By Molly Snyder Senior Writer Published Apr 11, 2003 at 5:14 AM

Although she claims she isn't an "organization wizard," Dasha Kelly is a time management genius. Not only is Kelly the mother of an active toddler, the owner of a popular nightclub, Mecca, and a marketing and public relations professional, but she's also a talented writer who recently penned her first novel, "All Fall Down."

The book, published by Virginia's Syntax Publishing, spins the story of two women and their intertwining struggles. One of the women suffers from mental illness, an affliction Kelly has been fascinated by since college. Kelly feels this topic is especially relevant to African-Americans because, according to her research, one-third of the 25 million Americans suffering from mental illness are black.

"All Fall Down" is a very accessible book. Kelly's writing style is easy to digest and condensed, like good poetry. Although she claims none of the characters in her book are based on real people, they are well developed and will inevitably remind you of someone familiar.

OMC recently caught up with 33-year-old Dasha Kelly despite her busy touring schedule and family commitments, and asked her a few questions about her book, her life and her future.

OMC: How and when did you get into writing?

DK: I've always enjoyed writing but didn't really dedicate time to it until after college. I was pitching a story to a national publication and, instead of placing my story, he invited me to write for them. So, I began doing freelance magazine writing for them and other publications in the areas of entertainment, health and some business. Between these articles and the business documents I prepared for work, I started writing short stories as a sort of creative release -- and relief.

OMC: Which writers have inspired you the most?

DK: I enjoy the writing style of Pearl Cleage. As for major influences ... I couldn't cite one writer. I think I've pick up something from every book I've read.

OMC: What brought you to Milwaukee?

DK: I'm originally from Milwaukee, born but not raised. I was an "Army brat." I moved here from Chicago about nine years ago for a job.

OMC: What do you think of Milwaukee's writing community? Also, is there a strong African-American writing community in Milwaukee?

DK: I can't honestly speak to that, because I haven't really sought out or been embraced by a writing community. I've certainly met a smattering of other self-professed writers, like me, but not enough for me to generalize. Maybe that's a symptom, in and of itself. I can tell you that I perceive our writing community -- black, white, female, whatever -- to be fairly quiet. Hobbyist in nature, in fact. But that's my perception.

OMC: Are any of the characters in "All Fall Down" based on yourself? Your friends? Your family?

DK: No, none of the characters are based on me or anyone I know.

OMC: Is mental illness something you have dealt with in your own life?

DK: I've always been intrigued by the dynamics of the mind. I initially went to college to become a psychologist, but I realized that I'm too hyper to sit still all day. I've always maintained a curiosity about the field. I did a good deal of research for the character; I loved it.

OMC: Do you still own Mecca? If so, how do you balance family, writing and the club?

Yes, my husband Kendall and I still own Mecca. In fact, the club will celebrate its third anniversary in May. As far as balancing it all, I certainly wouldn't claim to be an organizational wizard, but my system -- whatever it is -- seems to work. I guess I approach all the different aspects of my life like client projects: Determine what needs to happen to make that "client" successful and then just get it done. Researching ad rates for a club promotion, making dates with my husband, sitting down to write out a new poem or chapter, taking my daughter to Betty Brinn,emailing or calling new business leads ... I just keep a running to-do list for each element, or "client" in my life. I think that's how I do it, anyway.

OMC: How has being a mother affected your creative work?

DK: Well, I haven't really tested that yet. Since Sydney's been born (July 2000), most of my creative work has been in writing poems, short bursts of creative energy. I finished the novel when she was much smaller, and still taking long naps. She's a toddler now and, apparently, toddlers take pledges against taking more than one nap a day. With everything else I have going on, that one afternoon nap is never time to catch-up, let alone get absorbed in crafting a story. So, as I've started writing the second book, I realize that I need to schedule my time to write.


OMC: What do you plan to do next?

DK: Right now, I'm touring to promote the book. I'll be traveling through June. Ultimately, I'm hoping to shake enough trees to attract the attention of a larger publishing house. I'm getting great feedback and have received some pretty encouraging leads so far. I've already started working on the second novel and I plan to have the core of it written by the end of summer.

OMC: Where is your book available?

DK: The book is available at Cultural Connection, Readers Choice, Schwartz's, The Milwaukee Public Library and through my Web site

Dasha Kelly will sign books at The Gathering, a women's expo, on Sat., April 12 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the War Memorial.

Molly Snyder started writing and publishing her work at the age 10, when her community newspaper printed her poem, "The Unicorn.” Since then, she's expanded beyond the subject of mythical creatures and written in many different mediums but, nearest and dearest to her heart, thousands of articles for OnMilwaukee.

Molly is a regular contributor to FOX6 News and numerous radio stations as well as the co-host of "Dandelions: A Podcast For Women.” She's received five Milwaukee Press Club Awards, served as the Pfister Narrator and is the Wisconsin State Fair’s Celebrity Cream Puff Eating Champion of 2019.