Q: Return to Alastair and its predecessor, Tahn, reflect a change in genre for you. What led to your decision to try your hand at medieval fiction?
Kelly: I never actually made that decision at all. As I explained in the author's note at the beginning of Tahn, I woke up one morning with this idea already very detailed in my mind. I just started writing the story immediately as it flowed out from me without analyzing any setting details or genre classification in advance. All I knew was that I had a great story circling in me that had to be written down and that's what I concentrated on. And the rough draft was actually written before I finished Julia's Hope, my first book.
Q: What kind of feedback have you received from your readers about the new series?
Kelly: Some readers have like Tahn better than any of my other books and are anxiously awaiting the release of Return to Alastair. I have even been told that Tahn and the stories to follow it could be used as ministry tools to introduce the awesome mercy and forgiving love of God to unbelievers through the medium of story. I know of at least one preacher who has used excerpts and thoughts from Tahn in his sermons. I have been told that while this series is "rougher" than my other books, that is really not a problem, that the story moves them along. I don't know how many people have told me that they couldn't put it down. One California woman who wrote me a nice long letter said it was "fantastic, magical, and a perfect story...definitely a keeper...I was in heaven reading it." That's some amazing praise.
Q: How did writing Alastair and Tahn differ from writing your historical fiction books?
Kelly: The whole writing process has been more intense. I find that difficult to explain, but I kind of live in my stories internally while I'm writing them, and Tahn and Return to Alastair have both been an emotionally wild ride. But I love them just as much as the others; I get very wrapped up in the characters and the situations. One of the benefits of this series is that I am not constrained by a factual location or specific year. So I let the whole story roll our first before I go over it with setting and historical-related detail in mind. Whereas, in my historical novels the research and verification of detail is part of the whole process, on-going and in the middle of things from page one, or even before.
Q: How did you go about researching the time period covered in the book?
Kelly: Well, initially, I just got the story out of my head and on paper and shared it with my publisher, who thought it might be a good idea to set the series in a specific European country in certain years. I hadn't given it a year or any place name, other than the fictional names of certain towns important to the story. Because of the publisher's request, I researched medieval European history extensively, trying to locate a place and time where the story actually fit. But we finally decided that it was better left alone--to try to fit Tahn around a true historic context would later the character of the story too extensively and make it something else entirely. But it has a medieval European feel, which I am careful to remain true towards, and my research has helped a great deal in maintaining a plausible pre-1500 atmosphere.
Q: What character do you most identify with from this series?
Kelly: I'm not sure my mother (or anyone else) would understand this, but definitely Tahn. I understand his motivation, his fears, his inner torments and pain, and his hopes and dreams when he allows himself to have them. Don't ask me to explain; I'm not sure I can. But right from the start, I have had an exact sense of where he is coming from and where he is going.
Q: Now that you've branched out to a different genre, are there other genres you'd like to explore in the future?
Kelly: I have several ideas in contemporary times, suspenseful or homey, and one western historical I have not had time to develop, as well as other medieval-type and historical ideas. Beyond the releases already planned for 2006 and 2007, I don't know yet what will be next. Perhaps we'll find out together...
Q: What's next for L.A. Kelly?
Kelly: I'm not sure what the future will hold except that I know I'll keep on writing. But for L.A. Kelly as a byline name, if I continue to use that, it would probably be for other medieval-type fiction or additional stories with special intensity (peril) and suspense as part of the plot line. This is in contrast to my historical novels and probably future books with a "cozier" storyline and setting, for which I will continue to use Leisha Kelly.