Sofie Kelly is the pseudonym of young adult writer and mixed-media
artist, Darlene Ryan. Sofie/Darlene lives on the east coast with
her husband and daughter. In her spare time she practices Wu style
tai chi and likes to prowl around thrift stores. And she admits
to having a small crush on Matt Lauer.
How did you get started as a writer?
I’ve been writing forever. (I won third prize in a poetry
contest in third grade.) I wrote radio commercials for years and
lots of bad short stories that I couldn’t get published—for
good reason—they were awful. But the more I wrote, the more
Did you always want to be a writer?
No. I wanted to move to California, become a movie director and
marry Michael Cole from The Mod Squad, which gives you
an idea of how old I am. I think I became a writer by evolution.
I went from writing commercials and short stories to writing articles
and eventually books.
Was English your favorite subject in school?
It wasn’t—which always surprises people. My favorite
subject was math, at least until calculus came along.
Where do you get your ideas?
Everywhere. It could be something I hear on the news. It could
be something someone says to me, or something I overhear. (Yes,
I’m guilty of eavesdropping in public.) And I like to watch
people and make up stories about who they are and what they’re
What’s the secret to writing a book?
The secret to writing a book is…that there is no secret.
Writing a book is like everything else in life, you have to show
up and do it. There may be writers who wait for inspiration to hit
and then the words just pour out, but I’m not one of them.
I work from an outline and I write a certain number of words each
day. Some days it’s easy. Some days I keep clicking on the
Word Count and moaning, “Am I done yet?”
What do you like to read?
The short answer is everything. I read a lot of mystery and paranormal,
but if something about a book intrigues me—the title, the
subject, sometimes even the cover art—I don’t pay any
attention to the genre. I tend to read more than one book at a time
and one of them is usually non-fiction.
How much research do you do for your books?
That depends on the book. For instance, for my young adult novel,
Responsible, I had to research guitars. It helped that
I know someone who is a musician. I asked him what his dream guitar
was and that became Kevin’s dad’s beloved Les Paul.
There was less research needed for Saving Grace because
I have experience with adoption.
For Curiosity Thrilled the Cat I researched everything
from catnip to head injuries.
How do you handle rejection? – first time writers
must be rejected a lot. Stephen King was told to give it up and
just stick to teaching!
I sulk for about a day. It helps to remember that when someone
doesn’t like something I’ve written it doesn’t
mean the person doesn’t like me. My family doesn’t always
like what I cook and I don’t take that personally—although
I do make them eat it!
I think a lot of writers believe they’ll write the
next Da Vinci Code or Harry Potter book and become another
Dan Brown or J.K. Rowling. Chances are that isn’t going to
happen. What are the chances of a first time writer being published?
New writers get published all the time. It’s not easy but
it is doable. Write, write, write. Read, read, read. Every writer
was a first-timer at one time.
What do you do for fun?
I like to read. I practice Wu style tai chi. I like to prowl around
second hand stores looking for things to use in my art. I love to
cook. I sing with a great deal of enthusiasm but no ability.