Today, we are thrilled to present part one of our three-part Q&A with A Beautiful Evil author Kelly Keaton! Thanks to Kelly for chatting with us … we hope you enjoy her responses as much as we did!
Funny thing is, it wasn’t a conscious decision to mix up a lot of genres. When I write, I don’t set out with a genre or an age group first. Like, I don’t say, “I’m going to write a contemporary YA”, and then think of an idea. It’s the same for my moving into the YA genre. I didn’t start out by thinking I wanted to write a YA and then came up with an idea. The story and characters come first. If an idea or even a vision I see in my mind inspires me enough to start writing it, then I go with it and worry about where it fits into the market later. With Ari’s story, it was really just this coming-together-of-loves that ended up mixing well together. It all came to me in quick succession—this vision of a young girl with white hair born of Greek myth in this wonderful old city that was more edgy, more gothic, more paranormal than ever. I didn’t outline ahead of time. I just saw Ari in this place and started writing. I think if I had started out trying to combine genres, it wouldn’t have worked because it would’ve been forced.
It all came around the same time. Whatever I write has some sort of paranormal element to it because that’s just how I am, so that was a given. Then, I saw Ari and she was in this darker, creepier version of NOLA…
As a follow-up, how much research did you have to do and what did that look like?
I’m a huge mythology geek and have been studying it since I was little, so I did mostly refreshers on Greek myths and the gods, and I’ve been to NOLA a couple times so I knew the city and had a ton of personal photos and experiences that I could draw on. All I had to do was close my eyes and I was back on the Street Car or walking in the Garden District… Mostly, I referred to maps to make sure I had directions and street names correct, and I did research into specific things, like the Creole Queen riverboat, white alligators, The Saenger Theater, Entergy Tower, and those sorts of things.
This is your first YA series, but you’ve previously published adult novels (under the name Kelly Gay). Was there any sort of big change you had to make in the writing process when switching over to YA?
There wasn’t a huge change. Both of my characters are female, first person point of view, and they both are very strong independent people. The differences came in with personal growth and character arcs. What is important to my 30 yr. old heroine, and the path that she is on, is quite different from someone like Ari who is learning who she is and where she wants to be in the world. As far as actual writing process, I write all my books differently, it seems. Sometimes I outline, sometimes I wing it, sometimes I write scenes out of order, or even the ending first. Craziness!
Thanks again, Kelly! Tune in tomorrow for part 2!