Monday, January 2, 2012

No Story to Tell by K.J. Steele: Interview

K.J. Steel is a new author on the scene and I am honored to be a part of her tour with Pump Up Your Books. I think you will find K.J. delightful and engaging, and you simply must check out her novel No Story to Tell. My review and a guest post are forthcoming tomorrow and Wednesday.

About the Author:

KJ Steele is an emerging writer who has learned that the process is not so much about choosing what to write as it is about having the courage to write what chooses to be written. Having spent the first half of her life creating an amazing family with her husband, Victor, she intends to spend the rest of it creating equally amazing fiction.

About the Novel:

Victoria Lackey, a once extraordinarily promising dancer, now finds herself mired down in a joyless marriage, tending to a heart full of secrets, her dream of being a dancer buried deep within her.

Buried within her, that is, until Elliot, a newcomer to the small, gritty town of Hinckly and a sensual artist, recognizes the dancer’s spirit within her. Believing in her abilities, he encourages her to open a dance studio, something previously forbidden by Victoria’s boorish husband, Bobby.

With Elliot’s attentions sparking the flame of desire within her, Victoria suddenly begins to receive softly seductive anonymous telephone calls. Encouraged by her best friend, Rose, Victoria slowly allows herself to start enjoying the calls, eventually creating a perfect fantasy lover in her mind. Eventually, she slips from listener to speaker and begins to divulge the intimate and profound secrets that haunt her soul.

Inevitable tensions begin to arise between Victoria and Bobby as he attempts to keep her new-found freedom from taking root. Desperate to resuscitate the woman she was truly meant to be, Victoria is in for the struggle of her life. With a burden of secrets collapsing around her and a life hanging in jeopardy if she embraces her own, Fate devilishly delivers her to an impossible fork in the road.  

Author Interview:

1.    Describe what it’s like to be an author in three words.

Challenging. Exposing. Illuminating.

2.    What is your favorite genre of literature?

My preference is for literary-fiction. However, I once had a Literature professor who made us read several books in entirely different genres. Through that experience, I gained a huge appreciation for some of the other genres, as well. I was especially surprised to find myself enjoying the world of Science-fiction, which I’d previously stayed away from.

3.     At what point in your life did you realize you wanted to be a writer?
I believe the gift of writing was innate for me. I never really consciously thought about being a writer, though, until I took a writing class later in life. I had come to a crossroads in my life that many, if not all of us, eventually arrive at. I had completed one stage of my life, and was exploring a bit, looking for the ‘something’ that would undergird the next stage. I had always had an interest in words. I loved to read and, although I was not a person who habitually wrote, I stood in fascination of those who did. So, I decided to take a writing class. Our first assignment was to create ‘two characters and a conflict, and write a paragraph.’ That simple. Except that when my pencil found that awaiting page . . . it exploded into a 388 page novel, usurping huge swaths of my life in the meantime! When I tell people that No Story to Tell is a story that demanded to be told . . . I am speaking quite literally.

4.    What would you consider to be the best book you have ever read?

A very difficult question to answer, really. I have different books that I consider the best for different reasons. Vladimir Nabokov’s Lolita is high on my list. As is Roddy Doyle’s A Star Called Henry. Rohinton Mistry’s A Fine Balance. I love the great Russian classics. To pick just one is painful. And tomorrow, it could be different! So, I must defer.

5.    How do you react to a bad review of your book?

Fortunately, I’ve not had a truly bad review. Some people have found the reality of my book challenging. It’s not a breezy read. Which isn’t to say that it’s not fast-paced and engaging. It definitely is. But, it asks something from the reader in addition to being mere entertainment. However, so far, everyone has been completely absorbed into its world, and characters. So, even if the premise of the story-line is difficult for some people, the quality of the writing has won them over. If someone eventually feels differently, that is okay with me. I’ve written an honest, deeply moving book. People will react to that in different ways.

6.    Are the names of the characters in your novels important?  How and why?

Great question! Thank you for asking about that. I believe names are very important. I’m forever noticing interesting combinations of names and vocations in real life. For instance, Dr Gore, who is a local surgeon! So yes, names are very important in my novel. They are our tags, our identifiers. In my novel, the protagonist, Victoria, has had her name reduced down from the name of a Queen, Victoria, to just Vic (a boy’s name). It is indicative of the circumstances of her life, and symbolic of

the struggle she must now endure to return to her rightful place. A regaining of her own power. There is only one person through-out the whole novel who never reduces her name to Vic. And this is also very illuminating. Other characters, too, have had their names altered, retaining their childhood pet-names, which gives insight into their psyches. I think I could write an essay on just the importance of names alone in this novel!

7.    Do you enjoy giving interviews?

I actually really enjoy the times I get to interact with my readers. By necessity, writing can be a rather lonesome occupation. I find it refreshing to be able to give an interview. And, I love it when readers touch-base with me through my web-site,(, Goodreads, or Facebook to share their thoughts.
8.    How much impact does your childhood have on your writing?

We didn’t sit around and talk much as a family when I grew up. I was sort of un-tethered, so-to-speak. There was a great deal of conflict within my family, but no one spoke about it to any emotional degree. So, I grew up observing the behaviors, and patterns of behaviors, of those around me. That ability to peer beneath the veneer of human existence greatly influenced my ability to bring great depth and complexity to my characters.

9.    What was the greatest thing you learned in school?

Don’t challenge the new English teacher! (Who, I found out later, had a degree in psychology!) This is quite a funny story. It was the first day of school in September, and our grade–11 English class had just been introduced to our new teacher. Let’s call him Mr. Saint. Anyhow, a few of us more challenging students were sitting, not in desks as the common-kids were doing, but rather, we had elevated ourselves to the rank of being haphazardly perched on-top of the counters that ran along one side of the room. “Please take a desk,” Mr. Saint had asked calmly. So calmly, and completely in control in fact, that several of my co-conspirators did exactly that. He waited. A few more slithered off the counter and squished themselves into a desk. Only I remained. Alone. Defiant. Waiting to see what he would do now. Kick me out to go read in the hallway? Give me an after-school detention (that I wouldn’t go to)? No. He told me to go to the office and get a spare . . . for the rest of the year! What? No fair! That was not how the game worked. You always got a warning or four-hundred before a teacher ever really did anything that drastic. I was hooped. It took me quite a bit of talking to get him to allow me back into class. He became my favorite teacher–English my favorite class. And that truly is the greatest thing I learned in school!

10.    Do you admire your own work?

I do. It may sound funny to hear me say so, but when I write, the words come from such a deep place within me, that when I re-read it, it is often like reading someone else’s work. So, I admire that part of me that is able to create so much reality onto the page with such fresh and vivid imagery.

11.    Who else’s work do you admire?

I actually admire the work of anyone who can form a world inside me, that causes me to disconnect with my own. Obviously, all the well-known writers are masters at this, but I’ve read many unpublished writers who have this ability as well. And I admire that in them. It takes courage to write deeply and honestly, and then allow others to join you on that journey.

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