Joining me today is author Kelli Pizarro. Kelli recently released Shanty by the Sea.
Thank you for joining us here today, Kelli.
Are you writing for a particular ideal reader? Who is it and why?
I write for women who love clean fiction. For Shanty by the Sea, my ideal audience would be women of all ages who enjoy humor, inspiration, and light romance without bad language, sex, or graphic violence.
Oh, that sounds just like me!
How do you go about researching your books? Do you prefer online research or physical books?
I prefer traveling to the locations of my books’ settings and scoping out the local area, asking locals and experts about their history, and immersing myself in their culture. It helps me to best capture in words where I want to take the reader. Secondly, I do a lot of online research. Videos, articles, forums, and reaching out to people online take up a lot of hours of my research. Physical books are a third resource I sometimes utilize.
I would probably be the same way. Given the option to travel? Yes, please!
If you had the opportunity to live anywhere in the world for a year while writing a book that took place in that same setting, where would you go?
That’s a tough one! I would say it would be a toss up between Italy and England.
Other than the ability to create your own happily-ever-after endings, what is your favorite thing about being an author?
There are millions of books out there, but clean fiction doesn’t take up the largest part of that number. When searching for things to read, I find it increasingly frustrating that I have to look so hard to find a book with a good story line and no offensive content that isn’t too cheesy or preachy. I want to contribute to the pile of books that meet that criteria, so Christian and Clean Reads book clubs and individuals can have more variety to pull from. We all leave our mark in the world. I want that to be mine.
I love your heart on this, Kelli!
What are you working on now?
I currently have two works in progress.
One, Blackwater’s Daughter, is a novel set in a plantation home in New Iberia, Louisiana. Our protagonist, Alesia, takes a job as assistant and house manager for Hawthorne Moisson, the moody but handsome owner of Blackwater Plantation. Snooping around the home late one night, she enters an off-limits third-floor room where she finds a chest of old things. An old journal captures her attention and she secretly borrows it, reading the story of Hawthorne’s grandmother Clara and learning the dark history of the home and family.
The other, an untitled work, is a Cozy Mystery. Lydia runs a pet bakery in Salem, Massachusetts with her French Bulldog, Pierrie. When her ex-boyfriend’s new love interest turns up dead, and in possession of a half-eaten Pumpkin Pupover from her bakery, Lydia must prove her innocence and solve the mystery herself before she and her business are both six feet under.
I’m intrigued already!
What is the most fun thing you did in the name of researching one of your books?
For Shanty by the Sea, I flew up north last autumn to spend a week in the New England area. My traveling companions (my aunt and another author friend) and I took a train ride through the mountains of New Hampshire, picked apples and berries in an orchard, peddled 6 miles on a rail adventure in Rhode Island, ate nutmeg ice cream and stood on the shore of Nauset Beach in Cape Cod, strolled the streets of Salem on a rainy day, ate the best spaghetti and meatballs ever at La Famiglia Giorgio in Boston, and toured Hammond Castle. These experiences really helped my story come to life on the pages.
That sounds like a great trip. I took a similar one with my parents many years ago. What a beautiful area, especially in the autumn!
What is your favorite place to write? Can you describe the ambiance and what we would see if we were there with you? If we were there with you, what would we see, hear, and smell?
My favorite place to write is a small coffee shop in Palestine, Texas — Cream & Coffee.
Placed in the downtown area, the shop has indoor and outdoor seating and is in a scenic spot. The coffee and teas are awesome, they have freshly baked sweets, and it always smells like a fresh shot of espresso. There is a couch I try to claim as often as I can, but if the weather is nice and cool, I like writing outside in a rocking chair or at one of their small tables. There is a pie shop next door and a restaurant across the street, so I can spend an entire day there and never have to get in my car to take breaks to eat. The baristas are super friendly and never seem to mind my regular presence.
What is your favorite thing about being a writer?
Other than the neat research trips, I love people-watching. We are made in God’s image and I love studying people to see what that looks like in individuals. Creating realistic characters who are imperfect and quirky like us helps me to see people through a different lens.
What was your dream job when you were a child?
Being an author or teacher. I am now both! I am blessed to be able to homeschool my children. Ten years ago, I wouldn’t have seen that being a possibility. God truly knows the desires of our hearts.
What in particular do you hope your readers will take away from their reading of Shanty by the Sea?
Passions and dreams planted in us by our Creator are worth chasing after, despite the obstacles that may come our way.
Thank you, Kelli, for sharing with us. I am excited to get to know you more through reading Shanty by the Seaand have a feeling it won’t be the only book of yours that I read.
Readers, here is more about this book. Doesn’t it sound like fun?
Shanty by the Sea
Genres: Christian Fiction, Clean Romance
Setting: Massachusetts Contemporary
Written for: Adults
Scarlett Cooper’s goals in life up to this point have been simple enough: run The Little Latte coffee shop by day and finish a novel-in-the-making by night. When her creative writing juices dry up, she visits the local bookstore for inspiration and leaves with a flier promoting an upcoming writer’s retreat in Cape Cod.
When announced as a winner, Scarlett crosses the state line from New Hampshire into Massachusetts. What she doesn’t realize is the retreat is themed The Great Writers of History, and she has been selected to play the part of starving artist Charles Dickens.
Hilarity ensues as Scarlett dresses in costume and competes against two fellow writers playing the parts of Jane Austen and William Makepeace Thackeray, spends her nights in a tiny shack on a cliff overlooking the sea, and finds herself developing feelings for a local man hired to tend to the retreat pet: a decrepit donkey named Janet.
Although things at the retreat don’t run as smoothly as Scarlett had hoped, and the competitive nature of the other writers tests her in a way reminiscent of Job who lost half his donkeys (one of which was probably named Janet), she learns that no amount of adversity is worth letting go of one’s dreams.