After having read (and loved) the new release, White Picket Prisons by Kelli Owen, it made perfect sense for me to sit down for a little get-to-know Kelli interview for this weeks installment of Having Words.
Mandy: Thanks for taking the time to answer a few questions about writing, life and whatever else pops into my head. (Hence the randomness of the questions.) Inquiring minds want to know…
Kelli: Thanks for asking. And I’m glad you enjoyed the new novel, it was fun to write.
#1: What’s your favorite food?
Kelli: Yes. I mean, anything with amazing flavor. I have this belief that if we must eat to survive, it should taste good. My family has self-proclaimed all of us to be food snobs because of this. If I had to choose a last meal? Nothing will ever surpass the perfect steak with sautéed mushrooms and onions—though Chinese take-out on the side would be lovely.
#2: What would you consider to be your favorite quote or saying?
Kelli: “To know that a pinprick hurts does not make a pin prick hurt less.” From a collection I found a thousand years ago at a garage sale “The Beachcomber”.
Mandy: I love yard sale finds. I think most of my library may have been rescued from someone’s garage sale. On the topic of books…
#3: What are you reading right now?
Kelli: These questions? 50 Shades of Grey in small pieces, because I don’t get the hype and I put it down constantly. Tons of Lovecraft (research), Savages by Don Winslow (because the movie rocked), and Journey to Istlan (Castaneda) for giggles.
#4: Do you have any book suggestions for the readers out there?
Kelli: The Raw Shark Texts by Steven Hall and Horns by Joe Hill were the last two I loved.
Mandy: I’ll be sure to add those to my ever-growing, to-be-read pile of books.
#5: Speaking of growing (up), what did you want to be when you were a kid?
Kelli: A writer, then when I thought that was out of reach, silly or impossible, I flipped around such thoughts as coroner, brain surgeon, beautician and even teacher. Do not try to make any of those thoughts work, they were the meanderings of a young teenager. I ended up going to college for an English Major with the idea of writing in mind but realized with that degree I could either teach or be a reporter and I really didn’t want either, so I switched to an Accounting degree to pay the bills and planned on writing in the free time. Long way around the bush, but I got there. =)
Mandy: Awesome, based on your books I’ve read so far, you made the right choice.
#6: When did you start writing?
Kelli: The first story in my possession is from 2nd grade, but I’m sure it was before that, I just don’t have any proof.
Mandy: I can totally relate, even though I’ve lost or misplaced everything else in life (more than once), I still have all my writing from when I was a youngster.
#7: How do you cope with distractions from your writing?
Kelli: I block the world out. Headphones and loud music.
Mandy: I should try that, however I’m pretty sure I can’t use headphones to block myself out. I’m my biggest distraction.
#8: Alright, you have your headphones in and you’re about to hit play… What would a typical Kelli-writing playlist look like?
Kelli: Typical? No such thing. I make a playlist for each work, novella or larger, specific to the theme or pace or feel. For instance, the current bloodfest has a playlist of angry music, White Picket Prisons had an eclectic collection of 90s alternative and current rock, and the next novel will be set in the 80s and has a soundtrack, which had to be hunted down, that has nothing outside of 81-84 rock, metal and top 40.
Mandy: Follow up question, if you have a time sensitive story, (such as your next novel set in the 1980’s) do you always pair it with the music from that decade? Or is this just a one-time happenstance?
Kelli: Well, it’s the first time sensitive story. With this particular tale I’m including some veiled friends from that era and am using the music as a memory nudging tool. Generally, I choose music for the mood or theme, this time I’m choosing for cues.
Kelli: Yes. Hehe… want to punch me don’t you? I like telling the story. I don’t always have control what length it will be. Though my ideas are much bigger lately, the muse is really being a freak, so it’s looking like I’ll be living in novel-length for a while.
Mandy: Excellent, longer Kelli Owen reading! This makes me a happy girl.
#10: Can you give the readers (and me) a hint of what’s coming down the pipeline, either works in progress, or ideas you plan to develop?
Kelli: For the next couple years? Live Specimens will be done this month if it kills me (novel). Then a novella, Headlights. Then the following novels not necessarily in order depending on contracts and deadlines: Man in the Moon, Floaters, Tomorrow, Light of Day (working title), and two sequels to previous works (titles still being chewed on by muse).
Mandy: I hear you’ve stepped WAY out of your normal writing zone with “Live Specimens”. I was at The York Emporium for Horrible Saturday where you read the first chapter and I’m stoked to see what’s happens next.
Kelli: WAY out of normal. I thought. I usually write about the human condition, on some level, and/or a commentary on society. This is a bloodfest (requested as such) and I was really worried it wouldn’t have that same tone… pre-readers have informed me I’m wrong. It’s still me in there, there’s still a commentary under the ink, it’s just covered in much more blood than normal. But that’s okay, since two others on that upcoming list are going to be bloody as well, so this is just a different side of me. The gorier side =)
#11: What if I wanted something signed… Where can we find you? Do you have any upcoming appearances planned?
Mandy: You should totally come to Killercon, I’ll be there. We can get into some Vegas trouble together.
#12: Aside from “Get Paid” and “Contracts can be changed” (both of which are engrained into my brain thanks to your awesome tutelage). Do you have any advice for the writing community?
Kelli: Yes! Read every day. Write every day. Beyond that you don’t have enough room and I don’t have enough time (see above deadline for LS), but feel free to watch kelliowen.com for 101 blog posts aimed directly at the newer writers out there.
Mandy: I’ve made sure to include links so everyone can navigate to your blog.
Final Question: White Picket Prisons paints Michigan as a desolate, creepy state… I ask you: “Why the hate for Michigan?”
Kelli: I don’t hate Michigan, I hate the time wasted there while driving through it when we roadtrip back to family in Wisconsin. Though I am a bit miffed at their lack of decent gas stations and the decision to stop making the cherry coffee. Jerks.
Mandy: Mmmm cherry coffee sounds amazing. There must be somewhere else to get it. If any of our readers out there know where to find it, please comment and you’ll make for two very happy writers.
Thanks for taking the time to grace my blog with your wicked presence and I can’t wait to see what’s in store for your next novel.
Anything to add?
Kelli: Thanks for having me. Next time… make the questions weirder! I was expecting outrageous and these weren’t bad at all =)
Mandy: I promise the weird will eventually read its funny looking head. The first interview’s a pretty normal one but I make no guarantees on any future ones