Interview with Kelly Gay

Good Morning everyone. I'm back from Dragon*Con (more on that in a future post) and I see that something went askew with my scheduled posts. I'll have to reschedule them for another day because today I'd like to welcome our very first guest to the Grave Witch release Blog Party, Kelly Gay.

Kelly and I blog together over at the Magic District and on Fangs, Fur, and Fey, but I'd actually picked up her first book, The Better Part of Darkness, before I joined either group. The second book in the series, The Darkest Edge of Dawn, was just released, and as I absolutely adored the first book, I have the feeling the second will be skipping in line on my TBR pile. I was thrilled to have this opportunity to interview Kelly, so without further ado, let's find out what was said.

I started the interview with a couple in depth questions about the Charlie Madigan series/world:

KALAYNA:Charlie Madigan's world is wonderfully complex with many different 'races' of supernaturals inhabiting it plus two different worlds, Charbydon and Elysia, beyond the human world--Can you tell us a little your initial worldbuilding and how you cast your characters?
KELLY: I really wanted to draw from our ideas of heaven and hell. What if these places really exist and have fueled our imagination, mythologies, and religions for thousands of years. What if the beings from these two places (or dimensions) were the basis of our beliefs in demons, angels, gods, monsters, nymphs, sirens, the fae, etc.? With those questions in mind, it was fairly simple to then construct my world and cast my characters. The way it’s set up, I have a wealth of information and beings to draw from.

KALAYNA: Your protagonist, Charlie, is a single mom of a preteen daughter. While characters with children are not uncommon in many other genres (which Urban Fantasy tends to blend traits from) it is extremely rare in Dark/Urban Fantasy. What drew you to casting Charlie as a mom and writing a story which put a lot of focus on that family tie?
KELLY: Several things drew me at once. I knew I wanted to write about a single mom, and to showcase this in urban fantasy. We have all these great female heroines in the genre and it just struck me, why not? It seemed very natural that someone might have a child. Someone strong, dedicated to her job and her family… I wasn't sure readers would respond to it or not, but I knew I had to try. It seemed wonderfully complex and something very real set within an unreal world.

KALAYNA: The Charlie Madigan series is set in a version of modern day Atlanta (with serious augmentation due to your unique cast of supernaturals). What drew you to Atlanta?
KELLY:I needed a large, hot city, one diverse enough to support the influx of the off-worlders, someplace where they could carve out their own neighborhood. Underground (with some fictional alterations) fit the bill perfectly. And since I live in the south, I wanted to use the knowledge I have of southern culture.

KALAYNA:The universe of the series includes several different worlds. Will Charlie's story ever take her to Charbydon or Elysia?
KELLY: Currently, I’ve been toying with a few scenes where Charlie heads into Charbydon. Since I’m in the rough draft stage, I'm not sure these scenes will stay but, wow, what a dark place! So, definitely not out of the realm of possibility.

KALAYNA:I have to say that I have a little crush on Carreg. Will we be seeing more of him in The Darkest Edge of Dawn?
KELLY: Oh, I have a crush on him, too. ☺ Him and Pendaran, the Druid King, from this second book. Sadly, Carreg does not make an appearance in Book 2. However, we will see him again in the 3rd book!

We then moved on to some more general writing questions:

KALAYNA: Are you a plotter or a 'pantzer'?
KELLY:I’m a combination. Some books I plot, some I pants completely, and some I plot a few chapters, then pants a few chapters. I have no process, LOL. Each book seems to come out of me differently.

KALAYNA: Your second book just hit selves, are you more or less nervous about this one than the first book's release?
KELLY: Definitely more nervous about this one. This was a difficult book for me to write. First time I was writing an unfinished book under contract, first time I had a deadline not my own, first time I continued a book with the same main character, first time I was writing a book while getting reviews and reactions on the first book. I got really bogged down and I put a lot of pressure on myself. Thank God I have a great editor! He was just like, “forget all that and write the kind of story that makes you happy.” Or something like that… ☺

KALAYNA: With a world as complex and intricate as the one you've created for the Charlie Madigan series, how do you keep all your supernaturals straight in your head? Do you have a 'series bible' you've created or do you refer back to previous text? Or something else entirely?
KELLY: I made a series bible after the first book sold, and I’ve yet to refer back to it. I think my world is branded into my brain for the most part. If I do have a question about something, like if I capped a certain word or I can’t remember a street name, I’ll just open the first book and do a search… I’m sure I’ll be referring to my bible at some point the farther I progress with the series.

And we wrapped up the interview with a couple fun questions about Kelly:

KALAYNA: What (or who) drew you to writing Urban Fantasy?
KELLY: Fantasy elements paired with strong women who can take care of themselves. It’s an unbeatable combination.

KALAYNA: Was the Better Part of Darkness your first book or do you have earlier books you hope the world never sees hidden away in a drawer?
KELLY: LOL. Yeah, about six of them!

KALAYNA: What was the last fiction book you read?

KALAYNA: Who is your all time favorite character (yours or anyone else's)?
KELLY: This is so hard to answer! I have to break the rules and name a few. ☺ Lestat, Acheron, Jamie Frasier. (I am noticing a trend, a hot guy type of trend…) One of my favorite heroines is Morgaine from Marion Zimmer Bradley’s THE MISTS OF AVALON.

Thank you so much Kelly for joining me today! I hope everyone had a safe and enjoyable holiday weekend. Happy Tuesday everyone!

Kelly's debut novel, THE BETTER PART OF DARKNESS, was named a 2009 SIBA Okra Pick, a 2010 SIBA Book Award Long List Finalist, and earned Kelly two 2010 RITA nods for Best First Book and Novel with Romantic Elements. She is also a recipient of North Carolina Arts Council’s fellowship grant in Literature. She lives in NC, where she is currently working on the next Charlie Madigan novel as well as a new Young Adult series debuting in Feb. 2011 from Simon Pulse. Learn more about Kelly at


Kelly Gay said…
Thanks for having me, Kaylana! Can't wait for GRAVE WITCH!! :D
Fabulous interview! I absolutely adore this series. I love that Kelly decided to make Charlie a single mom. While reading the second book I found myself sympathizing with her over the difficulties of raising a tween. My son is reaching that stage, and it is hard!
Demon Hunter said…
Yay, Kelly is awesome! Great interview, Kalayna. :-D

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