BFD: When did you decide that you wanted to be a writer?
KH: Pretty much the moment I learned to write. I used to write short stories all the time when I was growing up. I even wrote a novel. It was awful and all one paragraph if I remember correctly. I got serious about writing in 2004. I decided that I didn't just want to write as a hobby anymore, so I enrolled in classes, joined writers groups, and started writing everyday.
BFD: Some people ask if you write when you’re inspired or if you have a writing routine. You’re a full-time mom and writer, so I think I already know that you can’t wait for inspiration to hit in order to sit down and write. Can you talk about how and when you write in order to get so much writing done?
KH: I do have a schedule. I write everyday while my daughter naps. But I also sneak writing time in during breakfast and after my daughter goes to bed at night. Of course inspiration strikes when it wants to, so I keep notebooks all over my house and in my purse. I write by hand a lot just to make sure I get my ideas down as soon as I get them.
BFD: You have May the Best Dog Win coming out to charm picture book fans. You’ve also written YA horror, middle-grade fantasy and lots of other children’s fiction for many magazines. (An impressive list, by the way). Do you have a favorite?
KH: I do love it all. I think writing across genres and age levels keeps things fresh for me. But I have a special place in my heart for fantasy. I love stretching my imagination.
BFD: Can you decide, “I’m going to write…this kind of story now…” Or do you need an idea as a generator, and then let that idea dictate what type/genre of story you will write?
KH: I've done both. Most of the time I begin with an idea. But last fall I decided I would write outside my comfort zone, and I sat down to write horror for the first time. I wrote and sold two short stories that began simply out of the fact that I wanted to try that genre. That's not typical though.
BFD: And…do you find it difficult to go among different genres/types of stories? And is it hard to change the language you use for such a wide range of reader ages?
KH: I have a rule that I read whatever age level/genre I'm writing at that time. It keeps me grounded in the voice and language I need for my writing. Plus I get to read some really great books, so it's a win win situation.
BFD: Do you start with a character? A plot idea? A place? A theme? What’s the first seed of a story for you?
KH: It really depends on the story. For my middle grade fantasy I'm working on, I came up with the plot first. My main character developed to fit that plot. But for my young adult fantasy I had this voice in my head demanding that I write her story. I've learned to go with the flow and not fight what's working for that particular manuscript.
BFD: Do you ever work on more than one story at once?
KH: Always! Right now I'm working on a middle grade trilogy, but I also wrote the first draft of a young adult fantasy at the same time. In addition, I write at least one short story a week. I love working on multiple projects because if I'm feeling stuck with one manuscript, I can open up another and still get in some quality writing that day. Usually one of my projects takes the top spot and gets the most attention though.
BFD: An obvious question might be “What inspired May the Best Dog Win in?” but as a dog owner and obsessive dog lover, I have a feeling that I know what inspired it. However, I’m asking anyway--is there a story you want to share with us?
KH: I have a huge German shepherd, and I'm a compulsive vacuumer (yes, I know that's not a real word). I vacuum everyday--at least once. Well, my dog is ten years old but she still is afraid of the vacuum. She sniffs it, gets in the way of it, and just looks at it like she can't figure out what it is. So it made me wonder if she thought it was some sort of animal--maybe another kind of dog. May the Best Dog Win was born from there.
BFD: That makes me laugh because my biggest dogs were the biggest wimps around the vacuum. My Newfy, Freya, who weighs 167 lb., jumps on the bed when I get the vacuum out.
BFD: What are you writing now? And where do you see your career going in the near future?
KH: Right now, I'm working on a middle grade trilogy. I just signed with an agent for the first book in the trilogy, so we are moving forward with edits and then going on submission. I hope to make a long career out of writing. I can't imagine doing anything else.
BFD: If you could pick anything in the world to accomplish as a writer, what one thing would you like most to accomplish?
KH: This is going to sound simple, but I really would love to overhear just one child say, "Kelly Hashway is my favorite author." That would be a dream come true for me.
BFD: That doesn't sound simple at all! That's a very real dream, and I bet that it will happen, maybe sooner than you think.
Kelly, THANKS for being my guest today. All the best of luck to you and Dash with May the Best Dog Win. You are amazingly prolific and it's been such fun to talk with you!
(Side note: Kelly hosted me on her blog, and you can see our chat on her blog). She has a great blog, so check it out anyway!