Author Spotlight: Ooshka

It’s spotlight time!

In honor if getting a new chapter notification today for her awesome story Be There, here’s Ooshka.

Let’s start with an introduction. I’m Kelly, or as more people know me, Kelpie.
And you are?
Ooshka, which is derived from a nickname my husband gave me. If you ask my three year old, she’ll say my real name is Barbie. It’s not (quite), but she’s happy in her own little world, where dragons will eat the contents of your lunchbox if you ask them nicely and asking for a lollipop for the fifth time might actually mean you get one.

So, tell me a little about yourself.
I live in New Zealand, which is mostly renowned for its roaming gangs of Hobbits and the fact Anna Paquin lived here for about five minutes  So I am a long way from most of my readers, and a day ahead. If you ever want to know about the future, just ask me.

I’m a mum, so I hang out with my kids a lot, and practice listening to two different conversations at once. Occasionally I go into work, where I get to worry about budget allocations and where all the money went, as opposed to biscuit allocations and where all the Barbie shoes have gone. I’m about to be unemployed again, though, which will be good for the writing, but stink for me when my husband realises that the house is still a tip even though I’m home all day.

What do you do with yourself when you’re not writing?
Mostly I can be found skivvying for my family, but occasionally I sit in an office for a very welcome break, and I get to drink coffee and eat sushi in peace. Every so often I put in an appearance at the gym, but mostly that’s an excuse to get out of the house as well.

What are some things you never leave home without?
I guess my handbag, into which is packed my life, and a lot of other people’s crap.

What are some of your favorite (non-SVM) books?
Oh, too many to name, really, and probably some of them are a bit obscure. I love, love, love Margaret Atwood, and anything by Kate Atkinson is usually good value. I love both Jane Eyre and Jean Rhys’ Wide Sargasso Sea (which I guess you could say is a kind of fan-fiction). One of my all time favourites is actually a New Zealand book, Oracles and Miracles by Stevan Eldred-Grigg. I read it at 15 and adored it and re-read it recently and it still stood up.

Favorite (non-True Blood) TV shows and movies?
I like Dexter, and Boardwalk Empire, and I watch Game of Thrones with my hubby who is a huge, huge George R R Martin fan (before it became de rigueur he likes to point out). I watch Justified with hubby too, it helps me a little for when I’m trying to hear the Southern accent as I’m writing. Nashville is also good for that.

If you were stranded on a deserted island and had 3 famous people with you, who would you choose and why?
See, here is where I have to put my hand up and go ‘I overthink things’. I keep discarding people because I know I’ll look like crap and there won’t be a shower or any tissues on this island, and I’ve just been stranded, so I’m bound to be crying. Ugh. Not a pretty sight. And I really want people who’ll look after me, not random strangers I feel I have to entertain. It’s just a shame my mum isn’t famous.

So I guess I’d have to go for Lloyd Cole (the British singer-songwriter) because he’d entertain me and I still live in hope he might run off with me one day, Jo Seagar (NZ food writer) because she’s nice and comforting and calm and at least we won’t starve, and Ian McKellan, because we could have a nice chat about Shakespeare and stage craft and I know he would understand my accent.

What is 1 place you’d love to visit?
Somewhere I haven’t been – Massachusetts, it’s a part of the States I’ve always thought looks really pretty. Somewhere I have been – London, but I’m going back there in July for a family wedding.

Do you have any pet peeves?
Poor spelling is one, work emails that haven’t been read over drive me insane. And leaving dirty dishes on the kitchen bench when the dishwasher is RIGHT THERE!

Tell me one random thing about yourself.
My right eye is blue and my left eye is mostly hazel.

Just for some insight into you pick one. Feel free to tell why or not.
Chocolate or vanilla? It really depends on the item I’m eating, I like both. However I have two small people who will vote for strawberry if they can. We buy a lot of Neapolitan ice cream.
Silver or gold? Gold
Apple or PC? I’m not allowed near anything Apple, except for my phone. Hubby is in IT and works for the company that sells Apple in NZ and he hates them with a passion, so I have been lectured long and hard about how terrible they are. I could never get an iPad as I would lose all my free, at-home tech support.
White wine or red wine? Both, but not at the same time. Well, only if it’s a really posh meal with a lot of courses and it makes sense to switch from white to red 
Liquor or beer? Can we just say there’s very little I won’t drink?
Coffee or tea? Coffee. I was raised by the one English person in the world who hates tea with a passion (my father). Go figure.
Sleep in or get up early? I have only a vague recollection of what a sleep in is  By nature I’m a night-owl, but I only gave birth to larks.

Okay, now for the good stuff.
Why and when did you start writing fanfics?
I’d never really written anything before starting my fanfiction career. When I was in sixth form a teacher said my short story was far too melodramatic and I stopped writing and took up studying; I have an MA in English Literature.

It was only after many years of working (some of them in London) and two children that I thought to take it up again, forced by a winter at home with a baby to find something to do. I’d started reading fanfiction after devouring all the SVM novels when I was pregnant (word of advice, Dead and Gone is not the stuff to be reading when you’re in the early stages of labour). And reading stories on my laptop worked beautifully when I was breastfeeding, as I had a hand free to scroll and click the mouse.

But then I weaned the baby, and we were stuck inside because it was raining every day and I had a miserable eye infection and I thought maybe I’d have a go at writing down the story I’d made up in my head while doing the boring things around the house. So I started writing, and I haven’t stopped yet. It’s highly, highly addictive and I now find that I get a little antsy if I go for too long without writing anything.

Besides SVM/True Blood, is there another book, TV show or movie that you would write for?
I haven’t yet felt the urge to write for anything else. So I won’t say it’ll never happen, but it’s not all that likely.

What kind of environment do you write in? Do you prefer using a pen and paper, a computer or some sort of mobile device to write?
When I started I wrote on the couch with the laptop on my lap while the baby slept or played on the floor. Occasionally I left her too long and she slept on the floor, but that’s a whole other story.

Nowadays I either write sitting on the bed, or at the kitchen bench. It probably sounds a little weird, but I keep my laptop on the kitchen so I can see emails as they come in (managing playdates is an important part of my role) and I’ll also sometimes write a bit standing up there if something comes to me. It’s actually the perfect height and I find it more comfortable than sitting.

Ever write in your PJs?
Only when it’s been One Of Those Mornings.

How bout naked? :o)
Good grief, no. My children can talk. And laugh. And point.

Where do you find inspiration for your stories? Do you pull your real life experiences into your writing?
With my first stories I did a lot, because I was writing about kids and I had a lot of things I could use. Nowadays I use some things, but some things are just made up.

Do you write on a schedule? If you do, how do you keep to that schedule?
No, these days it’s all up in the air. Originally I used to write on the days the big kid was at preschool, so I’d get out three chapters a week at least. Sadly, that was a while ago now!

Do you plan out your stories or just write whatever comes to you?
A little of both. I usually have an idea where it’s going and a few ‘scenes’ in my head, and then I just build on that as I go along. Sometimes what I write is based on those scenes I’ve played over and over in my head, like a movie, sometimes stuff just occurs to me as I’m actually writing. I’m actually quite fascinated by the process, but have no idea how it all works. It’s like Geoffrey Rush’s character in Shakespeare in Love who keeps saying “It’s a mystery.”

How do you deal with potential writers block?
I just keep writing, even if it’s only in dribs and drabs. I figure if this was my job I’d have to push through, so I do. Luckily I’ve always managed to get through, but I have had to talk myself off the ledge a few times when I’ve thought what I’ve written was utter tripe.

Do you have any writing rituals or superstitions?
Not really. The only thing I do consistently is the way I name my chapter files and how I format the document.

Is one genre easier for you to write than another? Is there anything that you just aren’t that great at writing?
Well I’ve never tried my hand at canon; I just can’t bring myself to do it when I enjoy the original books so much.

What is the hardest part for you about writing fanfics?
Just finding the time to get them written. If I sit down and actually put my mind to it and do it, then it’s enjoyable, rather than hard.

Is there a method for coming up with titles for your stories and/or chapters?
Well, of course after Homestay I went with a theme for all its many, many sequels. So, like the original books all have the word dead in the title, mine all had home. For the others, sometimes it comes in a flash, sometimes I have to really work at it. The same with the chapters I’ve named. I have to say that I loved the I Write the Songs contest because you had your title all sorted before you started writing!

Which character do you identify with the most?
All of them. At least, all of the ones I’ve written. There’s a little piece of me in every single one of them, and even the least sympathetic characters still have some redeeming features as far as I’m concerned. I wrote an entire story from Lorena’s POV (in which she was Bill’s mother) and, although she was a mostly unsympathetic character, boy did I feel for her and parts of that story still make me cry.

Which of your stories is your favorite to write and why? Which of your stories is your favorite concept wise?
I’ve loved writing all of them, but I was so proud for finishing Homestay. It seemed like such an accomplishment. And I’m really enjoying writing Be There at the moment, as it’s different and I’ve had such a lovely, positive response to it.

Concept-wise, I’m really proud of both Trigger Happy and Hole in the River. They’re a little darker and less accessible than my other stories, but I was pleased with the way they turned out. I’ve always really enjoyed reading short stories, and I like being able to write something that tells a whole story in a really concise way.

Do you talk to your family about your writing? How do they feel about it?
Only my husband knows, and he didn’t for a while. He’s mostly supportive, but feels I should be writing something ‘real’. And he finds the fanfiction thing a little odd. I gave him a story of mine to read once and he couldn’t fathom what AH OOC meant in the summary.

Which is your favorite SVM book? Favorite True Blood episode?
Club Dead is my favourite. I think Sookie’s humour and how capable she is in the face of danger really shone through in that one and absolutely captured my interest.

I’m off True Blood these days. I just hate the direction they’ve taken it in.

What is the best compliment you’ve ever received on your stories?
It’s hard to think of just one, every compliment has been just lovely to receive. I really have the best readers. And sometimes I think that one of the biggest compliments is just that people keep turning up and reading what I put out there, and care about the characters right along with me.

How do you deal with the inevitable criticism?
To be honest, I’ve never really received anything horrible. I’ve had kind of a dream run with this writing thing!

Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?
God no. I feel like I’m only aspiring myself. I guess the only thing is to give it a go, and see what happens.

Have any recommendations? What are you reading at the moment?
I’m reading hardly anything these days. I just don’t have the time. I’m excited to see that Thyra is back posting Sookie the Shieldmaiden, though.

And lastly, where can all your rabid readers stalk you? I’m not clever enough to have a blog, and I’ve never figured out Twitter. I just stick with what I can manage!

Thanks so much for taking the time to answer some questions!


So there’s that. Go check her out and I truly recommend Be There…I seriously wait for those updates like I’m starved. :o)

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