Author Interview: Mary Kendall

As a child, what did you want to do when you grew up?

I wanted to be a writer.

What do you feel your “author aesthetic” is?

My author’s aesthetic is a mash-up: hot black coffee, sleeping cat next to me, overcast day, vintage Nancy Drew cover print on wall, DJ Taz Rashid background music, gothicky vibes…

Have you ever considered writing under a pseudonym, and why or why not?

I do currently write under a pen name. The reason: my actual name was already taken in the twentieth century by a famous Irish short story writer. Imposter syndrome is tough enough without trying to match that.

What do the words “writer’s block” mean to you?

An excuse. I personally can get “lazy block” and “procrastination block” but I don’t believe in “writer’s block”.

At what point do you think someone should call themselves a writer?

In my opinion, if someone has a writing “habit”, they should call themselves a writer. By habit, I mean they find themselves writing bits in notebooks, on the laptop, on shopping lists or wherever often. The problem is writers are an insecure group by large so they feel the need for validation from outside sources before they can officially take on the nomenclature. And that’s a shame. (I know this from experience in that I kept my little writing “habit” a secret from most until I was published.)

Do you prefer ebooks, printed books, or audiobooks most of the time?

I am a reader that needs to hold a physical copy of a book to have the best reading experience. But that’s just me. I also understand and know the value of ebooks and audiobooks as some people connect with those mediums better instead.

Have you ever traveled as research for your book?

My second novel, Campbell’s Boy, took eleven years from start to publication. It went through numerous drafts, changes in points of view and overall muck-ups. About six years into the process, I had the good fortune to travel to the actual setting of Colusa, California. That was a game changer for writing the novel to physically be in the place. The inspiration from that trip led me to finishing it and then eventually finding a publisher for it.

How did you come up with the title for your book?

Titles are so tricky. I think it’s an organic process and they sort of rise up along the way when working on the project. For both of my novels, I went ‘round and ‘round with various ideas until it was like a litmus test. The titles eventually rose up and I just knew they were the ones.

What would you say to an author who wanted to design their own cover?

I would say go for it—-just make sure you do your homework in knowing what works on a cover and what doesn’t. One of the most rewarding experiences thus far in my writing career has been designing the cover for my second novel—but I did enlist the help of a book cover designer to ensure it ticked off the necessary items for a compelling cover.

How do you process and deal with negative book reviews?

I feel it’s helpful to me to read all the reviews I get whether they be negative or positive. Both sides of the coin have the potential to make me a better writer. It’s important to know how readers connect or do not connect with what I have written. Each reader will have their own personal experience with my novels and I am not a part of that. But I am curious about how that experience goes for them nonetheless.

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