If opportunity doesnt knock, build a door

Kaylin McFarren Interview Published on: 03, Apr 2018

Could you tell us a little about your childhood and life growing up? Was being an author something you always aimed towards?

I was born in Compton, California, of all places, and moved with my family to Torrance (near Santa Monica) at a very young age. My dad worked for United Airlines as a maintenance foreman and mechanic so I grew up traveling on airplanes every year with my two brothers to numerous cities in the U.S. in addition to skiing on every body of water in California. I honestly enjoyed reading all kinds of books and was particularly drawn to mysteries, especially Nancy Drew. By the age of ten, I was putting pencil to paper to create short stories, drawings, and a collection of poems. One of my teachers in school saw my creativity and encouraged me to keep a journal. By the age of twelve, I must have filled eight of them with my vivid imagination. However, it wasn’t until my children were grown that I considered a full-time writing career and applied myself in this direction.

When did you start out in art? What was your most memorable experience working as a director of a fine art gallery in Portland, Oregon?

I’ve always had an interest in art and discovered my love for painting while attending college. In fact, I loved art so much that I opened and operated an art gallery and wine bistro in downtown Portland’s Pearl District for seven years. I always looked forward to First Thursday art walks as we typically had 2,000 guests and became one of the most popular galleries in town. My favorite memory is when I filled a beautiful Street of Dreams house with over thirty pieces of art and received word that the new buyer wanted to purchase the house exactly the way it was shown - complete with every piece of art. This turned out to be a $60,000 transaction for my gallery and thrilled all the artists I represented.

Tell us a little about the Soulful Giving Foundation and how it came into being.

Nine years ago, my husband and I decided to form a non-profit benefiting cancer research after losing dear friends, business associates and family members to this indiscriminate disease. It wouldn’t have taken a lot of effort to issue a check to various hospitals ourselves, but involving our community in our project became our shared and dedicated purpose. In order to make this possible, I formed an eight member foundation board and orchestrated the Soulful Giving Blanket Concert - an annual summer event that features music, wine, great food, arts and crafts and includes over 3,500 ticket holders. One hundred percent of our proceeds goes to the oncology unit at Randall Children’s Hospital and to Providence Cancer Institute in Portland, and we’re proud that our honorary board includes Senator Merkley, Senator Wyden, Governor Brown and other well-known politicians and business leaders.

What does being an author mean to you? Do you write purely to entertain or do you hope to impart some sort of change?

I love the idea of being a published author and having had the opportunity to share my stories with readers of mysteries, thrillers and romance novels. It’s also exciting to be notified when one of my books wins an award, giving credence to my passion. However, what I enjoy most about the life of an author is teaching my readers something new, whether it be about treasure hunting or the secret lives of closed societies, especially those living in Japan.

What was the inspiration behind the story "Flaherty's Crossing"? What are some themes that you weave throughout this novel that you hope readers pick up on?

I wrote my first book, Flaherty’s Crossing, after losing my father to cancer. I was angry, frustrated and bitter...and blamed God for my loss. Writing this book helped me resolve my personal issues, while encouraging others to mend damaged relationships, whether they be between husbands and wives or fathers and daughters. This book is basically a woman’s journey to find forgiveness, and I’m still proud of the message it shares.

What got you interested in writing dark romance and suspense novels? Who are some authors that have inspired your work?

I’ve been reading murder mysteries for years and enjoy dark novels by talented authors, Lisa Jackson and Toni Anderson in particular. They inspired me to test my writing ability by delving into this genre.

How did you get the idea for "Severed Threads" and the rest of the books in the series? Did you plan on making it a series from the beginning or is that something that just happened by itself as your wrote?

I originally wrote Severed Threads based on my interest in hidden treasures and inability to scuba dive. I nearly drown as a young child and to this day still struggle with jumping into the ocean or the deep end of a pool. This book was going to be a single novel but I loved the characters so much that I elected to turn Threads into a four book series.

How would you describe your character Akira Hamada from "Twisted Threads"? What was your motive in making her a person of Japanese heritage?

Akira was originally introduced into the series in Buried Threads - a treasure-hunting adventure in Japan that my main characters from Severed Threadsare drawn into. This woman is a beautiful, young geisha who is contracted to a Yakuza gang leader, After his sudden death, she is convinced that the leader of the same gang is responsible and attempts to poison him. Her failure results in her assuming the forced life of a trained assassin - where her feminine wiles becomes an asset and her naivety in regard to the male species becomes a detriment.

Do you like to tie in a lot of symbolism in your books or characters?

I do and throughly enjoy hearing from readers when they discover them.

Of all the awards you've received, which one was the most unexpected? Who's the first person you usually tell when you win something?

Being notified that Flaherty’s Crossing was a finalist in the RWA Golden Heart was perhaps the sweetest and most meaningful call I ever received in regard to my writing. Although I didn’t win, this award encouraged me to pursue a career in this field, which continues to surprise me with many unexpected awards. The first person I called after this announcement? My oldest daughter, Kristina McMorris, who acted as my editor and encouraged me to write…and is now a USA Today, New York Times best selling author and incredible cheerleader. Then I share my happiness with my husband…and best friend.

How do you balance between writing what you want and what you think your audience wants?

I typically write the types of stories I enjoy reading and love surprising my audience. And if I had to describe my overall style, I would have to say I’m all about page turners and leaving the reader wanting more.

What do you enjoy most about being an author? What is a less talked about downside to writing as a career?

I enjoy typing the last sentence in a book, seeing it completed for the first time in published form, and knowing that it’s available for purchase on a store shelf or internet site. Nothing beats the sense of fulfillment this process brings.

What are some of your future book projects? Do you ever see yourself retiring from writing?

I’m currently working on High Flying - a time travel adventure involving a stunt pilot and her alienated father. The truth is…I love writing so much that I can’t imagine ever stopping.

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