Ask the Author: Kelly Garrett
What is your book about for those who haven’t read it?
The Last To Die is about a teenage burglary ring gone wrong told from the perspective of an antihero. I pitched it as The Bling Ring meets Heathers. Fun fact: it just came out as an audiobook on March 17th! My book is currently available from the following:
- your local indie bookstore (if they don’t have it, they can order it)
- Target stores (both physical and online)
- Barnes & Noble (both in brick & mortar stores and online)
- Apple Books
- Book Depository (free shipping worldwide!)
What has been your inspiration for writing it?
I wanted to write a novel with an “unlikable” female narrator. The story starts with Harper, the narrator, breaking into her friend’s house. While Harper has an emotional arc, she always keeps her unique edge.
What was your favorite scene or part of your book to write?
The Last To Die was a blast to write. Harper, the main character, always says what’s on her mind, even when she shouldn’t. Debating the worst thing Harper could say each scene was enjoyable. While editing, I toned Harper down, striving to stick to the unlikable edge instead of straying into unforgivable.
What books or authors inspired you to become a writer?
I’ve always been a writer, even before I knew how to read. Everything I drew as a child had an elaborate story behind it, which got me into trouble in early elementary school because while I loved to draw and create, I found coloring boring.
A friend gave me Beverly Cleary’s Ramona Quimby Age 8 for my eighth birthday and the novel turned on my love of chapter books, and from that day forward, I pretty much always had a book in my hand. For a while, in my teens, I went through a classics phase and read a ton of English writers, like Jane Austen, Anthony Trollope, and the Bronte sisters. At some point, I read everything by Agatha Christie and most of Dorothy L. Sayers novels. My must-read authors now include Sarah Hilary, Jane Casey, Mark Billingham, Donna Andrews, Ben Aaronovitch, AJ Jacobs, Karin Slaughter, Jo Nesbo, and Craig Johnson.
What advice would you give to aspiring authors who want to write a book?
Read everything you can get your hands on. You won’t even realize everything you’re learning about writing while reading. Take time to analyze what you read. Why did you like a novel? Why did you dislike a book? Frequently, you can learn more by figuring out why something didn’t work for you than only analyzing books you love. Be sure to read widely, including areas you don’t usually pick up.
What would you like readers to know about you?
My debut YA Thriller, The Last To Die, was a 2018 Oregon Book Awards finalist and was reissued by Sourcebooks Fire in 2019. I write for both teens and adults.
In January, I was thrilled to find out I received a 2020 Oregon Literary Fellowship. When not I’m not writing, some of my favorite activities include hiking and seeking out new coffee shops, frequently accompanied by Great Pyrenees-mix, Waylon. I co-organize Portland’s Friends of Mystery annual lecture series and I’m also on the board of the Mystery Writers of America’s Northwest chapter.
My next novel—a mystery—comes out in April 2021. Grounds For Murder, the first in my Ground Rules series, features Sage Caplin. Her budding coffee cart business in a developing Portland neighborhood is threatened when one of her first customers is found murdered in front of her food cart, and he’s not just any victim. Sage’s mother, a world-class grifter, swindled a ton of money from him a decade before. So Sage needs to solve the case to save her business and herself.
You can track me on twitter as @garrett_kelly and on both Instagram and Facebook as @writerkellygarrett. Or stop by and visit me at garrettkelly.com.