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Thursday, April 02, 2009

Author Interview ~ Kathi Macias


Kathi Macias, popular speaker and prolific author, is an Angel-award winning writer who has published nearly thirty books and hundreds of articles. Whether keyboarding her latest book, keynoting a conference, or riding on the back of her husband's Harley, Kathi “Easy Writer” Macias is a lady on a mission to communicate God’s vision. Her insightful words—filled with passion, humor and soul nourishment—refresh audiences from all walks of life. For more information, visit http://www.kathimacias.com/.

Tell us a little about your latest release:
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My Son, John is the “novel of my heart,” meaning that I’ve written others but this was the one I wanted to get published for years—and that’s exactly what it took! I wrote it in the 1980s but it is only now seeing the light of print. It simply wasn’t the right time for publication then, I suppose—though there’s a story behind that too. The book has undergone a lot of rewriting during that lengthy waiting time, but the message of unconditional love remains the same.

How did you come up with this story?

I didn’t—at least, not without a lot of nudging from God. In fact, I fought even writing it at first, but I sensed so strongly that I was supposed to research and write it—so I did. The original story had to do with a young man with AIDS in the days when it was first being talked about here in this country. Most of us knew little or nothing about it then—and that was fine with me. I honestly didn’t want to know more! But God connected me with a young man named Mark, who was a homosexual activist with AIDS and who promptly told me upon our first meeting that he hated people like me, meaning Christians. He said we were the cause of all his problems, and he made me promise NEVER to preach to him as we worked on the book. I promised, but throughout the long months we worked together, we became close friends.
We may not have had a “meeting of the minds” on many issues, but we had a “meeting of the hearts,” and one day, just as the book was completed and only a couple of weeks before Mark died, I had the privilege of leading him to Christ. It was one of the most awesome experiences of my life, and though the storyline has changed from a young man with AIDS to one accused of murder, the message of unconditional love has not changed at all.

Tell us a little about your main character and how you developed him/her:

I have many years of experience in jail and prison ministry, so my main character, John, is a composite of several inmates I met over the years. He is an intelligent young man, handsome and close to his family—until he gets caught up in a tragic scenario. The other main character, John’s mother Liz, is a composite of me and lots of other moms who, over the years, have poured out our hearts in prayer for a prodigal.

What did you enjoy most about writing this book?

I love the high level of passion throughout the book, meaning that reader involvement/identification is extremely high. Least? That same high level of passion was difficult and exhausting to maintain throughout the writing of the manuscript.

What made you start writing?

I’ve never wanted to do anything else—seriously! My husband still remembers when we were walking home from junior high one day and I told him I wanted to be a writer someday. Though by necessity I’ve worked in other professions in my lifetime, writing is where my heart is.

What does your writing space look like?

Oh my, it is anything but romantic or ideal! Though I have an entire room set apart for an office, right now it is mostly my storage place because in addition to writing, I am my almost 88-year-old mother’s primary caretaker. She lives with us and I need to be within calling distance, so I have my computer set up on my back porch, next to the washer and dryer. (Trust me, you don’t want a picture!)

What would you do with your free time if you weren’t writing?

I usually spend what little free time I have reading—yeah, I know. WAY too one-dimensional! But I come from a long line of bookworms, I’m afraid. Both my grandmothers were writers (mostly poetry); my youngest brother is a writer/editor; his wife is an author. It’s simply what we do. Everything seems to be word-related. However, for an occasional break I like to get away with my husband on his Harley—hence my road name of “Easy Writer.”

What's the most difficult part of writing for you (or was when you first started on your novel journey)?

I write/edit full time, and yet I still never seem to have enough time to complete all the projects on my plate. Right now, for instance, I have two recently released nonfiction books that I’m busy promoting, plus another nonfiction gift book releasing simultaneously with My Son, John. The marketing end of all this is HUGE and often takes me away from working on the next books—which currently means the four-book fiction series that is due to begin releasing in January 2010. But I’m grateful for such problems!

Do you put yourself into your books/characters?

I think every writer does that to some extent, and I’m certainly no exception. In My Son, John, I know there’s a lot of me in Liz’s character—maybe more so than in some of my other books.

What message do you hope readers gain from your novel?

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Above all else, may they be reminded that no sin is too great to be covered by the blood of Jesus—and that God is faithful and can reach us anytime, anywhere. It is that model of unconditional love that we must show to others.

Briefly take us through your process of writing a novel—from conception to revision.

The conception takes awhile for me. I sense this niggling thought and let it roll around in my mind for a while. When it begins to gel, then I start jotting down phrases or names or thoughts until I feel confident that I have enough to write a very rough synopsis/overview. From the holes I find in that synopsis, I begin to do the necessary research, and after that I start my sample chapters. When I have enough of all that ready to go to my agent, I begin putting together the dreaded (but necessary!) marketing plan to complete my proposal package. After that, once the book is contracted, I just push ahead with a goal of at least two or three chapters per week. I always try to finish the first draft far ahead of schedule, so I can spend time on revisions.

What are a few of your favorite books (not written by you) and why are they favorites?

I love anything written by Susan Meissner or Mary DeMuth. Their characters BREATHE! They capture me on page one and don’t let go of my heart until I’m at the end of the book. And they do it with excellent writing, rather than sensationalism. Francine Rivers and the Thoenes are also on my favorite author list (for fiction), and then I like Brennan Manning and Max Lucado for nonfiction. I also love anything that has to do with Jewish history or culture.

What do you wish you’d known early in your career that might have saved you some time and/or frustration in writing? In publishing?

I wish I’d seen how the industry was changing. I came into it when marketing and publicity and agents were something that existed only in the secular publishing world. Christian authors just wrote their books, turned them in, and went on to the next projects. I almost got left behind before someone in the industry cared enough to sit me down and say, “Get onboard with marketing and publicity, or forget about getting anymore contracts.” Wow. I always thought excellent writing was enough. Now I know it’s just the start.

You are published with a relatively new publisher called Sheaf House. Since this is a smaller house, have you found the marketing to be more difficult? What have you found that particularly works well for you?

I’ve published with some of the largest houses in the industry, as well as the smallest (and nearly everything in between), and I’ve found that marketing is just as difficult and time-consuming at each end of the spectrum. Even authors who self-publish often say to me, “I wish I could just write books like you do and leave the marketing to the publisher.” HA! I let them know right up front that it simply isn’t that way. I do have a modest speaking platform already in place, so that helps my marketing. And I have a wonderful agent and publicist and marketing expert friend, all of which came about from years of networking within the industry. I believe networking is the best and most effective marketing tool of all, regardless of the size of the publishing house.

Tell us what we have to look forward to in the future. What new projects are you working on?

I am very excited about the new four-book fiction series called the “Extreme Devotion” series, which begins releasing from New Hope Publishers in January 2010. Each of these four novels is loosely based on the life/lives of modern-day martyrs of the faith (first in South Africa, second in Mexico, third in China, fourth in Saudi Arabia). This will be a first-time fiction venture for New Hope, and we’re all very excited about it.

Do you have any parting words of advice?

If you know in your heart that God has called you to write, then do it—whether fulltime or part-time, whatever works for your personal lifestyle and family situation. But remember that being called to write does not guarantee publication. It very well may—in God’s time—but if not, that doesn’t negate the call to write. Though My Son, John was written more than twenty years ago about a young man with AIDS and it is only now being published with a major story tweak, I needed to be obedient to God to write that story as I did, when I did, because Mark needed to hear about Jesus then.

There is so much we will never know or understand (in this world) about why God calls us to do a certain thing at a certain time, but that doesn’t matter. We are called to be faithful today, whether or not we understand why or ever see the results of our efforts. Writing in/for the Christian publishing world is a glorious walk of faith, and looking back over the twenty-five years I’ve walked it, I can honestly say that I wouldn’t trade a moment of it.

10 comments:

Gina Holmes said...

Great interview. I like your taste in writers! Beautiful testimony with your dying friend. Thanks for sharing that. The new novel sounds awesome.

Elizabeth Ludwig said...

I love your gentle advice about writing if you feel called by God to do so. Thanks for the reminder that God's call doesn't guarnatee publication, it just guarantees deep contentment that can only be found in the center of His will.

Nicole said...

Lovely lady. Great interview.

Tina said...

Great interview! You are so right. Being called to write isn't always a call to publication, but writing is a worthy pursuit no matter what. Blessings.

Kathi Macias said...

Thank you for posting the interview--and thank you all for your encouraging comments. You are all such a blessing!

Julie Garmon said...

Loved this interview--the honest encouraging words. Smiled at your description of your office. :-) Was also reminded of God's faithfulness and His timing.

Thanks, Kathi.

Julie Carobini said...

Love the interview, Kathi (and NJ)! Would you believe that I remember talking with you about My Son, John back in the early 90s? I'd always wondered what had come of that, and now I know. God was so faithful to complete a good work in you :)

Julie C

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Kathy & NJ -

Fascinating interview! I'm so glad you were able to lead that young man to Christ.

Blessings,
Susan :)

Vonda Skelton said...

Thanks for letting us see your journey, Kathi! And what a great message of hope for all of us--"Don't give up on the book of your heart!"

Can't wait to read it! ;-)

DayleShockley said...

Very interesting, Kathi. I was especially moved by your sentence, "Mark needed to hear about Jesus then."

Just proves again that God's timing may seem off to us, but we shouldn't let that stop us from doing what we feel to do, "then."