Margo Kelly

Looking for a gripping YA thriller delving into the tricky area of trust? Margo Kelly has you covered with her books:

  • Who R U Really?
  • Unlocked

Do you have a writing routine? Where and when do you write?

I typically do freelance editing in the morning, then my own writing and revising in the afternoon. My favorite place to write is in my office next to my window, which looks out into my garden full of berries: raspberries, strawberries, and blackberries.

Do you have any patterns or rituals associated with your writing time?

I tend to write the first draft as fast as I can, and then I take my time with revisions. That’s where the magic happens: moving pieces around, fine tuning word choices, increasing emotional tension, and so on.

What do you do when you hit a wall with your writing?

I change my circumstances. I’ll go on a two-week camping trip with no internet access. I’ll dive into a quilting project for a week. I’ll read inspiring nonfiction. I’ll work in the garden or go for a walk. By dabbling in other activities, my mind will reset itself and find solutions to break through that writing wall.

The eternal question: Are you a “pantser”, a “plotter”, or something else entirely?

I have found that creating a story “road map” (not a precisely plotted outline) works best for me. It gives me direction while writing, but is much more flexible than a detailed outline.

What’s the last book you read that made you go “wow!”?

The last book that made me say that was Initial Insult by Mindy McGinnis, however, I must also give a shout out to Breath Like Water by Anna Jarzab. Both were terrific in so many ways!

What book or author do you often find yourself recommending and why?

That depends upon what genres people are interested in, because I read widely. But if you’re a writer, my top recommendations include:

  • BIG MAGIC: Creative Living Beyond Fear by Elizabeth Gilbert
  • The Fire in Fiction by Donald Maass
  • The Elements of Style by Strunk and White
  • Writing YA Fiction for Dummies by Deborah Halverson

What’s on your To Be Read pile?

Tons! But specifically, right now at the top of the list are:

  • Hurricane Summer by Asha Bromfield
  • Tell No Lies by Allison Brennan
  • Danger in Numbers by Heather Graham
  • How to Think Like a Monk by Jay Shetty

What advice do you have for readers?

Read a lot, leave reviews for your favorite authors, request that your local library orders books from your favorite authors, and recommend books to your friends.

What author, past or present, would you wish to have a long conversation with?

Dean Koontz

What’s the first book you can remember reading on your own?

Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O’Dell

What books and/or authors have most influenced you as an author?

Dean Koontz, Donald Maass, Deborah Halverson

What do you most enjoy about being a writer?

I love the challenge of translating the vision in my head to a story on paper that someone else then reads and envisions in their own mind.

What do you least enjoy about being a writer?

Waiting. The traditional publishing process is a slow one, and it requires a lot of patience and perseverance. 

What would you tell a new writer?

If you want to be a writer, you need to write. A lot. Then you need to revise a lot. And you need to read a lot. Throughout the process you need to strive to improve your abilities. Enjoy the journey and savor every moment of success and delight along the way.

Thanks to author Margo Kelly for participating in our Idaho Author Interview series. If you’re interested, or would like to recommend someone, please contact the IWU website editor.

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