Interview with authors Mark Todd & Kym O’Connell ToddPosted: January 13, 2020 | |
I am so excited to have these two authors, Mark Todd and Kym O’Connell Todd, as my guests today. They are both really great people and our conversations are always interesting, to say the least. Although I’ve never met Kym in person, Mark was my professor and mentor, and later my co-worker at Western State Colorado University. They also were a part of one of my 2018 “Ask the Authors” blog series and will be featured authors in the anthology of the same name, which is taken from that series and is planned for release in 2020.
You’ve heard of those couples who have been married so long and know each other so well that they can finish each other’s sentences? Well, these two really do that, both in speech and in writing, and they have co-authored several books together. We’re going to talk today about their nonfiction collaboration, Wild West Ghosts, which documents their paranormal research, (which was of course, carried out as a team). Let’s welcome them now and see what they have to share with us today.
Kaye: You’ve written both fiction and nonfiction. What are some of the major differences that you see between the two types of writing?
Kym-n-Mark: We both began as journalists, so we cut our eyeteeth writing nonfiction. Lots and lots of straight news stories.
Kym: For years my job as a newspaper features editor gave me plenty of practice at bringing out the lives of interviewees to readers by applying creative writing techniques such as scene dramatization, dialogue, setting, and “character” description.
Mark: This may sound flippant, but my favorite description of the difference is this: nonfiction is writing that pretends it’s true while fiction is writing that pretends it isn’t! Okay, that even sounds flippant to me. But I think there’s a kernel of truth in there.
Kaye: In Wild West Ghosts, although the material is nonfiction, describing ghost hunts that you have been on, the historical characters which inhabited the locations in the past were very real and they had lives. How did you help those characters come to life for your readers?
Kym-n-Mark: We did a lot of research for each hotel and often found first-hand historical accounts either by the people we wrote about or about those folks by others from the time. During and after our paranormal investigations, we tried to be mindful the entitles we seemed to contact were once real people and respectful when we told the stories they had to share – or at least our encounters with them.
Kaye: What is the most unusual ghost hunt you’ve ever been on? Why?
Kym-n-Mark: We’d have to say the Norwood Hotel really stands out for all the things that happened. A cup flew off a table in front of us, we encountered a cold spot, and multiple pieces of equipment reported the same readings. In one room, there seemed to be a pathetic presence who identified herself as “Leah” who asked us to help her, and when we reviewed out digital recorder later asked us to remember her. In another room at the hotel, all our equipment red-lined and then shut down at the same time. We decided it was time to go.
Kaye: What time of day do you prefer to do your writing? Why?
Kym-n-Mark: Ha! As journalists we learned to write to deadline, so any time is good. But we also pick whatever time we’re both free to write together.
Kaye: You’ve been a college professor and Kym is a graphic designer, in addition to being authors. If writing suddenly made you rich and famous, what would you do?
Kym-n-Mark: Probably what we’re doing right now. We write because we enjoy it. Besides, we’ve turned a number of hobbies into businesses through the years, and it somehow kills the joy. We’d never want that to happen to our writing if that’s all we had to do.
Kaye: What is the biggest challenge when writing with a co-author?
Kym-n-Mark: For us it’s never been a challenge. But we’ve talked to other authors who found it hard. Most use “over the transom” writing, where each writes drafts and passes it to the other to revise back and forth. But all a matter of compatibility – in writing style, in work ethic, and in commitment.
Kym: Writing style and values are important. If either one of us had large egos, we’d either stop writing together or else we’d be divorced.
Mark: Yes, dear.
Kaye: What is the best part of writing with a co-author?
Kym-n-Mark: We’re sure there are others out there who do it like we do, but we can’t name anyone.
Kym: I start a sentence…
Mark: …and I finish it.
Kym: Or vice versa. Then before we finish a session, we reread and rewrite until –
Mark: — until we can’t tell who wrote what.
Kym: You’d think were married or something. Oh wait, we are!
Kaye: What is your favorite channel for book promotion?
Kym-n-Mark: That’s a toughie. We’ve tried most of them, and we ended up taking the sage advice to focus on just a handful that seemed to fit us best. Like you, Kaye, we like blogging, and have had a fair amount of success with that channel when cross-promoting with FB and Twitter.
Kaye: What’s the best piece of writing advice you were ever given?
Mark: I’ve always liked Natalie Goldberg’s advice from her book, “Writing Down the Bones: “Always give yourself permission to fail.”
Kym: I’ve always liked this: “Just start writing. If you don’t like it, that’s what the delete button is for.”
Kaye: What advice do you have for aspiring authors?
Kym: Don’t quit your day job. Until you make it, the electricity still needs to be paid.
Mark: I agree. I usually takes time to break in to publishing. Don’t put the pressure on yourself or your family. You’ll either find yourself blocked or you’ll crank out something that’s a waste of your time and your readers.
Kaye: Are there more books in the future for Mark and Kym Todd? What are you currently working on?
Mark: We’ve both really gotten into genealogy – we even have a blog dedicated to the more interesting skeletons we’ve each discovered in our closets. I’ve also always wanted to finish a memoir (one of those drafts-in-a drawer kinds of thing) about growing up in in a family mortuary business. A comedy, of course.
Kym: Our last book about ghosts happened because we were celebrating with our publisher the publication of our the third book in the Silverville trilogy. I never drink but had two Cape Cods that night. When our publisher asked us what was next, I blurted out a book about haunted hotels. Two days later, he called us and said he’d publish the ghost book. Maybe we’ll plan the next one when I get drunk again.
I want to thank Kym & Mark for joining us here and sharing today. As always when talking with them, the conversation was unique and entertaining, as well as being informative. I, for one, can’t wait to learn what that next book will be about, so I think Mark should take Kym out more often. You can learn more about Mark & Kym and their books on Mark’s Amazon Author page or on his Goodreads author page. To learn more about their paranormal investigations, visit their blog, Write in the Thick of Things.
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