Welcome, Kathryn. Tell us how much of yourself you write into your characters.
Quite a bit, actually. There’s a common adage, “Write what you know,” so I usually do. For example, my debut novel, Angel Beneath My Wheels, was inspired by my own daughter, Rachel, who was fourteen and had recently attended a “Silver Ring Thing” event with a girlfriend when I started writing the story. I grew up working on cars with my father and even helped my husband build a Cobra sports car while we dated so, like my character in the story, I know quite a bit more about cars than the average female.
What is the quirkiest thing you have ever done?
Not sure if this is exactly quirky—might simply be bold, stupid, or outright rude, depending on how you look at it—but I once let myself be talked into crashing a birthday party for John Mellencamp. I was young and, of course, we got caught, but John’s wife was super sweet and invited us to stay. We sang happy birthday, ate cake, and overall it was a really great time. I was a huge fan, still am!
When did you first discover you were a writer?
A few years ago, with two children entering their teens, my husband and I became frustrated by the lack of family appropriate movies. Our children were too old for Disney and Pixar and they definitely weren’t ready—in our minds anyway—for PG-rated films. Sadly, we simply stopped going to the movies.
Later that same year, my mother-in-law, whom I absolutely adore, recommended a book to me. I read it and, while it was a good story, the writing was downright lame. And it was published by one of the major publishing houses. I thought, Heck, I could write better than that. So I gave it a shot and fast-forward three years and my first novel, Angel Beneath My Wheels, was published.
My hope is that it will be made into a movie one day. Set on a backdrop of auto racing, it has plenty of action for the male audience but more importantly, it has a subtle but profound message for young women: you’re worth waiting for.
Tell us the range of the kinds of books you enjoy reading.
I’ll read just about anything if it’s well written but I tend to avoid dark storylines and excessive violence. I like stories that are uplifting or at least have a positive message. Unspeakable violence should remain, well, unspoken.
My favorite novels are those that reach down deep, wrap up my whole heart and soul, make me laugh, and cry. And those are the types of stories I want to write. I want to touch people’s lives. I want my reader to feel better, be better, love better, because they read my words and took them to heart. I want to inspire, to comfort, and to breathe faith and hope into anyone who may despair that they’re alone in this world.
I especially love Nicholas Sparks’ earlier works, before he went all commercial. I enjoy the really tight, easy to read, writing with the “Oh, wow!” moments of depth, insightfulness, and resonance. The Notebook is one of my all-time favorites.
How do you keep your sanity in our run, run, run world?
It’s all a matter of priorities, really, isn’t it? When I feel overwhelmed with too much going on, I make a list, put it in order, start at the top, and check them off. I always put my family first and the rest somehow falls into place. I don’t always have as much time to write as I would like—who does?—but I’m incredibly blessed to have an amazing and supportive husband.
How do you choose your characters’ names?
I keep a list on my phone of names that I like and I usually add a word or two that indicates the impression I had of the name when I heard it. For example, strong, gentle, hero, bossy, vile, etc.
What is the accomplishment that you are most proud of?
I certainly can’t take all of the credit—that goes to God, my husband, and my community—but I am so proud of my children and the young adults they’ve grown into. I love the saying, “I may not always have been the best mother but being a mother is the best thing I will ever do.”
If you were an animal, which one would you be, and why?
I love dogs, horses and eagles although, honestly, I’m not sure I’d want to be any of them. How would I write?
What is your favorite food?
I adore fresh ripe strawberries! They remind of my grandmother’s garden and the smell of her kitchen when we’d visit every June.
What is the problem with writing that was your greatest roadblock, and how did you overcome it?
Even though I’ve always been a prolific reader, I didn’t realize how much there was to know about fiction writing and writing well. But for me, books have always held the knowledge of the world. Whenever I want to learn about anything, I read about it. So, since I decided to write, I’ve been reading at least one book a month on the craft of writing. And I have to say that, with each story I write, the edits are smaller and my writing is noticeably improving. I read something from my second novel, Forgotten Love, at a new writer’s group I joined last weekend and more than one person said, “Wow! That’s beautiful.” That’s when you know you hit the mark.
Tell us about the featured book.
When I initially sat down to decide what to write, I kept two things in mind. It had to be a story my whole family would enjoy, and it had to be something that would make a great movie.
I decided on a love story because every good movie contains a great romance, but I wanted it to be one my husband would enjoy. So when my brother described an interesting film called Gas Hole, an eye-opening documentary that alleged a massive cover up by oil companies, it sounded like the makings of an intriguing story and one with a definite modern-day interest, given the volatility of gas prices. According to the documentary, “Big Oil” has been suppressing innovations in fuel efficiencies for years, even going so far as to murder at least one very bright young inventor who had the idea for an engine that ran on vapor.
Like many men, my husband and son are into cars. Coupled with my above-average-for-a-woman knowledge of engines, mechanics, and chemistry in general, I came up with the idea of a young woman who, like me, grew up working on cars with her father. My husband and son love NASCAR too so I thought that would provide an exciting backdrop as well as tie in nicely with the idea of fuel efficiency. And who doesn’t love to learn something new while reading a good story?
Finally, above all, I wanted it to be wholesome and family friendly, with a meaningful message for young people. So my heroine is a young woman of faith who’s made a commitment to save her virtue for marriage. She wears a purity ring and the story explores how difficult it can be for a young woman to retain those ideals in our modern culture.
I really expected it to take more than a couple of tries to get it right, but my beta readers encouraged me to submit Angel Beneath My Wheels, assuring me it’s a great story and well written. Six months and forty-nine query letters later, I landed an agent who then helped me find a publisher and fast-forward another fourteen months and my first book released on February 29th, 2016!
Please give us the first page of the book.
Is it possible for me to imagine the person I want to be, and make myself over to be that man? Or am I forever bound by experience and upbringing?
It’s well before dawn as I park my pickup at the clearing and turn off the engine. My stomach growls, and I can’t remember the last time I’ve eaten. With nothing but a heart full of hope, I set off on foot across the meadow beneath a moonless sky, then enter the pitch-black woods beyond. I can’t see squat, but I know the way like a duck knows south.
I make it to my spot, lean against a tree, and stare toward the willow twenty-some yards away. The silent night is broken only by the resonant chirp of crickets and the occasional deep-throated croak of a bullfrog near the creek.
Will she ever return here? A voice within whispers. She will. The possibility keeps drawing me back.
Like every story, ours has a beginning and, for me, it started right here where I first saw her, curled up asleep on the soft grass beneath the willow, her hands palm to palm beneath her cheek as if in prayer. At the time, I thought she’d been sent from heaven above.
I still do.
I’m hopeful we’re still in the early part of our story, somewhere nearer to boy-meets-girl than happily-ever-after—or, worse, the tragic end. I can’t bear the thought our story could be over. For me, it’s begun.
I knew when I stole that first kiss I wasn’t just going to fall in love with her; I would love her forever. And if she ever comes back I’ll tell her. I should have told her right then. Fact is, there are a lot of things I should have told her. I reckon if I had, she’d know how much I love her, she’d know she can trust me, and she wouldn’t be running from me.
What a hook. I’m eager to read the rest. How can readers find you on the Internet?
I’m active on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Goodreads and LinkedIn, and maintain a website at KathrynSueMoore.com, where I share monthly short stories about people who inspire others. I invite you and your readers to join my email list. I only post once per month so I promise not to overwhelm your inbox. And you’ll be the first to know about my next book release.
Thank you, Kathryn, for sharing your debut novel with us. Mine arrived yesterday, so it is going on the top of my to-be-read pile. I’ll start it as soon as I finish what I’m reading now.
Readers, here are links to the book. By using one when you order, you help support this blog.Angel Beneath My Wheels - Paperback
Angel Beneath My Wheels: Maybe she was his good luck charm ... an angel beneath his wheels. - Kindle
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