Kya: We are all excited to read your second novel, “Healing Eruption” would you mind to share a little bit about it?
Kelsey: Hi, Kya! I’m so glad to have the opportunity to do an interview with you. Healing Eruption will be my second published novel, and I can easily assure you that it is VERY different from my first ever full length book, Pintus. Healing Eruption is the story of a sixth grader named Addison Greene who is brought into an adoptive home and has to rebuild her life. Despite the darkness in the story, Healing Eruption plays with the humanisms that all of us have gone through as middle school students - best friends, crushes, our first dances - and the additional struggles Addison faces, her fear to trust, her fear of disappointment, of betrayal, and the lingering threat of her abusive father.
Kya: How did you write this novel, story line, and develop the character differently from your debut novel, “Pintus”?
Kelsey: I think the fact that I wrote Pintus during National Novel Writing Month (an incredible challenge to write a full length novel in just one month!) very much affected both the storyline and the creation of the characters. I think that, looking back at Pintus having now written an entirely new novel, I didn’t spend enough time developing my characters. My good characters were just too good and my bad characters too bad. One of my main goals for Healing Eruption was to give the characters layers. I didn’t want my villains to just be bad. I wanted them to be tortured, insane, deliciously evil characters within which emotions raged like storms, and I wanted my protagonist to be just as flawed and yet individually beautiful as every human being on this planet. That, I would say, is the biggest difference between the two novels.
Kya: Do you think you’ve grown as an author since you first started? If so, how?
Kelsey: Absolutely. I was only eleven years old when I finished the first rough draft of Pintus, and in the two years that have passed, I’ve been working unbelievably hard to learn and grow as an author, playing with different styles and diverse characters. I attended an AMAZING writer’s camp at Duke University over the past summer and learned an incredible amount. I’m still learning! :)
Kya: You had to set back the publication date for “Healing Eruption”, what was the hardest part about this?
Kelsey: Having to set back the publication date for Healing Eruption was the hardest part of the entire process of publishing this novel. Not because it was physically or intellectually challenging, but simply because I could not shake the feeling that I was letting my supporters down. On the night I realized I had made a mistake and would have to re-edit, thereby forcing me to have to postpone its publishing, I sobbed myself to sleep because I was so angry with myself.
Kya: Why did you get into writing?
Kelsey: This is a question I can never quite figure out. An excellent question, but one even I as the writer cannot logically answer. Why did I get into writing? Not how, not when. Why? And I’m not sure I can explain it. I’ve loved writing my entire life, everything to do with creating stories, coming up with ideas, exploring characters, everything. When I was in kindergarten I would pretend I was living in a movie, giving myself imaginary characters to play and songs to sing. I’d make up stories to my same-age neighbors and we’d play “Adventure” where we would pretend to be anything from Indians to princes and princesses. Then, once I hit second grade I began trying to type on this old junky black computer that no one else used, and the ideas came to paper. Around the time Pintus was published, I started suffering from nightmares because my creativity was going overload at night, and these experiences pushed me even harder to keep writing as a source of release. Reading inspires me daily. Every game, every idea, every beautiful song, every word - kind or malevolent - that is spoken to me, every experience has driven me to write. And I will never stop.
Kya: Can you walk me though a regular day in your writing world?
Kelsey: Lately I’ve been focused mainly on readying Healing Eruption for its publishing, so I haven’t been crafting out any new novels. In the time that I haven’t been editing, I’ve been doing a lot of improvisation writing activities with other writing friends. We get on Google Documents so that we can all work on the same document, and write sentence by sentence, completely making up the story as we go, and create new worlds.
Kya: Do friends treat you differently at school since you’ve already accomplished so much?
Kelsey: Ha ha, what an interesting question. Well, outside of my immediate group of friends, not many people in my grade actually knew about my publishing a book until I participated on the Mountain Television Network for an interview on my writing. My teachers found the interview on Youtube and every homeroom actually showed the video to the students. Now everyone knows about Pintus, and yes, it has been a little different for some of the people. For the most part, I’ve been treated the same, which I think is a good thing, but it is really special when someone goes out of their way to give me confidence to continue following my dream. There was one student who just out of the blue came up to me and said, “Kelsey, you’re talented!” and walked off, and another who came up and grabbed my hand and said, “I want to shake hands with a famous person!” before walking off like nothing unusual had happened. That was definitely different.
Kya: You have already achieved so much! You’ve published two novels and have several award winning short stories, and some astonishing reviews – what’s next on the docket?
Kelsey: I could never accomplish these things without the help of countless people, not to mention just unbelievable luck and coincidence in some places, and I’m so grateful and happy with the way everything has worked out! My next project is entirely focused around the publishing of Healing Eruption. I’m hoping to set up another interview with the Mountain Television Network, host some signings, and work on my website. It’s all just marketing from here, then once Healing Eruption is stable, I’ll begin on my next novel!
Kya: What is your ultimate goal in life?
Kelsey: My ultimate goal in my life is to be a best selling author and a person who is remembered in a positive way. I want my writing to speak to people, to move people, and to inspire people. Of course I have dreams of appearing on talk shows and being on magazines and all sorts of the things almost every teenager can’t help but imagine at some point in their life, but everyone a person meets leaves a mark on them, either positive or negative, and what I want the most is to be someone who leaves positive marks.
Kya: Will you be participating in NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) this year?
Kelsey: As of now, I’m just not sure. I would love to, and I would hate not to, but I am still in the works of coming up with an idea that will lead me somewhere. Time is also an issue.
Kya: It takes a lot to write an entire novel in one month. What are a few things you do to keep yourself motivated and inspired?
Kelsey: The most important thing in writing an entire novel in one month is having an intriguing idea or topic to write about, one that you become so hooked on that you can’t stop writing. You can drink as much coffee as you’d like, hover at the keyboard twenty-four seven, do everything you can to finish it, but if you don’t have a topic you care about and characters that you love, it won’t happen.
Kya: During November, when you’re writing this novel, you’d have to be really focused on what you’re doing and determined to reach your goal. Would you say you like to be social and part of groups during this focus time, or are more efficient to lock yourself in your bedroom with a cup of coffee and type the night away without interruptions?
Kelsey: As a general rule I’m a very social person, so NaNoWriMo or not I’m going to be spending time with friends. However, I can say from experience that it’s a thousand times more difficult to meet your daily goal when surrounded by friends because, unless they also are writers, their company can open many more opportunities for distraction! :) I personally love to write with others, but during NaNoWriMo, when I’m writing I tend to do the majority of it alone.
Kya: And finally, can you tell us a little bit about what your NaNoWriMo novel will be about and how you picked the topic?
Kelsey: If I do participate in NaNoWriMo this month (which I most certainly hope I will!), I think I will experiment with new styles, different types of characters, just something challenging and exciting. I’ve been playing with slam poetry, as well (I love performing poetry, sometimes it isn’t even so much about the content but about the way you say it!) so who knows, maybe I’ll write a poem a day and make a little book out of that.
Kya: Well, it’s been great to have you here, Kelsey, and I’m so happy with the insightful answers you shared. I wish you the best of luck in everything and I can’t wait to get my hands on a copy of “Healing Eruption”.