By SARAH CHAIN
Daily Record/Sunday News
J.M. Kelley doesn’t live in York County anymore, but her heart has stayed with southcentral Pennsylvania. The area serves as the setting for her 2010 novel “Drew in Blue” and for the upcoming romance “Daddy’s Girl.”
“I think anyone who grew up in York County and nearby can attest to the endless sources of quirkiness that (it) can inspire,” Kelley said.
Kelley, 38, graduated from York Catholic High School in 1992. She spent her 20s renting in Dover, West York and Yoe. Two years ago, she moved to Greenville, S.C., for work.
“It’s kind of reminiscent of York in a way,” she said. “It kind of felt like a second home.”
Along the way, she re-immersed herself in writing. She’d enjoyed creating stories in high school, but let the hobby fall by the wayside after graduation. When her father died in 2007 and she lost her job, it became a passion again.
Writing allowed Kelley to “purge the emotion,” she said, especially in “Daddy’s Girl,” set for a Jan. 27 release.
“The central story is about a black sheep daughter coming home to care for her dying father,” Kelley said. “The father is really, in a nutshell, how I felt about (my own father) dying from lung cancer.”
Kelley classifies the novel as women’s fiction with a romance associated: The main character finds a love interest in a nerdy man close to her father.
“I’m always interested in character motivation,” she said. “That concept of finding that true love — what they would do for love.”
And it’s something her readers respond to.
JoAnn Paules, a Springettsbury Township resident who first heard of Kelley’s work through an online forum, was drawn to the imperfections in her characters.
“It’s gonna sound crazy,” Paules, 57, said. “But the main character (in ‘Drew in Blue’) was not perfect. It seems like most of the time, the leading characters, they lead a charmed life. Or they’re ‘good.’ And Drew’s not a bad guy, but he needed someone to smack him upside the head.”
That character depth is something Kelley pulled into “Daddy’s Girl” as she developed the character based loosely on her father.
“Somewhere in the back of my head, I always intended to do something to honor him,” Kelley said. “I just adored his personality, and I love to bring it into paper.”
Published through Turquoise Morning Press , “Daddy’s Girl” is Kelley’s second novel from a small-time publishing company. (“Drew in Blue” was released by Lazy Day Publishing, a digital-first small press).
An agent with a larger company approached Kelley at a writing conference, but she said the desire for control over her career and writing is why she stayed with a smaller company.
At first, she’d considered self-publishing, too. But the technical aspects of formatting her novel didn’t appeal to her.
“A small press allows you to maintain a lot of what you want,” Kelley said. “And someone else will do the work for you!”
With “Daddy’s Girl,” Kelley knows she can already count on one reader: Despite the 1,500 other books loaded onto her Kindle, Paules said she’s looking forward to Kelley’s new release.
“It’s very difficult to find time to read everything I want to read,” Paules said. “But there are some authors who you make that time for… and (Kelley) is one of them.”
Name: Joann Marie Kelley
Lives in: Greenville, S.C.
Occupation: Retail at part-time job, writing
Hobbies: Photography, painting, knitting
To purchase: Check back with www.jmjelleywrites.com after Jan. 27 for purchase details