I've always said, if you want something done right, sometimes you just have to do it yourself. I've also said, you're doing it wrong, get outta my way.
I've been reading about the writer's platform and recently came across a statement that suggests having an interview on your website. Who better to ask me the tough questions than, well, me?
Today, I have the distinct pleasure of interviewing writer Kelly Duff. Known for her quippy Facebook posts about her dogs, Kelly is an aspiring novelist who has completed three novels that she hopes to self-publish in 2014 and is currently speaking with us from the confines of her Elmhurst home as two feet of snow cover her tree-lined suburb.
Q: Why Elmhurst? As a writer, why not a big city?
Elmhurst is a great city. It's close enough to Chicago, which has become a big player in the Lit scene, that I can call myself a Chicagoan. And, looking outside my window right now, I'm reminded of the days we lived in Lincoln Square and the furniture our neighbors put out to save parking spots. I also grew up in Elmhurst. I went to grade school, high school and college here. Yeah, never strayed too far. But I wouldn't give up my experience at Elmhurst College for the world. It made me who I am today.
Q: And who would that be?
Well, first and foremost, I'm a writer. But during the day, I'm an executive assistant. I've been one for twenty years. I'm the corporate care-giver as they say. I make sure stuff gets done, people are happy, yadda yadda yadda. And I'm a huge music lover. Which is usually the stimulus for a lot of my writing. The right song can turn an idea into a scene for me. I love making up stories in my head (and on my laptop) based on a nugget of an idea. I have tons of writing nuggets starting from high school on, in spiral notebooks. That was what we did before they had computers, and I have files on my laptop for every story I've started in the last few years.
Q: Tell us about a recent story.
My novels are character driven. Much like a lot of romance stories, the male and female lead usually start out at odds with each other then, over the course of the book, they fall in love. Of course, there are a few pitfalls along the way. For example, in Beyond Belief, the female lead has a one night stand with the male lead, then realizes the next day that he's basically her arch enemy. The female lead is not known for such promiscuous events but the night proves to be significant in how the rest of the story plays out. Will she be able to work with this man she should despise yet is attracted to anyway? And will he realize what a doofus he's been?
It's the classic tale of the pig-headed man and the defiant woman who peels back his layers of, well, doofusness, finding his heart underneath it all.
Well, they're not all like that. The next novel I'll be revising is called Racing Hearts. Both male and female characters have some history together. She is now an championship-winning race car driver...that's right, SHE is the race car driver. And the male lead is ex-special forces hired to protect her from a stalker that's sending death threats her way. She's a bit of a wild child and he's very noble and proficient in the personal security realm. But they are also very flawed. While she is nursing a broken heart that the male character trampled on a decade ago, the male character is dealing with injuries from battle and PTSD.
Q: What draws you to the romance genre?
Two words: cute boys. I've always found myself falling in love with certain characters in movies or books that were the quintessential bad boy. For example, one novel I hope to publish this year called Waiting For The Night, all started fifteen years ago when my hubby and I saw the movie Go with Sarah Polley, Katie Holmes, Taye Diggs and Jay Mohr. It was Timothy Olyphant's character Todd Gaines, touted as the "good drug dealer" who made me sit up and take notice. I started to write a story where he, Olyphant, not his drug dealer character, played the brother of a reclusive rock star. But not all my stories are based on hotties. I have another work-in-progress called The Girl Who Didn't Go based on the true story of a girl who, had she not stayed home the night of her high school pre-homecoming prank, would have died in a terrible car wreck with her other three girlfriends. The results of which make up most of the book's plot. How does one wrap their brain around something like that? She lived. They didn't. So there's a ton of survivor's guilt there. And why didn't she go? What's the back story? How has it affected her relationships? See, this is the crap that runs through my brain as I drive to the day job.
Q: How do find time to write with that day job of yours?
It ain't easy. I did, sort of, take the month of December off from writing. But I had just spent November in NaNoWriMo, writing most of Racing Hearts. That's pounding out roughly 2,000 words a day to reach a 50,000 word goal in 30 days. I've done it twice now along with Camp Nano which is held in July and where you make your own goals (overachiever, 40,000 in 31 days for Camp NaNo). But when I'm not held by habit-forming, ritualistic, masochistic online competitions like that, I usually try to write a few times a week and definitely more on the weekend. I used to say that I was a night writer. I couldn't put a word on paper or screen until the sun went down. But being a grown up, I don't have the luxury of staying up all night, so I take time when I can.
Q: Is it always fiction-based?
Nope. I blog, I've written the start of a memoir about my mom that I'd like to turn into a sort of Chicken Soup for the Soul-like book where other people can contribute their own crazy mom stories. I can't say I'm a fan of writing non-fiction but I do like to review movies, music, concerts, etc. Basically tell people what I think about stuff. Hence, the blog.
Q: Where do you see yourself in five years?
First, I'll tell you a secret: I don't really know if I am any good at this writing stuff. I mean, I've been doing it since I was a kid, but that doesn't mean any of it makes sense on paper. Assuming this career goes somewhere, if I could write a couple books a year, and in a perfect world, do it full time...maybe permanently from a warmer climate? That would be utopia.
Q: One final question. What's the deal with the tumbleweed obsession?
I have no idea. I just...well, I just get a kick out of them. They make me happy. So carefree.
Well, that's all we have time for today. Thanks, Kelly!
You're welcome, Kelly!