Hola, lovelies! Welcome to Interview FoxSeat with guest author Kelly Stock

Kelly is a multitasking mum, wife, colleague, friend, daughter, sister and lastly, but by no means least, writer. Reading was her first love, but when her youngest child went to school full-time she decided to put her ‘money where her mouth is’ and write that book she’d always dreamed of writing. The Soul Guide is her first book.

Why do you write?  Initially, I began to write because I wanted to prove to my children that you can achieve your dreams if you believe in yourself, work hard and are determined. Once the story took hold, despite my constant self-doubt, I found that I had to finish the story. In the end, the story took over and developed so much that I decided to turn it into a series.

When did you decide to become a writer?  I’ve always loved to read. From a kid, I had my head buried in one book or another but I never dreamed I could do it myself. It wasn’t until 13 years after finishing my University degree in 2002 that I finally put pen to paper and began to write The Soul Guide. I can honestly say before this I didn’t have a story to tell. But, once my youngest went to school I had all this time on my hands and a character in my head suddenly made himself known and before I knew it the story began to emerge.

How long does it usually take you to complete a book?  The Soul Guide took me eighteen months to write. This was around working three days a week and looking after a young family, so I really had to squeeze writing time in around my day-to-day responsibilities. Now, I’m onto the second book of the series, and whilst I still work part-time and take care of my children, somehow the writing comes easier now. I’ve only been writing The Farm since November and am over a third of a way through.

Do you have a special time to write or how is your day structured?  I work Monday-Wednesday, so I only sit down to write on Thursday and Friday whilst my children are at school. I try to fit writing in on a Saturday afternoon, but otherwise the weekend is family time. So really, I write only about 12-16 hours a week.

How do you think you’ve evolved creatively?  For a long time whilst writing The Soul Guide I was so worried about writing an original story and getting the plot spot on that I didn’t think about my own writing style. Now, I feel as though I’ve found ‘my voice’.

Do you listen to music or watch TV/movie while you write?  Yes! I basically listened to If You wait by London Grammar on a loop when I wrote The Soul Guide.

Do you work to an outline or plot or do you prefer just seeing where an idea takes you?  A bit off both. I start out with a general outline, but I write better when I allow the story to grow organically. It’s great fun, and my best scenes have been written this way, but it makes editing very difficult!

Do you design your own book covers or have someone else? If you use someone else would you tell us who/website?  I don’t, no. I use a man called Louca Matheo via Fivver. I was recommended him by another author friend. He’s extremely reasonable and very efficient.

Any advice for aspiring authors?  Just start writing, write anything that comes into your head. I found a great quote the other day which made me smile:

‘Don’t be afraid to write crap, because crap makes great fertilizer.’ Jessica Brody.

I think this should be a motto for all aspiring authors! My advice is to just write something, anything, don’t expect miracles when you first start. Writing is hard work, and like anything else, takes a huge amount of effort to get it right. In time, you’ll find your story, your voice and the effort will be worth it.

Give us an insight into your main character. What does he do that is so special?  Bertram, is one of my main characters. He is the Caretaker, and despite losing the love of his life, ill-health, and fighting his own desperate heartache he still finds it within himself to carry on. He has an inner strength that keeps him going despite all odds, he’s selfless and incredibly brave. I love these qualities in him.  Plus he’s a bit cranky, smokes too much and likes Brandy. He has his flaws and that makes him even more perfect in my view!

Where do your ideas come from?  My idea for The Soul Guide grew out of the main character Bertram, who is loosely based on my own dad. My dad was a caretaker in a school in London, England for many years. I was always fascinated by the bunch of keys he wore at his waist, and the doors they could open. As a kid, I would clean with him on a Saturday to earn pocket money and I would follow him around the school through multiple doors, but it was the locked doors that held the most interest for me. I always wondered what was on the other side. From there, thoughts of hidden worlds began to grow and years later, when I sat down to begin planning my first novel, it was those doors, that bunch of keys and an old caretaker that planted the seeds of my first novel.

What is the hardest thing about writing?  Time, or rather lack of it. Time is precious in my household. I am a mother of two children under ten. I work part-time as well as having a house to run. So, getting the time to write has always been difficult and why it took almost two years to finish my first novel. Consistency, is another limiting factor. That is, consistently writing. I try to write every day to keep the story I am working on fresh in my head, but that isn’t always possible. When there is a break it is harder for me to pick up where I left off without having to go back and read through.

What was the hardest thing about writing your latest book?  Self-doubt. Is my writing good enough, are my characters well rounded, does my plot make sense? Those questions, and many more are a constant monster on my back. There were plenty of times when the self-doubt monster almost won, and The Soul Guide would’ve remained a file on my desktop computer. But, in the end, I had nothing to lose but my pride in putting my book ‘out there’ and, so far, I’m pleased to say that the response has been positive.

What is your favorite movie or TV show?  I love all fantasy and dystopian movies / TV shows, especially if they are based on a book I’ve read. I love the Shannara Chronicles, Shadowhunters, True Blood and Walking Dead to name but a few.

Which writers inspire you?  There are so many. In my teen’s it was Stephen King and James Herbert. I spent many a night devouring The Rats series (and freaking myself out). Of late, it is Sarah J Maas, Veronica Roth, Charlaine Harris, Suzanne Collins and of course, J.K Rowling.

What is the current book you are promoting? The Soul Guide

You mentioned you’re writing a new story. How about a teaser?  The following is an excerpt from book two of The Soul Guide series (The Farm)

Estelle had lost all control of her body. No matter how hard she willed her legs to move, to run towards the open door, she was stuck fast, an unwilling statue. Her frantic screams too were lost on silent lips. She could no more scream for her life than she could move to save it.

She wished she had listened to her gut, to the warning bell that had peeled through her head when she had first laid eyes on him all those weeks ago. He had seemed so lost, so encumbered with grief and she could not resist the pull of his hopelessness. She had watched him from afar for days, ruminating on the best way to approach him. When she had finally plucked up the courage she had been met with a dazzling self-assuredness that had confused her as it hypnotised her. He had been an enigma, had become her muse and despite her gut she had trusted him.

How wrong had she been?

Now she was here in this place, under his spell, and in mortal danger.

As if hearing her thoughts, the striking woman with the midnight blue hair, so dark it was almost black, sashayed over to her. In other circumstances, Estelle would’ve appreciated such beauty, her artists eye already taking in the slant of the woman’s eyes, the cruel curve of her lips, the straight, regal nose. She would have painted the woman in the safety of her studio back home in Paris, and it would have been magnificent. Estelle knew she was gifted that her ability to bring life to her artwork was otherworldly. Something the finest of artists worked years for, and even then, never managed to obtain. Yet, she was a child still, just seventeen and her gift was beginning to emerge like the sun between parted clouds. 

Her benefactor had known it, had recognised her gift long before anyone had begun to suspect what she could do. He had guided Estelle, provided her with the physical tools she needed to produce such extraordinary art, but more importantly taught her how to control her gift before it controlled her. He had shielded Estelle, had given her space and a haven to explore such talent. He had done it all despite the cancer that was eating him from the inside out, despite the wretched pain he endured until his last breath.

Now she would never have the chance to fulfil her true potential. She would never again feel the firm warmth of a paintbrush in her grasp, the flow of paint over a blank canvas, or the feeling of freedom when she bought her art to life.

She was trapped. She was going to die. And there was nothing she could do about it.

Many thanks Kelly for sharing! For more about Kelly, her work, and to get your copy, follow the links below:

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