One of the things that make my heart sing in books is disability representation. So when Olive J. Kelley introduced themself – as you will see in this interview – as a person who writes ‘a significant amount of disability representation’, I knew we would get along fabulously. And we did – read on to see what else they had to say!
Hey Olive! Tell us a little more about yourself. Who are you and what do you do?
I’m a lesbian author of speculative romance. I write about LGBT people finding hope and love with a significant amount of disability representation!
How did you become an author?
I’ve never wanted to do anything else. No, seriously. From when I was a kid telling stories to when I wrote my first “novel” in middle school to now, I’ve never wanted to be anything else. More specifically, though: I went to high school in Georgia, in the thick of the Southern United States. The local bookstore had a small YA section and, when I realized I was gay, I counted all of the LGBT+ books in that section. I don’t remember the exact number, but it was barely more than I could count on two hands. I decided then that I would buy every single one and read them, but I ran into the best problem: more were coming out than I could reasonably read. I didn’t stop, but I did start writing. I wanted to be there for someone who barely had anything else. I don’t write YA now, but I think the point still stands.
Who’s your favourite character that you’ve ever written?
It’s a tie between Castor Quasar— a transmasc, disabled butch lesbian with autism and an attitude problem— from JUNKER SEVEN and Katie Holloway— a trans bi girl who grew up in a cult— from an unnamed, unreleased project. I love writing characters with realistic and believable trauma and reactions.
Do you ever experience writer’s block? If so, how do you overcome it?
ABSOLUTELY. My process probably isn’t the best, but I like to give myself pretty strict self-imposed deadlines to keep myself accountable with. Also, knowing that someone else is going to read my books when they’re done helps a LOT, which is a big benefit of indie publishing.
What do you consider to be the hardest part of writing?
I’m a big character-focused writer. I like putting guys in situations and seeing how they react more than almost anything, and overarching plot kind of comes second to me. Id like to get better at plot, subplot, all those story building blocks besides “make up a guy and put them through hell”, but I’m getting there!!
And how about the most rewarding?
I think any part of writing can be rewarding if you have the right support system. With my friends, I feel like I can celebrate any modicum of progress— I finish an outline, we cheer! I write one sentence I like more than the rest, we celebrate! Finding people who want to be your cheerleaders really changes the game.
What is one piece of advice you wish you had listened to, either in life or with regards to being an author?
Dream big!!! Don’t be afraid to have huge dreams. If you don’t think you’ll ever get there; you’ve already shot yourself in the foot.
You’re putting together a party. Which characters from the Sapphic Fiction genre would you invite?
Juno Marcus from JUNKER SEVEN because she gets along with everyone and loves the drama
Nix Marr from THIS GILDED ABYSS by Rebecca Thorne because it would be fun to watch her try to begrudgingly get along with a table full of other, bubblier sapphics
Biyu “Jane” Su from ONE LAST STOP by Casey McQuiston because she’s hot, for one, and hilarious— I also think she’d like getting to meet people from all different settings across speculative and contemporary fiction
& Gideon Nav from GIDEON THE NINTH for shits and giggles
Is there anyone you’d like to highlight, while you’re here?
How can people connect with you?
My website is olivejkelley.com and I had to fight for my life for about four months to get my domain to work; my itch.io has discounted copies of all of my books in epub format at olivejkelley.itch.io; you can pick up signed paperback copies at ko-fi.com/olivejkelley; and I am @olivejkelley on all socials (twitter, instagram, tiktok)
Finally a light-hearted one. What ice cream flavours and toppings would you put together in your ultimate sundae?
Coffee ice cream, cookie crumbles, hot fudge drizzle, and those cheesecake pieces you get at froyo places.
Sorry, did you say cheesecake ice cream sundae?? Wherever you're at, I'm coming there!
If you enjoyed this interview, then make sure you’re following my social media accounts (@kblakemanwriter on Twitter and @katherineblakemanwriter on Instagram) to get all the latest updates! And if you want to support my own Sapphic Fiction journey while you’re here, The Summer We’ve Had is available now, and Love You However is coming on March 22nd!