Here is the first interview regarding my next book release Journey on October 1, through Winter Goose Publishing.
How exciting is that?
I want to thank Joseph Falank, author of The Painted Lady and Seeing for having the interest and taking the time to interview me. As an author of adult and young-adult fiction, Joseph Falank josephfalank.com has had many of his stories featured in magazines and online publications. He has written and directed over twenty independent films and is a performing member and manager of The Puzzled Players Comedy Improv Theater.
Joseph asked some out-of-the ordinary questions regarding this second novel of mine. I think my good friend and fellow Author Eldon Thompson perhaps nailed the journey of Journey from a reader’s perspective in his review on the webpage Journey is Coming Soon…
I am grateful to have writer friends like Eldon, whom I met on the Maui Writer’s trip to Rome back in 2003. Walking around Rome for 10 days with a few other writers can certainly allow as many shared experiences and bonding time as, well, ‘your neighbors in the hood.’ Eldon and I had an instant understanding of and respect for each other’s work, which is odd if you consider how different our genres are. His fantasy trilogy The Legend of Asahiel is published through HarperCollins.
My friend Ginni Simpson drvirginiasimpson.com doesn’t write in my genre either. She recently penned a memoir The Space Between with SheWrites Press that will be released this spring. Her memoir is a poignant account of those last years with her mother. Ginni also nailed the essence of Journey in her review, and I want to thank her for all the support she gave me as a fellow writer.
Of course those who gave me back cover blurbs for the book are also writers whose work I enjoy and respect. James Benton is an award winning author in his own right. He teaches English and Writing for Eastern Oregon University. He recently signed a publishing contract for his poetry collection.
Naima Mora (Model Behavior) and I met at the private design college, where she first showed me her book. Naima was America’s Top Model in one of the earlier seasons of the reality TV show. She writes her memoir from the heart, and doesn’t mince words about how hard it is or how much discipline it takes to become top notch at, well, anything.
Here are those thought-provoking questions Joseph sent my way. He will have his own version of this article coming out in about a month. (I am shamelessly double dipping here.) I did answer as honestly as I could, which I confess was harder than writing fiction.
Tell me about the journey of Journey – from how the idea struck you, your process of writing it, any research, struggles along the way, beta-readers, all the way to the finished book. How many drafts did it take? Did anything change drastically (avoiding spoilers) from first draft to final?
This story has evolved quite a bit from conception. When the idea first came to me it was because of all the press about runaway teens. Like all writers with runaway imaginations I wondered about different scenarios and what-ifs surrounding circumstances that would cause a teen to runaway. That gave me my basic plot. What I really write about in all my books is what makes people tick, what drives them to do what they do leading up to and well beyond one action such as running away from home. The plot is just the glue to hold all those intricate psychological and emotional fibers together.
My writing process is simply spilling out the guts of the story onto paper. Then I slowly transform and finesse that raw unfiltered thinking and emotion into something (hopefully) refined. To me refinement is when it sings and dances on the page instead of trudging along clunkily amid too many adjectives and over-thinking. There should be an easy rhythm that allows the reader to seamlessly follow one scene and thought to another without ever getting confused, bored, or bogged down by bad mechanics, inconsistencies, and repetitions. This is not to say a reader will never take pause to ponder what has affected them along the way in terms of a new perspective or overwhelming emotion.
I have been fortunate enough to spend a fair amount of time in Maui and on The Big Island, which is where Journey takes place. My locations are always somewhere I have lived or travelled, and whatever my characters thought processes or emotions are, I have also experienced. This is not to say I have experienced everything my characters have, but only to say I have experienced something similar which allows me to relate to them. This keeps research about everything in my books to a minimum. Rule number one is to write what you know, and so I do.
I don’t use Beta-readers. Once I believe that the manuscript has evolved all that it can I send it to a few trusted colleagues for reader input. These are long time author friends whom I respect for their work, intuitiveness and insight regarding all written work. I soak up their suggestions for how the story may still need to evolve or could be made tighter, clearer, better. After I rework it using their input, I send it to a couple excellent line editors that I know and respect personally for their expertise in this area. This whole process from start to finish can take a year or 10 years depending on that particular story.
I have to be honest: In the beginning I felt a little frustration with Kylie – out of nowhere she became incredibly hell-bent on finding her niece and making this child she never knew a part of her life, even though she knew nothing of Alana outside of the letter she reads from her recently-deceased sister. My question is was I supposed to feel that way? You write complex characters and they’re not black and white, which makes me think I was supposed to wonder why she acts the way she does – of course through the book we gain a much greater understanding of Kylie and her marriage and life. Give me your take on Kylie, and what was her life like before the book begins?
All of my heroines have a Scarlet O’Hara from Gone With The Wind angst about them. You love to hate my protagonist for her need to control and manipulate the ‘floor has fallen out from under me’ environment she suddenly finds herself in. But then again, underneath your frustration with her obsessive-compulsive behavior toward a seemingly contrived outcome you find yourself loving her for the motives she displays, which are always about saving someone (or several someone’s) from what she perceives to be a disastrous fate and future for that particular individual.
Most of us can also relate to the bad choices made before good decision making, but we fully understand how this is the process to success- learning from our poorly executed and impulsive, short sighted plans. Watching and wondering how this process will unfold, I believe, is what draws you in and makes you turn the page.
As for what Kylie’s life and marriage is like before the start of the book and for that matter, after the last written page is up to the reader. I would take it one step further and say that everything Kylie was and is and can ever hope to be is something each of us must determine for ourselves based on our own personal relationships, world view, aspirations, frustrations, achievements and failures.
We writers all have piles of work that no one will ever read – it’s a sad truth that we spend a lot of time (months, years even) on work that doesn’t get beyond the first draft and ends up being a “trunk novel.” Tell me about one of your “trunk novels” and would you ever consider revisiting/revising it?
My ‘trunk novel’ is my first novel on which I cut my teeth… ALL of my teeth – one painful day at a time for what seemed like forever. After being consumed by a whirlwind of passion to pen the story so vivid in my mind, I soon realized it was a muddled mess. This realization came after taking it to writing conferences filled with best-selling novel speakers, and attending retreats where I had icon authors, masters at their trade, teach me what I thought I knew and yet didn’t have a clue about. I rewrote it numerous times and finally, a compassionate editor at a conference gently informed me that my plot was as uninteresting and ordinary as my characters and scenery were fascinating and extraordinary.
It was like a light went on in my head as he spoke. He was absolutely right. I had lost the forest for the trees. I put it on a shelf and never looked back, and immediately wrote a brand new novel that had been simmering in the back of my head. The very next year I won an award for that manuscript and landed a New York agent with the JC Literary Agency. That book was Benjamin – my debut novel.
I know writers don’t like the “what’s next” question, but do you have ideas down already, saved in a journal or notebook, or do you wait and let the ideas come organically?
I have a file of plots and characters, written when they come to mind- usually after just enough wine, but not too much wine. It’s a magical place where the imagination knows no limits – and for that matter, life has no limits in that moment of not completely sober but not inebriated either. I think every creative person on earth has been to the sweet spot of which I speak. It’s fleeting, but the mind does take flight in that space, where all my novels have been birthed. My next two projects are completed books that I will perfect before publication at one a year, and then my new work will see the light of day- a dark and scary thought, because like all good fiction- the truth is in the lie. Most nonfiction I read is more fictitious than the sobering truth of courageously crafted fiction.
That knowledge alone is reason enough for a fiction writer to keep a well-stocked wine cellar. (;
Personal blog and website: http://kathrynmattingly.com
Amazon author page: http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B00EILN6YE