Thank you so much Ms. Kelly Van Hull for joining all of us at BOD for an author spotlight interview. I’m very excited to pick your brain a little bit about what it’s like being a writer among your many other awesome responsibilities. Thank you!
I feel like I should be thanking you. It doesn’t go unnoticed how much work the BOD administrators do and speaking as one of the authors, we really appreciate it. It’s a really fun way to connect with other readers and talk about all things books! So, thank you.
Kelly, when did you know you wanted to be a writer, and what made you want to write dystopian fiction?
My memories of in utero are a little fuzzy, but I’m pretty sure I had a pen and paper even back then. Who needs an umbilical cord when you have a Sharpie and some notecards? Seriously though, until the self-publishing industry took off, I didn’t even know it was a possibility. It was just something that refused to go away and it never will. I’m obsessed with words. As far as dystopian goes, I was built for it. I’ve been trying to write other stuff, but my true love is dystopian. I think it’s a smashup of all the other things I love. Survival, speculative science fiction, animals (I watch a lot of Animal Planet,) young people in coming of age situations, and best of all THE BIG RESTART BUTTON.
There are tons of biblical references to Tent City and Red River. Can you explain where you got the idea or why you chose to put ancient prophetic writing in a futuristic setting?
People ask me this all the time and I didn’t have a good answer until the other day when I was cleaning my 6-year-old twins’ room. I was putting away their videos and I ran across the movie “The Prince of Egypt” and it hit me. That story has been living with me for years. I don’t know if I can think of anything scarier than dealing with plagues that come in one right after another with no ability to control it whatsoever. I have a bit of a soft spot for biblical stories. I really like the idea of putting them in real time, in the lives we live now.
Tell us a little bit about Dani and the dystopian world where she finds herself in Tent City and Red River.
Dani’s world is quite sheltered in the beginning, a token from her parents, but it’s unsteady and right off the bat, she finds herself dealing with stuff for the first time and being responsible for someone other than herself. The dystopian setting itself in Tent City was fun for me to write, but really the heart of the story happens between her and her little brother.
I have read a couple of dystopian stories where the characters develop some form of superhuman traits as a result of surviving a disaster, disease, etc. What do you think draws writers and readers to create or idolize characters in fiction with advanced abilities?
Short answer: Because it’s fun.
Long answer: I can only speak for myself in saying that was integral to the story. Tent City’s advancements were the markers to figure out who belonged in the group that was essentially going to save the world. They had matching abilities, which forced them to recognize it, claim it and essentially seal the circle, which would later be symbols for a new emerging society. Boy, when I put it that way, it sure seems like there needs to be a third book.
You have mentioned on BOD that you are a runner. How much of Dani’s character traits are based on fact? Did any other real live person inspire you to create characters in Tent City and Red River?
As far as Dani’s ability to run and the logistics of how long things would take her, it’s all very realistic, but turned up just a smidge. In today’s world, she would be a track star somewhere, if not only for her endurance. I turned it up a notch to show that she was different, but realistically it can be done. I have some experience mostly as an adult with some road race wins and a marathon under my belt. The only other thing she inherited from me was her need to be literal all the time and the inability to cope with pillows without cases and beds without sheets. Brody was built from my own children, as the twins were about that age when I wrote the story. I had never met Jack before, but he was one of the first to introduce himself to me and I stole something from my husband when figuring out who Bentley was. The one true thing about Bentley is that no matter what, he sees Dani as his constant. He might be stubborn and do things his own way, but in the end, he’s always looking out for her.
If you were to develop advanced superhuman traits or abilities, what would they be and why?
I’m not sure there is any answer other than wisdom that could lead to a happy ending, so I’m going to have to go with that. It’s the gift that keeps on giving. In fact, I’m certain there is a biblical reference to that somewhere as well.
When you’re not writing, what is the main thing that takes up your time, and how do you balance everyday life with your writing career?
Well, I have six kiddos and the last one is a baby, so there’s not much balance of anything going on, but I know I’m meant to write because I find time to advance the path even when I don’t have time and that’s really how you know you are doing what you should be. Right now, I’m focusing on craft and formulating the outline for the next book.
Are you writing anything right now, and when do you expect to be done?
Sort of, but I dare not say anything. Every time I do, I abandon the project, so I’m going to let this one simmer.
What are some fun facts about you? Do you have a favorite series you read over and over again? What is the worst food you’ve had to eat? What is the coolest thing/place you have seen or been to?
Fun facts? I have six kids, but have only given birth three times. Two of those little buggers I inherited when I said I do and two came storming into the world hand in hand. I have a blue uterus, as I only produce boys (thank heavens one I inherited was a girl.) I don’t usually read things over because my to-be-read list is way too long. Worst food? I’m pretty sure I accidentally ate a dog biscuit when I was younger unbeknownst until after ingestion. The coolest place I have ever been to is called Cascade Falls and it’s in the Black Hills of South Dakota. I didn’t know what to expect when we stopped on the way home from vacation, but I will never forget it. It was a scene right out of Twilight with all the native teenagers. I was expecting them to phase into werewolves at any minute. They were beautiful, kind, and generous, very welcoming to share the waterhole that was something out of a fantasy novel where there’s a natural hot tub shape with mini waterfalls, and a place to jump off the edge of the bank, which of course I did.
How cool! Thanks again, Kelly for spending time with us at BOD. It’s so fun to have you as part of this awesome community of authors and fans.