Back when we were still allowed to go out to events and spend time with people outside of our own homes, I attended a brunch with Karma Brown. At the event, I connected with a few of my favourite local book people (Hi Robyn! Hi Dany!) and had the pleasure of meeting a few for the first time in person.
Kelly Charron was someone I knew through acquaintances and followed on social media but I had never met face-to-face. And boy was I glad when I finally got the chance. We chatted about writing and publishing and audiobooks and much more. And when I asked if she would help me out by doing a Q&A about her publishing journey she didn’t even hesitate in saying yes.
Kelly writes both YA and adult thrillers and is also working on co-writing a new book which is something I always imagined would be challenging and rewarding.
Please enjoy reading her insights about writing, publishing and the need to have a thick skin through each step of the process. (And then go buy one of her books!)
Tell us a little bit about you and the books you have written.
I write everything from thrillers, horror, urban and contemporary fantasy, young adult, and adult novels. I love anything that has huge stakes. The more secrets, gritty characters, tension, and betrayal the better. I have had many jobs from hairstylist to social worker to teacher. I love reinventing and challenging myself. Change can be scary but it’s also where you see the most growth.
I have a duology, Pretty Wicked and Wicked Fallout, that follow Ryann Wilkanson, a teenage serial killer as she vies to become one of “The Greats” (the greatest of the most notable and prolific serial killers). She learns everything about getting away with the perfect crimes from watching her unsuspecting dad, a detective in their small town. In Pretty Wicked she decides it’s time to finally act out her darkest desires and she begins hunting for the perfect victims, all while trying to evade her dad’s police partner who’s growing suspicious. Wicked Fallout jumps ahead twelve years where we find out what insanity Ryann is up to.
I also have the first three books (Wilde Magic, Wilde Intent, Wilde Abandon) in my ongoing young adult urban fantasy series and I am currently writing the fourth. You can also buy the omnibus called Term One in both ebook and print. These books focus on Ashcroft Academy, a boarding school in Massachusetts, and the secret witch coven that operates from an underground cavern below the Ashcroft campus. The two main characters are non-witch, Ainsley Davenport, who moves there to look into her father’s sudden suicide, and Sydney Lockwood, Queen Bitch, who rules Ashcroft yet tries to prove to her mother, the coven’s High Priestess, that she’s worthy of more in their coven. Ainsley is motivated to find out what her reporter father was looking into at Ashcroft before his death, suspecting that he’d stumbled onto something dangerous. Sydney is navigating getting through the arduous coven testing as an apprentice witch while trying to keep her friends in line, especially after her best friend Justin seems a little too interested in Ainsley. The two girls hate each other but are thrown together when they unknowingly release a supernatural threat. There’s drama, suspense, tension, romance, mystery, and twists!
How long, on average, does it take you to finish writing a first draft of a novel? What does your writing schedule look like?
This varies hugely. The first draft of Pretty Wicked took about six weeks, while others can take six months or a year. I tend to work on multiple books per year, so it depends on if I stop drafting to do a few rounds of editing on another project. I have also begun co-writing novels with two of my amazing writing partners over the last two years, so sometimes that will be my focus and I’ll pause on the drafting of my individual work.
My writing schedule is all over the place! I work at all times of the day and anywhere I can. I write in bed, on the sofa, and in my home office. I love to work in small cafes and with friends wherever we hunker down (usually with wine). I work during the day but am lucky to get quite a bit of time off. I write a few evenings after work and try to get a few hours in on Saturdays and Sundays. My biggest challenge to writing is ME. I’m the biggest procrastinator, but I’m working on that. So far, so good.
How did publishing your first book change your writing process?
Great question though I’m not sure I have an answer. I think my writing is always evolving. I’m always working to grow and become better. I read craft books, attend conferences, seminars, and workshops, and I’ve been in a critique group and had amazing critique partners for eight years now. I guess the biggest thing I noticed after publication was making sure I always keep my promise to the reader. Readers responded very kindly after Pretty Wicked and I think part of it was that I had set up expectations for their reading experience and made sure to deliver. It’s important to stay true to genre expectations. Having your reader’s trust is everything.
Do you get writer’s block? If so, how do you deal with it while on a deadline?
I don’t believe in writer’s block. I think “blocks” come up when I’m having my character do the wrong thing. I used to struggle far more when I used to free write. I now outline my book and write according to that. It prevents me from having the moments when I don’t know what should happen next. I keep it open enough that if a better idea hits me, or my characters want to do something different, I go with it, but having that outline never leaves me feeling like I don’t know what’s coming next. Now, I will occasionally be unsure what comes next in my outline and then I talk to my critique partners to flush it out. It always works. I write linearly. I cannot write out of sequence. My head spins just considering it. I make notes in my story bible and add it to my outline for when I get to that part and then go back to what I was writing.
What advice do you have for aspiring writers? What do you wish someone had told you before you got into this industry?
This industry is difficult. I’m not saying it to be discouraging, but every part of this business from the writing process, finding representation, finding readers, promoting and marketing yourself, and balancing the creative and business sides is hard. But if you love it, it’s so worth it. I’ve been writing for sixteen years and can’t imagine my life without it. This is not the business for the faint of heart or thin-skinned. There’s a ridiculous amount of rejection, especially since writing is such a subjective art. Some people will LOVE your work and others will read the same piece and think it’s crap. Learning to be true to who you are as a writer, to the voice you’ve crafted, is so important. It takes time to find your people—the readers who will resonate with your work—but once you do, it’s magic. I love making people feel connected to my characters and the worlds I create. It’s all worth it then.
ABOUT PRETTY WICKED
A small Colorado town. An opportunity for murder. Ryann has been raised in a strict house by her perfectionist detective father and docile mother. She plays by the rules, doing what her parents ask, getting straight As, cheering at Friday night football games, and is the voice of reason for her eclectic group of friends. But she’s done following the rules.
Ryann’s been a good girl for far too long. She’s suppressed her dark longings to make everyone else happy. It’s time to make herself happy—to become the person she’s always wanted to be. Unfortunately, that means a few people are going to have to die.
“Mixing moments of dark comedy with glimpses of pure evil, PRETTY WICKED announces the arrival of a talented new voice in the world of suspense. Kelly Charron is the real deal, people, and this is one hell of a debut.” -Owen Laukkanen | Author of THE FORGOTTEN GIRLS
“This creepy novel places you inside the mind of a twisted teen killer, which is even more unsettling because of how familiar and normal she seems. Be prepared to leave the lights on and look at the people around you in a whole new way.” -Eileen Cook | Author of WITH MALICE
LINKS TO HER BOOKS:
ABOUT KELLY CHARRON
Kelly Charron is the author of YA and adult horror, psychological thrillers, and urban fantasy novels. All with gritty, murderous inclinations and some moderate amounts of humor. She spends far too much time consuming true crime television (and chocolate) while trying to decide if yes, it was the husband, with the wrench, in the library. Kelly has degrees in English Literature, social work, and education. She has worked as a hairstylist, social worker, education assistant, and teacher. She lives with her husband and cat, Moo Moo, in Vancouver, British Columbia.
Author Website: KellyCharron.com
Facebook: Kelly Charron Author
GoodReads: Kelly Charron