Thursday, July 7, 2011

Author Interview: Kirsten Kelly

Curling Up By The Fire would like to welcome Kirsten Kelly, who is touring with Pump Up Your Books to promote her novel Halith, a young adult science fiction/fantasy novel.  She is here to answer a few questions about the novel and to share some information about her novel and her characters. 

Can one ever recall the very moment when the first step of destiny was taken? Retrospect can make this possible; or in 462 BC, the aid of a powerful relic can bring the needed clarity. However, for Halíth, it might have been but a slip of the tongue; a fleeting lack of sensibility…

Or one Bitter Black ale too many…

Sixteen-year-old Halíth, known by her friends and comrades as stubborn and reckless, rarely listens. Choosing joy and youth, she tends to delve into her wellspring of purity for her own brand of truth. Often she closes her ears to whispers of destiny, even when they speak her name. In a fit of passion, she runs away in the deep of night, with nothing to her name, to a place she can barely recall the way to: Nordanshire Abbey. There, she hopes to reunite with only woman she has known as a caring mother figure: Mother Superior Almara. Yet, her idyllic fancy of a peaceful hamlet life is dashed. In a harrowing incident, young Halíth discovers that bandits have invaded her holy land. The world, as she knew it, would be forever altered, and Halith is the key for her land’s survival.

1) To start off, can you tell me a little bit about yourself?
I’m shy at first, but I have a gregarious side. I’m quite adventurous. I’m more Hemingway-esque so to speak. Let’s just say I like pubs more than museums.

2) Can you tell us a little about your novel, Halith?
Halith is fantasy coming of age tale. My 16 year old heroine is motivated by her broken family life---an absent father and an ambitious mother---which leads her to fantasize about having a life of a warrior. She acts upon this when she is sent off to fosterage and nearly married off to a suitor below her station.

3) What inspired you to write Halith? How much research was involved in the writing?
Honestly, I don’t know. One day I said to myself: “I want to write this.” I sat down and wrote chapter one. After that, I felt that I wanted to write the whole novel. Most of the research for the book involved ancient cultures (Scythians, ancient Celts, Iranian tribes), and polytheistic religion and the ancient gods. What really got me was researching the obvious, which was not so obvious, as it turned out. Calculating time and distance for instance--- I mean really, how many miles can a person walk with a pack in the time I alotted? So I put a pack on my back and walked the coastal path of Cornwall, England. Let me say that it is very difficult indeed! I never realized how tedious the research would be but I learned a lot from it.

4) I've always found the research portion of the novel to be incredibly fascinating.  I don't think many of us think about the tediousness of it. What was your greatest challenge while writing this novel? The premise is very interesting.
There were two things. First, the sheer discipline of writing everyday for a year while working a full time job, and second was staying on plot. I don’t plot out my stories ahead of time. I focus on the characters and let them lead me. Sometimes they walk in circles and that makes the plot really, really fun! (note my sarcasm here).

5) In this novel, we are introduced to some very interesting and intriguing characters. Who was the most fun to write about? Which character presented the biggest challenge? Are any of your characters modeled of anyone you know in particular?
Sparrow and Matlin, they are the most “fun.” Saavedra was a delight as well. Halith is obviously the most challenging character but she is the most fulfilling for me to write about. Mother Almara was different because, through Halith’s eyes, I had to present both the friend and the sinister side in a way that leaves the reader with a believable surprise later on. Halith’s doubt and confusion about her had to be real. And um, let’s just say the whole novel, while a fantasy, is very personal. I mean sure there are dragons and monsters but it’s the core of the characters relationships that comes straight from my childhood.

6) What are 3 things that are 'must haves' when you write? Do you have any writing rituals?
I have rituals! They begin at 5am with lots of coffee and writing at Starbucks. Then we pick up again in the evening, often at a bar. For instance, I frequent a tavern that is like the Cloak and Dagger, because it gets me in the mood. Actually, for major scenes I like to go to places soaked in the feel of the scene I’m writing. To illustrate, when Halith was going to the Dwarven city of Ironholme for the first time, I went to the Miami airport and sat there and just watched the international flights arriving. It gave me a brilliant sense of space, and the hustle and bustle of travelers stepping foot into a strange new place, and sometimes, coming to the States for the very first time. It was easy then for me to capture that wonder and put it to paper in Halith’s head.

7) Can you share with us any projects that you are currently working on or plans for the future? Yes! I am currently working on a sequel to Halith as well as a book on Sparrow and his story.

8) Favourite authors?
D.H Lawrence, Ursula K. LeGuin, J.R. Tolkien, Herman Melville, just to name a few.

9) What do you like to do when you are not writing?
I like to go to pubs with my friends and find shenanigans. I also like to go kayaking, fishing, sailing, cooking, and things like that.

10) Is there anything else you would like to share with your readers?
Life is fun. Just live! Read, yes. Read a lot. But, get out there and live.

Kirsten Kelly lives in Miami, Florida where she enjoys kayaking, fishing, and travel. Like her characters, she lives for good friends, good food, and the next adventure. You can visit Kirsten Kelly’s website at


  1. Nice interview :)
    Lol, find shenanigans, well that is one way to spend an awesome evening.

    btw nice blog Stephanie. I came over when looking for a cover for a book

  2. Ooh, I love reading about author research! Sounds like Kirsten delved into some really fascinating cultures and belief systems for Halith. I'll be adding this one to my TBR pile. Thanks for the rec!