Author Interview: Kelly Parra

Author Kelly Parra joins us today to talk about her writing career and the new anthology Prom Dates to Die For
When did you discover your love of writing? Tell us about how you started your professional writing career. 

I look back at my life and I realize I was producing creative writing at a young age with short stories, followed by getting awards, and dreaming up angst filled poetry in high school. However, the love for writing didn’t come until I was pregnant with my first child and I discovered romance novels.  I was devouring books in a few days and when I read an author bio by a stay-at-home mom who discovered writing the same way, I gave it a try.  

I joined RWA and sister chapters online and began taking online workshops. Soon all I did was write and research, research and write. I met wonderful writers online as well as my critique partner, Tina Ferraro, and after hard work and many rejections, we both made our way to publication through young adult fiction. My first young adult novel was Graffiti Girl (MTV/Pocket Books) and my first novel for adult readers was Criminal Instinct (Carina Press).

Describe some of the similarities and differences between writing young adult fiction and writing women’s fiction. 

For me, it’s definitely the tone and the world building. My writing style stays the same. I write fast-paced action with a contemporary voice and my stories are plot and character driven. With Women’s fiction I delve deeper into adult feelings and experiences.  With my YA novels, the tone is lighter and the world revolves around teen feelings.

Where did the idea for “Darkness Becomes Him” in the anthology Prom Dates to Die For originate? What was the inspiration?

I’m a big fan of action adventure, so when I brainstormed ideas for a short story for a paranormal prom anthology, I knew some kind of teen detective or hunters would be fun to write. I didn’t want to go with werewolves or vamps, so I chose the next best thing—a dark angel! I guess you could say my inspiration was a dark feather. If you read the first scene in my story “Darkness Becomes Him” you’ll read that my characters Jaz and Blake are presented with a glistening black feather with silver dust.  I developed the story just from that feather. 

What have been the best parts of the publishing process? What have been the most challenging?

I have a lot of favorite aspects of publishing--discovering the story and characters and going through the entire process from writing, to editing, to copyediting, to receiving the cover and the back blurb, and finally having the finished the product. The most challenging for me has been the change in publishing over the last couple of years. I discovered when trends change the publishers and agents most likely only want what’s selling at that time, and you may not be writing that subgenre. But with the rise of electronic fiction I’m able to write more freely instead of worrying it's not going to fit with the current trend.

What do you hope readers will take away from reading Prom Dates to Die For 

I hope readers will enjoy the eclectic collection of voices and prom stories and be thoroughly entertained. I love anthologies because you get a little taste of different writers and have a chance to discover new voices.

What are you working on now?

I’m working on a sequel to my story “Darkness Becomes Him” continuing Jaz and Blake’s next paranormal adventure.  I’m also working on a young adult novel and romance. There is always plenty to do!

Is there anything else you would like readers to know about you or your books?

When I set out to write stories, I do my best to entertain. I see stories like movies in my head and that’s how I write, with plenty of action.  So if readers are looking for page-turning reads, I’d love for them to give me a chance.

Thanks so much for chatting with me!

Kelly Parra’s earliest stories were told with paintbrushes, but upon discovering the drama and forbidden love of romance and suspense novels, those paintbrushes were replaced with a keyboard. Now a multi-published author in young adult and adult fiction, she has created memorable characters such as a graffiti artist, a psychic teen, and a tough undercover narc. A two-time RITA finalist, she divides her time between her novels, short fiction, and the adventures of motherhood, where she juggles her home life with two children, a tattooed husband, a sweet poodle, and a rowdy pit bull. 
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