Monday, April 27, 2015

Author Kelley Grant releases first novel, "Desert Rising," speaks at Chicago Comic and Entertainment Expo

Kelley Grant has had a busy week.

A few days after her first novel, "Desert Rising," was released, Grant was part of a panel discussion - "Authors of Epic Fantasy" - at C2E2. "Desert Rising" is the first book in a three-book series being published by Harper Voyager Impulse.

I had the chance to talk to Grant about the book.

Q - It's been a big week for you. I understand that the book was released on April 21.

And it's my first novel that I've had published. It's released digitally first, and then in May, it will come out in paperback.

Q - And this is your first time at C2E2, I understand. What are your impressions?

It's just a kaleidoscope. It's just all these wonderful costumes, and there is just so much to do. It's just amazing.

Q - How did the idea for "Desert Rising" come about?

I actually started writing just a book about somebody who is going to school in a weird place. And I hated the main character. She was so boring.

And it ended up that I really liked what was supposed to be the villain. So I ended up switching those, and out of her desert culture, I created the whole world, I created the four deities, and I created the companion animals - the big cats that are with her and help her communicate with the four deities.

All of those kind of came out of that little switch, and realizing that sometimes it's more interesting to have somebody who's very bold and doesn't turn back.

Q - I understand that growing up, you were an avid reader, that books were really your lifeline.

We read constantly. My mom always read to us.

We didn't have a lot of money growing up, but anytime we wanted a book, my mom would buy it for us.

Q - And do you think that propelled you to want to become an author?

When I was a kid, I didn't know anybody who was an author. I knew coal truck drivers.

I grew up in Ohio's Amish country, and women were expected to get married at a young age. But my parents wanted a lot more for me than that.

It wasn't until I was in college until I realized that writers were normal people, and that writing was a career path. That was a big boost for me.

Q - I understand that you have a three book deal with Harper. What was it that impressed them?

They liked my characters, and they like the worldbuilding a lot. I love to build worlds, and I love the mythology of things.

Tolkien was really into languages, but that's not my thing. I really like worldbuilding myths. What is the mythology, and how does that create a culture?

So I have this whole culture with at least a 1,000-year back story.

Q - What appeals to you about the fantasy genre?

I really like it when an author can kind of take the problems of this world, and take them outside of the world, so you can see them without an emotional bias.

It helps you see things in a different way, like racial bias outside of this world, and can flip it around a little bit. You can see how different cultures are thinking.

Q - A lot of fantasy books are being turned into movies and TV shows. Do you see this book series being made into a movie? 

Wouldn't I love that? It would be a lot of fun. I think it would be a lot of fun to see how they would choose my characters.

Can they train a cheetah to be a companion animal? I don't know. Of course, they can do so much with computer-generated imagery now.

Q - You also teach yoga. What do you get out of doing yoga or teaching yoga?

I have been diagnosed with being seasonal clinically depressive. Yoga has helped me.

It calms the mind, all those worrisome thoughts. It really ups my energy, too.

It's also been great for writing. Meditation has been wonderful.

I can calm my mind a lot faster. It's really helped my focus.

Q - Do you have any words of wisdom for an aspiring author or writer?

Don't give up.  Keep trying. You really have to keep trying.

You have to have faith in yourself.

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