Interview with Kerry Blaisdell
by Kel Johnson
1. How did publishing your first book change your process of writing?
Wow, that’s a harder question than at first it seems. 🙂 At first, it didn’t really change much. My first publishing contract was for the first book in my Dead Series (DEBRIEFING THE DEAD), and so once we were close to publication with that one, I submitted the sequel (WAKING THE DEAD) to my editor. But I had already finished that before the first one was contracted, so it was really a matter of polishing, not writing. Then after it was accepted and in the publication pipeline, I started working on the third in the series, and that’s when I realized how much everything had changed.
For one thing, the first book has now won multiple awards (including a Reader’s Favorite Bronze Medal just this week, and a Gold Medal in the Royal Palm, First Place in the RONE Awards, and a RITA(r) Nomination) which is fantastic, but it also ramped up the pressure. On top of trying to squeeze in writing time amidst a full-time job (teaching high school math to middle school students – now 100% online, thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic!), and also marketing the first two books, I experienced some self-doubt that the third book would be as good. Which made finishing it even more difficult.
But at the same time, I have more confidence now as a writer. So I would say the biggest change is learning to trust in the process, and recognize that I’m actually writing FOR an audience now, whereas before, I was just writing for myself. 🙂 That can be very scary, but also very empowering!
2. What was your hardest scene to write?
All of book three in my Dead Series – see above. LOL! No, seriously, there’s not a single scene that stands out as challenging. But my Dead books are all “pantsed” (rather than “plotted”), which gets very difficult as the series gets more and more complex. (It’s a sequential series, so once a book is published, I can’t change something I created during the world-building of that book, which can cause serious complications later on!) So there have been many times while writing this book (DAMNING THE DEAD) where I felt like I was spinning my wheels, and the scene was agonizingly slow to develop. But I made it through, so whew!
3. What are common traps for aspiring writers?
My biggest pet peeve here is the conviction many new writers have that there is a “right” way to do ANYTHING (grammar, plot, verb tense, POV – literally anything!), or that you “can’t” do some thing or another, because IT IS A RULE.
Nope. I broke hundreds of “rules”, both in my Dead Books and also PUBLISH OR PERISH, my indie romantic suspense, which has four point-of-view characters (Big “No-No”), all the main characters are 40 or older (another “NO-NO”) – I could go on. DEBRIEFING THE DEAD failed in many unpublished writing contests, because of the “broken” rules. In fact, one of my favorites was receiving a 1 for POV, because the judge said it was “unclear.” It’s in FIRST PERSON (which many people will tell you is a “NO-NO-NO” :)). Even ignoring the rule part, how is that “unclear”??? But I digress…
The point being that you just need to write a good story. Sure, don’t have terrible grammar. But that doesn’t mean you can’t bend the grammar a bit, or even break it, if you do it consciously and for effect, not out of sloppiness. And all the structure things – again, if it’s a good story, readers DO. NOT. CARE. ABOUT. RULES. 🙂 As evidenced by the success of both DEBRIEFING and WAKING THE DEAD. 🙂
4. Does your family support your career as a writer?
Absolutely 1000%! Okay, my kids (ages 21 and 18) haven’t read my books. 🙂 But they vote for me when needed, and listen empathetically when I have good (or bad) news. And Mr. Author, who never reads fiction, has read all my books and is amazingly supportive and encouraging. Oh – and when my cover for DEBRIEFING THE DEAD was redesigned, Author Daughter (she’s the 18-year-old) said, “Wow! That even looks like a book I would read!” Very high praise, coming from a graduating senior/new college freshman, to her Ancient Mommy! 😉
5. And lastly, what’s your favorite genre to write about?
Do you mean IN? Or literally “about”? LOL! (I was a Comparative Literature major, so the “about” would be a whole other deal! ;))
But really, I don’t think of it so much as “genres,” because I write in a mix of different ones. Although I suppose every genre I write in has the common theme of mystery/suspense, and a lot of death. LOLOL! Whether it’s Romantic Suspense (PUBLISH OR PERISH) or Supernatural Suspense (The Dead Series) or Historical Mystery (unpublished, but maybe soon…! ;)), there’s murder, mayhem, and mystery all over the place. If there wasn’t, I’d get bored. Seriously! I tried to write a “simple” Contemporary Romance once, about a woman who returns to her hometown to teach at her old high school, and immediately imagined where and how the murder would take place. LOL! So I gave up, and it’s now another Romantic Suspense, but on the back burner for now. 🙂
Whew! Thanks so much for having me! 🙂
FOLLOW KERRY BLAISDELL ON THESE LINKS:
Kerry Blaisdell is the award-winning author of The Dead Series, including DEBRIEFING THE DEAD – 2019 Royal Palm Literary Award for Best Published Fantasy, InD’tale Magazine RONE Award for Best Long Paranormal, HOLT Medallion Literary Award for Best Paranormal & Best First Book, and Romance Writers of America RITA® Award finalist – and its sequel, WAKING THE DEAD, which InD’tale Magazine recommends for “fans of television shows like ‘Constantine’ or ‘Supernatural.'”