Author Interview, Chris Kelly



Author Interview #18, with film student/writer/independent publisher, Chris Kelly!

Chris: First, I just wanted to thank you for interviewing me as part of my October blog tour. I am touring all over the internet this month, and if any readers want to follow my progress they can check out my blog.

Anyway, thank you, Jess.

Jess: No problemo! I’m glad to feature you today :)

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Hi Chris! Describe yourself in 5 words:






Share a short excerpt and blurb of your work (10-100 words):

Blurb: It is 1912, and the British Empire faces the worst magical threat it has ever known, the misuse of ancient Incan crystal skulls. 72 year old former adventuress Matilda Raleigh is brought in as an adviser. But when she realises she has been lied to and betrayed, it falls on Matilda to save the Empire, and possibly the whole world.

Excerpt: Out of the corner of her eye, she saw Alexandra begin to move, and knew she couldn’t crawl fast enough to beat the queen. Matilda forced herself to her feet, almost blacking out at the pain which flooded her body. She couldn’t walk, but she didn’t have to.

She toppled forward, falling against the clockwork man. Her left arm encircled its waist. She stopped screaming, but tears were streaming down her face and she was gasping at the pain, struggling to breathe. She had one chance to destroy him.

She raised her right arm.

“Sham, protect my hand.”


Matilda forced her hand into its chest cavity. The gears bit into her flesh and her eyes blacked out at the pain. She started screaming, and she couldn’t stop. Her hand was on fire, her fingers were alight with agony.

The clockwork man’s chest cavity nearly exploded with the pressure inside. Cogs and gears popped this way and that and rained down on the floor of the ballroom. The automaton let go of the king, and collapsed to the floor, broken. Matilda fell with it.
(Invictus, by Chris Kelly)

Share an excerpt of your favorite author’s work (10-100 words):

People who are rather more than six feet tall and nearly as broad across the shoulders often have uneventful journeys. People jump out at them from behind rocks then say things like, “Oh. Sorry. I thought you were someone else.”

That was Terry Pratchett, in his novel Guards! Guards! It’s the best Pratchett novel, and I love it.

Comment on the writing versus publication process, in your experience:

Writing Invictus was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. I had managed to get it to 90,000 words but a lot of it was crap. There wasn’t enough action (it is sword and sorcery, after all) there wasn’t enough steampunk. The pace dragged. There was a whole story (about 20k words) told in flashback, which I did kinda like.

And then I decided to go indie, and cut, cut, cut! I changed lots of it, cutting out 40k words in total (including my 20k word flashback), and replacing another 15k words. Invictus now is vastly different to Invictus then, and much better for it.

On the other hand, the publishing has been relatively easy. I put a free short story on Smashwords to familiarize myself with the technology there. At the beginning of September I published an ARC of Invictus on Smashwords. It didn’t have a cover, and it was available free. I pointed it out to some people, asking for reviews. Those reviews are coming out this month, and might reflect the fact that the Arc was an earlier version… there were errors, which have been fixed in the latest round of revisions.

And now the cover is on it and the price is $2.99.

What is your definition of “good writing”?

The fiction I write and read is very much character driven. I love the interactions and relationships between two or more characters. The way I see it you can only be one person in real life, but well written fiction can make you feel like so many more people. You can fight aliens, or be a serial killer. Well written to me is all about the characters, and the most important part of characterization is the relationships between characters.

Please share your #1 tip for writers:

Write. I know that sounds corny and clichéd, but I think it’s more important than ever for writers to realise that what they do is art, and when they are doing it they should put all other questions, thoughts, worries or beliefs aside. If you want to go indie (as I have) you will have a long difficult road ahead of you, where you will have to do everything except things you choose to farm out. If you decide to go traditional, you will have a long difficult road ahead of you where you will still need to do a lot of things (for example, the bulk of your marketing). The writing is the most enjoyable bit and, to be honest, it’s probably the easiest bit (I’m not saying it’s easy. I know it’s hard, I just wrote a novel.) Write, and enjoy the time you spend writing, and don’t worry about whether your book is good enough or marketable or any of that.

That’s kind of long, so I’ll try to sum it up. When you’re writing, just relax and enjoy the fact you are writing. Writing should be fun. There’s time enough for panic when the editing starts.

Your websites/blogs/etc:

Follow me on Twitter @Indiechris

Invictus on Smashwords:

Much thanks to Mr. Chris Kelly for the chat!

Author Interview, Christa Polkinhorn


Author Interview #17, with (multi-talented) writer/translator/poet/painter, Christa Polkinhorn!

Describe yourself in 5 words:

Optimistic, passionate, opinionated, solitary, gregarious – contradictory? Yes, that’s me.

Share a short excerpt and blurb of your work (10-100 words):

They watched as the vibrant greens of the fields darkened and the mountains turned from reddish-brown to orange, vermilion, and then to a deep purple. The shadows lengthened and poured into the crevices along the folded rocks. Above the dark surface of a lake in the distance, the snow-covered mountains lit up once more before they, too, faded into the night. The sun left a band of intense crimson in the sky along the horizon, as if to remind the world that it will rise again. (Love of a Stonemason)

Share an excerpt of your favorite author’s work (10-100 words):

We came on the wind of the carnival. A warm wind for February, laden with the hot greasy scents of frying pancakes and sausages and powdery-sweet waffles cooked on the hot plate right there by the roadside, with the confetti sleeting down collars and cuffs and rolling in the gutters like an idiot antidote to winter.” (Chocolat by Joanne Harris

Comment on the writing versus publication process, in your experience:

I published several poems in poetry magazines and a small volume of poetry Path of Fire with a small traditional publishing company. When I tried to find an agent for my novel, the publishing industry just entered a period of great uncertainty due to the economic crisis and the revolution in digital and ebook publishing. I realized that it might take a very long time to find an agent who would accept an unknown author and, perhaps, even longer to find a publisher. I was in touch with several authors who published their work independently. I have some background in computers and started to format my novel as an ebook. It was just an experiment to see if I could do it. The longer I was involved in the process, the more excited I became. An artist friend of mine designed a cover for the book, which I liked so much better than most of the book covers created by publishing companies (which I often find gaudy and over-crowded). In the meantime, I also formatted my novel as a paper back with CreateSpace. I just got the proof and I love it. Independent or self-publishing may not be for everyone. I have always loved to be independent and do things on my own. Since I am not interested in becoming a bestseller author but would love to have a group of dedicated readers, who enjoy my work, self-publishing seems to be the way to go.

What is your definition of “good writing”?

For me, good writing is a combination of heart and mind, plot and language, meaningful content and vivid imagery. I love the quotation by Ben Franklin: “Either write something worth reading, or live something worth writing about.”

Please share your #1 tip for writers:

You are allowed to write “crap.” When you start to write something, turn off the internal editor and let it flow. Once you have a draft, then turn on the internal editor, grab that red pen, and be ruthless. Cut, cut, rewrite, cut, cut. Then find a good editor and let him or her read your draft. We as writers are too close to our own text to be objective. The most difficult part is to know what suggestions from the editor to accept and what to discard. It’s a matter of honesty and practice. Never cut something that’s really important to you, but when five people tell you, it doesn’t work, then you better take a second or third look at it! That’s a lot more than one tip. But the business of editing is of particular importance for independently published writers.

Your websites/blogs/etc:

Amazon Author Page:
Indie Books Blog:

Much thanks to Ms. Polkinhorn for the chat!