about you and your writing process!


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