Author Karen Mc Dermott (The Visitor) was more than happy to take part in a Q&A session with Write Note Reviews in August 2012.
When did you know you wanted to be a writer?
I suppose deep down I always knew but when I didn’t have a positive experience of English when I was at school I never believed I was good enough to be a writer.
What are some of the highlights and lowlights of your writing journey?
Writing for me is fulfilling. It is a fabulous journey and I never ceased to be amazed. I was gifted that I began writing in a supportive positive environment at adoptamum.com. The ladies on the site encouraged and supported me and most of all believed in me, which filled me full of passion to keep going. I began to discover my strengths and take some chances. I connected with my inner writer and I allow that to guide me. I have no expectations of my writing I just go with the flow of it. I have low times when I don’t feel like writing and that’s OK because there is still work going on behind the scenes that I am not fully conscious of. It reveals itself in time.
Your first book was The Visitor. Tell me a bit about why you wrote it and what you hope readers get out of it.
I wrote it because I wanted to gift women who endured the same pain I did with the understanding I received. When I had this realisation I was comforted in knowing that my miscarriage happened for a reason; it was a visitor that came into my life for a short time to help shift me onto the right track. I have since been told that this book helps those who are looking for an answer in life and that it gives comfort through grief. I am proud that I have gifted many people in this way.
Which character in The Visitor are you most like, and why?
I am like Carrie because she tells my story. This book was about healing for me and is also part of my spiritual awakening.
What can you tell us about your current project?
I have since written The Wish Giver and it is currently in production and due out this year. It is the next book in The Enlightenment Series after The Visitor. I had started writing The Memory Taker but I was guided that the Wish Giver should come first. It is a ‘be careful what you wish for because you don’t know what journey you may have to take to receive it’ type of book. This book is not the emotional rollercoaster that The Visitor is but it has a story to tell all the same and I really enjoyed writing it. I am now writing The Memory Taker. As you can imagine, dealing with the subject of Alzheimer’s is complex but I hope to approach the subject with compassion. I have been doing a lot of research and interviewing people about their experiences. I am inspired to write about this because it is something that some people endure at the end of their lives, it doesn’t define their life but it leaves a mark on those they leave behind. I hope that my reasoning gives those close to sufferers comfort and an alternative understanding.
In The Visitor you say, “From all negative situations is the potential for a positive outcome”. Have you always had this philosophy? If not, how did it come about for you?
I was always a ruthlessly positive person when I was growing up. A spoilt first child, I always got what I wanted and although I had a big heart, it didn’t shine through to everyone! I went through a dark time in my life where I suffered post-traumatic stress; luckily I had worked for almost four years in the mental health sector and so I understood what was happening to me. I knew that I had to be kind to myself and not over-commit to anything. I took it one day at a time and each day I got a little stronger. Looking back I know it was my miscarriage that gave me the wakeup call I needed. From then my life changed and when I moved to Australia I have become more positive and live my life in love. I do have low days too but that’s OK!
Is it hard for you to see the positive sometimes?
There can always be a positive from most situations, it just may not be revealed at the time or in the way you may expect. If everything is going against me it is for a reason and so I no longer push. I embrace the flow of life and emotion. There are always going to be challenging times in life especially at times of grief, but if we are in a positive place when we encounter them we don’t fall so far and so we can heal and recover more easily.
What’s your remedy for negative thinking or pity parties?
For me I stop myself, take a deep breath and begin again. I try to be aware of my thoughts because thoughts are powerful energy and our energy can affect those around us. Being a mum of four it pays off in the long run for me to be more positive. We all have the choice about how we are going to react to any given situation; I never blame anyone else for something because I am the owner of my own thoughts, emotions and reactions.
Getting rejection letters seems to be part and parcel of the publishing process. Think back to the day you received your first rejection letter – what words of wisdom would you give yourself?
I am pretty resilient and don’t hold expectation and so I don’t get disappointed very often. But I would have to advise anyone, do not give up because ‘where there is a will there is always a way’. Keep your options open as another unexpected door may open for you. Everyone’s writing journey is different and it is something that should be enjoyed and individual. Be true to yourself.
What’s your favourite word? Happiness
If you could pick five writers to have dinner with you, who would you choose and why?
- Marian Keyes – I love her writing.
- Cecelia Ahern – I was inspired how she integrated magic into her books.
- Sara Foster – I like her energy and writing.
- Anna Jacobs – She lives in Mandurah and has published over 50 books. I met her once and felt connected to how she described herself as a storyteller which I too feel that I am.
- Jodi Picoult – I would like to connect with her.