A Conversation with Kelley Kaye author of Strangled by Simile

At the end of October, Emma finds the strangled body of Charlie Foreman, one of Leslie’s favorite nemeses, and the first clue implicates Leslie — Strangled by Simile (Chalkboard Outlines) by @kelkay1202

What inspired the idea for your book? 

I’m obsessed with books of all kind, but there’s a special place in my heart for murder mysteries. And I’m a high school English teacher—retired now, but I did it for 20 years. Of course I had to try one of my own, set in a high school, with English teachers solving the crime. For this third book, I killed off a recurring and unpopular misogynistic coach, a character named Charlie Foreman. This book was kind of dedicated to looking at Charlie’s humanity, and we learned a lot more about him now that he’s gone. I liked him a lot more after this story was done. 😊

What was the most surprising thing you learned in writing this book?

 I learned that Emma and Leslie aren’t done yet! I think they will be done by book 4 though—working on that one right now!

If you were friends with a character in this book, what kinds of things would you do together? 

Oh my goodness—if I went out with Emma OR Leslie, or how about both? We’d do book clubs, of course, and since I live in San Diego there are fabulous performance venues here—not the least of which is the Old Globe Theater! We’d go to every Shakespeare play they do there, and probably we’d hit the SD Symphony too. Lucky for me I do all that already. I’d bring them along with me all the time!

What does it mean to you to be called an author? 

I don’t know how to be anything else, really. It’s something I am compelled to do, and so if you want to call me that, great! If you don’t want to, that’s okay too—variety is the spice of life, you know? Call me what you will, just don’t call me late to dinner! 😉

How do you define success as an author? 

I define success in anything as doing what you love and being able to share it. I’d like to be able to share my stories with more people, and so I’m working on that. And working on more stories, all the time.

Do you have any quirky writing rituals? 

When I’m marketing, not writing, I like to have an episode or three from Friends on the TV. Or maybe an episode from Supernatural, which if you don’t know what that is—ask me! You’re missing out!

What comes first for you — the plot or the characters? 

They have to be synergistic. If you don’t have both—no book. I think for the mystery series it was characters first, though, because they are high school teachers and because I was a high school teacher. Then—how do they react when they find a body?

How do you avoid or defeat writer’s block? 

I want all other writers to read this right now: I don’t EVER suffer from writer’s block, and neither should you! How is this accomplished, you ask? It’s easy—you just have to have more than one project in the works at any one time. Then, if you don’t have any ideas flowing for one project, just move to another. Right now I’m working on book 4 for this series, book 2 for a YA Paranormal series which I’m also trying to sell right now and pitch as a limited episode tv streaming series, and an article for one of the Medium channels I contribute to. Writer’s block isn’t an issue—doing everything I want to do before I shuffle off this mortal coil is my issue!

What is the first book that you remember reading? 

I have to look it up. It was a picture book about a butterfly. Hang on—here it is:

Hope for the Flowers  man I’ve gotta buy it I think! Published in 1973! If you haven’t read this book, it’s very good and happy. I loved it. So…in 1973 I was 3. Just about the right time!

What is an underrated book, series or author that you think everyone should read at least once? 

For anyone who didn’t read To Kill a Mockingbird in  school, I think they should. I don’t think Harper Lee is underrated, just seen too much as a requirement and not enough as a story that’s really worth your time.

Aside from writing or reading, what are your hobbies or interests? 

That’s pretty much it. 😊 No, I like watching my sons play baseball. I love rock concerts…hoping Aerosmith continues with their Las Vegas residency now that Covid’s winding down—that’s one of the few bands I really WANT to see that is still performing. Oh, and now Foo Fighters since I just heard their new song and I love it! I never love new music—I’m in a total classics rut.

What advice would you give to a writer working on their first book? 

Just do it! Start with an idea, or an image, or whatever, and just go. Write a paragraph. Then another. Then a page. Then another. You’ll be surprised at the fact that it’ll turn into a book!

What are you reading now? 

My June book club book is Under the Banner of Heaven, although that’s a re-read for me. So shocking to me the way some people are completely molded by their surroundings and never question…anything.

What would the title of your autobiography be? 

I write under like three different pseudonyms—Kelley Kaye, Kelley Kay Bowles, and Kelley Gusich. My business card already says it, so I think my autobiography should say ‘Just Kelley’.

What would your dream library look like? 


If you had a secret room that opened by pulling a book on a shelf, what book would you choose?

 Ooh! A Wrinkle in Time, all day long!

If you went on a road trip with any author, dead or alive, who would it be, and where would you go? 

Well, obviously it’d be William Shakespeare! I think we’d go to Ghirardelli’s in downtown SD. I bet he could create some poetry around THOSE flavors…

If you knew you could not fail, what would you do? 

I already feel like I know that. Failure is part of the whole process, in a way, but I’ve always thought if anything doesn’t happen that I really WANT to have happen hasn’t happened, it just hasn’t happened YET. Haha if that makes any sense at all.

Southern transplant Emma Lovett and best friend/colleague Leslie Parker can hardly believe it: it’s Emma’s third year at Thomas Jefferson High School, and in addition to an amazing year with boyfriend Hunter Wells and Leslie’s brand-new love interest, they’ve gotten all the way through Homecoming with no one dying.


At the end of October, Emma finds the strangled body of Charlie Foreman, one of Leslie’s favorite nemeses. And the first clue implicates Leslie in the crime! To make things worse, Emma’s feeling a little oogy: tired, dizzy, and something’s up with her eyes. What’s going on?

All Emma and Leslie are trying to do is find new methods for teaching the youth of America, hopefully using lessons from The Great Bard—their hero—William Shakespeare.

But someone has a different idea: more schooling in murder.

Purchase Links – Amazon  – Kobo – B&N 

“Kelley Kaye” taught High School English and Drama since 1992 in California, then Colorado and now Cali again, but her love for storytelling dates back to creating captions in her high school yearbook. Maybe back to the tales she created for her Barbie and Ken—whatever the case, the love’s been around a long time. She’s married to an amazing man who cooks for her, and they have two funny and wonderful sons.

Author Links

Website https://kelleykaybowles.com/

Instagram https://www.instagram.com/kelkay1202/

Twitter https://twitter.com/kelkay1202

Medium https://kelkay1202.medium.com/



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  1. Thank you for introducing me to Kelley Kaye – a new to me author. It was fun to learn more about her and the book through your interview. Sounds like a wonderful book and one I would greatly enjoy having the opportunity to read and review.
    2clowns at arkansas dot net

    Liked by 1 person

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