Please introduce yourself and your book(s)!
I am Kelli Dawn and I have written two out of three books in my first series, Down This Road and Among the Dimes.
What is/are the real-life story(ies) behind your book(s)?
Many people ask if my books are based on real life. While my books are fiction, real-life experiences, stories, and most of all, lessons are interwoven through the stories. For example, in Among the Dimes the main character, Brooke, has an incident where she is thrown of a horse and throws a temper tantrum. This happened in real life, with my brother and his city-slicker wife. There are quite a few more scenarios like this. I would also like to note that, while my books are novels and by nature meant to entertain, my true purpose in writing the books is to share lessons with my reader that I have learned in my own life.
What inspires/inspired your creativity?
Most of my inspiration comes from two places: my morning runs and time spent in the middle of nowhere on the back of a horse. I call these my creative “download” places.
What are the biggest mistakes you can make in a book?
In my opinion, the biggest mistake you can make in a book or in any writing, is being predictable. My goal as a writer is to encourage my readers to think, to analyze characters, and predict what would happen next. In either book, I didn’t wrap up the story in a nice, neat package. Instead, I left the ending open for readers to wonder what might happen next.
How do bad reviews and negative feedback affect you and how do you deal with them?
I am, as I imagine most authors are, quite sensitive about my work. It took me years to share my writing with anyone else, and even then, it was only with those closest to me. I am fortunate to have a large circle of support around me. But since my early days of blogging, I have had trolls commenting and trying to knock me down. At first, I would try to combat them, but somewhere along the way I realized that it really does take much more energy to feed the trolls than to ignore them. That is not to say they don’t affect me, but I throughout my life I have developed skills and tools to keep myself up when otherwise would have me down. It’s not always easy, but I believe it’s best not to engage.
But that only addresses criticism, not critiquing. Above all else, I strive in life to be a reflective person. So that means in my work, I welcome constructive feedback. I do know that it only makes me a better writer…and person. That being said, I’m also careful and selective about whose feedback I entertain, because too many chefs can spoil the pot. And, in all honesty, some people’s opinion matters far more than others.
How has your writing changed over time?
My writing has evolved as I have. I began publicly writing when blogs were a thing back in 2008. Back then, I was still at the age where I felt I had something to prove to the world. For me, that manifested almost as having a chip on my shoulder. I was sassy and stubborn and I cussed. A lot. Back then, my attitude was almost as a rebellious teenager, that I could say whatever I wanted and if you had a problem with it, I’d argue back with you. But with age comes wisdom and now I am much more aware of the image I’m projecting. As I’ve mentioned before, my purpose in writing is to share what I’ve learned so that maybe it’ll help someone else along the way. Whereas before I may have come across as mean-spirited, I now actively make an effort to show the intent behind my words. To show who I am as a person and that I truly am striving for peace and growth in myself and those who are reading my work.
Do you tend towards personal satisfaction or aim to serve your readers? Do you balance the two and how?
Along with what I’ve already mentioned, I’ll say that in my earlier days of published writing, I wrote more recklessly with less thought toward others. On my blog, I’d make fun of people in my life purely for (what I thought) was entertainment. This was self-serving. It took me hurting a few people close to me to realize that boundaries are essential when you’re publicly writing. So even though something may be funny to me, I had to stop and consider how it would affect other people.
What role do emotions play in creativity?
I’d say emotions are one of the biggest factors in writing. I wrote much of the romantic parts of my first book when my own marriage felt lacking. I actually find it harder to write when I’m happy, but when I’m upset it’s a lot easier. One of my hidden talents is that when I’m upset, poems just fly out of me. I wrote almost a poem a day back in college when I was trying to date a guy who wouldn’t commit to me.
What are your plans for future books?
I keep telling myself I’ll finish that third book in the series, but it’s remained halfway written for about 4 years now. I have every intention of finishing it, but have yet to take action on said intention.
Lately, though, I’ve been contemplating the idea of writing a semi-fictional autobiography. I’ve had some people suggest to me that the changes that have taken place in my life over the past few years are worth writing about. That being said, I’m a little weary of putting it all out there, hence my wanting to make it semi-fictional. There are parts of my life that are definitely story-worthy but that I don’t necessarily want to share. I feel I could hide them a little by leaving some mysteriousness about what is real and what is made up.
Tell us some quirky facts about yourself
The biggest quirk I think I have is that I can be completely country but at the same time city. To put it in the words of the great Garth Brooks…I blame it all on my roots. I was born in California but raised on a farm in Utah. I spent most of my adult life in Southern California but recently returned to live in s mall farming community in central Utah. I have spent an equal amount of time in both places, so I’m not sure which side dominates.
I also have this weird talent of remembering people’s birthdays. It’s almost always one of the first things I ask when I meet something new, because for some reason, knowing someone’s birthday helps me learn about them. Most people are surprised when I remember.
I am quirky by nature. I’m constantly cracking bad jokes and puns…and I don’t care. I want life to be fun and I want those around me to have fun…even if that’s because they’re laughing at me making a fool of myself.