Thursday, July 15, 2010

Today I am talking to Kaye Kelly, the New Zealand writer and Kaye
has given this little introduction to herself.

Kaye Kelly says she’s been an off and on writer for the past 17 years (Kaye confesses to having been more off than on at times) and still can’t shake the bug. She continues to head back to the computer on a daily basis even if she does sometimes spend more time gazing out the window than at the computer screen.

1) I think we can all relate to that – I am always drifting off into playing solitaire!
Kaye I know you live in the small town of Blenheim on South Island. I have been to New Zealand and found it breathtakingly beautiful; do you find the country inspiring?
Margaret, it’s hard not to find inspiration when I can look out my office window and see the Whangamoa Mountain range in the distance or a half hour drive takes me smack bang into the Marlborough Sounds. )

2) Wonderful I can well imagine how that can work for a writer. When did you first decide you wanted to be a writer?

Even as a tiny kid I used to ‘hear’ a voice in my head telling me I should write a book. Snag was, I didn’t want to write a book and I ignored it thinking it would go away. Instead the thought just got stronger until I finally gave in and wrote a book. Yee ha! I thought as I finished the last page, it’s done! Now I can pack that annoying little monster of a thought off to bed. But as any writer will tell you, it’s nigh on impossible to write just one book and I’ve continued to write ever since.

3) You are published by Random House which is a major publisher, how did you manage to have our novel accepted? Did you use an agent or did you just “go for it”?

For me, trying to find an agent was like trying to find a gold nugget in a supermarket - I couldn’t. Though the price of meat does make me wonder if it’s packed on gold lined trays. So I fired off a book to Random NZ. Six weeks later I received a very nice letter from Harriet Allan at Random declining the novel, but suggesting revisions and saying she would love to see the book again once I’d done them. I did the revisions and Random took me on. And here I have to say what an amazing person Harriet is. Approachable, she’s wonderfully encouraging and if not for her dedication to helping new writers, I wouldn’t have been published.

4) That’s wonderful. So many writers send off novels and just get a blank rejection. Please tell us a little about your novels, Kaye

Both novels are set in the late 1800s on the South Island’s wildly beautiful West Coast. Cross the River to Home is the story of an impossible love between Mai, a part Chinese woman, and Henry, an English immigrant to New Zealand. Against a background of opposing familial ties, a brutal husband, and racial prejudice these two young people struggle to be together.
In a Secret Mind, Mai and Henry’s story carries on, but a new character, Libby Budd, is introduced. Plagued by violent seizures, strange visions and premonitions, Libby
fights a losing battle against her viciously cruel step-father’s plans to have her committed to a lunatic asylum.

Around six months after the first book was published, Harriet emailed me saying two German publishers were bidding for Cross the River to Home. Both books have now been published in hard cover by Der Club Bertelsmann and trade paperback by Random, Germany. You can read more about them on

5) Kaye, how interesting that the German publisher picked you up. It must be very satisfying to realize that your novels have an international flavour. Also I have to say both books are really good. You are wonderful at characterisation as well as story-telling.

Thank you It’s great! Interestingly, the day before I heard the good news about the German bids, I had a nasty fall as I was stepping out the front door (stone cold sober, honest!). So that put paid to the saying, “Pride comes before a fall” because in this instance it was the other way round.

6) That's so you, Kaye to see humour in what must have been painful.Many people want to write today, what advice would you give to any aspiring writer

Don’t give up your day job! Seriously, though, I would advise any new writer to join a local writers’ group if possible, and any other national writers’ association. Writing is all about networking, contacts, friends, critique and polishing, polishing, polishing your work! I can’t stress that enough. You have to learn to harden up and accept critique for what it is. Not an attempt by other cruel nasty writers to hurt your feelings, but a genuine desire to help you make your novel the very best it can be.

7) That is so true. What are you doing now – do you have a book cooking?

Yes, I’m working on a fantasy. A bit of a change from historical novels I grant you, but it’s something I’ve wanted to do for quite some time and I’m having a ball. But true to my roots, at some stage, Daliah ( pronounced Dar –lee – ah, not Day – lee – ah as she testily informs the friendly neighbourhood vamp) the main character in MoonShroud will travel back in time to the 1800s.

8) Kaye what do you do when you are not writing?

Well, that’s an easy question. I spend a fair amount of time in my garden. And I read, read, and read some more. Though I do get off the backside and go for walks, and sometimes, instead of airing the clothes on the Ab-Track (a nasty machine you lie on then grab a handle attached to the sides and pull yourself up
and down in a vain attempt to flatten the abdomen) I do actually use it.

Oh my goodness, it sounds like some form of torture. Anyway, Kaye thank you for being my guest. It’s been wonderful chatting with you and good luck in the future.

Thanks for having me, Margaret. It’s great to be the Lark Journals Blogspot.


Kathleen said...

Great interview ladies! Glad you didn't ignore those inner voices, Kaye. Wishing you lots of success.

Margaret Tanner said...

Great interview ladies. Kaye your stories sound wonderful. Being an Aussie (a close neighbour), and an historical writer, they certainly struck a chord with me.



Paula Martin said...

Very interesting interview.
I envy you the view from your office window, Kaye!
Recently I read a comment (coincidentally from a Random House crime writer) saying that it was essential to have an agent and that 'you won't get your work looked at without one'. There seem to be plenty of us who have proved that to be completely untrue!

Sue Perkins said...

Hi Kaye (waves furiously) so glad to hear you're writing another novel especially a fantasy. I'll be first in line to purchase it when it's released. Wonderful interview. As Margaret said, your answers are so you. Good luck with the writing.


Kaye said...

Kathleen, thanks for your good wishes. Interestingly, one of my grandmothers was an O'connor - maybe we're related

margaret blake said...

Kaye has had difficulty in getting a comment here and has asked me to thank you all for your kind response.

margaret blake said...

Margaret, Paula & Sue, so good to hear from you. I'm getting Margaret to put this up for me. Your comments are very much appreciated. I wanted to reply individually, but could only manage to get Kathleen's message up. I've since tried again and again, but no luck. Better stop as frustration could cause the computer to be hurtled out the window.