Author Interview: Kelly Evans

How did you come up with the title for your book?

While many of my novels are about women for whom we have little information, my current WIP is more modern and takes place during the Renaissance. There is a LOT more information available the further forward in time you go, including quotes. My current novel is about Caterina Sforza, reviled by history. I’m setting the record straight. “Turning the World to Stone: The Life of Caterina Sforza” comes from an actual quote made by Sforza: “Could I write all, the world would turn to stone.”

How long does it take you to write a book?

I write historical fiction, so I put in months of research before I even start an outline. Most of my books took, from start of research to final edit, about 5 – 6 months. My current WIP is taking a little longer as I’m learning Italian to read more of the primary sources available only in the original language.

How long have you been writing or when did you start?

I started writing in high school, leaving stories in my friend’s locker. I wrote a series based on a book we were studying in English, leaving them for my friend at the end of the day. She would read it the next morning and started sharing with her first period class. I discovered that, by the end of the school year, I had a small fan club!

How much research did you need to do for your book?

A lot! I like my novels to be as historically accurate as possible and the key to that is research everything. From maps to architecture to clothing and food, everything that may end up in a scene, no matter how seemingly inconsequential, enriches the picture for my readers.

If you could be mentored by a famous author, who would it be?

Margaret Atwood, absolutely. I discovered her decades ago, I love her writing, she’s witty and sharp and her stories are always eerily relevant, as evidenced by the popularity of The Handmaid’s Tale. And she’s Canadian, like me!

  1. If you could meet your characters, what would you say to them?

I would apologise to them! I put my characters through the wringer, both my historical ones and the ones who come out of my head. History is often more horrific than anything I could make up, and I feel bad for some of my characters!

What advice would you give to a writer working on their first book?

Two things: do NOT get caught up in writing a chapter and then thinking you must go back and edit, because it’s ‘your process’. It may be, but you’re significantly slowing yourself down and unnecessarily interrupting your story flow with the stopping and starting. Get all the words done and then edit. It’s a difficult habit to break, but SO worth it. And two, don’t be afraid of asking for help. Someone out there has been exactly where you are and will have answers to your questions.

What do you do to get inside your character’s heads?

I imagine them in unusual situations ie a medieval character in a modern setting. But I also remind myself that, as foreign as the past may seem, those living back then had the same motivations and worries we do today: caring for family, establishing relationships, and trying to live a happy life. A bump in the night is a bump in the night, no matter what period!

What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

I enjoy reading (mainly non-fiction or historical fiction) and watching really quite bad horror movies (I adore old 50s and 60s B movies). I always have music playing, I dabble in art, and occasionally I’ll pick up my oboe and play a little tune.
What is your work schedule like when you’re writing?

I enjoy an easy morning with my coffee while I deal with the business side of writing (emails, marketing, social media etc). I’ll also get in some extra research if needed for the book I’m working on (even after months of research, something will ALWAYS come up that I’ve missed). In the afternoons I write, taking breaks every few hours. In the evenings I’ll either continue writing, if I’m on a roll, or relax by watching a movie or a documentary.

Kelly Evans

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