I get tons of requests for interviews, and I get a lot of the same questions over and over for them. Unfortunately I’m getting so busy these days that I don’t usually have time for all of the interview requests I get. To help, I’ve complied a group of my most commonly asked interview questions and am putting them here. If you’re a blogger or someone needing to do a school report, between my bio on the “about” page, and this interview, you should have everything you need. Bloggers, feel free to copy and paste to put together your own interview posts, and if you have a specific question or two that hasn’t been answered here, feel free to email me. It’s easier for me to answer a quick question as opposed to answering an entire interview. Thanks!
So, what should you know about Kelly Oram?
I love to write & I’m a ginger.
I wrote my first novel at age fifteen–a fan fiction about my favorite music group, The Backstreet Boys, for which my family and friends still tease me. I’m obsessed with reading, talk way too much, and like to eat frosting by the spoonful. I live outside of Phoenix, Arizona with my husband, four children, and my cat, Mr. Darcy. And we named his litter box Pemberly because it’s where he makes ten thousand (poops) a year!
The Fun Stuff:
- I love to sing and went to college as a voice performance major.
- I once competed in the Miss Michigan Teen USA pageant. (I did not win LOL.)
- I’m a baseball fanatic. (Go D-backs!)
- I broke my head as a kid and had to wear a hockey helmet to school as my cast.
- I own my own 10-sided dice for role-playing that no one but me is allowed to roll.
- I’m left handed.
- I am credited as associate producer for the independent film Amber Alert.
- I live for road trips. Best vacation I ever took was a three-week coast-to-coast-and-back drive with my father.
- The Backstreet Boys were my 1D in high school, and I was a total fangirl. I still have a whole collection of fan paraphernalia.
- I took both golf and bowling classes in college to fulfill my PE credits. (I still suck at both.)
The Personal Stuff:
Where did you grow up? Tell us a little of your childhood. I grew up with two amazing, loving parents and a bunch of siblings that I only realized were amazing after I grew up and moved away from them. We moved around quite a bit, but I spent the majority of my life in Colorado, Michigan, and California. My childhood was crazy and chaotic at times but fun and full of love. I have no complaints.
Why do you get teased so for being a Backstreet Boys fan? They were a really good group and had a huge following? Who were others you “crushed” on? They don’t make fun of me for “liking” the Backstreet Boys, they tease me for being a crazy obsessed groupie and writing entire novels about meeting the guys and making them fall madly in love with me. (Oh, yes I did.) Believe me, I deserve the torture. Though I didn’t crush on anyone as hard as I did the BSB, I was also a really big fan of Justin Timberlake, Pacey on Dawson’s Creek, Jonathan Taylor Thomas, and, like, half of the boys in my school. Yes, I was completely boy crazy. (Still am. My list of fictional boyfriends, and sports boyfriends is long and distinguished!)
What was it like living in Los Angeles right out of college? LA is crazy, and the film industry is rough. It was overwhelming for my husband and I to go there when we were so young, had never been there, and had no family within hundreds of miles. But it was an adventure. We learned a lot, grew up a lot, and have a lot of great memories of our time there.
What is your life like now, living in a small Arizona community? The quality of life is so much better! I have never regretted my decision to leave LA. As much as I loved the So Cal weather and living a few miles from the beach, I don’t miss the life my husband and I had there. We are definitely much better suited for the quiet, suburban, conservative, Christian community we live in now. (Even if it is five million degrees here in the summer.) My childrens’ school is fantastic, our church is very strong here, and my parents and most of my siblings and their families live very close. It may not be as exciting as Hollywood, but this is where I’m supposed to be.
Share with us one thing most people do not know about you? Umm… like I mentioned about in the fun facts, I modeled a little bit as a teenager and once competed in the Miss Michigan Teen USA pageant. Neither modeling, nor the pageant circuit was really my thing and I quit both pretty quickly. But it was an experience I’m glad I had. I got to do something that not many get the chance to do. I also learned that I belong behind the spotlight, not in it. LOL.
The Booksish stuff:
What do you like to read? I read mostly YA and about 85% of the books I read are paranormal or fantasy. Give me magic, monsters and romance!! But on the flip side, I need a great contemporary read, or historical romance every now and then to keep me grounded.
What is your favorite supernatural creature? Dragons! And shifters! (Dragon shifters being the ultimate, of course.) I can never turn a shifter book. Can’t do it. I’m even working on my first shifter trilogy!
Who are some of your favorite authors? There are so many! Jen Wylie, Annette Marie, Jaymin Eve, Meg Cabot, John Green, Simone Elkeles, Cinda Chima Williams, Desni Dantone, Kristin Cashore, Julianne Donaldson, Karen Lynch, Stacey Marie Brown, Jennifer Armentrout… just to name a few. This list could go on forever.
Who are some of your favorite book characters? Mr. Darcy is a classic. I love him so much I named my cat after him. I also love Phillip from Julianne Donaldson’s Edenbrooke, Daemon from Jennifer Armentrout’s Lux series, Suze Simon from Meg Cabot’s Mediator series, Beka Cooper from Tamora Pierce’s Beka Cooper series… this list could also go on forever.
And speaking of characters, who are your favorites from your own books? It’s a touch choice because I love them all for different reasons, but I think Ellie Westley from Serial Hottie is my favorite girl, and Russ Devereaux from the Supernaturals books is my favorite boy. Ellie is just fun and silly and crazy, and she’s explosive. And Russ… *swoon* I love that he’s so strong yet can be completely vulnerable at the same time. He’s got the biggest heart and he wears it on his sleeve. He’s emotional, but he’s also such a badass. He’s fun! I love writing his character!
If you could pick one, which one of your books would you make a movie based on? Hmm. I think it would be a toss up between Serial Hottie and Cinder & Ella. Serial Hottie is just fun and I can totally picture it being done similarly to The Burbs, or Suburbia. A fun quirky murder mystery romance. I’d love it. But I’m also a HUGE sucker for anything Cinderella, and it’s always done so well in the movies. Seeing Brian and Ella on the big screen would be so awesome.
If you could meet any of your own characters, who would it be? That’s easy. Russ Devereaux from my Supernaturals series. The handsome, smart-alecky, warlock who’s always ready to stir up a little trouble. I think I’d like to meet him of all my characters because he’s the most likely to take me on some wild & crazy adventure that I’m likely never to forget. (Of course, he’s likely to get us arrested too, but…)
Do your family and friends read your books? Some of them. The ones who enjoy reading do. I never expect people I know to read my work, and I only encourage them if I think they will genuinely enjoy my stories. As a writer, I know not everyone is going to love my work, but my friends and family don’t always believe me when I say it’s okay if they don’t like my books. I’ve had friends read my books because they were curious but who don’t normally read the YA romance genre and then they felt really bad when they didn’t like it. It’s really okay. But it’s also fun when someone I know comes up to me and says, “OMG I finally read one of your books and I loved it!”
If you couldn’t be an author, what would your ideal career be? Uh… are there other options? Kidding. Well before this I was a stay home mom and it worked well for me. I’d also love to give musical theater a shot. Broadway would be fun!
The Writerish Stuff:
When did you develop an interest in writing? I think I was born this way. I’ve written stories for as long as I can remember—as soon as I knew how to read and write. My mother says that even before that I would draw pictures and the pictures would tell stories. I had a wild imagination as a kid and writing was a great outlet for it. I’m also a bit of an insomniac and writing stories was something to do during my sleepless nights.
Tell us about your early works—what was the first thing you ever wrote? I wrote fan fiction for years before I started writing actual novels. My first novel was a fanfiction about my best friend and me meeting the Backstreet Boys. Oh, yes I did. And it was laughably awful!
How did you come up with the idea for your first book? My first published novel was Being Jamie Baker. Coming up with the idea for that was nothing special really. I love superheroes. I love characters with special powers and decided I wanted to write about a girl who had powers, so I sat down and brainstormed. I came up with several ideas and sort of mashed a couple of them together and volia! Jamie Baker was born.
What is your favorite theme/genre to write about? I always write young adult, but I’ll write both contemporary and fantasy. I love each genre for totally different reasons and could never stick to just one or the other. I jump genres but no matter what I write they are always romances! I could never write a story where no one falls in love or—heaven forbid—has no kissing in it.
Which one of your books did you enjoy writing the most? My favorite to write are my Supernaturals books. I have so much fun with them. They’re more of a challenge for me to write because of the world building and the ensemble cast. But I have so much variety with the characters, and I get to live in an amazing world with magic and monsters for a while. I am a huge fantasy geek!
What is your writing process? Do you follow a regular routine? Do you use pen and paper or computer? Work at home or at the library/Starbucks, etc? My laptop is like my 5th child. I usually do a basic out line on paper and then have files filled with notes. I usually write from home but if I need to get out of the house for a bit I love to go to the library. If my small town had a Barnes and Noble, I’d probably be a live in resident.
How do you balance writing with other aspects of your life? Balance? I wish!! I go crazy trying to balance everything. If I ever get it figured out, I’ll let you know.
Do you write every day, 5 days a week or as and when? It used to be whenever I could find the time, but now I get to write for a few hours five days a week! As my writing career has become more successful, it’s made me insanely busy, but has also allowed my husband to quit his day job. The amazing man has taken over some of the MOM duties for me. We now both work full time as writers and take turns being the stay-home parent.
What has been the most surprising reaction to something you’ve written? I was completely floored by the dozens upon dozens of letters I received after I published V is for Virgin. I had so many people write to tell me how much they appreciated that book, and who shared their own personal struggles/stories about virginity. There are some amazing people out there and I was completely flattered and shocked to know that I’d touched their lives in such a way.
Have you ever received negative criticism? How do you handle it? Every writer receives negative criticism. It’s part of the job, and honestly, it’s necessary for us to grow as writers. The key is to accept that not everyone is going to like your work. Then learn to ignore the negative hurtful criticism and use the constructive feedback to make your work better. I don’t read reviews (though I am always immensely grateful for each and every one!) because they actually mess with my head—positive or negative. When I read reviews, I find myself trying to write to please the audience, and that’s never good because you can’t please everyone. But at the same time I depend on my beta readers like their feedback is my lifeblood.
Other than your family, what has been your greatest source of support? My husband! I know you said other than my family, but seriously, I couldn’t do it without him. Other than that, I have a small group for friends that will read and give me feedback on all my crappy first drafts of my books. My beautiful betas are more help to me than they know.
Where do you get your story ideas? Anywhere and everywhere. Song lyrics, movies/TV shows. Books I read. Random things my kids say. The dark, scary corners of my mind that should never be allowed to function….
Do you have a specific writing style? I typically write in first person, and I tend to be sarcastic. I have been called “fluffy” before and I’m okay with that. My favorite thing in the world is a book filled with witty banter and a happy ending.
How do you develop your plots and characters? Do you use any set formula? It varies. Sometimes I have a great idea that wants to plot itself while others I’ll want to write a specific kind of story and have to come up with a plot. Other times I’ve just had a great character I wanted to use and had to come up with a good story that suited them.
Are you a “plotter” or a “pantser” (do you plan/outline the story ahead of time or write “by the seat of your pants”)? I am definitely NOT a pantser! There have been rare occasions (very rare) where something just comes to me and flows with ease, but it’s not typical. I need to have an outline, and I swear the more books I write, the more outlining and plotting and character developing I do before I start writing the book.
Do you use critique partners or beta readers? Why or why not? Again, my betas and critique sisters, and my editor are my ROCKS. I’d be nowhere in this industry with out my team. I have a writers critique group that I go to monthly and I adore them to bits and pieces. I also have a couple of people I use as beta readers. These people are all vital to me. Really, they should be vital to any writer, because you can’t always see your manuscript as objectively as someone who didn’t write it. Honest constructive feedback will always help strengthen a book. The hard part is finding beta readers/critique partners that you work well with and trust.
Is there anything you find particularly challenging to write? Description and heavy action. I don’t really have the patience for a lot of description when I read or write, and action is just hard for me. It’s definitely one of my weak points.
Do you have any kind of “custom” when you sit down to write? I need quiet so I have to wait until my kids are in bed, or my husband is home to watch them. I like to leave the house so that I can focus. I’ll go to the library or a local restaurant or even a park. My writing process also tends to involve a lot of Diet Coke and popcorn.
How do you deal with writer’s block? Cry. Pull my hair out. Avoid my manuscript with things like twitter. Cry some more. Go to therapy… (Nope, not kidding.) Also, sometimes I try to go back to my outline and figure out why I’m stuck. Usually writers block stems from a plot hole you haven’t discovered you have yet. Fortunately I don’t get blocked very often, but if I’m ever really truly stuck, the best thing for me to do is put my manuscript away. I’ll read a book or work on a different story for a while. I usually have at least 2 or 3 works in progress at one time. Sometimes if I pull away for a bit I can come back to whatever my problem is with a fresh set of eyes and I can usually fix whatever’s holding me up.
How long on average does it take you to write a book? It depends, but I’d say on average, if I get to work consistently, it’s about a three-month process from first idea to completed first draft. But then there are re-writes and edits. I’d say I usually finish about two to three books a year.
The Words of Wisdom Stuff:
Tell us about your route to success – how/when did you decide to self-publish? Did you query an agent first? How did you handle the editing, proofreading, cover design, etc? I did query 3 or 4 agents at first, but I didn’t even wait to hear back from them before I decided to self-publish. My husband just really wanted to try it, so I let him. It’s worked out well for us. I have a couple of different beta readers and a wonderful critique group that I give my manuscripts to that give me feedback and help me with story editing. Then I outsource my copyediting. It’s taken me several tries to find an editor I like, but I finally found one who is great. If any other indie writers out there are looking for a freelance editor, email me and I’ll give you Jen’s info. Other than that, my husband does all my formatting and cover designs. The man has mad skills. I wouldn’t have tried to self publish if I didn’t have him to help me with everything. We’ve had to smooth out the kinks over the years but now we’ve got a system down that works really well for us.
What are the most important elements of good writing? This one is hard to answer because its completely subjective. Personally, I think “good” writing is learning how to have a balance of all the elements. I don’t necessarily think one is more important than the other. Though an author’s voice, and great characters probably catch me the most as a reader. Those are usually the things that stand out to me and that I remember the most after I read a book. All of my favorite authors have become my favorites because I’ve fallen in lose with their individual style/voices. But there will be people who prefer action, or pros, or a deeply developed world above voice and character. Everyone is different. I think the truly great writers are those that can accomplish all of those things together. (Which, if you’re wondering, is not me. lol. I try with every book, but I always see plenty of areas for improvement!
What do you feel is the key to your success? Tenacity! Writing is a job, like everything else. You can’t just write a good book and expect it to become a success on its own. You have to make it a success by getting it out there. Market and promote like crazy. If someone turns you down or doesn’t like your book, go find someone else to share it with. I’ve had to learn a lot about marking and the publishing industry in order to make my books sell. I work very hard at it. Sometimes I feel like I’m so busy being a writer that I don’t have time to write! But without that, I would never make any money selling books.
And finally, what advice would you give to aspiring writers? READ! Anything and everything you can get your hands on. The more you read the better your writing will be. Also, WRITE! Practice makes perfect. Chances are, that first draft of that first book you write will not be publishable. That doesn’t make you a bad writer. It makes you normal. I had completed dozens of novels before I had one I felt was good enough to be published. Writing is just like anything else. It takes time, patience, hard work, and a lot of practice.