Interview with Kelsie Stelting: I May Have Geeked Out a Bit…

          Many homework assignments will not be fun in college. But this one sure was!

          Over the past week, I was tasked with finding someone in my future line of work and to interview them. While most Agricultural Communications students would be interviewing reporters, or public relations officials, my teacher, Dr. Angel Riggs suggested I talk to Kelsie Stelting. I had never heard of her before but that didn’t stop me. Dr. Riggs told me that Mrs. Stelting was a published author of Young Adult romance books and that she had graduated with an Ag. Com. degree just like I was trying to do. I was immediately excited to try and interview Mrs. Stelting. After a few days, I was able to set up the meeting and it all went off without a hitch. To be honest, I was nervous. I’m not very good with phone interviews and I wanted this to go well. Mrs. Stelting was doing exactly what I wanted to do after all. I needn’t have worried though. Mrs. Stelting was super nice and answered all of my many questions. I may have rambled a little bit though when I found something that we had in common. After the interview was over I took my notes and my recorder—my phone—and transposed it all into a Word document for my class. I had so much fun doing this that I wanted to share it with you guys. I hope you all enjoy it.


Question: So I guess just to get us started, you mentioned on your website that you love ice cream. What’s your favorite type of ice cream?

Answer: Um… Literally every type of ice cream.


Question: Do you have a favorite brand?

Answer: Yeah, I just love ice cream in general. But my favorite brand is Tillamook. I don’t know if you’ve ever had it. It’s not super popular in Oklahoma. But Tillamook ice cream is so good. And they have like vanilla, chocolate, cookie dough.


Question: Can you spell that for me? The brand name?

Answer: T-I-L-L-A-M-O-O-K                           


Question: Is that N as in Noah or M as in Milk?

Answer: M as in like, milk.


Question: Okay, I wanted to make sure. Because sometimes—I have you on speakerphone, by the way, so that I can record you as well—if that’s okay? Can I record you?

Answer: Yeah that’s fine.

My Response: Yeah it’ll help me with my note-taking process. But when certain words that you don’t hear very often come up you’re like, uh, I need to make sure I say that exactly right.


Question: Also, on your website, I noticed that you said you traveled a lot when you were younger and that gave you an active imagination. Where did you travel around the world?

Answer: Um, okay, so when I was growing up I lived in like, rural western Kansas and my family, like, never went on vacation anywhere. And then, when I went to college, I just applied for all of these trips and everything that we had. So I was able to go Boston with the Frontier program, which is like, something with the Honors program. So I got to learn more about food security, and biosciences and stuff like that. And then, my husband and I studied abroad in the Czech Republic. When we were there, the way that their testing period works, we had like an entire month off basically, so we just traveled all around Europe on a bus pass basically and it was so much fun. We spent a month in Costa Rica, learning Spanish. And yeah, so I just learned so much about myself and other people.


Question: How do you battle writer’s block?

Answer: Oh, that’s a big question. I think writer’s block, a lot of times, comes from not understanding fully what you’re trying to say, what you’re writing about. And so, when I’m working on something like a press release or Word copy and I’m just really not feeling it, or having a hard time coming up with what to say, I usually don’t know enough. And so, I’ll go back and I’ll research more or talk to other people and get other ideas and that usually loosens things up. But if I’m working on fiction it’s usually because I’m trying to force myself or the story is going in the wrong direction. If it’s just not working you need to back up and try again.


Question: So I know myself personally, I read a whole lot. So, that spurs on my writing. Do you read often? And if so, what kinds of books?

Answer: So, you know your being in college, finding time to read can be really challenging. Especially when it’s kind of recreational, which for me it is. I set up a Goodreads challenge and so I try to read a certain amount of books each year. I always have books on my kindle so now when I read I usually have my phone. It’s usually if I’m reading online I’ll spend time reading instead of on social media. And that how I get a lot of my books in.


Question: So you didn’t really answer what kinds of books you read?

Answer: Yeah, what genre? I read a lot of what I write in so like contemporary romance, young adult romance. And then, I’ll often read so like, I try to stay current on writing and marketing books. And then, I also read personal wellness books and try and grow as I can. And now that I have kids I’m reading a lot of Dr. Seuss. So that’s fun.


Question: When did you know you wanted to write books?

Answer: Well, I’ve been writing since I was a little kid. My parents kept this newspaper that I wrote about the family. I always grew up wanting to be a writer, but when it came time to go to college I didn’t really see that as a feasible future. It’s kind of like being an NBA star. So I liked agriculture and so I thought I’d become a vet. Study abroad and blogging about that experience turned everything on its head for me. And so, what really sealed it was, I interviewed my grandma about life and what it was like to grow up in the rural Midwest. But I interviewed my grandma and when she read the story that I wrote about her it was really moving and she said, “It feels so nice to have someone understand me.” And so, it was at that point that I really understood how writing could be a service to others. And how I could make that valuable. So I kind of went full force from there.


Question: For readers that are just getting into your books which do you suggest they read first?

Answer: My most popular so far has been “Abi and the Boy Next Door.” So I think that would be a good place to start. I see a lot of readers identifying with her, with the main character.


Question: Do you have a favorite book that you have written or is that like choosing a favorite child?

Answer: My favorite book that I have written was “Raising the West.” That was the first one I published and it has my grandma’s story in it and other women from my hometown. And I love that one just because it’s a book that’s going to be passed down through generations even though it won’t reach as many people or anything. I just love how much it means to people.


Question: What is your writing process like?

Answer: That’s a good question. Obviously, it starts with an idea. So I’ll just start to get little tidbits of ideas in my head. And then all of a sudden they’ll start clicking together. Then I’ll have enough to start a new book idea as opposed to just random thoughts in my head. And from there I outline. Once I have my outline done I’ll just start writing. When I write I usually have a playlist on like a Pandora station that kind of fits the mood of the story that I’m writing. And I did this for press releases and stuff like that too. I’ll get the right tone going and put in my headphones and just write and get it out there. I think that’s where the magic happens.


Question: Generally, how long does it take you to write a book from when you start an outline to about when you get it written?

Answer: The first draft can be done anywhere from a month to three or four months depending on what I have going on. And I usually have a few drafts going at the same time so that I can be drafting and editing and proofreading at the same time; like, if I get tired of one project. So from start to finish, it might be a year, but actively working on the project I can probably get it done in three or four months.


Question: Do you know, generally, how long your books are, in the word count?

Answer: It depends on the genre. But for a romance, usually around 50,000 words to 80,000 words is a good ballpark. Fantasy and stuff like that can get up to 120,000 which is insane.


Question: Do you have a certain software that you use to write your books? Like do you use Word documents or I have heard other people use Scrivener?

Answer: So I use Word, and one of my friends talked me into trying Scrivener. I’m trying it for the first time. We’ll see how it goes.


Question: Where does your inspiration come from?

Answer: That’s a good question too. My inspiration comes from watching people and asking “What if?” So I’m constantly asking myself “What if this” or “If this” and then all of a sudden you know, I’m daydreaming about something else. So I think if you want to be a writer you have to be a really good observer.


Question: What is one thing you wish you knew before writing your first book?

Answer: Oh gosh, one thing! All the things. I wish I knew more about the writing community, and I wish that I had really gotten to know other authors and their processes and learn more from experienced writers.


Question: Any other tips for new writers?

Answer: Be your own biggest advocate for your work. Because there will always be people or readers who don’t believe that it can be done or who aren’t the right audience for your work and it can be really easy to give up. So you just have to constantly have that faith in yourself and what you’re doing to keep pushing ahead. Because someone needs your words, and it might be you. So someone needs them.


Question: I saw that you were working on a new book, do you have a synopsis that can I hear or is it like all rapped down in secrets?

Answer: Oh, it’s not a secret. I have a book coming out tomorrow. And it’s called “Fabio Vs. the Friend Zone”.


Question: That’s the second one to “Dear Adam” right?

Answer: Yeah, it’s the second book in the series. It’s about this guy who is really into video games and stuff like that and he was named after Fabio, the really famous romance cover model. But he can’t get his best friend to fall in love with him. And so it’s just a really fun light-hearted story that I hope makes people smile.


Question: So when you’re writing do you keep all of the information secret until it’s just about published or do you kind of give people teasers as you go along?

Answer: I have a newsletter, an email newsletter that I send. And I also have a private Facebook reader group and I’ll let those people, my existing fans, know that I’m working on this project that’s kind of about this and this and maybe the working title. Then, I usually don’t post about it until we’re about a week or so out to publication.


Question: What did you do to get published? Like you say you personally do it. So what’s that like?

Answer: Well there’s a lot involved if you decide to self-publish. You have to be your marketer, business person, book formatter, and you also have to be really good at project management. And so, I work with cover designers, editors, proofreaders, and then also a team of readers who read the book ahead of time. Once I’m done with all of that business I upload the book to my distributor, which, at this point is just Amazon. Then I have to do the fun part of promoting it. So I’ll share it in my newsletter, reader group, and also run Facebook ads and Amazon ads for the books. Luckily, I’m married to an accountant and so he helps me with my book-work.


Question: I saw that you recently published the book called “Dear Adam”. The ratings look pretty good. How does that make you feel?

Answer: My favorite thing is hearing from readers about how much they liked my book. Because obviously I write it for them. So it’s just really nice to hear that people are responding well.


Question: Well, I think I only have one last question for you. Thank you so very much for taking the time to talk with me. I am a part of a national club called Hercampus magazine. Basically, I get to write articles for the university chapter hear at OSU about basically whatever I want. I was wondering if I could write an article about you?

Answer: Yeah, of course, free PR.

          I then thanked her and the interview wrapped up. I had such a great time. She was funny, intelligent, and extremely nice.

          And that’s how this interview came to end up here. This project may have been different than what I was used to but I really enjoyed it. I hope to be able to do more like this. I encourage each and every one of you to do the same if you can. Find the people in a job you strive to have and ask them questions. It doesn’t have to be in a formal interview like mine, though it doesn’t hurt. And for those of you like me who are always looking for a new book to read I would recommend picking up a Kelsie Stelting book. If they are anything like her then they are bound to be great! I will be reading one of hers called “All the Things He Left Behind” during spring break—depending on when this article goes live I might have already finished it. I am also very interested in her book called “Dear Adam” where the bad boy of the highschool is suddenly writing the anonymous advice column in the school’s newspaper.

          If you are interested in learning more about Kelsie Stelting and her books you can find her on Facebook, Instagram and Goodreads. That’s all I have for you today folks. See you next time!