Romance author, Kaylin McFarren, says she keeps a glass of wine close by while writing love scenes, Kleenex on her desk while writing heart breakers, and has been known to empty a box of chocolates when she’s completely stumped.
Shelagh: Hi Kaylin. Please tell us a little about yourself.
Kaylin: Hi…my name is Linda Yoshida, but in the literary world, I write as Kaylin McFarren – a name I borrowed from my Irish grandmother. Although I wasn’t born with a pen in hand like many of my talented fellow authors, I’ve been actively involved in both business and personal writing projects for many years. As the director of a fine art gallery, I assisted in furthering the careers of numerous visual artists who under my guidance gained recognition through promotional opportunities and in national publications. Eager to spread my own creative wings, three years ago I steered my energy toward writing novels. As a result, I’ve earned more than a dozen literary awards and was a 2008 finalist in the prestigious RWA® Golden Heart contest.
As far as my background goes, I received my AA in Literature at Highline Community College, which originally sparked my passion for writing. I’m also a member of RWA, Rose City Romance Writers, and Willamette Writers. And in my free time, I enjoy giving back to the community through participation and support of various charitable and educational organizations in the Pacific Northwest.
Shelagh: Briefly tell us why you chose to write your latest book. What genre is it?
Kaylin: Sixteen years ago, following my father’s death, I found myself obsessed with sitting in front of a typewriter, coming to terms with unresolved issues by banging on keys. This silent venting became a sort of “therapy through writing” exercise. However, this exercise slowly evolved, taking on a life of its own. I began creating a related fictional story about a woman’s personal journey, and in the process of exploring my main character’s growth, I found myself learning and growing as well. Eventually, I came to believe I had a meaningful story to tell, one through which I could possibly touch other people who shared the same complicated family relationships – and maybe even make a difference in their lives. Yet I still struggled with bringing this tale to a close. It wasn’t until my eldest daughter provided her amazing writing insight that I finally came to realize why I struggled with the ending, for both the book and my father’s passing. The true resolution didn’t rest in holding onto the past; it came from opening my mind to future possibilities and honoring him – not only by setting this story free, but by becoming the professional storyteller that had been hiding in my genes. And as far as genre goes, Flaherty’s Crossing is considered contemporary mainstream fiction. Now that’s a mouthful. And right now I’m writing action/adventure romance or romantic suspense, as classified by some literary circles.
Shelagh: Where do you believe your interest in writing comes from?
Kaylin: Actually, I’ve always had an active imagination, probably my Irish roots burrowing into my brain. For most of my life, I was an avid romance reader, longing to slip into Jane Austen’s corset. I tried my hand at poetry and writing short stories…anything to express my love of the written word. In high school and college, a few of my short stories actually ended up in school publications, but for the most part, they were tucked away in various drawers. As time went by, I married and was fortunate enough to travel to exotic places, meeting remarkable people, each with a unique story to tell. And along the way, I found inspiration and plenty of ideas to now channel into what I hope will be a long series of entertaining books.
Shelagh: Tell us a little bit about your debut novel, Flaherty’s Crossing. What’s the hook in this story?
Kaylin: Here’s the summary and hook in a nutshell. Successful yet emotionally stifled artist Kate Flaherty stands at the deathbed of her estranged father, conflicted by his morphine-induced confession exposing his part in her mother’s death. While racing home, Kate’s car mishap leads her to a soul-searching discussion with a lone diner employee, prompting Kate to confront the true reasons her marriage hangs in the balance. When her night takes an unexpected turn, however, she flees for her life, a life desperate for faith that can only be found through her ability to forgive.
Shelagh: Where did you find the inspiration for this story? What are you hoping to convey?
Kaylin: Flaherty’s Crossing was originally inspired by my father, who passed away on July 15, 1991 with the love of his life at his side. His Irish wit, stubbornness, and the bravery he exuded during his relentless battle with terminal cancer sparked the idea for a novel and was further developed and edited with the assistance of my eldest daughter. Not only does this faith-seeking tale delve into the complex emotions of bidding a final farewell to an estranged parent, but it also explores the strain placed on a marital relationship when childhood issues go unresolved.
Shelagh: Please tell us a little bit about your writing process.
Kaylin: Strangely enough, I dream up my stories – literally from beginning to end. I make notes, create a rough draft, and set to work on developing my characters. I actually design a notebook for them with photos, habits, flaws, birthdays, backgrounds, the works. Then it’s a matter of putting them into my scenes and turning them loose. The more challenges they face, the more fun it is to write about them. And before I know it, they’ve fell in love, overcome obstacles, and are preparing for the next hurdle – perhaps a little stronger and wiser and definitely more intriguing.
Shelagh: Do you have any particular habits that you take part in while writing? By that I mean certain music you like to listen to, foods you like to eat, environment that helps you write better, etc.
Kaylin: My routine consists of nabbing a hot chai and toasted bagel before sequestering myself to our cozy, book-lined library. I flip on an old Stevie Nick’s soundtrack, check messages, make a few phone calls, and then set to work. I often reread the last chapter I’ve written just to rekindle my thoughts, then it’s off to the races – solving dilemmas and overcoming adversaries.
Shelagh: Are you working on any current projects?
Kaylin: Right now I’m writing Severed Threads, a fun undersea romp. Here’s a brief summary: Believing herself responsible for her father’s fatal diving accident, Rachel Lyons has withdrawn from the world and assumed a safe position at a foundation office. When called upon by a museum director to assist her former love interest with the recovery of a priceless artifact from a sunken galleon, she has no intention of cooperating – until her brother is kidnapped by a drug-dealing gangster. In order to save him and gain control over her own life, Rachel must not only overcome her greatest fears, but also relive the circumstances that lead to her father’s death.
Shelagh: Share the best review (or a portion) that you’ve ever had.
Kaylin: Wow…I’ve had several amazing reviews. But if I had to pick just one, this blurb immediately comes to mind. “Be warned: do not start this novel if you anticipate any pressing obligations – a need to sleep, say – or without a handful of tissues within arms reach. Flaherty’s Crossing is a compelling and imaginative story, not just about death but about life and emotional growth, a broken woman’s journey towards learning to trust again. Beautifully written, heart wrenching yet inspirational, this is a ‘must read’ for anyone who has loved and lost.” – Elizabeth Joy Arnold, USA Today bestselling author of Pieces of My Sister’s Life
Shelagh: Who is the most unusual character in this story?
Kaylin: There’s nothing more enjoyable than creating a deeply flawed character. Their quirks and physical attributes help break the tension and allow readers an opportunity to breathe. In Flaherty’s Crossing this happens to be Wanda Finch, Kate’s nosey neighbor. Although she seems intrusive, overly talkative and extremely annoying, in reality she’s genuinely interested in Kate’s well-being.
Shelagh: I understand your book is involved in a special project. Can you tell us more about it and how readers can help out?
Kaylin: Actually, I sat before my computer writing Flaherty’s Crossing as a source of personal therapy after losing my father to colon cancer. You might say I was angry at him, at God, at the world in general. However, after writing this story, I had the opportunity to really look into my soul and consider the fact that so many other sons and daughters have had to deal with similar and even worse situations. Rather than a memoir, my novel evolved into a fictional journey which brought about the resolution I needed to find. I never expected this exercise in writing to go to press, touch lives, or win literary awards. But as a result of my good fortune, I’ve arranged for 100% of my proceeds from the sale of this book to go directly to cancer research at Portland’s Providence Medical Center. I’m now convinced that good things can grow out of the worst times in our lives if you just take the time to open your heart. And everyone who purchases a copy can make a difference.
Shelagh: Where can folks learn about your books and events?
Kaylin: On my website: http://www.kaylinmcfarren.com/
Shelagh: Thank you for joining us today, Kaylin.
Kaylin: Thanks, Shelagh. I really appreciate the opportunity to share my story with you!