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AUTHOR KELLY LANE

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American writer Kelly Lane is the author of the Olive Grove Mysteries, a whimsical, culinary cozy mystery series set around the fictional Knox family plantation and olive orchard in the Southeastern United Sates. Published in 2016, Ms. Lane’s first book, One Foot in the Grove, received a Library Journal starred review.

In addition to writing fiction, Ms. Lane works as an editor for a New York-based literary agent and collaborates with other authors and their manuscripts. She is a member of Sisters in Crime.

Prior to her foray into fiction, Kelly Lane worked as a writer, editor and public relations professional for newspaper, business, Internet, and retail industries. Clients included international and Fortune 500 companies, entrepreneurs, hospitals, politicians, and non-profits. At one time she managed public affairs for the largest government communications contract ever awarded by the United States Army.

With professional experience as an illustrator and designer, Kelly Lane is an award-winning photographer with two solo photography shows to her credit. And she is a former owner/manager of one of the largest privately owned equine facilities in New England.

Kelly Lane is a graduate of Mount Holyoke College in South Hadley, Massachusetts, where she studied under award-winning novelist and screenplay writer John Irving.  Moreover, she studied fine art and illustration, with a focus on children’s book illustration, at the Rhode Island School of Design in Providence, Rhode Island.

A native of Ridgewood, New Jersey, Ms. Lane resided in Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island and New Hampshire before relocating to the South following the death of her first husband, an award-winning journalist turned writing consultant.  Today with her son who is a pilot attending college, and her Virginia-native husband, a real estate broker and lifetime farmer, Kelly Lane lives on a farm just north of Charlottesville in the piedmont of the Blue Ridge Mountains — the heart of Central Virginia’s wine and hunt country.

When she’s not pounding the computer keys, Ms. Lane is often outside with her horses, chickens and other pets and livestock, or making photo images around the farm.  Describing herself as “an incurable recipe-tinkering kitchen crasher,” Kelly Lane enjoys reinventing family recipes and coming up with new dishes using artisanal and locally grown foods. In addition to writing cozy mysteries and suspense, she’s working on a cookbook.

 

Twenty Author Questions

1. WHERE IS YOUR FAMILY FROM AND WHEN AND WHERE WERE YOU BORN?
KELLY:  Both sides of my family—my father’s side from the Northeast, and my mother’s side from the Southeast—have been in America since well before the Civil War; some of my ancestors were on the East Coast as early as the 1600s. When I was growing up, my parents and grandparents lived in New Jersey and Massachusetts. I was born in 1959 in Northern New Jersey.

2. GROWING UP, DID YOU LIKE SCHOOL?
KELLY:  I loved school, especially Junior High. I was fortunate to have had exceptional teachers and wonderful friends. I’d give anything to be back in school again!

3. WHAT BOOKS DID YOU LIKE TO READ AS A KID?
KELLY:  Of course when I was very young, I read Dr. Suess books by Theodor Seuss Geisel. And my grandfather worked for a publisher, so we had all sorts of Time Life books around the house, so when I was a bit older I read books about art, history, cooking, how things work …

I loved reading plays and short stories—J.D. Salinger’s Teddy and Edgar Allen Poe’s The Tell-Tale Heartremain two of my all-time favorites. Also I read Ocsar Wilde, George Orwell, J.R.R. Tolkien, Kurt Vonnegut and Roald Dahl. And because my mother was a mystery junkie, we had bookshelves filled with just about every book written by Agatha Christie; Erle Stanley Gardner/A.A. Fair; Dorothy L. Sayers; Rex Stout; Ngaio Marsh and others.

4. WHAT DID YOU READ IN HIGH SCHOOL?
KELLY:  During high school, especially summers on Cape Cod, I was fortunate to hang out with kids who were both very bright and older than I was. The upshot is that I read what they read, so I read books by Leo Tolstoy, Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Ayn Rand, the Bronte sisters, Norman Mailer, Ken Kesey, Stephen King and Tom Wolfe. Also, I remember reading many books about the craft of photography, including some by Ansel Adams, and artist biographies, including Georgia O’Keefe. I was pretty literate in French in those days so I read books in French by Albert Camus, Jean-Paul Sartre, Gustave Flaubert and others.

5. WHERE DID YOU GO TO COLLEGE, WHAT DID YOU STUDY, AND WHEN DID YOU GRADUATE?
KELLY:  I graduated with a liberal arts degree from Mount Holyoke College in South Hadley, Massachusetts, in 1981. That’s where I met and studied under award-winning novelist and screenwriter John Irving. After John Irving left Mount Holyoke, I ended-up majoring in studio art.

6. WHAT BOOKS DID YOU READ IN COLLEGE?
KELLY:  Because he was my professor and mentor at the time, I read everything by John Irving. The World According to Garp was published while I was in college, followed by The Cider House Rules. Also I read works by Virginia Woolfe, Graham Greene, Gunther Grass, and a whole lot of philosophy, including works by Socrates, Plato, John Stuart Mill, Henry David Thoreau and Ralph Waldo Emerson.

7. IF YOU LIKE WRITING AND READING SO MUCH, WHY DID YOU STUDY ART, NOT ENGLISH OR WRITING DURING COLLEGE?

KELLY:  Making art was work that never seemed like work … kind of my passion. I loved working with traditional oil paints and I was intrigued with different processes for sculpture. Several years after college, I took a slew of classes at the Rhode Island School of Design, mostly photography, watercolor and colored pencil, which I absolutely loved. That was when I discovered illustration. With a focus on children’s book illustration, I seriously thought about illustration as a career. And again, I was fortunate to have had exceptional, generous and motivated teachers, including award-winning illustrator Mary Jane Begin. However, I realized that I had years of learning the craft of illustration ahead of me before I’d be proficient enough to make a full-time living from it.

8. HOW DID WRITING AS A CAREER HAPPEN?

KELLY:  Really, I’ve always been writing. I had a newspaper column in the local paper during high school. After college I worked as a technical editor for a Fortune 500 company. From there I slid over into corporate public affairs, where I wrote newsletters, press releases, brochures and other marketing pieces. Then I owned a business writing and public relations consultancy where, again, I wrote press releases, feature and news articles, newsletters, brochures, scripts, speeches and more. Later I worked as a writer and editor for an online magazine. And I’ve worked as a copywriter for online, catalogue, and brick and mortar retailers. So, I’ve been writing all along … just not books.

9. SO WHEN DID YOU FINALLY MAKE THE CROSSOVER TO WRITING BOOKS?
KELLY:  As far back as I can remember, people told me that I should write books about my life—which, I admit, has involved some quirky episodes. I thought about it, but writing about my own experiences seemed … self-absorbed. And I’m not brave enough to share real moments from my existence with the world! Regardless, I credit my literary agent for the push into fiction. He called one day to suggest I put together a proposal for a cozy mystery series. To this day, I don’t know how or why he figured I was a fit for fiction.

10. HOW OLD WERE YOU WHEN YOUR FIRST BOOK WAS PUBLISHED?
KELLY:  I was 57 the year my first book was released. I’m living proof that it’s never too late to start something new!

11. WHAT BOOKS DO YOU LIKE TO READ NOW?
KELLY:  Most of the time you’ll find me reading literary fiction, crime fiction, or a combination of the two. Recently, I’ve been reading a lot of noir fiction. Also, I like reading historical fiction and mysteries with a romantic component.

My son has convinced me to watch and appreciate science fiction films—Inception is a new all-time favorite—so I’m venturing into science fiction books as well, mostly mystery stories.

In non-fiction I like books about art, design and color; food; gemstones and jewelry; gardening and horticulture; and history. Plus, I collect cookbooks … I can’t help myself.

And I make it a point to read books by top-selling crime and romance authors, especially the talented and fortunate few who’ve “made it” to the shelves of Walmart. They always teach me something.

12. WHAT ARE YOUR ALL-TIME FAVORITE BOOKS?

KELLY:  In fiction, F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby is my all-time favorite read, hands down. Also, Shakespeare’s play Hamlet. And there’s Ann Patchett’s Bel Canto. Fyodor Dostoyevky’s Crime and Punishment and Norman Mailer’s The Executioner’s Song make a great pair to read together.

13. WHAT ARE YOUR HOBBIES?

KELLY:  Reading, of course! Seriously, although I haven’t been sailing in years, it’s truly one of my greatest joys—in dinghies and small boats because if I’m out on the water I want to get my butt wet. Also, I love swimming. I don’t live near the water any more, still I try to get into a pool several times each week. I’d swim everyday, except some days I just can’t drag myself away from the computer keyboard—especially if there’s a deadline.

And I keep several horses at home. At one time I bred warmbloods; I stopped when my first husband passed away and I had a small child.

I try to make time for long walks outside, tinkering in the perennial gardens, snapping images on my iPhone, and adding to my cookbook collection.

14. IF YOUR HOUSE WAS ON FIRE AND YOU COULD ONLY GRAB ONE THING, WHAT WOULD IT BE?

KELLY:  My recipe box—if I were organized enough to have all my recipes in one box, that is! I come from a very small family and almost everyone has passed away. I’ve collected recipes written in my mother’s hand that she prepared when I was a little girl. I have recipes written in my grandmother’s hand that she attributed to her mother. Also, I have recipes from some of my close friends, my mother’s close friends, and my late husband’s family. And I see all these cooking instructions—and of course preparing and enjoying the food itself—as eternal links to beloved family and friends as well as ancestors who I never knew. Hopefully, the links will continue when my son passes the recipes down to his family someday.

15. IF YOU HAD A SUPERPOWER, WHAT WOULD IT BE?
KELLY:  I’ve always wanted to be invisible so I can sneak into places I’m not supposed to be and observe people without them knowing I’m there. Knowledge is power.

16. WHAT FICTIONAL CHARACTER IS MOST LIKE YOU?
KELLY:  Decades ago a very talented young man made an illustration of me along with my co-workers depicted as the characters in the first Star Wars film. Like every other female there, I couldn’t imagine myself as being anyone except Princess Leia. Alas, no. I was depicted as C-3PO, the mannerly humanoid robot specializing in protocol, etiquette and languages. To my chagrin, everyone agreed it was a perfect match.

17. IF YOU COULD INVITE ANY PERSON IN THE WORLD—LIVING OR DEAD—TO SPEND THE WEEKEND WITH YOU WHO WOULD IT BE?
KELLY:  Marie Antoinette. She was a wonderful mother and showed courage right up until the moment of her death. Her impact on fashion and design has lasted for centuries. And I’m curious to know how she felt about the practice of European royals marrying off their young daughters to cement political unions, as well as her personal views regarding class and the French Revolution … some suggest that she actually helped initiate the movement that eventually took her life.

18. WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE MOVIE AND WHY?

KELLY:  The whimsical comedy Local Hero embodies everything I love about life. Released in 1983, the film is about an oil company employee from big-city Texas who travels to a quaint fishing village in the Scottish Highlands, intending to purchase the seaside village’s oil reserves. As the slick Texan stays on in the stunning countryside hamlet, the marvelous seaside setting and its quirky inhabitants begin to change his perspective. Poignant, charming and wickedly witty, the film is filled with memorable, dead on characters; gorgeous scenery; subtle, off-beat humor; and splendid music from one of my all-time favorite musicians, Mark Knopfler.

19. TELL ME SOMETHING ABOUT YOURSELF THAT MOST PEOPLE DON’T KNOW.

KELLY:  I’m an Applied Jewelry Professional certified with the Gemological Institute of America. I guess, that involves another hobby I forgot to mention …

20. WHAT DO YOU CONSIDER YOUR BEST ACCOMPLISHMENT?
KELLY:  Raising my son.