Grades, Guys or Groupies. Of those, what was most important to you in high school and why?

Grades. I was a nerd, and it wasn't because getting good grades was more important to me than Guys or Groupies--I was just too dang shy for my own good. I had a good group of friends (ironically, mostly guys), though.

You've written on your blog for about two years. You started it as a means to vent about an online role-playing game. Now, you're talking about your father's health. You seem to keep up with it. Is your blog important and why should we go read it?

My blog is important to me, but in the grand scheme of things, not that important to others (unless you want to listen to me vent, chat about movies and books, or talk about my own writing). You're right, though, about its origins, and I've come a long way from the painful moment that birthed my first blog post.

Why should you go read it? To be entertained a couple of times a week. To learn more about the process of signing with an agent, making a sale, and seeing a book through the various stages of production. To learn a bit more about me and my writing habits, favorite books and TV shows. To eventually participate in release-related contests.

I'll even bribe you with cookies.

Name one of your mentors and what s/he did to set you up to be where you are now.

I really wish I could point to one person and call them a mentor, but there isn't any single, huge influence on my life as I know it. No Obi-wan Kenobi for my journey. Just a lot of people who touched my life enough to help mold it.

Writing-wise, the closest person I can identify as a mentor is a man named Kris Young. He's a produced screenwriter, and I took a screenwriting class with him seven years ago. He liked my storytelling instincts, and he was the first professional writer to tell me I could make it. In a way, his faith in me is what kept driving me forward toward my goal of publication.

A hottie's across the bar, smiling at you. You've GOTTA meet and greet him. Write YOUR best pick up line and what your expected response from the hottie.

My best pick-up line and his response? Oh dear...if a hottie was staring at me from across the bar, I think I'd turn around first just to see who was behind me.

Me: *saunters over, drink in hand, trying to be casual* *trips and spills drink into his lap*

Him: *trades me a towel for a dry-cleaning bill*

Can you tell my pick-up lines need work? Hehe.

In reaching what many on AW consider the Holy Grail (publication by a big publishing house), you've made "a leap" from progeny to, well, author. What new responsibilities do you have and how are you carrying them out?

As a member of AW (and especially as a mod), I've always tried to give honest, informed answers to questions asked in the writing-related rooms. I've offered suggestions in the Sandbox and SYW, and I've been supportive of members outside of threads, as well. As far as new responsibilities, I think it's doubly important to do those things, especially the "honest, informed answers" part.

When I was a newbie, I had great respect for the published members, and especially for their advice. I'm not saying anyone needs to give great weight to my words now that I'm joining that group of published authors, but there may be someone who does. And my responsibility to that member, especially if s/he is a new writer, feels a little bit larger now. (I hope that doesn't sound conceited, because it's not mean to be, it's just a hard question to answer)

The three things on your Christmas list you really want but won't receive this year are ... ?

A copy of my book, dammit!

The next eight Harry Dresden novels (I only have the first one, but don't expect the entire rest of the series to land in my stocking).

Digital camcorder (cuz they're 'spensive).

How does the brand of SF/Fantasy in your writing separate itself from the vast amount of SF/Fantasy stuff that's already out there?

The mythical creatures I use in my books aren't typical of what's popular right now in urban fantasy. My vampires aren't sexualized creatures--they can't even bite humans without dire consequences. I have shapeshifters, but not a single werewolf in sight. My heroine isn't the illegitimate daughter of a human and supernatural creature, nor is she the unwitting descendant of a line of Powerful Beings. All of her abilities are obtained by training or by outside influences.

Yes, I do have a snarky, first-person narrator (who swears like a f*cking sailor), but that's because I love those types of narrators.

You have the choice of continuing to write your own novels for the next five years or working to develop the new Star Trek franchise with JJ Abrams. Which do you choose and why?

My own novels. Now, if I could work with JJ to develop an original series, I'd be all over that.

Speaking of Star Trek, which crew member of the USS Enterprise do you see yourself as and why?

NCC-1710, 1701-A, 1701-D, or NX-01?

Was that really geeky of me? Engineering skills aside, I kind of relate to Trip Tucker (from "Enterprise"). We're both pretty easy going; we're good leaders of small teams, but still work best when someone else is in the big chair; we're intensely loyal to our friends and will do whatever we can to defend them; we have a natural curiosity for new things. And we can both hold grudges and be cynical about things that have negatively affected us.

Do you see writing as your means of removing the title "sales leader, Pier 1 imports" from your business card, or something else? If something else, what and why?

I was a writer long before I worked in retail. Retail was always a means to pay the bills. It's not a career, and it's never something I'd put on a business card. I do, however, have a nifty business card now that says: Kelly Meding, Paranormal/Urban Fantasy Author.

Writing is... for me it's that thing people are talking about when they say, "It's not really work if you enjoy what you do." I love writing, even when it frustrates the hell out of me. It's what I want to do for as long as I am able, even if people stop publishing what I write.