Today’s Q& A is with Kelli Owen. She is the author of more than a dozen books, including the novels WHITE PICKET PRISONS and FLOATERS, and novellas WILTED LILIES and WAITING OUT WINTER. Her fiction spans the genres from thrillers to psychological horror, with an occasional bloodbath, and an 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 Pennsylvania. Visit her website at kelliowen.com for more information.
When did you decide to start writing stories?
I have a purple mimeograph of a story from second grade, and while I remember the subject matter (the house in the neighborhood we all thought was haunted), I don’t actually remember writing it. I know I realized being an author (as opposed to fireman or nurse) was a job option way back in kindergarten. And I vividly remember writing scary poems and shorts as a preteen. I think the true decision to write was always there and the better question is “when did I start writing with the intention of sharing?” To which I can honestly say my early teens, when I was submitting to magazines (Seventeen said I was too dark, Ellery Queen’s Mystery Mag never responded, others had similar outcomes) and learning what rejection feels like.
Where is your favorite place to write?
It honestly doesn’t matter. I can literally write anywhere. It depends more on who is in the house and whether or not I need to write in silence or with loud music that day (I’ll use earbuds if someone else is home). If it’s one of those chunks that requires silence, I’ll try and find somewhere people aren’t walking through or making noise in, a more distraction-free location. Those are the times when I’m likely doing a lot of talking to myself and I don’t need anyone else’s accidental input. The desk in the office, the kitchen table, the garage, the front porch, even the couch… it all depends.
Who is your favorite character in Teeth and why?
Max. Period. Because his story isn’t done. I knew about halfway through writing TEETH that Maximillian had more to say, more to tell, and he began developing in my head in a way I wasn’t expecting. Of course, I never do sequels in a timely manner, preferring to give space and time and the opportunity to other voices. So I have no idea when we’ll hear from him again.
What are your plans for the next writing project?
I have several writing projects going on right now. I have five short stories due by the end of the year, a novella I need to finish in the next month or so, and a novel to be finished by Halloween. Should all those things happen, the next thing on the list is another novel by year end. I have all those things mapped out and the outlines at least begun, if not ready to write.
What question do you wish I had asked you and what is the answer to that question?
Considering you completely rewrote vampires in the novel TEETH, do you have plans to reinvent other long-standing mythos or creatures?
At the moment, no. There’s a traditional vampire hanging out in the back of the storage closet I call the “not now” area of my brain where threads and ideas wait patiently. I’ve done zombies a couple times in short stories. Werewolves haven’t even crossed paths with my muse. Although, ghosts… hmmm, that may be something I at least add to or adjust. I’m more interested in offering new creatures, creating unique but believable mythos, and more often, twisting the safety of reality as I crawl inside the readers head and make them uncomfortable.
Dogs or Cats?
I’ve had both.
Everyone should have a Moose dog, he was a wonderful, perfect, family friendly, protective, playful, awesome chocolate lab who lived to be about 16. That was a sad loss, twice (lost him the first time in the divorce). I have major dog-fear if i don’t know the animal, but once i do, i’m good to go. I prefer medium sized family dogs (labs, retrievers, etc) to small dog with ego issues and larger dogs with clumsy knock-you-over affection.
The best cat I had was officially named Chaos, but everyone called him Needy Cat. Unlike cats who ignore you, he wanted your affection, and he would demand it. He’d also play fetch and roll over, as if he were a dog. Best of all, he looked both ways before crossing the street. Sadly, he disappeared one night… and I’ve never ever felt he was injured or killed by traffic (especially because he was aware of and cautious of traffic), but rather, that he was borrowed, permanently, by a friendly, lonely, perhaps elderly new owner who’d been feeding him and also knew he was perfect.
Where can your readers find you on social media? Author website?
I’m everywhere… You can get to my facebook, twitter, and instagram from the website kelliowen.com, and from the facebook author page you can find and join the book club and/or the street team. I’m also on Patreon, Good Reads, Book Bub, and even Wattpad and 8tracks — all accessible from the website.
Check out Kelli’s novel Teeth.
All myths have a kernel of truth. The truth is: vampires are real.
They’ve always been here, but only came out of hiding in the last century. They are not what Hollywood would have you believe. They are not what is written in lore or whispered by the superstitious.
They look and act like humans. They live and love and die like humans. Puberty is just a bit more stressful for those with the recessive gene. And while some teenagers worry about high school, others dread their next set of teeth.
Vampires are real, but in a social climate still struggling to accept that truth, do teeth alone make them monsters?
~ Horror DNA
~ Ink Heist