I want to introduce one of my crit partners (to those of you who don’t yet know her), author Kelly Walker. Her “Souls of the Stones” series is fantastic. I’m in the middle of critiquing book three and am really excited about it. So I decided to interview her to learn more about her as an author.
I’m honestly not sure I’ve realized it yet. I often realize that I’m not only writing books, but I’m publishing them, and I have to stop and catch my breath. It still feels quite surreal. I wrote a lot as a kid, but it was always for a very personal reason – either because I wanted to live my dreams through made up characters because I knew they were a bit farfetched, or because I needed to work through emotions, etc. Now, I guess I am still living a dream by writing, but writing IS the dream.
Who would you say is your greatest writing influence?
I can say without a doubt my greatest writing influence is Stephanie Meyer. Let me explain for anyone considering pitchforks. She told an incredible story. Some say it isn’t well written. I couldn’t tell you, because when I read her stuff, I’m so lost in the world she created that I forget the words. Her characters are captivating and engrossing, for no discernible reason. Simply put, I feel like her story is magic. I don’t have any great technical skill when it comes to writing. But I read her books and I feel like it reminds me of what is really important – telling an amazing story. That is my goal – Write well enough to not get in my own way. I saw an interview with her, where the reporter asked her about E L James, and asked if she was upset about “inspiring” 50 shades. Stephanie said she wasn’t, because E L James obviously had a story to tell, and she wished her all the best. I hope if I ever make it big, I can be that classy. And I think it is also a really important reminder of why we should write – to tell a story.
What do you find is the hardest aspect of being a writer?
Managing my time. There are always things I need to do. Writing, editing, critiquing, or even the mundane side of things like book keeping. I have to really force myself to remember that there is life beyond it. I do this full time while the kids are in school. At least, that is my plan. But oftentimes I find myself ‘working’ more than I plan.
The other surprisingly hard thing is knowing how to respond when people ask me about my books. I’m a relatively shy person, and when someone I don’t know asks me about my books it makes me want to hide in a corner and turn invisible. I think part of it is because I write fantasy. I struggle to try and explain the magic, and the love, and the fantastical elements to strangers. I mean, when you start talking about talking to the dead, telling the future, and elemental magic, people are quite reasonable if they look at you like you are nuts. I do a bit better with people I already know, since they already know I’m nuts, I don’t worry about ruining their perceptions.
Tell us about the “Souls of the Stones” series.
Well, at the risk of sounding nuts, It is a YA Fantasy. Ultimately, it is about love, and finding love where we least expect it. It is about learning lessons from the past, working toward a better future, but never forgetting to appreciate the present. It follows conventions of the paranormal romance genre, while being more of high fantasy than paranormal.
The main character, Emariya (Riya) is a medieval heiress who lost her mother as an infant. At the start of the series her father is missing, and she’ll do just about anything to find him. To complicate matters, her land is in jeopardy. An opportunity to help her land and bring her father home is presented in the form of a marriage proposal from a mysterious prince. She agrees and her journey begins. Soon after she leaves the safety of her home, she learns the world is more dangerous than she ever imagined, and there is an entire rebel group intent on harming her for magical abilities she didn’t know she had.
Now that you’re published, what has changed in your view when it comes to writing and publishing?
I’ve done a lot of research in trying to chose between Indie Publishing, versus Traditional Publishing. I think the one thing I am sure of, is that there are a lot of people who call themselves professionals who want to take advantage of aspiring writers. Between bad contracts from established publishing houses, to vanity presses, and companies who want to sell services at inflated prices, there are a lot of vultures circling. Fortunately, the information is out there as long as we do our due diligence, no matter which publishing path we choose.
What one piece of advice do you have for unpublished writers?
This really goes along with the last question. I think the most important thing is do your homework. You have to be true to two sets of people – Yourself, and your eventual readers. It is very easy to get caught up between indie and trade pubbing, and as publishing companies and distributors disagree authors and readers get caught in the middle. Remember to look out for you, and look out for your eventual readers – this means making sure you have plans about how they can find your book longterm (direct them to your website or blog, not a retailer!) and it means respecting your characters.
Don’t choose to self publish because you think trade publishing is too much work, and don’t trade publish because you think self publishing isn’t viable. Do your homework, and decide what is right for you and what is right for your story.
If you aren’t ready to publish yet, then don’t. Don’t be in a rush. Find a crit group. Write, and then write some more.
What else do you like to do besides write?
I like to read, and I read a lot. Most evenings after we go to bed my husband goes to sleep and I read for 2 or 3 hours. I also love to create – either through photography, or through graphic design. I do book covers on the side, and when I need to de-stress I usually do one of the above.
In addition to all of that, I’m a mom and a wife, plus an unofficial zoo-keeper. We have 3 dogs and 2 cats, so there is never a dull moment.
What’s coming up next for Kelly Walker?
I’m not sure which title will be next. Either Broken Stone, or Severed Stone. Broken Stone is the 3rd and final novel in the main Souls of the Stones trilogy. Severed Stone is the first prequel. Hopefully one more prequel (Valencia’s Story) will be coming after it. Broken Stone is planned for May 31st, and I think I am on target to meet that goal.
Once Souls of the Stones has been finished, and I really don’t know when that will be because the story keeps demanding more from me, I want to write a paranormal romance. Uncertain Fate will follow a male vampire who can see when and how a human will die, as well as parts of their life before it. He meets a girl (Of course) and falls in love. He is undeniably drawn to her. The only problem is he can see that she is going to die soon. He hates the thought of being without her, so he wants to turn her. His choice is complicated because through his gift, he realizes if she is turned, she will hate him. So he is destined to loose her, either through death, or through supernatural life. Maybe he can change it, or maybe he can change her mind, or maybe after realizing their destinies in the moment they meet, he will decide not to introduce himself in the first place.
Kelly Walker is a part time novelist, full time wife, and an all the time dreamer. Her first promotion was 8 years ago and it came with the job title of ‘Mom’. Her second promotion came with no raise in pay but a huge jump in responsibility when she became ‘Mom of two’. It’s a rewarding career but the retirement plan sucks. She is a huge advocate of animal rescue and adoption and shares her Virginia home (and couch) with three dogs and two cats.