20 Apr 2014

Author Interview: Carol McKibben

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Today I am introducing a very versatile author whose work I have reviewed on both blogs over the last few weeks.

Here are the links to the review posts

Riding Through It  – an inspiring memoir

and 4046806

Review of Carol’s lovely dog books: “Luke’s Tale” and the “Snow Blood” Series

Hi Carol, please tell us a little about your writing history. When was the first time you decided to write and when was the first time you did?

Hi, Christoph! I became a writer at 14. Actually, I began writing short stories when I was about 12. I read one to my daddy when I was 14, and he said, “You are a writer.” That was the day I began in earnest. I started writing a column for my high school newspaper, and I never stopped.

When did you decide to publish your stories?

I got a degree in secondary education and then an MAT with emphasis in English and Journalism. I became a magazine editor and then a magazine publisher and wrote and published articles all the time. I edited a book for an association that sold well, but it wasn’t until 2007 that I published my memoir, Riding Through It.

Tell us about your first book? How did you decide on the characters, plots and title?

Riding Through It is about my personal journey to be a “complete” person. All the characters and the action in the story are based on real events in my life. I grew up insecure and indecisive. In college, I married a man who evolved into an abusive alcoholic. The story focuses on my coming to grips with having made myself a victim and empowering myself to overcome it. I wrote it for other people suffering through the same circumstances. I wanted to show them how my attitude and conviction made a difference in my life. It’s a book to which many women can relate.

But you also write in different genres. How did this all come together?

Because I had been a journalist, it made sense for me to try my hand at writing a book in the non-fiction genre. It was a cathartic experience. Sort of like taking out the trash or leaving the baggage behind to live in the present instead of the past. Once it was completed, I didn’t want to go back to it. Fiction is the world in which I now live. I am currently writing through the eyes and hearts of dogs. Animals, particularly dogs and horses, have always been my greatest companions. I’ve never been very long without them in my life. I know a lot about them, and I merge that into my writing.

Which genre do you feel most comfortable in – the memoir / non-fiction, or the fiction?

Both really. But, as I indicated, I am focused on fiction currently.

Who or what inspired you for the stories?

For Riding Through It, I wanted to share what I had learned with others.

For Luke’s Tale, my blind Labrador retriever, Luke, was my inspiration. Dogs have such unconditional love for us … and my question is simply, if dogs can love us unconditionally, why can’t we love each other in the same way? I wanted the narrator of the story to be from that perspective of loving unconditionally.  And, I really felt a spiritual influence for this book. After I first began it, a psychic that I had never met told me: “The spirit guides around you are urging you to write the book you’ve started on unconditional love.” I was so shocked by what she told me. There was no way she could have known about it. I kept having dreams about the book and its content. Take what you will from this. I am humbled by the fact that I felt divinely guided. If it has meaning to just one person, I will have achieved my purpose.

Believe it or not, unconditional love is the underlying theme for the Snow Blood series. It’s told from a dog’s perspective. No matter his circumstances, Snow Blood ultimately is loyal and devoted. And oddly enough, so are the vampires in the series. They represent a microcosm of beings capable of loving and protecting each other. It makes quite a statement about man’s inability to perfect it, doesn’t it?

Who would you chose to play the people in a movie version? 8408039

I don’t see Riding Through It as a movie. I definitely can see Luke’s Tale on the big screen. Bradley Cooper would make a good Ash. I’d want someone delicate but with underlying strength, like Ann Hathaway to be Sara. A big-boned, 80-lb. lab with a loving face should be Luke.

Snow Blood would need to be played by a very wolf-like, white husky with blue eyes. Maybe a number of them. I can see Chris  Hemsworth (of Thor fame) as Brogio. For Selene, Emilia Clarke (Daenerys Targaryen on Game of Thrones) or Jennifer Lawrence. Perhaps Theo James (Underworld Awakening and Divergent) as Kane. Travel Fimmel (Vikings) as Apollo and someone like Charlize Theron for Artemis! (A girl can dream!)

What do you like best about writing? What’s your least favorite thing?

Are you kidding? I like the fact that I can write all day, either for myself or my clients. It’s like a gift from the gods! Least favorite? Interruptions when I’m on a roll.

Did you have any say in your cover art? What do you think of it? Tell us about the artist.

Absolutely. Troll River Publications is my publisher. Stephanie is the best. She always asks for my input before approaching her artists and then feedback with the samples. She has a stable of artists with whom she works.

I came up with the concept for Riding Through It. I provide a sketch, and Outskirts Press (the publisher at the time) created it for me.

Stephanie came up with the image for Luke’s Tale, and I fell in love with it immediately. All we had to work out was where to put the type!

The same for Snow Blood. I told her I wanted to focus on Snow Blood’s eyes. When she showed me the photo, she had me. Again, we just had to focus on the fonts.

What is your writing environment like? Do you need silence or music to write?

Music is nice. Don’t need silence. I have an office over my garage, and my computer is next to my window so I can see the world. My husband has a desk across the room. He works from home too. All I ask is that he doesn’t interrupt me when I go into my “zone.” He always can tell when I’m there!

How many rewrites does it normally take you for each book?

With Riding Through It, I wrote a draft, gave it to an editor, got her feedback and threw it in the trash. I started over and probably wrote 6 drafts.

I was very fortunate with Luke’s Tale. I met Lonnie Ostrow, Barbara Taylor Bradford’s editor/marketer. He loved the premise and agreed to edit it. I think after the first draft we did 3 rounds. Then, after my Beta Readers gave me feedback I revised one more time.

Lonnie worked with me on Snow Blood as well. We did three rounds and then after the Beta Readers weighed in, I did one more edit. Hey from 6 on the first to 4 on the next two  … I’m getting better!

How do you edit and quality control? 17206973

Lonnie Ostrow and Stephanie from Troll River are my quality control peeps. When I write, the words just seem to flow through my brain to my fingers onto the computer screen. I let it roll. Then, I go back and heavily edit it until I am satisfied/proud of what I’ve written. Then, it goes off to Stephanie for feedback and then to Lonnie for heavy editing. He always makes me write more. He’s great at squeezing a lot of detail out of me.

How have you found the experience of self-publishing? What were your highs and lows?

The experience with Outskirts was good. They held up their end of the bargain. But I just didn’t have all the time I needed to do soooo much marketing! When Troll River offered to take me on, I was more than pleased. Yes, it’s like self-publishing, except Troll River does A LOT of marketing for its authors. I get a lot of help getting the book “out there” to readers. Troll River doesn’t just put you on all the outlets and then tell you, “if you want us to market you, that will be $XXXX please.” Troll River takes what it does out of its commission. And TRP has done a lot for me. So, rather than being self-published, I think I am “boutique published.” A bit of a difference.

What is your advice to new writers?

Don’t approach writing from the point-of-view that you are going to have a best-seller and get rich and famous. You might be one of the few lucky ones who accomplishes that. Rather, write because you must. Write because you have stories or information to share. Let the passion for what you write shine through your work.  If you do so, you won’t be disappointed at the outcome.

Who are your favourite authors?

John Irving because he writes these impossible scenarios and in the midst of them says something so incredibly profound that I have to stop, back up and re-read and re-read. He often gives me goose bumps.

Stephen King because his descriptions are incredible, and he can make the most common thing so incredibly frightening.

Harper Lee because she wrote one of the greatest novels of all time. Atticus Finch was my hero when I was growing up.

Dean Koontz because his novels are so gripping, and he always includes a dog!

Nicholas Sparks because he is such a romantic writer and his books are perfect for a rainy day.

Garth Stein. I didn’t read The Art of Racing in the Rain until after I wrote Luke’s Tale but I fell so in love with Enzo and the ending took me by such surprise.

Barbara Taylor Bradford (27 best-sellers since 1979) because she is amazingly prolific and her characters are so engaging. She is such an inspiration. And because she has been so generously supportive of my writing and shares Lonnie!

Oh, and not to forget John Grisham. Love him. 20497411

Who are your favourite independent writers?

Did you know that many famous authors started out self-publishing their works? They include: Stephen King, Edgar Allan Poe, John Grisham, Jack Canfield, Beatrix Potter, Mark Twain and Tom Clancy. And then there’s Rebecca Wells who wrote The Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood. She self-published and then was picked up by a traditional publisher because she had such a cult following.

Right now, I’m into Travis Luedke. He the author of Urban Fantasy Thriller, Paranormal Romance, Contemporary Fantasy, Young Adult Fiction, and Sci-fi. He is fairly violent and sexy, but he does it so well!

What book are you currently reading and in what format (e-book/paperback/hardcover)?

Right now I am reading A Big Little Life by Dean Koontz and Tales of Mystery and Imagination (the works of Edgar Allan Poe. I’ve read them all, but he’s so worth re-reading.)  Koontz’s book is in paperback, and Poe’s is hard cover.

What three books have you read recently and would recommend?

The Shepherd by Travis Luedke. (I didn’t expect to get caught up in it like I did.)

Divergent by Veronica Roth

The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt

Who would you say are the biggest influences?

Do you mean other writers who influenced me? First off, my daddy. He told me I had it in me. Then, as far as other writers, Ernest Hemingway, John Steinbeck, Harper Lee and John Irving. I want to write A Farewell to Arms, The Grapes of Wrath, To Kill a Mockingbird and The World According to Garp. But, seriously, besides those four, and all of my favorites listed above, the influence came from within. Oh, I almost forgot. I grew up watching scary movies. I am in love with all the vampire shows, like Dracula, The Vampire Diaries, The Originals and anything vampire. The entire Twilight series was great fun.

What books have you read more than once or want to read again?

I read To Kill a Mockinbird and The World According to Garp about every 10 years. I’ve read everything that Hemingway and Steinbeck wrote multiple times. Oh, and being the good southern girl that I am, I read Gone With the Wind whenever the mood strikes me!

What is your life like outside of writing?

I have a business editing for other authors and ghost-writing and editing for corporate clients. I have a 117-lb. Labradoodle named Neo (from The Matrix) and an 85-lb. black lab named Jar-Jar Binks (from Star Wars). I own and compete (with a black Friesian named Aramis) in Classical Dressage. Yes, I dance with my horse!

What makes you laugh?

My dogs and my horse.

What (not who!) would you like to take to a lonely island?

Books, a bottle of Jack Daniels, peanut butter, a stack of legal pads and a package of ball-point pens (depending upon how long I’ll be there.)

Who would you like to invite for dinner?

All of the authors I’ve listed above.

Hot or cold?

Hot.

Salty or sweet?

Do I have to choose? Can’t I have both?

What would your friends say are your best and your oddest quality?

Best quality – loyal; honesty. Oddest – I’m a bit obsessive compulsive, and I can be a little aloof.

Which songs would you pick to go with your books?

For Riding Through It, I would want Win by Brian McKnight.

For Luke’s Tale, it would be Katy Perry’s Unconditionally

For Snow Blood, I really don’t know. I think because of its uniqueness that we’d need an original soundtrack.

How do you handle criticism of your work?

It’s part of the game, isn’t it? Writers and artists can only create what they know and need to show the world. There will always be those who want to criticize for whatever reason. For the most part, all of my reviews have been 4- and 5-star reviews, but I had one critic who called me out. She said, “how dare you make me cry!” My response: If I am crying on the inside as I write, why wouldn’t you cry with me?” (This was for Luke’s Tale.)

I can only be true to myself and hope that what I write will touch others in a positive way.

Tell us one weird thing, one nice thing, and one fact about where you live.

Weird thing – my daughter says that “spirits” live in our house … but they are good spirits that protect us.

Nice thing – I live in a suburb of Los Angeles. It has a very small town feel, and I know most of the people in our “small town.”

One Fact – I definitely live in “horse country.” Oh, and it also is the porn capital of the U.S.!

What are you working on now? 

I’ve been taking a breather but am starting to outline Snow Blood: Season 2.

Is there anything you would like us to know about yourself and your books?

My last three books have been from the heart. They all seem to center around loving others for who they are … and loving self to stay strong. Reviews mean the world to me. They are the only real barometer that I have to know if what I write is connecting to others. I get such a thrill from reading them … even the ones that aren’t so positive. And, I would love more “conversation” with my readers.

All the Best, Carol McKibben

Here are the links to the review posts

Riding Through It  – an inspiring memoir

and

Review of Carol’s lovely dog books: “Luke’s Tale” and the “Snow Blood” Series

Find Carol on

Carol in Amazon

Carol on Goodreads

Carol McKibben was a magazine publisher for more than 20 years. She began a new career in freelance writing and editing in 2007. As well as editing other authors’ works to realize their dreams, she has completed Luke’s Tale and published a memoir, Riding Through It. 

4046806Carol currently writes from the heart of a dog’s eyes. Often telling her stories to Laberdoodles, Basset Hounds and any stray that happens by, it wasn’t long before people stopped to have a listen as well. Now Carol writes for people and speaks to large audiences, dogs included. 

written by
Christoph Fischer was born in Germany in 1970 as the son of a Sudeten-German father and a Bavarian mother. ‘The Luck of The Weissensteiners’ is his first published work. He has written several other novels which are in the later stages of editing and finalisation.
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