Thursday, February 9

Barbara Kellyn--the interview

This week to ride the Lyrical Press train, I had the pleasure of interviewing Barbara Kellyn, the author of The Company She Keeps and the upcoming Morning Man. Since I got a Kindle Fire for my 50th birthday last week, I gifted myself with The Company She Keeps and I have to say that I'm really enjoying it. It's a nice, light break from Feast of Crows and Dance With Dragons that I'm also culling through.

So, without further ado, I give you Barbara--

How would you describe your writing?

I write contemporary romantic comedy about relatable people in relatable situations. It’s what I know best, what I do best and what I enjoy reading the most.

Since Piper was with us earlier this week, tell our readers a little bit about your experience with her as your editor.

Piper and I hit it off right from the start and although we’ve only communicated electronically, I can tell you wholeheartedly that she’s a kindred spirit. Heaven knows what hilarity would ensue if we were actually in the same room together! As an editor, she “gets” me and appreciates my style of humor writing. I love that she will stop in the middle of the manuscript to tell me something that made her laugh and not just point out things that don’t quite work; that’s so encouraging. Piper has a genuine gift of clarity, and she has the magic to turn good ideas into even better ones.

Who are your favorite authors?

I am currently reading a number of books by fellow Lyrical Press authors, including Piper Denna, and I’m always awed by the caliber of talent on the same roster I am. Outside of that, I have a sizable number of Jennifer Crusie titles in my collection. To me, she’s the queen of contemporary romantic comedy and Bet Me is my favorite among all her books.

Since becoming published, what is the most surprising thing you've learned?

Probably how much effort it takes to promote your book via social media; at times, the medium seems to be crowded and certainly overwhelming. There are so many great authors out there, both those signed to publishing contracts and those who choose to go the self-publishing route, and we’re all vying for attention. At the same time, this creates an opportunity for all authors to learn from each other in terms of what is effective in social media marketing and what is not.

What do you wish you'd known before you started on the journey to publication?

That getting published is a lot like going to job interviews. The competition is huge for a limited number of spots that need to be filled, so you have to know how to sell yourself and the strengths of your work in order to stand above all the rest. Even if you believe your pitch is extraordinary, be prepared to get a lot of doors-slammed-in-face rejection slips. I remember that Piper told me she snatched up my manuscript because something “just clicked” and for that, I’m ever grateful. You truly never know... which is also why you should never give up.

What's your favorite writing advice or quote?

I have this quote from Richard Bach taped to my computer screen: “A professional writer is an amateur who didn’t quit.”

You have a book recently out and another coming out soon--are they like children in that you can't play favorites or do you have a favorite?

The Company She Keeps will forever have a special place in my heart because I love the characters and (to continue your analogy) it is my first born, although it was a much longer and tougher labor than Morning Man. By comparison, Morning Man was a quick delivery; because everything just fell into place so naturally during the first round of storytelling, I’d have to say it’s my favorite book.

What is your writing process? Pantser or Plotter? And do you keep a schedule?

I am a freelance writer by day, so I thrive on deadlines and hold my novel writing to the same high standards. I don’t write every day or at certain intervals, just when the mood moves me. But I do stick to the deadlines I set for myself. The Company She Keeps started as a NaNoWriMo project so it was all pantsing. I took what I learned from that first experience (such as: “pantsing will generally require a great deal more rewriting”) and applied it to Morning Man, which was loosely plotted before I wrote a single word. I still allowed myself plenty of room to do some pantsing within the story itself, but everything flowed smoother because of the framework around it.

Quick Questions:

Coffee, tea, or ? I drink coffee until 11:00 and then switch over to green tea afterwards.

Cake or ice-cream? Cake with thick, rich swirls of buttercream frosting.

Steak, lobster, or ? Steak. Mmm. Just thinking about it is making my mouth water!

Beach or mountain? Beach. Other than falling into my own bed, there is no place I feel more relaxed.

Video game or board game? Board game; I like old-school fun around the table.

Coke, Pepsi, or ? I’m a Diet Pepsi girl all the way.

Poker, rummy, or ? Gin or Hearts.

Jet around the world or cruise ship? I’d probably be a genuine jet-setter! I hate wasting time, so why take a slow boat when you can reach all the glorious destinations in a fraction of the time?

Snack food that you absolutely must have in the house: I’ve been a really good girl lately, but when I want to treat myself, my go-to snack is still ripple chips and onion dip.

Favorite book as a child: The Nancy Drew series.

as a teenager: I think it’s a rite of passage for all tweens to go through a Judy Blume phase, isn’t it? I sure did.

as an adult: The Da Vinci Code was the first book I literally could not put down until I finished it.

in the last two months: I’m a Tina Fey fan and enjoyed her Bossypants.

Favorite movie: Moonstruck with Cher and Nicolas Cage. I know every line of that wonderful,wonderful movie by heart. “You got a love bite on your neck!”

Favorite TV show on the air: Mad Men or whatever’s on Food Network right now.

All-time favorite TV show: Oooh, now THAT’s a toughie. Probably Seinfeld with Sesame Street being a close second.

Favorite music to write by: It all depends on what I’m writing. For my upcoming book Morning Man, which is set in a country radio station, I loaded up my iTunes library with country hits and listened to it non-stop for months!

Favorite music to listen to: I’m a huuuuuuuge Dave Matthews Band fan! There’s a great Dave song for every time, situation and mood and it never fails to raise my spirits.

Last question: Is there a question that nobody's ever asked and you wished they would? Why not take a much-needed break and let us give you this all-expense paid tropical vacation that you so deserve?

Barbara Kellyn writes the kind of stories that she loves to read: contemporary romantic comedies fraught with amusing complications and taut sexual tension between a likeable heroine worth rooting for and an alluring hero worth the trouble of falling for.

A lifelong storyteller in one form or another, Barbara is an accomplished, award-winning writer. She also enthusiastically admits to being a pop culture junkie (you definitely want her on your celebrity quiz team), with a weakness for tabloid TV, timeless chick flicks, sexy soaps and any smartly-written show, book, movie or Tweet that makes her laugh out loud.

Barbara thanks her lucky stars that she is living out the kind of blissful existence that her characters can only dream about getting to before the last page.

To learn more about Barbara Kellyn and her books, The Company She Keeps and Morning Man (both from Lyrical Press), visit


  1. Hi, Barbara.
    Nice to have you here. We had such a wonderful time with Piper. She was really amamzing, both in kindness and stamina.

    Anyhoo...I love oridinary ppl in ordinary situations, too! Your book sounds fabaroo!

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  3. Hi, Barabara:

    Great interview, ladies! And your writing sounds lovely. I'm with you on J. C.'s BET ME. I couldn't write for a while after I read it, simply because it was so good.

  4. Hi D'Ann and Liz: Thanks so much for your kind words. I so enjoyed my chat with Margie and everyone here has been so welcoming.

    Thanks again and best of luck with your own writing! Isn't it amazing how some writers leave such a deep impression on us? They inspire us all to reach a little higher!

  5. Hey Barbara! Thanks for saying such nice stuff about me. :)

    I can't wait for Morning Man to come out, I can't wait for Morning Man to come out... :) That's a real laugh-out-loud story.

    And I'm a big "Bet Me" fan, too! Jenny Crusie is hilarious.

    Fab interview, Margie.

  6. Barbara,
    thanks for being such a great interviewee! It was so much fun getting to know you and I can't wait for Morning Man to come out either.