Author on the Couch: Seana Kelly
This week on Author on the Couch, I conduct a session with 2016 Golden Heart Finalist…
From this 2014 Golden Heart Finalist, I’d like to offer my congratulations on your final! Best of luck to you and all your 2016 Golden Heart Sisters!
GIVEAWAY! Seana is giving away a $20 Amazon Gift Card to one person who comments and shares this blog! Be sure to tell her you shared it in the comments section!
Me: Tell me about an experience that had a profound impact on your life.
Seana: About twelve years ago I chaperoned a student tour of Europe. I’d never been, and the experience was absolutely incredible! We visited London, Canterbury, Paris, Lucerne, Venice, Florence, Rome, Assisi, Innsbruck, and Munich. I had to remind myself that it was all real. I wasn’t reading about these places in a book. I stood where the groundlings had in the Globe Theater. I meandered down the Hall of Mirrors in Versailles. I drifted in a gondola under the Bridge of Sighs. I walked silently along well-worn paths in Dachau. As an American (whose country is only 200+ years old), I was awed by the sheer history, the centuries, millennia, of stories surrounding me. I felt a connection to the countless people who had come before me, who had lived and toiled, loved and grieved. It was humbling and inspiring.
Me: What personality trait of yours helps you most as an author?
Seana: I’m an introvert. I observe, analyze, mull, reflect and record. Introverts prefer solitary, often creative pursuits, which is probably why so many writers are introverts. All that solitary time, armed with a creative bent, means that we have extraordinary inner lives. We’re daydreamers, and for those with the impulse, writers. I’ve been labeled quiet and shy for most of my life. My friends understand that if I’m not speaking, it doesn’t mean that I’m not paying attention to the conversation. I’ve heard all the words that have been said. I’ve just also layered over the words my observations about body language and clothing, about tone of voice and word choice. I’m not just thinking about the ideas you’ve expressed, I’m wondering if the false cheer in your voice juxtaposed with circles under your eyes mean that your mother’s health has taken a turn for the worse. I think, I hope, all that time observing, thinking, and analyzing helps me to create satisfyingly real characters with depth and humanity.
Me: What personality trait of yours hinders you most as an author?
Seana: That same introversion that makes me a great observer of human nature, makes it difficult for me to promote myself. I despise the spotlight. Just meeting new people is cause for lying down in a quiet room afterwards. I find myself having to fight against my nature. If I want to be a professional writer, though, I need to put on my big-girl pants and deal.
Me: What was your high point as a writer—a time when you were happiest, on cloud nine, flying high? What happened?
Seana: On March 26, 2015 the Golden Heart finalists were announced. I knew it was the day, but I assumed finalists would be notified by e-mail. I began my obsessive phone checking at 4am that morning. I received a call at 6:30am from Idaho? Indiana? I think it was an I state. Assuming it was telemarketer, I let it go to voicemail. Later, I noticed an email from a victex address, the first line of which was ‘Seana, can you call me?’ Now, that was my name, but the address ended in an –ex. I thought it was a Canadian (nothing personal, Canada) drug company trying to sell me Viagra-like products. I’m not paranoid. I just receive a lot of junk mail and sales calls. It wasn’t until I’d dropped my girls off at school, and was waiting at a red light that I finally opened the email. Remember, I assumed if I heard anything–a BIG if–I’d receive and email from RWA. The email asked me to call Victoria Alexander, NYT best-selling romance author. There was a phone number. I freaked out. Most of me was still convinced it was nothing, and that I was about to be directed to a call center in a foreign country, but a small part of me hoped so very, very much. The conversation passed quickly, most of what was said was lost to the screaming in my head. Afterward, I found myself parked at work, crying in my car. What we do as writers is so often done alone, our imagination and hope the only things keeping us going. I still remember the unbelievable joy and relief of that day. Strangers saw something of worth in my writing. It encouraged me to hope all the more.
Me: Aww… I still remember my Golden Heart call–actually it was a voicemail! That was one of the best days of my writerly life too!
What was your low point as a writer—a time when questioned your path as a writer, a time when you felt really crappy about your writing?
Seana: While most contest judges are kind, supportive, and well meaning, I’ve had more than a few sharpen their teeth on me. It can be difficult to keep trying when someone tells you that the book you spent the last year writing at three in the morning before the kids wake, or during lunch breaks at work, has more problems than she has the patience to explain. I used to share all my scores with a friend. When I received the really hurtful ones, she’d advise me to throw the judge’s comments away, pour myself a cocktail, and stock up on chocolate. She told me to forget it and move on. I recognized that that was the healthier thing to do, but instead I waded through every condescending remark, and tried not to be offended when a judge rewrote whole sections of my manuscript to show me how it should have been done. I knew some of what the judge criticized wasn’t valid, but that didn’t change the fact that her complaints were true for her. I slogged through painful comments, forcing myself to experience the story as she had, to see if I could use any of it to improve my writing. It’s difficult to have someone tell you that you’re rubbish and still try, but the dream doesn’t become a reality if you let people push you off your path.
Me: OMG, Seana! I’ve had the same thing happen to me in contests. Maybe we had the same judge! Once I had a contest judge give me a score of 55/100 and tell me I needed to take some classes on writing to learn my craft before I submitted to any more contest… Uhm… That manuscript she was reading had landed me my super awesome agent lady–aka Michelle Grajkowski of 3 Seas Literary–and had finalled in the GH a few months earlier. And I hadn’t changed a thing! That really gave me some perspective on the contest judge. SHE was the one who didn’t understand the writing craft.
If you could be any character in any book for a day who would you be? Why?
Seana: If I could be any character in a book, I’d want to be Lt. Eve Dallas (from J.D. Robb’s In Death series). She’s the anti-me. I’d love to spend the day being a total badass who solves crimes, reducing murders to blubbering babies during interrogations. Of course, if I were Eve, I’d end up subverting the character. I’m pretty sure Eve isn’t supposed to spend the day lazing around with her husband Roarke, ignoring her beeping communicator.
Me: What book do you wish you’d written? Why?
Seana: I wish I had written the Harry Potter series. They wouldn’t have been as good (J.K. Rowling is brilliant), but I would have loved for those books to be even a little bit more mine. I’m rereading them now. I finished The Half-Blood Prince this morning and cried just as I have every time I’ve read it. I love the world Rowling created and the characters she filled it with. Love. I miss them if it’s been too long, so every year or two I read all seven books again, experiencing them as though it were the first time. I never skip over parts, as I sometimes do with other beloved books I reread. It’s all magical. Nothing makes me happier than getting into discussions with my students about Harry Potter books. The stories are so rich, there is always another point to argue. Rowling’s books inspired millions of children to read. Is there any greater accomplishment for a writer?
Me: Tell me about your contemporary romance WELCOME HOME KATIE, GALLAGHER.
After realizing that marriage hasn’t curtailed her husband’s dating, Kate Gallagher grabs the chance to start her life over by moving to the cottage in Bar Harbor, Maine that her grandmother left her.
It sounds like the perfect place to lick her wounds and battle the self-doubt her ex-husband ingrained in her. Fortunately for Kate, her plans quickly become upended when she finds herself ricocheting between the grumpily seductive Chief of Police and the local carpenter who’s doing his damnedest to sweep her off her feet.
Still angry and disillusioned after his fiancé dumped him at the altar, Chief of Police Aiden Cavanaugh is content with very short-term relationships, a few hours tops. That is until he finds a car parked in the middle of a deserted road. It’s been fifteen years, but he’d know that face anywhere. Katie Gallagher. He’d fallen in love with an oblivious Katie when he was five years old.
Now she’s back, complicating his life and making him feel things he wishes he didn’t. Torn, he’s not ready to trust any woman, especially the one who broke his fourteen-year-old heart, but he’s finding himself unwillingly drawn to her. Instead of feeling relief when his friend Bear tries to woo her, Aiden instead acts as the world’s worst wingman.
Aiden might begrudgingly learn to love again, but will Katie take a chance on someone who so clearly refuses to trust?
Me: Share with us a favorite paragraph or two from your newest release. Why do you love this paragraph? What makes it special to you?
(Katie has been taken to the police station to be questioned by Aiden, regarding the ventilation holes she put in her husband’s beloved BMW)
“Wait, do I get the same number or a new one?”
His brow furrowed. “Number?”
“For my mug shot. Will I have the same number on the bottom of the picture as I did when I was thirteen? Is it like a social security number that follows you around, or is it the case number or something?” This was knowledge I hadn’t realized I’d ever need to possess.
“It follows you, but I’m sure you were never actually booked, so you don’t have one. Unless you’ve been getting into more trouble than I’m aware of.”
“Oh.” Bummer. I kind of liked the idea of being a hardened criminal, a total badass with a record. I needed a leather jacket, maybe a tattoo, and not one of those girly deals. No dragonflies for me. I wanted a skull or tribal pattern around my bicep. I also wanted a bicep, preferably two. I was going to go all Sarah Connor, build up my guns, and wear tank tops to show ‘em off…
Hmm? “Sorry, what?”
He sighed and tapped the screen on his phone right before a flash blinded me.
“Seriously, with your phone? Is this some kind of pity mugshot?” He was making fun of me. Man, he was going to be sorry when I became a badass. We don’t forget shit like that.
He smirked and returned the phone to his pocket.
“I wasn’t ready!” Damn, I wasn’t scowling or sneering or anything. “Do over!”
To win Seana’s $20 Amazon Gift Card, don’t forget to leave a comment and share the blog! Be sure to tell her that you shared it in the comments!
Have you ever traveled to Europe? Was your feeling the same as Seana’s?
Have you ever had a contest judge who ripped your soul out?
What struggles have you had as an unpublished writer?
What was your high point or best moment as a writer?
What did you think about the blurb and excerpt for WELCOME HOME, KATIE GALLAGHER?
You can find Seana Kelly here:
Abbie Roads writes dark emotional novels featuring damaged characters, but always gives her hero and heroine a happy ending… after torturing them for three hundred pages. Her first novel RACE THE DARKNESS is available for pre-order.
Barnes and Noble: http://hyperurl.co/RtDban