Daily Archives: March 31, 2007

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Author Interview with Mary Kennedy -part one

March 31, 2007 by in category Archives tagged as

by Marianne Donley

Mary Kennedy is a multi-published author, and a clinical psychologist in private practice on the east coast. She specializes in forensic work, and her clients have included murderers, psychopaths and convicted felons. When not traveling to exotic locales, she lives with her husband and five neurotic cats. The cats have resisted all her efforts to psychoanalyze them, but she remains optimistic.

She writes young adult novels, middle grade fiction and mysteries. She has sold 37 novels, and has made both the Waldenbooks, BookScan and Publishers Weekly best-seller lists. Mary’s latest book, Secrets of a South Beach Princess, is available now from Berkley Trade.

Q – Do you find yourself returning to certain themes in your stories? What? Why?

Mary Kennedy – I do return to fish-out-water themes because I find it adds ready-made conflict to the plot. In Secrets of a South Beach Princess, my latest Berkley book, the heroine is blonde, rich and famous. She’s the “It” girl of South Beach, the daughter of a wealthy hotel owner. Yet even though her life is all “glitz and glamour” she never feels quite at home in this environment and strives for a new identity.

Jessie, in Tales of a Hollywood Gossip Queen, is another example. She’s a small town girl who finds herself working for an A-List magazine in Hollywood, interviewing stars on the red carpet and mingling with celebs. Yet she never quite fits in, and sometimes her small town values put her at odds with the Hollywood “players.”

The interesting part about fish-out-of-water stories is that you have to decide whether the main character blends in with her new environment, assimilating new values, or whether she stays true to her roots. And sometimes it’s a combination of both!

Q – You’ve written so much…how do you keep your ideas and writing fresh? (How do you keep finding new ways to say similar things?)

Mary Kennedy – I think that’s part of the challenge of writing–to explore familiar themes with a new twist. And sometimes even a very simple idea can develop into a complex plot if you remember to “up the ante” for the main character. In Confessions of an Almost-Movie Star, Jessie is thrust into the limelight when she lands a movie role opposite a Hollywood hunk –but there’s a price to pay when she realizes her best friend wanted the same part. Instant conflict!

Q – Do you have any writing rituals? Schedule?

Mary Kennedy – I don’t have a writing schedule but I make sure every minute I spend at the computer counts! I started out as a copywriter at a rock radio station, and I learned to write an enormous amount of material every day in spite of constant noise and distractions. I moved on to become a television newswriter and that was great training,too. A high-pressure environment, killer deadlines, no second-guessing. You learn to write fast, to be focused and productive, and to not make mistakes.”

Q – What kind of writer are you? A page a day or a burst writer?

Mary Kennedy – I try to write a scene every time I sit down at the computer. And I try to never leave the computer unless I feel good about what I’ve written and unless I know what the next couple of scenes will be like. It’s hard to go to bed if you know you have a “problem” waiting for you when you get back to the computer the next day. It’s much better to know you’ll be able to tackle a new scene–and a new problem–in the morning.”

Q – Are there any words of inspiration on your computer, in your office or in your mind when you write?

Mary Kennedy – “Never give up and never let them get you down.” Also, “Never accept a ‘no’ answer from someone who doesn’t have the authority to say yes.” Both these phrases have been helpful to me in business, in writing and in life.

Q – What’s the best advice you ever received?

Mary Kennedy – The never let them get you down quote. It came from my father who believed in the power of persistence.

Q – What’s the worst?

Mary Kennedy – My fifth grade teacher who told me she didn’t think comedy was my forte.

Q – Have you ever suffered writer’s block? If so, how did/do you get past it?

Mary Kennedy – No, honestly, I haven’t. Taping the Visa bill to the fridge is amazingly energizing.

Q – How do you stay motivated? What drives you to keep writing?

Mary Kennedy – Like all writers, I have dozens of characters and plots running in my head at any given time. Every once in a while I decide that one of them deserves to be in a book. To date, that has only happened thirty-seven times but who knows?

Q – What are you dying to try next?

Mary Kennedy – I’d love to write for television, but since Hollywood isn’t calling, I guess I’ll have to put that at the bottom of my wish list. More realistically, I’d like to put my forensic psychology experience into a book.

Mary will be using her psychology experience to teach OCC/RWA’s April Online Class is INSIDE THE CRIMINAL MIND: CREATING THE PERFECT PSYCHOPATH.

Her class will run from April 16 to May 13 (four weeks). COST: $20 for OCC members and $30 for non-member. Enrollment deadline is April 14, 2007.

For more information about the class including how to enroll, please see our website http://occrwa.com/classes_April.htm

Part two of Mary’s interview will be posted tomorrow.

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