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Interview With Kathleen Miller

Meet Kathleen Y'Barbo
Interview by Lianne Lopes

1) Tell us a little about yourself -- age, married/single, children, how many books authored, etc.

I'm the married mother of four: Josh (21 and a junior art major), Andrew (19 and a freshman engineering major), Jacob (soon to be 16 and a high school sophomore) and Hannah (12 and a sixth grader). My husband David is a consulting engineer for an international oil firm. The rest of the family includes two cats – Fifi and Baby – and a spoiled 9-year-old English Springer Spaniel named Bandit.

To date I've sold 3 novels to Heartsong, 3 novellas to Barbour, and 2 young adult novels to SurePath Publishing. In addition I've done numerous articles, devotionals, and other nonfiction pieces.

2) How did you become interested in writing?

First I became interested in reading then the writing followed. When my daughter went to preschool back in 1996, I bought an inexpensive word processor and wrote my first 100,000+ word book in 6 weeks.

3) What was your biggest obstacle in regards to writing and/or getting published? How did you overcome it?

The biggest obstacle has always been myself, or rather getting out of the way and letting God take over. That's something I think I'll always have a problem with to some degree or another, but with prayer and grace, I'm working on it.

4) What has been the highest moment of your writing career?

Logic would say the high point would be my first sale or making the bestseller list on my first book, but another experience really has to rank above those. A writer pal of mine gave a copy of one of my books to a friend who was keeping vigil over her husband's bedside in the hospital. Both the husband and the wife came to the Lord shortly after and they both credit my story as the reason. What else can compare to that?

5) Who/What is your greatest inspiration to write? Where do your story ideas come from?

Of course it all comes from the Lord, but He has been gracious enough to send me some wonderful cheerleaders like my husband and my dear pals in the Seared Hearts critique group along with a cast of characters in the form of my friends, my family, and a few strangers I've observed in restaurants or listened to on the radio.

My new release, MAJOR LEAGUE DAD (HP#529), was inspired by my youngest son while my first novella, "Saving Grace" (YELLOW ROSES, Barbour historical anthology, March 2001) came straight out of the pages of my second cousin's geology book. YOU CAN'T BUY LOVE (HP#474) was inspired by something my high school friend Lindell, who used to be a church secretary, said, and "Victorious", (TO CATCH A THIEF, Dec. 2003 Barbour historical mystery novella) features a Reese Witherspoon look alike for my female Pinkerton heroine and Tom Selleck (think Quigly Down Under) with the slightest Scottish brogue as the hero.

So I suppose the answer is that I see potential plots everywhere I look. The standard line around my house is, "Don't you dare use that in a book, Mom!"

6) Are you a seat-of-the-pants writer, or do you plot extensively before your fingers hit the keyboard?

Yes to both. It depends on the book. Sometimes I work an idea out in detail before I ever see a word of it on paper. Other times I just sit at the computer and say, “Okay, Lord, where are we going today?” When I'm playing with a proposal, I can get away with my preference for the latter, but I am currently writing BAYOU FEVER (HP, Jan. 2004) from the chapter by chapter outline that was required from my editor. To my great surprise – and chagrin – it is so much easier to follow a map than to strike out through the wilderness.

7) What's the nicest thing anyone ever said about your writing?

That's a hard one because people in our business, whether readers or reader/writers, are always so nice. I suppose I would have to say that the times a non-saved person has told me they liked my book have to be among the nicest. Jesus spoke in parables, and if we can have the same impact, we should pursue it.

8) Who is your favorite character in your books, and how did you come up with that character?

That's like asking me to pick my favorite child! Each one is my favorite at the time I'm writing it. I suppose though, if I had to pick just one character, it would be my heroine Grace from my novella “Saving Grace” in Barbour's YELLOW ROSES historical collection (March 2001). Not only was she the heroine of my first ever published work, she was also based on a real woman – my maternal great, great grandmother who lived in Brazoria County, Texas prior to the Civil War. Just like Grace, she was widowed young and forced to feed her family by working in a man's world against great odds. In creating Grace, I got to honor her and all the other strong Texas women in my family tree.

9) How do you deal with publisher rejections?

I'm going to paper my office with them one day. No, seriously, I first read them all the way through. I don't think I ever told Rebecca Germany this but I once got an acceptance letter from her that I was certain was a rejection. It was a full page, single spaced, and had so many suggestions for improvement that I set it aside to read later when I could give it my full attention (read: when I stopped feeling sorry for myself < Grin >). I went back to that letter later in the day and to my surprise, in the last paragraph was a line stating that if I could fix the problems in the manuscript they would be happy to contract it.

I believe when a writer reaches the stage where he or she can categorize a rejection, that is a milestone. I mean, when we first start getting them, it seems as though each letter is akin to telling us our babies are ugly or worse. Over time you learn more about the business and realize there can be any number of reasons why an editor rejects something, many of which have nothing to do with the quality of the writing. Eventually you get to the point where you actually learn from your rejections.

10) If you could give a beginner one piece of advice what would it be?

Spend time with the Lord each day before your fingers touch the keyboard. Look to Him for your inspiration. Ask Him whether you're being called to write or being called to be published – two distinctly different things. If He is calling you to be published, He will make it happen – in His time, not yours. In all things, especially in this thing called writing, be obedient.


You can find more information at Kathleen's Website.

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