Welcome back to my Author Spotlight series, where I shine a bright light on the talented authors within the indie romance community. This series aims to celebrate authors who bring their unique voices to the romance genre, connecting them with readers who crave diverse and enthralling love stories.
Today, I’m thrilled to introduce you to an author whose storytelling is as enchanting as it is diverse. Naomi Rachel Kelly is an Irish indie author passionate about crafting tales of magic, merfolk, and mythology. Her pen has conjured both the fantastical realms of The Syren Stories, a captivating YA Fantasy duology comprising Meraki: A Syren Story and its sequel, Kairos: A Syren Story, as well as the exquisite regency romance novellas under her pen name, Naomi Rachel Kelly, such as A Portrait of Pride.
Meraki: A Syren Story, published in 2020, unfolds a narrative that thrums with the essence of gods and the heart of the sea. It tells the story of Wren, a young syren, whose life takes an unexpected turn when she’s captured by a tempestuous young King. Wren’s powerful song becomes both her strength and her vulnerability, her journey a tapestry woven with truth and deception.
Readers have hailed it as “a truly gripping read” with an original plot that ignites an emotional connection with the protagonist. As we dive into the waves of Wren’s tale, we find ourselves cheering her on, experiencing her highs and lows, and embracing her journey towards survival and love. Kelly’s talents extend beyond the shores of fantasy. Kairos takes us deeper into the Syren realm, and the newly released Kalon: A Centaur Tail offers an enchanting companion novel that interweaves beloved characters from her previous works.
Can you tell us about your journey as an indie author and how you decided to delve into the genres of YA Fantasy and Regency Romance?
Since my teenage years, I’ve always been writing something. Whether it was some poetry, scripts for me and my friends to act out or fan-fics of my favourite characters at the time, I have been writing for years. However, my journey to becoming an indie author started about four or five years ago when I decided that my idea for a short story competition would be better as a novel – and I haven’t stopped writing books since!
Writers are always told to write what they know so I stuck to my favourite genres as I knew their tropes and themes best.
The Syren Stories series combines elements of mythology and fantasy. What inspired you to write about merfolk and incorporate their powerful songs into the narrative?
I really enjoy reading about legends and mythology, particularly Greek mythology so when I had an opportunity to weave it into my fantasy world it was the obvious choice! Syrens and sea creatures such as Hydra and Charybdis are heavily rooted in Greek mythology with ties to various gods and I wanted to show off their powerful (and sometimes terrifying) attributes.
Wren, the protagonist of your Syren Stories series, is described as a strong female character who challenges the status quo. What motivated you to create such a compelling and empowering character.
I had the idea for my main characters Wren and Kellan before I ever even thought of the plot. I knew I wanted to twist the normal narrative of a mermaid giving up her voice for a prince, and instead wrote about a King who desired a powerful syren because of her voice.
Incorporating an enemies-to-lover trope also allowed me to show off Wren’s feisty, sarcastic and stubborn side as she fights Kellan every step of the way. This helped de
Meraki: A Syren Story received rave reviews from readers, praising the gripping plot and emotional investment in the main character. What was your process like while writing this book, and how did you ensure that readers would connect with Wren on such a deep level?
A reader connecting with the main character is always important, but when your main character isn’t human it’s super important that your protagonist remains relatable. Wren might be crafted by the gods and have gills but she still struggles with regular ol’ human emotions such as family issues, falling in love and worrying if she is enough.
The Syren Stories series consists of Meraki and Kairos. Could you share with us a glimpse into the journey of Wren’s character development throughout these two books?
Over the course of the books, Wren is always torn between land and sea, humans and creatures, her destiny and her dreams.
Meraki opens with a scene where Wren has swum away from home and this urge to run/swim/fly away is something Wren really struggles with throughout the books. As the story develops Wren is surrounded by a makeshift found family who might just be her future – that is, if she can deal with her own dark family which she thought she left in her past.
As an indie author, how do you balance your writing process with the various aspects of self-publishing and book promotion? Do you have any tips for aspiring indie authors looking to navigate the industry?
Like a lot of indie authors, I work full time, so learning to juggle writing, editing, marketing, and general author admin such as emails, podcasts and interviews is definitely a steep learning curve.
The most important thing is your story – it may sound obvious, but there is no point in stressing about marketing and promoting a book that you’re not proud of. Being an indie author means you are the biggest champion for your own work, so make sure you’re 100% happy with it as you will be sharing it with the world for years and years to come.
I used to find social media intimidating, but once you find your niche it is an amazing way to make connections – and friends! All of my ARC readers, editors, and even bookshop owners who now stock my novel were once a simple like or DM that turned into something more!
Your novella, A Portrait of Pride, falls under the genre of Regency Romance. What drew you to this particular time period, and what challenges did you face while blending the elements of romance with the historical backdrop?
Writing fantasy full of mythology, merfolk and magic for nearly five years was pretty taxing on my mind! Wanting a change, I decided to try my second favourite genre, Regency Romance. My long-standing love for Jane Austen paired with my current obsession with Julia Quinn’s Bridgerton series gave me a good grasp on the historical world, and it was really refreshing swapping high fantasy for high tea. It did however take me a while to get familiar with writing in a world where I couldn’t use magic or have the gods swooping in to save anyone.
Finally, what can readers expect from your future projects? Are there any upcoming releases or exciting plans you’d like to share with us?
Like a typical writer, I am working on multiple projects at once because I can never say no when inspiration strikes. The project I’m most excited about (and closest to completing) is another Regency Romance novella where readers will revisit some of the characters from A Portrait of Pride! I don’t have a release date yet, but keep your eyes peeled!
And if you’re an indie romance author with a tale to tell and a world to share, don’t miss the chance to be featured in our Author Spotlight series. Just fill in the form on this page to step into the limelight.