I can’t remember how Kelsey and I connected, but the minute I found out that she was a Ted Lasso fan, I knew I had to stick around. That and her debut was an absolute delight. I read it earlier this year and fell in love with Kelsey’s writing, but also the world that she’d created. I know very little about football (or soccer to Americans)—even though I watched Ted Lasso religiously and went through a football phase when I lived in England—but I still devoured We’ll Meet Again. The dual timelines and the beautiful storytelling captivated me so much that I’ve been recommending it anytime someone asks me for a sports romance.
Then Kelsey did me the honor of asking if I’d like to beta read The Keeper and I and let me just say…Laci and Jordan are a notch above the rest. Their fake dating romance won me over from the first word. Kelsey’s ability to craft a story with two timelines and still have it be so effortless has me in a chokehold. And in a few weeks, you’ll be able to read it too! If you follow Kelsey on Instagram, you’ll also see the teasers for an upcoming historical romance that I’m so excited to get my hands on.
BEING AN AUTHOR
Who or what inspired you to write?
I’ve been writing since I was 6. I’ve just always had stories in my heart. As a kid, I had a whole series, handwritten in notebooks about an alien and a cowboy who were best friends. It probably stemmed from my love of consuming stories. Whether it was books or television, or movies, a good story held my attention.
What’s the best and worst part about being an indie author?
The best part is the creative control. I love getting to title my books however I want, getting final say over how it’s edited, choosing my own book cover, etc. The worst part is that with the control comes the financial responsibility. It’s not cheap to get your book done properly, but it’s worth it, in my opinion.
Why did you choose to self-publish instead of going the traditional route?
Self-published is faster, and again, I get more control over when I release and everything that goes into that. I knew I didn’t want to query and risk all that rejection, which would only get me down.
When you’re not writing, what do you do to get the creative juices flowing?
Music is my biggest writing inspiration. All my books have playlists before I’ve even written the first chapter. The music puts a scene in my head. Also, reading. I keep a reading journal nearby so I can jot down words and phrases I like. It’s incredibly helpful.
If you were to recommend books to me (in any genre), what would they be?
The Lord of the Rings trilogy by J.R.R. Tolkien - It’s the epitome of fantasy and with such a heartwarming message of peace at its core.
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer - probably the most charming book I’ve ever read.
Tiny Beautiful Things: Advice from Dear Sugar by Cheryl Strayed - somehow validating while also putting your life into rather harsh perspective.
Mercury and Me by Jim Hutton - I’m just a massive Queen fan, and the love between Freddie and Jim is the stuff of romance novels.
Check, Please! Series by Ngozi Ukazu - This graphic novel is what made me enjoy sports in books. I hesitate to read hockey romances because I don’t think they’ll measure up to this lol
The Alice Network by Kate Quinn - if you like badass women and a sickeningly satisfying ending (which I do), this book is it. Not your average wartime/post-war historical fiction.
The Best Book Boyfriend by Holly June Smith - This book is peak romance. The meet-cute alone had me kicking my feet and giggling like a schoolgirl. It made me laugh and cry while also being sexy as hell.
What are your top 5 tips or pieces of advice for aspiring authors?
Write the book you want to write. If you aren’t in love with your story, you won’t convince readers.
Read, read, read.
If you get down about your writing, go read 1-star reviews of your favorite books. I promise you’ll feel better. No one is safe from haters and trolls.
Do your research. If your characters are in a profession you aren’t familiar with, or the story takes place somewhere you’ve never been, don’t just guess. Use Google maps, ask people who are experts, read books on the subject. You don’t have to use every bit of information you learn, but having it there will save readers from rolling their eyes or DNFing your book. You WILL get roasted by the people who know better.
Editors are worth the money. Trust me.
ROMANCE AS A GENRE
Why did you choose romance as the genre to write in? What is your favorite thing about the genre?
I’m actually a bit of a romance newbie! I wanted to write fantasy for the longest time, but I wasn’t writing original stuff. I was writing fanfic. All my fanfic was OC-fic with a focus on them finding love with a canon character. I was writing romance novels without even knowing it! And seriously, they were novels. I wrote a Ted Lasso fic that’s over 110,000 words and I just made Jamie Tartt a romance hero. I love romance because it’s the ultimate escape. And for me, a way to experience romantic love since I don’t have it in my life right now.
If not romance/subgenres of romance, what genre would you like to write in?
Fantasy! I have been such a fantasy nerd since I was a child. I’ve loved Tolkien forever, but I also loved the Graceling series by Kristin Cashore, and when I was really young, the Upon a Marigold series by Jean Ferris. I’d love to write the kind of books I used to devour as a kid.
What are your most and least favorite tropes?
Most favorite: friends to lovers, grumpy/sunshine, fake dating, forced proximity, he falls firstLeast favorite: miscommunication, cheating, bully romance
What are some tropes you want to write in the future?
Enemies to lovers. I’m planning a ballroom dance based romance with this trope and cannot wait to give it a go!
What are some topics (sensitive and otherwise) that you think should exist more in romance?
We need more queer romances for sure. The third book in my series is WLW, and hopefully I’ll get to write more queer rep moving forward. Also, plus size romances. I know it’s more popular to have plus size heroines that are confident, but I’d love to see heroines deal with not just outward fatphobia, but perhaps their own biases. Maybe a heroine who wasn’t fat growing up, and is dealing with looking different in her adult life (mostly because this is my experience. Maybe I’ll write it one day, who knows?)
If you write open door romance, why did you choose that and what inspires your sex scenes?
I write open door because I love reading open door! Half the reason I love romance is the smut! For me, sex scenes are partly inspired by my own fantasies, but also what my characters are like. For example, in We’ll Meet Again, Billie is on top the first time she and Ethan have sex because it’s a physical way of showing how at her mercy he is. And because he’s letting her set the pace for what they are. In The Keeper and I, Jordan is protective of Laci, and that is reflected when they have sex.
It’s fun, and to me, it’s one of the most vulnerable moments for your characters, emotionally and physically.
What inspired your published stories? How and when did you come up with these stories and plots?
I love football/soccer and I also love history. We’ll Meet Again is a marriage of my love of Ted Lasso and Band of Brothers. The Keeper and I is a combo of my love of Ted Lasso, Bridgerton, and Titanic. And Always on My Mind is inspired by Ted Lasso, The Newsroom, and Derry Girls (the historical part is less significant for that book).
I watch a lot of football to get ideas for match drama and a feel for trending tactics. But I also watch a lot of period pieces for the historical aspect. I do plenty of research as well so that I get the football part down.
Can you briefly tell me about your books?
The Stanmore FC Soulmates series is three books that all take place at Stanmore Football Club. The first, We’ll Meet Again, is about Ethan and Billie. Ethan is an American striker who moved to London to play in the Premier League, and Billie works at the club. When they meet, they feel an instant connection they can’t explain. The closer they get to each other, the more intense it gets, accompanied by strange visions and dreams of times gone by.
The second, The Keeper and I, is about Jordan and Laci. Jordan is the grumpy Scottish goalkeeper for Stanmore, and Laci is a top plus size model in the UK. She has a stalker, so she enlists Jordan to pretend to be her boyfriend for a while because she has a job lined up in America that will get her away from said stalker eventually. But they learn more about each other as they fake date, and in doing so, draw up some visions and dreams of their own that they can’t explain.
The third, Always on My Mind, is about Jamie and Tessa. They dated years ago, but Jamie has never been able to come out of the closet because of her conservative and controlling father. Tessa did her best, but ultimately found it too draining to be with someone in secret, and they broke it off, breaking both their hearts. But when Jamie returns and signs on with the Stanmore women’s team, she is back in Tessa’s life as one of her teammates is Tessa’s new flatmate. Jamie wants to try again, but Tessa is hesitant. Even though she knows they are soulmates.
Do you already have a favorite character from the stories you’ve written?
It’s so hard to choose! I love them all for different reasons, and I fluctuate with affection for them. Sometimes I don’t think I could love any characters more than my OGs Ethan and Billie, and then I go back and re-read my manuscript of The Keeper and I and think Jordan and Laci are it, they are the couple. And I’m currently writing Jamie and Tessa, so I’m kind of obsessed with them right now. They’re all my favorites!
If I had to pick a side character, though, it’s hands down Betty Knight, Ethan’s grandmother.
If you were to cast your book for a movie/television show, who would you cast in the lead roles?
I love this question because I play this game in my mind all the time!
Ethan Knight - Ben Hardy
Billie Axton - Jessica Brown Findlay
Laci Miller - Nicola Coughlan
Jordan Frawley - Michiel Huisman or Stuart Martin
Tessa Gallager - Mia Goth
Jamie Hupp - I picture Alex Morgan, but if I have to pic an actual actress it’d be Tuppence Middleton
How much of yourself do you put into these characters?
I feel like each character has a little bit of me, especially the women. Although details of Ethan’s life came from my own life—he’s from Charlotte, he’s got a cool grandma, stuff like that (though I don’t share his exact upbringing). Personality wise, I’m much more like Billie. Afraid of love, but secretly desiring it. And I’m also a bit like Laci. She’s more confident in herself than I am though. And probably more patient with Jordan than I would be. But she’s really close to her family like I am. Same with Tessa. I’d say Jamie is the least like me of everyone. Which makes her an exciting challenge to write!
What is a story/stories that you really want to tell?
This is cheesy, but I really want to write a holiday romance. I freaking love Christmas, so it feels on brand for me. I just have no ideas for one right now!
Is there one common element that readers can find in all your stories?
I almost always write about one love interest being insanely and pathetically obsessed with the other. And if it’s a heterosexual couple, the pathetic one will always be the dude.
What’s next on the bookshelf for you? Anything you can tell us about a future project?
Yes! I’m writing a ballroom book as well! Currently, it’s a standalone, but could potentially expand into a series. Maybe. If the right ideas come along. But it’s an enemies to lovers story about a comedian, Phoebe, and a ballroom dance teacher, Cyrus. They are very different people, having to compete in a charity, Dancing With the Stars style ballroom competition.
When you write these stories, what are you hoping your readers will feel?
I want them to feel comfortable and compassionate. My stories are hugely character driven, so I also hope they see themselves or someone they know within the story. Ultimately, I just hope it resonates with them, and they feel like these characters could be their friends.
Paperbacks, hardbacks, ebooks or audiobooks
Contemporary, fantasy, historical or romantic suspense
Single or Dual POV
Standalones, series or standalones in a series
Open door, ajar door or closed door romances
Music or silence when writing
Plotter, pantser or plantser
Water, tea, coffee or….wine? (I'm actually a Diet Coke girlie, but I love a good coffee!)
Cold or warm weather
Write better in the morning, afternoon or night?
Illustrated or photo cover?