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A Relation to Royalty and a Black Belt Wielder with No Time for Sexism: an Interview with Kelsey Wes

Here at the Penultimate Peanut, we think we know Virginia native and our fiction reader Kelsey West, pretty well. But during this interview we asked her some questions to delve a little deeper. Q: You’re a reader for Penultimate Peanut, and you have a great appreciation for literature. What sparked your interest in reading growing up?

A: Both of my older sisters loved to read, so I kind of felt it was expected of me. At first I couldn’t find a genre I liked, until Lindsay got me to read a series called The Door Within, which is a Christian fantasy, and I started exploring that genre, and then I spread out and started reading other genres.

Q: Where is your favorite place to go in the Hampton Roads area?

A: I would have to say the Chrysler Museum is probably my favorite place for an indoor location. For an outdoor location, I would say Sleepy Hole Park. I feel like I should also say the zoo. That’s where my fiancé proposed.

Q: What TV show from your childhood influenced you the most, and why?

A: Oh my goodness. Probably—there’s so many TV shows—I would have to say Arthur. Because I loved Arthur, and it made it cool to be smart and read.

Q: When you’re reading something you don’t like, what makes you want to put it down and never read it again?

A: I can suffer through the worst plot in the world if I love the characters. So, if the characters are unlikeable or not interesting to me, then I won’t waste my time reading it. Or, if there’s any blatant sexism without purpose, against either a guy or girl. An example being, the girl is the main character but can’t do a darn thing for herself. Or, if the guy is portrayed as dumb or ignorant of any kind of emotion. (Snarky and sassy are always a good thing in my eyes.)

Q: You’re so petite and very sweet, no one would ever guess you could totally beat them up if you wanted to. Have you ever surprised anyone by using Martial Arts moves on them?

A: People are constantly surprised when I tell them I’m a black belt. I think I’ve definitely impressed some people at my black belt tests, where I was able to kind of show off in a fun way. There was a moshing incident, you may remember, at a Twenty One Pilots concert years ago where these rowdy guys kept jumping into us. I definitely used my pointy elbows and pressure points to keep them away.

Abi: Haha, yes. You’re the best person to go to a concert with.

Q: Your family is from this area, how many generations back have lived here and do you have any famous relatives?

A: Actually, my mom’s side has the most interesting history. So, a great, great, great grandfather of mine was named Thomas Jollie. He was born and lived in Crofton Hall in England and gained ownership of it from his father-in-law. Jollie was a fervent supporter and a good friend of King Charles I. In fact, Charles frequently stayed at Crofton Hall. When Charles was to be executed, Jollie accompanied him to the scaffold. After that, Jollie lost everything, took his family to Virginia, and we have been here ever since.

Q: What is your reading recommendation?

A: My reading recommendation for nonfiction is Devil in the White City by Eric Larson. For fiction, Till We Have Faces by C. S. Lewis. That’s what I would suggest.

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