Interview with Mary E. Kingsley
Mary E. Kingsley: I've always wanted to write. My mother framed a story that I wrote when I was six years old about a little puppy that goes out to play, then comes in to have lunch. Hopefully I've learned some things about character and plot development since then because I've been working at it all these years. Aside from being a mom and having a rich family life, writing has always been the thing in my life that I've wanted the most.
Who are your favorite writers, your favorite book, and who or what are your writing influences?
A sampling of what I loved as an adolescent--Wuthering Heights, Jane Eyre, Rebecca (Daphne de Maurier), Charles Dickens, Virginia Woolfe, Katherine (by Anya Seton), Thomas Wolfe, Eudora Welty, To Kill a Mockingbird.Some books and writers I have loved since--Possession by A.S. Byatt, The Awakening by Kate Chopin, Wilkie Collins, Reynolds Price, Kaye Gibbons, Clyde Edgerton. If I had to choose a writer who has influenced the direction of my writing it would probably be Lee Smith. Oral History is a top favorite.
Tell us about your writing process. Do you have a writing routine? What do you find easiest about writing? What the hardest?
My children are grown and my husband works outside the house, so on a good day, I start with my cup of coffee at 8am and don't look up until late afternoon. I love it when I can write all day long, no interruptions. The challenge is getting to the bank and grocery, paying bills, walking the dog and fixing dinner. My very supportive husband takes up a lot of slack.
Thirteen year old Angel Bishop is fed up with all the unanswered questions about her life, like why did her daddy run off when she was just a baby? And why has her Aunt Patsy, the only family member she feels she can talk to, been locked up in a place for crazy people all these years? It seems to Angel like her family fell apart right after she was born, which makes her wonder what her coming along had to do with it. Growing up with her mother, Ruth, who is often distant and preoccupied, and her Bible-thumping grandmother, Naomi, Angel is certain there's more to the story than she's been told. When her father, Calvin, telephones out of the blue one evening and says he's coming home for Thanksgiving, Angel thinks her dream of having a normal family is finally going to come true. Instead, she finds herself at the center of a dangerous scenario, threatened by secrets far beyond her understanding. Set in a small Appalachian town in the early 1970's, Angel is the compelling story of an innocent girl as the unwitting link between the two generations of her family's dark and unresolved past.
What inspired you to write the book?
I heard someone describing a complex family situation that intrigued me. I was fascinated by the idea of how the whole thing might look through the eyes of an innocent, in this case a child who had grown up in that situation but was completely unaware of the surrounding circumstances. When the story begins, this young girl, Angel, is old enough to really begin to question what was going on. The setting of the story in east TN in the early 70’s reflects my own experience growing up, but the story itself is fictional.
Who do you see as your target audience and where can we buy the book?
I’ve already had a great response from a wide range of readers, from young people all the way to senior women and men. I'm reaching out to book clubs, libraries, high schools and church groups. Angel's story provides a lot of material for discussion and reflection.
This spring I'll be embarking on a two week book club tour. Having been a part of that audience myself for about 25 years now, I know it well. It’s a natural way for me to take the book out into the world, to go visit these groups either in person or using Skype or conference calling. I love talking about it and getting direct feedback from readers, so it’s a win-win. Everyone in a book club knows people in other clubs, and what they’re reading is always a topic of conversation. A popular title in the book club world can easily go viral. I'd love for that to happen, but it's a privilege to be able to share it in small, book loving groups. I've also embraced opportunities on social media sites such as Facebook and Goodreads.
Angel is available online from Amazon and Barnes and Noble. The pages can be accessed directly through my website [see links at the end of this Interview]. It is also available through any bookstore by special order.
"I want the whole world to know and love 'Angel'."
How would you describe the success of your book? (Sales, Awards, Reviews)
I'm so happy with the reaction so far. I've gotten wonderful personal feedback and great reviews on Amazon and Goodreads. It's immensely gratifying to be able to share and discuss the Angel with others. For so long she lived only in my heart and my head, but now she's launched and everyone can get to know her! The challenge is to find ways to keep increasing exposure. I want the whole world to know and love Angel.
What did you do to promote yourself and your book?
In the last six months, I've established an online presence by starting a blog, launching a website, and interacting on social networking outlets such as Facebook and Goodreads. I've also made a concentrated effort to reach out to book clubs, church groups and high schools. In March I'll be on a two week book tour visiting book clubs, book stores and libraries for readings, signings and discussions.
How long did it take it to write the book?
I started writing Angel in 2004. I had three teenagers and was teaching yoga, so there were long periods of time when it went to the back burner, such as the year we moved from Georgia to Washington, DC. Early in 2008, I met my wonderful editor, Renni Browne, and with her help it really began to take shape. Two years later it went to an agent in New York.
Please, tell us where you self-published the book.
Angel was published by Little Falls Press, my own small, independently owned and operated publishing company. I look forward to other titles coming out with Little Falls Press, both my own books and possibly others that are of the quality and subject matter that we want to represent.
Did you hire an editor and/or Cover Designer for your book?
I worked with a wonderful team of professionals from The Editorial Department in Tuscon, AZ, who provided me with top quality editing, book design, cover design and marketing.
"We [Indies] need to hold ourselves to a standard of excellence..."
Can you give some tips for other Indie Authors regarding the writing and self-publishing process?
As Indie Publishing emerges as a viable alternative to traditional, legacy publishing, it's essential that Indie Authors come forward with the best products possible. If we want to be taken seriously in a world where the choices in published material are vast, then thorough and professional editing, design and formatting are necessary.
If we're going to bypass the gate keepers and expect recognition, we need to hold ourselves to a standard of excellence that deserves credibility in the field.
Are you working on another book project? Can you tell us a little about it?
The prequel to Angel is forthcoming...as well as a WWII novel based on my mother's girlhood experience in a small west Tennessee town.
Are you planning to move forward as an Indie author or are you looking forward to have one of your next books to be traditionally published?
I am open to both traditional and indie publishing as I proceed with my next project. We're in the midst of some huge changes in the way books get to readers, so it will be interesting to see how it all evolves.
Do you write full-time or do you have a day job?
I consider myself a full time writer, though in the last several months I've had to devote a lot of time to book promotion. My current challenge is to shift back into more writing time while doing enough marketing to keep Angel moving out there. It's a lot like having a new baby when the first one is just a toddler.
How can readers connect with you?
Please visit my website at www.maryekingsley.com. Follow my blog at on my website or sign up your book club for an author visit at www.maryekingsley.com/bookclub.
Join me on my Facebook author page at www.facebook.com/maryekingsley or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thank you so much for the Interview, Mary. Good Luck with your future book projects.