An Interview With Author Kelly Clark Baugher

By Tiffany Whitt

     Kelly Clark Baugher, born on April 18, 1980, grew up in the small town of Athens, Alabama. "I enjoyed growing up in a small town. There are pros and cons though. The pros being that you know everyone and the cons being that you know everyone," she says. She graduated from East Limestone High School in 1998. Kelly attended Calhoun Community College for two years, then attended Ole Miss in Mississippi on scholarship the next year. After the tragic loss of her younger brother Chris, she moved back closer to home so she could be close to her family. Kelly graduated from the University of North Alabama in 2003 where she majored in communications with an emphasis on theater.

     Kelly got her start in acting while attending East Limestone when she took her first theater class with Tonya Breeding. While at Calhoun, Kelly was part of the cast of Romeo and Juliet, which did a thirty-two show run. She was also involved in other plays, including The Blue Room, The Merchant of Venice, The Vagina Monologues, and Picnic. Kelly was also in the movie Imbroglio, released in 2000, which was directed by Jim Shollenberger. She played a medical examiner in the dark thriller about family betrayal and murder.  She has also worked with professional make-up artists and dancers.

     Calhoun's head theater professors, Bill Provin and Bubba Godsey, encouraged Kelly to take risks artistically. She was grateful to know when attending Ole Miss that her favorite professor, Jim Shollenberger, also took artistic risks. Kelly had to take a big risk when she emailed Tom Clancy after finishing the first two chapters of her book. She wanted to get any knowledge and advice from the well-respected writer that he could give her. "He was very approachable and had great advice to give me as a struggling writer," she says. Some of her favorite authors include: Nicholas Sparks, William Faulkner, Mark Twain, Toni Morrison, Alice Walker, Sue Monk Kidd, Eudora Welty, Sylvia Plath and Maya Angelou. "But I pretty much enjoyed reading everything," she says.

     Kelly's first book, Finding Lilies, took only seven months to write. Kelly was offered a contract two weeks after submitting her book to DLSIJ Press based out of Wisconsin and only works with female writers. It started out as an eBook that was available for download in print and audio format. Her editor, Sidney Jameson, trusted Kelly to do most of the editing. "It felt good to know my editor trusted me to do most of the editing," she says. She feels it is important to give every artist a chance. She says, “My publisher, DLSIJ Press, giving me this opportunity means so much.” She also feels you should write what you know. It is easier to write about the places and people that you grew up with rather than write about places or people that you have never seen. Blake Adams, the main character, is similar to Kelly in the way that she is weak and strong but different in her entirety. Jackson Ellington, Blake's first love, encompasses characteristics of an old love of Kelly's at Ole Miss. "I fell in and out of love at Ole Miss. He was part of my growing process," she says.

     She wanted the title of her book to be symbolic of young love, purity, and hardship. Lilies represent all of these because they are beautiful and associated with love, purity, and death. When you read the book you will see elements of all of these things. "The goal of Finding Lilies is to show as human beings we all go through hardships, but through compassion, understanding, and love we can endure all life's struggles," she says.  Kelly has considered submitting her book, Finding Lilies, to movie agents and college theater departments. She also says, "Maybe after my career grows, I may rewrite Finding Lilies, and possibly have a series.”

     Kelly is a forum moderator for www.thelitchicks.com that started in August 2005. She says this is a great place for readers and writers to visit. She also suggests, for any aspiring artists, to visit www.anotherealm.com. Kelly's personal web site is www.kellyclarkbaugher.com, where there is a link to buy her book and information on the artist. Another link that is on her web site is titled "on censorship," which she strongly protests. She says, "When you censor something you don't believe in, you begin to censor yourself. People should be aware instead of closing their eyes to it. We should write something that's meaningful to ourselves. After all, closed minds are closed doors. Every character and every scene I create are drawn from things happening in our homes, on our streets, in our schools, our hospitals, our jails and our government-- Our America.”  She feels people should be aware of what is going on in their neighborhoods.

     Be on the look out for Kelly's next book, The Rock Dwellers, which she will be submitting for publishing in March 2006. The title of this book was provided by her last name Baugher that means "rock dweller." Julia, the main character, strives to protect her two younger sisters, Lora and Ernestine, who are symbolic of innocence and love. She has dedicated this book to her daughter, Julia, because she wants Julia to be able to grow up and realize that in today's society it's hard for women to be strong and opinionated but that it's okay to express yourself. This book will be about the natural elements. "There are symbolic elements throughout the book that alter as the story progresses," she says.

     Kelly is also planning on writing a book about her childhood and her experiences with her late brother Chris Clark. "He inspired me. I don't think I could have written Finding Lilies without growing from Chris' death," she says.

     Kelly would like to credit her parents for teaching her that it's okay to aspire to do things out of the norm. She says, "They always encouraged me to do things that made me happy. They fulfilled me." She would also like to thank DLSIJ for giving her this opportunity to be part of their family. She would like to thank her husband and daughter, Justin and Julia Baugher, who make her whole and keep her grounded. "I did not believe in soul mates until I met Justin," she says. Kelly would also like to thank Suzie Whitt for giving her the opportunity to have the first feature story of Suzie's magazine.

     You can purchase Kelly's book, Finding Lilies, at www.amazon.com now, and it should be in stores soon. Finding Lilies is a romance novel but she hopes to move onto mainstream fiction in the future. She has also thought about doing horror, suspense, and comic books. There are "plans" for her to do a book signing in Orlando, Florida, in March 2006.  She has no book signings planned locally yet, but hopes to have some in the near future.

Find out more at www.kellyclarkbaugher.com.

 

Journalist Tiffany Whitt and Author Kelly Clark Baugher chat at the local Subway.

 

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