In paper airplane: unique tales from a mile high, a tumultuous, distinctive memoir, author Kersten L. Kelly looks back on the most influential individuals that she encountered while flying through the clouds. Confined in a small vestibule for hours, Kelly identified an opportunity for learning and growth by chatting with the fellow passengers around her. After a few life-changing conversations and unforgettable emergencies, she put the in-flight magazines to rest and never looked back.
She recalls life lessons from perfect strangers about love, family, perseverance of dreams, and humility through a series of brief anecdotes all taking place on airplanes. Selfless philanthropy was discovered, long-term friendships bonded, and talents unveiled. The book proves the phrase “you never know what you will learn on an airplane” over and over again.
Every chapter will capture the mind and sometimes the heart of anyone who jumps into this collection of humanity at its best. The personalities present in this book assimilate with the intrinsic characteristics all readers can relate to. With a raw authenticity stemming from old notes in a ragged journal, Kelly delivers a personal reflection of unique tales from a mile high.
Kersten, welcome! How long have you been writing, and how did you start?
I have been writing ever since I was about six. I used to write random stories about all kinds of goofy stuff as a kid. My parents and friends were so encouraging throughout the years that I kept at it. When I graduated from my master's program, I decided to get serious about actually finishing a book. I completed my first book in March 2012. I haven't looked back since.
Why did you decide to write paper airplane: unique tales from a mile high?
I have met so many unique people on airplanes, and I felt compelled to share the stories. The premise of the book is that each story taught me some sort of unique life lesson. Some are positive, and some are negative. Each are what I experienced, and I think anyone can enjoy the entertaining stories.
What is the tone of the book?
The tone is both humorous and heartwarming. I tried to incorporate a lot of funny anecdotes and sarcasm while still conveying the message.
What do you like best about writing?
The thing I like best about writing is the endless possibilities within the realms of it. I can write something totally outlandish or creative, and a reader could think it was the best thing they've ever read. There are so many people who want to read. It's encouraging to know that there is a market of people to always give me feedback.
What’s your least favorite thing?
The thing I like least about writing is the exorbitant amount of time it takes from my other hobbies/extracurricular activities. I spend a ton of time writing my books which definitely take time away from my family. It's important to find a good balance.
How did you come up with the title of your book?
The title is explained in the first chapter of the book. I actually don't want to give too much away because it is a funny part of the story. It has to do with a paper airplane hitting me in the head as a kid by one of the bullies in my class. It was a very memorable experience.
Do you have another job outside of writing?
Yes, writing is only a hobby for me. I am a Regional Sales Manager for a private label toaster pastry company in Chicago, Illinois. I manage the western side of the United States. I enjoy meeting new people and helping other companies grow their businesses while making my company profitable. I get to meet a lot of new people in my current position, and I spend a lot of time traveling to see my customers. Since the country is so diverse, there are ample chances to learn about cultures and environments that are different than mine. You never know what you are going to learn or where you are going to learn it. Every day is something a little bit different. I’m excited about that.
Describe your book in a tweet? (140 characters or less.)
In this tumultuous, distinctive memoir, Kersten L. Kelly looks back on the most influential individuals that she encountered while flying through the clouds.
Why did you decide to write this book?
The instances that I had while flying on an airplane needed to be shared with the world. I enjoyed the experience of each of the anecdotes so much in the book that I didn't think it would be fair to keep them to myself. The life lessons I learned and pass on in the book are exceptionally special and unique to the people I met.
Did you have any say in your cover art?
I had total say in the cover design and the book layout because I did it myself. The last book that I published was completed by my friend who specializes in layout design work. With her guidance and a little trial and error, I taught myself the programs to design the cover and inside pages. I am really glad I did too. It was a super rewarding experience. I am happy to talk with anyone who wants help in this area!
Tell us about your favorite scene in the book.
Since the book is a semi-fiction, I will say who my favorite character is and what their background is. My favorite character in the book was probably Kenny. He had a very special part in the very first time I jumped out of an airplane, and it made the experience even more memorable than I anticipated. I don't want to ruin the crazy thing he did, but it's definitely worth the read. I have the video of it to prove it!
Cool! What’s one of your favorite quotes?
"Success isn't a result of spontaneous combustion. You must set yourself on fire."
~Arnold H. Glasgow
I love that. If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be?
I would love to live in Amsterdam. I went there on a trip in 2009, and it was life-changing. It is an absolutely beautiful place.
What do you like to do in your free time?
I like to spend time with my family and friends, run local races, snow ski, write books, read, try new restaurants downtown, and hike at some of the best trails in Indiana at Turkey Run State Park. I try to travel internationally as much as possible to places such as Ireland, England, Wales, The Netherlands, Belgium, Italy, Iceland, Canada, and most recently India. I love learning about new cultures, trying various foods, and experiencing life in other countries.
I am an active volunteer at my alma mater, the Kelley School of Business. Every few weeks, I help at the recruiting events both on campus and around the Chicago area. I help to interview perspective students, participate in alumni Q&A panels, and help to inform students about how influential the program is. I am also a career counselor part-time for Indiana University where students can talk to me about transitioning from the college atmosphere to working full-time.
Kersten L. Kelly is a self-published author of narrative nonfiction and semi-fiction books. She grew up in Munster, Indiana and currently works in a sales role based out of Chicago, Illinois. She started writing at an early age and graduated from Indiana University with a dual bachelor’s degree in economics and communication and culture. She then went on to earn a master’s in business administration from the Kelley School of Business at Indiana University. She has a passion for learning, teaching, and writing. In her spare time, she enjoys international travel with her friends and family and training for running events of various distances. She likes the outdoors, social media, pop culture, and any new technologies that draw the people of the world a little bit closer together.
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