This month on Author Showcase, we are celebrating the works of New Zealand author, Kaye Kelly. She will be with us all month and she is back again for part two.
Please make welcome, Kaye Kelly.
AS: Welcome back Kaye, thanks for visiting us this month.
KK: It's good to be back, thank you for having me all month.
AS: So, with your first book, you learned some hard lessons about publishing but you enjoyed it enough, came back and wrote a 2nd book. Share with us a little about Cross the River to Home.
KK: Cross the River to Home was my second book, Alexia. I love your comment regarding jumping straight back in because I had a ball writing the first novel.
Set in the 1870s, Cross the River to Home tells of the impossible love between Mai, a Chinese woman, and Henry, a young immigrant who has come to New Zealand in search of his sister, now married to a doctor and living in Charleston (yes, we have a Charleston in New Zealand too). With racial prejudice, rife from both sides of the family and the local community conspiring to keep them apart, their future promises to be bleak.
AS: Very interesting.
AS: I hear you have an interesting story to tell about how you got the idea to write this novel.
KK: The idea for this book came from a Chinese lady I was chatting to in a local dairy. I mentioned I was about to write another book but was stumped for inspiration, and she said I should write about a mixed marriage. Aha! Salvation! Not wanting to startle the bejeebers out of her, I refrained from shouting hallelujah and hugging her.
AS: After successfully publishing this time I bet you wished you could really give her a hug.
AS: In an earlier conversation, you mentioned that all of your books have special meaning to you. Would you care to share about this with our readers?
KK: I’d have to say that none of the books I write are “just another book to write.” Even the ones written years ago lying languishing and unpublished – deservedly so – in the bowels of the computer leave a mark on me. I’ll suddenly think of one of the characters and wonder how they’re getting on. Daft, I know, but I like to think that in another universe they’re living inside a house-sized book, carrying on with their lives undisturbed by a nosy giant (me) peering over the top at them and dropping them into situations they would rather not find themselves.
AS: Talk about the challenges a writer faces when starting a new book.
KK: For me, it's mainly the research. When I wrote Cross the River to Home the internet wasn’t the fount of information it is today, or should I say it was, but so much of it was rubbish, and a lot couldn’t be verified. Today, you can find heaps of information without having to leave the computer, which is great, but not so great for the posterior … sigh. There’s a scene in the book where the local doctor performs a cataract operation. The librarian at the Dental and Medical library at Otago university was a marvellous help, spending hours delving in the archives, then putting me in touch with a retired professor of Ophthalmology who checked the scene I wrote. Generally, I found people so willing to help, many of them becoming friends I still keep in touch with.
AS: That is wonderful.
AS: As writers, we grow both personally and professionally. How would you describe growing as a writer from your second book?
KK; I learned so much from writing this book, the most useful being the editing. I had a wonderful editor, Rachel Scott, who didn’t spare the red pen, and for that I thank her from the bottom of my heart. When editing future books, I found myself thinking, “what would Rachel do here?” And, inevitably my own “red pen” would show no mercy in slashing the waffle.
AS: Ah yes. That blasted red pen should be thought of as a writer’s best friend.
So, did Cross the River win any awards for you?
KK: Cross the River to Home was pubbed in 2004 by Random House, NZ. It’s now available on Amazon as an e-book. However, it did receive some mixed reviews. But the wonderful thing is that Random put it in their catalogue to take to the annual Frankfurt Book Fair in Germany. Two companies bid on that book and Random Germany won the bid on it. While it didn’t allow me to retire, the payoff was handsome. And at that time, none of Random NZ authors had ever had an advance that high.
AS: How awesome is that. Grateful to you for sharing your book writing experiences with us.
AS: Each week Kaye will be offering a bit of advice for those new to writing. This week, Kaye’s advice to you is: During times when the thought of the research and plot or your next step seems daunting, treat these things like an onion, simply peel the layers one at a time. It’s something that still works for me today.”
AS: Thanks once again Kaye for stopping by Author Showcase. Our visits are delightful.
AS: Kaye will be joining us again next week. We will be discussing her third book and there is a little special surprise that we will share about this book as well.
Please join us again here on Author Showcase on Monday, January the 18th for another visit with Kaye Kelly.
Thanks for dropping by all and have a safe week.
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