JoeyPinkney.com Exclusive Interview
5 Minutes, 5 Questions With…
Kevin Klehr, author of Drama Queens with Love Scenes
(Cambridge Press US)
Close friends Allan and Warwick are dead. They’re not crazy about the idea. To help them deal with this dilemma are Samantha, a blond bombshell from the 1950s, and Guy, an insecure angel.
They are soon drawn into the world of theatre – Afterlife style, with all the bitchiness, back-stabbing and ego usually associated with the mortal world.
Allan also has a secret. He has a romantic crush on his friend, Warwick, but shortly after confiding in his new angel pal, his love interest falls for the cock-sure playwright, Pedro.
Not only does Allan have to win the heart of his companion, he also has to grapple with the faded memory of how he actually died.
Joey Pinkney: Where did you get the inspiration to write “Drama Queens with Love Scenes”?
Kevin Klehr: To be honest, I’m not quite sure. I began this project about ten years ago, handwriting it into a journal. At the time, programs like “Six Feet Under” were on television, so there was a fascination with death before the vampire genre took over. The idea of characters already dead appealed to me.
The original plot was about characters in the theatre district of the Afterlife, acting in plays that highlighted aspects of their former lives, thus finally coming to terms with baggage they never resolved before they passed. This early draft was unimaginably titled “Staging Life”. I only wrote five chapters of this version before my life became time poor.
A couple of years later, my partner lent “Drama Queens with Love Scenes” to a friend who, after reading it, demanded that I finish it. This friend is probably my main inspiration in writing the many drafts that came later. I owe him for his encouragement.
JP: What sets “Drama Queens with Love Scenes” apart from other books in the same genre?
KK: The genre depends on your point of view. I call it Speculative Fiction, but my assessor loved the fact that I mixed a few genres. So to answer your question, it’s a Gay Romantic Fantasy with humour – a few genres mixed together.
I call “Drama Queens with Love Scenes” “A Tale of Desire and Dead People”, while a friend of mine calls it “Tales Of The City Afterlife Style”.
JP: As an author, what are the keys to your success that led to “Drama Queens with Love Scenes” getting out to the public?
KK: Perseverance. After writing eight drafts (three of them after professional assessments); joining a writers group for more feedback, and reading countless rejection emails from publishers; I took the plunge and self published through a UK company.
Just by chance, a local Australian distributor told me that the import costs of shipping the book in from the UK were too high. He suggested I self publish through the US.
As I researched this option, a couple of publishers who hadn’t had the pleasure of rejecting my manuscript came to my attention. One of them was Charles River Press, who on reading my first chapter, asked if I’d be interested in a contract. I sat in front of the laptop crying “Hell, yes!” (They weren’t the exact words, but I’m keeping my answers family friendly).
JP: As an author, what is your writing process? How long did it take you to start and finish “Drama Queens with Love Scenes”?
KK: As mentioned, this whole process took about ten years on and off, with five of those really working hard on the manuscript.
I’ve learnt that it’s best to have a chapter by chapter breakdown of the book, showing key turning points and plot twists. This template is not followed strictly as by the time I reach the halfway mark, other ideas come to mind which are added to the blueprint, so nothing is forgotten.
By the time I reach the end of “Drama Queens with Love Scenes”, some of the chapter breakdowns are ignored, as the novel itself has taken a different path. You need to allow yourself this freedom within the structure.
I also start my writing day by reading aloud the last day’s work. You instantly spot what’s wrong with your writing, and fix a few words and phrases.
It’s also important that the finished draft lays untouched for a few months before I re-read it. Whatever doesn’t work is recognised instantly. This part is so important, as it leads to my new draft (or my final draft if there is only minor surgery needed).
I also like an orange scented candle burning while I write. It’s my preferred ritual.
JP: What’s next for Kevin Klehr?
KK: The second draft of the sequel – “Drama Queens with Adult Themes” – has been sitting idly on my laptop since 2011. Since then, some new ideas have been jotted down, as well as some new one-liners for the novel.
I hope to have a final draft ready by mid-2013.