Q&A With Kerri Maher
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Q&A With Kerri Maher
Today I have the honor of doing a Q&A with bestselling author Kerri Maher. Kerri is the author of “The Kennedy Debutante,” “The Girl in White Gloves: A Novel of Grace Kelly,” and her recent novel “The Paris Bookseller”.
Q: At what point in your life did you realize you were called to be an author?
A: I started writing my first unfinished novel in 5th grade! Then I serialized a novel in 7th (I handed out installments printed on that old-fashioned paper with the tabs you had to pull off the sides like ribbons!). So I’ve known for a long time. Even though I’ve developed other interests and skills over the years (music, teaching, art history), writing is the thing I’ve come back to over and over again.
Q: What do you like most about writing historical fiction? What do you like least about writing historical fiction?
A: My favorite thing about historical fiction is getting to put together many pieces of a big puzzle: the art, culture, people, and big events of a character’s life. This is part of why I love the research and learning as much as I enjoy the actual writing. This is much the same reason I loved art history as a discipline and still love going to museums: in order to properly understand, say, Delacroix’s “Liberty Leading the People,” you have to understand the larger historical moment from which it emerged.
Q: What is your advice to anyone wanting to write historical fiction? What’s your advice to anyone who struggles with writer’s block?
A: I think my advice for both sets of writers is the same: KEEP WRITING. Also: FIND YOUR PEOPLE. To be a published writer, you need the tenacity and resilience to sit down most days of the week and do the thing not knowing if anyone is ever going to read it – or like it. You have to write even when you’re “blocked” or not feeling it. Most days, I feel like this. But I get my word count in anyway. It’s work, and if you want to be a writer you have to treat it with the same respect you’d treat any other job (even if it’s not yet paying you). This is where the second piece of advice is crucial: writers of all sorts must find other writers with whom to exchange work, commiserate, trade advice and war stories. The writing life is long. Along the road, there are a few exquisite rewards, and we need to savor those with people who love us and get the struggle. But there are many more moments of rejection and difficulty, and for those we definitely need a community of other writers who can hand us the tissues then show us the way back to our desk.
Q: Does Hollywood have the rights to any of your novels? I think “The Girl in White Gloves,” about Grace Kelly would be a great movie. There was a movie where Nicole Kidman portrayed Grace Kelly and it was okay but nothing special. I also think the story about “The Paris Bookseller,” sounds amazing since it’s about Paris obviously and it’s about books and why no work should be banned.
A: Hollywood hasn’t come knocking yet, but I appreciate your enthusiasm!
Q: If you were to collaborate with another author who would it be and why?
A: I actually am collaborating with another writer, but it’s still a bit hush-hush. I’m doing it, though, to learn from the experience and expertise of the other writer. And because writing can be lonely, it’s fun to make it less so sometimes.
Q: What advice do you give to new writers dealing with negative feedback, whether its friends and family who aren’t supportive, negative reviews, and or trolls online who take a sick pleasure out of bullying others?
A: Same as my answer above: Keep writing. Find your people. And in the immortal words of Taylor Swift, “Shake it off … the haters gonna hate, hate, hate, hate, hate…” It’s got nothing to do with you. Keep writing, and ignore the haters as best you can (for instance, I don’t read Amazon reviews, ever, not even the good ones – I’m grateful for them, because the platform requires them to boost sales, but if I were to read them, I would spin myself into a tizzy that kept me from the actual work of writing).
Q: Are you writing a new novel now? If so are you allowed to reveal any details?
A: You’re catching me at a weird moment where I’m working with my publisher to figure out what’s next, but I can tell you that my fourth historical novel is coming out in September of this year – ALL YOU HAVE TO DO IS CALL, loosely based on the Jane Collective, who ran an illegal women’s health clinic before Roe. When I first got the idea for it in 2018, I had no idea how relevant it would be when it came out. Chilling.