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A Day in the Life: Edmund Kelly

 Welcome to Edmund Kelly (Ed), who has invited us into his writing world to tell us about A Day in the Life.

Ed grew up in Massachusetts, just south of Boston. He just published his first novel Addiction & Pestilence which is the first book in his Slaying Dragons: A Journey Through Hell series. Slaying Dragons is a term used to describe in this instance, someone who has overcome their battle with addiction to drugs and/or alcohol as well as defeating evil or the Devil.

Ed took the biblical reference of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse and turned the series into a modern re-telling. Each book deals with the wrath that each horseman brings but with an added twist to each book.

Addiction & Pestilence is a compelling look at addiction and the perseverance of the human spirit. If you’re ready, take the journey and see the world through the eyes of these colourful characters as they journey through Hell.

“If you or a loved one are battling addiction, please remember that there is no shame in asking for help. The only shame is not asking.” Ed 

Q: All writers start out as readers. When did your love affair with reading begin?

It began when I was young. We grew up poor in a small town south of Boston. My dad was out of the picture more than he was in it. My mom didn’t have a car for the longest time, until the big boss at the company she worked for found out and gave her one, so we had to walk everywhere. Our local library was in the centre of town, so on the weekends we’d walk up to the library. I remember my mom always reading and she encouraged my sister and I to do the same. After we’d finish a book she’d ask us what we liked about the book. I remember running to her in the kitchen and telling her all about the characters and about the chapter I just finished. She’d always say, “read on to find out what happens.” I’ve always read. Some years more than others, depending on the events. My wife and I read every night to our daughter and she loves it as do we. I love watching her face light up with the stories. 

Q: What is your favourite opening line of a novel? 

The man in black fled across the dessert, and the gunslinger followed. – Stephen King, The Dark Tower The Gunslinger

Q: Is Stephen King a favourite?

Stephen King, Lee Child, Dan Brown, James Rollins and a new Indie author named Rafael Amadeus Hines.

Q: What was your favourite book that was assigned to you as a student?

I have two. The first is The Caine Mutiny I really enjoyed that book. The second is 2001: A Space Odyssey.  I had seen the movie first and then we read it in my Science Fiction class and I discovered it was so much more than a crazed computer trying to kill the crew. It was in-depth and ground breaking for me.

Q: Who gave you your first encouragement as a writer?

My wife.

Q: What was your first recognition/success as an author?

One has to expect that family and close friends are going to tell you they like your book even if they don’t. It’s just human nature. We try not to hurt the ones we love, not deliberately anyway. So when I submitted my book to a book reviewer I knew that was going to be my first honest take on the book. I thought for sure it would come back with a negative review and two possibly three stars. I was floored when it came back with a five-star review. I couldn’t believe it. This book reviewer liked it. She mentioned that there are a lot of characters but recognised that this was a series and that they will all have a role to play. She stated that, “The characters bring the story to life” and found it “Hauntingly entertaining”. She also stated that it helped her wrap her mind around addiction and how it can affect different people. It felt great to have a complete stranger understand my message and enjoy the book. It was a check in the win column.

As the world is plunged into chaos, can those remaining fight through a disintegrating humanity and overcome their demons … or will they simply succumb?

Q: What’s the central conflict in your novel?

Overcoming addiction and trying to stay alive during the apocalypse and a disintegrating humanity.

Q: And why should it be a reader’s next read?

Come take a journey into Hell with the average person as they deal with the worst of life.              

Q: Was your novel inspired by any real life events? And, if so, how do you deal with the responsibility that comes with this?              

Yes, my drinking. I face it head on and in a truthful way. I try to show that just because someone is addicted to something that they are not bad. They’re flawed.

Q: Given that it’s about you, did you know the direction that the story was going to go right from the start?

I knew how it was going to end, but the beginning and middle, that was the journey I was going to take and one I hope to take the reader on.

Q: So you knew the ending before you put pen to paper? Did it change after you started to write?

Yes, I usually write the ending first. I need to know where I’m going. The ending changed slightly but was still in the same ballpark.

Q: Do you think self-revelation is part of the writing process?

Yes, I do and I think it is the greatest reward to not only the author but to the reader as well. 

Q: I imagine the process of writing was transformative for you.

I took a deep look into my past and present. I remembered things I wanted to forget, but I needed to shine a light on them in order to get past them. I felt relieved, as if a weight had been lifted off my shoulders.  

Q: Which scene did you find the most challenging to write and why?

Chapter 3. The beginning is plucked right from my life. It’s also the moment that changed my life for the better. That opening scene with Drew and Annabelle in the kitchen was easy to write but hard to tell. It was easy to write, because it took place. It was hard to admit I had a problem and not just admit it, but announce it to the world. Most people wouldn’t know that Drew is based upon my life, but I know.

Q: Is addiction a subject you’d like to see more discussion of?

It is a topic people try to avoid because there is a stigma attached to it. I think my book will shine a light on it but told through fiction. The conversation needs to begin somewhere.

Q: I’m thinking about Elizabeth Strout saying, ‘You can’t write fiction and be careful. So many times students would say, “Well, I can’t write that, my boyfriend would break up with me.” And I’d think, ‘Well, OK, I’m sorry, I don’t really have much more to tell you.’ Do you plead guilty or not guilty?

Guilty as hell! For me, I need to make my characters careful in an uncareful situation. To me, risk without gain is stupidity. People jump out of planes for the thrill, but they bring a parachute with them. People aren’t lining up to jump out without a parachute, that’s just stupid. 

Q: Your protagonist is Drew. What five words best describe him? 

Misunderstood, truthful, aggressive, righteous, unrelenting.

Q: Do you feel under pressure to make your main characters likable?

No. I don’t even think about it. The character presents themselves and speaks to me and I write what they present. If they’re likeable or unlikable, so be it.

Q: Out of interest, who is your favourite fictional character and why? 

I love Lee Child’s “Jack Reacher” character. He’s got balls of steel, does what he wants and tells it how it is. I can relate. Relatability is good.

Q: Talk us through the areas you had to research.

I had to research the Book of Revelation and the Four Horsemen. For those who don’t know, the Four Horsemen are from the Book of Revelation, which is at the end of the Bible (New Testament). The Four Horsemen are: White – brings pestilence, Red – brings War, Black – brings famine and the Pale – brings death or the devil himself. Each book in the series revolves around the wrath of that horsemen but with a twist that each character must face. 

Q: Regardless of genre, what elements do you think make a great novel? Did you consciously ensure these are in place?

I’ve already mentioned it. Relatability. If the reader can relate to the story or character(s) it keeps the interest going. I think the reader is then willing to take the journey. I also feel that if the character is relatable enough that the reader starts to see that character through their own eyes and sees themselves as the character. To me, those are the best books. To feel like you are part of the journey and to have the words and pages disappear and the story unfold in your mind.

Q: Where does this story fit in with the rest of your work?

It is the first book in my Slaying Dragons series, so it’s an introduction to all of the characters, and there’s a lot of them, as they deal with the wrath of the first horsemen (white) which brings pestilence (plague). Every character has an addiction they must overcome such as sex, drugs, alcohol, cigarettes, food, love & affection. They must also deal with dark shadowy figure that is unleashing the Four Horsemen. 

Q: Jodie Archer said that when she worked at Penguin UK, she found that manuscripts by new authors were too ambitious, like a painter who can’t settle on one colour and uses the whole paintbox. How has your writing style changed over time?

Why have so many colours if you’re only going to use one? It’s new and exciting, just like going someplace exciting for the first time, like a carnival. Your sensory perception is in overload. The sights, the sounds, the smells of all the different food cooking. It’s very exciting. What’s the greatest time you had at the carnival? The first time of course otherwise you wouldn’t go back. Some people like going to carnivals and others like sitting at home on the couch. Neither is wrong, it’s just personal preference.

To answer the second part of the question, yes, my style has changed. Now I’ve been to the carnival. I know what I like and what I don’t. I can ignore some of my sensory perception. It doesn’t make the carnival less interesting, it just means I can now focus in on the good stuff.

Q: Writing is undoubtedly a lonely occupation. Are you a natural loner? 

Yes I am. It’s really the only time I can be me and not be something for someone else. Plus, I’ve got a lot of shit swirling around in my head, which is fine on paper but might not be considered fine when spoken in mixed company. The life of a writer.

Q: Would you say that being a parent heavily influences your writing?

For me, yes. Being a parent changes your mindset of the world. You see fears in things that you never feared before and you find joy in things that never brought you joy. Life is in the details, the little things and being a parent has brought that to the foreground for me. Drew, the main character in Addiction & Pestilence is based on my life and experiences. Much of Drew’s past is my own. Everything Drew does, he does to get home to his family. His reason to change. His reason to live.

 Q: Is it true that you should never say anything interesting to an author because it’s bound to end up in print? 

That and never piss them off.

Q: What were the key factors that influenced your decision to become an indie author?

I’m tired of working for someone else. I did this for me. Maybe I’ll be successful and maybe I won’t but at least I can always say that I did it my way.

Q: Do you feel there is more of a sense of community with self-publishing than there is with traditional publishing? 

Yes, it’s like sitting at the kids’ table. It’s all fun doing what we want. We’re true to ourselves. At the grown-ups’ table, they have to pretend to be someone else and behave. It’s expected of them to act a certain way and do what the hierarchy says, just like traditional publishing. I’m that kid in the corner eating by himself. 

Q: What advice would you give aspiring writers?

Time. Allow time. I know my first book isn’t perfect, even though I’d love it to be. Having gone through the whole editing process and getting over the fact that the editor tore it to shreds, I already see a difference in the writing of my second book. We make mistakes and we learn. It wasn’t just the editing process, but the whole process. I was trying to figure out the best tool to use to write. I tried Word at first, but it’s so restricting and time-consuming to move pieces around. I found Scrivener, which is awesome. Look into Scrivener and other products as well. I found myself trying to figure out the whole self-publishing thing while I was writing. Bad idea. It felt like I was fighting a war on two fronts, and losing. 

Learn and read. I read so many books on writing and self-publishing that I could start my own library. They have their use and will help you structure your book but they’re only instructional. Some might even provide insight on how to develop characters and plot but they won’t help you write a good or even great story. That comes from novels – books full of great characters and storylines. You learn how to write a great story by reading one, followed by another and another. Keep that mind open and active. Be truthful with your writing. No short cuts.

Marketing. Marketing is a big swift kick to the teeth. It sucks. I hate it. I thought it was going to be the easiest part and it is by far the toughest. Be prepared for long hours, like writing, and money spent with little gain. Keep at it though. Push through. Let it toughen your skin. Hopefully it pays off. No promises.

 The last and most important is spend time with your family and loved ones. When I wrote Addiction & Pestilence I locked myself away. I told myself the book was the most important thing and I had to complete it. Well, all that did was cause problems. I’m married and have a two-year-old, so time and attention are part of that game. Working on my second book, I can now see the signs that my wife and/or daughter are getting upset at the lack of attention. I change gears and become husband and/or dad for a while and then become writer again later. I’m finding that this is actually helping the writing process. I’m not banging my head against a wall because I’m tired and I’m not getting yelled at anymore. Now I spend time with the family and when my wife is sick of me she encourages me to write.

Some people will laugh at you when you tell them you’re writing a book and you’ll meet a hundred people who all tell you that they want to write a book too but remember you’re the one doing it. Watch out for negativity and encouragement. I’m the type of person that if someone tells me I can’t, I’m going to prove them wrong. Be careful and don’t let their doubt become yours. Encouragement is good, but don’t let it get to the point where you don’t feel like you can live up to the expectation.  I believe Stephen King said, “Write the first draft with the door closed.” You’ll be excited, rightfully so, but keep those cards close to your chest.

Oh, one last thing. Enjoy the process. You are going to run the gambit of emotions, but it too is part of the process. You’re going to make mistakes along the way and that’s okay. Learn from them.  Good luck and happy writing!

 

Please feel free to contact Ed and share your stories of your journey.

You can contact Ed at lovetowrite.com or find him at http://www.EdmundKelly.com

Website: http://www.EdmundKelly.com

Twitter: edkell99

Facebook: www.facebook.com/edmundkellyslayingdragons

 

 

 

 

One comment

  1. What a great interview! I love the way Edmund Kelly’s mother encouraged him to keep reading, and that he continues the tradition with his own daughter. There’s so much honesty in his interview–I find the idea of the Four Horsemen metaphor fascinating.

    And…I just downloaded Scrivener myself. I don’t have the time right now to learn it, but in a few weeks things should calm down enough for me to spend some time getting to know it. It’s great to hear such a glowing recommendation of the software.

    Best wishes on the book!

    Comment by Amy M. Reade on January 17, 2017 at 3:33 pm




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