Wednesday, May 29, 2013

J.M. Kelley's Daddy's Girl

Three years ago, native Pennsylvanian J.M. Kelley packed her bags and moved south. Now, the wannabe Carolina Girl can’t speak a single sentence without adding the word y’all at the end of it, and regards a blast of snow flurries as a doomsday-level event.  When the day job allows, and when she can pull herself away from George Takei’s Facebook fanpage, she likes to go on writing jaunts to her favorite lake, or a local coffee shop with delicious shakes and questionable Wi-Fi connections.
J.M. Kelley is a proud recipient of a Carrie McCray Memorial Literary award, and is a member of The South Carolina Writers Workshop and Romance Writers of America (PAN). Readers interested in more information may visit her website at


Sitting down with J.M.

1.       Author name or pen name. If writing under a pen name, why did you choose this particular name? 
I write as J.M. Kelley, but sadly I have no compelling reason for it, other than I have enough trouble getting others to spell my last name correctly—throw in an often misspelled first name, and it would be a recipe for writing disaster. It does allow for a little separation between my writing life and my day to day life, however.
2.       When did you tell your family and friends that you were a writer? How did telling them make you feel?
It’s kind of hard coming out of the writing closet. People don’t always take you seriously. They think it’s a hobby, or a cute pastime that you’ll grow tired of. Opening up about my writing aspirations was very nerve-wracking, but in time it became obvious I was hell-bent on getting published, and I have a pretty supportive group behind me. 

3.       What would your grandmother think if she met the hero in your book? 

I think either of my grandmothers would crack up if they met David. They’d find him awkward and nerdy, but in an endearing way. I think they’d also try to convince me he would be good husband material. 

4.       What is the most romantic thing a man/partner has ever done for you? 

Once upon a time, I was a twenty-something year old driver with a lead foot. I racked up an impressive pile of moving violations in a short frame of time, and was sent a stern letter from the state that declared I would lose my license if I did not take and pass a driver’s retraining class. Needless to say, I was outraged and bummed out by the fact that the state police didn’t let me drive really fast without consequence. The boyfriend at the time gave me a sympathy card with the lyrics to Sammy Hagar’s I Can’t Drive 55 written inside. It was a much-needed laugh, and I thought it was awfully sweet that he was trying to be compassionate about my situation, rather than just state the obvious—that I was a lousy driver, and deserved my fate.  

That probably doesn’t sound very romantic, but those are the kind of things that get to me. They go further than any bouquet of roses ever could. 

5.       If you were planning a seductive dinner in front of a crackling fire, what would you serve?  How would you serve it? What would you wear?  

Oh, dear. Any man that knows me would know to keep me far away from fire. This is a scenario that could only end badly for me. As much as I’d love to offer a sexy, sultry situation, this is about me. Reality dictates that I would be wearing an Avenged Sevenfold t-shirt, boxer shorts, and fuzzy socks as I served considerably burned lasagna. The important point would be that I would do this with a man who would be perfectly okay with this set-up, and allow me to awkwardly seduce him, while keeping my comfy, fuzzy socks on. And he would love it. 

6.       Clothing is an important part of each scene. A low cut tank top sparks more male appreciation than a conservative button down, rolled up sleeve shirt. From a male perspective, compare the two opposites I mentioned above or choose your own for comparison.  

On the physical level, it’s like peeling away the layers of an onion. For plenty of men, though, that conservative look is just as compelling. It’s just a layer. At that stage, there’s so much to wonder about. Is she as conservative as she dresses? When that barrier removed is she softer, more sensual, underneath? Or is she all business, even when that shirt is tossed aside, crumpled on the floor. The tank top is another provocative layer to shed. A flash of skin, a hint of femininity, and endless sexual possibilities.  

7.       Besides being unfaithful, what quality in a manno criminal actswould be a deal breaker? Why? 

Oh, I could list a few, but I’m sure we all share those deal breakers. A man who can’t be himself—that’s a major issue. I’ve come across far too many men who have spent a disturbing amount of time crafting an image of himself that isn’t quite honest. I’m not looking for perfection or sleekness. Be yourself. Be a geek. Be awkward. It’s so much more interesting than someone who behaves as if every move is scripted. 

8.       Do either your heroine or hero have a vice  (drugs, chocolate, expensive jewelry, cigarettes, etc.)?  How important is it to the story? 

Well, there is mention of David Harris being a bit of a neat-freak, though he may an underachiever at the art of carrying vices. He is a tremendous fan of order and Janie McGee brings chaos to his life. She becomes the living embodiment of dust-bunnies under the bed and fingerprints all over the windows and mirrors. 

Janie’s vice, in the past, has been an addiction to bad boys. She’s used to be treated a certain way, and David is the very opposite of all she is accustomed to. It’s a huge hurdle for her to clear, the idea that a man might look at her as someone who deserves to be loved and respected. 

9.       You’ve been dating Mr. Practically Alright for a month. He’s been to your house several times. Finally, he asks you over to his place to meet someone who is important to him. You are thinking it’s a child or perhaps his visiting mother. Wrong. It’s a big Labrador retriever who puts his paws on your shoulders and washes your carefully air brushed face from ear to ear. The biggest dog you’ve ever been around was the size of a meatloaf. What are the first words out of your mouth? If your date doesn’t offer antibacterial face wipes and saysby the way—Fido sleeps with him every night,  what’s your next move?
My first words will probably be expletives I can’t share here. But after the initial shock wore off, I’d be happy to heap attention on Fido. I am not a cat person, and have already discovered that dating cat-loving men is not much of an option for me. Now, when it comes to bed sharing, I could say I’d have a long talk with Mr. Not So Bad about arrangements, but I’m pretty sure that I could find a compelling way to convince him who will be getting dibs on the pillow in the future.  
10.   In your work, regardless of genre, do you consider the environment and do you exhibit an awareness of practices that can make a difference?  It could be something as simple as motion activated lights or lights on timers.
Environment is always an important factor, and I try to represent it, but in a way that isn’t bashing the reader over the head. In Daddy’s Girl, much of the story takes place in the McGee house, and that accentuates the times when Janie is feeling a little trapped by life and circumstance. The story takes place in winter, as well, which serves a few purposes. With the storyline, I felt the idea of the coldness and the bleakness tied in perfectly, creating that underlying tone of claustrophobia and sadness. 
11.   Do you think readers would embrace a heronot a struggling artist, sculptor or writerwho earns only a fraction of what the heroine earns?  Please explain.
I think they would, but I do see a bit of a male breadwinner stereotype that still exists in hero/heroine relationships. It’s not necessarily a bad thing. I’m a single woman, I take care of myself, and I rely on me and me alone. But, I do understand having that occasional fantasy of a knight in shining armor riding in on his white steed, giving me a foot massage, promising to take care of me (and my electric bill) forever, and traipsing off to the bathroom to kill the spiders that like to live in my bathtub.
Women are so independent now, but everyone wants to be loved, and everyone wants an occasional break from the realities of independence. However, the issue of money isn’t necessarily part of that anymore, at least not in my world. I don’t even really consider the earnings factor when I’m writing. I’ve never based a relationship on what a man does for a living. I’ve seen the blue collar and white collar ends of the spectrum, but I’ve never looked at their paychecks. That carries into my writing, I guess. I don’t think about it in terms of storytelling. I’m much more concerned with the characters themselves.
12.   Congratulations, your book has just been optioned by movie producer. Of course you’ll be a consultant to the casting director. Who would you chose to play your heroine?  Hero? What song would you pick for your soundtrack? And since you’ve convinced the powers to be that you must write the screenplay, what will you be wearing to the Academy Awards to accept your Oscar for best screenplay? Include jewelry! 

Oh, this is such a hard question. I can never really picture celebrities in the character roles, but I’ll do my best. 

Right now, I have a big girl-crush on Jennifer Lawrence. I think she’s so down to earth and deliciously awkward: that would be a great fit for Janie. 

David is a hard one for me to cast, but I’ve always gone with Andrew Lincoln, because, well, Andrew Lincoln is just beautiful. 

Music? Oh, we’d have to go with some very heart-string-tugging songs. Something like The Living Years by Mike and the Mechanics or My Father’s Eyes by Eric Clapton. 

If I am going to the Academy Awards, I will wear something big and poofy, and possibly pink, but I refuse to wear jewelry. It makes me twitchy. I will, no matter how fancy the dress, be wearing combat boots underneath.
The blurb...
Sometimes, returning home isn’t about confronting your past; it’s about discovering your future.
Janie McGee, the black sheep of her family, is free-spirited, uninhibited, and never one to stay in the same place for too long. When Janie learns her father, Joe, is gravely ill, she reluctantly returns home to rural Pennsylvania to care for him. Joe’s neighbor, David Harris, sports a pocket protector, collects coins, and is addicted to Antiques Roadshow. Everything about him rubs Janie the wrong way, from his nerdy wardrobe to his enviable friendship with Joe. And to make matters worse, her father thinks they’re perfect for each other, proof positive of how little Joe knows his own daughter…or so Janie thinks.
A shared devotion to the elder McGee begins to close the gulf between Janie and David, but a burgeoning romance opens the door to new problems and unexpected consequences neither could foresee. Joe, however, remains steadfast in his resolve to show Janie that Daddy knows what’s best for his little girl. Can Janie finally open her heart to David while watching the first man she ever truly loved fade away?

J.M. will be awarding a gift basket of some of the author's favorite things, including a $25 gift card from Amazon and a signed copy of the Foreign Affairs anthology from Turquoise Morning Press to a randomly drawn commenter during the tour. Increase your chances of winning by visiting all of the author's tour stops. Follow this link:
Now for a taste...

Before he even opened the door, David knew something was off. Late night visitors, in his experience, rarely brought good news. When the visitor turned out to be Janie, his heart leapt into his throat. “Janie,” he said when he threw open the door. “What’s wrong? Is Joe okay?”
“Yeah. He’s fine.” Relief hit him so hard he took a step back and leaned against the doorjamb. 
“You scared me.” 
“I didn’t mean to.” Janie rubbed her hands up and down her arms and looked over her shoulder. “It’s cold out here. Mind if I come in?”  
“Oh. Right.” David gestured for Janie to enter. “Come inside.” He followed when she slid past him and walked into the living room. 
“It’s late.” As if she needed to tell him. The atomic clock on the wall, a Christmas gift from his mother, showed the time at almost two in the morning. Janie stood in the middle of the room and focused her gaze on the bookcase in the corner. “I didn’t wake you, did I?”  
“I was reading. A little too wired to sleep, I guess.” David moved up behind her and raised a tentative hand to her shoulder. “Are you sure everything’s okay?”  
The sound of his voice jolted her out of her thoughts and she jerked her head toward him. Her movements were stunted. Wooden. “Ever have one of those moments when you’re convinced you may float away, and no matter what you do, you can’t keep yourself grounded? And you need to hang on tight to something until the sensation passes?”  
Whatever was going on, he thought, she was not in a good place. David gently spun Janie toward him and gazed at her. “Tell me what you need from me.” 
Janie closed her eyes and lowered her forehead to David’s shoulder. “Ground me, David,” she whispered and laid her hand on his chest.


Where in the world is J.M.? 
Buy links:
Turquoise Morning Press:


Barnes & Noble:






Mary Preston said...

This interview had me smiling the whole way through.

Combat boots go with everything, especially pink, puffy dresses.


Goddess Fish Promotions said...

Thank you for hosting today.

MomJane said...

I would never have anything to do with a man who was an abuser. Once would be all it would take, and I would be gone.

Loved the excerpt by the way. This sounds like a really sweet story.

Jacqueline Reads said...

Sounds good!

Laurie said...

Lots of interesting answers to your questions. Particularly enjoyed the 'who would play the characters in a movie' answer.

Ingeborg said...

Great interview, I enjoyed learning more about you.


Karen H in NC said...

Lots of interesting questions & answers, but here's another for you: What characters are the hardest/easiest for you to write: The hero, the heroine, the villain (or villainess), the secondary male & female characters? What are the most fun to write?

kareninnc at gmail dot com

Shannon R said...

Thank you for the great interview. I have a feeling this is going to be a very emotional but compelling novel.

fencingromein at hotmail dot com

bn100 said...

Very nice interview

bn100candg at hotmail dot com

Author JM Kelley said...

Thanks, everyone, for the comments! And thank you, Christy. I enjoyed your questions. I don't have an option to reply individually, so Karen H, here is my response to your question: I am a hero addict! I love exploring his nature and motivation, and sometimes I have to be reminded to work on the heroine. I also find secondary characters fun. They're the color that brightens the canvas, after all. Heroines are harder, because the way I think seems to be so very different from most other women I know. Trying to ensure she is accepted by my female readers is a bit like going to the ball in high top sneakers for me. I'm comfortable in the sneaks, but boy, they look weird with all the formals around me....