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Tuesday, July 23, 2019

The Importance of Creating a Storyboard: Author Interview with Caroline Klug

You recently published your debut novel. How did it come about?
Stolen started with one, simple Scripture, Colossians 1:13-14: "For He has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son He loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.”

Would you please give my readers a brief synopsis of the plot?
It’s about a runaway abducted by a serial killer who holds her captive in a remote prison in the woods. Alternating chapters weave her story around a woman riddled with questions about her own past, who suspects the man she lives with may not be what he seems. 

As the stories unfold and connect, there’s a twist. Stolen is a thriller that will take the reader on a journey of pain and terror, as well as an unexpected journey of redemption.

What drew you to write about the gritty side of being a runaway?
I love scary movies, books, and thrillers. As a Christian, that’s hard to navigate sometimes, and God put a passion in my heart to create fiction thrillers that not only entertain but leave the reader with an inspiring message.

My goal is to accomplish this through thrillers that are also biblical allegories. When I started the storyboard (characters, chapter outlines, etc.) for my first book, it was a completely different book than Stolen, but God kept nudging me in another direction. I would be trying to write the outline for this other book, and scenes from Stolen would flash through my mind. So I took the hint, switched gears, and started putting those thoughts down.

How were you able to write the darker parts of your story? 
I do not have personal experience with some of the darker parts of my character’s lives, such as the prostitution and drugs, so writing those parts required a lot of research to make sure it was accurate. I’ve been through a lot of hardships in my personal life, so I drew from that when connecting my characters with challenging thoughts and feelings.

After writing them, did you need some time to re-center yourself?
I never found myself needing to re-center. I knew there was a deeper message of redemption just waiting around the corner, and that energized me to keep going. God gave me some really cool pieces of the allegory, which also made writing the challenging parts easier - it was light shining in the darkness.

How long did it take you to write your first book? How many rewrites did you do on it?
It took me about six months to write Stolen. Writing a book was something I had wanted to do for a very long time, but my job always seemed to get in the way. I was working as a full-time Program and Portfolio Manager, which typically demanded much more than forty hours per week. It got to a point where my passion outweighed my busyness, and I decided to re-prioritize and make a plan.

I limited work on the weekends and, instead, worked on the storyboard. Once that was complete, I committed to writing one chapter every weekend. In total, storyboarding and writing took me about five months. I spent the sixth-month editing until I was comfortable with it. I then handed it off to a professional editor to do line edits.

Outside of general editing, I did one rewrite to the first chapter after receiving some great early reader feedback.

Are you active with any writing critique groups?
As for writing groups, I’m active within several online groups, but currently only meeting in person with a few individuals. I would like to make time to participate in more live groups, as I can see the value that interaction would provide any writer, at any stage of their career.

What made you choose the indie route to publish?
I considered going the route of an agent and even did some initial queries early on. It’s an arduous process at best, and I kept feeling that wasn’t where I should spend my time. I needed to spend time writing.

I felt strongly I needed to move forward and get the message out, so that’s what I did. I certainly would never close the door to interest from an agent or publisher, but for now, I'm content in continuing on the self-published path.

Did you ever want to give up on publishing the book?
I understand first-hand how frustrating the whole process can be but, despite that, I never felt I wanted to give up. There was a message burning in me and I continue to feel that passion pushing me to create more and more.

What is the hardest part of writing for you? I think the hardest part for me is being disciplined to finish the storyboard before jumping into the writing. Whenever you’re trying to create twists in your plot, it’s important to have that all thought through from beginning to end. I get excited sometimes and I want to start bringing the scenes in my head to life on the pages. Doing this too soon creates re-work, so I’ve tried to hold my horses a little and at least get through the preliminary draft of the storyboard. For the record, I love twists, and I’m a big fan of M. Night Shyamalan’s movies.

What’s the best encouragement you’ve had in your writing?
After publishing my second book, The Waiting Room, which is a non-fiction inspirational book designed to encourage while you wait on the things you’re praying for, I had a woman contact me. She told me reading that book transformed how she was thinking about the struggles in her own life, and how much it helped and gave her peace during her wait. It was changing how she saw things, how she prayed about things, and she was even seeing the benefit of that change already in her life. 

Reading that one email made every minute of working on that book worth it. It also made the difficult times in my own life, which that book was born from, worth it. Things like that encourage me to keep going and keep writing.

What has surprised you the most in writing/publishing?
I hire out the line editing and graphics, but I do all of the formatting, publishing, and marketing myself. When I formatted my first novel, Stolen, it was definitely a learning process, and I was initially frustrated. What later surprised me was, once I figured it out, the part I most dreaded - the formatting - became one of my favorite parts.

After I finished my second and third books, I found myself getting excited to roll up my sleeves and start formatting and publishing. Rather than look at it as a laborious and tedious task (which it is) I looked at it as the culmination of a lot of work I was getting ready to put on display, and I was proud of that. Sometimes a little change in perspective can go a long way.

What do you know now about writing you wished you had known sooner?
That if you’re using IngramSpark to distribute your paperback beyond Amazon, you don’t need to get a separate ISBN and upload to Barnes and Noble :)

What is the best writing advice you’ve received or could give?
I’ll credit the best advice I’ve ever received to God. I felt Him ask my heart one time, if I wrote a book for one person - if only one person was touched or changed by that book - would it all be worth it? My answer was yes, and always will be yes. I ground myself in that truth whenever I feel frustrated, and it re-centers me.

As for what I would say to others - a lot of people like to tell new writers they should manage their expectations of never being successful. Don't let that type of negativity influence your motivation to pursue your passions. The definition of success is relative. If you invest the time into writing, and if it makes you happy, then that sounds like success to me. Whether you journal for yourself or you publish a book - just be true to yourself on why you want to write, and be confident in that.

Are there any other points about writing you would like to add?
I recently gave up my 20+ year career to be a full-time author. That was a big step, but this has been a life-long dream for me, and my amazing husband, Jim, is incredibly supportive. Every morning I get to wake up, make a mug of coffee, and pull my Mac in front of me, feels like a gift. So, the best thing about being a writer is feeling like I've been handed a gift. Every morning I remember I get to write and help people. My heart is full, and my goal is to make others' hearts full.

My Christian faith is the primary source of my inspiration. I use it to take things that are hard in this world and create both thrillers and non-fiction that will entertain and leave readers with something meaningful.

Are there other books in the works?
Yes - two of them! The first is a very special non-fiction project. I’m not ready yet to say more about what this is, but as soon as I am, my subscribers and followers will be the first to know! It’s going to be, well, out there. Let’s just say, I’m already predicting it will be the most difficult book I will ever have the privilege to write.

The other is my second fiction thriller, What Lies in Wait. It will be a psychological thriller and, in the spirit of the twists I love, I’m going for a last chapter gasp in this one. You may even meet up with a character or two from Stolen.

Sounds like a "wow" ending. Anything else you'd like to add? 
Another teaser? Ok, why not. One of the main characters, a work from home psychiatrist, is being modeled after our very own Robert Downey Jr. One might say I have a small dream of him playing this role in the movie someday. I’m targeting to have this book out Fall 2019.

That’s always fun when you can picture actors in the roles of your stories! If you’d like to learn more about Caroline’s writing and buy a book or two, here are some links to get you started.
Twitter: @CarolineNKlug
Instagram: @CarolineNKlug

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