First-time author Kellianne Sweeney joins us in the forum today. She’s truly wonderful. Her novel "The One That Got Away" is a sweeping story of reincarnation that spans history. It’s a fascinating premise that I look forward to hearing more about.
Tim Greaton: What’s the most important story you ever read and why?
Kellianne Sweeney: James Michener’s novel “Hawaii” was an important book to me. It is a beautiful, sweeping tale of stories within stories and contains such full and incredibly developed characters from many walks of life. I found it to be amazing and inspiring. It is an excellent example of the qualities I just mentioned as well as historical fiction.
Tim Greaton: Did you always want to become a writer, and was there a particular person or event that caused you to move in that direction?
Kellianne Sweeney: When I was a child I spent quite a bit of my time writing and illustrating stories. I added journaling and poetry as I got older. Throughout my life I would often have stories and philosophical meanderings playing in my mind. Writing and illustrating was a creative and expressive outlet for me, but wasn’t really intended for others. At some point in the midst of my hectic, adult life it occurred to me that I wanted to share my writing as an author. For many years after that I still did not pursue it due to time constraints being busy with Life in general. Recently, however, I made the decision that I was going to run out of somedays if I didn’t get serious about becoming an author.
My sixth grade teacher’s words still ring in my ears today: “Kelli, I fully expect that you will become a published author/illustrator.” I didn’t believe him at the time, but it meant a lot to a shy, insecure girl.
Tim Greaton: Do you find yourself writing about specific types of characters, or do you find they change a lot from story to story?
Kellianne Sweeney: I make concerted efforts to keep my characters different. I don’t want them to blend together. I would say that an underlying characteristic for most of them is that they find strength within themselves, even despite themselves, when faced with adversity. I strive to have my characters well developed.
Tim Greaton: Have you found writing has fit easily into your lifestyle, or has it been a challenge to carve out the time and energy to create novels?
Kellianne Sweeney: I am laughing at this question! No, writing does not fit easily into my life. While I was writing “The One That Got Away” I was working fulltime as a Kindergarten teacher and taking care of my family of six. I managed this only by awakening at four o’clock in the morning to write before my day started. I have come to love that part of my day. It is just me and my coffee and my ideas at dark-thirty in the morning.
Tim Greaton: When you’re creating a story, do you imagine yourself inside the character’s head as the story unwinds, or do you have another mental process that helps you to build exciting plots and satisfying endings?
Kellianne Sweeney: My writing process begins with daydreaming. Most of my writing ideas come to me while I’m doing something else, particularly when I’m driving or being driven. When I am writing, I see a movie in my head. I write what I am seeing. It flows freely by pen into a spiral notebook. After I have written a couple of chapters I go back and revise it as I type it into my laptop. Then I revise those same chapters again before returning to the spiral notebook to continue the story. A final revision comes at the end of the story. I rarely get writer’s block. If that happens, I take a break and go back to the daydreaming stage until I’ve worked through it.
Tim Greaton: What is the title of your latest book, and could you tell us a little about the story?
Kellianne Sweeney: The name of my first novel is “The One That Got Away”. When I began writing this book, my intention was to write a reincarnation story to allow myself to jump in and out of history. I adore history. I wanted to write stories within a story. I would create a character that was too busy and jaded to be bothered with such nonsense and I would force her to believe it. As I was writing, I began to ponder how I could weave Heaven into the picture. Then I had the same thought about ghosts. People wonder about these things, but generally assume that you have to choose one to believe. What if they could all be connected somehow? This idea caused the novel to become bigger than itself, and it became apparent to me that a sequel was required.
Tim Greaton: Did you fully have to do a lot of research for the book, or did was most of the world building done in your head fictionally?
Kellianne Sweeney: I am such a history geek that when I was a teenager, I used to research periods of history for no required reason. The eras that I used in my novel are a few that I had previously researched all of those years ago. I had to do some brush up research on the Titanic portion of my novel for details and to assure that the sequence of events were timed correctly.
Tim Greaton: Is there a particular scene in your book that you were worried might not work…that maybe your readers would either be confused by or maybe even be offended by?
Kellianne Sweeney: My biggest concern was that the pieces would come together coherently in the end. When I read books and watch movies I enjoy twists and a nonlinear style. I have tried to write in this way. I want to keep my reader guessing. Of course, the challenge there is to makes sure it does flow and fit together at the end.
Tim Greaton: Which character in the story did you enjoy writing about the most, and was he/she based on a real person?
Kellianne Sweeney: My favorite character is Meg Larkin. She is loud, boisterous, emotional and amusing. She says exactly what comes into her mind and acts straight from her heart. This is a blessing and a curse to her, but she is unable to act differently. Meg is not based on a real person. The only character in the story that is based on a person that I know is the little girl Anna Parker. Her personality is unabashedly stolen from my daughter. The character Violet Jessop is an actual figure in history.
Tim Greaton: You mentioned that there is a sequel coming?
Kellianne Sweeney: Yes, there is definitely a sequel coming. I have already started writing it. At the end of “The One That Got Away” there are still questions that require more detailed answers. The sequel continues the story from a different person’s point of view.
Tim Greaton: Just for fun, if you could magically become a real character living inside a book that some author has written, who would it be and why?
Kellianne Sweeney: I would love to be a character traipsing through the land of Prydian from Lloyd Alexander’s Young Adult series that begins with “The Book of Three” or participating in adventures in one of the worlds that L. Frank Baum created. Of course L. Frank Baum wrote the “Wizard of Oz” but he also wrote sequels about Oz as well as stories that take place in other worlds. I would love to go play in one of those magical places that you only find in an excellent imagination.
Tim Greaton: It would be great if you could share your website/blogsite and links to where our audience could directly purchase your books.
Kellianne Sweeney: My novel “The One That Got Away” is available in all formats at most online bookstores including Amazon and Barnes and Noble.
More information about my novel can be found on my website at http://www.kelliannesweeney.com.
I also invite everyone to come visit my blog http://blogkelliannesweeneydeardiary.com
Tim Greaton: It has been wonderful having you here in the forum today, Kellianne. I think all our readers would agree that your novel sounds fascinating and that we should all be rushing online to get more details right now.
Kellianne Sweeney: I really enjoyed being here, Tim. It’s always fun sharing with readers.