...Interview K.D. McCrite

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One of the first things I did after getting my acceptance letter from Mitchell Morris Publishing was contact other writers they’ve published; I wanted to get their thoughts on MMP and see if they’ve had good experiences. I ended up e-meeting some really cool people, and one of the nicest was K.D. McCrite. We became friends (well, I consider her a friend; she probably has me at acquaintance level), and I promptly bought, read and was impressed by her books. K.D.’s books include the April Grace series, a sweet YA series with a terrifically fun protagonist, which is published through Thomas Nelson, an imprint of Harper Collins; and the Eastgate series, a new series published through Mitchell Morris Publishing. She lives in the Ozarks, which is apparently (I have learned) somewhat different than what the movie Winter Bone depicted. By which I mean, less meth.

How did you break into publishing professionally?

I wrote steadily, almost daily, for 11 years,  before I got even ONE word published. I received a lot of rejection letters during those years and I was often bitterly disappointed, but I never gave up. I knew I had what it took to succeed, but it was going to take meeting the right person at the right time. I attended a writer's meeting where the president/editor of Avalon books was one of the speakers. After the meeting, I approached her and said, "I have a story at home that I think might be something you're looking for." I gave her a brief (2 sentences) description, and she said, "I'd like to see that. Send it to me next week." I did; she liked it, she bought it, and two more.

What are your thoughts on the changes in publishing? It seems like there are more opportunities for writers to publish, but are there pitfalls in this new landscape that writers should worry about?

While I think it’s great that there are now more chances than ever for writers to get their stories into the hands of readers, I also find that it can lead to carelessness of execution.  I encourage every author, no matter what path you choose to present your work, give it your all, proofread and have someone else proofread, then edit, edit, edit, then polish and shine before you send it out into the world. All this takes time. It can take months, even a year, but giving readers a great story that is well-told and well-presented will ensure that they’ll buy your next book.

You’ve written books in several genres. Do you do any research in those genres prior to writing your books?

The only genre research I’ve done is to study how mysteries are put together. As with anything, I took what I needed and left out the rest. Nothing is duller than reading predictable formula fiction, so I wanted only enough to make sure what I wrote fit the needs of today’s mystery novels.

(Ed. Note: K.D.’s new mystery series is available here.)

Is there a genre you want to work in that you haven't yet?

I'd like to write a really scary story, not the worn-out horror novels with oozing, drooling ghouls and undead creatures that are so trendy right now, but a ghost story that will curl your toenails. Not so sure my readers would appreciate a book like that, though.

How do you procrastinate?

I don’t like to procrastinate. In fact, putting things off makes me extremely anxious and irritable. However, there are times when certain tasks unrelated to writing must be taken care of before the Department of Health comes to haul me away. So I try to dust and mop and do laundry from time to time. And, I admit it. I like to watch TV. After a long day of using my brain, I just want to shut off the thinking machine and be entertained until I’m ready to sleep. 

Are there any shows that you draw inspiration from?

When I watch TV, it is usually to watch something purely for entertainment's sake. That's because I'm wanting to relax, not have the old brain cells stimulated. (It's hard enough for me to shut down the stories and characters at night so I can get some sleep.) I watch a lot of old shows on DVDs, The Waltons, Andy Griffith, Northern Exposure. I love In the Heat of the Night. I find I gravitate toward shows and books that are regional in nature, set in small towns, with a strong cast of characters. I enjoy observing how they interact and how they grow from the first show to the series finale. I also like Law and Order, but I don't watch it at night; it spurs too many ideas. And I love old movies. TCM (Turner Classic Movies) is one of my favorite channels. Not only do I find inspiration and entertainment, I learn a bit about how people viewed the world back in those black-and-white days. I study what they wore, the architecture, the interior design, the hairstyles, the slang and idioms ... it's such fun to enter yesterday's world of make-believe.

What work(s) of art has most influenced your writing? Is there a song, book, movie, painting, etc., to which your work tends to return?

Music has inspired me more than any other art form, and the songs written by Gordon Lightfoot have inspired me more than any other music. The man is a genius. He paints life and emotions with words that have such power.

You do a terrific job of capturing the voice of April Grace. Is there something specific you rely on to put yourself in her mindset, or a technique you use?

I can't think of anything outside myself that helps me to create April Grace, her wit and voice and her amazing sassiness. When I write her stories, it's as if she runs into the room,  perches on the corner of my desk and starts chattering, then I merely record what she's saying.  I just let the story flow. Of course, when it's all finished, I have to go back and do some editing.

(Ed. Note: K.D. doesn’t mention it here because of modesty, but the first book in the April Grace series, In Front of God and Everybody, is currently a finalist in the 2013 Mark Twain Awards!)

You use a lot of humor in your writing. Who are some of your favorite humorists or comedians?

My thoughts go backward when I think of funny folks. Lucille Ball. Andy Griffith. Carol Burnett.  Lewis Grizzard was one of my favorites and he was taken from us all too soon.

What’s your favorite joke?

Two rabbits in Farmer Jones carrot patch are having dinner.  Bunny One says, “This carrot tastes pithy.”  Bunny Two responds, “Well, it thould. I justh pithed on it.”

(Ed. Note: Ha!)

Thanks, K.D.! That was thun. Eh, I can do better than that. Thit.

Next Week: A Blog Post in Which I Discuss Humor in Writing

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