Monday, June 4, 2007
Welcome to “Up Close & Personal.” For every interview I will be introducing a literary personality discussing her views and insights, as well as upcoming literary events around the world.
Today’s interview is with Kristy Kiernan, author of Catching Genius. Ms. Kiernan, writes about the power of family bonds and forgiveness. It is smoothly plotted story that lead to a heartfelt finish.
Catching Genius is a great book with a spark. It captures the unbreakable bond between sisters. It is beautifully written and it’s a must-read for all ages.
EI: Would you share some early insight into who you were as a teenager with your readers? What were you like as a teen? Please tell us more about Kristy Kiernan -- the woman behind the author.
KK: I was what we called a beach rat when I was a teenager. I was pretty independent and, unfortunately, spent more time at the beach than in school! I was a pretty happy kid and teenager, not a tremendous amount of angst, or perhaps I just don't remember it. Wouldn't that be great? Selective memory is vastly underrated.
EI: Do you express your inner self in your writing or do the personas you create exist only in your imagination?
KK: I think like most writers it's a bit of both. I have strong opinions, and sometimes those come through in my writing, but just as often things I strongly disagree with wind up in there, too. I have no agenda other than to tell a good story as beautifully as I can.
EI: What is your response to the public perception that writers’ creative insight and energy is frequently the product of personal conflict?
KK: I have no response! Picture me shrugging, casually, as if to say, "Huh?" I mean, everyone is conflicted, no? Some people drink, some people write. Everyone does something about it.
EI: What would you like to say to writers who are reading this interview and wondering if they can keep creating, if they are good enough, if their voices and visions matter enough to share?
KK: I'd say rock on, writers reading this interview. I'm a classic example of the old no contacts, no MFA, broke writer who finally made it. I assure you, if I can do it, I'd bet you can too. It's hard work, I'll say that.
EI: Many writers describe themselves as "character" or "plot" writers. Which are you? And what do you find to be the hardest part of writing?
KK: I think you have to be both in order to be successful. But if I were to place them in the order I think I'm strongest in, I'd go with character first. If I don't care about the character then I'm not going to care when they're almost blown up on page 54.
The hardest part of writing for me is keeping myself in the chair and staying offline.
EI: Are you armed with notebook and pen at all the times? Do you always carry your laptop or PDA with you to write?
KK: I always have something to write with and on, though rarely anything as organized as a pad. I always have a spiral notebook at home that I condense my various notes into. And I never carry my laptop with me. I'm too paranoid about leaving it somewhere.
EI: Do you let anyone read your manuscript, before you send it to your editor or agent?
KK: I have readers, including my husband, and some close writer friends who I'll ask to read it after I've gone through it myself many, many times.
EI: Was there anyone who really influenced you to become a writer?
KK: Everything around me influenced me to be a writer. Anyone who sort of pushed me toward it specifically? No. Self-motivation has always been the way to go for me. But every book I read pushed me, every conflict I witnessed informed me, every memory-- good and bad-- fired my imagination.
EI: Now let’s shift gears here for a second... Can you share with us some of the challenges you faced to publish your first novel “Catching Genius”? Is there anything about you that you would do differently, knowing what you do now?
KK: Catching Genius was the fourth book I wrote, so I'd already faced plenty of challenges, from getting an agent, to running out of money, to rejections, to despair.
Anything I'd do differently? You know, people who say they wouldn't do anything differently because then they wouldn't be the person they are today and blah, blah, blah, usually bug me, but I have to say that's how I feel about this. Catching Genius was the book I wanted to write, and I'm glad it's the first one out there from me. I did my research on the industry, I asked questions, and then I did the best I could. And I'm still doing the best I can.
EI: What was the inspiration for your novel?
KK: The title came to me first and the story fell into place after that, though it included many things that I've always had a fascination with, such as sibling relationships and the nature of genius.
EI: How much of Connie & Estella is planned out in your head? How do you know where you will go next with their characters? What was your biggest challenge in creating them?
KK: Connie and Estella were pretty fully formed, I think that once you know a person's childhood you know what motivates them, and then the rest is easy to figure out, though they threw some surprises at me along the way.
EI: How did you develop these characters? Did you work them out in advance, or did they evolve as you wrote the story?
KK: As I mentioned above, it was a bit of both. I can't say I just listened to them and they led me through the story, but once I knew what their main motivators were I was able to figure out how they might react in any given situation.
EI: What is a typical work day schedule when you are in full writing mode? Would you tell us a little about your process for editing, revising, and novel development? How long did it take you to write ‘Catching Genius’ including the time it took to research the book?
KK: A typical work day starts with a Diet Coke, though I'm trying desperately to be healthier and now I'm addicted to Kashi Go Lean Crunch cereal...and THEN a Diet Coke. Then I mess around online and basically do everything I can to put off starting to write. And then I look at a couple of quotes I have hanging above my desk, for my eyes only, and get to work. Then it's 2,000 words or I don't get up.
Editing and revising are pretty fluid for me. If I get stuck one day I'll often stop writing and will begin revising or editing previous chapters, which often helps bring me back to my story. Once the first draft is finished I print it out and work by hand, then repeat that as many times as necessary until I get a draft I'm happy with.
Catching Genius took over a year to write, which includes research.
EI: What about writing for mainstream women’s fiction appealed to you?
KK: It's what I read.
EI: As a first time mainstream fiction writer, do you feel more pressure, feel insecurities fade away or are you able to separate all that from your own creative process?
KK: Are you kidding? Show me a writer who's not insecure, no matter how many novels they have under their belt! No really, show me. I want to subscribe to their newsletter and become their slavish disciple on the road to enlightenment.
EI: What's next for your fans? Is there another book in the works? What can you tell us about it?
KK: The next book is about a dysfunctional Florida family (hmmmm, I'm seeing a pattern develop here), whose son moves in and out of faiths entirely too easily and the devastating effects it has on their family, especially their daughter who has potentially fatal food allergies.
EI: Ms. Kiernan, thank you for contributing to my blog. It has been a pleasure for me to get to know you, and your work a little better. Would you like to end your interview with a writing tip or advice for young aspiring writers?
KK: My pleasure, thanks so much for having me. And my tip of the day is: Research, research, research. Educate yourself on the business before you try to enter it. It makes the surprises much less nasty to deal with! And best of luck to you all.
To learn more about Kristy Kiernan, please visit her at:
Posted by E. I. Johnson at 6:52 PM