Today’s featured debut author is Kellie Larsen Murphy, a freelance writer who has worked in both the banking and publishing industries. In recent years, she has written on a variety of subjects and has been featured frequently in several mid-Atlantic magazines. Her debut novel, A Guilty Mind, is the first in a series featuring Detective Michael Cancini. Kellie lives in Richmond, Virginia, with her husband, four children, and two dogs.
Name of book: A Guilty Mind
Book genre: Mystery/psychological Suspense
Date published: September 2012
What is your day job? Freelance writer and mother of 4
What is your book about? George Vandenberg is a broken man, haunted by the memory of the young woman he once loved and “accidentally” killed. When his psychiatrist turns up dead, George emerges as the primary suspect even as he becomes a target himself. To prove his innocence, George must face an unyielding detective, his manipulative wife, and the past he’s been unable to forget.
Why did you want to write this book? I remember once being at a girls’ dinner and the question came up, “If you could have any talent, what would it be?” Every single person at the table said “singing” except me. I said I wanted to be a really good writer! Freelance writing is fun and rewarding, but writing fiction is what I love best.
What would you say is the most challenging part of writing a book? For me, finding the time to write is very challenging. Often, I have to write in short periods. Also, I have a tendency to work on the same chapter over and over until I feel it’s close to right before moving on. Some writers are able to speed through a first draft but I’m not one of those.
Did you conduct any kind of research in order to write this book (visit certain locales, etc.)? I didn’t need to visit locales since I live in Richmond and previously lived in DC for 10 years (my novel is set in both cities). I did, however, consult with a psychologist (she read every draft) since the psychiatrist and his sessions with George are pivotal to the novel.
What motivates you to write? Love of books and feeling that I have stories to tell.
Did you experience writer’s block? Most of my writer’s block is a function of allowing myself to be distracted by other responsibilities.
How did you overcome it? One thing that helps me to beat my distractions is to create my own deadlines. I also set a “formal” deadline with my editor. She is very busy and knowing I am on her schedule keeps me writing.
How long did it take you to write this book? This book took many years, partially because my children were young and writing was only taking place at night after they were asleep. I also took the time to establish a local freelance writing career during those years.
Tell me about the self-publishing process. Was it easier or more difficult than you thought it would be? Formatting was harder only in the sense that I don’t consider myself particularly savvy with computer code. Still, I would have to say the overall process was much easier than I expected.
What would you say is the biggest misconception about writing a book? Many people seem to think writing a book is hard and maybe it is, but it doesn’t really feel that way to me. The writing is easy — it’s the rest of what it takes to publish a book that’s hard!
What was your favorite aspect of the writing process for this book? I absolutely love taking an imaginary character and subsequently creating something “real” on paper.
What tools/methods have you employed to promote your book? What advice would you give to writers regarding promotion? Hmmm… This is a tough question because I would be the first to say I did not have as well-thought-out a marketing plan as I should have. With A Guilty Mind, I joined most social networking sites (as most authors do), wrote a press release, and held a book launch. I have visited book clubs (and still do!) and been featured in some local publications. I’ve tried my hand at some ads but would say that has been the least successful part of my campaign. I did run a short book giveaway on Goodreads and found that to be an overall positive experience. What I would do differently, in hindsight, is to have requested advance reviews from established authors and websites as well as organize guest posts/interviews leading up to the release. If I advertised at all, I would be selective and have the ads coincide with the release.
How has life changed for you since the publication of your book? I’m busier than ever. My freelance writing is still fairly consistent and I have added marketing to my schedule along with writing my next novel. It’s harder to keep everything organized!
Do you find yourself obsessively checking sales stats? Yes, but only when I’m home. When I’m not home or out of town, I don’t check them at all.
Tell me about your next book. Yes, it’s called Stay of Execution and it is already half-written. I plan to publish it before the end of the year.
My favorite last question: Oprah once famously said that there is no such thing as luck, without preparation and a moment of opportunity. Would you agree or disagree with regard to your own success as a writer? I would agree. There are so many talented writers out there, I’m always amazed! Still, those who achieve success worked long and hard and made the most of their opportunities.