Monday, July 23, 2012

Author Interview: Peter Anthony Kelley, author of Paraglide

Today we have the pleasure of talking to Peter Anthony Kelley, author of the young adult novel Paraglide! It's about two siblings that end up on a whirlwind adventure through Europe. Here's a synopsis:

For siblings Jim and Erica Winters, a summer vacation to London promises adventure and a bit of freedom from their overprotective mother. But once they arrive, they end up with more excitement than they bargained for. Their mother is kidnapped and her captors demand the one thing they can’t produce – their long-absent father.

Unable to trust the authorities, Jim and Erica set off in pursuit of their father, racing across Europe and fending off mysterious assailants. As the trail of clues dries up, help arrives in the form of a raven-haired beauty. Is she the answer to their prayers or a romantic distraction?

With the kidnapper’s deadline looming, the truth about their father’s shadowy past is revealed. In a last ditch effort to save their mother, Jim and Erica must climb high into the Swiss Alps where a perilous choice confronts them. Can they trust their father who has repeatedly betrayed them? ~ Courtesy of Goodreads

Tell us a little about yourself and how you became a writer.

I started writing in my teens. I spent hours and hours creating a massive fictional universe with maps, timelines and character outlines, but I never could seem to finish an actual story. I'd write a couple of pages then everything would fizzle out. My senior year, I managed to finish a short story. I proudly submitted it to a magazine. The rejection letter was kind, even offering feedback on what was wrong with the story, but I only saw the no. No, I wouldn't be published. No, my story wasn't good. No, I wasn't a writer.

I did keep playing with my fictional universe. I even managed to finish half a novel. But I never submitted again. I went to college, got a job, got married, had kids and pretty much forgot about writing. Twenty years later, I found myself living in Europe with some time on my hands. I sat down and amazingly sentences and paragraphs starting pouring out. Before I knew it, I'd created a mediocre novel. I could do it. I was a writer.

How did you come up with the idea for Paraglide?

After I put my first novel in the bottom of a drawer--never to be seen again, I started thinking about some of the places I'd visited in Europe and the rough outlines of Paraglide emerged. I wrote about half the story, hesitated, then stopped until my daughter complained. She'd been reading it on the computer screen and demanded to know what would happen next. As I kept writing, she kept reading, telling me to "write faster." That was all the incentive I needed.

What were some of the challenges you faced while writing Paraglide?

The hardest thing for me about writing a novel is the editing, going back over your words again and again, cutting this character here, improving the descriptions there. I know it was absolutely critical and made Paraglide actually worth reading, but I spent far more time fixing the flaws with story than I did creating the first draft. Editing is a very different skill than writing and was something I had to learn before I could really consider myself a writer.

What do you think is the most rewarding part of being a YA author?

Hearing from readers is absolutely the best. My favorite story is the mother emailed late one night complaining that her daughter wouldn't go to bed. "She insist on finishing Paraglide. She has a test at school tomorrow. If she fails it and doesn't pass sixth grade and doesn't get into college and can't get a job then she's going to live in your basement."

Do you have any advice for young writers?

Read everything you can get your hands on and write every day. Writing is a skill you can practice and get better at, but you need to put your butt in the seat and actually do it.

Thanks so much for talking to us today, Peter! Getting emails from parents complaining their kids won't stop reading your book? That's pretty awesome!

You can find out more about Paraglide at these sites!


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