A Writer’s Thoughts | Interview with Author Ivory Kelly

This is a BattlePlan Virtual, digital content, research, interview, creativity sample.

Following is an interview with Belizean Author, Ivory Kelly, a “New Star Rising” onto the literary scene with her latest work, “Pengereng”. Ms. Kelly has also published two collections of short stories and poems, as well as, individual pieces in various journals and anthologies. 

I believe you will enjoy the clarity of her answers to 8 curious questions about writing and her pure, unpretentious style.

An Interview with Author, Ivory Kelly

KB: Does writing energize or exhaust you? 

Ms. Kelly:

“Writing definitely energizes me. Whether it’s creative writing, correspondence, or the kinds of practical writing I do as a teacher, I get a certain kind of high when I produce written work. That’s not to say it’s always easy or comes effortlessly. In fact, I’m a rather slow writer, and I usually need to do multiple drafts. “

KB: Do you think someone could be a writer if they don’t feel emotions strongly?

Ms. Kelly:

“I would say yes. Regardless of what is meant by “a writer,” I think anyone is capable of writing well. I’ve taught college English and creative writing for many years, and I can’t tell you how many students have asserted, at the beginning of a semester, “Miss, I’m really not a good writer” only to blow me away a few weeks later with a phenomenal nonfiction narrative or travel article. I believe if the writing is smart and conveys the writer’s authentic voice or experiences, it will engage the reader.” 

KB: Do you view writing as a spiritual practice? 

Ms. Kelly:

“It’s interesting that you ask that question because just a couple months ago, I started to use writing on a much more regular basis as part of my spiritual life. I’ve always kept a journal, and, being a Christian, have occasionally written brief notes on faith-related matters. But this year, I’ve been doing so more regularly and intentionally and have found this to be an important means of deepening my faith. Writing provides a deeper level of interaction with a devotional reading, for example, or the day’s Bible text. 

But, in nonreligious contexts as well, I think writing allows us to operate at deeper levels of our beings. I’ve found this to be especially true when I’m writing creatively—how a sudden moment of clarity would break forth, or a brilliant phrasing, and you know you didn’t do that on your own. Whether you’re a believer and attribute it to God, or whether you attribute it to the Muses, you know you got help from some greater creative source. “

KB: What are common traps for aspiring writers?

Ms. Kelly:

“One of the main traps is the belief that a writer must sound sophisticated or profound—that smart writing means using lots of long, fancy words.” 

KB: If you could tell your “younger writing self” anything, what would it be?

Ms. Kelly:

“That your crappy first draft is a wonderful thing. Embrace it. Tolerate it. You can’t reach the polished, beautifully finished piece unless you power through the rough, rugged, wart-filled first draft. “

KB: What are the ethics of writing about historical figures?

Ms. Kelly:

“The Golden Rule: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Real stories about real people are extremely important, and the world can benefit from most of these stories. They need to be told. But a writer must carefully examine his or her motives for writing about any person. And remember that just because you can doesn’t mean you should.”

KB: Do you want each of your books to stand on its own, or are you trying to build a body of work with connections between each book?

Ms. Kelly:

“So far, I’ve published two collections of short stories and poems and have individual pieces in various journals and anthologies. The plan is to evolve at least one of those stories into a novel in the near future. It is possible that other future works will have similar connections.” 

KB: What does literary success look like to you?

“I don’t know of any writer who doesn’t aspire, at least secretly, to sell millions of copies and become a household name. That’s an important kind of success. But for me, literary success means producing work that brings useful knowledge, delight, and hope into the world.”

Ivory Kelly


By Jamaica Kincaid

Did you know that Jamaica Kincaid is an Antiguan author? Ms. Kincaid is a significant voice in contemporary literature. She has penned works of short fiction, novels, and essays in which she explores the tenuous relationship between mother and daughter, as well as, themes of anti-colonialism.

READ her fifth novel, first published in 2013, See Now Then, which explores some of the joys and pains of a marriage and the ways in which the passing of time operates on the human consciousness.

~ WINNER of the 2006 International Griffin Poetry Prize ~

By Kamau Brathwaite [1930 – 2020]

Kamau Brathwaite’s Born to Slow Horses is a series of poetic meditations on islands and exile, language and ritual, and the force of personal and historical passions and griefs. These poems are haunted, figuratively and literally, by spirits of the African diaspora and drenched in the colors, sounds, and rhythms of the islands. The poems also encompass the world of the exile and return, and the events of 9/11 in New York City. Brathwaite is one of the foremost voices in postcolonial inquiry and expression, and his poetry is densely rooted, expansive, rich in nuances, with cultural specificity.

BY Gemma Stemley

Finding Home: A Sentimental Journey is a fascinating, 236 page memoir penned by Gemma Stemley during the Covid pandemic.

Mrs. Stemley takes the reader with her on a personal journey of belonging; specifically – where to claim as home. Her quest is multifaceted as she queries the meaning of the concept of home as an ‘emigre’, emigrant, immigrant, ex-pat, and hometown villager. 

She masterfully weaves her experiences and familial culture aligned within the context of historical events and significance throughout the book. As she vividly shares her memories, Gemma intersperses a sprinkling of her poetry and literary connections, adding to the respective parts of the story narrative. This work will motivate one to read farther on Caribbean culture, early colonization, and rise to independence. It was even more gratifying to learn specifically about the author’s Trinbagonian roots, her hometown of El Dorado, her Great Grandmother Julia’s Martinique and the 1902 volcanic eruption, and the emigration ancestry from India after slavery was abolished.

Each of these works may interest:

The Caribbean diaspora, in particular

A multi-cultural diaspora 

The Caribbean Enthusiast – anyone who is interested in the Caribbean Experience

Anyone who enjoys a GOOD READ!

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