Interview with Kelli Jae Baeli

What's the story behind your latest book?
I just blogged this pretty thoroughly. http://jaebaeli.com/blog/2013/12/20/hybridmethodology/
What motivated you to become an indie author?
I like having creative and technical control over my work--I hate most cover art, for example, that publishers use, and it makes me very uncomfortable to end up with a cover that's not to my liking; I like making 80% royalties instead of, say, 15%. I guess I don't like anyone else telling me what to write, how to write it. I write what I feel needs to be written, or I am interested in or enjoy, so having some entity controlling these things is a repugnant idea to me. It's also too hard to get work published with major houses, and the process becomes prohibitively expensive--and I don't feel it makes sense to let work languish in a drawer, gathering dust, when the whole point is to get your work into the hands of readers. The readers, after all, should decide whether or not a work has merit, not some publishing person who doesn't know me or my work.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
The greatest joy, which I talked about in a recent blog post, is when the characters take over and tell you their story, and you have this flow that is a process of discovery and enjoyment; much the same experience a reader has.
What do your fans mean to you?
They are half the reason I write; the other half is to please myself, as I am compelled to write.
What are you working on next?
The new one already has a title: Rain Falls (it’s the name of the town in which the story is set).

I decided I wanted to write a lesfic romance, so I made a few decisions. This book would be brand new–

>characters from scratch, not based on anyone specific I knew,
>no pre-plotted storyline other than a basic premise,
>keep it character-driven and not rooted in the intricacies of cross-plotting and factual data present in my detective/mystery books, and
> I would try once again to let the muse take me, as it had in AKA Sleepy Cat Peak.

At first, I spent days trying to come up with a premise. *Holy crap,* I thought. *Of course it’s all been done before, a hundred times. Especially in the romance genre.* I thought of how popular lesfic romances are, but how I’ve resisted writing one, for the reason I just mentioned: I didn’t feel I could find anything new to say within a restrictive formula like that… And then I thought *what if a lesbian writer is trying to write a romance, and she doesn’t really want to?*

From there, the story blossomed, and it seemed, not from my head, but from these characters who suddenly appeared and began dictating their stories to me–they even gave me their names right out of the ether: India Bell and Tegan Lowry… They woke me in the middle of the night, forcing me to thumb dialogue into my iPhone. They were already talking to me. I knew I was on to something. This story had muscle from the minute I started typing. The characters were clamoring to have their stories told.

It’s been coming out vibrant, funny, intriguing, and I was mesmerized with its power to keep me at the keyboard well-past what was healthy. One day I even wrote over 8,000 words, and was still typing, when I couldn’t even see the screen and was making ten typos per line. I finally forced myself to stop, mid-sentence, and collapsed into bed.

That kind of animation in characters and story is the sort of thing a writer dreams of. It doesn’t even matter that it’s exhausting. It’s also exhilarating, even though the two conditions seem contradictory.
Who are your favorite authors?
Kate Genet, Dean Koontz, Edgar Rice Burroughs, Edgar Allen Poe, Darian North, Laramie Dunaway, Michael Stark, James Patterson's Maximum Ride series, Earth Angel by Raymond Obstfeld, and anyone else whose work seems compelling and well-written--have recently enjoyed Dead Simple by Peter James, J.K Rowling's Casual Vacancy, books by Jonathan Tropper, Michael Robotham, Nelson DeMille, Jenny "The Bloggess" Lawson, and her memoir, Let's Pretend This Never Happened.
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
Skyping with my wife, Kate Genet; researching online, reading, walking, watching TV, marketing my books, blogging, Facebooking
Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?
Not sure it was the first, but i wrote a short story that was of course cheesy and melodramatic, called Step-Father Spells Trouble when I was a pre-teen--about a girl who runs away on her horse and finds a cave to live in. (My sensitive, anti-social nature coming through, perhaps). LOL. Later, my first "Novel" was written when I was around 16, called Never, Nicole. I wrote it in one of those ledger books and it got passed around in study hall at school. I thoroughly enjoyed this aspect of having fans begging me for the next chapter. I made other attempts as I got older, Like The Ghost of Archibald Winkleheim the Third, and a romance novel I can't recall the name of, but my first serious novel as an adult was As You Were, which was shelved halfway through, as i expanded the short story that became Armchair Detective (and which has now resulted in my AKA Investigations series).
What is your writing process?
My partner, Kate Genet, and I discussed that recently (she is also an author). For her, the story’s the thing. She has a story concept usually and then asks herself what sort of character would fit that story. I, on the other hand, usually begin with a character and ask what might happen to a person like that? And then we proceed with our methodologies, which are also quite different as I’ve mentioned. I also do most of my initial writing in the form of dialogue between characters, so they can tell me the story– another example of my stories being character-driven. She’s a Pantser and I’m a planner. She writes in a flowing, start-to-finish way, and I tend to piece things together like a quilt, going back and forth and adding bits, and moving them around and finding correlations and patterns, until everything fits together. She says that seems a really complicated way to do it, but I said I didn’t know any other way. But I wanted to see if I could at least relax my methodology enough to make the process more enjoyable, as I was getting just a little jealous that she was enjoying her writing more than I was enjoying mine. So recently, my methodology has changed into a hybrid of what she does and what I used to do, and it seems to be working well. I wrote the last book in 3 weeks, and the current one seems to be moving just as fast. And more importantly, I'm enjoying this process more. {My blog is a good place to learn more than you probably want to know about me, my process, and my books}
How do you approach cover design?
I always have to know what the major themes and motifs are in the book, before I even start thinking about the cover. I want to echo those elements on the cover, while also creating some visual interest in the story. Just as the title and content of the book is important, so is the cover--it's the first thing a reader sees, usually, and often, they make a decision about whether or not to buy it based on that cover. I am always careful to make my covers look professional--I have seen so many Indie authors whose covers are atrocious--like something from a dime-store pulp novel, or else just ugly and plain with no style whatsoever. The fonts on the cover and the arrangement and tone of the images are crucial, and it's an enjoyable process for me, though sometimes challenging. So I approach cover design with those things in mind. I use Photoshop Elements currently to create my covers.
What is your e-reading device of choice?
Nook Color. Though i do have a simple Kindle for checking my books' display on.
Published 2013-12-19.
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