It’s time for another Indie Interview, although by this point the ‘indie’ refers more to me interviewing authors than indie authors being interviewed. But reading about traditionally published author’s lessons and struggles are no less inspiring or motivating than reading about a self-published author’s ones, and this week Kara M Bachman stopped by to share her writing experiences, and to talk about her new book Kissing The Crisis.
Hi, Kara Welcome to Read A Lot.
Q: Had you always planned on becoming a published author?
A: Well, I, of course, dreamed of this as a child, as do most people who enjoy writing. Then, as the years wore on and I got caught up in raising two kids, I forgot the dream for a while. One day, after my daughter had gone off to kindergarten and I had a bit more time on my hands, I simply made a commitment to trying, against all odds, to make it happen.
It took up all of my time for years, but eventually, I signed a book deal last year.
Q: What inspired you to write Kissing the Crisis: Field Notes on Foul-mouthed babies, Disenchanted Women, and Careening into Middle Age?”
A: Actually, it was a small group of fellow middle-aged women who inspired me. We had been enjoying each other’s company online, having fun being creative in an online forum.
Several of them urged me to write a book discussing some of the midlife issues we joked about online. At first, I brushed them off, but after I heard this comment several times, I started to take the suggestion seriously. The encouragement of these ladies was very special to me.
Q: What made you choose the genre?
A: I chose the essay form because, at the time, I had been reading tons of first-person material and really enjoyed it. I’d been reading work by David Sedaris, Sloane Crosley, Erma Bombeck, Dave Barry, people like that. They were so good, it inspired me to try my hand at the essay form. And because I tend to be a sarcastic person, humor just became a natural part of writing from that first-person perspective.
I didn’t set out to write a “humor” book per se, it just kind of evolved into that.
Q: What is the book about?
A: It is an examination of the issues we all face when reaching middle age. It explores things like aging, work, parenting, relationships, and encourages women to view the so-called “midlife crisis” not as a phase we should avoid, but as a normal part of the maturation process that we should actually embrace.
Seriously, looking back at the first half of our lives, in order that we may better tweak the second half, is an excellent exercise that can lead us to explore new paths and try out new things.
Q: Did you find it easiest to write with a schedule or with no time restrictions?
A: Since I’m a freelance journalist, I write most of the day, every day, and had to work this book in only where I had time. So no, there was no schedule. I just worked when I wasn’t on deadline for a news story or article for one of the other publications I contribute to.
Q: Can you choose a favourite character?
A: As a piece of nonfiction, all the characters are from the real world, so this makes it even more difficult. I think I’ll have to go with a wonderfully colorful real estate agent that tried to sell us an awful foreclosure house once years ago. She had this old fashioned bouffant hairdo and seriously southern accent and seemed almost like a “peppy” character from an old Annette Funicello beach party movie.
Q: Was there ever a point while you were writing your book when you wanted to give up?
A: Actually, no, not in the writing. I never wanted to stop writing. However, I surely wanted to give up many times during the search for a publisher. I sent more than a few queries, and sometimes it’s hard to deal with the rejection while waiting to find the right fit. Although I toyed with and explored self-publishing, and surely would have been glad to take that route at some point, thank goodness that match was eventually made with Quill Driver Books, who have been really wonderful.
Q: What is the worst part of the writing process for you?
A: The worst part is when you do the math on what you’re eventually getting paid per hour! Nobody goes into this to get rich, and it’s sometimes sad to realize how undervalued most writers are in terms of the effort expended to bring a book to market.
Q: How much of your stories do you plan, or do you find it easier to make them up as you go along?
A: Because I write nonfiction, LIFE gives me the stories. Although, one thing I like to do is I occasionally go off on an imaginary tangent, where I’ll “imagine” what something would be like. Writing those tangents is fun, because it’s the only time that I got to create a world out of whole cloth the way a novelist would be able to.
I had so much fun with it that in addition to a follow-up to “Kissing the Crisis,” I have already begun work on my first novel, a piece of historical fiction set in New Orleans during the Victorian era. I’m really loving writing fiction.
Q: Do you have a favourite piece of writing advice?
A: I like to share this simple tidbit, reminiscent of the Nike advertising campaign: Just do it. Don’t worry too much up front about the hows and whys and wheres. If you’re inspired by a great idea, just go for it. If the writing is good, I believe it will find a home somehow as long as you’re committed to finding that home. Or, creating it yourself as a self-publisher.
Q: Where can people learn more about your books?
Q: What have you learned since you started writing?
A: Since this is my first book, I learned that there is much more that goes into bringing a simple idea to market than anyone could imagine. There are so many steps. You don’t just write something and email it away. It’s not that easy anymore. There is actually so much strategy and so many decisions involved in the process.
Q: What’s next for you?
A: I’m working on a follow-up essay collection. This time, it’s a bit more pop culture oriented, and will be a bit nostalgic, about growing up in the 1970s and 1980s. I’m also really excited about work on my first novel, which gives me a chance to dive into a fictional world for the first time.