Interview with Kilby Blades, author of Worst Holiday Ever
19 Nov 2018
What can you tell us about your new release, Worst Holiday Ever?
Worst Holiday Ever is a collection of stories about surviving holiday homecomings with colorful families. Each story is a romance, so, apart from the standard family holiday drama, there’s the added tension of bringing a new partner home. The stories all end sweetly—some with marriage proposals or pregnancy announcements, but mostly they’re really funny. A lot of people will be able to see their own families in the characters: the brother-in-law who drinks too much, the religious zealot who proselytizes, the sharp-tongued grandma who says whatever she wants… This book is the first in a loosely-connected series of holiday-themed romance anthologies that serves up happily ever afters after exploring everything that’s hard about the holidays. Worst Valentine’s Day Ever is the next book in the series. It comes out in February.
What or who inspired you to become an author?
I make a distinction between a writer and an author. A lot of people are compelled to write. Authors are those who put their work out into the world. That part of it has always come easily to me. I’m someone who has always written and will always write, and I’ve never been intimidated to share my work. It started out as fan fiction (what I was inspired to write when I felt that screen writers of shows I liked got things wrong) and morphed into original fiction after I ran out of fandoms I was passionate about. I published my debut novel, Snapdragon, as soon as it was finished because I loved it and because I thought it was ready. I didn’t try to have it traditionally published nor did I feel that I needed the validation of the industry. It debuted to fantastic results. It’s been a finalist or winner of more than ten prestigious awards and has outsold the average indie title by a healthy margin.
What’s on your top 5 list for the best books you’ve ever read?
100 Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez is my all-time favorite. I think I read it when I was about twelve and I’ve read it many times since. Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson was my portal into futuristic post-apocalyptic dystopia after a long love affair with classics like 1984 and Fahrenheit 451. The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood is another one (do you see a theme?) and Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen is the lighthearted outlier and The Mindf*ck Series by S.T. Abby is a modern dark romance indie title that I absolutely love. Even though I write romance, I tend to read the much angstier stuff.
Say you’re the host of a literary talk show. Who would be your first guest? What would you want to ask?
I don’t think I would ever host a literary talk show. Really good authors tend to tie things up in a way that tells you everything you need to know. In stories like The Road by Cormack McCarthy, every question isn’t answered, but that’s deliberate, and part of the appeal. As a reader, I find that I only have questions after reading a book with loose ends. As a writer, however, I’m always conscious that there’s more to my characters than comes through in my books (usually because I’m being careful of word count). I’d love for someone to ask me more about the characters in my books and details that didn’t make it onto the page. And, yes, I see the irony in those differing perspectives.
What’s your favorite thing about writing?
Falling in love with my characters and my stories. If you’re an author and you don’t go back to everything you’ve written and find more to love about it each time, you’re doing it wrong. Not every story will be commercially or critically successful and it’s hard to be happy as an author if most of your pleasure doesn’t come from the books themselves.
What is a typical day like for you?
There is no typical. I’ve got small kids and I work part-time as a consultant to busy executives. What that means is that my schedule is at the mercy of others. It’s taught me how to write wherever, whenever, or however I can. It’s common for me to be in my car dictating chapters, or listening to one of my works-in-progress while on a walk or a run as part of my developmental editing process.
What scene in Worst Holiday Ever was your favorite to write?
Umm…all of them? It’s a collection of short stories, so with only 9,000 to 12,000 words to tell a complete story, every scene is fast-paced and full of holiday high jinks. My story, Crazy Old Money has the drama of a telenovela on every single page.
Do you have a motto, quote or philosophy you live by?
Probably some combination of “talk is cheap” and “if you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem.” I’m a woman of action in all aspects of my life and am, literally, an activist for social justice. I don’t think I have the right to kvetch about anything I dislike if I’m not also doing something about it.
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