In Conversation With Kelly Kay

Kelly is a contemporary romance author from America. Her books are funny and steaming hot! I’ve worked with her on several books now and she is one of my favourite people to work with. Her latest release, Over a Barrel, is the first book in the Stafýlia Cellars Trilogy. It is the second trilogy of the Five Families Vineyard Series. There will eventually be five trilogies based in the same winery world – the fact that Kelly has all those stories planned out already totally blows me away. She is awesome.

Over A Barrel is a friends to lovers story that unfolds the history between US Senate candidate Baxter Schroeder, of Schroeder Estate Vineyards and bold, brash Tabitha Aganos of Stafýlia Cellars. Lifelong friends who think they can ignore fate.

Available now on Amazon

Name: Kelly Kay

Did you always want to be a writer?

Yes and no. I wanted to be lots of things but a writer was among them. I’ve always written plays, essays or journals. I wrote a lot of theatre and sketch comedy in my past. Books took me a while to come to. I wrote a lot for myself or my friends.

What age were you when you wrote your first book?

My very first one, I was nine or so. It centered around a young girl’s dream to be on Broadway and live in an apartment. It went nowhere publishing wise.

But when my husband and I were in fertility treatments, I started to write again to distract myself from feeling like a failure at getting pregnant. I thought if I could write a book, then I could accomplish something. It gave me control. I finished the first draft of what I called Aside, when I was 38 years old. Eventually that book became Shock Mount & Crossfade.

What do you do when you aren’t writing?

Think about writing. Drink wine with friends, read, tennis. Explore different parts of the country (pre-Covid) or my city, Chicago, with my son and husband. We love a road trip.

What are your ideal conditions for writing?

I don’t think there are any. I mean, I love writing in a hotel. I don’t know why, but I adore it. Maybe it’s the idea that it’s temporary or that I don’t have to make the bed, but I’m insanely productive in a hotel. As is my husband, who is a journalist and non fiction writer. There are occasions when we’ve sent the other one to a hotel for the night so they could write and finish a big project. I’ve learned that I can write just about anywhere and I’m never without paper and pen for that reason. If I can’t write electronically, then I will absolutely write by hand.

 Do you have any rituals or special equipment?

Flair pens, sharpened pencils and the perfect notebook (I prefer a top spiral, college ruled, hard cover notebook – almost impossible to find.) And a D ring 3 hole binder, lately decorated by my son. (Coffee, LaCroix Seltzer and wine – in that order)

How did it feel to complete your first novel?

I cried. Because I couldn’t believe I wrote all of those words. I couldn’t believe that it made sense and that I liked it. And then there was a period of mourning because it was done. I missed living with my main characters. I still go through that process, but it’s not as acute as it was the first time.

How have you found the whole process – writing, editing, publishing? What is the best/ worst part?

I am the queen of the comma splice and am eternally grateful to find Aimee, who not only catches them, but will probably correct the one I’m writing right now. When I’m writing and people are talking in my head, I’m in it. I’m totally immersed, even if my kid interrupts me. My husband found me crying the other day because Tess and Alex (Side Piece) couldn’t figure out how to make it work. He held me and then asked what was wrong. I told him and he was incredulous that I would cry over my own characters, but they’re a piece of me. They make me laugh too. 

Editing can be maddening. There’s always that moment when you think nothing will work and it’s all shit. But then – after either too much wine, a good night’s sleep, or a hike – the pieces fall into a place where you didn’t see them before. That’s quite magical. My second draft is always printed out, put into a 3-ring binder and I go through it line by line with a Flair pen (usually purple). I don’t edit at my desk. It’s usually at a coffee shop, library or park. (Again, pre-Covid).  A cozy chair somewhere. The paper edit is a completely separate process than the rest of it. It’s like I get to be a reader.

Publishing. This self-publishing thing is a vertical learning curve. Every tiny thing that you never knew you needed to know requires much googling, asking many questions and lots of failures. But somehow it suits my controlling nature. I do hate the marketing. A lot. I don’t know if I’m too annoying or full of myself or too timid in regard to marketing. I cannot tell what works and what doesn’t. I just want a clear path and directive to success and there isn’t one. It’s all test and adjust. And test again.

What writing achievement are you most proud of?

The last sentence I wrote; I judge older ones too much, so I have to stay present. I feel like every sentence I write is better than the last, so push forward, don’t rest on the past. That being said, I’m insanely proud of my first published book, Crushing. I’m proud that one New Year’s Eve, I decided to write it and self-publish it. A year later, there were three books and a plan for many more.

What are your plans for the future?

Many more books. I have four more winery based trilogies outlined that will complete a saga when all tied together. I also have three more duets spun off Shock Mount/Crossfade. And… I actually have two other novels written that are sitting in a drawer itching to become their own universes in the future. Right now their voices are muffled, but when they start getting louder, I’ll rewrite their stories.

Someday I wouldn’t mind meeting the people who have become my community. You know, when we’re allowed out of our homes.

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