# Please introduce yourself and your book(s)!
My name is Kelly Young and I am the Canadian author of The Travel Writer Cozy Mystery series, set in the province of Ontario. It follows a retired reporter turned travel writer who highlights small towns and, along with her husband and a collection of cohorts, gets embroiled in mysteries in the process. There are currently four books in the series – The Piper Sniper, Urgent Quest at Pumpkinfest, Christmas Tree Mystery, and Lethal Shot on Flowerpot.
I also penned two stand-alone novels – Flurries Ending and The Six Thousand – both of which are definitely not cozy. Flurries Ending is the story of a woman who is suddenly widowed. To escape the attention of her friends and family, she travels north to close out the family cottage, ending up snowed in. While there, she relives memories and, through discoveries that show her that her husband wasn’t who she thought he was, sees those memories in an entirely new light. The Six Thousand is the story of a group of people from all over the world, numbering 6,000, who come together telepathically to rid the world of evil. It is seen through the eyes of the last member of the group, as she tells her tale to a young relative doing a project for his journalism course. (I kill a lot of people in this one.)
I am working on a paranormal series under the pen name Kelly Keele titled the Haunted and Harassed Paranormal Cozy Mystery series, starring another retired couple and a ghost named Joe. It is based on a short story written earlier, in which Joe returns to his old home, which is being renovated by its current owners, to recover something important for the family he left behind. He just can’t remember what it is, or where he left it, and he won’t let the couple rest until they find it for him.
Other books include two speculative fiction novellas – Trumping the States and Putin’ it to the States – speculating on what would happen in Canada if Trump won the election (luckily I was wrong); a humour book titled Living With Men, a romance novella in the Harlequin style called Shades of Green, and two volumes of short stories – Kisses in the Moonlight Volumes 1 and 2, the second one fully horror based. There is also a book of poetry titled From the Heart, and a children’s picture e-book titled The Mitten Tree.
I have participated in NaNoWriMo six years in a row, and have ‘won’ three times. I am a member of the Toronto, Ontario chapter of Sisters in Crime, and of the main group of the same name out of the USA. I am also a long time member of Beta Sigma Phi sorority.
# What is/are the real-life story(ies) behind your book(s)?
I am actually a retired reporter, like the main character in my cozy mystery series, and feature places I have visited in those books. I am also quite the klutz, and as the MC is also a klutz, some of my more colourful accidents have found their way into the books. Many of the characters in this series are based on people I met along the way.
My romance book was written as a gift for a coworker who was a huge fan of those books at the time, and features a character based on her. When I published it, I changed names.
Real life just leaks into everything I write. Truth can be stranger than fiction, after all.
# What inspires/inspired your creativity?
Reading. I can’t remember not reading, and it was always a dream to write my own fiction.
When I was in high school, my English teachers were encouraging, and my mother was absolutely NOT. That just spurred me on more. When I wrote my first front page article for a daily paper, I sent her a copy.
I also like to eavesdrop. You hear the most interesting things, and if people are talking about it in public, it’s fair game!
# How do you deal with creative block?
I read, especially in the same genre. I put the work aside and relax. I also swim lengths. I find it clears my head.
I’ve never felt the rush to finish a book, but take the view that it will come when it comes. Being self published gives you that freedom. However, I’ve been lucky when taking part in NaNoWriMo that I avoided writer’s block.
# What are the biggest mistakes you can make in a book?
Not editing. I know it’s a chore, but if typos, poor grammar and spelling, and other errors get through, readers will stop reading and even leave bad reviews. No one wants that!
In the beginning, I also had what I like to refer to as the reporter’s curse. Years of being told to cut back copy, and to be less descriptive and “flowery”, resulted in my being just that. I to this day have to remind myself to add more description, more of those pesky details. But my style is still lean, and I’m okay with that. It leaves more to the reader’s imagination.
A good example would be that, after I initially answered these questions, I went and looked at other interviews on your site. Then I came back and embellished a bit. Just to live up, in some small measure, to what has gone before.
# Do you have tips on choosing titles and covers?
They should both have something to link to the story inside. I see lots of covers with pets, just for the sake of having an animal on it, and it irritates me.
Also, if it’s difficult to make out the words on the cover, readers could just pass on the book entirely.
Other than that, not really. I use Kindle Cover Creator, so my options are limited. But I can’t afford to pay for covers, so it is what it is.
# How do bad reviews and negative feedback affect you and how do you deal with them?
I’ll be honest, it hurts. But I try to concentrate on the average number of stars instead.
What really bothers me, is when books that I know are poorly written and full of errors, yet get a huge amount of five star reviews. It’s like no one noticed the errors. I can’t understand that. Either they have nicer family and friends than I do (I have practically begged for reviews and still have precious few.) or they are somehow cheating. Perhaps they summoned a demon and sold their soul, or they paid for reviews. So in that way, reviews are a sore spot for me.
# How has your creation process improved over time?
I think I’m more confident and that comes through in the writing. I also have developed a more streamlined research habit and know what I need and don’t. And, as I mentioned already, I continue to work on being more descriptive in my narrative. I’ve been told my books read like a play, with dialogue carrying a lot of weight. So I also work on keeping it flowing.
# What were the best, worst and most surprising things you encountered during the entire process of completing your book(s)?
Let’s get the worst out of the way first, shall we? As an indie author, I find the absolute worst thing is formatting. I hate it. It’s technical. It’s tedious. It is prone to gremlins, I swear.
The best thing is hearing from people who love what you’ve written; getting that email telling you how they enjoyed it, or seeing that five star review, or having someone stop by to talk to me at an author event.
The most surprising thing was getting a call from the CBC, the national broadcaster here, asking for an interview. I’ve done a few interviews over the years, but this one had me so excited and nervous I was trembling. I’ve listened to it once and probably won’t again. But it sold more books than ever before, and I’m grateful.
# Do you tend towards personal satisfaction or aim to serve your readers? Do you balance the two and how?
I don’t believe that the two are mutually exclusive. I try to write what I, as a reader, would like to read. If I wouldn’t read it and enjoy it, how can I expect anyone else to? And it goes to follow that if I would enjoy reading it, I would get personal satisfaction from writing it as well.
# What role do emotions play in creativity?
Emotions play a huge role! For instance, I’m super down right now because I did something to my back and have no idea what – probably rolled over in bed or something stupid like that – and there’s no way I’m putting pen to paper in this mood!
But my average mood, or a super happy mood, those are great for writing and come through in the finished product. Even a generally bad mood can be alright and risen above. Or make excerpts featuring negative emotions pop!
# Do you have any creativity tricks?
Tricks implies that we writers are all magicians. I’m not opposed to that misconception.
I keep notepads, notebooks, and pens all over the place. I have a recorder on my phone for when I’m away from said note taking supplies. So if I see something, or eavesdrop on a conversation, or come up with an idea that I think is something I could use in a book, I get that taken down immediately. I have a terrible memory – years of writing everything down as a reporter and not having to remember – so I need to get these things down or they’re gone.
# What are your plans for future books?
I am currently working on the first book in the Haunted and Harassed Paranormal Cozy Mystery series, under my birth name. (More about why I changed the name in the next question.) It is titled Say It Isn’t So, Joe.
For the Travel Writer Cozy Mystery series, I have a few full length novels planned, as well as a spin-off short story series titled Travel Writer Day Trips.
And there is another full length sci-fi/dystopian novel banging around in my head, but those deeper, stand-alone novels usually take me years of thinking to come to fruition.
# Tell us some quirky facts about yourself.
So, funny story.
When I signed up for an author page on Goodreads, I was naturally using the name on my novels – my married name, Kelly Young. After all, it IS my name. It never occured to me that I could get bunched in with someone else with that name.
But that’s exactly what happened. And the work of the other Kelly Young is…let’s say ‘naughty’. I brought the fact that her work was being listed on my page to the attention of the powers that be, and they nicely removed all of her books. For a short time they even stayed removed.
No matter what I do, they keep reappearing on my author page. I’m not happy to be listed as the author of books such as “Sex Ritual” and “Hot Daddy”.
I HAVE written a couple of racy things, but nothing like what these titles suggest. And they’re pretty high up on the list of books on the page too.
So when I decided to start a new series, I opted to use my birth name instead of my married one. We’ll see how that goes.