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Interview with Kathryn Moore

You grew up working on cars with your father and you studied engineering and more at college. How has your background influenced this novel? Did being familiar with worlds like NASCAR allow you to easily write the book or did it lend a greater pressure to get everything right?

First, I want readers to know that they don’t need to be a NASCAR fan to love Angel Beneath My Wheels any more than you need to be a rodeo fan or art enthusiast to enjoy Nicholas Spark’s The Longest Ride. It’s only a setting, but one I hope lent an exciting and informative backdrop for the plot.

While my background definitely came in handy, I think it was more the motivation behind why I wanted to write a story in the first place that influenced this novel. A few years ago, with two children entering their teens, my husband and I became frustrated by the lack of family appropriate films. Our children were too old for Disney and Pixar and they definitely weren’t ready—in our minds anyway—for PG-ratings. Sadly, we simply stopped going to the movies.

So when I sat down to decide what to write, I kept two things in mind. It had to be a story my whole family would enjoy and it had to be something that would make a great movie.

I decided on a love story because every good movie contains a great romance, but I wanted it to be one my husband and son would enjoy. So when my brother described an interesting film called Gas Hole, an eye-opening documentary that alleged a massive cover up by oil companies, it sounded like the makings of an intriguing story and one with a definite modern-day interest, given the volatility of gas prices. According to the documentary, “Big Oil” has been suppressing innovations in fuel efficiencies for years, even going so far as to murder at least one very bright young inventor who had the idea for an engine that ran on vapor.

Like many men, my husband and son are into cars. Coupled that with my own knowledge of engines, mechanics, and chemistry in general, I came up with the idea of a young woman who, like me, grew up working on cars with her father. My husband and son love NASCAR, so I thought that would provide an exciting backdrop as well as tie in nicely with the idea of fuel efficiency.

Finally, above all, I wanted it to be wholesome and family friendly, with a subtle but meaningful message for young people. So my heroine is a young woman of faith who’s made a commitment to God to save her virtue for marriage. She wears a purity ring and the story explores how difficult it can be for a young woman to retain those ideals in our modern culture.

Having written several contemporary storylines, do you have any specific writing or brainstorming methods to conjure up new storylines?

Gosh, I don’t really. I like to write what I like to read. I know that sounds over-simplified, but I like stories that move me, that make me laugh and cry, and that resonate with a powerful message. The best stories linger in your heart and in the way you view the world; you find yourself thinking about the characters days later, missing them. Those are the stories I like to read so those are the kind I try to write.

It’s early for me—I’ve only just published my first novel—so I haven’t yet run out of ideas. I have a second novel finished, awaiting a home with a major publisher. I have a work-in-process and about two others being worked on by “the boys in the basement,” as Stephen King would say. I think it will be a while before I have to brainstorm new ideas.

How did the journey of writing fiction begin for you?

As I mentioned, my kids were my first inspiration. I think people who write should have something to say and the most successful way to impact culture is to influence our youth, which means writing stories that will make great movies. Because, let’s face it, most kids don’t read, but they do go to movies. In fact, a survey I remember reading a few years ago stated that films have become more influential than churches.

That’s why Alex Kendrick, producer of the movies Fireproof, Courageous, and War Room, and his brothers set out to change the perception of movies in mainstream America. And that’s why I’m writing the kind of stories that I hope will make great films.

What’s your biggest challenge in balancing writing time with your other responsibilities? Do you have any tips for others searching for balance?

I also have a full-time (and then some) job as a business analyst/project leader, so a big part of my professional life is organizing, communicating, and documenting—the same types of skills needed to write a novel. Go figure.

Plus, I recently backed off on some responsibilities at my church, realizing God has other plans for me through my writing. I’m still involved in our Children’s Ministry, but I do check-in on Saturday evenings—a thirty-minute task that requires no prep—and I count the offering once a month and occasionally sub for people. But hey, every hand helps, right?

My biggest challenge is finding time to write. Most days I work through lunch. I’m not a morning person so getting up early is not an option. I do a lot on evenings and weekends, but even that has been mostly marketing stuff lately, building my social media presence and getting my novel out there.

One thing I do keep in mind though, is that my family comes first. My teenagers are always on the go, so when I have a chance to spend time with them, I grab it. Savor it, actually!

What do you hope your readers take away from your novels?

My stories are contemporary character driven tales of normal people and the challenges they face—the same challenges we all face in real life: love, friendship, parenthood, morality, mortality, compassion, faith. My favorite novels are those that reach down deep, wrap up my whole heart and soul, make me laugh, and cry. I want to touch people’s lives, like that. I want my reader to feel better, be better, love better, because they read my words and took them to heart. I want to inspire, to comfort and to breathe faith and hope into anyone who may despair that they’re alone in this world.

Reflecting back, what do you see as the most significant milestone along your publication journey?

The most significant milestone for me was meeting someone in my first foray into a writer’s group who told me, in the most sincere email, “I think you are a talent!” I mean, hearing it from your spouse, a relative or even a friend, is one thing but when a complete stranger reaches out to tell you something like that, well, it’s a lollipop moment for sure. You can read about it on my blog.

If you could go back before publication, what advice would you give yourself?

In a word, persist. Don’t give up. Stephen King accumulated a multitude of rejection slips at the beginning and it took Nicholas Sparks three novels before hitting it big with The Notebook. If you love to write and have something to say, stick with it, improve your craft, say a prayer and follow where God leads you.

What books are in your To Read pile? Also, do you prefer reading physical books, e-books, or a mix?

I’m reading Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee right now and my To Read pile has Stein On Writing by Sol Stein and Take Me With You by Catherine Ryan Hyde.

I also want to read more of Karen Kingsbury and understand why she’s so popular. I read one recently, Coming Home, and…it wasn’t at all that I expected.

Oh, and I really want to finish reading John Irving’s A Prayer for Owen Meaney. It was really good, but long, and I only got halfway through it on my last vacation and had to return it to the library.

I read both physical books and e-books. If it’s an author I love or one I want to support, I’ll buy the print copy but I have too many books filling up my house already. I’m not ashamed to admit, I use the library a lot these days!

Any parting words?

If you’d like to receive a touching short story once a month, please sign up on my website.


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Morgan Tarpley is an award-winning newspaper reporter and photographer in Louisiana. She is also a novelist currently seeking representation. Besides writing and traveling to more than a dozen countries, her interests include acting in her local theater group, genealogy, photography, and singing. She resides in Louisiana with her husband.

For more information about Morgan, visit her website (www.morgantarpley.com) and blog she writes with her husband (www.wanderersforlife.com). You can also connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, or Goodreads.





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