Author Interview: Seelie Kay

Are there therapeutic benefits to modeling a character after someone you know?

Definitely!  When I entered law school, it was the first-time women comprised 1/3 of the class and we were reminded daily. I endured all sorts of insults, from “dumb blonde” to more obscene comments. It didn’t get much better when I started to practice. Sexism was rampant. (Despite the law.) Women had to work twice as hard for less pay and never reached the top. When I quit the law, I walked out with several other female lawyers (all mothers) and never looked back. However, I also never forgot. When I’m writing a despicable character, it’s pretty hard not to mold them after some of the worst I encountered.

As a child, what did you want to do when you grew up?

Sadly, a lawyer. There were few female lawyers as role models, but I thought Perry Mason was a hero!

At what point do you think someone should call themselves a writer?

Anyone who can hold a crayon, pencil, pen, or type into a computer can write. To become an author, as opposed to any other type of writer, you must also be a storyteller. That requires a new way of thinking. As a journalist, my job was to report the facts in a set format. As a lawyer, I was required to apply the facts to the law and justify my conclusions. As a speechwriter, I put words in someone else’s mouth channeling their personality and positions. But as an author, I must let my imagination soar and speak for my characters in a way that drives the story to a conclusion.

Does writing energize or exhaust you? Or both?

I once participated in a work-related study where they analyzed what activities caused stress. I was least-stressed when writing. In addition to baking, it relaxes me.

Have you ever considered writing under a pseudonym, and why or why not?

I do write under a pseudonym. As a security measure. I really don’t want strangers showing up at my door or harassing me in other ways. I have heard way too many stories not to be wary.

 Have you used an app to borrow eBooks or audiobooks from the library?

I borrowed books online as soon as that feature was available. I love my local library. It offers great adventures for kids and adults. It bothers me that so many are under attack—financially and in terms of the titles they offer. Book banning in particular is offensive and should not be permitted in this country. This is not a dictatorship. No one has the right to control our thoughts or regulate what we read. Or burn books.

How do you process and deal with negative book reviews?

Everyone is entitled to their opinion and I will fight to protect that. But I’m human. Negative reviews can hurt, so I try to refocus on the positive ones. I did have a troll who slapped a one-star review on almost every book I’ve written. One star, no review. After the second one-star rating, I had to wonder why they kept reading my books if they hated them so much? I recently discovered who that reviewer was after they died and the reviews stopped. It was someone I went to high school with who had written several religious books and was quite offended that I sometimes wrote steamy romance.

How long does it take you to write a book?

I give myself three months, but I have written a book in a month when I’m really motivated. When the story isn’t flowing, I’ll usually work on it until I get it right. One took six months. However, it totally depends on what else is going on in my life. During the pandemic, my attention was focused on family and keeping them safe and healthy. It was hard to write then. Now I’m writing like the wind and that feels great

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

I won my first national writing competition in third grade, but I started writing “opinion pieces” in crayon when I was four. My mom saved them and I found them recently. I was such a drama queen! I protested everything. Thankfully, I had very patient parents.

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

If they write romance, join the “Marketing for Romance Writers” group. It’s a group of more than 8,000 authors—founded by esteemed author Kayelle Allen—who share information, and promote and support each other. They have been invaluable to me. I didn’t know what I was doing when I dipped my toe into the romance pool. They saved me from drowning. New authors tend to think they know everything…but they don’t. My second piece of advice is listen to your editor or publisher. They’re the professionals. If they tell you something doesn’t work in your story or something needs to be changed or rewritten, chances are, they’re right. There are plenty of first-time authors who never made it to publication because they couldn’t work with an editor or publisher. You know that song? “Let it go?” Yeah, you need to learn how to do that!



Twitter: @SeelieKay



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