A former journalist, Kellyann’s interest in Middle Eastern myth and legend stems from her stint as a Managing Editor of Publications for the Royal Embassy of Saudi Arabia in Washington, D.C. She is a published author of several genie romance novellas. One book, Angels & Genies, was included in a collection for which Charlaine Harris wrote the foreword. Kellyann lives in Pennsylvania with her husband, three children, and a jaunty terrier named Djin-Djin.
Her latest book is The Genie Ignites.
Visit her website at www.kfzuzulo.com.
Do you have another job besides writing?
I work as a freelance editor when I’m not writing…or promoting a new book (which can turn into a fulltime job.) You could say I’m a language matchmaker: I enjoy putting wandering commas in their place, reuniting split infinitives and, basically, grooming sentences so they make a beautiful story.
How would you describe your creative process while writing this book? Was it stream-of-consciousness writing, or did you first write an outline?
The Genie Ignites, like most books I write, started with an outline. I had a general idea of the story in my head; I knew the beginning and the end. Then I work through chapter by chapter with a glimpse of what I want to happen. Of course, once I dive into the story, the characters frequently have ideas of their own of what they want to happen. I’m flexible.
Did your book require a lot of research?
The Genie Ignites required a lot of research. I wanted to be accurate about the Middle Eastern world where genies are an accepted part of lore, both in the past and in today’s world. I’d read a lot about the legends of the jinn, how they started and how they’re perceived today. I also subscribe to some archaeological magazines, which provide great insight into how the ancient world looked and how the people lived when Zubis first fell in love with the priestess Lina. Then I drew that forward into a modern world, which is where my own experience came in.
What was your goal when writing this book?
I wanted to create a story where a reader could imagine genies and humans living side-by-side. Genies are a very real part of the mythology in many parts of the world. They’re thought to be similar to humans but with abilities we can only imagine. There are even rules about the extent of interaction between the two races. What if a genie and a human tried to make their own way together, in spite of the obstacles? That’s what this story is about.
Who is your target audience?
My audience will be anyone who loves a good story that combines romance, suspense and humor. A tale that travels to exotic locations and dips into unique customs and styles. But, especially, fans of paranormal romance will really love this book.
Describe your working environment.
My office has a lot of windows, bud-green walls, and a tabletop fountain. The sound of gurgling water transports me to the midspace between reality and imagination where a writer lives. I have a small Bose stereo to play my iPod, which is loaded with Middle Eastern music, Enya, Loreena McKennitt, and a bunch of jazz. There’s a collection of clay oil lamps from theMiddle Eastdisplayed on my desk. I’m waiting for the day when a mist begins to seethe from one of the spouts. I won’t run from the room…promise.
Do you write non-stop until you have a first draft, or do you edit as you move along?
I write non-stop, and I mean non-stop, until the book is finished. Up at 5 a.m.for a few hours, take care of the kids and my husband in between, then back to work. When the muse has me by the hand, they are very understanding. Each morning when I check back in with the story, I do a cursory read-through of the previous scene and I’ll make grammatical changes. But the heavy edits wait until that first draft is finished. This is a piece of advice I once got in a writers workshop: Get it out. Then, fix it up.
What is the best writing advice you’ve ever received?
Find your voice. That is, be who you are as a writer, not who you think you should be. Finding your voice can take years, but it’ll be worth it.
Do you have a website/blog where readers may learn more about you and your work?