The Debutante Ball is delighted to welcome Sophie Kelly to take a twirl with us today. We’re especially tickled to snag her this week, as she just learned her cozy mystery, Curiosity Thrilled the Cat, hit the New York Times bestseller list. Congratulations, Sofie! And stay tuned, dear readers . . . she’s giving away a copy to one lucky commenter!)
Sofie Kelly is the pseudonym of young adult writer Darlene Ryan. Darlene is the author of four award-winning teen novels. Sofie is the author of the new Magical Cats mysteries from Obsidian. The first book, the New York Times best-selling, Curiosity Thrilled the Cat is out now.
Here’s what the book is about: When librarian Kathleen Paulson moved to Mayville Heights, Minnesota, she had no idea that two strays would nuzzle their way into her life. Owen is a tabby with a catnip addiction and Hercules is a stocky tuxedo cat who shares Kathleen’s fondness for Barry Manilow.
When murder interrupts Mayville’s summer music festival, Kathleen finds herself the prime suspect. More stunning is her realization that Owen and Hercules are magical—and she needs their skills to catch a killer.
What a fun read! During her twirl at The Debutante Ball, Sofie agreed to do the Deb Interview with us. Without further ado, here she is!
Tell us a secret about the main character in your novel — something that’s not even in your book.
Kathleen is claustrophobic. It’s something readers will learn in the second book in the series.
I’m claustrophobic as well, which is why whenever I’m in a waiting room I’m really picky about where I sit.
Do you have a regular “first reader?” If so, who is it and why that person?
I don’t have a regular first reader, but I do have a friend, Susan, who is my go-to person if I write myself into a hole. She’s an excellent editor, she reads extensively and I know she’ll be honest if I ask for her opinion.
With my YA novel, Five Minutes More, I knew there was something wrong with the story but I didn’t know what it was. I’d probably read the book a dozen times. Susan read the manuscript and said, “You can’t kill Seth.” (Seth isn’t the main character in the story but he is important.) Killing Seth was a major plot point and I told her that. And she said, again, “You can’t kill Seth.” Because I trust Susan’s judgment I read the manuscript one more time and I could see she was right. That was the problem.
Susan read an early draft of Curiosity Thrilled the Cat and there was something I’d done to one of the characters that made her email me, “No, no, no. Don’t do that.” She was right again. Can you see a pattern here?
What’s the strangest job you’ve ever had?
I was an all night disk jockey. I worked from midnight to six a.m.. There are a lot of people who are up all night—working or studying or who just happen to be night people. I met some very eccentric people—including several musicians, an artist, a poet, a reporter and a guy with a big motorcycle and a pet snake. Someday I’d like to write a book in which most of the action takes place at night.
What’s your next big thing? (new book, new project, etc.)
I’m working on a young adult urban fantasy novel right now. I’m also doing a series of mixed media canvases about childhood. And I’ve been experimenting with making paper so I’m looking for different ways to use it in my art.
What is the best perk of your job?
Aside from being able to work in my pajama pants if I feel like it? I think one of the major benefits is having a built in excuse for asking nosy questions.
As well, I’m a bit of a control freak—or a lot of a control freak depending on whom you ask. Real life isn’t always fair. Sometimes good people lose and bad people win. But in a novel I can control the outcome. I can make sure the bad guy gets punished.
What is your advice for aspiring writers?
This may seem kind of obvious, but my advice is read, read, read. It’s so easy to get caught up in creating that you forget you still need to read. You need to know what other people are writing about and how they’re doing it. You need to be inspired, even if it’s only because you think, I can write a better book than that.
I’m a big believer in reading outside your favorite genres. If you’re a mystery fan read a little romance or paranormal. If you’re a novelist make time for poetry and non-fiction once in a while.
Talk about one book that made an impact on you.
Lawrence Block’s When the Sacred Ginmill Closes. I love the book. It’s a story about his on-going character, Matthew Scudder, but it’s also about alcoholism and the city of New York. Block’s plotting, his use of description, his dialogue are so well done I was inspired and depressed at the same time when I first read the book. Inspired, because it was just so good, and depressed, because I didn’t see how I could ever write as well as Block does.
What three things would you want with you if stranded on a desert island?
I’m going to assume there are trees somewhere on the island so I’m not going to say sunscreen.
Number one would be an unlimited supply of Kicking Horse coffee. Number two, an e-reader—solar powered, of course—filled with books by my favorite authors. And three, insulin, because I’m guessing there isn’t much medical care on a desert island.
Share one quirk you have that most people don’t know about.
Three years ago I had surgery on my right leg and foot. Now my right foot is more than half an inch longer than my left foot—yes, buying shoes is a challenge. But, I can walk without pain or falling. I’ve even done a 5K run.
Wow, what a fabulous interview! And doesn’t Curiosity Thrilled the Cat sound like a kick? If you want to win a copy, leave a comment. We’ll pick one lucky winner and will announce his or her name on the blog next Sunday, February 27. Good luck to all, and happy reading! (The Winner Is Karen K!)