Friday, December 18, 2020

An Author Interview: Kaley Rhea

    Hey, and happy Friday! Can you believe it's only six days until Christmas right now? I certainly can't, and wanted to feature a special Christmas-themed read today...Off-Script and Over-Caffeinated! You can find my review of the book HERE

    This is the second interview I've posted this week. You can find my first one, featuring Phillip Ulrich (the co-creator of the Growly Books series) HERE

    Like my interview with Phillip Ulrich, this is another milestone for me and this blog. Not only have I reviewed the author's latest read before, but this is my tenth interview on here! To look at the other interviews I've done in the past, click HERE.

    I have slightly edited the interview to make it easier to read, without changing any of the author's answers. The interview is also spoiler-free.

Coffee and Characters: An Interview with Kaley Rhea
December 11, 2020

What inspired you to write Off-Script and Over-Caffeinated?

Well, it started out with my mom and me watching way too many Hallmark Christmas movies (you know, as one does) and poking fun at all the tropes and cliches and still watching all five hundred new premiers. That turned into the tongue-in-cheek question: If someone were to recreate all of these tropes and cliches, that would basically *have* to be a recipe for love, right? When we started exploring that as a concept for a novel, we knew we wanted to make a story that didn't come across like it was making fun of Hallmark movies or Hallmark fans or even people who despise Hallmark movies. We didn't want to accidentally write a mean book. And out of that, it was kind of a natural progression to write this comedy book where we played the familiar cliches for laughs but centered it all around exploring how to love people who are different from you.

Co-writing a book isn’t easy! How have you and your mom made it work?

Honestly, we get along so well, the "co" part is easy. The "writing" part is still a challenge, heh. But it is fun to have a partner contributing her ideas, her perspective, her different set of strengths, her sense of humor, etc. to the whole process. Definitely makes the writing life less solitary to go into it with a bud.

As well as Off-Script and Over-Caffeinated, you’ve also co-written Turtles in the Road with your mom. Does writing together strengthen your relationship? If so, how?

I think it does. In a lot of ways, my mom and I are really similar, but at the same time we are very different people. There's probably no better way to learn about a person than to work with them--especially work that involves creativity, exploring life and life's challenges from different points of view than your own. I'm so fortunate, my mom is such a low-stress person. She's not hard to work with at all, even when there's a high-stress situation or a deadline or whatever. And she's so funny and gracious. So when we started out writing, we were already really close, but I would say my respect and appreciation for her have definitely grown.

Do you have a favorite character you’ve written? Why or why not?

Jack Bentley was a ton of fun. He's kind of a self-conscious, deep-thinking, semi-suffering, poetic, romantical type, which I am not. So getting to write him and explore some of those feelings and try to get to that level (while still making it funny) was a party to me. I am an introvert like him, though; so I could definitely relate to him on that level. Ha, it was pretty cathartic getting to wax poetic about the struggle of too-many-social-events and Saturdays are for reading and just generally being surrounded by kind, enthusiastic, accidentally-exhausting extroverts and both being sincerely grateful for them and needing a minute of peace.

Do you relate to any of your characters? If so, how?

I get Harlow on a lot of levels. I don't have her energy levels (I wish!), but I seriously relate to her lack of appreciation for relationship drama, her love of family, and her blind spots.

Why did you pursue indie publishing?

I have so many writer buddies who publish indie; there are a million good reasons to do it. I personally have not gone that route yet. Bold Vision Books is a small traditional publishing house. Small house feel is kind of like small town feel. Really cozy. We've gotten to know the owners really well and have a great relationship with them. We love their vision. They're great about letting us keep our voice and helping us make our projects the best they can be.

What do you hope readers will take away from your books?

I hope they get a little vacation, a little break from life, a chance to laugh. And I like to write books where the characters' faith isn't something extra--it's a foundational part of the characters' lives, their thinking, their problems, and their problem-solving. So I hope that's kind of an encouragement, too.

Do you have any future projects?

Yes! We've got a new nonfiction book we wrote with Monica Schmelter (Messy to Meaningful: My Purse Runneth Over) coming out early 2021. And we just started working on a new rom-com project. It's so early stages right now; so a million things could change, but I'm so excited about it. It's going to be filled with general geekery and low-budget fantasy conventions and possibly a road trip, and mostly it's going to explore the concept of identity and the security and freedom that comes from having an identity that is rooted in Christ.

What’s your favorite Christmas tradition?

I love Christmas day present exchange. Our family has gone from zero to eight little next-generation kiddos in the last five Christmases; so every year getting everyone together gets bigger and crazier and even more fun. This year, we're pushing that event back a few months, obviously; so it's kind of exciting getting to extend the season this year. Also, I'm a big fan of Christmas Eve church services, doing a pathetic-looking gingerbread house at some point, and watching the Muppets Christmas Carol at least four times.

What’s your favorite Hallmark movie? Why?

That. Is a great question. Um, is it bad that I can never remember any of their names? I liked the Starlight one this year. And that one last year with LeAnn Rimes and that guy who looks like a young Nathan Fillion?

Would you rather drink hot chocolate or eggnog? Why?

Give me that hot chocolate! Chocolate > than eggs, always.

What is the most thoughtful Christmas present you’ve gotten?

Several years ago, my dad wanted to get my mom a new diamond for her wedding ring for Christmas. She had a few little tiny ones on her ring, really pretty. But he had decided to sell those and have the jeweler replace them with one larger one--which I knew he was doing. What I didn't know is that he then took two of those little original ones, and set them into necklaces for me and my sister. I'm not a big jewelry person normally, but I thought that was so sweet; my sister and I both wear them all the time.

Who are some of your favorite authors?

I've been going through C.S. Lewis's Chronicles of Narnia again this year, reminded of how much I love his writing. Also read a lot of A.C. Williams, Ellen Boyd, H.L. Burke.

In your opinion, what is the number one skill writers today need to master?

I think the number one thing that sucks me into a book is introducing a character I care about right away. It's always a character thing with me. Give me somebody I really want to inhabit throughout the course of this journey, and my reader brain will forgive pretty much any technical writing or storytelling flaw in the book. I'll go a little further and say that one of the biggest things that will attach me to a character and endear him/her to me is showing me who or what that character loves.

What is one skill or talent you wish you had?

I am pretty amusical, lol. I have so many musicians in my family, and I'm over here like "I could not hit that note on a kazoo, sir."

What advice would you give to other writers?

Hmm...probably be patient with yourself. Your creative process is your creative process; your creative brain is your creative brain. It's easy to get stressed out when you feel like your mind and your story are speaking different languages or you're not being as productive as you think you should be. But I know, for me, it's exactly that kind of stress that is a creativity killer. So, this is mostly just advice to me: Let this be a good day. Even if it's not the day of high word counts and plotting breakthroughs and genius dialogue you planned. Even if it's a day of rest. Go ahead and delight in your own Author, and let today be good.

    Thanks for joining me for the interview! I hope you enjoyed reading through the post, and of course all the Christmas-themed questions. 

    Have you already read Off-Script and Over Caffeinated? If so, what did you think about it? If you haven't read this amazing book yet, I would 100% recommend it.. especially if you want to get into the Christmas spirit!

    If you have a book you'd like to see on here, let me know! As always, check out my Review Policy page to see what kind of books I'm accepting and reviewing right now. I'm also opening up to author interview requests. So, if you know of an author who you think would be perfect for this site, feel free to mention their name on here!

    I'm going to be taking a week off posting to celebrate Christmas with my family, but after that I will be back with another book review!


  1. OOoooh, I've not read these books (we shouldn't be surprised XD), so THANK YOU for the recommendation. I'll TOTALLY have to check them out!!!!!!!!!!! <33 I've got a HUGE author request. And, honestly, if I could work up the nerve, I'd ask her to interview her or something on Teen Writers' Nook. But, it'd be the COOLEST if you did an interview with Jennifer A. Nielsen. She's my ABSOLUTE FAVORITE author!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Well, bye, bye, JadeSky! *dramatically waving as you leave* XD Have a MERRY CHRISTMAS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I'll be taking a break, myself, from the blogosphere the latter half of next week. But, I'm SUPER excited for Tuesday, 'cause I've got this gal who's guest posting on TWN and is going to do a post about Christmas and Jesus and all. I don't know why I just told you all that. Sometimes I just type the first things that comes to my mind. Oh, well! AWESOME INTERVIEW!!!!!!!!!!!! <33 (And, YES, I'll take Hot chocolate over eggnog ANY day!!!!! Ha!! I REALLY liked the author's explanation for it: Chocolate > eggs ALWAYS!!!!!!!!!)

    1. No problem! Honestly, the story sounds perfect for what I've seen of you and your personality so far :D Thanks for the recommendation! I'll definitely look into that.

      Bye! *waves dramatically back* Got it, got it. That guest post sounds so fun...I'll definitely have to check it out! Thanks so much for all the reading and love sent my way!