Today’s featured debut author is Katie McKnight, whose husband underwent surgery at the age of 25 in order to repair a hole in his heart. “This was the first grown-up problem in our marriage,” she told me, “and I had a difficult time dealing with it.” What Katie decided to do was keep a diary as a way to express her fears, and soon her journals turned into fictional stories. Twenty years later, and after completing online writing courses, Katie’s first novel, Secrets Revealed, was born. And her husband’s heart is healthy!
Name of book: Secrets Revealed
Book genre: Suspenseful romance
Pub date: August 1, 2013
What is your day job? I work in the middle school my children attend. They love that…not! I also work as a reference verifier for a background firm.
What is your book about? The book is about a Broadway actress named Melanie O’Shaughnessy and her new husband, Hollywood heartthrob Ryan Carlisle. Work obligations force the young couple to live on opposite ends of the country a good part of the year. With their latest projects completed, they leave work, fans and the paparazzi behind to enjoy an overdue holiday vacation. When a secret from Melanie’s past brings the celebration to a horrifying halt, Melanie fears a public scandal. What she doesn’t realize is that someone in her life is masterminding a plan for murder.
Why did you want to write this book? I wanted to quiet the characters in my head. It still mystifies me that an idea can haunt you until you get it on paper.
What would you say is the most challenging part of writing a book? There are so many challenging parts. I found editing to be the most challenging. Letting the manuscript go was also difficult. Even after I submitted the manuscript, I continued to reread and change the story.
Did you conduct any kind of research in order to write this book (visit certain locales, etc.)? My protagonist is a Broadway actress. I spent a great deal of time reading books written by stage actors and actresses to get a feel for the job. I attended Broadway shows with my friends (best part). I also read psychology books to help me understand the mindset for different personalities.
What motivates you to write? I love writing. Even on the days my characters fall silent, I find something to write about. I have a theater background, so stepping out of my shoes and into a character’s life is enjoyable. My son mentioned that my facial expressions change while I write. Since I enjoy writing in the park, I often wonder what people think when they cross my path.
Did you experience writer’s block? I did not experience writer’s block until I began writing my second book. In an attempt to overcome writer’s block, I either turn to my outline and build on a character’s background or walk away from the computer and allow a scene to play out in my head.
How long did it take you to write this book? It took five years to complete Secrets Revealed. After completing the first draft, my computer crashed. The damage to the hard drive was severe enough that computer experts could not retrieve the file. Luckily, I printed each chapter and stored it in a notebook. In between soccer games, football practices and real life, I retyped the manuscript, participated in writing classes and finally completed the final draft. Every story I write is now saved on three computers and a memory stick.
Tell me about the publishing process. Was it easier or more difficult than you thought it would be? The publishing process is a rollercoaster ride. I spent a great deal of time researching small publishers interested in my genre. Waiting for a response from publishers regarding their interest in the manuscript is painful. The rejections are torture. The greatest feeling is the day a publisher extends a contract.
What would you say is the biggest misconception about writing a book? The biggest misconception is that an author’s only job is to write a story. Ha! Authors are required to learn every aspect of the publishing process. When the book is released, their most important role is marketer.
What was your favorite aspect of the writing process for this book? I enjoy writing the second draft. The first draft of Secrets Revealed was heavy on plot. The second time around, the characters became real people. This enabled me to intertwine plot and story.
What tools/methods will you employ to promote your book? The moment I signed the contract with Eternal Press, I started my own website and a blog. I also opened an author page on Facebook where I play games with friends and followers. My book trailer is available on all of my social media pages. Once the book is released, I plan to actively promote the book using email, newspaper and book signings.
What advice would you give to writers regarding promotion? Network with other authors as well as readers. People get annoyed when you overpromote your book. Play games, interact and offer prizes. I included my family and friends in the entire process. My son photographed the picture on my book jacket. The tagline came from friends and the book title was my sister’s idea.
And you’re writing another book in the meantime? Yes. My current project is in its early stages. The story is about a woman who learns her entire life is a lie.
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 do agree. I feel blessed to have this book published but admit it took a great deal of work to get this far. In addition to hard work, writers also need a thick skin. There were so many times I wanted to give up. I’ve learned to allow myself a short time for sorrow, and then I brush off the disappointment and get back to work.