Please welcome the wonderful and talented Kathleen Valenti! Her debut novel, Protocol (the first book in the Maggie O’Malley mystery series from Henery Press) launches on September 5, 2017.
And the Answer Is…
Life is full of questions.
Why are we here?
What is our purpose?
What happens if I remove my mattress tag?
Readers of The Hitchhikers’ Guide to the Galaxy know that the answer to the ultimate question of life, the universe and everything is 42.
For me, that “everything” category doesn’t seem to include author questions.
Now that I’m on the eve of the release of my first book, I find that people expect me to have answers to questions about craft, process and the path to publication.
They’re kind to have such confidence in my ability to unravel these mysteries of the writing universe. On most days, however, I feel no closer to these answers than when I typed Protocol’s first words.
I mean, sure, I’ve accumulated knowledge along the way. Heaven knows I have a whole litany of entries under What Not to Do (Again). I’ve also garnered some storytelling techniques by reading (and reading about) my favorite authors, and have formed opinions, habits and ideas.
Yet I’m still mystified about how exactly I got here.
How did I craft my plot? How did I bring my characters to life? How did find a great agent and an amazing publisher?
All I know is that I wake up every day and write the words.
And maybe that’s the answer, after all.
Authoring, like any other –ing endeavor to be pursued with passion, is about putting in the time. Making mistakes. Dusting yourself off and doing it all over again.
It’s about hard work, facing your fears, and most of all not giving up after the first “pass” or the fifth or the fiftieth.
My process? Buns in chair. Writing. Every single day.
My office: Exhibit A
Not fancy. (Obvs.) But it works for me.
And maybe that’s the other answer. (Okay, so I do have a couple of answers.)
The “right” way is the way that works for you. Stephen King is a story archeologist who unearths the tale that always wanted to be told. I’m an outliner who has to have everything figured out before “It was a dark and stormy night” hits the page.
Who’s right? Both of us. Neither of us. It’s personal, just like the books we write.
The truth is, there’s no formula. No secret sauce. No recipe that’s guarded like the recipe for Coke.
At least there isn’t for me.
Everything is a question, an adventure, a mystery to solve. And I like it that way.
So although I haven’t discovered the answer to life’s great writing questions in the number 42, I have found solace in writing, reading, connecting with others on the same journey and knowing that good things come if I put in the work (even if those “good things” are simply hard lessons). I seek. I learn. I’m happy for the experience. End of story. And beginning of story.
What about you? Have you found the answers? Do you have more questions than ever? Or has “42” been right on the money? I’d love to know.
When Kathleen isn’t writing page-turning mysteries that combine humor and suspense, she works as a nationally award-winning advertising copywriter. She lives in Oregon with her family where she pretends to enjoy running. Protocol is her debut novel and the first of the Maggie O’Malley mystery series.
Freshly minted college graduate Maggie O’Malley embarks on a career fueled by professional ambition and a desire to escape the past. As a pharmaceutical researcher, she’s determined to save lives from the shelter of her lab. But on her very first day she’s pulled into a world of uncertainty. Reminders appear on her phone for meetings she’s never scheduled with people she’s never met. People who end up dead.
With help from her best friend, Maggie discovers the victims on her phone are connected to each other and her new employer. She soon unearths a treacherous plot that threatens her mission—and her life. Maggie must unlock deadly secrets to stop horrific abuses of power before death comes calling for her.