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Writer of the Week: Dharma Kelleher

Updated: Jan 1, 2022

Hello everyone! Thanks for joining us this week as we get to know more about Dharma. Dharma Kelleher writes action-driven thrillers that explore the complexities of social and criminal justice in a world that favors the privileged. She is one of the only openly transgender authors in the crime fiction genre. Dharma lives in Arizona with her wife and a black cat named Mouse. 

Every other week, BrightStar Publishing will highlight a queer writer in an interview style. We'll all get to know a little more about them and what they're working on. Join us every other Monday to help uplift and support fellow writers.

So without further-ado, please welcome, Dharma!

What is your kryptonite as a writer? How do you overcome it? Fight scenes are always a bit of a challenge. I don’t have much martial arts training to speak of. And there’s always a temptation to write it as blow-by-blow, which can get boring. Readers want the emotional experience of the fight.

After I block out the basics of the fight in the rough draft, I focus more on the motives and feelings of the characters. Anger, fear, hope, frustration.

Do you have a writing space or write wherever?

Most of my writing is done at the desk in my home office. However, because I write in Scrivener, I can write anywhere. If I’m standing in line at the store, I sometimes open the app on my phone and start writing.

Favorite book overall or favorite most recent book? Stieg Larsson’s The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo. I love the character of Lisbeth Salander and the journey she goes on, not only in that book, but throughout the series.

How do you deal with writer's block? I rarely get writer’s block. Occasionally, I write myself into a corner or struggle with figuring out how to make a scene work. When this happens, I either free write and throw out some possible approaches. Or I’ll take a semi-lucid nap and brainstorm ideas. I don’t stress about it. Stress only makes it worse. I’ve written enough books to trust my process. Sooner or later, I’ll come up with the ideas I need to make the story work.

What do you wish to get out of your writing?

As one of three openly transgender authors in crime fiction, I want people to see trans people as heroes, rather than villains or victims. On a more personal level, I simply enjoy the process of writing. It’s fun to create characters and put them in all kinds of precarious situations and then figure how to get them through it.

What do you have out/published already?

I’ve published eight crime thrillers in two different series. More recently, I’ve published a nonfiction book on how to overcome impostor syndrome and writer’s block.

What are you currently working on?

I’m currently revising the fourth book in my Shea Stevens outlaw biker series.

Best advice to give someone who wants to start writing?

Don’t let the fear of “getting it wrong” rob you of the joy of writing. By its nature, creativity is messy and it is iterative. Rough drafts are supposed to be rough. Just have fun telling stories. You can always make it better in revision. Your writing skills will improve with every story you write.

Where can people find you on social media?

I’m on Facebook at and on Twitter at @zenpunkdharma.

Thank you for taking the time to read about Dharma Kelleher! It means a lot to us that we uplift and support queer writers. Definitely reach out to the writer if you want to talk or learn more about them and their craft! Again, thank you, and see you every other Monday with a new writer of the week! :)

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If you or someone you know want to be featured in our #WriteroftheWeek, please reach out to us via DM on either Instagram or Twitter! :)

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