Interview with Katherine Pierce Chinelli

What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
My greatest joy of writing is the act of creating something new that didn't exist before. My stories are usually based on something that happened in my life that was a potentially painful experience for me, so when I write, I transform that experience into something healing. By healing my pain, I feel like maybe I can help others heal too. When I add something unusual or quirky into the story, I feel as if I mix real life with something exciting and unexpected, making for an uplifting experience. I like to shock and excite people, get them questioning reality and realizing they have a lot of choice in their future.
What do your fans mean to you?
Having fans means that I did something right! It means I wrote something from my heart that other people feel in their heart too and that I'm not alone. A lot of times growing up I had weird ideas that I thought no one else shared. To have even one fan means that someone else shares my thinking and it makes me feel like I have a friend out there, even if I haven't met that person.
What are you working on next?
I'm working on a story I've written and re-written for the last 17 years. The title so far is called "Open Road Orphan" about a girl who is abandoned in the desert. A recently-released prisoner finds her and thinks he is totally the wrong person to help her, but ends up being just the person to reconnect her with her happiness. I "met" the girl character in the mirror a long time ago after a long day at the beach. She wasn't me, and the more I stared, the more this person emerged. I knew I had to tell her story, but it took me a long time to figure out the right way. I finally found the words, and am on my way to publishing her book this Spring/Early Summer.
Who are your favorite authors?
I love everything Chuck Palahniuk writes. I went to see him speak one time and it was pretty cool. I love Nora Roberts not just because of her writing or the amount of work she publishes, but I also admire the huge amount of money she earns. Let's face it. Writing is awesome, but the fact that she earns that much money doing what she loves makes me feel awe-struck and ambitious to follow her lead. I even got to shake her hand once and have her sign my book at the Romance Writer's Convention. For nonfiction reading I love Esther Hicks for her positive Abraham-Hicks collection. I saw her in person in 2012 and the room was just hugely vibrating with amazing energy. So worth it. There are a ton more, but those are the big 3.
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
When I'm not writing I spend my time with my family. I'm a stay-at-home mom, so I'm doing chores and watching my daughter grow and learn. She is my most astounding creation and amazes me constantly. She has taught me all those things parents say children teach them, but the thing she has taught me the most is how to be in the moment and really enjoy every step of the way as much as I can.
Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?
The first story I ever wrote was during school in second grade. Our teacher was reading a book that I was thinking was totally boring, so I decided to write my own on the sly. It was about a mermaid called Lily and ended up being maybe 40 pages long. Funny to think that was only the beginning!
What is your writing process?
I have trained myself over the years to just sit down and write on command. I have my normal writing time so I do the same thing every day, five days a week and sometimes on the weekend if I feel the urge. When I was working I would get up before work at like six a.m. and pound out a couple thousand words. Now that I have my daughter, I wait until her naptime after lunch and work for an hour on writing, and then a half-hour or as long as I can get on my marketing efforts. She's an awesome sleeper so I usually can count on a solid 90 minutes of work-thank goodness!
As far as the writing itself, my process changes a lot depending on what I'm working on. My most recent novel I actually wrote a loose outline for and then followed that in re-writing. I love books like "First Draft in 30 Days" by Wiesner and "Book in a Month" by Schmidt because those help me build good foundations for my books. The book I use the most is "Save the Cat Goes to the Movies" by Snyder. He writes about how all great movies follow a 15 scene formula. I actually use that formula now in every single book I write because, although it's a formula, you can use it in any way you want. I love having that loose structure to base everything on. It's kind of a checklist that helps me know I'm building a cohesive story. I can use that structure for a short story or an epic long piece, although my works tend to be on the shorter side. So, yep, it all varies, but that's about the gist of it. Writing, editing, and then having friends and family do some beta-testing before self-publishing.
How do you approach cover design?
I like to design all my covers because I feel like it's more personal for the reader. I see a lot of covers that kind of all blur together, so I like to make mine as unique as I can. I especially like taking nature photos, so I love to use a photo I took on my cover if possible. For my first book "Make Me", that's actually a sonogram of my daughter on the cover. I thought it was pretty cool she was waving, so I put her on there. My mom's a graphic designer, so I think on the next book I'll have her do it up a little more professionally.
What are your five favorite books, and why?
Picking my five favorite books is way too hard, so I'm going to list my five favorite movies and TV shows:
1. Last of the Mohicans
2. Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas
3. Gentlemen Broncos
4. Breaking Bad
5. X-Files
What do you read for pleasure?
I go through cycles of what I read for pleasure. Lately it's been a lot of nonfiction self-improvement books. Those books always give me a thrill because I'm going to learn something new each time and improve my life in some way. Before my daughter was born I read a lot of money-savvy books like "Rich Dad Poor Dad" and "Automatic Millionaire." I'm currently working my way through Napoleon Hill's "Think and Grow Rich" which is amazing because it was written in the early 1900s but is totally still applicable today.
Published 2014-03-21.
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