I recently had the privilege of reviewing the book The Woman with No Name by Kelly Nelson. I went into it “cold turkey” having never read anything by the author before and knowing nothing about the book beyond its back cover.
Even though it may not have been a book I would have picked up on my own, I am glad I did. Since I am extremely author loyal, one of my favorite things as a reader is discovering authors who are new to me. From the first chapter, The Woman with No Name engaged my interest and I am now looking forward to reading other books by Kelly Nelson.
Kelly graciously agreed to an interview with The Silver Petticoat Review. I am excited for you to meet her. So without further ado, may I present Kelly Nelson!
KELLY NELSON INTERVIEW
SPR: Can you tell me about your beginnings and journey as an author?
KN: When I was a freshman, I had the idea to write a book. I named my character Cassandra, made her a princess, and hand-wrote fifteen pages. It was a great opening scene, but I didn’t know how to craft a plot so my story sat in my closet for decades.
I came back to the idea of writing a book in my twenties. I thought about Cassandra but still didn’t know what to write for her. But I did have some children’s book ideas. So I wrote those and sent them to publishers. I got rejected. I let more time pass, then worked on a time travel idea for middle-grade readers. I never finished that book either. I realized the sand in my hourglass was draining. If I didn’t write a book soon, my life would pass me by and I would never do it. But I didn’t want to pull another Cassandra, where I started and didn’t know how to finish the story.
So, I thought about it—A LOT! The concept for The Keeper’s Calling sprouted during the summer of 2007. I had the rough idea of someone finding a time travel device. It solidified on our trip through Zion National Park when we pulled off the side of the road to take pictures. Being an explorer at heart, I began wandering. While I walked, I daydreamed . . . “What if?” One thing led to another. By the time I went to bed that night, I had come up with the first chapters of my book.
Once I started writing, I couldn’t stop. It was an obsession. Creating my story was like reading a good book, one I couldn’t put down. When I had to set it aside to meet the demands of daily living, I plotted and planned when I could get back to it.
I wrote three books that first year. Then I began in earnest to find a publisher. I queried a few and got rejected. I cried the first time I read a rejection letter. I really believed in my story. After a few more rejection letters, I started to wonder if my writing wasn’t up to par. After all, I had an accounting degree, I had worked as a CPA, and the only college English class I had taken was Business writing.
I signed up to go to a writers’ conference, where I learned I had been making amateur mistakes. I took an online writing class and learned even more. I revised, then entered my book in several writing contests where I got great feedback. Each time revising and editing my story. When my book was selected as a finalist in a Christian Novel Writing Contest, I was ecstatic! The winner of the contest would get a publication contract.
Quick side story for you: A long time ago a young man asked Socrates, an ancient Greek philosopher, the secret to success. Socrates told the young man to meet him near the river the next morning. They met. Socrates asked the young man to walk with him into the river. When the water got up to their necks, Socrates took the young man by surprise and dunked him under the water. The boy struggled to get out but Socrates was strong and kept him there until the boy started turning blue. Socrates pulled his head out of the water and the first thing the young man did was to gasp and take a deep breath of air.
Socrates asked, ‘What did you want the most when you were there?”
The boy replied, “Air.”
Socrates said, “That is the secret to success. When you want success as badly as you wanted the air, then you will get it.” There is no other secret.
Back to the writing contest—in spite of my best efforts, I didn’t win. I was disappointed, deeply. I certainly shed a few tears after I didn’t win that contest, but I picked myself up and kept writing. I sent my manuscript to Walnut Springs Press. I was hopeful but guarded after so many rejections. After all, it was going on two years that I had been sending out query letters to agents and editors. During that time, I had decided to write another book—something completely different—an LDS romance. After I got a rejection letter for it, I got really discouraged. I had written four novels and apparently could not get even one of them accepted for publication with a traditional publisher.
One day I sat looking out the window at the leaves falling to the ground and I asked myself, “When have I failed? At what point do I throw in the towel and say, ‘Good effort, Kelly. You gave it the old college try, but it just didn’t work out for you.’”
At that moment, as clear a message as I’ve heard came into my soul.
“You haven’t failed until you quit trying.”
I redoubled my efforts. I went back to my list of possible publishers. I decided I would query every one of them and then research more publishers. I decided I just wouldn’t give up until I had queried every single publisher I could find. Like Socrates had said, I wanted to be published as bad as I wanted air, and I decided I would do whatever it took to make it happen.
Over five months after I queried Walnut Springs Press, I was offered a publishing contract. I now have six published books to my name.
What inspired the characters and story of The Woman with No Name?
My husband is the inspiration behind Colt’s character. He drew a tag for that premier archery hunt in Utah and I joined him for a couple of days. We rode horses through the high country and I got to experience life at elk camp. On that trip, my husband had his truck transmission go out while driving into the mountains. His high school buddy pulled his trailer the rest of the way up the mountain and left him there. Other than quick visits from me, his dad, and our teenage son, he spent over two weeks up there with two horses as his only mode of transportation. My drive from Oregon to Utah gave me plenty of daydreaming time where I plotted The Woman with No Name. Lily’s character is a more a figment of my imagination than anything else.
Are you considering a sequel or series featuring Colt’s brothers or sister? If not you really should!
Thanks! I have considered it, though I have yet to pin down the details of his brothers’ stories. And spunky Lizzy’s story would be a blast to write. Maybe she should go into law. Colt did say she’d make a great lawyer because she liked to argue everything.
Who would you choose to cast in the roles of Colt and Lily if your book were to be made into a film?
What a fun idea! Having a book made into a movie would be a dream come true. I would cast Stephen Amell, the star of the TV series Arrow as Colt. As I typed this I realized the roles have archery in common. And Julianne Hough, from Safe Haven, is so cute and sweet. She would make a great Lily.
Tell me about yourself as a reader. Do you have a favorite author, genre or novel?
I LOVE to read. I’m the kind of girl who will choose to bury her nose in a book, rather than watch TV or a movie. I always have a book open on the Kindle app of my iPhone and will grab at any chance to read a few pages. And though I love my Kindle, I still prefer the feel of a paperback. I consider browsing the bookstore and buying a real book a special treat.
While I can never choose just one favorite book, I do have a current favorite genre. Historical romance, particularly Regency romance. I’ve gone through a historical fiction phase and a YA fantasy phase. Who knows where I’ll land next.
The history of my favorite novels would go something like this: In my elementary years, it was The Black Stallion, by Walter Farley. In the teen years, Deathwatch by Robb White. In my twenties, John Grisham’s The Firm. In my thirties, I devoured historical fiction by Bodie Thoene and Gerald Lund. Then Stephanie Meyer sucked me in with the Twilight series. One of my recent favorites is The Fall of Lord Drayson by Rachael Anderson—SO GOOD!
If you could have authored any other book that has been written, what would it be? Why?
This is a tough question. There are so many amazing books that would have been a privilege to author, but as I thought about it, one book jumped out in my mind. The Other Wise Man by Henry Van Dyke. This book was one of my father’s favorite stories, and I grew up hearing it each year at Christmas. It is a story that impacts me to this day. The theme of the novel is powerful and inspired, and the book has the ability to change people for the better. To write something that can have a positive impact and encourage change for the better—that is why I would choose The Other Wise Man. This quote from the author sums it up:
“I do not know where this little story came from—out of the air, perhaps. One thing is certain, it is not written in any other book, nor is it to be found among the ancient lore of the East. And yet I have never felt as if it were my own. It was a gift, and it seemed to me as if I knew the Giver.” —Henry Van Dyke
Do any of your book characters share traits with you? If so, which ones?
Although Lily and I don’t look a thing alike on the outside, we do share one thing in common. We both fell for an avid outdoorsman with a set of broad shoulders and a hint of red in his beard. Other than that, there is not much of me in the characters of The Woman with No Name. However, the main character in my previous book, Love’s Deception, shares quite a few traits with me. She is of the LDS faith, lives in Oregon, boards horses, and is independent and fiercely loyal to her son. When she needs a shoulder to cry on, she turns to her horse. Plus, she also has a weakness for hunky guys with soft hearts and a week’s worth of sexy stubble.
Since The Silver Petticoat Review is dedicated to stories featuring old-fashioned story-telling and old-fashioned romance, what in your opinion qualifies as old-fashioned story-telling? Do you have a favorite novel that meets your qualifications?
For me, the best of old-fashioned story-telling will have action and adventure, a good villain (whether that be an actual ‘bad guy’ or some trial or adverse condition to overcome), and a strong thread of romance running throughout. One novel doesn’t stand out above another. I like so many books that I have never been able to narrow it down to a true favorite.
As a follow-up, how would you define old-fashioned romance? Do you have a favorite story that meets your criteria for this?
For me, an old-fashioned romance is a bit of a fairy tale. It has characters who follow their moral compasses and generally act with honor. The couple works through challenges and in the end, find love together. And like all good fairy tales, they live happily ever after.
KELLY NELSON BIO
Kelly Nelson graduated from Brigham Young University with a bachelor’s degree. She worked in public accounting for four years before starting a horse-boarding business so she could be more involved in raising her family. As an avid book lover, she later decided to pursue a career in writing. Her published works include The Keeper’s Saga, a young adult fiction series, Love’s Deception, an LDS romance, and The Woman with No Name. She resides Cornelius, Oregon with her husband, four children, and a herd of horses.
Learn more about Kelly Nelson and her books at kellynelsonauthor.com, or follow her on Twitter @kellynelsonauth. She loves hearing from readers and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.