Women in SFF Author Spotlight – Naomi Kelly (MERAKI: A SYREN STORY)
Naomi Kelly is a young, Irish, Indie Author living in Dublin. Her debut novel, Trial by Obsidian, was released last autumn with her latest book, Meraki: A Syren Story, releasing on May 1st of this year. She has a great love for all things magic and bookish so combining the two was bound to happen!
Welcome to the Hive, Naomi. Let’s start small: tell us about a great book you’ve read recently!
I just finished Crowned a Traitor by Kate Callaghan and I loved it. It followed the Heir of Hell, Lucifer’s daughter Klara on her misadventures!
Okay, time to escalate things: reality warps and you suddenly find yourself leading a D&D-style party through a monster-infested dungeon. What character class are you, and what’s your weapon of choice?
Hmm, I’d probably go for ‘Rogue half-elf,’ and I’d be armed with a bone bow because I did archery for years as a teen!
When you’re not trawling through dungeons, how do you like to work? (In silence, with music, or serenaded by the damned souls of a thousand dead shrimps? Do you prefer to type or to hand-write? Tell us a little bit about your writing method!
I handwrite my notes in the drafting process as I find it helps ideas to flow (the dreaded blinking cursor of a blank document is far too much pressure for me when I’m coming up with names and character profiles). I only move on to typing when I have my outline ready, and I always type in silence with a cup of raspberry tea beside me.
What (or who) are your most significant female fantasy influences? Are there any creators whom you dream of working with someday?
I predominantly only read female fantasy authors. It’s not a conscious choice, but just a very happy accident because my favourite fantasy books are penned by women, such as Amanda Bouchet, Maria V Synder and Sarah J Maas. I would love to work with Holly Black as I adore her dark fairy-tale style writing.
What was the last thing you watched on TV and why did you choose to watch it? Alternatively, what games have you enjoyed recently?
The Vampire Diaries is one of my all-time favourite shows, so I re-watch that a lot. It’s oddly comforting to revisit a show you’re familiar with, and I try to convince myself it’s writing research for character development and magic plotlines.
The world shifts, and you find yourself with an extra day on your hands during which you’re not allowed to write. How do you choose to spend the day?
Oh, there’s two very different scenarios I could opt for. I would either be in a deep, steaming bath with a warm mug of tea listening to Florence and the Machine, or I could just as easily be hiking through a misty forest- it all depends on how tired I am on this magical extra day!
Can you tell us a little something about your current work(s) in progress?
I’m a typical writer in the way I have half a dozen WIPs in the making at any one time. I’m currently working on some sequels for my current novels, as well as drafting some ideas for possible short spin-off novellas featuring characters from the universes.
What’s the most (and/or least) helpful piece of writing advice you’ve ever received?
The worst advice I see circulating the author-sphere is to never ever edit as you write. Apparently this is the greatest sin, but I personally edited as I went with my novel and I found it incredibly helpful. There were days I wanted to work on my book, but didn’t necessarily want to write and I got so much editing done and more often than not, re-reading my work helped jog new ideas and got me out of that slump.
Every writer encounters stumbling blocks, be it a difficult chapter, challenging subject matter or just starting a new project. How do you motivate yourself on days when you don’t want to write?
On the days I’m really struggling to write, I will make myself do something productive, but I would never force myself to write. Those tough days were the ones I doodled out my map or organised cover design. I always remained forced on moving the entire project forward, even if I was finding one part difficult.
If you could visit any country at any point in history, where/when would you go, and why?
Hmm, probably ancient Greece because I’ve just spent the past year submerged in Greek mythology and culture when writing Meraki, so I would love to visit at a time when the gods were revered.
Who are your favourite female characters in literature or pop culture? And do you have a favourite type of female character you enjoy writing?
My favourite type of female characters are just well-rounded characters that are believable. That doesn’t mean that she cannot have wings or slay dragons, I mean believable in the way she shouldn’t always look stunningly beautiful, or always be the most bad-ass on the field just as much as she doesn’t have to always be saved by a man or just worry about marriage. As long as there is balance, I’m happy.
Finally, would you be so kind as to dazzle us with an elevator pitch? Why should readers check out your work?
Okay here it goes! Seventeen-year-old Wren thinks she has just swum away from the greatest threat in the sea. That’s until she finds herself being hauled upon a warlord’s boat. With her life at the mercy of a young, temperamental King, Wren must decide who is her ultimate enemy whilst also trying to figure out if her song is a gift or a weapon.
Syrens are bound to tell the truth, but that doesn’t mean their lives cannot be riddled with lies.
You should read Meraki if you’re looking for an adventurous ‘tail’ that will bring you on a voyage across the magical seas!