Thursday, April 12, 2018

Interview with romance novelist A Kelly

Novelist A Kelly joins me today to talk about her spicy romance novel On the Canvas of My Soul

A Kelly doesn't write romance; she bakes it, then sprinkles it with spice – and controversy. She has travelled the seven continents and met people from different walks of life where she draws inspirations from.

A Kelly currently resides in Australia.

Welcome, A. Please tell us about your current release.
Zen, a highly-acclaimed painter, believes she has murdered her abusive boyfriend. As she struggles with guilt, she finds solace in a married gay man, Marcus.

In her own world Marcus becomes her inspiration and obsession. But her world turns a different way when she learns he wishes her to become a surrogate.
Zen and Marcus are inexplicably drawn to one another, but a confession reveals a sinister reason behind Marcus's desperation to become a father. Meanwhile Dean uncovers his husband’s affair and plots to keep Zen out of their lives whatever the cost.

What inspired you to write this book?
“I want to have a baby,” a gay friend told me one day. I was a naïve Catholic teenager, it was early 90s, and my knowledge of homosexuality was pretty much zero. Afraid of offending, I simply smiled and politely changed the conversation. Deep down I kept asking: How? Without a woman you can’t have a baby, right? As I explored the world of same-sex relationships and surrogacy, On the Canvas of My Soul was born. It was originally titled Human Nature and it took me 20 years to finally publish it. The settings and characters have changed a few times, but the main story has remained the same.

Excerpt from On the Canvas of My Soul:
Men remain the ninth wonder of the world to me. However, learning that a couple of them are fascinated by me – with no amorous or sexual inclination – has added a new dimension to the meaning of ‘wonder’. It makes me want to sail further, in hope of discovering something that I can truly treasure as a human being, as a woman. It’s not motherhood, it’s not feminine heroism; what I long for is being a part of a man’s life that is fulfilling; but not at a cost, and not forever.

It hits me.

I go back to my painting and squint at the balcony again. What if I stand there: bare, facing forward, hair up, full of pride; because the ochre, umber and sienna are the colours of my soul rejoicing? Because I have finally done something right, I have chosen wisely, I have become the woman that I wanted to be. From that balcony I will gaze far, admiring a man who has become a part of me, yet he doesn’t need to be beside me.


And I can’t reject beautiful.

If I agreed to this surrogacy arrangement, would I feel the difference if the father was Marcus or Dean? Technically I won’t know. Technically I will do it for both of them, so it shouldn’t matter who provides the seeds. Technically the men may see me as simply a supplier in the process – hey, can we have your eggs and borrow your womb for nine months? As cold as this may sound, I don’t feel a sense of degradation. But technicalities aside, it would have to be Marcus’s; he’s the man I want to be a part of. The joy – of knowing the baby that he was holding, whom he would love forever, was mine and his – would be unparalleled. I could be noble and say that the spiritual satisfaction of realising a man’s dream would make me complete, but I’m far from noble. So... what if I said... I’ll bear your child, Marcus, but first I want to hear your whimper while you’re inside me.

Imagination needs no obligation, but reality can promise more than just momentary bliss. Let this be my one last try at life, at men, at my soul.

And if I succeed, I know what my next self-portrait will look like.

I have to find him!

What exciting story are you working on next?
My next novel is Virtuous Infidelity. It’s a story about a woman, Andrea, who is trapped in a sexless marriage after she and her husband Chris lost their sons in tragic circumstances. In an attempt to fix their marriage, Chris proposes that she sleep with another man. Soon Andrea finds herself battling her feelings when she meets veteran escort Frederico, who has his own devious plan for Andrea. As Andrea steps deeper into Frederico’s world, she gets more than she bargains for when she discovers her husband’s secret life.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I always feel that I am a writer – although in the early days I was a writer for an audience of one: myself. I think I consider myself a ‘proper’ writer when I decided to send On the Canvas of My Soul for its first editorial assessment.

Do you write full-time? If so, what's your work day like? If not, what do you do other than write and how do you find time to write?
I have a demanding day job as a learning and development consultant. I like this job because it requires me to write a lot; storytelling is always an integral part of learning. While my clients wouldn’t appreciate me embedding romance or erotica in their training programs, I write ‘my kind’ of stories most weekends, or when I’m on holiday.

As a writer, who do you draw inspiration from?
I travel a lot. I’ve sailed to Antarctica and dogsled in the Arctic (one of the toughest things I’ve done). When I meet couples in my travels, I like to ask how they met and how long they’ve been together. People are usually happy to gush to a stranger who seems like a good listener. They might’ve made up some facts, but when your partner or spouse is with you, it’s likely you’d want to get your story right. Every relationship has its quirk and that fascinates me.

For On the Canvas of My Soul, the people who inspired me to rewrite and finish the novel were a beautiful gay couple I met on a hike in New Zealand. Hikers on this trail sleep in bunk beds inside a hut, and this couple happened to take the beds next to mine. Initially they slept separately, but in the middle of the night I heard rustles and whispers. In the morning I found them cuddling inside the same sleeping bag – the ‘Marcus’ of this couple caressed ‘Dean’ who was visibly upset with something. That was the sweetest human connection I’ve seen in the wilderness.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
In my stories I often put dates that mean to me personally. Or if you add or subtract the month/date/year you’d get a number that signifies something in my real life.

I hate clichés. I always try to invent my own expressions e.g. walking like I had a giant squid hanging onto my head, a pair of cupids to describe someone’s derrière. My editor is very good in keeping me in check though. Sometimes those expressions are completely off.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
A teacher


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