I am delighted to share this interview with Megan Kinney, a fellow South Dakotan and dear friend. We grew up across the street from each other and I’m so proud of her!
Congratulations on your upcoming novel, Dakota Peace! What was the inspiration behind this novel?
Thanks! Years ago, three police officers in my hometown were shot and two were killed. As the wife of a law enforcement officer, it struck me pretty hard. The dispatcher working the fatal call recited the last call for the officer at his funeral, and I couldn’t stop thinking about what a traumatic experience that would have been. So the story of a dispatcher suffering from burnout was born. But I needed more conflict. Then I remembered a story from a talk show about a foster parent who kidnapped their foster child because the state was going to take him away and give him to another family. Since I’ve been a foster parent for over a decade, it seemed like an interesting and doable plot: A handsome state trooper and a burned-out dispatcher searching for a kidnapped foster child on the edge of the beautiful Badlands of South Dakota.
I know you have been writing for a very long time. If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?
In order to become an author you need to study the craft of writing. There are so many amazing resources that I wish I had sixteen years ago, when I began this journey. I felt like I stumbled in the dark for many years. Then, search for other writers who write the same genre as you, and join a writer’s group. In my case, I decided to start one because I couldn’t find one that met my needs. I was surprised at how many aspiring authors I was surround by. Writing can be an isolating career so the support I’ve found through my writing friends, both local and online, has been vital when I was the most discouraged.
What is one of the hardest things you’ve found about writing? How have you pushed through it?
When my editor sent my manuscript back after the first round of edits, I was devastated. Thousands of words had been cut and what was left needed a total overhaul. I felt like a failure, had a mini-pity party, then decided that I needed to have a more teachable attitude. My editor was experienced and I needed to trust her judgment. In the end, the finished product was far superior to the original and I’m forever thankful that she pushed me to my limit.
What online resources have you found that have helped you in your writing journey?
I’m a member of American Christian Fiction Writers. They provide tons of resource information, including a scribes loop where members critique each other’s chapters. It’s a great way to get valuable feedback. They host writers conferences, which are attended by several big name authors, agents, publishers, and editors in the Christian market. I belong to a few Facebook groups where authors and aspiring authors offer suggestions on resources. The Writing Gals is my favorite.
What books would you recommend for other writers?
For fiction writers, I recommend Writing Deep Viewpoint by Kathy Tyers and Save the Cat! Writes a Novel by Jessica Brody. Write His Answer by Marlene Bagnull is a devotional to encourage Christian writers, and Your First 1000 Copies by Tim Grahl is a great tool to help authors market their books. Even if you publish under a traditional publisher you need to do your own marketing along with your publisher.
Do you have more novels in the works?
Right now I’m working on a short novella to give out to my newsletter subscribers. Dakota Dreams is about a nanny of four kids, who’s in love with their rancher dad and pretending that playing mom is enough. Then an audacious veterinarian literally crashes into their lives and leaves them all in chaos. I have a couple of idea for sequels to Dakota Peace. One is about a police psychologist having to confront her past when she’s forced to care for her abusive and dying father. The other is about a timid antique shop owner with a felony record, who helps a sex trafficking victim and ends up discovering an entire trafficking ring.
Is there anything else you’d like us to know?
Your dreams can come true, but unlike the movies, it requires a lot of hard work. However, there are so many amazing people who have already succeeded and are willing to help if you have a teachable spirit. Dakota Peace is set to launch February 2020 and you can find more information about my newsletter at megankinney.net or follow me on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Email me at [email protected] if you have any questions. Thanks!
You may be able to meet Megan Kinney at my booth at the South Dakota Festival of Books! Please drop by for more information on her book.