Hello and welcome to my blog, Author Interviews. My name is Fiona Mcvie.
Let’s get you introduced to everyone, shall we? Tell us your name. What is your age?
My name is Kellee Strickland and I am forty.
Fiona: Where are you from?
I am from Summerville, SC
Fiona: A little about your self (ie, your education, family life, etc.).
I almost graduated from college with a degree in CDD. At one time, when I grew up, I wanted to be an architect, however math hurts and you can’t build a house without math. So, I decided it was safer for everyone if I didn’t design buildings where living people could get hurt when my roof fell in because I forgot to carry the 1 or the decimal was in the wrong spot. Now I work at a clothing store and live about forty miles from the nearest town on Lake Moultrie. My family consists of my gorgeous man, Danny, and my two 22 year old kids, Giddeon and Dezarea. They are my heart and what I strive for every day. All my choices and actions are to better their lives and make them proud.Soon, my ol’ man plans to open his own business, and when he does, I will be spending most of my time there, helping him.
Fiona: Tell us your latest news.
I just published my fourth book, “Whispered Confessions.” It is a sequel to my debut novel that was published through Black Rose Writing last year. Both books were originally one very long, drawn out novel that I wrote when I was 18 years old. Too insecure to do anything about it, I hid it away in a box in the attic with eight other completed manuscripts. The end of 2014, however, I followed through with a promise I made to someone just before she passed, pulled the book out, cleaned it up, and split it into two novels.
Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?
I actually wrote my first book when I was in fourth grade. It was a fantasy, picture book about unicorns. I was a very shy, withdrawn child and didn’t talk to many people. As a result, I started creating my own little worlds with “friends,” and one thing led to another. I cannot recall a time I didn’t need to write. It is my release, kind of like self-therapy. I know this may make me sound crazy, but if I don’t write, the characters haunt me. It’s like there is this room in my head, and they sit on the couch, staring at me with condemnation, urging me to tell their story. The longer I wait, the more restless they get until I finally sit down and let it out.
Fiona: When did you first consider yourself a writer?
Probably when I was offered a contract from a publishing company. I know that sounds shallow, but I was so self-conscious about my writing, it took that bit of validation for me to think maybe I’m good enough. Until then, I just assumed all I wrote was jargon no one would be interested in.
Fiona: What inspired you to write your first book?
I don’t remember “what” inspired me, but I remember “who.” It was Johanna Lindsey. I was living in Vilseck, Germany, at the time. I had read my first book of hers and instantly fell in love with her style. I was staring out the window at the snow after I finished the last page, dealing with all the emotions, and suddenly, a character popped into my head. It was Evans, the Navajo Indian from my “Whispered” series. I doodled a picture of him, which led to a back story of his life, then that brought in Drake Jackson…and voilà! A book was born!
Fiona: How did you come up with the title?
The main character, Drake Jackson, was plagued by a recurring dream for over thirteen years. Pretty generic, but it worked.
Fiona: Do you have a specific writing style? Is there anything about your style or genre that you find particularly challenging?
I have been told I have a certain style, but I have never tried to define it. I just like to make sure each scene has as many of the five senses as possible. I love the details! I like to describe everything so the reader feels like they are really there, like they can see what I am seeing in my head. I am very obsessive about it, as well. I have even gone so far as to act out certain scenes to make sure they unfold in a natural way. My son always enjoys this part. He just sits back and watches live entertainment. My most challenging issues is battling my own perfectionism. I have been known to spend weeks on one scene, writing, rewriting, over and over again because I can’t get the details or facts to line up correctly. I am, by far, my worst enemy.
Fiona: How much of the book is realistic and are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
Every single character in every single book has a piece of me. Either I have personal experience with what they are going through, or I have witnessed it firsthand. Because of this, all my books have a dark twist to them. For instance, the novel that is coming out in July, “Taming the Bastard,” has a main character who fights his drug addictions throughout most of the story. “Whispered Dreams” touches on sexual abuse and suicide. All my books, however, have a happy ending. I want my readers to know that there is nothing they cannot overcome. Life is about being victorious, not victims.
Fiona: To craft your works, do you have to travel? Before or during the process?
This is another “you’re bonkers” confession. This is part of my perfectionist flaw, as well. I don’t travel, but I do have a specific routine. Before the first word is written in my novels, I do a lot of prep work. Each character gets their own biography, starting on the day they were born, up until the first day of the story. Everything of importance is documented in a very detailed file: first words, nicknames, school friends, first kiss/crush, etc. They also get their own diagram where I mark their height, weight, characteristics, scars, tattoos, etc. Once I have all the characters mapped out, I then make a calendar that spans the entire story. I mark the full moons, the new moons, holidays, important weather. The “Whispered” series starts in 1858, in Charleston, South Carolina. If I mention it was raining in a scene, then it actually rained on that day in 1858. If they are traveling by full moon on a Saturday night, then there really was a full moon that night. I draw house plans for buildings or homes that are prominent in the book. I get maps of the towns. I get a bunch of pictures of the fashion for that time frame. Then I pin all these items up on a corkboard so I can reference them whenever I need to. It is very time consuming and daunting, and 80% of the details I collect never make it into my books, but it helps make my characters real for me. I cannot write a story without all this first.
Fiona: Who designed the covers?
Black Rose Writing offered the cover for “Whispered Dreams.” For my other novels, they have all been designed by Amy Queau, except for one. “Siobhán’s Awakening” came from Lori Parker.
Fiona: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
Real romance isn’t about the woman with the perfect, flawless body, or the man with the rock-hard abs. It isn’t about the girl who was innocent and virginal until fate sent her one true love her way. It’s isn’t the brave hero who never screws up or makes mistakes. Someone will not come out of nowhere and rescue you from hardships in the nick of time. Life happens. Regrets are inevitable. People hurt people, it’s human nature. So is forgiveness, however, if you let go of guilt and hatred. Don’t let your mistakes define you. Life is always going to find a way to knock you down, you need to find a way to continue to get back up, dust yourself off, and raise your chin in defiance. Never give up. Be a fighter and a survivor. Most importantly, always follow your heart!
Fiona: Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest? Who is your favorite writer, and what is it about their work that really strikes you?
Other than Johanna Lindsey, Scott Hildreth is my new favorite author. Right now, I am reading a fellow BRW author by the name of Aaron Albers.
Fiona: Outside of family members, name one entity that supported your commitment to become a published author.
Stefanie. She was my biggest supporter in everything. It was her wish that I pull my box-o-books from the attic and take my life back. I was very blessed to have her in my life.
Fiona: Do you see writing as a career?
I am hoping to one day be established enough to do this for a living. Right now, I am too new and not enough people know about me. I’ve waited 22 years, what’s a little longer? If it is meant to happen, it will. I don’t really write for recognition, though. I write to tell the stories of the people crowding my brain.
Fiona: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
I would have released it last year before Christmas, as I promised I would. I feel really bad about that!!
Fiona: Did you learn anything during the writing of your recent book?
Despite “Whispered Confessions” being my newest novel, the most recent book I’ve written was “Siobhán’s Awakening.” I didn’t write it on my own, I had help from Therese Tucker. I learned how to let go of some of my own inhibitions. I still have a long way to go, but working with Therese has opened me up in ways I will forever be grateful to her for. This book is also a series, and I look forward to working with her again. She is an absolute delight. I adore her. I don’t call her sensei, for nothing!
Fiona: If your book was made into a film, who would you like to play the lead?
Therese and I have actually discussed this! She seems to think one day, it will be a movie. I’m not so sure, but I do love her enthusiasm. If that ever happened, we want Stuart Reardon as the lead male, since he was the one who inspired the character in the first place. As far as the lead female, I have no idea!
Fiona: Any advice for other writers?
Never give up. Don’t get impatient. Don’t write to impress others, write to satisfy yourself. It doesn’t matter if it makes sense to anyone else right now. Get the ideas out before you lose them. Then you can go back, add details, rearrange sentences or paragraphs, and polish it up. Just never stop!
Fiona: Anything specific you want to tell your readers?
Thank you so much for your support! Many of you have reached out to me, for you’ve followed my Facebook page and seen the journey I’ve gone through the last two and a half years. Your words of encouragement have made an enormous impact in my life. I hope to continue to make you proud with my future novels.
Fiona: What book are you reading now?
“Highest Betrayal” by Aaron Albers.
Fiona: Do you remember the first book you read?
I wish I could tell you something spectacular by someone influential, like Mark Twain, however, I’m pretty sure it was “Sweet Valley High.”
Fiona: What makes you laugh/cry?
My kids always make me laugh. No matter what is happening, they go out of their way to cheer me up. I haven’t had much to cry about lately, but when I do, it is usually because I am picking up other people’s emotions and struggles. Yet, once in a while, those certain memories I try to suppress, force their way up to the surface, and my eyes will leak for a few minutes. Those moments are not fun.
Fiona: Is there one person, past or present, you would love to meet? Why?
There are actually two people. First, Frank Lloyd Wright!!! I want to pick apart his brain and figure out how it ticked to create so much magic! The second is Tom Fugle. He was amazing! Two brilliant minds who designed so much beauty: one of a kind homes to live in, and one of a kind motorcycles to ride by. The world was a better place with them in it.
Fiona: Do you have any hobbies?
I still doodle house plans from time to time. Sometimes, I crochet or tat lace. I used to make my own body lotions, soaps, chapsticks, etc. I don’t have much time these days for hobbies,though. I do miss them.
Fiona: What TV shows/films do you enjoy watching?
I love horror flicks! I find them hilarious. I actually have a challenge with my son, to find a movie that will scare me. So far, we have had one scene in one movie, but otherwise, nope. Just giggles. Every Saturday night, I watch Samurai Jack with Giddeon and Dezarae. Oh, and hockey! I am a mega hockey fan.
Fiona: Favorite foods, colors, music?
My favorite foodsare shrimp and chicken. My favorite colors are black and blue. As far as music, whoa. I listen to classical, opera, heavy metal, pop, country, folk, rockabilly, etc. If it speaks to me and says the emotions I cannot bring forth on my own, I will listen to it. I’ve always said, “If you wanna know what a girl is thinking, pay attention to her playlist.”
Fiona: Imagine a future where you no longer write. What would you do?
Uhhh….dude. Um. Shuffleboard? Collect stamps? Walk up and down the beach wearing black socks to my knees and flip flops while waving a metal detector around? *shudders*
Fiona: What do you want written on your head stone?
No headstone. I want to be cremated. It’s the only time I will ever be light enough for a man to pick me up!
Fiona: Do you have a blog or website readers can visit for updates, events and special offers?
I have a website, but I rarely update it. I normally just use Facebook. My profile and my author page.
Link to the three books under my real name:
Amazon author page: