L. A. Kelley - Adventure, Humor and a bit of Romance
L.A. Kelley writes fantasy and science fiction. Kelley's stories contain adventure, humor, and a little romance because life is dull without it. The South is home; a place where the heat and humidity have driven everyone slightly mad and Bigfoot sightings are common. As our Author of the Day, Kelley tells us all about The Rules for Lying, the first book in the Big Easy Shaman series.
Please give us a short introduction to what The Rules for Lying is about.
The Rules of Lying is a preachy morality tale of a saintly young man pursuing a noble quest for the betterment of mankind. That’s a big fat lie. Peter Whistler lives in New Jersey at the Little Angels Home for Orphan Boys. Life is rough in the Great Depression, but Peter has an exceptional and mysterious ability to lie. The arrival of a conjuror with wicked designs on a little blind girl named Esther draws him into a nefarious plot to unleash a demon. To escape the conjuror’s clutches, Peter leads Esther and an enchanted terrier on a desperate escape to New Orleans. There he meets Amelie Marchand, but with a murderous stepmother, she has troubles of her own. Their one chance for survival is to seek help in the bayou from a mad shaman known as the Frog King.
What inspired you to set this book in an alternate 1930s New Orleans?
It’s a blast to weave fact and fiction. The Depression was a tough time in American history with drama of its own. Social safety nets didn’t exist. People had to rely on each other, and it was easy for unscrupulous individuals to take advantage of the weak and powerless. It was an era of rapid political change, too. The problems of the rest of the world seemed so far removed from America, but evil spread quickly with a rising Nazi threat. New Orleans is a great place in any decade and throwing magic in the mix with history heightens the fun.
Tell us more about Peter Whistler. What makes him tick?
He’s a tough kid who made it his business not to get involved with others. He has one goal in life—leave New Jersey, use his uncanny ability to lie his way to fame and fortune, and never be responsible for anyone. He has a hidden soft side, though, courtesy of the only person who ever cared for him, Elsie Hart, the owner of Little Angels. When a conjuror threatens Elsie and a little blind girl, he’s spurred to action. My, my, will Peter discover he needs people to care for after all? Stay tuned.
"Like all well-bred southern girls, Amelie Marchand is trained in deadly martial arts." Why did you create her this way?
The great part of writing an alternate history is you get to change facts from true to “Gee, I wish that was true.” Unlike the real 1930s, my New Orleans’ upper crust expects young ladies to follow rules of correct social deportment along with protecting themselves and their families from danger. This is also an equal opportunity era when it comes to magic. Women can be shamans (the good guys) and conjurors (very, very bad guys).
Besides writing, what other secret skills do you have?
I can tell the difference between caffeinated and decaffeinated tea just by peering into a cup and my atonal singing is known to bring grown men to their knees. I’m often slipped a few bucks at parties not to sing Happy Birthday. I don’t mind. Cash is always welcome.
Your characters are weird and live in a different type of world, but you managed to make them relatable. How did you pull this off?
Although the environment is strange, characters should sound real and act logically. Then readers see them as people, not fiction. That’s the only way for them to care what happens in the story. Dropping someone in a bizarrely dangerous situation and dealing with the reaction also allows me to inject humor. I don’t trust anyone without a sense of humor.
Why YA - what drew you to this audience? And why do your older readers also report that they have enjoyed the book immensely?
I don’t like to be pegged as writing for a particular age group. If a book has young adult characters it’s considered YA, but my books strive for a general audience. I don’t use sex or gore in my stories so your mama would approve, but I do add sassy humor so maybe she wouldn’t.
Do any of your characters ever take off on their own tangent, refusing to do what you had planned for them?
Oy, like you wouldn’t believe. They’re annoying. I try to slap them back into a paragraph and behave, but they spit in my eye and escape. All I can do is follow.
This book is part of a series. Can it be read as a standalone? How does the next book in the series tie in with this one?
This can easily be read as a standalone. I hate cliffhangers, but hope I’ve piqued enough interest for a reader to go on to Book 2, The Book of the Practically Undead. Peter’s adventures continue in New Orleans. He learns more about shaman life and runs into trouble with a demonic book, not to mention the growing rise of Nazism in Europe causes unpleasant ripples in the Big Easy.
Do you have any interesting writing habits, what's your average writing day like?
I write every day, but not at a desk. I’ve never found one comfortable. Instead, I prefer to hunker down in an overstuffed armchair. This is my chair. Mine only. Nobody sits there. Get your butt off the cushion or I’ll smack you.
Do you work to an outline or plot or do you prefer to just see where an idea takes you?
I wish I could work to an outline. It sounds so nice and easy. Sometimes I only have a book title and that spurs an idea and then another and another and I’m off and running.
What are you working on right now?
I just finished Book 4 of the Big Easy Shaman Series. It’s called Law of the Claw and deals with the legend of the rougaroo, a Cajun version of a werewolf. It’s in the editing phase and I hope to have it out by summer. Meanwhile, I’m kicking around a few ideas for a new novel.
Where can our readers discover more of your work or interact with you?
Email: [email protected]