Monday, February 2, 2015

AUTHOR INTERVIEW: Julianne Kelsch, author of Where Shadows Dwell

Tell me a about yourself. What got you started in writing?

I am a mom, wife, and writer. I have four kids and I home school two of them. The other two aren't old enough to be in school yet. Writing is both my passion and a good way to break away for a bit when I need a minute.

I've had a passion for the written word since I started reading at the ripe old age of four. Words fascinate me. Seven years ago after I had my second baby. Writing a novel had always been a dream of mine, but after my first attempt (when I was eleven) I decided that I couldn't do it. One day something switched in my brain, like a light turning on, and I realized I had been telling myself a false story; if I wanted to write a novel, I could write a novel. There was no can or cannot, only my choice to write or not. So I started writing. And  as it turns out, that was the best thing I could have done. I found my passion in writing and discovered the joy of weaving a story. Needless to say, I have been writing since. 

How and where do you write? Do you prefer a lap top or do you prefer writing freehand?

Most of the time I hole up in my room and write on my desktop. I've tried freehand and didn't like it - typing is definitely preferred. I recently got an iPad so now I'll be taking my writing with me everywhere. Turns out, it's pretty easy to type on an iPad. I'm very excited to have the option to take my digital books with me everywhere I go. I imagine productivity is going to increase.

What's your favorite part about writing? Your least favorite part about writing?

My favorite part about writing is the words. Words are magic. They are tiny little things that can have such an incredible impact. Words have the power to hurt or heal, to create joy or sorrow. I love that. I love that with one tiny sentence you can impact some body's entire world. I love weaving them together, forming them into sentences and then paragraphs. I love writing in such a way that rhythm is born and the work takes on a cadence all its own. It takes on a life all its own. When that happens - when life is created out of the words - magic happens.

My least favorite part is the publishing end. I've done hours and hours and hours of research and talked to multiple authors, but trying to determine the best step to take to get the work published has been a huge challenge for me. There doesn't seem to be a clear cut path anymore now that self publishing has opened up to so many people. I like clear cut paths. I like knowing what the next step is. On the flip side, since there isn't a clear cut path I get to be creative in my efforts and don't have to follow conventional methods, which is a bonus.

How do you come up with your characters? Why would readers want to get to know them?

My characters are created as I move through the story. When I start a book I get a very basic view of my character - I'll find what drives them forward, what their ultimate goal is, and a bit of their personality and then to a large degree I let them come alive as I write. If I get stuck I may do some character profiling or throw them into a different scene to see how they react, but I do my level best to let them show me who they are. To me, writing should be something fluid, like a river that is constantly changing. This allows the characters to tell me who they are, as opposed to me pre-defining them in a box I've set them up with. This method has worked for me, and I've been surprised at the surprises the characters throw at me.

Readers may like to get to know my characters because there is a good chance they will see something in them that reminds them of themselves. I try to write characters that are true-to-life, that have the same emotional struggles as the rest of us. I try to make them flawed and imperfect because that is often where you find the beauty in a human - their imperfections create their perfections. It's paradoxical but perfect in that as well. 

What types of marketing do you do to promote your writing?

My marketing program currently consists of building an online platform through blogs and social media. Word of mouth is also beneficial and I have had that help me when I'm looking for a freelance job (freelancing isn't near as fun as fiction). Eventually I will be incorporating a marketing campaign that focuses on the physical end, such as print and television, as well as the online end.  

I think the key to writing is to recognize that when you are a writer you are in business to create books, which means it needs to be treated like a business. I recently wrote a business plan that I will be following, which will help me incorporate the marketing aspects and the writing aspects. It will also help me find the balance in the life of writer and Mom.

How do you schedule your writing time? When do you write?

Right now my time isn't scheduled. It's not something I recommend, however, and as part of my business plan I'm going to be setting aside time for my writing. Typically, I'll do my research during the day and my writing at night after my kids have gone to bed. Sometimes, I'll disappear for a couple of hours and get my writing in. However, since it's not structured I am not as effective as I could be. My advice is that you create a structure that works for you. My ideal scenario would be waking up in the morning, getting my cup of coffee or chai, and writing for two hours from 9-11 ish. That would be perfect.

What are you currently working on? Do you have a new book out?

I have one novel, Where Shadows Dwell, that is ready for publication. The story follows a young woman as she embarks on a search for the father that abandoned her when she was a child. While the search is the catalyst that gets her started on her journey, ultimately what she finds is far more than the man who abandoned her. She falls in love, she faces fears she didn't know she had, she has to deal with the trauma of an abusive boyfriend, she discovers a family history so dark she knows she can't be a part of it, and eventually she finds herself in a battle for her life and the life of the man she loves.  If I could sum the story up very briefly, I would say that ultimately the novel is about not letting your past define you, and of letting go of the past so you can create a new future.

Do you have a project on the back burner? Tell me about it.

I do have a project on the back burner. The novel I am currently working on is the first in a fantasy trilogy. I wanted to try my hand at fantasy because with fantasy anything can be real. That being said, though it is a fantasy story, it will also have romance and suspense woven throughout. To me, this next story isn't just about the story though. It's about the journey that the character goes through to find her light and her power at the end. It's about traveling down the road that seems so dark and bleak only to realize that shining brightly, deep within, is a light that cuts through that darkness faster than any lantern or candle ever could.  With this novel I get to explore both sides of humanity - the dark, sinister side and the amazing side that we don't always recognize is there.

What would you tell a beginning writer who wants to publish but doesn't believe he/she has enough talent?

I've actually been asked this question before. And I always tell them not to stop. Just keep writing. You don't know your own talent, and if you really feel like you can't put words to paper, do it anyway because talent is simply something that is cultivated with time and practice. Those people we consider masters at their craft were not masters when they started. They put in the time to learn, they made mistakes, they faced rejection as much as the rest of us, but they kept going. Perseverance will make a huge difference in your life.

Thank you, Julianne! Learn more about Julianne and her books at the following links:

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