Kathy-Diane Leveille interview with David Alan Binder
Post date: Dec 6, 2017 11:08:08 PM
Kathy-Diane Leveille interview with David Alan Binder
Bio: Kathy-Diane Leveille is a former broadcast journalist with the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. Her debut literary mainstream novel Let the Shadows Fall Behind You was published by Kunati Books. Kathy-Diane’s short story collection Roads Unravelling was published to critical acclaim after a selection from its pages Learning to Spin was adapted to radio drama for CBC’s Summer Drama Festival. The tale Showdown at the Four Corner’s Corral was revised for the stage and performed by New City Theater in Saint John. She is a member of the Writers Union of Canada, Writers Federation of Nova Scotia and Writers Federation of New Brunswick.
Kathy-Diane’s prose has been published in a number of literary journals including Grain, Room of One’s Own, The Oklahoma Review, Pottersfield Portfolio, The Cormorant; as well as various anthologies such as Water Studies: New Voices in Maritime Fiction (Pottersfield Press) and New Brunswick Short Stories (Neptune). Along with being awarded numerous Canada Council and New Brunswick Art Grants, Kathy-Diane’s fiction won the Short Grain Contest (dramatic monologue) in 2000 and was listed as a finalist in the Writers’ Union of Canada Short Fiction Contest in 2002. Her poetry received Honorable Mention in the Stephen Leacock International Poetry Competition. A humorous commentary I Know What You Didn’t Do Last Summer aired on CBC’s national morning show with Shelagh Rogers.
1. How do you pronounce your name?
2. Where are you currently? The east coast of Canada
3. What is the most important thing that you have learned in your writing experience, so far?
To focus on process rather than product. When I do the reverse, the writing becomes vapid, shallow and so does my life. When I am immersed in following the thread of story and losing myself in the possibilities it poses, my own life feels enriched with layers of depth and adventure. It’s a balance of spirit and ego in my view. I agree with Julia Cameron (The Artist Way) that creativity is born of spirit, and that it runs through everything in the universe. When I’m lost in the act of being creative I’m really closest to the true essence of being. I can remember realizing this soon after my second book was published that, as exciting as being a published author was, the real enlivening joy comes in the act of writing. There is also great reward in performing the business side of things, but it’s in the other arena, the early stages of the lone writer’s toil and creation, the inspiration and unfolding, when the words sprout wings, that I feel I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be.
4. What would you say is your most interesting writing, publishing, editing or illustrating quirk?
When I’m finished the first draft I let it sit for a while to let it cool. When I return and start editing I always like to have an intriguing book on the craft of writing on hand. I ask myself the questions the book poses about the particular manuscript. I thrive when I keep learning and challenging myself. The unusual bonus about writing is that no matter how long you write you can always keep evolving and tackling higher peaks.
5. Tell us your insights on self-publish or use a publisher?
Do what feels right for you. Self-publishing gives you a lot of control as you can call the shots. Being with a publisher on the other hand offers more opportunities to promote your book, but there are also a lot of commitments that go with it. Research each and do what suits your personality and writing. Both have been very successful, more so if the writer’s temperament suits the vehicle.
a. Who is the name of your publisher and in what city are they located? My books have always been published by small literary presses in Canada as I don’t have an agent. I simply send out my material to half a dozen publishers when it’s ready. I’ve been very lucky to have a few successes. “Standing in the Whale’s Jaw” was published by Tightrope Books, “Let the Shadows Fall Behind You” Kunati Books and “Roads Unravelling” Sumach Press. When a book goes out of print it is usually released as an E-book on Smashwords.
6. Any insights eBooks vs. print books and alternative vs. conventional publishing?
I think it’s revolutionary. There are so many opportunities for writers to get their work seen. I enjoy hearing stories of first time authors whose works were discovered on-line and became bestsellers. The exposure it offers is fantastic. In the past that avenue just didn’t exist. Editors are human. They’re subjective and have their own biases and business constraints. A MS that doesn’t get noticed in the slush pile doesn’t have to be relegated to the back of a closet any more. It can prove itself in an entirely different arena.
7. Do you have any secret tips for writers on getting a book published?
My only tip is to keep writing. The moment you get a rejection letter, get back to the page and fall in love again with your story. If you continue to write this way sooner or later the vision you have interiorly of your story, will match the one you are creating on the page exteriorly because your skills at the craft will finally match your talent. Unless you’re brilliant, and I certainly don’t fit in that category, there is a long apprenticeship in writing. There are so many elements to conquer: Pacing, character, setting, plotting etcetera. It stands to reason that it will take more than a few tries to begin to hit the mark. I’m still trying.
8. How did you or would you suggest acquire an agent? Any tips for new writers on getting one?
There’s a plethora of books like Writer’s Market that offer listings. Various writers’ conventions provide opportunities to meet agents and pitch to them. I don’t have an agent so I’m not the best writer to ask. However, I will say that it’s important not to dwell on it too much, particularly before you’ve even been writing long enough to hone the craft and gain confidence in your own voice. If you aren’t getting published, getting an agent won’t necessarily provide the magic potion to open a secret door to the publishing world. Hard work and talent will rise to the top, so put most of your energy towards writing the absolute best piece of work you can. Read every author you admire, and those you don’t, and dissect their work over and over. By osmosis your writing will get better and better.
9. Do you have any suggestions or helps for new writers (please be specific and informational as possible)?
Don’t work from the outside in, but from the inside out. Don’t get too caught up in reading one more book on writing or attending one more workshop on writing; in other words chasing the answers outside yourself to find success. Just write and the success will eventually emerge from inside you. Plain and simple. Just write. The longer you keep at it, the more the craft will start to make sense. When your gut instincts and trust in your own writing firm up, you can balance it with confidence against outside advice no matter the source: editor, agent or writing guru.
10. What was one of the most surprising things you learned with your creative process with your books, editing, publishing or illustrating?
Even though I’m a card carrying introvert and I get nervous before a reading, it’s humbling and thrilling to read to an audience of people who love and respect story. When your work comes full circle you feel like you’re being carried on a magic carpet ride back to the place in childhood where you first discovered the kindling to spark imagination.
11. How many books have you written?
I have a short story collection and 2 novels published. I have a new novel finished that is in the process of being edited.
12. Do you have any tricks or tips to help others become a better writer (please be as specific and information as you possibly can)? Read the kind of writing that makes you fall in love with story and dissect it as you read. Ask yourself, how did they do that? Always be humble; always be a beginner.
13. Do you have any suggestions for providing twists in a good story?
Let it happen naturally. Contrived twists always stand out. Experiment with lots of different scenarios, and let the work breathe. Don’t get too tied to your intended outcome or synopsis. In time you will know when it’s right to let a character have full rein and when to harness them back in. If you have writers’ block, set the MS aside for a while. Disengage and trust that the story is still percolating in the back of your brain. If you push too hard, it will lack depth. Go out for a long walk, visit to the library or hop on a train.
14. What makes your or any book stand out from the crowd?
Heart. I believe books with heart written by a skilled hand contain a universal grain of truth that will always touch readers.
15. What are some ways in which you promote your work?
Libraries, reading groups, on-line, literary festivals and interviews such as this one.
16. What is the one thing you would do differently now (concerning writing or editing or publishing or illustrating) and why? I
I would be more discrete about on-line promotion. All writers are a bundle of nerves when a book comes out and you can get caught up in expending that energy doing a lot of on-line promotion that really don’t serve you or your writing in the end. Selective picking and choosing with research is the key.
17. What saying or mantra do you live by?
Progress not perfection. Setting too high expectations can be as binding as a straight-jacket.
18. Anything else you would like to say?
Thanks very much for this opportunity. I love reading about other writers’ process and love talking about my own.