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.
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?
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?
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.
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 unless4. Are you a seat-of-the-pants author or a plan-it-stage-by-stage type?
you're a major player in the market.
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?
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.
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!