Interview with K.P. Kollenborn

Describe your desk
Unfortunately it's a cliche: Organized clutter. I have piles of thoughts written on paper, bills, and loose paper that manages to take over like the blob. After six months or so, I will look through my notes and wonder why I scribbled these incomplete thoughts and question people's names and numbers that I had somehow came in contact with but don't remember why or how. I am also very possessive about my space. I only throw away the paper when I no longer have room to write.
A little about your background?
As a mother of two daughters, I understand the idiosyncrasies of balancing work, family, and creative endeavours. If life weren’t a bit off kilter than what is the point of crossing that high wire in the sky? In other words, without the strength of passion, creativity, and ambition than we all might as well become nothing more than couch potatoes by the end of the day. It’s all about making our lives productive, interesting, and adding value for the next generation. By the very nature of my existence, I am an artist. And by the very nature of my husband’s insistence, I have adapted to become an entrepreneur. We have ventured a music store, a restaurant, real estate, several internet businesses, and two recording studios. I have worked as a graphic designer and in the publishing market since 1994. Aside from having a graphic arts degree, I also have a history degree to satisfy my other passion. That and writing.
Why do you write? What draws you to this genre?
I started with telling stories to my sisters as children, but didn’t appreciate the process of writing until I was a teenager. I love books and movies equally; and mainly for the pure satisfaction of experiencing life outside of my own experiences. The great thing about imagination is taking in all facets of experiences and then reinventing them into stories. For me, the greatest power of invention is exploring the ugly side of humanity and how to rise above it. I believe that the art of lying unveils misconceptions about ourselves, our humanity, and our future. We lie, we reinforce. We gossip, we self-destruct. We seek, we fail. We grow, we die. But always we hope. To escape. To learn. To rediscover. To reinvent. It matters, all, it matters because we are here.

I love to write fiction with a historical twist. I can’t solely place my stories in the historical fiction category because, by definition of historical fiction, the backdrop of novels have to be set back by at least 50 years. There are times I like to delve into the past as recently as twenty years. I like believe that after a two decade introspection we have learned more wisely than something that happened yesterday. And that’s why I love history: To learn. To question. To redeem our humanity.
How do you think you’ve evolved creatively?
At first I imagined I would be an artist, (drawing and painting), but when I realized there were people far more talented, I wrote stories to satisfy my need to be somewhere else. And as I read more, I wanted to write more. When teachers began to compliment the stories I was writing for class as a teenager, something clicked in my brain. And I also love history. By combining my two loves only increased my need to become more self aware of understanding the world. The great thing about imagination is taking in all facets of experiences and then reinventing them into stories. The bottom line is that the more you write, the better you write. I had a teacher, Leonard Bishop, (who unfortunately passed away tens years ago,) who believed that ANYONE who has the passion to write can learn the skills to write well. I have bore witness to this testament and am now believer as well.
What motivated you to become an indie author?
After five years worth of rejection from agents, (because unknown authors are required to have agents in order for big publishers to consider your work,) and after hearing a story from a published author who had been dropped by both her publisher AND agent due to not making her 10,000 sales, in addition to having an opportunity to ask John Irving how confident he felt with the publishing world to which he replied, "Not at all," I came to realize self publishing was going to be my alternate medium. I'm so glad I had. I have learned so much and my writing is out there.
Your greatest challenge as an author?
Trying to balance the historical and cultural accuracies have been the great challenges. To the best of my ability I want to honor the authenticity as much as possible; although for the sake of telling a story I have permitted some inaccuracies because, after all, it is fiction. The challenge was to determine what to keep and what to embellish.
What advice would you give to a younger you?
Be patient. It will come. Writing is not an easy means to make money. Be determined, because it is a long road of rejections, dismissals, and criticisms. Seek support from other writers. In the words of my late writing teacher, Leonard Bishop, who states it best: “I believe that if a writer can return to the world more than what the world has given him, then he has earned his keep, not only as a writer, but also as a human being. I also believe that whatever saves my life must be good. I have lived a God-blessed life, and I want to pass it on.”
What do your fans mean to you?
Being able to reach out and influence people you never met is an amazing high that I think only addicts can relate to. I have found my destination through connecting to others. It's amazing.
What sets Eyes Behind Belligerence, from other books of the same genre?
Two key elements set this novel apart from other novels about the Japanese interment: First, all the main characters are of Japanese orgin. This allows the process of storytelling to focus on the Japanese and Japanese-American experiences. Second, because there are many characters intertwined, the reader will gain a broader experience of camp life. Life in Manzanar was complex, corrupt, demorializing, and had lots of internal friction within the Japanese communities. No other novels has explored these issues, and has emphasized the physical conditions of living near Death Valley.
What are you currently working on?
Set in the backdrop during the last years of South Africa's apartheid, 'How the Water Falls' is fictional story that unfolds the truth and deception of the systems victims, perpetrators, and unlikely heroes. The two main characters, one white, Joanne- a reporter, the other black, Lena- a banned activist, have their lives continuously overlap through the people they know during a thirteen year period. This novel is as complex as apartheid had been itself, unlacing fabrics of each character’s life to merge into a catalyst downfall. The question of who will survive this downfall will suffice in the courts of truth and reconciliation, and whether love is strong enough to preserve peace. I am hoping to have it released in the summer of 2014. You can keep follow the journey by checking out http://www.howthewaterfalls.com.
What should readers walk away from your books knowing? How should they feel?
Wow, I didn't know that. This is so much better than reading those boring school history books!
At what point in your life did you realize you wanted to be a writer?
It was gradual. At first I imagined I would be an artist, (drawing and painting), but when I realized there were people far more talented, I wrote stories to satisfy my need to be somewhere else. And as I read more, I wanted to write more. When teachers began to compliment the stories I was writing for class as a teenager, something clicked in my brain. And I also love history. By combining my two loves only increased my need to become more self aware of understanding the world.
Tell us about your writing process.
First I let ideas fester in my subconsious and when I'm ready to commit to writing, I begin researching about the time period and culture, and once I aquire enough information to get started, I begin writing incomplete scenes to see which part of the story feels right. It often starts out like puzzle pieces where I just pick out pieces and lay down a basic foundation until I start seeing how the story falls together. I don't work with outlines; too restrictive. I only come up with who the people are, their backgrounds, and how they interact with each other. The historical references comes into play according to their personality type.
How do you define success as a writer? Have you been successful?
I'm still in the beginning stage of launching a writing career, but I project it'll take a good five to six years before I start calculating success. I'm just thrilled to finally make that leap of faith!
Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
In the words of my late writing teacher, Leonard Bishop, who states it best: "I believe that if a writer can return to the world more than what the world has given him, then he has earned his keep, not only as a writer, but also as a human being. I also believe that whatever saves my life must be good. I have lived a God-blessed life, and I want to pass it on." - See more at: http://thedanobrienproject.blogspot.com/2012/07/a-moment-with-kp-kollenborn.html#sthash.jKeHtjMS.dpuf
Are you one of those people who don’t own a TV?
I love movies as much as I love books. Both provide different outlets while processing the art of storytelling as well as eductional avenues. I love just having my brain overstimulated in every possible way!
Published 2014-02-23.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.