Interview with Mary Jean Kelso
BY MAYRA CALVANI
Mary Jean, do you consider yourself to be a born writer?
Yes. From the time I was able to pick up a piece of paper and a pencil. I spent a lot of years not knowing that was the direction I was going, so I trained as an administrative assistant and fortunately became a very fast typist!
Tell us about THE CHRISTMAS ANGEL. What was your inspiration for it?
The Christmas Angel was a piece I made into “mini” books about 1 inch by 3 inches and totally “hand made.” I did it because kids were wanting to buy books when I did a signing, and the parents didn’t want to spend $6.95 for a book. So, I sold “mini” books for $1 just so the kids could get them. Then I found, since it was Christmas time, adults were buying 24 at a time. They wanted to include them in their Christmas cards. So, I knew the story was a hit.
Tell us about your children’s books.
K.C. Snider illustrated the first, The Christmas Angel. She is also illustrating the sequel (One Family’s Christmas) and the Andy and the Albino Horse series. We are both very excited about our work with Guardian Angel Publishing.
Have you ever suffered from writer’s block? If yes, how did you “cure” it?
Yes! How I cured it was to stop listening to all the people that were telling me “how” to write. I was looking at hard and fast rules I was afraid to break, and until I became honest and wrote what I wanted to the way I wanted to write it I wasted a lot of time worrying if I was doing it right.
Are you a disciplined writer? What is your working style? Do you like to outline and plot ahead, or are you more of a stream-of-consciousness writer?
I’m a steam-of-consciousness writer. I like the surprise when the story takes a turn. I like getting the excitement the first time like the reader does. I will go through the rough draft and list the chapters and put down a sentence that describes what it is basically about just to make sure I’m tracking properly. I tend to do a lot of rewrites and have fun with the things that “pop” up to add.
I am a multi-genre writer. I write for a newspaper, write for adults and YA as well as for children. Right now I am working on my Homesteader series — #4. #3 is due out in May so the editing starts in a couple of months. I am working with K.C. Snider in the sense that we teleconference on the illustrations for the next several books for GAP and trying to keep up with the newspaper as well as doing signings as often as possible.
Where are your children’s books available?
My books are available at Guardian Angel Publishing, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and a lot of gift shops.
What advice would you offer aspiring writers?
Listen to your own voice. Only you know how you want to write the book and what works for you.