Interview with Ophelia Keys

When did you first start writing?
I recently found a notebook with my first novel in it. I think I was in mid primary school, because I could write pretty messily but (finding that a bit cumbersome) I just filled page after page with fake cursive script. And I do mean fake. There are no real letters or words in there. It looked a little bit like pages of little waves. It was pretty long and I've got no idea what it was about, but at least it showed that the drive was there - to fill blank space with little black marks. I wanted to write a novel.
What's the story behind Indigo?
Indigo is set in a house I used to live in. A creepy Victorian terrace that made your skin crawl whenever you were there alone. It's funny how the houses that have strong feelings attached to them seem to stay with you and somehow become your favourites. When I decided to write a gothic fiction set in my home town of Melbourne, Australia, I knew my heroine needed to live in that shabby, creepy, grand old terrace. When I wanted to convey tension or fear, all I had to do was imagine myself back in that house - especially by that little closet under the stairs!
What motivated you to become an indie author?
I've had positive feedback from publishers, but started to realise how narrow the type of novel they look for each year is. They have a limited number of space for new authors and very particular ideas of what kind of length / genre / subject of story they are looking for. You can hardly blame them - big publishers have to defend their choices to a board. I wanted to keep my story just the way it was written and I also decided I wanted to write my next novel as a serial fiction. Self publishing offered a flexible format for me. I put Indigo up on my blog first, week by week, a pretty nerve-wracking exercise (especially when I wasn't sure what the end would be). When it was finished I put it together as a novella and published it on Smashwords. I love that people get to share their writing exactly as they want now. No filters.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
The joy of writing fiction is the joy of sharing imaginary worlds. I loved the intensity of creating worlds with a close friend as a child. Writing is something like that. Putting your heads together and saying 'just say...', and off you go. Only now the reader is my co-creator and they do their part of the creating in private, sometimes months or years after I've put the idea out there. I think this is why authors love to hear other people talk about their characters. Our readers are like our play friends, but we don't always get to hear their side of the story. That doesn't mean it's not a very special creative partnership.
Who are your favorite authors?
I love Victorian writers because they made such detailed imaginary worlds and characters - George Eliot and Dickens especially. I love Ursula Le Guin because she writes bravely and well, and Anne Rice because there's something shameless about her writing - unselfconscious. I love Shakespeare for his sheer gorgeousness and Tolkien for his belief in his amazing fantasy world. The Iliad (Lattimore's translation) is my favourite poem for its beauty, violence and timelessness. I also love reading big chunky collections of classic ghost stories and rereading the YA novels I found in my childhood. It's hard to beat those stories we fell in love with when we were children.
When you're not writing, how do you like to spend your time?
I love to draw and paint, though I'm afraid my art blog has been completely neglected in the last year. Drawing and writing feel very similar to me, a way of making something lovely or important in my mind visible to others. I love spending time with my family. I love riding horses in the beautiful Victorian countryside, but am happy just to lie out in a paddock with them, listening to them chew on the grass (one of the best sounds in the world). I keep meaning to become an excellent guitarist but it shows no sign of happening yet. And since I started in high school - is it ever likely to happen? Doesn't matter - it's just something else to enjoy!
What is your writing process?
I start at a scene in the middle, come back to the beginning and then jump to the end. Then I daydream about my characters more than is healthy and rewrite the whole thing according to my new insights. Then I edit one hundred times. That's how it feels, anyway.
Describe your desk
I don't have a desk. Indigo was mostly written at a cafe in my lunch breaks. The sequel, Hearts Broken, has been written while my baby was sleeping during the day (often in the car) or during the evening, on my lap while the tv hums in the background. I know from past experience that if I had a desk it would be buried in drafts, random books and things I wanted to clear off the dinner table without actually tidying anything. It would be so messy I would never ever write there. A desk is just a surface for me to clutter.
What are you working on next?
More and more of Indigo's story. I'll stop when my daydreams do. I can't wait to share the next two books with readers!
Published 2013-10-03.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.

Books by This Author

The Cause
Price: Free! Words: 2,670. Language: English. Published: May 27, 2013. Categories: Fiction » Science fiction » Short stories
Perhaps he was slashing his way through the grey uniforms. Well, that was his job after all. Only it wasn’t his job. She faltered in her smooth, cat stride. His job had been to protect her father’s interests. Did honour call for her to return and fight beside him? She was confused and she had always been taught that confusion was death. A short story about honour and love.
Indigo
Price: Free! Words: 52,860. Language: English. Published: January 18, 2012. Categories: Fiction » Horror » Ghost
(4.33 from 3 reviews)
Have you ever passed someone on the street, met someone at a party, who just gave you the creeps for no reason? Granted, some of them are just creepy people. But you should be aware that some of them aren’t people at all. This is the first in a paranormal fiction series set in Melbourne, Australia.