We are happy to have Kelley Mork on the Book Country Member Spotlight! Kelley’s New Adult book WE’RE IN THIS TOGETHER was featured in the Top Rated section in August. Kelley shares why she favors free writing and her advice to writers starting out on social media. Connect with Kelley on Book Country.
Janet Umenta: The New Adult genre has really taken off in the past few years. What do you love about New Adult and what led you to write in this genre?
Kelley Mork: What led me to write New Adult? It was a total fluke! I had never heard of the term “New Adult” until I started exploring the best category to put my story into. When I read the definition (New Adult focuses on characters that are around college age (18-25) tackling the everyday “being an adult” issues.) I realized that not only was it a fit, but I had been reading books like this for quite some time! I’d always assumed the books were “general fiction” or “romance”, but just with younger characters.
For me, the draw to New Adult is the ability to connect with the characters. Most characters in this genre face issues like: first jobs and first apartments, roommate situations, taking big steps in a romantic relationship, financial issues, family drama, etc. These are all things we, as older adults, have experienced at some point in our lives. It’s familiar, making it easy to be drawn into the story and to make a personal connection.
JU: While reading WE’RE IN THIS TOGETHER, I was impressed by your realistic depiction of the medical emergencies that occurred in your book, particularly the cardiac arrest scene. What advice would you give to other writers who must research a specific topic for their book?
KM: Funny you say that because I JUST got additional feedback and I need to make a few adjustments to that scene and a few others! Ha! But that’s OK because I want it to be right.
I knew that I couldn’t send my characters—all doctors—to a clinic and not have something BIG happen. You can only write so many scenes around broken bones or stitches, and neither of those are very exciting! Personally, I found the research fascinating! I sat down and asked questions of my own doctor when I was in for my physical (she loved giving me informaiton!). I wrote the story, sent it to her for review and when I didn’t hear anything back I assumed it was fine. The feedback she just sent me provided lots of great things to add/update/consider. She was a great resource!
If you don’t have someone in your back pocket that has good, solid experience, here’s what I’d suggest:
- Think big—but not overly complex. You’re writing fiction, not a how-to manual. The reader needs a little context, but not so in depth that they skim/skip over your words.
- Search for more than just the obvious. For example, I wanted to know what the person performing CPR would feel….clammy skin, cartilage cracking, tired from the physical exertion, etc.
- Use reliable sites. Wikipedia is OK, but a site like the Mayo Clinic holds a little more validity.
KM: I had heard about websites (like Book Country) where authors can upload their writing for critique, but had never done any exploring of those sites. I work full time for a college and I was curious if this was something that our English faculty could use in working with their students. As I looked online, I was surprised at what I found! I had no idea that platforms like this existed! That sparked my interest and I began to wonder, “If I wrote a book, what would be the story?”
The idea continued to rattle around in my head when I starting to see a lot of “signs” pointing me towards the actual story idea. First, I traveled for work and on my iPad I downloaded a few episodes of the television show, ER, to pass the time on my flight. One of those episodes was titled, The Lost (based around Carter’s work in a clinic in Africa). This was the foundation for my story idea. But it didn’t stop there…soon after I wrote the first few chapters I started to see pictures on Instagram of missionaries in Africa, online news stories about continued civil unrest in Africa and refugees leaving Somalia into Kenya. These helped to keep my story moving and gave me inspiration for future chapters. What is interesting is that it hasn’t stopped—most recently, the photographer from the site, Humans of New York was in Africa, and he took a photo of some boys who started a soccer club so that they wouldn’t be tempted to fall into bad choices.
All of these things have been the fuel I’ve needed to keep going with the story!
JU: Social media has become an important tool for writers to connect with their audience and promote their book. What are some best practices on social media that you think all writers should do to connect with their readers?
KM: If you don’t use social media that much, consider easing your way in by using the “Like” (Facebook), “Favorite” (Twitter) and/or “Heart” (Instagram) options as a way to say to the original poster, “I like that!” It takes the pressure off having to come up with a reply, and you still make a connection.
As you become more comfortable with your platform of choice, keep in mind that you don’t want to oversaturate what your followers are seeing. One or two solid posts a day is easy to do.
Use hashtags! Hashtags allow you to find people with similar interests. This is especially popular in Twitter and Instagram (my personal favorite). As you find people who are posting similar topics, you might find someone you want to follow!
Finally, follow who you like, but don’t be upset if they don’t follow back. Many people think that having followers = popularity. For me, followers = connections. I don’t worry about being popular. I want to surround myself with people I can connect with to help me with questions or ideas. The same goes for who I follow. I don’t follow someone just because they followed me. I follow because they’ve captured my interest.
JU: What is the best writing advice you’ve ever received?
KM: It wasn’t advice, but a process: free writing.
I was an English major in my undergrad and in almost all of my courses (even my literature courses) we started each class with 10 minutes of free writing. Sometimes we had a topic, sometimes we didn’t. But in each of those sessions, we were told to just write whatever came to mind.
As I started to write this story, I did exactly that. I just wrote.
Even though I would get ideas from current events, or would explore a suggestion a friend gave me after reading the story….free writing helped to flush out the story.
About Kelley Mork