Kelli Owen is the author of more than a dozen books–her fiction spanning from thriller and psychological horror, to an occasional bloodbath, and even rarer happy ending. She was an editor and reviewer for over a decade, and has attended countless writing conventions, participated on dozens of panels, and spoken at the CIA Headquarters in Langley, VA regarding both her writing and the field in general. Born and raised in Wisconsin, she now lives in Destination, Pennsylvania. For more information, please visit her website.
What inspires you to write?
Peripheral questions. When I see something in public and wonder "what happens next?" Or if I consider a circumstance slightly modified by a twist on the dial of reality. And of course, characters—as they tend to be born in the quiet places inside my imagination and wander around asking questions of their own until I let them out to play.
Tell us about your writing process.
I start with a basic idea of what the story is about. For my novel TEETH, it was "reinvented vampires living among us as the new minority." Then I look at who is going to tell us the story and begin developing characters. I'll jot notes and scenes and ideas, but the real work comes when I figure out the ending. Once I have that, I can begin doing my version of an outline, which is a sentence or two per expected scene. Most of the time the story expands beyond the outline, but I have a basic map between me and the final page. I do this in a simple textedit file, which I keep open on the side of the screen while writing in msWord.
For Fiction Writers: Do you listen (or talk to) to your characters?
Absolutely. I'll wonder what kind of music they listen to. I imagine what their memories may be. I often play twenty questions with them to get to know them better. And when they begin whispering, I listen intently, because while what they're saying may not make it to the page, it will most definitely help define them and the actions or words they choose on said pages.
Who are your favorite authors?
My favorites tend to change with what I'm reading, or researching, or hungry for at the moment. Old standards will always be led by Frankenstein, since it started me on this path back in kindergarten. After that, those who left a mark on me were Jack Ketchum (Off Season), Kealan Patrick Burke (Turtle Boy), F. Paul Wilson (The Select), Stephen King (Pet Sematary), and Dean Koontz (Phantoms). I have reread each of those several times, and would recommend them to anyone who hasn't.
How did you decide how to publish your books?
When I started there was a standard, an almost expected and accepted way to do things. I was published in several magazines (both print and online) before attempting to sell my longer fiction. I sold my first novel and novella very close together to small press publishers. Then I started submitting to larger publishers. And then the rules changed. While I'm still looking for that contract with one of the legacy publishers, due to the rules changes and restructuring of author options, I have begun to publish in a combination of self-published ebooks and softcover, with a small press hard cover pretty version. It's working, but again, I'm still striving for the top, for a spot among what is considered the "big six," because you should always shoot high.
What do you think about the future of book publishing?
I think the industry is fluid and forever feeding on its own tail, much like an ouroboros. New formats and devices, new rules and accepted norms, make it very difficult to say or do anything with a modicum of certainty regarding longevity. To those starting out, I would caution against any contracts that require more than three to five years, because so much can change in that time. eBooks changed how we purchase and read. Audiobooks started to gain popularity. Something else will appear. Don't be stuck either inside the walls of a dying market, or outside the doors when they open.
What genres do you write?
Horror, Thriller, Crime, Supernatural, and a dalliance in YA
What formats are your books in?
eBook, Print, Audiobook
All information is provided by the author and is presented as it was submitted so you the reader get to hear the author’s own “voice” in their interview.