Well, now, lovelies. I have a cracker for you today. I had a little chat with incredible author, and tremendous friend, Kerri Davidson today. You may recall, I reviewed the first of Kerri’s Journey of Souls series, Soul’s Choice here: https://petrinabinney.com/2019/11/30/book-review-souls-choice-by-kerri-davidson/
Tell us a little bit about your Journey of Souls series. What is it about? Who are your main characters? What drew you to this story?
Yikes. Long story, of course.
So, this was my first full length novel. One I’d been trying to write for years. In fact, I’d started it dozens of times by writing a chapter or two and walking away, or trying to make one of those silly little outlines they taught us about in school.
Yeah… every time I came back to it I realized it was garbage. This was long before I understood that a first draft is supposed to suck.
‘Twas many years later after I’d joined the writing community on Twitter when someone told me about the 85K Writing Challenge. It no longer exists but it was similar to NaNoWriMo in the way that it provided the much-needed motivation and a bit of guidance to WRITE THAT BOOK.
So I signed up for this challenge on New Year’s Eve and began writing the next day. That was the secret. I just wrote. No outline; no regrets. Can I use a semicolon there? Probably not. I never get those right. This is why I have an editor.
Anyhoooo, I cranked out the required 85K (with an extra and unneeded 20K) way ahead of the three-month schedule in 41 days. Editing was… a whole other story.
This story was supposed to be the story of Amy – a troubled teenage girl. I wanted to write about her struggles with weight and body image, being bullied and an outcast, basically trying to find her place in a cold, hard world.
And I did. But this time when I sat down to write the story, imagine my surprise when Amy’s mother, Amelia showed up dead on page one.
In the end, my original story of Amy was told but the other half centered on Amelia in the In Between – my version of the afterlife and how I imagine it to be.
Because it’s all about imagination.
Which brings me to the second book of the series: The Soul Must Go On.
When I first published Soul’s Choice, I knew what happened after it “ended.” It was quite a cliff-hanger of an ending, yet I wouldn’t commit to writing a sequel until I saw how the first one was received and determined if there was a demand for second one. Turns out, there was.
I wrote the second book a year later, once again using the 85K Writing Challenge for motivation. This book flowed out so easily and I absolutely gave my imagination full reign. This story is honestly my favorite out of all my books and my editor agrees. The surprising part was it needed so very few edits. I took one pass after the first draft, sent it to betas then my editor, and it was the easiest damn thing I ever did.
Wrapping this up because whoops, I’ve been dithering.
Soul Connections is the third (and second last) book in the series. Really, I could have ended with just the one sequel, but these characters and their worlds are so addicting that I decided to keep writing them. Soul Connections will release sometime this fall.
If you could give your younger self any advice, what would it be?
Nada. I don’t think I was ready to write the novels back then. I think it’s better I waited until I retired and was able to give writing my full attention and commitment.
Well, I guess I would tell my “starting out” self to join the Twitter #WritingCommunity and make connections with other authors, editors, writing challenges, and all that good stuff. I kinda lucked into that.
Fun fact about how I started using Twitter:
Back in 2017/2018 when I was still only creating my drunken chicken humor novels, it was brought to my attention that I should start creating a social media presence as an author. Groan. So I finished opening a Twitter account that I had apparently been in the middle of doing in 2010 or so, and was immediately confused. I texted my little sister and asked her how this thing worked. She told me to “follow a bunch of people and like their crap.” Lol. It turned out to be a bit more involved than that. I do remember finally connecting with other creatives and learning how to navigate the thing when I stumbled across the #amwriting hashtag.
Are you a big reader?
You bet. Not a big reviewer anymore. It feels too much like work and I found it was sucking the pleasure out of everything I read. I’ll do a short little blurb for books that blow me away but otherwise I’m on review-hiatus. I’m currently alternating between rereading my old favorites and all the authors I’ve come to know on social media. Basically, my TBR list is longer than my projected life span.
What’s the most unusual subject you’ve researched for your writing?
All things chicken. Although I use next to none of it. Then the usual unusual things like how to kill someone with such and such thing, how to properly dispose of a body, swearwords in all the languages, etc.
Do you base any of your characters on real people?
Yeppers. Almost all of them and all the time. If I know you, you’re in one of my books but YOU WILL NEVER FIND YOURSELF. MARHARHAR.
What do you think is the most difficult part of the writing process?
Accepting changes. Even if I already knew something wasn’t working. I’ll do it, on occasion, but there will be angst.
Who are your favourite authors? Do you feel they’ve had an influence on your writing?
Robin Cook, Chris Tullbane, V.C. Andrews, Kelly Armstrong, etc
I wouldn’t say “favorite” but Stephen King and Dean Koontz took up a lot of my reading time in my twenties. They were just so available. I think I learned a lot of things I DIDN’T want to do this way. Eg. Drag out a “monster is creeping up on me” scene for three chapters. YAAAAAAAWN.
What is your next project? Is it something you can talk about?
I am trying desperately to not start a new project because I have so many “almost” publications haunting me. You know, those manuscripts that have been through all the stages but just need that final polish…
However, I do feel the writing itch. That glorious, freeing first draft spewing… I probably should write the final book of the Journey of Souls series before I get too sidetracked on shiny new things. Oh, then there’s the coauthored sequels to Eyes on the Road.
Currently, I’m working on my cozy mystery And the Librarian. It’s a dumpster fire so I thought I’d take a break from it and yak away at you, Tree.
(And it’s much appreciated, Kerri)
Tell us five of your favourite films.
Um, I’m not big on films or TV but I do heart me The Secret Life of Pets, old Doris Day/Cary Grant movies, The Grinch, and almost shamefully, the Twilight movies. That counts as more than five, yes?
Five top albums.
I used to be big into music but I haven’t been able to listen to any for almost two years now. Just life stuff, I suppose. Working through that… Album titles? Well, the world has gone e-crappy so I don’t really look at album titles anymore. Go-to bands were Imagine Dragons, Disturbed, and Mariana’s Trench.
Are you an early bird or a night owl?
Neither now. I used to be night owl. Then an early bird after I met my husband. Now I can’t wait to get to sleep and want to sleep in because it makes the day shorter. Again, life stuff and that will probably HOPEFULLY be temporary. I’m much more functional in the morning, though.
What can you tell us about Henny?
Most importantly, never, ever call him Henry. He hates that.
So, once upon a time, in 2008/2009, I sat down to write a sticky note message for my husband’s lunch. This was something I normally did. A simple “You’re having a good day” or “I love you.” On this particular day, I decided I wanted to draw a little joke to make him laugh at work. The original three sticky notes ended up being page 1 of volume 1. But that wouldn’t happen for nearly a decade…
Long story short, the first knock-knock joke was a hit. I continued to write them and by the second set of notes, I had titled them The Chronicles of Henny in my head.
Henny is abrasive, rude, a drunk, and he swears like a sailor. Some of the jokes that appear in the books make me cringe (after I roll on the floor laughing). So why did I create Henny to be this way and why do I continue to love him after all these years?
I didn’t create him. He wrote himself. Henny is the one who decided to move himself into Cst. (Constable) Poopers’ house and wreak havoc. And deep down inside, as the story progresses, you’ll find yourself rooting for Henny. It’s messed.
So, long story a bit shorter, for some reason my husband continued to bring the notes home every day. I compiled them into a notebook by simply taping them in there. Not the best preservation process.
Years went by and the pen and sticky notes turned to drawing paper and pencils. Still, I had no intention to publish them. In fact, I didn’t have the slightest clue how I would do such a thing.
Eventually, I stopped writing them. I took the notebooks I’d collected and photocopied them, gifting them to my dad and sister. That’s close to immortalizing them as I came.
So I thought.
In 2017, my dad Bruce brought his girlfriend Pat to our home. It was the first time I’d met her and she told me about her daughter who was a graphic novelist in her spare time. Jamie Isfeld is actually an amazing artist. Her mother gifted me one of her graphic novels (the real deal, not chicken-scratches) and asked about the comics I had drawn as she’d heard about them from my dad.
I laughed and dug them out to show her. She said she’d like to take a copy of them home to her daughter and so I sent her off with photocopies.
That year, my dad and Pat returned to visit on my birthday. They brought a gift with them and he insisted on video taping me opening it. I couldn’t believe it when I found someone had already made The Chronicles of Henny. I was confused and outraged until I turned the book and saw my name on the spine. Pat’s daughter had taken the photocopies of my pen and pencil scribblings and created a proof copy of The Chronicles of Henny Volume 1.
This changed my life.
I had the opportunity to meet Jamie Isfeld and she directed me on how to go about publishing this graphic novel. She then asked how experienced I was with computers and graphics and all, so I would be able to continue on my own. I just shook my head in reply.
Nevertheless, after a quick tutorial from her (two hours), I learned on my own and formatted and published The Chronicles of Henny Volume 2.
At this point, I’d run out of pre-drawn material and got back into writing them. For Volumes 3 and 4, I switched from black and white to color.
From the first scratchy, barely legible Volume 1, I sold my first 200 copies and had to order more. In addition to the graphic novels, I created a line of swag including T-shirts, hoodies, beer cozies, ball caps, and toques.
The Chronicles of Henny wasn’t just a comic. It wasn’t just a graphic novel. It was an experience. And it still is. Always remember though, as it says on the cover: “WARNING: This comic may appear to have been drawn by an eight-year-old. It is NOT recommended for one. This book contains language and humor that may offend humans and chickens.”
Moral of the story (yes, there is one): Read Henny. Laugh at Henny. Do NOT be like Henny.
Where do you find inspiration?
Dreams. Literally. When I was a teen I took my favorite dreams and kept them with me – I even used a dream journal and all that – but I dissected them and tried to find a way to make them closer to reality. It kind of gave me hope that things like my favorite surreal dreams could actually be real. Beneath the Snow is a prime example from a dream I had in my twenties while working in retail although the final draft is a lot different from my original concept.
Do you have a pet peeve in writing, any words or phrases that make you roll your eyes?
Yesssss. This form of writing… how can I explain?… Okay! Example time:
“Getting out of bed, so and so fed the cat and got ready for work while eating an apple with one hand.”
Basically, no. I read this as WHILE so and so is getting out of bed, they’ve accomplished all these tasks. That is a hell of a long time to be getting out of bed for.
Then there’s the heaving bosoms and hot juices spurting forth phrases. Lol.
Ooh, and we can’t forget my current biggest peeve… when writer’s decide they’ve been using the word that too often and instead of just deleting it where appropriate they substitute the word which. In fact I really, really, miss THAT little superfluous word. I find it soothing to read. And to be honest, I enjoy passive voice.
Point: Overall, a lot of the “new” writing I’ve seen, in my opinion, is taking all these new “rules” and stretching them out of proportion. No passive voice. No tropes. Show, don’t tell. That’s one right there. If I wanted to be shown a story I’d watch TV. I watch Netflix to fall asleep to. The end. If I read a book, I want to be told a story.
It’s your ideal dinner party. Who are your guests? (They can be literary, fictional, real, living or dead, so go crazy)
Me, myself, and I in my bed all alone in the dark with potato and cheese based vegetarian dinner, vodka, and potato chips by the bucketful for dessert. Dress code = onsies. Sigh. I am so hungry now. I may have to cut this interview short. : )
Which literary character is most like you?
Why oh why does my husband say Cruella Deville? I mean she’s hot and all so I’ll take it but yeesh, I LOVE the animals.
Where can we find you on social media?
Twitter @bagoflettuce and I have an alter ego @KerriDavidson20 to host the #WriterlyWIPChat writing game. I have no idea what my Facebook and Instagram thingers are and I can barely find myself on those platforms. Needless to say, they are not kept up to date. In fact, I’m pretty sure I just got my Facebook profile to list my occupation as “Author at Author.” I sigh.
What is the greatest ambition you have for your writing?
Not sure ATM. Just want to hold my books in my hands, really. If I can snag a person or two and get them to read and enjoy it, BONUS!
Do you have any unfinished manuscripts lurking in the back of a drawer?
I have first drafts and idea seed docs on my laptop and iphone notes. They all will be finished should I live to complete them. My drawers are filled with socks and secret treasures.
What advice would you give to potential authors?
If you really want it, do it. You CAN do it. It’s incredibly easy and incredibly hard. You WILL want to quit. A lot.
But really, the best advice would be to make connections with other writers, editors, cover artists, etc. It takes a while to find people that you click with, whether it be on social media or in person, but it’s so worth it. These are the people that will save you from otherwise screaming into the void.
You can find all Kerri’s amazing books right here, https://amzn.to/3D3IsLh, and I’d suggest you do.