Tell us a little about yourself...
We're both from outside Philadelphia and have been here pretty much our whole lives (excluding a three-year field trip outside New York City). We met when we were 15 and haven't been able to shake each other since! Joe's "day job" is in Finance; Allison works as a paralegal and a freelance writer. Besides writing, we enjoy drinking Guinness, taking long walks to nowhere in particular, Villanova basketball, trying not to break our house, and spending time with family and friends.
When did you know you wanted to be a writer?
Allison: When I was in kindergarten, I kept a daily journal written through the eyes of my two teddy bears, Bosco and Valentine Bear. I loved nothing more than telling their stories and making up adventures for them. That was it for me...I knew I was born to be a writer!
Joe: You know, it's hard to say. I started writing my first book when I was in third grade. It was called "The Stone Age My Own Age" and was about the first person on Earth. For reasons I can't explain now, the narrative revolved mainly around living in a tree house and eating pizza. So...I guess then? Clearly, history & the sciences were off the table...
What do you find to be the biggest challenge, as an author?
A: It's a challenge every time to face that blank page when I first sit down to write, to overcome that feeling of uncertainty when I don't exactly know how a scene or story is going to unfold. That's part of why writing is such an adventure...and definitely not for the faint of heart!
J: It's funny. With Allison it's the beginning, but with me, it's actually the end I find to be most challenging. When is a story actually over? Has a scene played out to the best of its potential? Has anything been left on the table?
So when we're both in the room working together, I suppose you could say the process is a challenge from start to finish ;)
What do you find most rewarding, as an author?
For both of us, it's the discovery. The thrill of finding something - be it a voice, a place, or a chatty little lobster that won't leave you alone until you turn him into a poem - is a feeling that just can't be beat. We think being a writer is a lot like being an explorer. When you start out, you just never know what you're going to find. And since Joe's not athletic enough to be Indiana Jones, writing will have to do.
Share with us a daily habit of yours, that helps you reach your goals.
J: Each morning when I get out of bed (usually right as I'm pouring that first cup of coffee), I ask myself, "What is one thing I could do today that will put me closer to ______?". In my case, that blank space is "becoming a published author", but I think this practice would apply to any goal. One thing - it doesn't have to be something wild or difficult or wildly difficult. Just something so that - when you're getting out of bed the next day and pouring that first cup of coffee - it's in a place one step closer to where you eventually want to be.
A: Never underestimate the power of seemingly dead time! It's actually found time, and you should put it to work for you. Take advantage of those five minutes before the pot boils or the ten minutes before you have to run to an appointment. Write a few sentences, sketch out a character, or knock out a pesky chore so you have more time for writing in calmer moments.
What is one piece of advice you would share with an aspiring author?
A: Don't forget to read. Read for pleasure, read critically, read to challenge yourself. Read because you love it!
J: Make the time. Don't wait for life to be less hectic; for the timing to be "perfect". If this is something you want, go after it. [Cliche Alert!] I think Nike said it best: Just do it.
I am most grateful for...
J: Sunscreen. Oh - and Allison. Definitely Allison. But sunscreen is pretty neat....
A: Ha! I'm most grateful for you too, Joe. :) And coffee, of course.
J: Oh...I like coffee, too.
If I could give my 18 year-old self one piece of advice it would be...
J: Study personal finance. Read books, blogs; make it a part of your day-to-day web surfing routine. Sure - it initially may not seem as fun as writing or drawing or whatever your creative passion may be, but sound finances are the foundation on which dreams are built.
My favorite thing about being a writer is...
A: Keeping my imagination in good working order!
My least favorite thing about being a writer is...
A: Being sedentary so much of the time...
J: Grammar. According to my wife: "I mean, you're not terrible at it, I guess. You're just...not good at it."
My goals for the future are...
A: To do what I like and to like the way I do it.
J: To create something that people enjoy consistently, across ages & generations.
I love living a creative life because...
A: It brings joy to my days!
J: It's fun - and isn't that what living life's all about?
The last book I read was...
A: The Unwinding by George Packer. It gives snapshots of American lives across the past few decades and really helps to make sense of the narrative in America today.
J: The Firm by Duff McDonald. The Firm is an inside look at the consulting group McKinsey & Co. I thought it did a really nice job laying out their extraordinary accomplishments at a high, digestible level. Moral of the story: I hope those guys don't start writing children's poetry anytime soon...
My favorite book, ever, is...
J: Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse. I reread it every year or so.
A: I actually have a couple: One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez, The Secret History by Donna Tartt, American Wife by Curtis Sittenfeld, and so many more! I find new favorites nearly every year.
Outside of writing, my favorite hobby is...
A: Cooking, entertaining, learning languages, and - if you can't already tell - reading!
J: Running on the treadmill while watching a movie, taking walks, all things personal finance, talking about starting to golf.
The most important thing to do if you want to achieve your goals is...
J: Do something each day to work toward it - even if it's just one thing. Don't be intimidated by the time it may take; just bite off a little bit each day. There's this great quote by Earl Nightingale - "Don't let the fear of the time it will take to accomplish something stand in the way of your doing it. The time will pass anyway; we might just as well put that passing time to the best possible use."
A: Couldn't have said it better myself!
Do you have any New Years Resolutions for 2017?
A: My resolutions are to 1. Learn Spanish and 2. Grow my small side business (www.legacyboundbooks.com - a personal memoir service). I'm taking a Spanish class and I've picked up a couple new clients, so I'm happy to report it's going well!
J: To spend more time practicing the piano. My sister is teaching me how to play on Wednesday nights. She is very talented. She is also very annoyed when I don't practice.
Tell us about your books (genre, where we can find them, etc.)
Aboard a Paper Plane is a collection of 48 original poems for children ages about 6 to 11 (although we've seen folks of all ages enjoy them!) They run the gamut from simply silly, to sharp and incisive, to wise and meditative, and feature memorable characters and adorable illustrations. We've had a lot of fun writing these poems and we're really looking forward to sharing them with a wider audience!
Aboard a Paper Plane is currently available as an ebook on Amazon (though one day, we hope to have a hardback copy!).
Where can readers find you (i.e. website, social media, etc.)?
We actually probably need to be a little better about this. Other than our personal Facebook pages, we don't really have a web presence for our writing. Maybe this should be our New Year's Resolution.
While mulling over this question, we actually purchased a website - www.JosephAndAllisonKelly.com. Hopefully we'll have that up and running in the next couple weeks. In the meantime, you can always drop us an email at email@example.com. We'd love to hear from you!
Anything else you'd like to add...
Thank you, Stacey, for taking the time to interview us - what a great opportunity! We hope that anyone who happens across our work (be it Aboard a Paper Plane or the other books we're planning down the pike) has as much fun reading as we did writing!
Ritz writes the following genres:
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