INTERVIEW WITH CAROL KEHLMEIER
In this interview with author, Carol Kehlmeier, she shares her philosophy on writing and gives a bit of insight into who she is and how she became an author.
As a child, what did you want to do when you grew up?
A newspaper reporter.
Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?
I just always wanted to be a writer. When I read the Dick and Jane Books I figured I could do that. Went to see the movie, “A Tree Grows in Brooklyn” when I was very young and wanted to write a story like that.
Why did you want to be an author?
Beats me. Just always liked the idea. Found my first grade report card at my mother’s house and the teacher had written a note on it, Carol really likes stories.
Do you have any other writing experience?
I was a newspaperwoman, a columnist, and freelance writer of articles, short stories, interviews, inspirational, and humor. Also did the church monthly newsletter and edited a book put out by church members and wrote for puppets. Also did publicity for a couple local organizations.
What inspired you to write your first book?
Characters were in my head and I always wanted to write a novel so I did.
Where do you get your information or ideas for your books?
From life, observing people, memories, characters in my head.
What was the hardest part of writing your book?
Getting it published.
Do you have a specific process when you write?
I know when it’s time to stop for the day.
What is your work schedule like when you’re writing?
Mornings, as a rule.
How long does it take you to write a book?
Don’t have any idea. I usually have more than one project going. If a publisher shows an interest, I finish the project. I tend to be pessimistic about someone wanting my work.
Your published works include:
“Stick Figure,” “I Wanted to Write a Song,” “Christmas Medley,” “Real Treasures,” “Strawberry Season.”
Is there a specific anecdote about the process of writing any of them?
I never talk about what I’m writing until it is published. Don’t let anyone read my “stuff” before it’s published because I think it is bad luck. Belong to a small writers’ group and sometimes read work to them, but that’s all.
Did you encounter a writing problem that required you to change your plans for the book or learn a new process?
With the first novel, I just wrote, put it away, got it out and wrote, put it away, found it and wrote and wondered if anyone would read it or publish it. The characters seem to go where they want and if I try to change it—it doesn’t work.
Was there a personal reason for writing any of them or a special connection you have to any of them?
Many of the characters just live in my head. Some are vague memories and some ideas from observing others. I guess I have to confess “I hear voices.”
If you use a pen name, why?
No pen name. I want people to know what I write.
Give us three “Good to Know” facts about you.
My very first job was baby sitting, nothing to do with writing, except I did use a bit of those characters in my first novel.
Working at the weekly newspaper in our suburb was where I learned most about writing. I made a ton of mistakes, but that was how I learned. Also learned to write in a few words and how to edit my writing. Did hundreds of interviews and articles and learned people love to talk about themselves.
Writing a column was also a learning experience. My first column I made fun of grandmas showing off pictures of their grandkids and a reader was upset and wrote to the publisher (I think because she was one of those grandmothers.) Of course the publisher loved it and I went on to write many columns, not all about grandmothers.
What else do you want your readers to know?
I like to read, be with family, be with friends, walk, take photos, have a nice glass of wine, volunteer for my church, watch college football, (Ohio State, since I’m an Ohioan) and try very hard to be a nice person and it’s not always easy. I know how to be crabby, being nice is a little more difficult.
Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
Just hope they enjoy and can relate to what I write. Hope they like or dislike my characters.
Do you have any suggestions to help me become a better writer? If so, what are they?
Just keep writing, read, observe, and write every day even if it is only a short piece.
To be a writer—you have to write—not just talk about it. Discipline and persistence. Believe in yourself. I find this very difficult. I’ve been taught to be modest, so it is hard for me to talk about my work.
Do you have any other advice for fellow writers?
Observation and listening. Many beginners just talk about writing, can’t get published if you don’t write. Haven’t heard of editors knocking on the door and saying, “I hear you write.”
What obstacles did you encounter in being published?
It probably took about 30 years to get my first book published. After that Woolyswagon took four of my books. Thrilled me like crazy. Now I have to get them sold. That’s the hard part. Writing is fun, most of the time, publishing and selling is the hard part.
What methods have you used to get your book noticed?
Mostly local. Local newspaper, local shop sells my books, facebook, book signings, web sites, talking to people, trying to sell them, but I’m not a good salesperson. I try.
How do you feel now that you are a published author?
Great. I had many pieces published before my novels, but having a novel published is the best. It’s what I always wanted. Now, I just want to sell a lot of them. Not really for money because you don’t make that much. Just to get my work around.
What are your current projects?
I have lots of projects, book of short stories for one, articles, and short stories. My freelance work is in secular and Christian publications, web sites, chicken soup, anthologies, and any place that will take freelance. I have friends who quilt, do needle work, paint, sing, play musical instruments—I can’t do any of that—writing is the only thing I know how to do and sometimes I wonder about that. Self-confidence is hard for me, but you have to believe in what you write and if the rejections keep coming in, don’t give up. If something you write needs changed, change it.