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Dear Kelley,

thank you so much for taking your time and answering the questions of „Leser-Welt“!
My first question regards the time you started writing - long before „Bitten“. What motivated you and when did you make the serious decision to publish?

I've been writing since childhood. I was an early reader and very quickly wanted to start writing my own stories. In my twenties I started working on novels, and would sporadically send out query letters and sample chapters, but never got anything more than a form letter rejection. So I gave up and concentrated on improving. In 1999, I sold “Bitten”, which became my first published novel, but wasn’t my first novel.

You mainly write urban fantasy - werewolves, witches, ghosts and other dark forces appear in your stories. Where does your fascination for this genre stem from?

I've always been fascinated by stories with a paranormal angle. I love to write in it because it has such a capacity for creativity - the eternal "what if?" of storytelling. I can take all those legends I've read, and put my own slant on them.

The wave of vampire and werewolf novels has been flooding the market for quite some time now. How do you try to stick out of the mass? What attributes make your heroes special?

“Bitten” came out in 2001, so I was ahead of the huge popularity wave - at that time, there were very few authors writing urban fantasy - so few that it was several years before the sub-genre even had a name! That meant I’ve never worried about sticking out. As for what makes my heroes special, I don’t really think there is anything specific that does. I create characters as I envision them, and that seems to resonate with readers, so I’m just lucky.

Your books were aimed at grown-ups for a long time. With the „Darkest Powers“ series you now approach young adults, too. How did this step happen? Do you prefer to write for one of both target groups?

I had an idea inspired by my second adult novel, Stolen, but it was about supernaturals just coming into their powers, which in my world happens at puberty, which wouldn't work for an adult series. That idea was in the back of my mind as I began receiving an increasing number of emails from readers I considered too young to be reading my other books!  So I decided to give my YA idea a try. I don’t prefer one form over the other. They’re similar but different, and that makes it fun to switch between them.

You don't only publish on a regular basis but also more than once a year. How long does it take you to finish the first version of a book? And how do you approach it: Do you first structure the plot and characters intensively before you start? Or do most of the ideas flow when you have already started writing?

My process is constantly evolving. I've discovered I work best from an outline. My finished novel never completely follows the outline though. Better ideas arise during the first draft and I follow them wherever they lead. The first draft is a very intense process for me. When that draft is finished, I ease back into a more relaxed editing mode.

In the books of your series there always appear known characters from which you chose one to be the narrator. In your otherworld-novel „Waking the Witch“ Savannah is the main character, as she is in „Spellbound“. What is your plan for the series? Will there be a new character leading through one of the next novels or will Elena, Paige or Lucas return as a main figure?

The series will end with book 13, and books 11 through 13 will all be narrated by Savannah. They’re already written and I’m waiting for #12 (Spell Bound) to come out in July in North America.

Most authors who write book series from a first person perspective decide themselves for one narrator. Where does your idea come from to change the main characters?

When I was asked to consider turning it into a series, I discussed it with my agent and said I didn't want to do a whole series with the characters of Bitten. I love them, but after a few books, I would be struggling for ideas! So we came up with the idea of the wider supernatural world, and creating characters in “Stolen” I could spin off to as narrators.

In „Broken“ you refer to a historical theme with a letter that is related to Jack the Ripper. Will there be more historical references in your future books?

There is a major historical reference in the last three books - the villain comes from the past - but that’s all I can say for now!

Your character Lucas Cortez has a powerful family, the Cabal, that reminds me strongly of a mafia organization. Do you like crime elements or crime stories?

Yes, I like crime stories, so this was a good way to put them into my series.

„No humans involved“ is set to be released in Germany, soon. Main character is the necromant Jamie Vegas. When she appeared in the Otherworld series for the first time didn't seem to be as contemplative as Elena for example. Did Jamie change – and why?

Jaime has learned that life is easier if she plays dumb. She doesn’t have a college education so she doesn’t like to compete with my more intellectual characters. For her “dumb and pretty” has gotten her far in life, so she’s stuck with it 

With your Nadia Stafford series you have entered the crime genre. Will there be more books in that series or do you want to concentrate on dark fantasy only?

I was contracted for two books in the Nadia series, but I plan to write at least one or two more.  The problem right now is my schedule.  Rather than tie myself into a deadline (and rush the book to meet it), I’m planning to write the third one when I have free time.

Is there a character in your books you would strongly identify with? Is there one that is a little more „Kelley“ than others?

All my characters have a trait or two in common with me. That just makes them easier to write. With Elena, for example, she's my age, from my geographic area, with my education level, which made it easy for me to get into her head as my first narrator. My witch narrator and I share a common interest in computers so I could easily write that part of her life and personality. Eve and I both have daughters around the same age, so that part of her character came naturally, but otherwise, Eve and I have very little in common!

How do you set yourself into a writing-mood? Do you need an atmosphere that fits to your stories, such as music and candlelight? Or is there some specific place or time to write best?

If I’m not travelling I do most of my writing in my office, which is comfortable, but not too comfortable. For me it has to be a place where I can work without distractions. So it’s in the basement, where it’s quiet and there isn’t a window or anything to drag my attention out of the story. If I’m editing or doing business work, I’m in a less austere environment, either in my main floor office with my family nearby or curled up in a recliner with my laptop and a coffee.

Every author constantly changes and so many young authors have quirks in their style about which they can only shake their heads a few years later. What comes to your mind when you read old manuscripts? Anything you would shake your head about nowadays?

I try not to read them for that reason! I have a feeling what I did wrong in past stories, and try to correct it, without torturing myself by going back and seeing the problem. There were times when my dialogue stretched on too long, or when I spent too long in a character’s head, or just words or gestures that I overused.

For which book would you like to have an alternative ending? And why?

With the “Darkest Powers” in particular, I would have made the ending to “The Summoning” a little less of a cliffhanger :)

Regarding your plans for the future: Can you tell us about books to come? Are there many ideas for the Otherworld and Darkest Power series or might there even be another supernatural series?

The "Otherworld" will end (at least temporarily) with book 13. I’ve just sold a new adult series that has some supernatural elements, but is more mystery. That will follow the Otherworld. The Darkest Powers will go to at least nine books -that’s how many my English language publishers have bought.

If you couldn't be an author, what would you like to do for a living?

I love telling stories, and I’ve been doing it from childhood.  Even if I hadn’t ever gotten published, I would have continued to write. If I wasn’t an author, I’d probably still be in my former career, which was a computer programmer. I’d picked that because I enjoyed it enough that if the writing never panned out as a career, I’d still have a job that I liked.

Thank you very much for the interview and I wish you continuing success with your novels!





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