Thursday, June 23, 2016

AMONG THE STACKS: Kelley Kaye


I want to take a moment, before I get all into this interview, to say something about the above author photo.  Oh. My. God.  Isn't that just perfection?  Whenever I speak to an author, I tell them that I need their author bio and to make sure they send me a photo.  My blog is NEVER boring, and I always always ALWAYS love it when the author sends me a photo that is far from boring.  (Great job, Kelley.  I knew I liked you haha.)


The Gal in the Blue Mask:
Hey, Kelley.  Welcome to The Gal in the Blue Mask.  It's a pleasure having you here today.  (Thank you, Stephen Kozeniewski, for introducing us.)
            Let's start with something "easy" - Tell us a little bit about yourself.

Kelley Kaye:
I'm a little bit country... a little bit rock-n-roll... Oh, wait.  That's Donny and Marie.  My name is Kelley.  I live in California, but I grew up in Colorado.  I am obsessed with books - now I'm writing them, but I apparently started reading them very young.  My mom always tells a story of the book - a real storybook, not a See-Spot-Run kinda thing - that my grandmother gave me when I was three.  I asked my mom to read it to me and she said, "Why don't YOU read it to ME?"  So I did.  When she asked if Grandma had already read it to me and such, I got huffy in my three-year-old way and said, "Mommy, you asked me to read it so I did."  Reading has been part of my life - kinda at the expense of a lot of other stuff - ever since.  (And, by the way, mom attributes my hyperlexia to The Electric Company, which was a 70's reading show on PBS that was THE BEST.  I got all the seasons on DVD for my kids because I don't think the new one is as good.  Plus, that one doesn't have Morgan Freeman or Rita Moreno.)  I am married - just had my 10 year anniversary - and I have these two really cool little boys!  They play baseball, soccer and basketball, but since I'm so into well-roundedness, we also drag them to the symphony and the Globe Theater and they play the piano.  We love the beach and the park and the movies.  I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis back in 1994, which I can say in the same breath totally SUCKS and is the greatest gift I ever got.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What are five things most people don't know about you?

Kelley Kaye:
1) I equally love heavy metal music (Metallica, AC/DC, Guns-n-Roses) and Michael Buble, Harry Connick Jr, Frank Sinatra and Brian Seltzer Orchestra.  All that stuff.  2) I hide mini York Peppermint Patties under my bed.  3) I often still get advice from my father, even though he died in 2012.  4) When I had bunion surgery in 2005 and had to wear one of those CAM boots for six weeks, I didn't  tell students it was bunion surgery.  Instead, I told them I'd stopped a would-be rapist in a Las Vegas alley using a roundhouse kick.  5) I rehearse what I'm going to say, in my head, before I say it.  All the time.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What is the first book you remember reading?

Kelley Kaye:


The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What are you reading now?

Kelley Kaye:
I just finished a new YA called Complicit.  It was very disturbing, so read it if you feel the urge to have your head messed with.  Also, just finished a book club book called The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks.  Fascinating!  Everyone should read it.  Right now I'm on a Nancy Pickard cozy - she's one of my favorite cozy writers - called No Body.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What made you decide you want to write?  When did you begin writing?

Kelley Kaye:
I've always wanted to.  Earlier I alluded to my obsession with books and words - have always been that way.  It's a natural progression, I think, to want to be able to create something of your own, when words are so important to you to begin with.
            I've always loved it, but when I was younger it was more about creating captions for the yearbook, stuff like that.  I took a Creative Writing class in college where the professor liked a Science Fiction story of mine so much he had me enter it in a contest!  I think that was the point I started feeling like, hey, I already know I love this, but maybe I can really ado it??!

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
Do you have a special place you like to write?

Kelley Kaye:
I have a chair in the corner of my bedroom, where I sit next to a picture of my late father, inventor of the used bookstore, with a laptop and a cup of coffee.


The Gal in the Blue Mask:
Do you have any quirks or processes that you go through when you write?

Kelley Kaye:
A few years ago, I went to a conference called "Write Your Book in a Weekend."  They gave me this music file with an hour-long piece of music supposedly good for those brain waves you are accessing when you write.  It has coyotes in it.  I put it on repeat and that is what I play when I'm pounding the keys.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
Is there anything about writing you find most challenging?

Kelley Kaye:
The marketing is most challenging to me because I like it the least.  I love interacting with people, but I'd rather do it face-to-face, so this endless loop of social-media-queries-requests-look-at-me-know-me-love-me-please-please-listen-to-my-story is challenging and exhausting.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What books have most inspired you?

Kelley Kaye:
To Kill a Mockingbird is a perfect book, in my opinion.  But there are so many others - book inspires me because of the way the author turns a phrase, paints a picture, or makes me hungry for the next moment.  East of Eden.  Something Wicked This Way Comes. Who are some authors who have inspired my writing style?  Harlan Coben is the one who inspired me to write a mystery - I wanted to write something where the reader laughed a lot and didn't know how the book would end.  Dean Koontz has always inspired me because I think he's such a great storyteller.  My friend Shawn told me once to read Tick Tock because the rapport between the two main characters sounded a lot like my voice as a writer.  I read the book and was so flattered to have a comparison made like that!  Stephen King is, also, in my mind as a genius storyteller.  11/22/63 has so many moving parts to it and he made them all come together in this amazing machine.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What do you think makes a good story?

Kelley Kaye:
Interesting characters with difficult decisions to make.  I like it when I'm constantly asking 'why did THAT happen?' 'who the heck is THAT?' 'why did that guy choose THAT path?'  The questions are what keeps me reading, and the people in the story make me care what's going to happen as a result of those questions.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What does it take for you to love a character and how do you utilize that when creating your characters?

Kelley Kaye:
I need to believe their actions are true to their belief system and history.  I ask that question of myself whenever the character decides to do something.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
Which, of all your characters, do you think is the most like you?

Kelley Kaye:
All of my friends who've read Death by Diploma say they can see me in Emma the most.  Especially those who knew me in my early teaching career.  But I feel like there's parts of me in all of my characters, even the icky ones...

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
Are you turned off by a bad cover?  To what degree were you involved in creating your book covers?

Kelley Kaye:
I know the importance of a striking cover to readers who are browsing.  I don't pay attention to covers personally because I'm always looking for books based on authors I like or peoples' recommendations, but that's just me.  For those browsing readers, I LOVE the cover of Death by Diploma!  The cover artist, Glendon Haddix, took a synopsis of the story, plus what I saw as the perfect chalkboard for the Chalkboard Outlines trademark, plus a few ideas that I had for the school setting, and created this beautiful, colorful, eye-catching cover.  I hope he'll do it for the next one!

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What have you learned creating your books?

Kelley Kaye:
I've learned that I want to do this forever.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What has been the hardest scene for you to write so far?

Kelley Kaye:
I'm actually working on a non-fiction humorous kind of self-help medical memoir right now, and writing scenes about dealing with my MS diagnosis and years of infertility have been the hardest.   For the cozies, the scenes describing the dead bodies are the hardest for me because I've never seen one and I want to get it right.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What makes your books different from others out there in this genre?

Kelley Kaye:
I think the Shakespeare hook, with all the quotes Emma and Leslie use, plus how they all relate directly to whatever events are happening to the story at that time, plus the quotes at the start of each new day in the novel, are all really fun and unusual.  I think this is a 'not normal' American cozy, as far as I can see, because it's a 3rd person attached point of view, and a lot of American cozies are 1st person point of view.  It's pretty goofy and irreverent all over, which I think some writers are hesitant to do.  I don't know any other way to do it.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
How important is the book title, how hard is it to choose the best one, and how did you choose yours (of course, with no spoilers)?

Kelley Kaye:
The original title was, of course, from a line in a Shakespeare Play, but it was determined to be not very 'cozy.'  The formula for a cozy mystery needs to have a reference to the occupation of the amateur sleuth, which in this case is high school teachers, and it also needs to have something about murder or death.  I, as the aforementioned word lover, also love wordplay.  So alliteration was the soup du jour!  I and my friends tried a whole list of alliterative titles which I'd love to share, but I'm saving them for future books.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What makes you feel more fulfilled: Writing a novel or writing a short story?

Kelley Kaye:
I like novels because I'm long-winded by nature.  Brevity is not my strong suit.  This is probably the shortest answer you'll ever get from me.  Ever.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
Tell us a little bit about your books, your target audience, and what you would like readers to take away from your stories.

Kelley Kaye:
My target audience is anyone who likes mysteries.  Any age because there's not much in the way of sex or violence (even though, like, some people get killed).  I want readers to feel like they just finished with a really fun afternoon with a friend.  Maybe at Disneyland.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
Can you tell us about some of the deleted scenes/stuff that got left out of your work?

Kelley Kaye:
The original draft had diary entries from the point of view of the killer.  They were cut, so I put them on my blog as we got closer to the release date.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What is in your 'trunk'?  (Everyone has a book or project, which doesn't necessarily have to be book related, that they have put aside for a 'rainy day' or for when they have extra time.  Do you have one?)

 Kelley Kaye:
Jeezus Pleezus - my trunk is jam-packed.  I have two YA Paranormals - one the start of a series - that needs revamping.  I have an educational book on literary analysis I haven't been able to sell, but it's the most awesome book.  I need to go back to that.  I have a boatload of homemade lesson plans I was very successful with that I need to organize and put onto that teacher website.  I signed up to do that and just got lost along the way.  I have a bunch of poems I wrote when I was teaching high school Creative Writing I'd like to revisit.  I signed up to take an online class on Forensic Science at a Scottish University, but the sixth week was just sent to me and I've only done week 1!  I thought I could learn something new, plus it sounds like something Emma would want to do too... I have to stop now because if I don't, this to-do list is gonna make me cry.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What can we expect from you in the future?

Kelley Kaye:
I love telling stories.  I'll keep telling 'em, in any way possible, for as long as I'm able.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
Where can we find you?  (You know - STaLKeR links.

Kelley Kaye:

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
Do you have any closing words for your fans or anything you'd like to say that we didn't get to cover in this interview?

Kelley Kaye:
Please review your books!  Especially for Indie authors.  The number of honest reviews, good or not so good, is what helps the most.

About the author:
Kelley Kaye taught High School English for twenty years, but her love for storytelling dates back to creating captions for her high school yearbook.  Maybe back to the tales she created around her Barbie and Ken - whatever the case, the love's been around for a long time.  Kelley is married to this amazing man who cooks for her, and they have too funny and wonderful sons.  She lives in Southern California.

About the book:
Emma Lovett leaves her philandering husband and crosses the country to begin her teaching career at a high school in Pinewood, Colorado.  There, she meets Leslie Parker, a fellow teacher given to quoting Shakespeare to fit all situations, and the two become best friends.
            Arriving at work early one morning, Emma discovers the body of the school custodian, a man who reminds her of her later father.  When the police struggle to find the killer, the ladies decide to help solve the murder.  Their efforts lead them to a myriad of suspects: the schizophrenic librarian, the crude football coach, the mysterious social studies teacher, and even Emma's new love interest.
            As Emma Lovett discovers the perils of teaching high school, she and Leslie learn more than they ever wanted to know about the reasons people kill.

2 comments:

kelkay1202 said...

That was a fun interview, Meghan, thanks! Looking forward to the review.🤓📚

Meghan H said...

I'm glad you liked it, Kelly. I love interviewing authors. Review should be coming soon.