GPB: Tell us about your path to getting Good Karma published. You were a volunteer at the Savannah Book Festival in years past and in 2018 you were an invited author! Tell us about that process.
Kelly: Honestly, the road to publication has been a dream come true. Since we moved, my husband and I have been active with the festival, as supporters, author hosts, and on the literacy, finance, and marketing committees. It was during the 2011 Savannah Book Festival that I became so inspired by authors’ stories that I made a commitment to write a novel. Three years later I had a finished manuscript and a friend’s friend’s friend (literally) who worked in HarperCollins marketing offered to read it. She enjoyed it and forwarded it to editorial. My manuscript landed on the desk of Executive Editor Emily Griffin. A crossword puzzle enthusiast, she was intrigued by the fact that I used to construct puzzles for The New York Times. Within a week, she called and said she’d love to publish my novel. Good karma, indeed!
GPB: What is your best-loved book on the official Great American Read PBS list and why do you think it should win?
Kelly: Even though I took the The Great American Read Booklist Personality quiz twice, I’m impressed that, both times, the quiz recommended my favorite book: Charlotte’s Web.
Growing up, I loved this story for its entertaining characters (a strong-willed girl, wise grey spider, and adorable pig) and not-quite-happily-ever-after ending. I have to admit, however, when I imagine Fern calling for Wilbur, I do hear the voice of Mr. Ed.
Two other books on the top 100 list that I’d vote for are Jack London’s Call of the Wild and Marilynne Robinson’s Gilead. London’s stories of courage and survival (or not) inspire me, while Robinson’s intelligent prose impresses me (and I’m biased here because she was a wonderful mentor and thesis adviser at The Iowa Writers' Workshop).