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Thursday, 5 August 2010

Author Interview with Kathleen Mckenna

SA: Tell us about The Wedding Gift in a few sentences.

KM: Hi Stuart, great blog by the way. My new book The Wedding Gift is a southern gothic humor based story about a crazy charming small town beauty queen who marries money and simultaneously gets a mother in law from the seventh circle of hell and a fabulous antebellum mansion which is unfortunately already occupied by the ghost of another beautiful outsider.

SA: What qualities do you need to be a successful writer?

KM: The patience of Job, sheer determination to keep plodding along and a love of all things book related as well as a deep interest in humans in all their many wonderful wacky guises.

SA: What is your working method?

KM: 5 pages a day 6 days a week come hell or high water, unless I’m in research mode, uhm that mode being my favorite lol

SA: What is the single biggest mistake made by beginners to writing?

KM: Thinking you are going to be the next John Irving, or Stephen King, in other words you have to understand it can take a long time to be read by anyone besides your poor family members and closest friends who don’t have a choice. Patience is key, and while being patient you have to keep writing because that is what it’s really about and honestly you get better at it.

SA: How did you come to write this particular book?

KM: Once I saw this gorgeous house in New Orleans and while I was looking at it I wondered what if a….and then she…and it stuck in my head. It took a couple years but finally it came partially together in my head and eventually onto paper.

SA: If you have a favorite character in your novel, why that particular one?

KM: Jessie, she is a tough funny girl from a lousy background, funny with a huge heart, as a matter of fact I liked her so much she got her own book.

SA: How can people buy your book(s)?

KM:  The Wedding Gift  - Paperback (July 12, 2010) by Kathleen McKenna 
Buy new$11.99

SA: To what extent are grammar and spelling important to a writer?

KM: Well it’s probably a good idea to be able to speel wordses and to be able to punctuate as well, but I am nearly illiterate, truly it’s pathetic, so these books would not get written without a lot of help. It’s funny they say writing is a solitary occupation and the actual act is indeed solitary, but it also takes a village, at least mine do.

SA: How much revision of your MS do you do before you send it off?

KM: It varies, my early books were such a mess that honestly they practically needed dynamite, you get better at early drafts as you go along, but still at least one rewrite.

SA: Where and when is your novel set and why did you make these specific choices?

KM: The Wedding Gift is set in Oklahoma, because I just enjoy many things southern or in this case deep southwestern. This is the only one of my books that is purely from my imagination, the others are set where the events they are based on happened.

SA:  What are your writing habits?

KM: Like I said, get those 5 pages out, and I am a creature of routine, so much so that I buy my iced latte the night before, because I don’t allow myself to go out, run errands or do anything else till the 5 are out. Writers are always dying for distractions but they are bad for us. .

SA: How do you know where to begin any given story?

KM: For me at least a book is like a flight, takeoffs and landings are the most important. Usually if I have the beginning and the ending I know I’ve got a book, and all the books start from something I heard about that interested me a great deal, then I dwell on it, look it up, dream on it, it either becomes more or I move onto something else.

SA: What sort of displacement activities keep you from actually writing?

KM: Oh anything, anything at all can distract me, I’m the worst, maybe I have adult ADHD, but a phone call, a drop in visitor, outside noises, if I break my concentration it can shoot the day’s work, then I feel guilty and miserable.

SA:  Do you have support, either from family and friends or a writing group?

KM: I have a great deal of support from my family and friends, my best friend Claudia in particular is my cheerleader, my most trusted proof reader and critic.

SA: Is presentation of the MS as important as most agents and publishers suggest?

KM: That is an excellent question, but I don’t know the answer, I’ll ask Tim my beloved publisher.

SA:  How long does it normally take you to write a novel?

KM: Ballpark, 6mos, though one took me three years and on my first book it took me 12 years to come up with a second paragraph.

SA: What are your inspirations?

KM: It can be anything, I mean it’s always a human interest story that trigs me, but usually the human interest story is based on some tragic event, oh and I also love all things old Hollywood.

SA:  If there’s a single aspect to writing that really frustrates you, what is it?

KM: Single aspect? Hmm, writing is rough, who was it who said “all you have to do to write is open up a vein?” Anyway that’s it, but if I have to single it out I’d say the middle I get nervous then, where do I go, how do I get there from here? Sometimes it causes me to stop for days at a time, just trying to work out scenarios mini writers’ block I guess, whatever it is its horrible.

SA: Do you think writing is a natural gift or an acquired skill?

KM: I think it’s inherent, because God knows you can’t force it, when you try it’s a fiasco, maybe that is not true of nonfiction but for my money it’s an inborn thing, like bushy eyebrows.

SA:  What are you writing now?

KM: I’m not really writing right now, I’m in rewrite on a book based on the Manson family and doing research for the third in my southern paranormal series as well as All the Broken Pieces, a non fiction novel about a family’s life with their child after Leukemia, the treatment of which caused profound brain damage. As for the next ghost story, this time I get to actually visit the house and let me tell you this little place, a home lived in by both Jean Harlow and Sharon Tate is Beverly Hills most haunted house, I can’t wait!

SA: Is there any aspect of writing that you really enjoy?

KM: I love the research I love the sweet moments when you know you nailed that scene, but most of all I love finishing it!

SA:  Do you have a website or a blog that readers can visit?

KM: Sadly I apparently have NO left brain whatsoever, so haven’t managed to build a blog, but you can find me on Amazon, or come visit me on Facebook

SA:  Given unlimited resources, what would be your ideal writing environment?

KM: I would be living in a very old haunted house surrounded by Old English Sheepdogs my favorite muses.

SA:  Where do you actually write?

KM: On a corner square of my couch with my laptop angled just so.

Reviews of The Wedding Gift 
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