Meet the Author: Kelly Blanchard
How is your weekend going? Good I hope.
Guess what time it is? It’s time for another author interview! I hope you’re as excited as I am. 🙂
This time around I’m having a digital sit-down with Kelly Blanchard, author of the Chronicles of Lorrek series and lover of all things fantasy and scifi.
Kelly and I connected on a Facebook Writing group that we’re both a part of, and I couldn’t resist making another author friend!
Known as the Muse in the writing community, Kelly Blanchard was born in
Texas but lives in Florida with her husband, who is often the one who tries to saves
characters lives by persuading Kelly not to kill them. How successful he is–that’s up for debate.
Although stories have always been a major part of her life, Kelly only began writing
seriously when she was twelve. She focused on honing her skills and finding her writing
style. Later, she attended a community college, studying English. As she earned her
degree, she worked as a tutor and a teaching assistant, learning teaching techniques
along the way. These days, she uses those techniques as she mentors aspiring writers
and encourages them along their way.
Kelly is a huge fantasy fan but also loves science fiction. She has created a massive
universe with several series already written and many more planned to write–all in the
same universe with familiar characters, and everything is connected. She enjoys the
challenge of seeing what exactly happens when you pit medieval magic against high
technology, and she seeks to fully explore the shades of gray in all her characters–good
and bad. It’s quite an adventure for sure.
Hi Kelly, thanks so much for stopping by. To keep things interesting, I like to ask my interviewees random questions to get the blood flowing. Here are yours!
In a strange twist of fate, you inherit a vast fortune from an unknown relative that has recently passed. What do you do with the money?
Kelly: I would open a bookstore and create this vast community for creatives.
Jonny: Oh wow, that’s such a great idea. I’m glad you would give back to the community with it. That’s very sweet of you and I absolutely love bookstores, so I’d be buying books out the wazoo, especially for a good cause.
A spaceship comes crashing out of the sky into your backyard. As a last act of kindness, the alien is willing to bestow upon you any power you choose. What is your decision?
Kelly: Hmm, I think I’d have to choose teleportation because that would be sooo handy these days!
Jonny: You have a great point with this choice. Teleportation not only makes you nearly untouchable in a crisis, but you’d also get to vacation anywhere you want, whenever you want. Sign me up!
Kelly and the Writing Process
For starters, tell us a little bit about your writing.
Kelly: My series, The Chronicles of Lorrek, is a blend of fantasy and science fiction. There are medieval setting with magic, and then there are high tech lands with skyscrapers and flying cars. Sorcerers, assassins, dragons, space ships—all that good stuff. It’s a lot of fun!
The series follows Sorcerer Prince Lorrek as he tries to help those in need, protect those he cares about, and do the right thing, but the problem is that bad things keep happening that he can’t prevent. He keeps getting blamed for all the unfortunate things that happen because people think, “You are so powerful. Shouldn’t you be able to stop bad things from happening?” So Lorrek has to deal with being blamed a lot as he balances the thin line between good and evil.
Jonny: Wow, this sounds really exciting. I like how it’s a blend of scifi and fantasy. You usually get one or the other in a series. I’m definitely putting this on my TBR!
How do you find inspiration to write?
Kelly: I think the initial inspiration came from watching the Thor movies. I liked Loki, but he was technically the bad guy, so I ask myself, “What if he’s actually a good guy but just misunderstood?” Lorrek has a lot of Loki’s behavior and attitude although he isn’t a norse god or anything.
Jonny: That’s a very unique inspiration. I’ve always loved comics (don’t even get me started on how much I love X-Men!), but I can’t say I ever got a story idea from them. Loki is quite an interesting character though, so I can see why he inspired you. Plus, he’s pretty darn handsome!
What kind of setting do you write in most times?
Kelly: My cats usually wake me up at 3am or 6am, and if I can’t go back to sleep, I just grab my laptop and write. If I don’t wake up that early, I still try to get my writing done first thing in the morning so I can deal with whatever life might throw at me that day.
Jonny: Ooo, another cat person! Hello, fellow cat lover! My cat Ajax wakes me up around 4:30 on the dot every morning and usually he’ll meow at me until I grumble and get up.
That’s a very smart idea to start the day going strong. I write at different times in the day. I start in the morning also, then do a bit around lunchtime, then in the evening one more time.
I always find it interesting how authors and bloggers alike lead multiple lives. What is your dayjob? Do you enjoy it?
Kelly: I am mainly a full-time writer, but I do virtual assistant work on occasion.
Jonny: Oh my gosh, I am so jealous! I do finance work for a day job, and it can be very taxing on the ole noggin. I would love to be a librarian, and actually I recently decided to go to grad school to do just that. Never too late to change your fate, right?
As a writer, what kind of goals do you set for yourself? How do you achieve them?
Kelly: There are many goals such as how many books to release in a year and so forth, but the main goal I focus on is my daily writing goal. I aim to write at least 2k words a day. If the day is insane, I will have to break that up into multiple writing sessions, but usually I just knock it all out first thing in the morning.
Jonny: I like that you just keep focused on the word count, and that’s a very healthy amount of writing to do each day. I usually base my goals between time and word count as well, time mainly because mine can get very limited. I’m hoping that one day I’ll have a lot more time to devote to writing, but that hasn’t happened yet. Come on retirement!
How long have you been writing?
Kelly: About 21 years
Jonny: Nice! I’ve been writing most of my life as well, but the past 8 years have been the real turn around to where I am today.
Why do you write?
Kelly: Because I can’t ‘not’ write. Stories are a part of me. Writing is my outlet. Stories are my escape, and I have so many stories I want to share with the world.
Jonny: I feel you there. Ever since I moved to Kansas City 8 years ago, I had this fiendish need to write and explore worlds of my own making. There’s nothing like it, and I can’t imagine my life without it. I’m an escapist by nature as well, so it’s a great fit.
What is your favorite part of writing?
Kelly: So many different parts! It really depends on what I am working on, but I think it’s the initial brainstorming session I do with my husband when discussing a brand new story idea. It’s exciting to see how things I’ve already written may come into play and the potential the new story has!
Jonny: Ah, you stole my answer! The beginning phase of writing is usually my favorite. Getting a rush of inspiration and fleshing out a new idea just feels so amazing, and I love seeing how a story evolves from my base ideas.
What genre is your favorite to write in? Why?
Kelly: Fantasy. Why? Because I can make up a bunch of stuff! Lol! Also, magic! Who doesn’t like magic
Jonny: Lol, I mean, making up stuff is the best part! Why have a normal world when you can have one filled with magic or terror or both? My go to’s are fantasy or horror. I almost always tend to instill an element of horror or at least creepiness into my works.
Are you working on any projects at the moment?
Kelly: While the ninth book of my Chronicles of Lorrek series comes out soon, I am currently co-writing with my husband a series in the same universe that takes place a year after the Chronicles of Lorrek.
Jonny: Yay for new releases! Congrats friend. Every release is a victory worth celebrating.
Oh wow, that’s awesome. I’ve never collaborated with anyone on a writing project before, but I’m sure it’s a fun experience. I’ll have to try that someday!
What first inspired you to start writing?
Kelly: I’m not exactly sure. Stories have been a part of my life for as long as I can remember. Before I could really write, I would draw stick figures with dialogue bubbles to convey the story. When I learned how to write paragraphs and use quotation marks, I just took off.
Jonny: I’m the same way. I was in this special writing class in elementary school, and I remember my first story was about a school sleepover with me and my friends and we discovered that there were people in the walls. From there I just kept writing.
If you could give advice to new writers, what would you say?
Kelly: Don’t compare yourself to others. I know this is easier said than done, but if you look at a writer and see them being successful and you discouraged, remember, you are only seeing a part of their journey! You don’t know how long it took them to get to where they are today or what all they had to go through to get there. They may have twenty years of experience, and you may just be starting off. So, focus on what you need to do strengthen your writing skills, and just keep on going. One day, you will be that writer that you look up to.
Jonny: That’s some great advice! Everyone looks up to certain authors and compare themselves to them, hoping for some semblance of their successes, but it’s more important to focus on and be true to yourself.
For me I would say keep writing! Never stop. Sure, you can take a day off here and there as life will happen, but be vigilant and establish a routine that works for you.
What do you find most challenging about writing?
Kelly: Honestly, it’s not so much the writing as it is the marketing! But I’m getting a handle on that a bit.
Jonny: Yeah, I’ve been coming to terms with marketing stuff lately as well. Over the past year or so, I’ve gotten a lot better with exposure but marketing my works specifically I could do a bit better.
When did you first consider yourself a writer?
Kelly: When I first began writing, I considered myself a writer, but when I first published my first book, that is when I considered myself as an author.
Jonny: Ditto! For me, becoming an author was such a huge step. I was finally sharing my stories with the world!
Describe your writing style.
Kelly: It is very cinematic, very vivid with lots of visuals. Readers have compared it to the MCU but without superheroes.
Jonny: Yes, I’m all about the visuals! I’ve seriously got to check this series of yours out then.
I would say my style leans more towards YA. I also like to use a lot of visuals but tend to be pretty straight and to the point, so not a lot of purple prose. That being said, I do have moments where I’ll read certain passages of mine and be like “Huh, that metaphor’s actually kinda beautiful.”
Not including family, who supported your efforts to become a published author?
Kelly: I have a really amazing online community that supports my efforts. They’ve been with me the entire way!
Jonny: Yes! The online community is so great, and there are a ton of avenues to explore. I started out on Scribophile, so most of my author besties are from there, but with time I’ve been branching out and finding new talented writers from all over the place.
Who was your first publisher and what did you learn from them?
Kelly: I self-published initially, but then my work caught the attention of Fallbrandt Press, so they approached me. It took me a while before I agreed to go with them just because I was used to doing everything myself, but I am very happy with Fallbrandt Press.
Jonny: I’m glad to hear you’re happily published. It can be really tough finding the right publisher for you. Right now I’m self-published, but I plan on publishing traditionally with select projects. Sometimes it’s nice to have that extra support and not have to do everything yourself.
How many books have you written? Which is your favorite? How many books in total?
Kelly: Over twenty-two. Four were historical fiction books—three of which I published but then decided I didn’t like historical fiction that much, so I unpublished them. Nine are the Chronicles of Lorrek. Five are another series that will be published after the Chronicles of Lorrek. Three are a trilogy that will be published after that series. And one is the first book of the series my husband and I are currently writing. Other than that, there are many other books I’ve written but will never publish.
As for my favorite, oh, I can’t say! I don’t really have any favorites because all of them are so unique from one another and was such a great adventure to write.
Jonny: Wow, what an accomplishment! Congratulations! Yeah, it’s hard to pick a favorite when they all have their own strengths.
My favorite up to this point is my first unpublished manuscript that I hope to publish traditionally called The Gifted Chronicles, but I’m definitely biased since that was my first completed novel.
What do you think makes a good story?
Kelly: Realistic characters and conflict. Personally, I like to try to imagine what the readers might think while they are reading and have my characters think the same thing so the readers feel as if they are on the same page as the characters, and it makes things all the more interesting.
Jonny: Oh, most definitely! Without conflict there’s not really a book, is there?
I think for me, realistic characters, a great first page (it’s gotta grab me), and a crazy insane plot are all big pros for me.
How do you select the names of your characters?
Kelly: Sometimes the characters just tell me their names. Other times I use name generators online. Sometimes I just throw letters together until something looks good.
Jonny: I’m the same way. Sometimes it just comes to me. Other times I have to work hard at it and make a list.
Do you read your book reviews? How do you deal with bad or good ones?
Kelly: I don’t read the reviews. I just keep on writing.
Jonny: I think that’s a healthy choice. I do read reviews, but less and less frequently. At most I’ll like the reviews and move on.
Did you ever consider writing under a pseudonym?
Kelly: For my historical fiction, I did use a pseudonym. Then, when I published my current series, I used my name. And THEN I got married and changed my legal name, so now my published name is basically an accidental pseudonym.
Jonny: Omg that’s awesome! Accidental pseudonym, haha! My name’s pretty unique already so I never really give much thought to using a pseudonym myself, though I get the appeal that people have towards it.
Describe yourself in three words.
Kelly: Creative, encouraging, and kind
Jonny: Nice! For me I would say, fun-loving, creative, and optimistic.
Fun Facts About Kelly
Could you tell us a couple fun facts about you?
Kelly: I learned fencing (swordfighting), Martial Arts, archery, and guns all for the sake of writing good fight scenes. I still very much enjoy fencing!
Jonny: Oh wow, now that’s commitment! I’m super impressed. I’ve always wanted to learn archery. I took a class at camp in fifth grade but never really got around to learning it after that.
Hmm let’s see, I can sing pretty well. I was in choir from middle school through college, usually in some variation of show choir. Being super isolated with recent events, I tend to sing and dance around my apartment spastically while my cat glowers at me thinking “Oh, not this again.” I just can’t help myself!
Pancakes or waffles?
Kelly: Neither really, but if I had to choose, I’d say pancakes.
Jonny: Yeah, I’m not huge on breakfast unless it’s meat and potatoes kinda stuff. Though I will say I’m a waffle guy, especially chicken and waffles. Yum!
What’s your favorite place that you’ve travelled to?
Kelly: I don’t travel that much, but exploring Robbers’ Cave in Oklahoma was a lot of fun!
Jonny: Oh, I’ve never heard of that before. I’ll have to look it up! I’m big on travel, but the past few years I’ve focused on smaller cities since they’re less chaotic than metro areas. My favorite small city so far was probably Hermann, MO. Quaint, cute, and quiet.
Are pineapples on pizza blasphemy or no?
Kelly: I prefer pizza without pineapples
Jonny: Yeah, I’m adventurous with pizza, but the mix of pineapples with the savory kinda makes me cringe.
If you had to choose one type of food to eat for the rest of your life, what would it be?
Kelly: Chicken. Sure, I love steak, but there is a lot I can do with chicken.
Jonny: That’s true, it’s super versatile. I’d choose anything asian (usually with chicken). It’s my usual go to, and as a matter of fact, I just finished some leftovers from yesterday. I plead the fifth!
If you could choose to be any supernatural creature, what would you be and why?
Kelly: Well, my online community already calls me the Muse because I try to be encouraging and inspiring, so…but otherwise, a dragon because you can’t go wrong with a dragon!
Jonny: Oh, I love that! Muses are very interesting creatures in mythology.
Today I would pick something elf-like or anything kind of creature that roams in the woods, threading magic as I frolic around.
If you could meet anyone who ever lived, past or present, who would that be?
Kelly: King Baldwin IV of Latin Jerusalem during the Crusades. He was actually the main character in my historical fiction series and is still a very fascinating person that history has largely forgotten.
Jonny: Oh wow, I have no idea who that is, although I will say I’m terrible with names. This just proves your point even more!
Hmm, I’ll choose Amelia Earhart this time. I always loved looking up her history, and I’d love to hear her tales of exploration while we lounge around in a library or something.
What kind of music touches your soul?
Kelly: Piano music. Just soothing!
Jonny: Can’t fight you on that one!
For me it’s simply anything ambient, which can definitely include piano. Music without words can create worlds and soundscapes in themselves, and I more often than not listen to that nowadays over all other types of music. My mind needs to be transported constantly.
Marvel or DC?
Kelly: Marvel all the way.
Jonny: *fist pump* Yeah, me too! I have X-Men digital art on my bedroom walls, a couple figurines on my shelves, and plenty of old comics in my closet. Marvel was my go-to when I was growing up in the 90’s.
What is your favorite genre to read?
Jonny: Hmm, I’d have to say it’s a tie between Horror and Fantasy for me.
If you could take a vacation anywhere, where would you go?
Kelly: Hmm, probably Iceland!
Jonny: Ooo, I’ve never been there, but I’ve heard there are some extremely beautiful spots to check out.
For me, I’ll pick Canada. I know it’s vague, but a lot of my recent author friends and favorites actually live there, so I wanna meet them and say hello! I’ve also dreamed of leaving the states and living there for the past decade or so.
Star Wars or Star Trek? OR Doctor Who?
Kelly: Star Wars
Jonny: Pew pew! I love them all honestly, but I was raised with Star Trek TNG and can always rewatch with fascination like it’s my first time, so I’ll have to go with Star Trek.
How would you conquer the world?
Kelly: With cats and funny memes.
Jonny: OMG, yes! I can see it now. The adorableness would be palpable! I’m not even going to try to beat you on that one.
What did you read as a kid? What stuck with you the most?
Kelly: I don’t remember what all I read, but I do remember reading the whole Chronicles of Narnia series in three days.
Jonny: Yeah, me either. I know I picked up a lot of stuff, but most of it I can’t remember. Ooo, I love the Chronicles of Narnia! Great choice.
For me the main ones I remember are Animorphs and Goosebumps. I’m currently reading Animorphs and might move on to Goosebumps after that.
What has been your most bizarre life experience?
Kelly: I don’t think my life is that interested! But I purchased a book once and found an old, unused plane ticket and a receipt for the book in it in the back sleeve of the book. I always wondered what happened to the person who owned the ticket and if he ever got to where he was trying to go.
Jonny: Oh wow, that’s quite an odd experience. Yeah, hopefully they weren’t relying too much on that ticket, haha!
From time to time, I’ll have dreams that will come true (deja vu or whatever you’d like to call it). Somehow my vision syncs up perfectly with what I remember in that split second and my whole body just goes prickly with the sensation. The only thing is that every time I try to change what happens I end up saying exactly what I said in the dream. Maybe one of these days I’ll break the chain!
What do you think would be a fitting epitaph on your gravestone.
Kelly: Kelly Blanchard – the Muse who lived among the people and inspired all with her words and kindness.
Jonny: Aww, I love that. Very sweet.
Here’s mine – Jonny’s not here right now. Try looking behind you. (muahahaha!)
If you could be any superhero, who would you be?
Kelly: I’ve always loved Storm.
Jonny: She is definitely a force of nature!
I’d be Iceman. He’s always been my favorite of the X-Men and he’s actually Omega level, so he’s also one of the most powerful.
If you had the chance to live any life you want, what life would that be?
Kelly: Nope. I like my life as it is.
Jonny: I’m glad you like things as they are. 🙂
I’d only want a slight modification so that I have more time to write. Other than that, I can’t really complain all that much.
What would you choose as your mascot/avatar/spirit animal?
Kelly: A cheetah.
Jonny: Anything in the cat family, but probably a black panther. My cat Ajax is a black kitty and they’re so smart and graceful.
If you could tell your younger self anything, what would it be?
Kelly: You’re doing the right thing. Just keep on going. You’ve got this.
Jonny: I really like that. I’d say stop caring what other people think and embrace your true self.
Kelly and Her Works
Tell us about your new book.
Kelly: My newest book is the eighth book in the Chronicles of Lorrek series, ‘You’re Not Alone’.
Lorrek has been on a very long journey, currently traveling through space. He and his friends investigate a string of terrorist attacks on multiple planets, and they discover it is all indicating to something much, much darker, which has severe consequences on Lorrek and many of the characters involved.
Jonny: Oh wow, this sounds so action-packed! Congrats on your accomplishment. I’m sure your readers will just love this installment!
How did you come up with the title for this book?
Kelly: ‘You’re Not Alone’ is the title of the book. Throughout the series, Lorrek has felt very much alone and judged by all those around him. In this particular book, his friends are trying to convince him that he’s not alone and not everything depends on him, and he is slowly beginning to realize that. But then, in the darkness of space, they realize there are unimaginable threats and that they are all not alone.
Jonny: Nice, I like how it works on multiple levels. Very clever!
What inspired you to write this book in particular? Is it part of a series?
Kelly: It’s the eighth book of the Chronicles of Lorrek, and a natural continuation of the series. It’s the second to the last book of the series, and I have known how the series would end, so this book was just natural to write.
Jonny: That’s quite the feat. I’m sure the approach of the end of your series is bittersweet, but I hope you feel fulfilled after your long journey!
What was your favorite part about writing this book?
Kelly: There is this HUGE twist that I have set in motion several books prior that finally comes into play! And I can’t say anything without spoilers, but that was certainly my favorite part of writing the book!
Jonny: I know exactly what you mean. Big reveals and twists can be amazing, and I bet your readers will be shaken to the core!
Do you have a favorite character in your new book? Why are they your favorite?
Kelly: Hard to say because I have so many characters I love. Lorrek is always my favorite because he’s the main character. Vixen, a badass female assassin, has been a fan favorite for a while now, and she’s so much fun to write as well. Rylah is another fun character in the book. She just showed up in Book 7, and she continues in Book 8 as well. She’s fun because she doesn’t put up with anything from Lorrek. She will outright stab him if necessary. Not that that helps Lorrek, but yeah.
Jonny: Haha, all of these characters sound great. I can’t wait to meet them through the pages!
What did you find was the hardest part about writing this book?
Kelly: The space battle scenes. Those are always hard to write.
Jonny: You know, I have yet to write a space battle yet, but I will say the technicality of scifi elements can be very hard to write at times. I’m about to publish a scifi short story, and some of the bits were a bit hard to shape in the right way.
What kind of research went into writing your book?
Kelly: I do as much research as necessary to write it well. I prefer to make up stuff, but if I need to understand some scientific fact or so, I’ll look into it.
Jonny: Right, mixing your own elements with fact can definitely be tough, but I bet your efforts will be rewarded. 🙂
What criteria did you use when selecting the cover for your book?
Kelly: Vivid colors that pop! I’ve been working with my cover designer for a while now, and I just give her a brief description of what I’d love, and she just makes magic happen!
Jonny: Yes, I’m all about the vivid covers, and you’ve got them in spades. I tend to have very specific vision for all my covers thus far, so I can be a little high-strung, but I enjoy working with cover artists. Mario Lampic, the artist for Reaper, took what I said and created the perfect cover in nearly one go.
Was there a message in your book that you were trying to convey?
Kelly: I don’t try to convey any specific message, but a few things people might take from the series is, 1) just because people blame you for things, that doesn’t mean you’re at fault, and 2) just because we don’t agree on some fundamental issues, that doesn’t mean we can’t work together to resolve a bigger problem.
Jonny: I gotcha. I don’t try to convey a message or morals too strongly with my stories. Those are some nice takeaways for your next book.
What other projects do you have in store for the world to see in the future? Anything you can share with us?
Kelly: I have two series already completely written and writing to be published. I am working on a third one right now, and I have about four or five other series planned to write. All the series occur in the same universe, often with familiar characters!
Jonny: Oh holy moly that’s amazing! I can’t wait to see. You’ve got a very bright future ahead of you friend!
Alright Kelly, it looks like our time is up here. Before we go, one more question. Do you have a blog or website readers can visit for updates, events, and special offers?
Kelly: Yes, my website can be found here: www.kellannetta.com, but if you really want to interact with me on a regular basis, you may want to join my FB group, which can be found here: http://www.facebook.com/groups/MusesRealm
Jonny: Awesome, thank you so much for sharing that info with us and stopping by to chat with me!
That’s a Wrap!
All righty book worms, that wraps up my interview with Kelly Blanchard. I had a great time chatting it up with her, and I hope you enjoyed the experience too!
If you’d like to learn more about Kelly and her work, she can be reached at the social media links provided below.
Thank you for stopping by, and have a great day!
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That was a great interview. Ms. Blanchard is humorous and interesting. Speaking of funny, that’s a fab gravestone epitaph, Jonny!
This was a ton of fun. 🙂
Haha, I wanted to do a creepy epitaph. Who knows, maybe thatll be on my real one in the distant future. *evil grin*
Fantastic! Loved it! Fun read. 🤓
Thanks for stopping by Melissa! I had a lot of fun with this one.