Tuesday, January 8, 2013

TBG Author Interview: Kelsey Sutton

Today we have an interview with the wonderful Kelsey Sutton whose debut novel, Some Quiet Place, will be making its entrance on  July 8th 2013. Here's the summary for Some Quiet Place from Kelsey's blog.
I can’t weep. I can’t fear. I’ve grown talented at pretending.
Elizabeth Caldwell doesn’t feel emotions . . . she sees them. Longing, Shame, and Courage materialize around her classmates. Fury and Resentment appear in her dysfunctional home. They’ve all given up on Elizabeth because she doesn’t succumb to their touch. All, that is, save one—Fear. He’s intrigued by her, as desperate to understand the accident that changed Elizabeth’s life as she is herself.

Elizabeth and Fear both sense that the key to her past is hidden in the dream paintings she hides in the family barn. But a shadowy menace has begun to stalk her, and try as she might, Elizabeth can barely avoid the brutality of her life long enough to uncover the truth about herself. When it matters most, will she be able to rely on Fear to save her?

Intriguing, no? Now that you're totally hooked, the interview.


1) How did you first come to the realization that you wanted to be a writer and then later when you decided to pursue publication?

I was one of those writers who began as soon as I learned how to form letters on paper. It wasn’t long after that I decided I wanted one of my stories to be all official-looking like the books I was reading. I began querying at sixteen, actually, so that should give you a good idea of how determined I was!

2) How did you come up with the idea for SOME QUIET PLACE? Did it just come to you, or was it more of a gradual progression?

It happened in a moment. I was sitting in front of a computer with an open Word document, and I’d typed something totally clichĂ©, like, “Fear rooted me in place.” I sat back, frowning, and wondered how I could make this utterly unique from other moments consumed by fear. Somehow, that fear became a tall, blonde, snarky creature that roams the earth and instills terror into every human being simply by touch. It became Fear, who is now one of my favorite characters.

So once I had this idea I asked myself questions that lead this concept to becoming a story. Who is the main character? What makes her different from all these people the emotions see every day? What is the main conflict? How do the emotions play into it?
The rest, as they say, is history.

3) Where do you draw your inspiration from while you are writing? For example, do you listen to music while you write or sit outside?

I do listen to music! Usually I’ll pick out one song that fits the manuscript perfectly, and I keep it on replay. This would probably drive some people nuts. Once I have that song, I can write anywhere. Outside, in bed, on my couch, at the kitchen table. So music is the biggest part of my inspiration.

4) How do you stay motivated to write? Even though you are a soon-to-be-published author, have you ever wanted to give up? And if so, how did you pull yourself back from the "edge"?

The only time I want to throw in the towel is during revisions. I loathe revisions. I’m one of those weird authors who loves the drafting process best. So I push through that feeling by keeping the endgame foremost in my mind. I imagine getting that e-mail that tells me this story is as perfect as it can be, or I picture the manuscript with a stunning cover and sitting on a shelf. 

5) Tell us about your writing habits: where you write, when you write, how much you write, etc.

Well, I can write anywhere. I’ve written on a train before, in a car, in a plane, and in noisy restaurants. It really doesn’t matter as long as the story has me in its clutches. I tend to write on my days off. I’m a full-time student and I work in a coffee shop, so those are major time-sucks. It’s during the breaks – like this Christmas holiday, for example – that I get the most done. I’ll sit down and write for hours, and get a few thousand words onto the page. Then the document will go untouched for a few days. You get the idea. Of course, all bets are off if I have a story that just won’t leave me alone. Then the homework doesn’t get done and my professors are very unhappy with me.

6) How many stories did you start writing before you found a "winner" and how did you know you'd found a keeper?

Oh, my gosh. I wrote so many beginnings before I stumbled onto SOME QUIET PLACE. At least thirty. I was what you might call a “serial starter”. Even my friends would tell me I have great ideas, but I needed to actually finish one of them. One day a story just grabbed hold of me, and didn’t let go until I reached the last word. Since then it’s gotten easier to finish manuscripts… although I still start way too many before I get to that special idea. My poor agent and friends have to listen to me babble about each and every one of them. “Maybe this one! Or, wait, isn’t this cool? Wait, I have it. You need to read it. I promise, this is the one!”

7) Do you have any new writing projects in the works? Can you tell us about them?

I just finished a manuscript, actually! I can’t tell you too much about it, but I will tell you that it’s scary and sad and sexy. Kind of a weird combination, now that I think about it…

8) What were the most difficult and best parts of writing SOME QUIET PLACE?

The hardest part was the revisions, hands down. This manuscript went through so many different versions and notes that it’s utterly different from the first draft. The best part was writing Elizabeth’s (the main character) voice. Her story just came to me, like it needed to be told. As an added bonus, Fear came along. He already has his own fan club. Enough said, right?

9) What was your reaction and what did you do to celebrate when you found out that you were getting signed by your agent and then later when you found out SOME QUIET PLACE was going to be published?

When I signed with Beth, I remember my heart was pounding and my palms were sweating. I told everyone about it, even those people whose response was, “What’s an agent?” I didn’t really celebrate officially. But when the deal with Flux became official, some friends took me out to dinner. That was a special day.

10) What did your friends and family think when you told them you were writing SOME QUIET PLACE?

I didn’t really tell people I was writing it. Those I was close to knew I was always working on something, but it wasn’t until I got the deal with Flux (almost two years later) that they asked about it particularly.

11) Now that you're a soon-to-be-published author and a more experienced writer, what advice would you give to your unpublished self?

I would tell that girl to slow down. I queried the first novel I ever finished, and I queried the novel after that. My writing wasn’t developed and I had a long way to go, but I was in such a hurry. If we’re writing to get published, instead of our love for it, it’s going to be a difficult journey. So, unpublished self, take a breath and enjoy the process of those stories unfolding.

12) What was your journey to publication for SOME QUIET PLACE?

Long and hard. I had two failed manuscripts before I wrote the one that led to signing with Beth, and then we were on submission for months and months after that. The story went through many changes and we got many rejections. It was hard not to lose hope or belief in the value of what I’d created, but we persevered, and Flux rewarded that.

13) What kind of atmosphere do you prefer to write in, calm or chaos?

I can do either, but my preference is calm, I suppose. This way the music and the words consume everything. No distractions.

14) What is your writing process like?

When I’m working on a manuscript that I absolutely love, I’ll finish it within three months. I don’t go out with friends, I don’t do responsible things like showering or cleaning or doing homework. I’ll hammer out those chapters until I have a “finished” manuscript on my hands. I’m pretty much a pantser, so my drafts are always messy. Thus… revisions. Sigh.

15) Do you have any odd and unusual habits which help you in regards to writing?

I drink a lot of Chai tea, and I like to light a candle before I sit down to write for the day. I think that’s about it!


To find out all the latest on what's going on with Kelsey and her writing, be sure to check out her fantastic blog! Thanks so much, Kelsey, and we can't wait to get our hands on Some Quiet Place.

Ella & Aaron


Kelsey said...

Thanks for asking such great questions :) This was so fun to do!

Bethany Myers said...

Aw, great interview. SOME QUIET PLACE is on my list!