A Ten Question Interview With The Artist… Kelly Coody (nee Fitzharris)

Why do you write?

I write because if I don’t, I will explode–I have to write. It’s just what I do.

What books do you read?

I read mostly suspense/thriller genre books; page-turners, and books that figuratively make my head explode (like Joseph Heller’s Catch-22.)

What inspires you?

What inspires me? This is a great question for a writer, as it can elicit such a variety of responses. My own idiosyncrasies and shortcomings, my past, my unresolved emotional baggage. This is an honest, from-the-heart answer! It’s unusual, of course, but writing fuelled by my unresolved past is not only truthful and powerful, but cathartic. Writing about something I never quite finished gives me closure in a way. It’s like I’m constantly trying to fill the hole that spurs my recurring dream that I’m having to do my senior year of high school over again as an adult back in Niceville, Florida. The dreams all start out the same; I fit in for a while. Then I slip and start talking about my kids and then tell that one token gossip-prone fellow student that my 32nd birthday is coming up in May.

How did you know you wanted to be a writer and when?

I think I’ve always known I wanted to be a writer, truthfully. But there was this pivotal moment when I was in grade-school, between 2nd and 3rd grade, a summer during which I read 17 of R.L Stine’s non-goosebump-series books and said to myself, this is it. This is what I’m going to do. 

How do you deal with rejection?

Great question! Not always well. My whole life I’ve been chided to “toughen up!” and to “get a thicker skin!” which never did a damn thing. As a former theater buff, you’d think I’d have learned by now to take rejection constructively or blow it off. Some days I laugh at it or think, ugh, I don’t caaaare, but other days, I’ll send a drunken, snarky e-mail back to the agent or publisher who rejected me. Hey, no one’s perfect.

Who are some writers you admire?

Gillian Flynn for my present-day favorite writer. As far as including all of my favorite writers, there’s Daphne du Maurier, whose book Rebecca made me re-evaluate literature in and of itself at the tender age of 14, and whose short stories are chilling and captivating, Guy de Maupassant, Edgar Allan Poe, and Pablo Neruda.

Is writing the only artistic medium you do?

Oh no, I sort of dabble in all things artistic, as I am hopelessly right-brained. As I briefly stated before, I was very into stage theater when I was younger and loved acting. I also play the clarinet. As an adult, I still paint and sketch and like to mess around with photography a bit. As long as I’m creating something, I’m in a state of happiness.

What would be some advice you would give to your younger self?

I sort of admire my younger self in a way; I had character (I’m not saying that I don’t have it now), but I had it in a way that you sort of leave behind as you get older. When I was 22, I left a company lunch after my boss and fellow coworkers started making fun of gay men. I told them that they were gay-bashing and I wouldn’t take part in it, called them bigots and slammed the door on my way out. I can’t always say with an exact certainty that I would do the same now at the age of 32. But, to the side of myself who has always been self-deprecating and plagued with doubt, I want to tell her what I tell other female writers and shake her. Don’t doubt your every move, young Kelly. You’re doing a good job, young Kelly. Stop with your internal negative monologue. Enjoy your fucking life. Believe in yourself.

Do you have any advice for other writers?

Advice to other writers; this one I do all the time, but don’t always follow myself. WRITE! Don’t censor yourself AT ALL and I’m telling you, you and your work will soar. Don’t stop writing just because one person didn’t like it; I’ve seen some of the most educated, talented writers in the world get passed over for various reasons that I still don’t quite understand. But be true to yourself and write what you write; don’t try and modify your style or voice to fit into a certain “market.”

What is your writing process?

My writing process is a mess. It’s a complete cluster and 90% stream-of-consciousness, and I always start my books en medias res. Then when I get about 20 thousand words in, I begin planning my backstories and side stories around what I’ve written so far. I’ll toy with a few scenarios, see how the writing flows, and it usually ends up taking a few rounds before I get it right. And then I re-write, write more, re-write again and again and again.

Kelly Coody

Kelly Coody (nee Fitzharris) is the editor and creator of Sick Lit Magazine (https://sicklitmagazine.com/), a webzine dedicated to literature, art and artists who are doing what they do and doing it well. She procured her Bachelor of Science in Public Relations from the University of Texas at Austin in 2006, with a minor in French. Her bilingual skills do her little justice now that she lives in Texas. The daughter of a retired Lieutenant Colonel and fighter pilot in the U.S. Air Force, she grew up all around the world, notably living in Aschaffenburg, Germany during the uncertain time in the 80s when the Berlin Wall came down. A true product of her transient childhood, she’s always on the brink of figuring herself out. Look out for her book, Unhinged, which will be released this summer from Snow Leopard Publishing. She resides in Fort Worth, Texas with her husband and two children.




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