Kelly McClymerA magical interview with Kelly McClymer, author of “The Salem Witch Tryouts”  Wands in hand, get ready!

Hi Kelly! How about a few words about you?
About me? Well… I have been writing for as long as I can remember. I’ve taken many detours in life and didn’t end up publishing a novel until 2000, a few years after I decided to write a novel instead of short stories. My first love is science fiction, but I read eclectically and voraciously, and I encourage others to do the same because it can be wonderful to find a familar old friend in a book, and it can also be electrifying to go somewhere you weren’t expecting when you read something different.

Virgos are usually shy, meticulous, quite reliable but quite overcitical. Do you think you’re a typical Virgo?
I’m definitely an on the cusp Virgo/Libra. I am horribly shy, have unmet aspirations toward being meticulous, and am–usually–five minutes early for appointments. One of my more frequent nightmares involves being late/remembering something I had to do when it is too late. I’m very hard on myself, but try not to be so on others–but am excellent at irritating everyone with my highly analytical examination of everything from why I like butter on my toast to why my characters act the way they do in my books.

Can you tell us more about “The Salem Witch Tryouts”?
“The Salem Witch Tryouts” is my first attempt at writing for young adults. In fact, when the idea came to me, my first thought (overcritical Virgo anyone?) was “What do you know about teenagers? You were a teenager in the dark ages!” Pru, my cheerleading witch protagonist, had no such qualms. She wanted me to write her story. So I put my doubts aside and wrote her story. I had a blast visiting someplace I’ve never been (I was the quiet newsletter editor in high school, my sport was bowling…don’t laugh!…and I did the makeup for our class musical SOUTH PACIFIC my senior year). The funny thing is, after I had written the first draft (which I dove in and wrote during NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month in November), I realized that I was actually quite qualified to write young adult fiction. Besides have three children, two still in the teen years, I had been reading young adult fiction all along (aloud to my children, and to keep up with what they were interested in, as well). One of my favorite books is still Madeleine L’Engel’s “A Wrinkle in Time”, and my children (should I say offspring, since they are now taller than I am?) and I still discuss Harry Potter and the Animorph series of books that we read together.

Is “The Salem Witch Tryouts” your first book?
“The Salem Witch Tryouts” is my first young adult book written (but not published; the deal I had with my publisher was that I would write a book…”Getting to Third Date”… for their young adult romantic comedy line first, and then they would bring out the first Salem book while I wrote the second). I have also published seven historical romance novels and have about a dozen short science fiction stories that may yet see the light of day outside my filing cabinet drawer.

Why did you want a cheerleader to be the main character?
The cheerleading witch character came to me in one fell swoop when I misheard someone who was actually saying the Salem Witch trials. I had been a huge ‘Bewitched’ (the series, not the movie) fan, and I instantly pictured a modern version of poor Tabitha being yanked from a mortal school, where she excelled, and into a witch school, where she would be required to take remedial magic classes. Not that that would be bad enough, but the cheerleader aspect lent even more angst–cheering in 3-D has got to be more complicated, which would become obvious to her, of course, during tryouts. Although I wasn’t a cheerleader in high school, my daughter was for a year and I came to appreciate how much hard work, skill, timing, and risk there is in the sport (and it is a sport!). I knew that there would be room to play with the expectations some still have about cheerleading as fluff.

If you could have a magic wand, what would you do first?
Oh, that’s easy. I’d make everyone ease up on the whole ‘those who don’t do things like I do are wrong’ vibe that has pervaded the world since human beings started realizing they could throw rocks at each other.

How do you write? Wat do you do when comes the writer’s block?
My process changes with every project. When I first seriously started writing short science fiction (back in the Dark Ages), I belonged to a critique group that meant one Saturday a month. I’d think about the story I wanted to write for a month (while I worked, took care of my daughter, and went to school). On Friday night, I’d sit down at the computer and draft the story while my husband and I watched our favorite Friday night TV. Saturday morning, I’d revise, and head off to get the story slashed and burned by some excellent and insightful fellow writers. For Salem, I wrote the first draft in a month (as a challenge to myself, as part of NaNoWriMo, and because that worked best to keep out the doubts I had about being able to write young adult fiction without getting all preachy with it). For the sequel to Salem (“Competition’s A Witch”), I used a collage process, and took my AlphaSmart to Starbucks many days to just immerse myself in the story and avoid distractions like housework and TV (People’s Court rocks…how sad is that? 🙂

Could we know who drew the cover of “The Salem Witch Tryouts”? It’s lovely! Did you pick it yourself?
Kirsten Ulve did the cover (and the cover for the sequel, too, which also rocks, and I hope to be able to share it soon). I didn’t have a thing to do with it, except for saying that Pru’s hair was longish blonde and the school colors of the witches were orange, black and red…which, if you’ve ever seen my artwork, is a very good thing!

Do you already have another project?
I just finished revisions of the sequel for Salem, so I’m diving into a book that has been bedeviling me for about three months now. I don’t want to say much about it, except that I love it, and it represents another sharp left turn for me.

And now the nothing-to-do-with-books question : You’ve just found 100 $ in your pocket, what will you do with it? Without thinking too much 🙂
No sweat! First stop, my local Borders bookstore. Load up on books. Second stop, my local Starbucks (not far from said Borders) for a venti caramel macchiatto (sp?). Then, phone off the hook and let the reading begin.

“Tea or Coffee?”

Saturday evening. Book or Disco?Book. Naturally.
Holidays. Beach or Mountains?Beach. I was born in Charleston, South Carolina and spent many a childhood hour on the beach at Sullivan’s Island. It’s in my blood.
Country or City?Country, with outings to the city.
Watching a movie. Comedy or Drama (or something else ?)? Just saw Pirates of the Carribean 2. Loved it. I want III *now* (anyone got a preproduction bootleg copy?…I’d be willing to trade a goth 17 year old who should be out of braces soon…)
Shy or Easy-going? Both…most of the time 🙂
Serious or Funny? Stephen Colbert and Jon Stewart (funny, with an edge of reality)
Traveler or not?Just call me the 10 Percent Traveller–the rest of the time I’m a homebody.
Sporty Girl or Couch Potato?I was on the *bowling* team in high school!
Leader or Follower?Sometimes a leader. Reluctantly. I grok Orwell in Animal Farm. Power corrupts.


TV show: past tense: Buffy; present: Flip This House
Movie: right now? Pirates II
Book: To Kill a Mockingbird
Music: sappy, sentimental…and rock, of course
City: London
Place to write in: Starbucks
Sentence or motto: You never know until you try.

Thanks, Kelly!
Have a look at Kelly’s website:


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