Monday, May 29, 2006

The Hidden

Hello everybody! This month's selection for the Christian Fiction Blog Alliance was a real treat. As a writer I seldom find myself reading for pure enjoyment. I am usually looking at style, word choice, phrases, etc. With The Hidden by Kathryn Mackel, I forgot that I needed to learn while I read...I got so lost in the storyline that I never even got my highlighter out!

At first when I saw it, I thought, "Oh, no...another horse book." I even said to my husband, "I don't think I'll be able to get through this one...it sounds too sentimental and there are horses."

Am I ever glad that I went beyond the first chapter, which mentioned horses! It gripped me and Kathryn wove the story around my head. I even dreamed about it. Yes, there are horses, but they are NOT what this story is about. Yes, there is the sentiment of heartbreak...but it goes deeper than the surface. This is spiritual warfare. It is real; it is today; it is happening.

A DARK RAVINE. A FIERY DEATH. AN UNIMAGINABLE SECRET.

SOME THINGS ARE BEST LEFT HIDDEN.

Kathryn Mackel is not only a best-selling author but an acclaimed screenwriter for Disney and Fox. She was on the screenwriting team for Left Behind: The Movie, and Frank Peretti's Hangman's Curse. She lives in Boston, Massachusetts, with her husband.

I am honored to have been allowed some interview questions. Kathryn has graciously answered--even though she has just had a major surgery...

1. How did you break through the publishing wall that a lot of not-yet-published authors face?

Persistence. My first book, A Season of Comebacks, was a secular middle-reader. I sent out queries to major publishers who, at that point, still read unagented work. I got rejections across the board. Not knowing what to do (and I don’t recommend what I'm about to say), I sent the same queries out eight months later. This time personnel had changed and an editor who had played fastpitch softball saw the query and wanted to see the book.

But one breakthrough doesn’t make a career. I’ve needed to persist in learning craft—I learn every day—and in understanding what markets require. For my second book, I queried agents instead of publishers and established a long-term relationship with HarperCollins through that agent. Since then I've worked in various genres in film (big-budget SciFi, family films, Christian films) and publishing (adult thrillers and fantasies, children's sports and SciFi) by learning the craft required for each and pursuing open markets.

That said, it's much better for a writer doing their first or second book to simply write for the passion of it. Worry about the market once he or she has the craft down.

2. How long of a stretch of time did you have to wait after finishing your first book until it got picked up by an agent or publisher?
About a year. But I kept busy on my primary pursuit, which was screenwriting.
3. When did writing become your full-time carreer?
In August of 1995, I sold my first book and my first screenplay. It was the film sale that allowed me to become a full-time author almost immediately. It’s tricky to do it in publishing unless you sell a high-concept thriller. The advances for children’s books aren’t sufficient to support a writer unless
you're a major player in the market.
4. Are you a seat-of-the-pants author or a plan-it-stage-by-stage type?

Both. I approach my novels as a screenwriter—knowing the major turning points and how the plot will resolve. But I give myself permission to discover new characters and thus, plot twists. When I begin a project, I’ll know the overall skeleton of the story but I do outline every few chapters. I can’t write without a destination but I do allow myself to wander. The trick is having the guts to cut out perfectly good sections that don't fit what the story truly needs.

5. Rewrite. I hear this and do this so often for my own book but how about you? How long of a process do you have after getting the initial story down?

In my experience there’s two kinds of writers. The first work through a draft, then systematically go through drafts to refine plot, character, language. The second type of writer—including myself—pick-pick-picks as we write. We make ourselves miserable because we keep going back and rewriting. Progress is slow but by the time we have a first draft finished, it’s really the equivalent of a third draft. Overall, it's a six-month process because I write under contract. My goal is to get to where I only do a book a year so I can really strive for excellence.

6. If you wanted to say something to a potential reader about The Hidden what would it be?

That it’s the best book I’ve ever written. That it’s filled with pain and joy, the majesty of Colorado and the passion of horses. (Is there anything more passionate than horse-lovers?) But…though The Hidden is filled with twists and miracles and fear, the bottom line is that it is a story of forgiveness. And what greater story can be told?

Kathryn will be giving a class, Story Structure for Novelists, in this year's Greater Philadelphia Christian Writer's Conference. I am trusting God that I can attend this in August. It would be great to meet such a talented lady!

Order The Hidden Here!
Kathryn's Website

16 comments:

The Curmudgeon's Rant said...

Wow, that was an impressive review!

Gina Burgess said...

Super review. Great questions and great advice!

Fred said...

Nicely done, MC.

Bonnie Calhoun said...

*sigh* Your reviews are always fabulous...I aspire to achieve that level!

The Writers Conference in August is going to be a ball...and we'll get to meet her and tke her classes too....Wahoo!

Bonnie Calhoun said...

I need spelling lessons...I wonder if she'll teach that...LOL!

Jezreel said...

Ooooh! I liked this interview... you've been quoted (jezreviews.blogspot.com)!

See ya around Mimi!

Trinity13 said...

Sounds like a great read!

K. Jimmy said...

wow, awesome review! i definitely want to rea that book!
kaz

K. Jimmy said...

i mean "read" that book! ha ha

Wren said...

Great review, Mimi! Mine's up, too.

crabbycows said...

I forgot that I needed to learn while I read...I got so lost in the storyline...

Sign of a good writer.

#1.

M. C. Pearson said...

You guys are so sweet...I really needed all the kind words. I've had a rough week and will soon blog about it. Well, maybe next week. I've a few other things on the blog to do list first.

Curm~ You did a great post yourself bud.

Gina~ I liked your review too. Isn't she just the kindest person?

Fred~ Thank you!

Bonnie~ This will be such a special time. You are my best friend and we've yet to see each other face to face. I know I'm gonna cry!

Jez~ That was a great way to post about the book!

Trin~ It really is quite wonderful!

Karen J.~ I'm so glad I found your site...I'll put you on my links soon!

Wren~ Loved yours too!

Crabbycows~ Nice to meetcha! Your site is hilarious and I will be putting it on my links as well. Darn right funny.

Jean-Luc Picard said...

An excellent review of the book, Mimi

M. C. Pearson said...

Jean-Luc~ Thanks O Captain, my Captain!

Christopher said...

wow; cool bean. thanks for that. i got out of it "write for the passion of it."

M. C. Pearson said...

Christopher~ Me too. Thanks!