Welcome to my blog interviews with novelists, poets, short story authors, scriptwriters, biographers, agents, publishers and more. Today’s is with crime, thriller, historical and travel writer Keri-lee Griffiths. A list of interviewees (blogged and scheduled) can be found here. If you like what you read, please do go and investigate further.
Morgen: Hello, Keri-lee. Please tell us something about yourself, where you’re based, and how you came to be a writer.
Keri-lee: I grew up all of the world: Born in Cape Town South Africa, moved to Canada and spent time in the UK. I feel most at home in Vancouver Canada though I love to travel every chance I get. Traveling is one of the reasons I got in to writing. Seeing the world and it’s many stories captured my imagination and all these characters stuck with me. The only way to get them out and quiet them down was to write. It’s turned out to be a great escape for me. A few years ago I got very sick and I needed a Kidney transplant. I was laid up in bed for months until my brother got the go ahead to give me one of his kidneys. Through out the illness and recovery I found solace in creating these new worlds in my head. Putting pen to paper gave me something to do and something to look forward to. Honestly I think writing this novel, Unforgivable, was one of the few things that kept me sane (besides my family of course),
Morgen: What genre do you generally write and have you considered other genres?
Keri-lee: I’m an avid reader of crime, thrillers and history. If you combine all three? Well I’m a happy, happy, girl. So, I write what I like to read. I have written travel articles and OPED pieces for various companies. I also volunteer my time, as a writer, to a couple of charities and I help them create promotional pieces.
Morgen: What have you had published to-date? Do you write under a pseudonym?
Keri-lee: Well, Unforgivable is my first novel but I have written a few dozen travel article for www.whatscheaper.com and www.escapewizard.com. Plus, I’ve published articles for the Kidney Foundation of Canada and the Transplant Society of Canada. Both near and dear to my heart.
Morgen: You’ve self-published, what lead to you going your own way?
Keri-lee: It’s very hard, as a new author, to find representation. Agents and publishers want names they can bank on. Which is understandable but annoying. The main reason I chose to self-publish is simply to prove myself. I want to make my name a name they can bank on. Plus, self-publishing does give you a level of control you may have to give up in the mainstream.
Morgen: Is your book available as an eBook? How involved were you in that process? Do you read eBooks or is it paper all the way?
Keri-lee: Right now Unforgivable is available solely as an ebook. I am currently working on getting the book into paperback for readers that prefer the feel of paper. Through out the publishing process I’ve been hands on. This is my baby and I want to make sure she’s perfect.
I’m an avid read of both Ebooks and paperbacks but there is something about holding a book in you hand. The feel of the paper, dog earring the pages, and spilling your lunch on the book because it’s so good you can’t put it down. Yep, there’s something about paper that technology can’t capture.
Morgen: Did you choose the title / cover of your book? How important do you think they are?
Keri-lee: The nice thing about self-publishing is the total control. From the title to the cover, everything was agonized over. The cover is the first thing your audience sees, it’s their first impression and you know what the say about first impressions. The other old saying, “Don’t judge a book buy it’s cover,” is wise but sadly we all do it. When we’re buying our books we scan for the cover that catches us and then we see what it’s about. So, really, you have to make sure everything is perfect.
Morgen: Do you manage to write every day? Do you ever suffer from writer’s block?
Keri-lee: The best piece of advice I received was, “Write everyday whether you feel like it or not.” Writing is a muscle that needs a good workout and it needs it everyday if it’s going to grow. I do write everyday though there are days when the pages are filled with nonsense but that’s okay. I can fix the words on the page but overcoming that blank page is a greater challenge. I haven’t met a writer that hasn’t run head first into the dreaded writers block. My advice? Keeping running. You’ll breakthrough and you’ll be a better writer for it.
Morgen: Do you plot your stories or do you just get an idea and run with it?
Keri-lee: I do a bit of plotting. I know how I want the story to start, how it should climax, and then the dramatic finish. I keep my outlines very loose and flexible because I want to be open for change. Plans change, characters develop in unexpected ways, and that’s the joy of writing. You’re on a journey with your characters so enjoy the adventure.
Morgen: Speaking of characters, do you have a method for creating yours, their names and what do you think makes them believable?
Keri-lee: Most of my characters are based on real people. Sometimes it’s a mix and match of different people and personalities but I think the end result is a more human, relatable, character. Some of the people I know very well and I’ve gotten their permission to use their persona but others are people I see on the bus. Strangers that have large then life personalities are a great source of inspiration.
Morgen: I love that. Do you do a lot of editing or do you find that as time goes on your writing is more fully-formed?
Keri-lee: Edit, re-edit, re-read and re-edit the edits. It’s a brutal cycle but a necessary one. I sought out other writers for advice and they all say the same thing, “Edit until you can’t edit any more and then start all over again.” Each time I edit I learn something new, I notice writing traits that I need to watch out for, and in the long run I become a better writer. That said, there’s no way around editing. Take pride in your work and your creation.
Morgen: Do you have to do much research?
Keri-lee: I love research! I really do, which is great because writing crime, mystery and history requires a lot of it. It can be a little tedious and time consuming but there comes a wave of inspiration when you find the right tidbit. If you treat research like a treasure hunt you’ll always come out on top.
Morgen: Have you had any rejections? If so, how do you deal with them?
Keri-lee: Ah, rejection! Yes I’ve had my fair share and it’s never easy but it comes with the territory. Sometimes I deal with it by consuming a pint of ice cream and other times I just shrug it off as part of the deal. It’s never easy and no one likes it but you can change how you perceive it. When I get a rejection I try and see it as a challenge to prove them wrong. “You’ll see, one day I’ll be…” Also, keep in mind that the biggest names in the business faced rejection but they rallied and proved their critics wrong. It’s not the rejection that matters it’s how you handle it that show’s your true grit.
Morgen: Do you have an agent? Do you think they’re vital to an author’s success?
Keri-lee: Right now, no I don’t have an agent but I’m always open to it if they’re any reading this. Agents have an important role to play. They are the bridge from writer to the rest of the literary world. They know things that I, a lowly author, am trying to figure out on my own. I’m up for the challenge and, like I said, I’m open to any help I can get.
Morgen: What’s your favourite / least favourite aspect of your writing life? Has anything surprised you?
Keri-lee: I think my favorite and least favorite aspects are one in the same. Writing is a solitary job. You are on your own with a computer, pen and paper if you prefer, and your characters. Sometimes the imaginary world is more exciting then the real one. Other times I crave the human connection of the really world.
Morgen: You said earlier to, “keep running”, what other advice would you give aspiring writers?
Keri-lee: I’ll pass on the two pieces of advice I received:
- Listen to your characters, they will tell you what they need, where they should go and what should happen next. It really does make the writing process a lot faster and a little less painful.
- I’ve already said this but it needs to be said again, “Write everyday whether you feel like it or not.” I write a minimum of one page a day. You can write one page, that’s easy, and soon that turns into two, three, four pages a day. Before you know it you have your masterpiece.
Morgen: Is there a word, phrase or quote you like?
Keri-lee: My favorite word is “Tenacious”. When I was eight years old I learnt this word and what it meant. I’ve been in love with this word ever since. It means that you hold fast, you’re stubborn and persistent. In this business? You need to be as tenacious as you can. Hold fast to who you are and what you believe.
Morgen: Are there any writing-related websites and / or books that you find useful?
Keri-lee: If there’s a website I use more then www.dictionary.com it would be www.thesaurus.com. As writers, words are everything and finding the right word can spice up your writing. Also, check out www.dailywritingtips.com. Everything you need to know about writing can be found there.
Morgen: Are you on any forums or networking sites? If so, how valuable do you find them?
Keri-lee: I find www.linkedin.com and www.twitter.com to be an invaluable source of information. There have been many times that I’ve been struggling with a topic or I have a question. When I post to these sites I get bombarded with help. It’s overwhelming but it’s saved me a lot of time. There are very smart people out there!
Morgen: Where can we find out about you and your writing?
Keri-lee: I am so glad you asked! You can go to my website, www.kerileeg.com for more information about me and my work. There’s also a link to my novel, Unforgivable, on the site. You can also reach me on Twitter, @kerileeg. I really enjoy hearing from people so drop me a line and say hello.
Morgen: Thank you, Keri-lee.
I then invited Keri-lee to include a synopsis of her book…
They maybe our family, our friends, and we may love them deeply but some things are unforgivable; some things will haunt your every step, some things will get you killed and it’s Sarah Costello’s duty to make sure every sin is paid for in blood.
Ambassador Maxim Abimbola is a blood thirsty, power hungry, tyrant. He gets pleasure out of causing people pain, especially if that person is his wife. The world has tried to stop him but the man is untouchable: until now. His wife has asked for help and the people that come to her rescue are a powerful organization centuries old. These assassins are called by God to bring His justice down on the most deserving and once the Hashshashin get you in their sights you’re as good as gone.
Sarah Costello is assigned the task and she never fails, ever. One bullet is all it takes, one smooth, easy, kill and the monster is dead. But maybe it was too easy? In the shadow lurks a ghost, an evil that threatens to bring an end, not only to her life, but the lives of the people she loves the most. Hunted and trapped, on the verge of losing everything, Sarah is forced to do what she’s sworn she would never do; she has to turn her back on her brothers, on the Hashshashin, if she has any hope of saving them.
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