Bestselling author Kelly Moran. Photo Courtesy of Kelly Moran.
International bestselling author Kelly Moran chatted about her “Redwood Ridge” book series.
She also opened up about the advantages and disadvantages of being a published author in the digital age.
Background on author Kelly Moran
Moran is a bestselling author of enchanting ever-afters. There’s always a book playing out in her head and she talks to herself often. She is a RITA Finalist, RONE Award winner, Catherine Award winner, Readers Choice Finalist, Holt Medallion Finalist, Amor Book Award winner, Best Books Finalist, and lshe anded on the “Must Read” & “10 Best Reads” lists in USA Today’s Lifestyle section.
She is a former Romance Writers of America member, where she was an “Award of Excellence” Finalist. Her books have foreign translation rights in Germany (Spiegel Bestseller), the Czech Republic, Romania, Russia, and the Netherlands.
Her interests include scary movies, all kinds of art, driving others insane, and sleeping when she can. She is a closet coffee junkie and chocoholic. Tell no one.
She is originally from Wisconsin, but she resides in South Carolina with her significant other, her three sons, their wily dog, a chameleon, and their sassy cats. She loves hearing from her readers.
Book series description
The synopsis of the book series is: Welcome to Redwood Ridge, a small town teeming with charm where three meddling matchmakers are determined to give everyone a happily-ever-after. The International Bestselling series includes “Puppy Love,” “Tracking You,” “New Tricks,” “Residual Burn,” and “Under Pressure.”
Q & A interview
Can you tell us about your journey to becoming a published author?
My road to publication was somewhat unique; or winding. As a young girl, I often wrote poetry and short stories by the whim of my moods. A couple got picked up for anthology collections.
Once I became a young adult, I had a novel called “When the Leaves Stop Falling” out on submission, and though most editors liked it, they couldn’t make it fit since it was a women’s fiction with romantic elements. Too much of a mixed genre. It also centered around four friends, one of whom is terminally ill. I loved the story and its message. Ergo, I researched other options.
Ultimately, I self-published the book. At the time, this was long before the Indie boom and highly frowned upon. I learned a lot about marketing and the industry by doing so, and the experience helped me acclimate to trends much later in my career.
However, the very first book I ever wrote, titled “Summer’s Road,” was scribbled longhand into a notebook when I was 17. After I released “Leaves,” I typed, edited, and submitted “Summer,” which got accepted for publication by a small press. Thus, my traditional career began.
From there, I had several other publishers, obtained an agent, and had mass market contracts with Big 6. To date, I remain a hybrid author with a mix of Indie and Traditional contracts. My books have foreign translation rights in Germany (where I’m a Spiegel Bestseller), The Netherlands, The Czech Republic, Romania, and Russia.
Who are some of your writing influences, and how have they shaped your approach to storytelling?
I grew up with my nose in a book, submerging myself in literary greats like “Charlotte’s Web” by E.B. White, “The Boxcar Children” by Gertrude Chandler Warner, “Goosebumps” by R.L. Stine, and “Amelia Bedelia” by Peggy Parish. Not accounting for Dr. Seuss, of course.
In all honesty, I think I knew I wanted to be a writer by 2nd grade. These stories were an escape and rendered such powerful feelings. I thought, “I’m gonna do that one day. I’m gonna make someone laugh and cry the same way this book just did.”
As I got older, I was influenced by authors such as Stephen King, Nora Roberts, Jane Austen, Mark Twain, Shirley Jackson, Danielle Steel, Edgar Allan Poe, and Toni Morrison for the same reason; there are thousands more I could name. They told amazing stories and packed an emotional punch. I was right there, clinging to every word and needing to know how it ended.
Being such an avid reader of many genres, I truly feel it helped me create dimensional characters with realistic actions and flaws. World-building with detailed settings and plots that intrigue. Every time I finish a manuscript, if I can’t recall having laughed or cried at least a handful of times while writing, or I can’t smell the rain on page 45, or hear the crickets on page 167, then it’s back to the drawing board with major edits. Otherwise, I’m not doing right by my heroes or my readers.
How did you come up with the idea for the fictional town of ‘Redwood Ridge,’ and what kind of research did you do to bring it to life?
The setting of a book—or series, in this case—has always been of great significance to me. It should be a secondary character in and of itself. Living and breathing. Small town romances often are idyllic, and sometimes, a throwback to days gone by when we didn’t have to lock our doors. We should want to go there and never leave.
A sense of community is key. An escape, if you will. “Redwood Ridge” is a quaint place with 2500 residents, and I wanted a picturesque backdrop that readers would adore as much as the characters.
Oregon called to me for multiple reasons, including but not limited to its gorgeous coast. Officially, the books are set in a fictional area, pocketed between the Klamath Mountains and the Pacific Ocean, and surrounded by dense forest.
Research isn’t new to me. I may write fiction, but it needs to be grounded in reality. I had the idea for a trilogy about veterinarian brothers (which took on a life of its own with more books based off townsfolk), so that was the beginning stage. I interviewed vet clinics (Books 1-3), then fireman (Book 4), then police officers (Book 5).
I scoured blogs and articles on Oregon’s flora, fauna, and climate. I have a reader group, and a few members live in the Washington/Oregon area, so they were interviewed, too. I tend to do this with all new book concepts for accuracy’s sake. From there, Redwood took shape. The people, the places, the charm. Throw in 3 meddling matchmakers as catalysts, and we had our niche hook. I absolutely loved writing this series.
What do you hope readers take away from the “Redwood Ridge” series, and what do you hope they remember most about your books?
As humans, I think we all strive to leave an imprint behind. To know that we made a positive impact in the lives we touched. My hope is that every time a reader closes one of my books, I made them think outside their box and feel a gamut of emotions, or that I successfully took them away from their reality.
Like diversity, medical conditions and social ailments are often underrepresented in books. The majority of my stories incorporate everyday struggles many people have, but without having it consume the plot narrative.
Diagnoses such as depression, survivor’s guilt, body image issues, PTSD, and social anxiety are often what my characters face. In “Redwood Ridge” (which is an anthology of the first 5 books), that foundation was never more relevant. “Puppy Love” (book 1) had a single mom to an autistic daughter.
“Tracking You” (book 2) had a deaf hero. “New Tricks” (book 3) had the heroine as the sole caregiver for a mother with early onset dementia, and the hero was a widower. “Residual Burn” (book 4) had a burn victim with scars. “Under Pressure” (book 5) was a riches-to-rags story with a homeless heroine.
I believe these elements gave credence and depth to the books while representing facets many of us knew very little about before cracking the binding. After finishing, I truly hope eyes are opened and readers understand these conditions better (as I did while researching and writing), and that the story lingers with them long afterward.
How does it feel to be an author in the digital age now with technology being so prevalent?
It definitely has its pros and cons. As a teen and young adult, we had to walk into a library or bookstore to get our next fix. We were also only privy to what publishers thought would sell or what they believed all readers wanted.
In fact, early in my career, when I first began submitting to agents and editors, a good majority still wanted snail mail physical copies. It was harder to connect with our base, too.
Digital rise and technology have made things better in many ways. We can advertise on social media, reaching thousands. We can communicate with book clubs across the globe and do virtual meetings instead of flying or driving countless miles.
We can send and receive edits in a timely fashion. We have apps that can help us write and be more efficient. It affords better opportunities to those writers who may not fit a mold or what publishers are currently seeking, allowing them to get their book out into the world.
We can have hundreds of books at our fingertips, in a blink, stored in a device, to read at our leisure. Heck, even photo programs and stock sites have made it way simpler to create teasers or book covers. Don’t even get me started on Google. Information at our fingertips for research? Yes, please.
However, there’s always a downside. Balance must be maintained, I suppose. With the rise of technology, so did the number of authors. The Indie boom was, in fact, a huge boom. It will ripple for decades to come. Thus, the market, especially romance, has become saturated. It makes it difficult to be seen or heard because readers are drowning in options.
There’s been a huge stigma placed on Indie authors, too, in that they’re not true authors. Anyone can write and publish now. Whereas there is some argument to be made to the truth of that, and not every story is going to be a good one, there’s more proof to the contrary. Some of the largest trends, movies, and book deals have sprouted from Indie authors making waves.
Publishers and bookstores have been floundering, as well, because eBooks are more cost effective and there’s less traffic for mass market or trade paperbacks. Pirating is a trigger for me.
Anyone with access to an eBook file can upload books onto a site and give them away for free. The struggle is real to keep up with them and force a takedown. In my experience, the biggest pitfall of the digital age is bully syndrome. Haters come out of the woodwork and fester.
They can hide behind a keyboard or phone, with zero consideration for the feelings of authors, and cause damage. I’ve seen groups of them stalk Goodreads and tank ratings, on Amazon leaving nasty reviews or reporting content issues, or on social media getting so vile in their intimidation that authors often have to go on hiatus. Some never return. It can be downright frightening.
“Redwood Ridge” by Kelly Moran is available on Amazon by clicking here.
To learn more about bestselling author Kelly Moran, check out her official website.
Bestselling author Kelly Moran talks about her ‘Redwood Ridge’ book series
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