Author Q&A - What Does It Mean To Be A New Author?

On October 25 2015, I was kindly hosted on Maureen's Books for a Q&A. Here are the answers to those questions :

Q: Tell us a little more about who Kirsten McKenzie is?

A: I'm forty, and I've had two 'real' jobs in my life, the first as a Customs Officer for twelve years - both in England and in New Zealand. The second as an Antique Dealer in my family antique shop. I'm fortunate to be able to honestly say that I've loved both jobs. 
I don't see writing as being a job. Not yet anyway. I'd love to be able to say one day that writing is my third 'real' job. And I'm looking forward to that day.

Q: When did you decide you wanted to become an author and write your own book?

A: When my youngest daughter was about to start school. My family were all asking what I was going to do in my 'spare time'... Bearing in mind I was already working part time in the antique shop, and any parent can tell you that 'spare time' is quickly filled with household chores. But in this instance I announced that I was going to write a book. And so I sat down and started writing one.

Q: You are also an actor. Does being an actor help your work as an author?

A: You know, I believe it does. I can see a 'scene' in my head and can run through it as though a director is giving me directions. I think it's been very beneficial. Since reading your question, it’s the first time I've considered it that way! I've worked with some very talented directors, and it's their voices I hear in my head as I'm imagining my scenes. 

Q: Tell us more about your novel ‘Fifteen Postcards’? How did you come to the idea of writing this story?

A: It was a quiet day at work, we sometimes have those, it’s the way of the retail world, and I was sorting through some stock which had just come into the shop, including a pile of old postcards. In this particular lot there were a numbered series of postcards from a soldier in WWI, written to his mother. Although I don't write about WWI in my book, the concept of a series of postcards between two people, telling a story, was born.

Q: What is the best thing that happened since your book came out?

A: There are three things:

1/ Reviews. Even the bad ones. They make my heart sing. Someone has taken the time to read my book, and provide feedback.

2/ The love I've received from my local library. I will do everything in my power to support libraries. Such an essential service to humanity.

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3/ The absolute support from other authors. I've never known another industry where your competitors are also your biggest champions. It's been an amazing experience.

Q: Can you describe your writing process? Do you have any sort of ritual you follow?

A: I'm what they call a 'by the seat of your pants' writer. I've got no idea how it’s going to turn out or where it’s going to go until I've written it. I make notes when and where ideas come to me, but everything I write is entirely influenced by what I'm doing; what I've seen; or what I've stumbled across at the time. For example, I've just helped a customer at work find half a dozen old poison bottles,  ones with the words "Not To Be Taken" on them. Suddenly poison is appearing in the words I'm writing this week. I'd never planned on poisoning any of my characters, but it’s their bad luck that a jeweller in Auckland wanted poison bottles for a window display!

Q: Are you a reader yourself? And what is your favorite book(s)?

A: Yes! I love reading. It’s a family trait. I went through a period when my children were very little where I didn't read very much, and I felt empty. I'm making up for lost time now. My four favourite books, in no particular order, are: Gone With The Wind; Five People You Meet In Heaven; A Discovery Of Witches; A Suitable Boy. A very eclectic mix I know. Edward Rutherfurds books are a must have on my bookshelf - I've loved every single one of his epic tomes - Paris, London, Russka, Sarum.

Q: What are your future plans in writing?

A: I'm currently a third of the way through my next novel, the sequel to 'Fifteen Postcards'. Tentatively titled 'The Last Letter'. This is the story which involves poison...

Q: What would your advice be to new aspiring authors?

A: Two pieces of advice.

1/ Share your journey. One thing that kept me going was that I would periodically post a screenshot of my word count on Twitter and Facebook, and my friends and followers would encourage me to carry on. They were like my cheer squad.

2/ Just write. Initially I tried writing 1,000 words a day. But you know what? That number can be very daunting. So I reduced it to 500 words a day. When I sit down to write, which isn't every day - I have two young children remember, I just try to write 500 words. Sometimes I'll just walk away from my computer as soon as I hit that magical number, even if it’s in the middle of a sentence. Walking away mid-sentence gives me something meaty to start with next time I sit down at my laptop.

Here is the link to Maureen's website : http://maureensbooks.blogspot.co.nz/