Writing Warriors United Spotlight Author Interview Kimberly O'Malley
What literary pilgrimages have you gone on?
Not sure that I have been on a writing pilgrimage. I do love a good writing retreat, if that counts. Two of my other NC author friends and I try to do this twice a year. We stay in a basic hotel in the middle of the state and write. But we also share ideas, etc. And laugh. And drink.
What is the first book that made you cry?
Does writing energize or exhaust you?
Both? It depends on the day. Some books, and scenes within them, are harder to write than others. The bits that make me cry exhaust me. But writing itself is energizing, especially when you find yourself in the zone and thousands of words flow onto the page.
What are common traps for aspiring writers?
Trying to go it alone is a trap. You need people to bounce ideas. You need someone who cares enough to tell you what you just slaved over is really crap. Personally, I thought my first book was going to set the world on fire. I was wrong…
What is your writing Kryptonite?
Lack of time is my personal Kryptonite. I work full time and have a family. Our two kids are in high school and both athletes. I barely have time to breathe. So, writing, and all that goes along with that, can’t always be my priority sadly.
What other authors are you friends with, and how do they help you become a better writer?
I have built a nice network of somewhat local and not so local authors. In NC, I have Carrie D. Humphrey and Adrienne Dunning. Then there’s the fabulous Ester Lopez. There are also a ton of folks who are my virtual support on social media. We have the writing weekends I mentioned above. We travel to signings together. We write all different genres with very little overlap, and yet that does not matter. We are a network of support for each other. We trade ideas about marketing, social media, life stuff. Two of us have kids graduating high school this year, so there’s that. That requires a lot of support!
How did publishing your first book change your process of writing?
I’m not sure that it did. Each book makes me a better writer, not just the first. With each book, I am forced to see what my problem areas are, such as too much passive voice, using the word so or just too often, telling versus showing, etc.
What was the best money you ever spent as a writer?
The book The Emotional Thesaurus!! I love this book so much. As I mentioned above, I struggle with show versus tell a lot. This book has saved me!
What was an early experience where you learned that language had power?
From the time I was very young, my mother always told me I could be anything I set my mind to. I miss her.
What’s your favorite under-appreciated novel?
As a writer, what would you choose as your mascot/avatar/spirit animal?
I’m torn between a wolf and a hawk. I love dogs, and wolves are so majestic and free. I love their pack mentality. On the other hand, who doesn’t want to fly?
What does literary success look like to you?
Superficially, being able to support myself through my writing so that I wouldn’t have to work full time. But honestly, hearing from a reader that something I wrote touched them, or helped them through a rough patch, is success to me.
What’s the most difficult thing about writing characters from the opposite sex?
I have never been a man. And while I have lived with one for over 25 years, I cannot crawl inside his brain. But would I really want to? LOL! It’s difficult to write the male perspective since I am not one.
Have you read anything that made you think differently about fiction?
How do you select the names of your characters?
Naming characters is one of my favorite things about being a writer. I love names. I love to look at their origin and meanings. I love that names move in and out of popularity over the years. Names come to me. I have the name before the character is fleshed out. Sometimes, that doesn’t work, as the name just does not fit him or her. Oddly enough, while I enjoy first names, I struggle with surnames.
Do you hide any secrets in your books that only a few people will find?
Have you heard the term Easter egg? I have a notes page in my phone with words that people have mentioned. Or dared me to work into a sentence. Sometimes, they are a phrase instead. An example would be, “Oh, for the love of God.” I also include little snippets from my own life or of those of the people around me. You will always find someone wearing flip flops or eating pizza with pineapple on it.
What was your hardest scene to write?
My hardest scene ever was one in Saving Quinn in which a firefighter dies in the line of duty. He is a secondary character, but I cannot read it even now without crying. My last contemporary romance, Coming Back, is the hardest book I have ever written. It follows up Saving Quinn with the fiancée of the deceased firefighter. I was maybe 16K into it when I lost my Mom to Alzheimer’s. So, there I was in a hotel in Pennsylvania, hundreds of miles from home, trying to write about grief when I was experiencing it first-hand. I put that book away and did not touch it again for the better part of a year.
What is your favorite childhood book?
My favorite was anything with an animal in it. I loved Misty of Chincoteague and that series. I also loved The Black Stallion series. Do you see the theme?
What is the most difficult part of your artistic process?
Lack of time and time management. Because I don’t get to just write all day, I am always pressed for time. And then FB and YouTube sucks me into something other than writing. I have gotten better at blocking off time; time for writing, time for catching up with social media, time to have fun and avoid burn out.
When you die – what would you like the universe to say to you as you walk into the next life?
You made a difference.
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