Kelly Aten is a speculative fiction writer who is not afraid of pain or adversity, but loves a happy ending. She took a little time out of her writing schedule to share her thoughts
A lot of your books seems to focus on change and upheaval is there something about these themes that resonate with you?
– I don’t put a lot of thought about the composition of my novels, at least not in that way. As in, “I must have THIS element or THAT element.” Someone once asked me the best way to format a fan fiction and it prompted some research on my part. I learned about Freytag’s Pyramid. I realized that subconsciously I’ve been writing along those lines since I began. Perhaps it’s because I grew up reading novels with the same elements. I write what I like to read.
Your books take place in a variety of widely different worlds and cultures, do you start with the setting or the characters when planning out your next project?
– Excellent question, and as soon as I gravitate toward one or another inspiration I’ll let you know. It’s the truth. Sometimes I’ll listen to a song and the lyrics will prompt a story idea around the theme of the song, or a word from the lyrics. Other times I’ll see an image online or in magazine that will push a character into my head. Honestly, I have no idea where my story ideas come from…they just pop in and I jot them down before they can get away. Yes, I have a file of story ideas. Some are multiple pages long and fully-fleshed out, waiting for me to tell the tale.
What do you feel is the most important things a person should take from a work of fiction?
– Ahhhh, my favorite subject! You’re probably going to regret asking this because I’m very verbose on the topic. I’ve been an avid reader my entire life, only fairly recently (in comparison) having taken up the pen. I also spent some time reviewing for The Lesbian Review, though I sadly no longer have time to do that. I’m going to reiterate the fact that I write what I like to read. In an effort to search for my particular brand as an author, I spent a lot of time crafting my personal motto.
“Some words end the silence, others begin it.”
My all-time favorite books will provoke the strongest reactions. They are books that make me #Think, #Feel, or #Discuss.
- Books that make me THINK leave me in a state of quiet contemplation. I have to take time to process, discover how my worldview has changed, and how I have changed because of what I read and how it affected me.
- Books that make me FEEL leave me full of emotion and again, it takes time to process. Sometimes I’m full of love, or beauty, other times I’m bereft, but either way I’m stained and have marks on my heart long after the novel is put away.
- Finally, books that make me DISCUSS are those that stir me so much I need to talk about it with another. It may be that I can’t process the story on my own and need someone to help me along, to share my love or heartbreak.
Again, I strive to accomplish any of the above reactions as a writer, and adore them as a reader.
Besides writing you also do lots of reviews what are a few of your favorite authors?
I am a former reviewer for TLR but admit I haven’t read so much as a fanfic in 6 months because I’ve been so busy trying to finish this year’s novels and complete edits. However, I am never afraid to gush about my faves. And even though I write LGBTQ themed novels I will include my favorite and most prolifically collected authors of any type.
Susanne M. Beck
Laurell K. Hamilton
You do a lot of science fiction and fantasy, do you have any advice on world building for other writers?
I think how you world build will depend on the story and the world itself. Some are sci-fi light, and don’t need a lot of world building. Maybe the story is set in a space ship or a tower and the MC never leaves those places. What you have to remember is that the “world” you are building doesn’t have to be an entire world. As long as you paint the picture of the character’s surroundings, you’ve done your job. As for me, if I’m world building I go BIG.
- Keep plenty of notes – This is good practice no matter what kind of story you’re telling or how big the world. Because I world build with a capital WB, I keep track of everything. I create maps, I have glossaries, lists of names, tribes, cities, distances, and travel times. I find pictures online that remind me of the place in my head and use those for inspiration when I’m describing my world. I need to see something in my head to write it and make it real.
- Make it real – I’ve plotted out fight scenes with people of power in excel to make sure its as believable as possible DESPITE not being possible. Make it real and plausible to the reader. Bring it to life, put the scenes in their head and you’ve successfully created a world. If it doesn’t make sense then the person reading will mentally check out. If they read a paragraph and say aloud “Oh COME on, this is utter BS!”, you probably failed.
- Observe continuity – This is equally important for a timeline as it is for your world. This includes names and spelling of places, prefixes, distances, etc.
What is your next project?
I just finished my second novel of the year a few days ago and I’m taking a break from writing until the end of the end of 2019. (gotta catch up on those fanfics!) I have a lot of ideas for projects and I actually started a third novel this year. I made it about a chapter in before hopping to one that was actually completed last month. (I practice manuscript polyamory) Right now these are the top of my list and I’ll probably start working on one (or more) of them next. In no particular order:
- Whispers in the Dark – A paranormal story based on real events that happened to my family and me. Opening Line: Many of the events that happen in this novel are true. I’ve only added the fiction to make it less frightening. “Ghosts are real. Fear is real. But definitive proof is absent because reality is a construct of the human mind.”
- Orianna: Forging of a Queen – Queen Orianna’s life story told in 3rd person. Spans from childhood when she is taken in by the Telequire tribe, all the way to just beyond the events in The Sagittarius. (Spin-off/companion to the Arrow of Artemis series)
- In Love With The Moon – Little Mermaid retelling with sentient wolves. It’s also an origin story for werewolves. Note: I have this ENTIRE book plotted out in my notes. Sure it sounds like a crazy mashup but apparently that’s what I’m good at.
- Three Wishes – A dark YA novel that has a “Butterfly Effect” feel about it. A young woman realizes too late that she has the power of three wishes. You’re left wondering if she knew at the end, or if she didn’t.
If people want more information about your work where should they go?
Like Johnny Cash, I’ve been everywhere man!
Newsletter Signup: http://eepurl.com/gfChF9
Final four questions –we ask everybody
Q) When the zombies take over the world where will you be?
Loading family, food, swords, water, and a few select books, then head for someplace defensible from looters and the walking dead. Either build fortifications or decide if it’s better to move around. Contact people I know that would be good in an emergency and team up if necessary.
Q ) How do you identify Jedi, lesbian, Ninja, gay, vampire, bisexual, were-wolf, transgender, pirate, asexual, fairy, aromantic, sith, intersex, Spartan, non-binary, wizard, genderfluid, time lord , queer, …? ?
Queer, Trans Ally, She/her, Fluid, Common Sense Superhero, Cyborg, Sword Wielder, Nerd-wanna-be, INTJ, Creator.
Q) What piece of art, be it in the form of music, a book, a film or picture, do you think people must experience before they die?
Definitely music. Did you know that research suggests music (not instrumental, those are relatively new) may have allowed our distant ancestors to communicate before the invention of language? Even deaf people can feel the vibrations produced by music and those vibrations can be beautiful. I’ve been moved my many things, but I’ve most been moved by music. It is inspirational, educational, and transformation.
Q) Give one fact that most people would not believe about you?
IDK, I’m not sure what someone wouldn’t believe about me, people will believe just about anything they read online. <grin> How about something most don’t KNOW about me: I have two different colored eyes. One green and one brown. Many people don’t notice unless the sun is in my eyes or a camera flash catches me just right. Yes, I have a brown ring around the green pupil, and a green triangle in the bottom of the brown eye.