I am so excited that Ms. Carla Kelly has included b2b in her Blog tour not because I know, but because I don’t know ANYTHING about her.
The first time I heard Carla’s name was from Kathryn’s review of BEAU CRUSOE and as soon as I got done reading that review, I moseyed on to Amazon and bought the book. I couldn’t wait to read it, and when I was done with it, I wanted to read more from her, but alas have you checked out Amazon lately for Carla Kelly’s backlist?!
I wasn’t surprised in the least, nor discouraged, so I downloaded some of her backlist that is being offered to her old and like myself new fans, from two different publishing houses, Harlequin and Cedar Fort, Inc. Without further ado, please help me welcome Carla with my first question…Where have you been all my reading life, Ms. Kelly? Please tell me a bit about yourself and your writing career.
CK: Melanie, remember: “So many books, too little time.” This summer I finally read Richard Bradford’s RED SKY AT MORNING, and asked myself, “Where has this been all my life?”
I’ve been selling my writing, starting with Western short stories, since the late 1970s. I started writing novels in 1984 with the hardback publication of DAUGHTER OF FORTUNE, set in the royal colony of New Mexico in 1680. I segued into Regency Romance, because my agent thought I’d be a good fit there. I have been, to the point of being typecast as only a Regency writer. Thankfully, that is changing now.
I have five grown kids, a husband, two degrees in history and a wealth of working experience: ranger in the National Park Service (personal favorite), adjunct history prof, feature writer and columnist for a North Dakota daily, medical PR writer for a tertiary care hospital in Missouri and a hospice, contract researcher for the State Historical Society of North Dakota, and probably other stuff I’ve forgotten. In history, I’ve edited an 1853-54 fur trade journal; an account of an Indian raid on Fort Union Trading Post; and a history of Fort Buford, where Sitting Bull surrendered in 1881. I like to write fiction, but I also enjoy history. I’m contemplating a biography of Matt Warner, friend and compadre of Butch Cassidy.
b2b: WOW! And I thought I was impressed BEFORE!
The book that you’re promoting right now is MARIAN’S CHRISTMAS WISH and I can’t tell you how much fun I had reading it. Tell us more about it, the idea behind it. What came first, the plot, voice or setting?
CK: I can’t really remember which came first. “Marian” was first published in 1989 as Signet “traditional” Regency. When I quit writing for Signet in 2001 or so, I took my copyrights with me. Cedar Fort, Inc., here in Utah, is reissuing some of them as eBooks, and some soft cover.
Plot and character go hand in hand, so that’s how “Marian” started. I always ask myself, “What do I want to do to these interesting people?” And it goes from there. Of course, a good writer always picks a tough time or circumstance, because that’s where the conflict lies. To keep ruin at bay, one of the lovely Wynswich sisters has to marry well, and soon. And so it begins.
I have written a lot of Christmas short stories for Signet, and my editor and I thought a Christmas novel would work. Incidentally, four of those short stories have been reissued, courtesy of Cedar Fort, as an eBook with the alliterative title, “CARLA KELLY’S CHRISTMAS COLLECTION.”
b2b: What made this such an enjoyable read for me was this family. I’ve fallen in love with all of them! They all were so real, so please tell us who inspired them?
CK: The wonderful eccentric Wynswich children are modeled after my own five children. When I wrote “Marian,” my three daughters were at those ages where they were mature at one moment and childish at the next, as are Ariadne and Marian. Percy is modeled after my oldest child, who feels a certain responsibility for his younger sibs; even though there is nothing in his “contract” that says he has to feel that way. (I wouldn’t know; I’m a middle child.) Alistair is very much my younger son: a bit devil-may-care and exasperating until the chips are down. So yes, I stole shamelessly from my own children for the Wynswiches. If it seems like a loving portrait, that’s why. These are the people dearest to my heart.
b2b: Christmas traditions used to be such a big deal when I was growing up in a small Serbian village. I just loved that time of the year. Can you tell us about Regency Christmas Tradition and what was most interesting or unusual about it that you’ve found while writing this book?
CK: Until Queen Victoria married her German prince, Christmas in England really wasn’t a huge big deal. It took the influx of German traditions in the 1840s to develop what we see as English traditions now.
The Wynswiches have a Yule log, and Christmas pudding (so important in the story), and go caroling. It’s modest, by today’s standards. If anything, I probably glorified it more than would have actually happened in 1814.
I currently have a 3-novella Christmas anthology from Harlequin Historical in which the Scots hero – it’s 1813 – tells his wife that nothing much happened in his Scottish village for Christmas. She’s Mexican and can’t quite believe that, considering Mexico’s rich Christmas traditions.
A Serbian village? Melanie, you could be a novel…
b2b: I probably could…LOL!
You mentioned writing Traditional Regencies. What is the difference between, and specifically, what sets apart the ‘traditional’ regency novels from ‘historical novels set in the regency time period’?
CK: Bluntly, the only difference I can see is that “trads” are shorter and rely on wit and good writing, and “historicals” rely on sexier doings. I prefer the trads, and apparently, many readers do, too.
You heard it here first: Signet is reviving those older Regencies, which will be released this time around as eBooks, starting in January. I’ve returned four of my titles to Signet for this purpose (Cedar Fort has others). The editor says that if the demand is there, Signet will start publishing the more traditional Regency romances again. Hooray to that.
I’m LDS and live in Utah now. In February 2011, Cedar Fort published my LDS-themed novel set in SE Wyoming in 1910, called BORROWED LIGHT. It was such a big success that the sequel, ENDURING LIGHT, will be out in January.
This change of venue seemed to enrage some of my only-Regency readers, who felt betrayed that I had abandoned them. One reader even called it “betrayal.” Good grief. They don’t seem to understand that there is a world of subjects to draw from besides Regencies, of which I have written, quite a few.
b2b: Now that’s a ‘bit’ extreme! I’m one of those fans that if my fave author wants to write on a paper bag, I’ll read it!
Before I let you go, tell us what’s coming up next and what are you currently working on.
CK: I do have Regency coming up in June with Harlequin.
I’m currently finishing a novel set in Fort Laramie, Wyoming, and starting one soon about the Scofield Mine Disaster of 1900, which took place about 45 minutes from where I live.
And I’m also writing what I hope will become a series about a brand inspector in 1725 New Mexico. Readers are welcome to follow me to those stories, or not. Doesn’t matter to me. I put my happy a** in my chair and write merrily on.
b2b: All of those sound very interesting and I’m sure to be in for some great read. To paraphrase you, I’ll put MY happy a** in MY chair and READ even a paper bag from you!
Carla, it has been so much fun doing this with you, and I hope you come back often to chat with us! Now, off I go to stock up my keeper shelf with some more of your books!
CK: Thanks, Melanie. It’s been fun.
Cedar Fort is happy to giveaway
a copy of this awesome book to one lucky commenter!