Kelly Eileen Hake received her first writing contract at the tender age of seventeen and arranged to wait three months until she was able to legally sign it. Since that first contract a decade ago, she’s fulfilled twenty contracts ranging from short stories to novels. In her spare time, she’s attained her BA in English Literature and Composition, earned her credential to teach English in secondary schools, and went on to complete her MA in Writing Popular Fiction.
Writing for Barbour combines two of Kelly’s great loves—history and reading. A CBA bestselling author and member of American Christian Fiction Writers, she’s been privileged to earn numerous Heartsong Presents Reader’s Choice Awards and is known for her witty, heartwarming historical romances.
A newlywed, she and her gourmet-chef husband live in Southern California with their golden lab mix, Midas!
Savanna: Welcome to The Engrafted Word, Kelly! Congratulations, first of all, on your newest release, Trails and Targets, and the beginning of a new series, Dangerous Darlyns. I can’t wait to read them and I love the names, by the way! 😉
Did you have a favorite scene to write from Trails and Targets? Without giving too much away, can you tell us a little bit about it?
Kelly: There was some fun with the proposal scene, but my favorite is probably toward the very end of the novel, where the Darlyns and I held an incredibly unconventional, action-packed job interview!
Savanna: Of all the heroic cowboys you’ve written, is there a particular one that has a special place in your heart? And if so, can you tell us why?
Kelly: While I typically write Westerns, it occurs to me that most of my heroes aren’t cowboys! My heroes come from a variety of backgrounds and professions, but I will say that I think that the ‘most unusual occupation’ award has to go to the hero of Trails & Targets, who roams the prairie as a buffalo bone-picker.
And the hero who holds my heart is usually the most recent one I wrote, so right now the bone-picker wins!
Greyson Wilder is a wounded man walking, which I originally envisioned as giving him a somewhat gothic, Mr. Rochester-esque sort of brooding.
Funny how what I envision is so rarely what winds up on the page. Yes, Grey is battling regrets and past failures, but he’s got a sharp sense of humor and a deep appreciation for irony. Grey can’t help but put a premium on justice and personal honor. His deep determination not to get involved dries up every time he sees someone in need–and, more importantly, every time he so much as glimpses Beatrix Darlyn!
Savanna: Awww, I can’t wait to read more about him! 😉 It’s obvious to see you love history. If you had to pick just one historical figure from the past, who would you enjoy meeting in person and why?
Kelly: Hm. The majority of historical figures were men whose eras and worldviews would complicate–if not outright prevent– intellectual conversation with a female. So while there is an entire army of people I’d love to chat with, for the sake of not wasting the opportunity, I would be more likely to chose a woman.
Then I would probably go ahead and narrow it down to a woman who lived in the 19th century, as it is my very favorite, and would be most useful to my work!
It also seems to me that I shouldn’t select someone whose views marched too closely in step with mine. Where is the fun in that?
So going by these criteria, the 19th century woman I would love to meet would have to be: Victoria Woodhull.
She and her sister enjoyed great popularity as mediums. They traveled extensively, and she so impressed Cornelius Vanderbilt that he bankrolled her in establishing the first female-run stock brokerage company. She married more than once, and in 1870 started her own weekly publication to express her ideas about social reform. She advocated suffrage, birth control, and social equality. The journal was the first to publish an English translation of Karl Marx’s Communist Manifesto. In 1872, she became the first woman to run for US presidency. Later, she married again and moved to England, where she continued to write and publish.
I cannot support all of her beliefs or endeavors, but I can only applaud her for the depth of her convictions and her passion in pursuing them well past the avenues available to women of her time. She had intellect, charisma, a wide variety of interests, and such marvelous moxy!
Savanna: Wow! That’s fascinating. I’d never heard of her before. Thanks for sharing!
On your website it says your newlywed hubby is a gourmet-chef. What is your favorite dish he makes?
Kelly: Anything except what he calls ‘killer beans.’ These are a lethal concoction involving bacon, corned beef hash, baked beans, and cheese. He INSISTS that the combination of fat, carbs, and protein makes it ‘brain food.’ I insist that it’s lethal and I think The Flash might envy my husband’s metabolism–it’s just that fast!
Savanna: 😀 You’ve written many novels and novella collections. Which is easier for you to write and why?
Kelly: I began with novellas, working up to category length novels and reaching full-length novels of 80k words, then full-length novels of 100k words. So for a very long time I would have said that novellas were easier for me. In many ways, they still are. Of necessity, they are simpler works.
However, it seems as though the pattern is holding. My characters and plotlines are increasingly complex, and I find it more and more difficult to be brief! Plots & Pans and Trails & Targets were both much longer works, which had to be edited down to fit the printing template!
Savanna: You received your first writing contract when you were 17. That’s amazing, by the way! Do you have any advice for other young writers just starting out?
Kelly: Have fun! Ignore anyone who is rude enough to treat you as a novelty or a dilettante. We are all blessed with personal passions and purpose. Explore yourself and your calling. Surprise yourself and everyone else as you discover what you have to say to the world–and revel in the freedom and creativity of your craft, so you can say it in the best possible way!
Savanna: It’s been so fun to have you here, Kelly! I’ve been reading your books for years and I’m so excited to have you as our guest this week! Is there anything else you’d like to add? Any upcoming projects you can share with us?
Kelly: Trails & Targets is the first of the Dangerous Darlyns series, so Ariel and Cassia are enjoying their own adventures and romances!
Savanna: Can’t wait for their stories. Many blessings on your writing, Kelly!
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Kelly has graciously offered to give away 3 signed copies of TRAILS & TARGETS!
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