Sofie Kelly: Ten Questions

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 I learned.

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 doing.

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.


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