Horror and Historical fiction author Kelly Evans talks to Kendall Reviews.

Born in Canada of Scottish extraction, Kelly Evans graduated in History and English from McMaster University in Ontario, Canada. After graduation, she moved to the UK where she worked in the financial sector. While in London Kelly continued her studies in history, focussing on Medieval England and the Icelandic Sagas (with a smattering of Old Norse and Old English).

She now lives in Toronto, Canada with her husband Max and two rescue cats (Bear and Wolf). Kelly worked in the financial sector as a trade technology project manager for over 20 years but retired last year to write full time. Her short stories have been published in numerous magazines and E-zines as well as a horror anthology, where her fourteenth century historic-horror story was received with enthusiasm. Her books include The Northern Queen, The Mortecarni, and Revelation: Mortecarni Part Two.

When not writing Kelly enjoys reading history books, playing oboe and medieval recorder, and watching really bad horror and old sci-fi movies.

To celebrate the release of her new novel Revelation: Mortecarni Part Two, I sat with Kelly and asked a few questions…

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KR: Could you tell me a little about yourself please?

I was born and educated in Canada, graduating with degrees in English and history from McMaster University. I moved to England shortly after graduating and found myself working in finance. While I worked, I continued my studies in history, focussing on medieval England and the viking sagas. If you REALLY want to inject some fun into a dinner party, teach everyone to swear in Old Norse! I also really started writing at this point, although, in high school, I DID create a short story series for a friend.

I moved back to Canada about 10 years ago and started writing in earnest. I earned my masters in creative writing while still working in finance. By this time, I’d started my own consultancy business, and, through some smart financial decisions, was able to retire early last year to write full time.

I focus on historical fiction, both straight hist fic but also hist horror.

KR: What do you like to do when not writing?

I read a lot! And I love watching really old, cheesy horror movies. I’ll watch anything that has giant ants or shrinking humans. I also love music, and play oboe, classical guitar, and medieval recorder.

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KR: What is your favourite childhood book?

I can’t decide between No Flying In the House by Betty Brock, or The Cat in the Mirror by Mary Stolz. The former is about an orphan child who discovers, via an evil cat, that she is half-fairy. The latter is about a longer girl who hits her head and travels back in time to ancient Egypt. Stolz’s book started a lifelong love for Egypt, which I was fortunate enough to visit a few years back.

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KR: What is your favourite album, and does music play any role in your writing?

Music absolutely plays a huge role. But not just any music for me. While writing, I either need complete silence or music without lyrics or else my attention wanders and I listen to the words. My absolute go to music for when I’m completely stuck, and which has rescued me on many occasions, is Beethoven’s 9th Symphony. I’ve loved it since I was 3, and my father played the Clockwork Orange soundtrack to me. Which, incidentally, is probably my favourite album. At the moment, I’m obsessed with Ramin Djawadi’s version of Paint It Black.

KR: Do you have a favourite horror movie/director? 

Taiki Waititi, hands down. He wrote, directed, and starred in one of my top 5 movies of all time: What We Do in the Shadows, about a group of vampires living in modern-day Wellington, New Zealand.

KR: What are you reading now?

A few things: David Morrell’s Murder as a Fine Art, which takes place in Victorian England. I’m also reading a history of England written in the 1300s, and two books that friends have written.

KR: Who were the authors that inspired you to write?

Other than the two mentioned above, Stephen King. I’ve been a fan of his since summer camp, where someone brought his first short story book and read to us in the cabin after dark. I’ve also been heavily inspired by Rod Serling, his writing is just fantastic, so sharp and crisp.

KR: Do you work to an outline or plot or do you prefer to just see where an idea takes you?

I’m a huge planner. My full-time job was as a project manager for trading platform systems, and a large part of projects is the planning. And, as I write history, I really need to get the details straight!

KR: What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book?

My first book I spent a year researching before I started writing, then periodical research as things popped up. I spent about six months researching my first historical horror. Just because it’s horror doesn’t mean I’m not just as rigid with getting the history correct. My latest novel, only took a couple of months as I was already familiar with the source material. It’s all worth it, my first novel gained me an invitation to last year’s International Medieval Congress in England. It’s like San Diego ComicCon but for medieval scholars.

KR: Describe your usual writing day?

Get up around 10am (you’ll see why I sleep so late in a minute). Breakfast, tidy, errands. 2pm I shut off the tv and get to work. I’ll write until dinner, eat, spend time with my husband, then around 9pm I’ll go back to work until around 2am. If I hit my word target for the day, I’ll reward myself with a tv show I’m interested in. And possibly a glass of wine!

KR: Do you have a favourite story/short that you’ve written (published or not)?

I wrote a short story years ago, while still studying writing. It’s called The Cheese Man and I took the ice cream vans that play the horrible music and roll around the neighbourhoods as my inspiration. But instead of ice cream, my character sells cheese. It kind of goes from there, his training, his dreams. It’s my favourite child so I was thrilled when it was published. And also when another magazine read it, and invited me to write something for them.

KR: Do you read your book reviews?

Absolutely. But I go to the one-star reviews first, to see if there are any legitimate and considered comments about the novel. If not, I’ll go to the five-and-four-star reviews. Reviews are SO important, many readers don’t realise just how valuable they are to authors, especially indie writers.

KR: Any advice for a fledgling author?

Read. Then read some more. Keep an idea notebook (or use the notes feature on your phone). Protect your writing time. Don’t be afraid of a blank page, let your brain vomit onto the paper, then clean it up later. Write at least one story by hand, it’ll give you a greater connection to the past, and you’ll appreciate the tactile feel of pen on paper. If you can do it with a fountain pen, so much the better!

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KR: What scares you?

Water. Seriously, I can’t even look at pictures of the Titanic beneath the water, freaks me RIGHT the heck out. The only reason I was able to take a Nile cruise was because I could see both shores from the boat. In fact, when our boat caught fire, they were able to move to the side, lower a wooden plank and disembark us onto a poor farmer’s grove. Also, strangely, very large objects. I can’t stand looking at close-ups of the Statue of Liberty, it makes me feel nauseated. My brain reacts to scale of objects.

KR: E-Book, Paperback or Hardback?

Ooh, tough one. E-Book for casual reading, paper or hardback for non-fiction books (ie reference books I know I’ll be flipping back and forth through, or books with maps)

KR: Can you tell me about your latest release please?

Revelation is the second story of Brother Maurice and his travelling companions. It takes place during the Black Death in Europe in 1350.

The blurb:

The year is 1349. Both the Black Death and the mortecarni continue their devastating path of destruction across England. Brother Maurice has reason to believe he’s found a cure for the mortecarni until a new discovery suggests otherwise, sending the physician monk and his friends through Europe to Poland in a desperate race to end the undead menace once and for all.

Meeting an intriguing young healer leads to further revelations that offer hope for their quest. But time is short and, when tragedy strikes, Maurice faces a moral dilemma. Can he ignore the challenge to his calling caused by his new companion’s presence? And can he find the cure for the mortecarni before all is lost?

KR: What are you working on now?

I’m working on the second part of a three-book series on little known Anglo Saxon women. The first was about Aelfgifu of Northampton, first wife to Canute the Great. My current work is about Edith of Wessex, wife to Edward the Confessor.

KR: You find yourself on a desert island, which three people would you wish to be deserted with you and why? 

You can choose…

a) One fictional character from your writing.

Brother Maurice – he’s not only a physician, but he can handle a sword.

b) One fictional character from any other book.

Edmond Dantès from The Count of Monte Cristo. He’s got patience, has survived an incredible amount of sheer misery, learned a LOT of useful skills along the way, and knows where the treasure is hidden.

c) One real life person.

Have to say my husband. He went to military school in England so is handy with the survival stuff, plus he speaks a number of languages, and is the funniest person I know so, hopefully, will keep me sane. Or else we might get completely on each other’s nerves. Hmmm…

KR: Thank you very much Kelly.

You can follow Kelly on Twitter @ChaucerBabe

To find out more about Kelly please visit her official website www.KellyAEvans.com

Please visit Kelly’s author page here

The year is 1349. Both the Black Death and the mortecarni continue their devastating path of destruction across England. 

Brother Maurice has reason to believe he’s found a cure for the mortecarni until a new discovery suggests otherwise, sending the physician monk and his friends through Europe to Poland in a desperate race to end the undead menace once and for all. 

Meeting an intriguing young healer leads to further revelations that offer hope for their quest. But time is short and, when tragedy strikes, Maurice faces a moral dilemma. 

Can he ignore the challenge to his calling caused by his new companion’s presence? And can he find the cure for the mortecarni before all is lost? 

You can buy Revelation: The Mortecarni (Part Two) from Amazon UK & Amazon US

THE YEAR IS 1348 AND THE BLACK DEATH IS RAVAGING ENGLAND.

For Brother Maurice, a monk and physician, the disease is the most terrifying he’s ever seen. But Maurice soon learns of an even more deadly threat: the exanimate Mortecarni. After his first unexpected encounter with the creatures, Maurice is pulled into a world of savagery and secrecy.

As he travels across the country, investigating both the plague and the Mortecarni, Maurice questions how such unholy suffering is possible. When his own family is struck down, his beliefs falter. Can he regain his faith and save both England and himself?

You can buy The Mortecarni from Amazon UK & Amazon US

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