Talkshow Thursday: Meet Kathleen Neely
Kathleen: Writers are always looking for ideas. I can’t say it was any divine inspiration—although I believe that God directs our paths. I heard a man speaking about his adopted son and applauding the birthmother who made the difficult decision. From there, Mallory’s story emerged. What if the child grew up right within her family? What if she could never speak about giving birth to him? I imagined the growing bitterness. The helpless feeling that she had lost a part of herself. Writers look for an edge. Some details to add a bit of zing to the plot. What if the biological father didn’t know? What if he were now famous? From there, In Search of True North began to take shape.
LM: How do you come up with your characters? Are they based on any real people in your life, perhaps even yourself?
Kathleen: My characters are very loosely based on real life people. I don’t sit down and envision someone I know and write them into a story. I do, however, watch people. Early in the book, Mallory holds on to bitterness and is an experienced blame-shifter. Brady is a fixer. Elliott is driven. Liam is laid-back and can’t be rattled. We all know those people. Writers watch them and learn from them. They make our writing richer.
LM: Research is an important part of writing. What sort of research did you do for In Search of True North? Was there any sort of “aha” tidbit you found that you knew needed to be included?
Kathleen: When writing, I love sub-topics. In Beauty for Ashes, Angie was an amateur violinist. Del a
LM: What is your writing process? (e.g., Do you come up the plot line first? Characters? Do you outline the entire story before beginning or just sit down and start)
Kathleen: I imagine this varies greatly among authors. My pre-writing often looks like idle daydreaming. I allow scenarios to play out in my mind until a plot begins to take shape. Once it forms a cloudy picture, I work to define it. When I actually begin writing, I know where I’m starting and where I’m going. I don’t outline and I’m not always clear on the path, but I know the ending.
Characters are the heart of any novel. Building characters is different than building plot. There’s so much more to consider than their words and actions. Writers need to show the WHY of all a character does. To do this effectively, I sometimes use character journaling—free writing from their perspective. It helps an author to get into the mind and heart of their characters. If we don’t show the deeper part of our characters, they’re one-dimensional. Easily forgotten when the final page is read.
LM: What advice do you have for fledgling writers? Kathleen: A wealth of resources wait for you. Mentoring authors, workshops, trade books. Connect with a local group. Join a critique group. Find what works best for your quest to improve. And as simplistic as it may sound—READ. I always write better when I’m reading a well-crafted novel.
LM: What was your favorite childhood book?
Kathleen: I was and still am a great fan of C.S. Lewis’s Chronicles of Narnia. So much richness between those pages!
LM: What is your next project?
Additionally, I’m working on a story about a troubled marriage amidst a life-changing illness. I live with Parkinson’s Disease and have long wanted to write a character with PD. In this story, Kate begins to have early symptoms while she and her husband are attempting to reconcile their marriage. Kate refuses to tell him of her diagnosis because she doesn’t want him back out of pity. I’m hopeful that you’ll see that next spring.
LM: Where can folks find you on the web?
Kathleen: Here are some ways to contact me:
Website – http://www.KathleenNeely.com
Facebook – http://www.facebook.com/kathy.neely.98
Twitter - https://twitter.com/NeelyKneely3628
Instagram – http://www.Instagram.com/KathleenNeelyAuthor
About In Search of True North:
When heartbroken Mallory Carter leaves home at graduation to live a free-spirited life at the beach, she decides to never burden her family or God with her choices again. She suffers twelve long years of loneliness and shallow relationships, comforted only by the homemade telescope she uses to stargaze. Then she receives a call that her sisters has died, leaving behind a son Mallory gave up at the tender age of seventeen. When her family pressures her to raise Samuel, she agrees, despite the fact that he's unaware of their true relationship.
Handsome architect, and Samuel's uncle, Brady Donaldson welcomes Mallory to the family, but she doesn't know how much she can trust him. Brady has a bond with Samuel that Mallor has only been able to dream of for the last twelve years. Not only that, but Mallory holds secrets that could ruin her new life. As threats surface from Mallory's past, the relationship she is building with her son is endangered. She realizes she desperately needs someone to trust, and Brady seems determined to fight for Mallory and Samuel. Search for true north has never felt so hard. Will Brady's steady love be enough to guide Mallory home, and to the God she abandoned long ago?
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