Have I engaged the senses and can I
feel the emotion as I read through?
go to it and do your best writing.
holiday season is right around the corner and a notoriously slow month for romance
writers' conferences. Stay tuned as we'll definitely have more updates next year.
Meanwhile check local Romance Writers of America websites for dates, times and
locations of holiday parties. Happy Turkey all!
Dorien Kelly, former waitress,
lawyer, and now popular romance writer, brings us Below Deck, the fifth in the
Mediterranean Nights Series. Dorien hails from Michigan, loves anything Irish
and adores her pets. Read on to hear what this popular author has to say.
with Dorien Kelly
Why would a lawyer
turn to romance writing?
was a very unhappy lawyer. The hours required to make it big in the legal field
can be grueling. I had had my third child and, much as I adored the family nanny,
I wanted to be home with my children. I had always read romance as a means of
unwinding from work. The natural next step was to start writing romances.
Lead us through the
process from submitting a manuscript, getting rejected and then getting that first
call. Do you remember where you were and how it felt?
was pretty lucky. My first completed manuscript won a Golden Heart award from
the Romance Writers of America. It was, however, a big, fat book that had no idea
what it wanted to be when it grew up--kind of a romantic comedy, suspense, heaven-knows-what
hybrid. The two publishers I submitted it to turned it down, but rather hesitantly
asked for revisions. I couldn't figure out how to untangle the mess I'd written,
so I thanked them very much for their time and started on other projects instead.
In 2000, I queried
Harlequin with a romantic comedy and received a request for the full manuscript
two weeks later. Months passed. To distract myself, I started on more stories.
Even more months passed. After nearly a year, I worked up the nerve to call Harlequin's
Toronto office. I was told that I'd be hearing something "soon." Several more
point, I knew that a publisher's "soon" was a tad different than my concept of
soon. I became oddly despondent and convinced that my manuscript would me returning
to me with a rejection letter. I began to consider taking up golf and being a
good corporate wife to my now ex-husband. Days later (on May 3, 2001, to be exact),
I received "the call." I was folding laundry when it came, and my main emotion
was relief. I never did learn how to golf...which partially explains why my ex
is an ex!
say writing is a business. Do you agree with this statement, if so why?
is very much a business. As authors, we have our product (books), our "corporate"
internal customers (editors), and our external customers (readers). Certainly
our product requires a great deal of creativity, but if we choose writing as a
career, we do ourselves a disservice by saying it's not a business.
You describe yourself
as type A. How does this very active personality type sit still writing? What
are some of the pluses a type A person can bring to their writing?
of things I've learned about me is that I'm far more efficient and organized when
time is at a premium. Between kids, dogs, writing, and my volunteer efforts with
Romance Writers of America, I've managed to reach that state. I focus because
I have no other choice! Part of being a type A (not to mention a former attorney)
is an obsession with detail. When writing Below Deck, I researched not only the
various ports my characters would visit, but also how Israel's Mossad (secret
service) is structured, Chinese language and mythology, massage techniques (got
myself one or two!), and the baby trade in China. Geeky as it sounds, I love the
research portion of writing!
What are you currently
reading? Tell us about some of your favorite books and what makes them favorites.
a true research geek, I read mostly non-fiction. Right now I'm focusing on learning
all I can about the current Irish economy and housing and job opportunities around
Slane, a town west of Dublin. When I have time for pleasure reading, I pick up
books by my friends. A recent favorite is Garden Spells, by Sarah Addison Allen.
It's a lyrical, magical, wonderful book, with so much of Sarah's southern voice
resonating in it. When I'm feeling tired or blue, I go to my keeper shelf. I love
Susan Elizabeth Phillips' novels. Her characters are often deeply flawed, yet
she makes them endearing to the reader. I love her sense of humor, too. Humor
is what keeps me strong during the tough times.
You're a pet lover.
I believe you have terriers and a coon hound. Tell us about these pets. Do any
of your books feature dogs?
I have two West Highland
White terriers--Ceili and Seamus. Ceili, the eldest of my dogs, pretty much runs
the show around here. Seamus is a wimp, but he's so cute that I forgive him for
being terrified of most everything. Bubba Gimp, the coon hound, is our most recent
addition. My eldest daughter foisted him on me about two years ago, claiming to
have found the puppy abandoned in the road. Actually, the breeder was going to
destroy him because he's not your normal-looking dog. He's shaped like the letter
"C" due to a hip deformity. He also has far too many toes on one back paw, and
far too few on the others. He gets around by hopping like a bunny. He's a sweet
guy and has no idea that he's any bigger than his Westie siblings, or deformed
at all. Much as I give my daughter grief about conning me into bonding with Bubba
when he was little, I'm so glad she did!
best fictional dog is Roger, who's featured in a trilogy of Irish-set contemporary
romances I wrote a few years back. Roger is named after a real Roger the dog I
met while traveling in Ireland. Fictional Roger is a dubious blend of Jack Russell
terrier and something larger and quite ugly. He's the familiar of Vi Kilbride--artist,
earth mother, and just perhaps witch.
Can you give us a thumb
nail sketch about Below Deck, the sixth book in the Mediterranean series?
Lin Wang is a widow and mother of a young son who she has hidden aboard Alexandra's
Dream while she works as a massage therapist, trying to make enough money to start
a new life far away from those who killed her husband. Gideon Dayan is chief of
security aboard ship, a job he has taken while he finishes recovering from injuries
sustained during a terrorist bombing that took the life of his lover. Lin and
Gideon play a cat-and-mouse game over the secret of Lin's son and the emotional
secrets they withhold from each other. Ultimately, they need to decide if they
are bold enough to trust and love again.
Did you find it challenging
to be an author in a continuity trying to weave together all of these story lines?
Was this your first attempt and would you do it again?
admit that I was a little rattled by the task of weaving so much together. In
the end, though, I enjoyed the challenge of making the story lines flow far more
than I expected to! Below Deck was my first continuity, and I'm quite happy with
the result. Though it was strange to work with plot basics that were handed to
me, I feel as though I've made the story "mine." I'd gladly write more continuities.
heroine in this book is Asian. Did writing an Asian woman come naturally, or did
you have to do extensive research?
voice came to me naturally. At the risk of sounding a little "out there," once
I get going with a story, I tend to kind of "channel" the heroine's voice. The
rest, though, took research. Because there are certain restrictions on the ability
of a Chinese citizen to move about, giving Lin the skills she needed was a challenge.
authors set a goal of being on the New York Times Best Sellers list by a certain
time. What's your goal in the next five years?
fixing a date to hit the NYT list is tempting, I have learned the hard way not
to set goals that are out of my direct control. In five years, I'd like to be
earning enough from my writing to both support my family and save for retirement.
Not that I plan to retire.
It's said you have
a love of Ireland and you have featured Ireland in several books. Why Ireland?
traveled to Ireland for the first time about ten years ago. Since I have some
Irish blood, I'd always been curious about the country. That first trip lasted
a month, and I returned a number of times after that. I've studied the Irish language,
literature, and the country's history. It feels like home to me. If I ever hit
that NYT list and stick there for a while, I'd love to have a piece of property
overlooking the sea in Dingle, County Kerry.
How has Michigan where
you live featured in your writing? Have you used the state as a setting?
live in a little village on the shore of Lake Michigan. Our summer population
is large, but in winter, I know each and every car driving down the road. So far,
I've set three books in a fictionalized version of my village, with more on the
way. I've also used Ann Arbor, where I attended undergrad, and the Detroit area,
where I lived for many years, as settings.
Finally, if you weren't
writing romances what would Dorien Kelly be doing?
be writing something else! I've already had one career that I didn't find satisfying,
so I know how lucky I am to be able to write.
is the site for the Romantic Times Book Lovers Convention. Mark your calendars
for April 16-20th and join fellow booklovers at the Pittsburgh Hilton. Meet special
guest Fabio at the reunion dinner.
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