Several years ago, the boyfriend and I met Rachel Kelly at a comic book convention in Columbus, Ohio.She was – and still- is a really lovely person. A little boy approached us and said, “Hey, come look at my mom’s book.” He was totally adorable so of course we went over to meet his mom. Unfortunately, I couldn’t afford her book at the time since I had already spent all of my comic book convention money.
You should all buy her book so I can feel even less guilty about telling her cute little boy that I couldn’t buy his mom’s book. This year, Colorworld is going to be in the budget or so help me. Seriously, though check out her books and buy them all.
1) First thing I was proud of drawing:
I don’t draw, but I work with a LOT of artists, whether it’s coming up with illustrations for my books, illustrating the upcoming Colorworld Comic, or doing commissions for us to sell at conventions. I can tell you about the very first piece of Colorworld artwork that was done (outside of the original book covers), and that was a promotional illustration. It was a scene from Colorworld, when Wendy, the main character, sees her friend Kaylen using her telekinesis, and she realizes Kaylen is far more powerful than she thought. The scene was digitally drawn by Mike Richardson, who would later end up being the illustrator for book 1 of the Colorworld Series. To see a scene from my book turned into something more than black and white words is what truly began this journey to bring the Colorworld story into as many mediums as possible. Once my husband and I saw Colorworld in another dimension, we HAD to have more.
What are you working on now?
I am personally in the process of editing the 5th book in the Colorworld Series, Dreamworld. In the realm of visual arts, we are currently putting the finishing touches on the Colorworld Comic, Issue #1, illustrated by Garrett Richert. Comics are a whole different animal, as they are basically like directing a movie. So we have several people working on it.
We also have a team putting the first book into audio format. So we will soon have two brand new formats to choose from!
Who has influenced you most?
My husband, Brad Kelly. I never would have taken the step to publish Colorworld, the first book. I wouldn’t have devised the KicksStarter to begin the creation of illustrated editions and audiobooks. Or the second Kickstarter to fund the comic. I wouldn’t be on tour around the country, in an RV, with four children. I wouldn’t be collaborating with some twelve artists. There is NO substitute to having another person in your corner, someone who believes in what you’re doing to get you through your reclusive artist tendency to hide from the world and do art in your underwear. There is no substitute for having someone on your team with business sense and with vision. That’s what Brad is to the story. He does everything that makes these things successful. I cannot say it more seriously than that. Colorworld would be dead in my closet without him.
Favorite Favorite female comic book character?
Wow. I don’t know. I think that’s kind of a testament to how underrepresented women are in comics, eh? Wonder Woman is the natural answer, but I think that’s because she’s like the ONLY major female superhero. I like her, but meh… If I were to broaden my tastes to television, I would choose Ashoka from Star Wars: The Clone Wars. I love her progression as she begins to question the establishment. It’s hard for her to leave the Jedi order, but she totally owns it for the sake of her personal integrity, which I find absolutely commendable. She doesn’t completely turn away either. She might be leaving an upbringing and culture that has been her family, but she retains the good parts of it. So few people manage this in life.
Do I have photos of my fave Star Wars character in Cosplay?? Of course I do!
Do you think people expect a certain type of art from you since you are female?
I have, on occasion, been ‘accused’ of writing a female character as if I’ve fallen prey to a trend. To write a female lead has become ‘the thing to do’ and I guess the expectation for some is that it will pass, sort of like zombies or vampires. This is, of course, ridiculously sexist. It’s also wrong. To think that women are coming into the spotlight only to be taken out of it later is… gross.
More commonly, when pitching the book to men, I have been asked if it’s ‘girly.’ They don’t seem to have an issue with a female protagonist as much as they worry what KIND of protagonist she is. This is also an issue. If I’m going to write a female character, it shouldn’t be a certain TYPE that’s acceptable.
From women, the demand is always for a “strong female lead.” To me, this is just as denigrating. “Strong female characters” imply that there are certain female aspects that are NOT strong, which we should shy away from. We should embrace the feminine in all it’s forms and we should embrace people as constant works in progress. Women are multi-faceted, and we are also flawed, just like men. We don’t pop out perfect, and if we are reading or watching a story of a female, we should allow her the opportunity to develop without bashing the writer for not making her a “role model” right off the bat or for letting her languish over a boy. Sheesh. Men are hot. Women are hot. And we all want each other. This isn’t a dirty secret. It’s not a disservice to women. If men can be absolutely enthralled with females and still be considered “strong” then women can be likewise. It’s narrow-minded and equally disparaging to only write women as “already arrived” at their powerful selves or to be unaffected by attraction toward men. That castrates them of the most powerful drive of humanity: the desire to find lasting companionship, to not be alone.
How often do you attend comic book conventions?
I go to comic cons every weekend, just about. My family and I have been doing so since January of 2015, and we adore it. The convention scene is unlike anywhere else on earth, because it is one of acceptance. It’s a judgment-free zone. Sometimes I emerge more fully into the “normal world” for a time and am awestruck by how un-accepting people are of anything outside of the usual. But I then remind myself that I’ve been immersed in convention life so long that there is almost nothing than fazes me anymore. Nothing that makes me look twice. No lifestyle or fetish or fandom is strange. My kids as well. They are growing up at comic con, and that is a very unique thing, something I think no other kids on the planet can claim. If there are other kids out there living their lives like this, I haven’t seen them. And I would have, since I have been to most conventions around the US and Canada.
Cosplay is welcome ANY time on the #CWBT:
Introvert or Extrovert?
Introvert. Definitely. But I’ve been an introvert training in extrovertism (I made that word up!) for the past year and a half. You can’t work at conventions and not learn how to enjoy talking to people, learn how to enjoy being around people. My very first convention, Salt Lake Comic Con, in 2014, I slept for two days straight when I got home afterward. It was that draining. I’ve built up a lot more tolerance for being surrounded by tens of thousands of people since. It’s something I’m very proud of.
Where do you find your inspiration?
Everywhere. Convention life coupled with constant travel means I get first-hand experience of new people and places. I’m am SO lucky in this. I don’t have to look everything up on wikipedia. I’ve BEEN to almost all of the places I write about. I also know people everywhere now from all different belief-systems. Again, real-life experience. Because of this, I’m also stretched psychologically because of so many new paradigms I’m exposed to that I have to fit into my world-view. It means personal growth. It allows me to infuse this growth into my characters, and their progression is more organic. I don’t have to contrive anything. Most of what my characters struggle with are things I have struggled with at the same time in some form or another.
Our crew in front of #Bonnie, our most recent RV:
What do you do if you have writer’s block?
I delete something. A lot of somethings. If I have writer’s block, it’s because I’ve written the wrong thing up until that point. I told the wrong story. I am really good at using the delete key.
Interesting or awkward experiences?
I laughed at this question. I live at comic con every weekend and in an old unreliable RV with five other people the rest of the time, sooooo, yeah. If you want the full story, with all the sordid details, you can visit our facebook page under Colorworld Books, or you can search our Colorworld Books Tour hashtag #CWBT. There are TONS of videos.
Here is a facebook post I made on February 21 of this year, just to give you a taste:
I’ve been stalked by Journey fans who thought my RV belonged to the band. I’ve hidden underneath my RV to hide from loading dock security. I’ve stood on the top of my RV to pick mulberries. I’ve slept in my RV on the side of 95. I’ve been pulled over in my RV 6 times on suspicion of drug running. Last night I woke up to drunk people having sex against the side of my RV. Can’t make this stuff up, people. Chuck, see what you missed by refusing Beya’s invitation to tour with us?? #ConLife#CWBT
Beverage of choice:
Last time you dressed up for Halloween:
2011, I think. It was the first and only time I have ever made themed family costumes. We were the cast of Phineas & Ferb, my favorite cartoon ever.
What do you want people to know about you?
I am in love with my husband. So much so that The Colorworld Series is about him and the love he has for me. The love story is THE MOST REAL PART of the series, which is the irony of the whole thing. Everyone assumes his character is too fantastical to be real, and the love between him and the protagonist is too instant, too perfect. But it’s real. I’m not saying my husband inspired the story. He IS the story. I can’t be more serious about that. In fact, I had to add in a lot more trials and tribulations just to make my real-life story LESS unbelievable in the books. I think knowing this fact makes a difference when people read the books and when they choose to invest in our ongoing story, which we live out on social media. I’m not just a writer, and he’s not just my business guy. We are an inseparable, devoted team, and as we meet more success, our love story will have been the thing that inspired it all, both inside and outside the pages.
Me and my guy, doing what we usually do late at night:
And secondly, we would not have survived the last year and a half without fans, family, friends, and artists. We are broke beyond belief. But we are the people-richest people I know. No joke. We survive to fight another day on tour because of the people who have been cheering us from the sidelines.