Recently, I sat down with Kelly Gay to talk about her new novel, The Darkest Edge of Dawn.
Have you always been interested in fantasy as a genre? Do you have any early inspirations of fantasy writers you especially liked?
Fantasy has always been a part of my creative process. Some of my earliest memories are of my grandmother and mother telling me stories about faraway lands or pointing out places in the woods were fairies made their homes. I was brought up on fantasy and it comes very natural to me. I couldn’t imagine writing without this element. My earliest inspirations were Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, and Mary Stewart.
In fantasy, so much of the landscape is spun out of whole cloth, as it were. Do you use anything from your own life, such as cities you’ve lived in, or is it totally from your imagination?
Oh, most of it is definitely from real life. The landscape of urban fantasy relies heavily on the modern world, on places and cities we all recognize and/or know. The back drop is very real in that sense. And it’s often a case of the paranormal existing in secret within this normal landscape or the paranormal existing out-of-the-closet, in tandem with the world around us. (Think TV shows like TRUE BLOOD, CHARMED, FRINGE, HEROES, or SUPERNATURAL). Most urban fantasy authors set their work in major cities, in modern day times, and with many of the normal things you would recognize. The difference being is that the supernatural exists and intertwines with the normal world.
What is the most enjoyable part of being a writer?
Creating my own mythologies, my own beings, new things readers have never seen before, weaving fantasy elements into the real world…
What is the most frustrating or irritating thing?
I’m not a fan of sitting for long periods of time. And now that I’m writing full time, it’s been a learning process on how to manage my time wisely; schedule things correctly, work from home, and make sure I get enough exercise.
Fantasy fans can be intense. Do you have any great fan stories?
I love the dedication of fantasy fans! I’m still pretty new to the genre, but I’ve had a lot of great experiences through emails, letters, and meeting folks in person.
You mention having had a lot of jobs. Do you think that has fed your writing? Have you ever drawn on a specific job or job moment in your writing?
I have, but not so much in the job details themselves. I draw more from the emotions, the hardships, the relationships, and interactions.
Is there anything about living in North Carolina that you want to talk about regarding the writing life?
Living in NC for almost twenty years has given me a lot of insight into southern culture. Since my Charlie Madigan series is set in Atlanta, this has really enabled me to add authenticity to my cast of characters and the world.
Is there anything specific in this current book that you want to share with ITW readers?
I’d love for ITW readers to give urban fantasy a try. Think of them as supernatural thrillers or action/adventures with some heroes and heroines that can throw-down with the best of them. Urban fantasies can contain mystery, action, adventure, police procedural, and good detective stories. The genre has really grown and I believe you can find something for everyone, as long as you’re into the paranormal aspect.
Finally, what is the most surprising moment you can think of in the writing process (if there is one)?
In the actual writing process, it’s always a great surprise when a character appears that you never planned or someone does something unexpected. I love those moments! And it’s always a surprising moment when someone likes my work. There is the hope that people will like the books, but actually hearing they did – it’s like getting a surprise birthday gift.