Interview with Kelly Wilson: 'It surprised me that I thought I could go through the publishing process by myself'

Kelly Wilson is an author and comedian who entertains and inspires with stories of humor, healing, and hope. She is the author of Live Cheap & Free, Don’t Punch People in the Junk, and Caskets From Costco, along with numerous articles and short stories for children and adults. Kelly Wilson currently writes for a living and lives with her Magically Delicious husband, junk-punching children, dog, cat, and stereotypical minivan in Portland, Oregon.

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About the Book:

Author: Kelly Wilson
Publisher: Gravity
Pages: 182
Genre: Memoir/Humor

For twenty years, I thought that I had been marching through the stages of grief in a straight line. I had been following the formula, crossing each processed grief experience off my list.

Except that I was totally deluded. And I didn’t discover that until Jim, my beloved father-in-law, died. I found myself drying off from my shower the morning after his death, really hoping he couldn’t see me naked. Or, if he could, that he was averting his eyes.

From that moment, my path through grief resembled a roller coaster, spiraling and twisting and turning, circling back around. Echoes of past trauma, including childhood abuse and cheating death, would no longer be ignored. I somehow needed to get from the beginning to the end of this grief adventure, and I don't have a good sense of direction.

But what is always present during a journey through grief, regardless of the path chosen?


Caskets From Costco is a funny book about grief that demonstrates the certainty of hope and healing in an uncertain and painful world.

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Q: Welcome to The Writer's Life!  Now that your book has been published, we’d love to find out more about the process.  Can we begin by having you take us at the beginning?  Where did you come up with the idea to write your book?

Like many writers, I have stacks of notebooks from my childhood and adolescence with a wide range of poetry, stories, diary entries, and even essays from some of my high school classes. For many years, I considered writing a hobby that I may or may not have time for, depending on the seasons of my life. However, that all changed when my first child was born.

Because this birth experience was so traumatic, I found that I simply could not process it without writing about it. Once I started writing again on a regular basis, I couldn’t stop. A few years after my son was born, my father-in-law died, which was a devastating loss. I began to delve into suffering and grief, and discovered that much of my writing throughout the years had also focused on these subjects. Going through this process of grieving and discovery led to the creation of my book, Caskets From Costco. I so badly wanted to go through the stages of grief and be done. Finally, I concluded that this simply wasn’t realistic, and that maybe the grief process is more layered and sophisticated than I had previously thought.

Q: How hard was it to write a book like this and do you have any tips that you could pass on which would make the journey easier for other writers?

Caskets From Costco is a book about grief, but it is also a book about hope when we feel like we’re stumbling in the darkness. Writing a book like this can feel a lot like that, and we might metaphorically stub a toe or bruise a shin without some light to give us direction.

For me, there were three elements that helped me write and publish Caskets From Costco: support, time away, and chocolate paired with wine. The support of family, friends, fellow writers, and a really good editor is priceless. These people helped me to persevere when I wanted to burn the manuscript in my backyard and allowed me to produce a really good book. They gave me space and time away to think and write, from my husband who took over household and parenting duties for weekends at a time to my friend who let me use her beach house so I could be alone and work in peace. Chocolate and wine are also necessities, especially when I need to be reminded that life is sweet and delicious, even when times are hard.

Q: Who is your publisher and how did you find them or did you self-publish?

I first self-published Caskets From Costco through Booklocker, which is a really good company. I then submitted the book to Gravity Imprint of Booktrope Publishing, which focuses on stories of hope, grief, and trauma. I found them through making valuable connections with survivors of abuse – like myself – and writers; when the publishing company was taking submissions, I took a chance!

Q: Is there anything that surprised you about getting your first book published?

It surprised me that I thought I could go through the publishing process by myself. I kind of learned the hard way that bringing a book to publication is a team process. The best money I’ve ever spent has been for services I cannot and should not do myself, like editing or cover design. For writers wanting to publish their work, it’s important to remember to put together a team to help in order to produce a high-quality product.

Q: What other books (if any) are you working on and when will they be published?

A few years ago, I self-published a funny book about parenting called, Don’t Punch People in the Junk! My two boys – now thirteen and ten years old – have remarked that I need to follow it up with another batch of hilarious stories. For 2016, I have decided to write another funny parenting book called, Poop Before You Get on the Boat. It should be published by 2017.

Q: What’s your favorite place to hang out online?

I love to hang out online. I am a social media junkie. My favorite is Facebook, followed by Twitter. I’m a newbie on Instagram, but I am loving it! I also like experimenting with Google+, Tumblr, Pinterest, and StumbleUpon, and I have my comedy videos on YouTube.

Q: What’s your nightly ritual before retiring for the night?

I like to play Candy Crush. I cannot help myself. Then I do all the boring stuff like brush my teeth before my favorite part of going to bed: settling into a pile of blankets and pillows with a good book. Most nights, I am able to stop reading before it gets too late!

Q: Finally, what message (if any) are you trying to get across with your book?

Grief is tough, and we do not have many opportunities or places to talk about our experiences. My fervent hope is that Caskets From Costco offers some light in the darkness and gives readers permission to express their grief experiences and experience healing.
Q: Thank you again for this interview!  Do you have any final words?

I’m so grateful for this opportunity! Thank you for these insightful questions, and readers who want to find out more about me can pop over to

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