Who hasn’t spent this last year falling in love with Amira, Dragan and Aaron? Or maybe you got drawn into Alex’s world In Search of Grace?
Meet their creator, YATR Literary Awards Nominee – 2013 Favorite Author, Kelly Ilebode
This rural Maine woman comes from a large family, and is the seventh child of ten siblings. At the very young age of five, life threw her a curve ball. She was separated from her family. All of her siblings except for three were sent to foster homes including her. The day after she graduated from High School at the age eighteen, she hopped on a Greyhound bus headed to Boston, Massachusetts and never looked back. She worked her way up from being a Nanny, to a receptionist to slowly climbing the corporate ladder.
Kelly Ilebode’s life story is a story unto itself, and some parts of her past are not ready to be shared, yet …
Today, in addition to working full-time, Kelly Ilebode is also a Self-Published Author, and has successfully accomplished to write five publications in less than 18 months. In this interview we get to take a closer look at her inner workings as I ask questions about what inspires her to write these soul full, imaginative and wonderful stories.
Anita: How did you discover writing or did it find you?
Kelly: Writing definitely found me, and quite honestly the second I learned to write I wrote and wrote and wrote. The “real” writing started when I was nine. My foster-mother gave me a note pad, and I filled the pages. Several days later, I asked for another one. After reprimanding me, for wasting paper, I quietly handed her my filled notepad. I remember her reading the whole pad in one sitting, and just as quietly handed me another one. The notepads eventually turned into journals filled to the brim with poetry and short stories. I never thought of writing as a career, just something I did when I needed to release what ever was building up inside of me.
Anita: What inspires you to write?
Kelly: I have no earthly idea. My latest novel, was supposed to be a sweet romance story, but the moment I sat down and started typing, it has taken quite the turn, that even I cannot wait to find out what happens next. What I do know for sure, is that when I do not write, I feel something building inside of me that is not necessarily good. (Hard to explain.) Sometimes I wake up at 3:00 am (that happened a lot when I wrote Kelly and the Angel.) I could not go back to sleep, until I wrote what ever it was that needed to come out. The next day, I was always surprised when the words made sense and fit into the book.
Anita: Our first project together was The Birth of the Sparrow from the Kelly and the Angel series. Being that Kelly is a modern-day prophet, and is someone who sees the future while in a trance. We are curious and all want to know if the main character Kelly is based on you?
Kelly: Yes and no. Kelly, absolutely, looks nothing like me, her personality is part of who I used to be but I am not a seer or prophet. That being said, I have had some uniquely strange (and what I think were spiritual) things happen in my lifetime that I cannot discredit. To give a quick example, there was one particular event that happened in my life that was quite horrifying, and after years of the life I had already lived, I was tired and I was only fourteen. I was all alone on a dirt road walking back to my foster home, and talking to myself asking what was the point in this life if all it was pain and abuse. One moment I was alone, the next I wasn’t. The stranger, a man, walked beside me, said my name, and told me not to give up hope. That my life had purpose and meaning and I was important. As we reached the top of the hill in the road, he was no longer with me, but I was a different person. I had hope again and to this day (over 30 years later) I remember him clearly: his features, his smile, his voice and especially his eyes. Years later I opened a gift shop and called it Kelly and the Angel after that brief moment in time. When I wrote the Birth of the Sparrow, I named it the same as an homage to “him”.
Anita: For your other books, what inspires you in the creation of your characters and their traits? Do you model these after your friends? Relatives? Fantasies?
Kelly: In Search of Grace, the characters were definitely written with specific people and events in mind. Alex was very much modeled after me; the fear, events etc., more truth then I think I would even care to admit. She was someone who was broken and her way of dealing with her life was reinvent a new life and name. To have to face what you truly are can be terrifying, indeed, but in the end, the truth ultimately sets her free. Charles was a real friend of mine that passed away and Seth is pure yummy imagination. Manor at Echo Lake Series, those books pretty much wrote themselves.
Dragan’s Redemption was written in four weeks, and was an out-of-body experience for me. I would sit and my fingers literally flew over the keyboards as his journey came to life. There were moments writing, tears would come to my eyes. It was a very humbling experience and I really felt blessed.
With Kelly and the Angel, the Birth of the Sparrow, I paid tribute to some friends past and present. (To give you a quick example, there is a real restaurant called Two Paisan’s in Malden and the owner’s name really is Carl.) In the next book, The Flight of the Sparrow, I already have other friends that I will be incorporating into the series. It is so much fun!
Anita: The Manor at the Echo Lake trilogy to me is a fresh take on the vampire romance novels. Although there are some rather hot and steamy sex scenes, I found the storyline with paranormal beings both angels and demons, quite intriguing. What I find incredibly admirable about you is that you have this ability to write stories after stories and they are all so different. How do you do it?
Kelly: I have always had an incredibly active imagination, and combined with the fact that I also believe that there is so much more to this world and the next that we do not know about does not hurt. Religion fascinates me, and I have self-studied many of them without getting any real answers, only more questions. Therefore, I try to make my stories, where people walk away and ask questions themselves. This book series (for me) was never really about a family of vampires but more a mirror that reflects back of who we are and the many choices we make in life and ultimately living with the consequences of those decisions. As a side note, Amira’s Protein C deficiency runs in my family and some of my siblings carry or actually have this trait.
Anita: What is it like receiving fan mail and what do your fans write to you about?
Kelly: I LOVE my fans, and I love getting emails. Still, to this day, one of my favorites was from a gentlemen from the mid-west. It was short and sweet – “Hi I really liked In Search of Grace. Too much sex for me, but the story was great. Are you writing any more books?” Sincerely Greg. I still smile over that one.
To date, I have received emails on every book. In Search of Grace, woman seemed to fall in love with Seth, and many have asked if he is based on someone real. Sadly I have had to tell them no. For the Manor at Echo Lake’s Aaron’s Revenge I got the most angry emails because of the ending. I think I shocked more than a few people. (Can’t say more or I will spoil it for those that have not read it). I look at emails this way. If someone sits down, takes the time to send me a note, then they are emotional vested one way or another. How can I not appreciate their words!
Because my stories are varied, the emails vary with each one. I do not change my writing style because of emails or reviews, but I think I would be remiss if I didn’t pay attention in regards to the good and bad comments. Many of my books do tend to have graphic lovemaking in them. I find the majority of fans do not mind, some have. So, for the readers that like my books, I am trying something new, where on the front covers, if there is a flame, that tells them in advance that there is a bit of spicy romance going on somewhere between the pages. If it does not have a flame, there is no graphic lovemaking scenes. This at least allows the readers to make an informed purchase.
Anita: Please tell us a little bit about In Search of Grace?
Kelly: In Search of Grace was my very first published novel. It is the one book that I constantly have the feeling that there was more that could be said and I may go back one day and rewrite. Emotionally it was the most cathartic for me personally on so many levels. In Search of Grace is about a young woman named Alex, that leaves her past completely behind in an attempt to run away from it only to find that her past never left her. It is her journey on rediscovering her own truth of who she is and how strong she really is.
Anita: Do you have any unusual writing habits, rituals?
Kelly: Not sure if it is unusual, but I am a laptop writer and I have a writing playlist that I listen to as I write. Right now, my favorite singers are the Gregorian Monks and it is freaking my children out.
Anita: Which authors would you say have influenced you?
Kelly: Stephen King for sure! Every writer should read – Stephen King Book On Writing – A Memoir of the craft.
Nora Roberts , Oh I have such a long list!
Anita: When you are not busy writing awesome stories, what do you enjoy doing?
Kelly: We are a huge sports family and every season has its sport. Currently all three of my kids are playing basketball, so I am enjoying watching them all play. My big downtown moments are few and far between, but I love it when I can catch up on my DVR recordings or reading.
Anita: What is something most people don’t know about you?
Kelly: I hate taking left turns if there is no traffic light. Do not ask me why, because I have not figured that out yet.
Anita: For all the young and new aspiring writers out there, what is something you wish you knew back when you first started out?
Kelly: Write everyday and stop making excuses. The more you write, the better you will get. When you don’t feel like writing read!!! Also, don’t let years pass you before you start publishing. I sent out over one hundred query letters and the few times I did hear back, they were all rejections. I did not publish my first work until a year and a half ago. I am forty-six now. I did not self-publish because of fear of rejection. I have achieved a certain level of success, which makes me proud but it does lead me to wonder where I would be if I published years ago.
Anita: As a successful self-published author, what advice can you give the SPA community, what is the one or two things you think is a must do?
- Write for yourself and no one else, everyday and never write to become famous or for the money.
- Hire an editor and a graphic designer or cover designer. I skimped on these two things and it almost killed me in reviews and branding. The second I started having my books edited the sales and the bad editing reviews stopped. The sales for my latest book, Kelly and the Angel, are so much better right from the start; I believe that is attributed in part to my cover looking professional.
Anita: What is the most encouraging thing anyone has ever told you about your writing?
Kelly: There were two things actually that have always stayed in my head. The first one was when I showed someone a short story and she cried right in front of me as she read it and when she handed it back to me, she simple said “That was beautiful.” This was encouraging to me, because I was able to form the words on paper that allowed someone to feel what I felt and those words caused a very real emotion.
The other was when I couldn’t seem to press the button to send off my manuscript to Amazon because fear was holding me back. I was Facebook messaging a friend of mine in Maine, and he simply said “what is the worse that could happen, you could press the button and succeed or fail, which still had to be determined OR I could not press the button and regret it my whole life.” I pressed the button.
Anita: You have five published works, what are you working on next?
Kelly: I am currently working on the Turning Point. This novel is based in Maine and revolves around Ashton and Holly. This is slated to be released the end of March 2014.
Kelly and the Angel, The Rise of the Sparrow brings back Kelly and Michael, in addition to even more characters and is slated to be released June 1, 2014.
You can find Kelly Ilebode’s books at:
In Search of Grace (Amazon Kindle/Kobo/Nook/Smashwords)
Dragan’s Redemption – The Manor At Echo Lake Trilogy (Book 1) (Amazon Kindle/Kobo/Nook/Smashwords)
Aaron’s Revenge – The Manor At Echo Lake Trilogy (Book 2) (Amazon Kindle/Kobo/Nook/Smashwords)
You can learn more about Kelly and connect with her:
Learn more about Anita:
Anita is an YATR Literary Awards Nominee – 2013 Favorite Cover Designer & Cover Design
Anita’s work has been featured in the KOBO Writing Life, Anneli’s Place, Monadnock Living Magazine, Amherst Citizen, The Milford Cabinet, and The Union Leader.
Anita B. Carroll is a visual design consultant and owner of Race-Point.com, supporting self-published authors and publishing houses with all their business brand identity design needs, and offers a FRESH take on book cover design. Anita has over 17 years of experience within the visual design field, starting out managing creative initiatives for both online and print publications, for Fortune 500 Businesses in Silicon Valley, California. Experience applying brand visual design and content guidelines consistently across several products. Anita is specialized in Heuristic Evaluation, Web User Interface Design with focus on online usability testing, a valuable skill when designing book covers for the rapidly growing digital market. Anita is also an avid reader. Discovering book cover design has provided the opportunity to combine her works in photography and graphic design skills.
Over the past 17 years, Anita has gained experience in both the United States and Norway, and is currently working out of her home studio in New England—US, where she works with clients from around the world.
Anita is also an avid photographer and a Lampwork Glass Artist, and her works have been displayed at various galleries throughout the years.
In her free time, she enjoys traveling and exploring what Mother Nature has to offer with her family. … You might spot her at one of the U. S. Cape beaches, biking the National Sea Shore trails, photographing the gorgeous coastline, as well as capturing beautiful moments through beach portrait photography.
Anita enjoys connecting with self-published authors of any genre, so please feel free to contact her directly at: firstname.lastname@example.org with any cover design questions and needs.