Thursday, April 14, 2011

Interview with J.M. Kelley

Drew in Blue

Please tell me 5 things about you.
  1. I’m a northern girl living in a southern world, and struggling to figure out what these South Carolinians are saying.
  2. I can write dialogue until my fingers fall off, but in person? Total social ineptitude.
  3. I’m terrified of storms, but love to watch Storm Chasers on Discovery.
  4. My first attempt at writing a book was when I was a kid. Unfortunately, it turned out to be a really bad carbon copy of the Sweet Valley High books. Luckily, that so-called manuscript found its way into the trash.
  5. I’m addicted to barbeque pork. I need a twelve-step program to help me break the habit.
What are 3 unique aspects about Drew in Blue?
  1. Drew in Blue is a contemporary romance told from the perspective of the male lead. I wanted to create a love story seen through the eyes of the one who needed love the most.
  2. I think Drew’s voice is unique. He says dumb things, and sometimes you want to smack him upside his head, but his heart is in the right place. Underneath it all, what he wants most is to be loved and needed. That real desire for the ‘whole package’ sets him apart, I believe.
  3. When it came to the relationship between Drew and Kris, I wanted to eclipse the standard “best friends” theme in a romance novel. Their friendship is pure. They really are happy being friends. They really do want the best for each other, even if it may be with someone else. They have a level of honesty between them that makes everything that transpires seem organic.
 Name 5 things you wished you knew about publishing?

 Let’s see if I can narrow this down to five things.
  1. I wish I knew how to convince more people to give Drew in Blue a whirl. Aside from beating them over the heads with the good reviews it has received. And begging. And holding their pets for ransom until they send a receipt of purchase.
  2. I wish I knew that writing a second novel while trying to promote a debut novel, in addition to all that daily life stuff, is like trying to juggle melted butter sticks. At least so I’d be better prepared for the time management issues. 
  3. Turns out, being published doesn’t magically eradicate your offensive abuse of gerundive phrases in your next work in progress. You still have to hunt them down and kill them. Go figure.
  4. I wish I knew that there would be personal sacrifices in the wake of being published. But you have to move forward and stick with the positive and supportive influences in life, and leave behind the things that only sabotage your accomplishments.
  5. I wish I knew where my million dollar advance is – I thought the check was in the mail already.

Name 3 things on your bucket list.
My bucket list is rather boring. I think I want to:
  1. Have a relationship with a normal man.
  2. Chase a tornado.
  3. Finally learn how to swim.
I suspect I have the best shot at the tornado-chasing.

What are your top 5 favorite books?
Oh, boy. That list changes so often. I’m constantly rotating books on and off of my favorites shelf. At this moment, I’m leaning towards (in no particular order)….
  1. The Girl Who Chased the Moon by Sarah Addison Allen
  2. Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry
  3. The Stand by Stephen King
  4. The Princess Bride by William Goldman
  5. Rebecca by Daphne DuMaurier
If you could invite any 5 authors on a cruise who would you invite?

I’d invite Stephen King because I think that man knows how to have fun. And Toni McGee Causey, so I could worship her from a close distance. Perhaps George Orwell so I could pick his brain about everything going on in 1984. I’d invite Sarah Addison Allen so we could relax on the Lido Deck and discuss her writing choices, because I’m fascinated by her style. And then I’d include somebody way out there, like Dante Alighieri just so I could say, “Guys, I went on a cruise with Dante. Yes, first name basis. We’re that close.”
Ignore the fact that I chose some dead people there. And that Dante Alighieri is more commonly known by his first name, anyway.

Name 3 things that help you gain inspiration for writing.
  1. I like to seek out inspiration in the mundane. I watch people and take mental notes about their behaviors and the things they say. I like to figure out what motivates people to do the weird real world stuff they do every day, then find a way to use it in my writing.
  2. My biggest inspiration is being outdoors. I’m drawn to water. Just sit me down next to a lake or an ocean and the mechanism clears, and I can start pounding out story. There’s a connection there that frees up my imagination.
  3. Junk food. Hey, I admit it. I’m productive when I can sit in front of a computer in my pajamas, while shoveling chocolate ice cream into my mouth. I’m relaxed, my cravings are sated, and I’m free to write at will, with nobody questioning why I have chocolate dribbling from my chin. The ideas often flow fastest when I’m at my most slovenly.
What is the funniest thing that has happened to you as an author?

While my publisher was setting our books up with Amazon, the site managed to accidentally make our books available weeks earlier. Friends jumped on it, even though I figured it had to be a glitch, and they ended up with copies of Drew in Blue that weren’t yet formatted. Luckily, Amazon pulled the books, refunded the friends, and we had a good laugh over my fleeting moment of early publication.

What's the most embarrassing author moment you've had?
It was probably when I realized I’d sent out the worst query known to man to several agents who were at the top of my wish list. I try to chalk it up to learning the hard way, but mostly I still feel the urge to slap myself in the forehead a few times when I think about that spectacular failure.

If you were stranded on an island and could magically name 2 people, 3 things and 1 book you could have to have with you who/what would they be?
Hmm. Island. I would conjure my best friend, and a morally ambiguous cabana boy who somehow fits our different male preferences. Then I would summon the most comfortable bed in the world, a giant bag of smokes, and a giant crate full of Pepsi. And hope I could figure out how to light the smokes. The book I would call for would be the Worst Case Scenario Survival Guide, because I guess that would be the worst case scenario, being stuck far, far away from a Target or a Piggly Wiggly. Right?

Do you have another title in the works?
I’m working on a second novel with a temporary title of Daddy’s Girl. It’s about the black sheep of the family, and how she must come home to rural Pennsylvania to care for her gravely ill father. The requisite romance is definitely there, in the midst of a story about a family that must heal old wounds before their time runs out.

What is your favorite season?
Autumn. I love the colors and the smells. It’s a full sensory experience season. The smells, the sights, the sounds. I love crunchy leaves under my feet, driving in the mountains to see the changing colors, and I especially love being able to go to the beach and sit next to the surf while wearing a sweater and jeans, and no shoes.

Your dream vacation would be?
I’d love to rent a giant, luxurious beach house on the Outer Banks. Somewhere away from the crowds where I could have the beach to myself and pretend the rest of the world doesn’t exist. But still have access to a giant hot tub and fully stocked private bar.

Best childhood memory?

Road trips to Florida to visit my grandparents. One year, we packed into a VW bus and put signs in the window that said, “We survived T.M.I.” Watching for and being the first to see a South of the Border billboard was nearly an Olympic event. Half the trip was spent trying to get a trucker to honk for you. In Florida, there were trips to Clearwater Beach and Tarpon Springs.

My grandfather was wheelchair bound, so riding with him on the riding mower or sitting on his lap while he wheeled us around was luxury travel accommodations, in my mind. I always scored a roll of quarters from my grandmother. I thought I was rich when I got my mitts on that money.

Maybe it was because my grandparents spoiled me rotten, but nothing in life has ever compared to those trips.

If you were given the chance to do any one thing over again, what would you do over?

I’d definitely re-do the whole college experience. Less watching Another World in the lounge while cutting my Art 101 class, more actually finishing college.

If you were given the chance to re-live any one moment, what would it be?

There was a boy involved. Nothing smutty, I swear. It’s that moment when you realize your kissing styles suit each other, that his face doesn’t look too weird when you open your eyes mid-kiss, getting that fish-bowl perspective of him, and realizing that the toes will be tingling for hours after the night is over. The one I’m thinking of, that was a damn good moment.

What are you most looking forward to this summer?

I recently moved to South Carolina, so I’m looking forward to longer days in which I can wander around and really get to know my new home.

Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?

Long story short: Persistence. Keep at it. Keep improving your work. Aim high, but be rational. Don’t try to be the next Stephanie Meyers. Be the best you possible. And most importantly, don’t give up. Ever.
To purchase or price Drew in Blue on Amazon click HERE
To connect with J.M. click the following:   Twitter   Facebook 

About the Book

Drew Doyle’s done a lot of stupid things in his life, but the biggest mistake by far was not paying attention to that 2% failure rate listed on the back of the condom box.

Drew in Blue is the story of a thirty-six year old loner unexpectedly saddled with the task of raising a baby while trying to sort out his mess of a life. Problem is, he just keeps making things worse for himself. It’s a running theme in Drew’s life, considering he never does anything the easy way. The River’s View, Pennsylvania gossip mill is watching each misstep as Drew juggles a price-gouging babysitter, a major case of artist’s block, and a best friend with an opinion to share on every bungled choice he makes.

His love life isn’t faring much better. Despite a long history of relationships that never really get off the ground, he falls head over heels for someone new, hoping that she might be the one to end his romantic bad luck streak. Things finally start looking up for Drew, until he finds out (the hard way, naturally) that this new love interest isn’t the one for him after all. Turns out, it’s actually lifelong pal, and high school girlfriend, Kristina Moser.

Drew’s feelings for Kris intensify as he witnesses her growing bond with his son, and he finally realizes where he belongs. Now all he has to do is convince Kris he’s right… and she’s just not buying it.


  1. I really enjoyed the interview. The questions weren't run of the mill and JMs answers were both witty and thought provoking. Nicely done. As someone who has read Drew, I can honestly say, I loved it. People really should give it a go.

  2. Thanks for the interview, it looks great, and I really enjoyed answering such fun questions!

    And thanks, Laurie!


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