Although Kaylin McFarren wasn’t born with a pen in hand like so many of her talented fellow authors, she has been actively involved in both business and personal writing projects for many years. As the director of a fine art gallery, she assisted in furthering the careers of numerous visual artists who under her guidance gained recognition through promotional opportunities and in national publications. Eager to spread her own creative wings, she has since steered her energy toward writing novels. As a result, she has earned more than a dozen literary awards and was a 2008 finalist in the prestigious RWA® Golden Heart contest.
Kaylin will be on virtual book tour in February and March 2010 to promote her latest women's contemporary fiction novel, Flaherty's Crossing. We interviewed her to find out more about her wonderful new book.
Q. Thank you for this interview, Kaylin. Can we begin by having you tell us why you chose to write women's contemporary fiction?
I've been reading fiction for most of my life. As a teen, I fell in love with stories by Mary Higgins Clark, Louisa May Alcott and Jane Austen. As I grew older, I couldn't put down Toni Morrison, Jodi Picoult and Amy Tan. My life-long dream has been to create memorable characters, intriguing situations, page-turning stories that would capture all the elements of great women's fiction. I believe I’ve accomplished this with Flaherty's Crossing.
Q. Did you outline before you wrote your book or did you just go with the flow?
I'm a consummate "pantser" and perfectionist who writes and edits as I go, and who uses photographs of models and actors from tabloid magazines to visualize my characters.
Q. Who was your favorite character in Flaherty's Crossing and why?
Definitely Wanda Finch, Kate Flaherty's encroaching neighbor. She's a former southern bell who buys trinkets on QVC, wears bargain basement clothing, cooks like she's serving a village, and prides herself in knowing all the gossip in town. It's so much fun writing her rapid-fire conversations and misquoted adages, I could literally write a book about this woman. I might also add, in some funny way, she reminds me of my country-grown mother – but, of course, a bit more exaggerated.
Q. Who was your least favorite character?
That's a hard one, but I'd probably say the funeral director. He had to be real, but not too morbid, kind and sympathetic, yet not depressing. I wanted to use elements of my own experience while being careful not to poke fun at individuals in such a serious occupation.
Q. Can you tell us about the setting and why you chose it?
The Pacific Northwest is one of the most beautiful, rustic places on earth. But homes there can also be remote and isolated. My story needed to mirror the seasons of nature - mimic life's harsh realities. I wanted to touch on the fact that although youth ultimately withers away, new life begins. That is why I chose a lone log cabin at the end of a winding mountain road above the small town of Hoodsport, Washington - a place where I spent most of my summers.
Q. What was the hardest part to write?
I would have to say the emotional turbulence I had to relive. It was necessary to tap into my personal experiences and feelings to make them believable. In the course of writing Flaherty's Crossing, I went through two boxes of Kleenex, several bottles of wine, and two pounds of chocolate. But I can tell you ultimately, anyone who reads this story will find themselves on an amazing, believable journey.
Q. What was the inspiration behind the story? Where were you when you came up with the idea?
Writing Flaherty's Crossing was a source of personal therapy after losing my beloved father to colon cancer. You might say I was angry at him, at God, at the world in general. However, after completing this story, I had the opportunity to really look into my soul and consider the fact that so many other daughters and sons have had to deal with similar and even worse situations. Rather than a memoir, my novel evolved into a fictional account which brought about the resolution I needed to find. I never expected this exercise in writing to go to press, touch lives, or win literary awards. But as a result of my good fortune, I've arranged for all the proceeds from the sale of this book to go directly to the cancer research center at Providence Medical Center in my father's name. I'm now convinced that good things can grow out of the worst times in our lives if you just take the time to plant seeds.
Q. Do you plan on writing more women's contemporary fiction novels?
Most definitely. In fact, I'm working on a new manuscript with action adventure elements titled Severed Threads. If I manage to wrap this one up in the next few months, I’m hoping your audience will enjoy reading this page-turning story next year.
Q. Thank you for this interview, Kaylin. Can you tell us where we can find out more about you and your wonderful new book?
I have two great websites: http://www.kaylinmcfarren.com and http://www.flahertyscrossing.com where you can read excerpts, watch a video, and discover the story behind Flaherty's Crossing. Thank you for this opportunity. It was great talking to you and I look forward to future visits at Divine Caroline. :D