Name: Kelley Grealis
Age: North of 25, but South of 40
Where are you from: Born & raised in Cleveland, Ohio USA
A little about your self `ie your education Family life etc
I’m the youngest of three siblings and the only girl, so yeah, I was a bit spoiled growing up. I have an undergrad in accounting, am a CPA (although I don’t practice any more), and have a Masters in Business Administration. I currently work for one of the largest financial institutions in the US.
I’m married and we’re proud fur baby parents to two spoiled kitties. I love a good craft beer, love sports cars and motorcycles and tattoos, love to travel to tropical locations. I enjoy gardening, watching movies, chillin’ with the hubbs, reading, and of course writing.
Fiona: Tell us your latest news?
THE SEARCH, book 2 in The Descendant Vampire Series, was released August 2013. I’m currently working on the third book, The Truth, which I hope to release late 2014.
Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?
I wrote a lot as a kid. I always enjoyed creative writing assignments and entering contests where I had to write essays. At some point in grade school, I started writing poetry. I attempted my first novel when I was in the sixth or seventh grade, but didn’t get past the first 5 pages. I still recall the premise of that story and just might write it someday! I started writing novels in 2009. It was a culmination of events in my personal life that made me realize I needed to find something that gave me purpose and a sense of fulfillment. For me, that was writing.
Fiona: When did you first consider yourself a writer?
After I published THE DESCENDANT in 2012. Before that, I was afraid to call myself a writer for fear of jinxing myself and then not being able to finish the manuscript.
Fiona: What inspired you to write your first book?
When I first decided to write a book, I knew it would be a vampire novel. I knew this for several reasons. First, I’ve loved all things vampire since my mom hooked me on the original Dark Shadows TV series. I recall her rushing us home when I was a kid to catch the reruns. But it wasn’t enough to say I was going to write a vampire book. In 2009, we were in the midst of the Twilight frenzy and there were so many other vampire books and shows out at that time. I knew I needed a different angle, and thankfully that was easy for me to figure out. I had observed something after reading tons of vampire books and watching tons of vampire shows – the vampire was always just there. I never heard how the first vampire was created, or in the stories that tired to address, I didn’t find their theories plausible. So I decided to write a novel about the origin of the vampire. I linked my vampires’ origin to popular biblical stories in an attempt to give a plausible scenario for how the first vampire was created.
Fiona: Do you have a specific writing style?
I do now. When I first wrote The Descendant, I didn’t have a clue what I was doing. I started writing the middle of the novel, then went back to the beginning, the end and everything in between. I eventually took some writing classes where I learned the benefit of defining the 3 act structure and 9 dramatic elements first, then outlining the story, then writing it. I went back to my manuscript and applied those principles and then used that process for my second book. What I learned made my writing life a lot easier!
Fiona: How did you come up with the title?
The titles have just come to me, almost as a product of the story itself. In book 1, Allison Carmichael learns that she’s a descendant of the first vampire, so the title just made sense. Same for book two. Allison looses something very near and dear to her in book 1, and book 2 is all about the search for that loss.
Fiona: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
The message in The Descendant is to be careful what you wish for and that the grass isn’t always greener on the other side. Allison has searched desperately for her life’s calling, but once she discovers that calling, she wishes she hadn’t searched so hard to find it.
The theme of The Search is if you believe in yourself, anything is possible. Allison is confronted with many obstacles, the return of a nemesis, and meddling from her fanged family and the Ruling Council. But she’s determined to overcome all that in order to find what she’s looking for!
Fiona: How much of the book is realistic?
That depends on how you define realistic. It is a vampire novel, so it is very much rooted in fantasy. However, I set my book in present day, in an actual location, and tried to create a story that makes you believe that vampires really could exist. In that respect, I think it’s very realistic.
Fiona: Are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
I always say that my stories start with something or someone in my life, and from there I twist it into fiction.
Many people who know me and who have read my books say that they see a lot of me in Allison and a lot of my husband in Matt (Allison’s husband). And that’s true to an extent. It was what I call my career midlife crisis that allowed me to rediscover my passion for writing and it’s Allison’s midlife crisis that drives her to find her calling. A lot of what you see in Allison in chapter 1 of The Descendant is me, but not all of it, and after that, it’s a whole lotta fiction!
Fiona: What books have most influenced your life most?
I’m asked this question often, and I don’t really have an answer. I feel like I should have a witty response or a list of American classics that have influenced me, but that’s not the case. I credit my mother for my love of reading. She took me to the library when I was a child and enrolled me in summer reading clubs. As a kid, I recall reading a lot Christopher Pike. He was my favorite author at that time.
Fiona: If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?
This is another question where I feel I should have an answer, but I don’t. I started writing in isolation, so I never had a mentor. However, I attended writing clinics and took writing classes, so I consider those instructors as mentors. They taught me A LOT and I’m so glad that our paths crossed before I published my first book because my writing is so much better because of them. I also have a support group of sorts of some very good author friends. I couldn’t continue on this crazy writing journey without them. They keep me sane!
Fiona: What book are you reading now?
I just finished The Litigators by John Grisham, I’m almost done with Whiskey Rebellion by Lilliana Hart, and I just started The Seneca Scourge by Carrie Rubin.
I’m very excited to read The Seneca Scourge. I met Carrie at one of my author signings – she came into the bookstore to see me and bought my book! I was flattered, actually shocked, that another author, one that I didn’t know, was going to read my book. She’s a local author and I love supporting other local authors and artists.
Fiona: Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest?
Yes – absolutely! The world of indie authors is a big one and I’ve found some gems out there! I already mentioned Carrie. If you’re looking for a true to life love story, you must check out Love, Carry My Bags by CR Everett. If you’re a fan of romance, check out Elizabeth Marx (her novella, Cutters & Jocks, is FREE) and Aneesa Price (I couldn’t put Home for Love down). Love young adult mysteries & want to laugh your tail of? Check out AJ Lape. Love young adult paranormal? Check out Julie Cassar’s Ruby Blue series. Looking for adult paranormal romance with a little bit of bark and bite? Check out JD Nelson. And if you’re looking for good action books (my favorite genre), check out Boyd Morrison (I recommend The Ark).
Fiona: What are your current projects?
I’m currently working on THE TRUTH, book 3 in The Descendant Vampire Series. I also have plans for a contemporary romance, a political action thriller, and a story about a witch.
Fiona: Name one entity that you feel supported you outside of family members.
I previously mentioned it, but it’s the secret group of author friends that I have. We have a place where we can vent, collaborate, celebrate and so much more. Those authors really help to ground me.
Fiona: Do you see writing as a career?
This isn’t as easy a question to answer as it appears. When I hear ‘career,’ I think about a job that financially supports me. And my writing, at this point, does not pay the bills. However, as with any endeavor I take on, I take my writing seriously. I realize that my work is a reflection of who I am, therefore I make darn sure that I’m happy with a book before I publish it. I do my best to hire the best editors and cover designers and file formatters to ensure I’m putting out the best possible product.
Fiona: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
If I had to start all over again, I’d plan out my entire series before writing the first book. I’d also wait to release the first book until the second one was close to being published so that readers didn’t have to wait so long between books.
Fiona: Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?
I don’t recall how it all started for me. As I stated in an earlier response, I enjoyed writing as a child and for some reason kept doing it. I started writing poetry as life events happened to me and I wanted to capture my feelings on paper.
Fiona: Can you share a little of your current work with us?
Sure! I had originally intended for The Descendant Vampire Series to only have 3 books, however, I may have written myself into a fourth. I’m not sure yet though, as I’m not done with book 3.
In The Truth, the murder of one of Allison’s closest allies will send her on a wild goose chase to uncover clues about that person’s death, and in the process will reveal why she was the first descendant to exhibit signs of vampirism. Allison will discover the truth about everything, but will the truth set her free?
Fiona: Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
My biggest challenge is finding time to write. I have a day job and can’t dedicate every night and weekend to writing. Life happens and you have to roll with the punches while trying to continue to pursue my writing passion.
Fiona: Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?
I don’t have one particular author that I’d coin a favorite. And it seems that my answer to this question changes the more I read and discover new authors.
I’m a big fan of Elizabeth Kostova’s The Historian. I love all things vampire and I love historical fiction so this book hit the mark for me. It’s a must read for anyone who loves vamps and historical fiction.
Boyd Morrison is my current favorite author for action/thriller books. The Ark is a story about the quest for Noah’s Ark. Not only do I like historical fiction, but I also like books with biblical tie-ins. His other books have been just as entertaining.
Fiona: Do you have to travel much concerning your book(s)?
I haven’t traveled much…yet. Over the past year, I learned more about author signing events, but it seems I might have missed the boat timing-wise on some local events. My plan over the next year is to identify those larger, local events and determine how to get on their panels in the future. I’ve also attended book signings at local libraries and bookstores and intended to continue doing that. In fact, as I was typing my responses here, I just found out about a local event on January 25th that I’ll most likely attend.
I traveled to NYC for a writer’s conference a few years ago. That was money and time well spent. I learned a lot about the publishing industry.
Fiona: Who designed the covers?
I hired ABC D Creative, a local graphic design company, to design my first two covers.
Fiona: What was the hardest part of writing your book?
Book 1 – The Descendant – took me 3 years to write because I didn’t know what I was doing. There really is a method to the writing madness, and had I known that method beforehand, book 1 would have taken considerable less time to write.
Fiona: Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?
I learned that I could write a book!
Before becoming an author, I viewed authors as some mystical creature that magically conjured up stories, meaning, I thought authors were untouchable – like celebrities I’d never meet. There was no way I could ever be an author, right? I could never be part of that circle, right? Wrong!
I didn’t tell anyone I was writing a book for the longest time because I didn’t want to set myself up for failure and have to answer questions about my progress or why I hadn’t finished. The day I received the first proof in the mail, I realized that I had done it!
Fiona: Do you have any advice for other writers?
Yes, yes, yes! First and foremost, writing is NOT easy. You have to be passionate about what you’re writing, and if you are, that passion will be apparent on the pages.
Hire an editor. You cannot self-edit no matter how good you think you are as an editor.
Unless you’re a graphic designer, hire someone to create your covers.
Network BEFORE you publish your first book. I had read this and didn’t do it and I know see the value in it. Make friends with other authors, readers and bloggers and establish a network that will be there to help you when you’re ready to publish. Realize that you need to help others in this community and that community will help you in return.
Attend at least one writer’s conference. There’s a lot of valuable information to be gleaned from those events.
Be realistic about what you’re getting into. Very few authors make it big in this industry, so read, inform yourself, and be realistic with your expectations.
Fiona: Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
Thank you for taking a chance on my books. I always say that I write for me and me alone. Writing is my creative outlet and I do it to stay sane. However, of course it’s AWESOME when someone picks up your art and loves it. I love receiving messages from readers who say that they’ve loved my books or a particular character or how they can’t wait for the next book. It’s a nice ego boost, but in all sincerity, it helps motivate me. I also know that there’s a lot out there competing for our money, and I truly appreciate that people not only take a chance on my stories, but deem them worthy enough to spend their hard earned cash on.
Fiona: Do you remember the first book you read?
I don’t remember the first book I read. But I recall as a child, sitting in church with my parents. I had a white crocheted bag that I’d carry with me that had a bunch of tiny books about saints. There was a colorful picture of each saint on the left side of page, and then information on them on the right side.
Fiona: Other than writing do you have any hobbies?
I enjoy gardening. I find it therapeutic to plant and maintain the garden and rewarding once there’s something to harvest. But I HATE weeding the garden!
I enjoy exercising too. My current kick is TRX classes, which are sort of like boot camp classes. No class is ever the same; the routines are constantly changing. I used to enjoy running, but I injured my ankles almost 2 years ago training for a half marathon and haven’t been able to run since. I love riding my motorcycle or riding on the back of my hubby’s. I love to travel. Mostly, and yes this is going to sound cheesy, I love hanging out with my hubby.
Fiona: What TV shows/films do you enjoy watching?
My answer changes as new shows come out! Here’s a list of my current favorite TV shows: Sons of Anarchy, Dracula, Vampire Diaries, The Originals, Reign, Sleepy Hollow, Orange is the New Black, Revenge, Once Upon a Time, The Americans, Two and a Half Men. As for movies, like reading, my favorite genre is action/thriller. One of my all time favorites is The Saint starring Val Kilmer. I also love James Bond, Mission Impossible, The Bourne Identity and that series, etc.
Fiona: Favorite foods / Colors/ Music
The one food I could never go without is salsa and chips. That’s my addiction. And iced tea. My favorite color is yellow. My favorite music is 80’s big hair rock n roll. My all time favorite band is Guns N Roses, but I also love Bon Jovi, Tesla, Poison, Motley Crue, Slaughter, Def Leppard, Firehouse, etc. I also love The Doors, Elvis, Godsmack, Buckcherry and a lot of new country.
Fiona: If you were not a writer what else would you like to have done?
I often think about what I’d do if I didn’t have a day job. I’d still write. But I also think I’d be doing something with animals or something for our veterans.
Fiona: Do you have a blog/website? If so what is it? I sure do! My website is http://www.KelleyGrealis.com
I’m part of group blog called My Art to Inspire: http://www.myarttoinspire.com
Connect with me on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/KelleyGrealis
Connect with me on Google+ or Twitter using my name!
Thanks for having me & I really appreciate this opportunity! Happy reading!
Fiona – thanks for hosting me for an interview! I appreciate the opportunity! And I’m lucky #700! That’s awesome!
Carrie Rubin said:
I just found this post after doing a Google search for my book (which I do every now and then to see what’s out there about it–both positive AND negative…). How nice of Kelley to mention my novel! I really enjoyed her first novel, and it was fun to get to meet her in person. I think she’s put a new spin to vampire themed books. I haven’t read her second one yet (my reading queue is soooooo long), but I’d like to.
Hi Carrie – thanks for swinging by the interview & leaving a comment. And you are so welcome for the shout out!