J. Keely Thrall writes paranormal romance in the shadows of the Washington National Cathedral. She is the current president of the Washington Romance Writers, the local chapter of Romance Writers of America serving DC, Northern Virginia and Maryland writers. She graduated from Mount Holyoke College with a degree in American History and Italian Language and received an MFA from American University in Film and Electronic Media. She’s bounced around career-wise with stints as a producer, substitute teacher, office temp, secretary, Mary Kay Beauty Consultant (don’t laugh!), and proofreader. At one time, this flitting from job to job caused her concern until Mary Jo Putney spelled it out in a lecture: the work history of writers is often littered with attempts to fit into a “real” job. Greatly reassured, Keely now stopped worrying and learned to love the bomb. Well, stopped worrying at any rate. She’s still pretty anti-bombs.
Keely won the FFP chapter’s On the Far Side contest in the General Paranormal category in 2008 with Honor Bound, her Golden Heart manuscript. To learn more about Keely, visit her blog.
HONOR BOUND finaled in the paranormal category of the Golden Heart:
“An elf walks into a bar and all hell breaks loose.”
King’s Garda Detective Della Fiore has raised following the rule book to an art form. Bartender Joe Tracker has always been a rolling-stone-gathers-no-moss kind of werewolf. Della believes there are good guys and bad guys and not much gray in between. Joe believes in hanging loose, playing the field, and feeling groovy. She thinks hunting down the person who stabbed and nearly killed her foster brother is the right thing to do. He thinks any course of action that might end in his new-found mate’s death sucks the big one. He’s just not into wooing a corpse.
What begins as an uneasy partnership grows into something deeper as Della and Joe search for the reason behind the attempted murder and find more than they bargained for. Something evil is afoot in King City and it’s just beginning to play.
It’s great to have Keely here today! Here’s a little more about this paranormal author:
1) How long have you been writing?
I’ve been writing off and on most of my life. I’ve been a member of RWA and WRW for 10 years, but it has only been since the creation of my current CG that I’ve become more focused on publication and working toward a viable career as an author.
2) Did you always want to be an author or is this something you fell into later in life?
The first time I realized I wanted to be an author was as a teenager. I’d finally read enough books so I could differentiate between, “wow, fantastic, must read this again right now!” and “wow, this book sucked dookie, I could write better than this.”
3) What do you do in your “other” life? (Day job, family, etc.)
I’m an executive assistant in a small, dynamic religious organization. I’m “unchurched” myself, but I thoroughly enjoy my job at Church House – my coworkers are like family which makes spending 40 or so hours a week with them no hardship.
4) Who are your favorite authors?
Hard, hard questions to answer, there are soooo many favorites. I’m a big paranormal reader so Patricia Briggs, Charlaine Harris, this year Rita Nominee Eileen Wilks are auto-buys. Lois McMaster Bujold, Guy Gavriel Kay, and Orson Scott Card’s Ender’s Game. Agatha Christie (she knew evil), Dorothy Sayers, Dick Francis. Carla Kelly, Mary Balogh, Jo Beverly. Jennifer Crusie, Kristan Higgins, and, and, and…where do I end it???
5) Do you have an agent?
Not as yet. Working on it though!
6) Where do you see yourself in five years?
I see myself writing full time, possibly with a part-time job to get me out in the world (unlike a lot of writers, I’m an extrovert. I need to balance my alone time with regular people interaction). Fingers crossed, I also see myself with a fabulous new kitchen that I can point to and say, “I made that happen because of my writing!”
And now, in Keely’s own words…
Stories that have had an impact on my life…
I think the title says it all, really. This was a perfect book for a tomboy who didn’t much like to read, didn’t like wearing dresses, didn’t love her “dolly” and spent much of each summer in the arms of a big maple tree, hidden from the world behind a veil of sun soaked green leaves. My imagination took flight – I would believe it if someone told me the idea for “green screen” movie technology had been thought up by a person who’d spent his/her time the same way.
“Ender’s Game” by Orson Scott Card
A story that keeps on giving. This book was one of the first science fiction stories I read and I completely bought into the world. I believed these little kids could go to war school and save the world by basically playing video games. That’s a gross simplification. The character of Ender Wiggin is so finely drawn you feel you are this genius, empathetic, unwanted child who is forced to do horrible things to survive. I re-read this book every few years. It’s a classic.
“Washington Square” by Henry James
Yawn. Barf. I studied in Italy for a semester where there was a real dearth of English language books. I picked up a copy of this nauseating story and got through about 4/5s of it before realizing that I just didn’t care. I didn’t care about the heroine. I didn’t care about the villains. I admit to feeling the same way about Jane Eyre and Rebecca and Sister Carrie and ESPECIALLY Madame Bovery. Please, women, grow some damned backbone. <<shudder>> I think it was after this reading mishap that I realized I didn’t need to “read the classics” to feel like a well educated human being. I’d rather enjoy myself than slog through stories where nobody wins or where I think the victory is hollow.
“Lord Richard’s Daughter” by Joan Wolf and a Harlequin Presents by Violet Winspear
Cannot remember the title of the Violet Winspear, but these two stories were the very first romances I ever read. I was on summer vacation in the middle of nowhere Michigan and had read everything in the cottage. I went down to the IGA and in one of those squeaky metal racks that spin around and around, I met my destiny and it said: Thou shalt love romance. And I obeyed. Interestingly to me, I’ve continued to read widely in the genre from historical to Presents to romantic suspense to paranormal. I wonder if I’d bought two Regencies or two Presents whether the road I’ve traveled would be quite so broad and all encompassing? I love thinking about roads not taken. There are always stories there waiting to be uncovered.
“Honor Bound” by…me
Okay, this is a bit of a cheat. It’s not that I think my book will be life changing for others. It’s that it has been life changing for me. It’s the first story I ever completed and it made it to the final round of the Golden Heart. That’s an accomplishment I will always get to savor, regardless of what transpires on July 31st. This crack at finishing the WIP was all about a fantastic critique group, a reinvigorated sense of purpose, and a dedication to putting in the hours to make it to THE END. I’m proud of that.
What are the books that have gotten you through life? Are there any that were so bad you immediately took up your pen and started to write? Any that have been so good you stopped writing for awhile? Do you tend to read more in one genre, more of one gender, more that will generate a specific emotion from you? What’s on your keep shelf?