Like many of my writer friends, I met Kaye through membership in Sisters in Crime. Kaye is the tireless president of the Guppies chapter of SINC. She has rocked in this leadership role and her time and efforts are greatly appreciated by all. I love what Kaye says about how writers are unique animals. It’s so true. We need to stick together and support one another. She is the perfect example of that type of support. Here is a bit about Kaye in her own words:
1. Describe your writing routine and/or schedule?
I’m not a morning person, so I try to get through emails and administrivia in the morning, saving my writing for the afternoon when I can get serious and concentrate. If I didn’t have a husband who posed as the model for Morning Person, I’d probably start writing at about ten at night and go until two or three. Then sleep all morning.
2. What do you do if you get writer’s block?
I can’t say I’ve ever had writer’s block, as others describe it. I do get stuck on a plot knot sometimes and am adept at finding excuses to avoid working on those. But I think my subconscious is doing my work for me. Sometimes a solution will come to me just as I wake up, sometimes in the middle of the night, so the time off isn’t really idle time–it’s me letting my subconscious work.
I’ve noticed that I can direct that subconsciousness. When I’m painting, I’ll wake up with fully formed ideas for a painting. When I’m composing music, themes will get stuck in my head and I’ll have to write them down to get them out. Same thing with writing. When I’m writing, that’s what my mind works on, whether I’m doing it consciously or not. Good thing I don’t have to rely on what I actually think up when I’m awake.
3. Who do you read, or recommend other writers read, in regards to craft?
I’ve read tons of books on writing. As I go through, I underline passages that speak to me, knowing that I MUST take note of these gems of brilliance. Then I never open the book again. I’ve gotten more out of taking courses, I think. I did a weekend with Donald Maas and I did one with Mary Buckham. Those were both pure gold for me. I’ve also taken other valuable courses from Kris Neri, Margie Lawson, and Laurie Schnebly.
4. Who do you read for fun?
Almost no one these days. I’d love to have more time for that! My first love was always mysteries and that’s why I’m writing them. But now that I’ve learned so much about the craft of writing mysteries, I can’t read them for pleasure; I end up studying every mystery I read. I also have committed to reading books to review for “Suspense Magazine”, so there’s little time for anything else.
When I do have a break to read for fun, I leave mysteries and read biographies and light, fluffy things like Maeve Binchy. She’s a real palate cleanser. Also women’s mainstream fiction, like Barbara Kingsolver and Anne Tyler, though I haven’t read any of them for a long time now.
5. When did you first know you wanted to be a writer? Tell us about it.
I think I’ve always liked to tell a story. I was read to as a child and well after I could read. My crayon drawings in kindergarten had to be narrated by me when I showed them to people. There was always a story, never just a drawing. I read a lot of comics later and drew comic strips. When I could finally read real books, I started writing them. My first two “novels” were written in fifth grade. One of them was about the Loch Ness Monster, which I cast as a plesiosaur who had been separated from the rest of her herd, who still lived in the ocean. The story was about her escaping Loch Ness and finding her family.
6. What advice would you give an aspiring writer?
Read! Write, write a lot. You aren’t a good writer when you start out, you have to develop your craft and your voice, your style. I recommend getting feedback. I know some writers don’t like to have their work critiqued. Those are usually, not always, the ones who need it! When you get suggestions, consider them. If they sting, put them away for a month, then look again. There may or may not be merit in the critique, but you can’t tell that when the sting is still fresh. And don’t take advice that doesn’t feel right for you. Including what I’ve just said.
7. What do you think is the most important skill to have to succeed as a writer?
The ability to watch and listen, and get people down on the page as they are. I’m not saying to copy actual people, just note traits and mannerisms that you could possibly use, and store those away. Listen to phrasing and what people talk about. I will admit that I have copied overheard conversations verbatim and used them, or parts of them. You’ll never dream up stuff as good as what you overhear.
8. What is your favorite food and/or drink?
Chocolate and Scotch. They go well together, too.
9. Do you have a favorite book or movie?
I forgot to mention these writers above, since I was thinking about novels. I read O. Henry and Mark Twain over and over. They are my short story gurus. I’ve said before that I would die happy if I could write a short story as good as O. Henry’s worst one.
10. Is there anything I didn’t ask you that you’d like to share?
I’ll get weird here. I’m talking to writers, right? If you are a writer, you are not like other people. It is good to seek out others of your own kind so you won’t feel so abnormal. We are the only ones who know what it means to finish a first draft, even if you’re still months away from anything anyone can read. We can also support each other through the inevitable reject that piles up and weighs us down. We are solitary creatures, but we do need each other. Thanks so much for letting me appear here, Kristi!
BIO: Kaye George is a twice-Agatha-nominated novelist and short story writer. She belongs to Sisters in Crime and Guppies. Her stories have been published separately and in several anthologies. She reviews for “Suspense Magazine” and blogs for a group blogs and a solo one. She and her husband live near Waco, Texas. Visit http://kayegeorge.com/ for more details.