Posted on July 17, 2020 at 8:00 AM by Sadye Scott-Hainchek
Today we're interviewing mystery and thriller author Elizabeth Klehfoth.
Klehfoth grew up in Elkhart, Indiana. She received her BFA in creative writing from Chapman University and her MFA in creative writing from Indiana University, where she taught fiction writing and composition.
She currently lives in Los Angeles. All These Beautiful Strangers is her first novel.
SADYE: How did you come to see yourself as a writer, and what inspired you to seek publication?
ELIZABETH: In the third grade, my teacher had everyone write a book, and all of my classmates wrote these four- or five-page stories that were maybe one or two lines on each page with a large picture.
I wrote this thirty-page-long saga about this squirrel named Tushy who had lost his tail, and I probably would have kept going with it, but the teacher made me wrap it up.
We had our books bound and laminated, and everyone’s parents came in, and we had this “author” event where we all read our books. I think I knew then that I wanted to be a writer.
So I followed that path and got my undergraduate degree in creative writing, then my MFA, and then the logical next step in the process was to write a book and try to get it published.
SADYE: Tell us something about your writing process that’s unusual or that you haven’t revealed before.
ELIZABETH: I rarely start writing at the beginning of a scene.
I usually start somewhere in the middle, with a piece of dialogue that pops into my mind, or a particular image. And then the scene sort of grows around that.
Usually the first part of a scene is the very last thing I write.
SADYE: What have been the most surprising, rewarding, and challenging parts of your writing career?
ELIZABETH: The most surprising part of my writing career was receiving such a positive response to my first book and finding such a wonderful home for it at William Morrow here in the states and abroad.
Previous to writing my first book, I got my MFA, and I was writing short stories and submitting them to literary journals, and it was an extremely competitive environment with a lot of rejection, so much so that receiving a kind rejection letter was something that you celebrated.
I was bracing myself for more rejection when I wrote my first book, so I was very pleasantly surprised that it got such a warm reception and found a home.
The most rewarding part of my writing career is hearing from readers who connected with the story and the characters.
Knowing that for a brief period of time, when someone picked up my book, they felt a little less alone, or it helped them get through a hard time they were going through, or they were able to understand a different perspective or experience through the story, is one of the reasons why I write.
The most challenging part of what I do is that writing a novel is like running a marathon. It takes a lot of endurance and focus and commitment to stay the course and finish a book.
I spent a year and a half writing my first book, and then another year and a half editing it once it was sold to a publisher. That’s a big chunk of time, a big piece of your life, to invest in a project.
Oftentimes I feel my attention straying, and I want to wander off to another story, different characters, something new and exciting.
It’s challenging to sit with the same story and see it through to the end (but worth it, of course).
SADYE: What has been the most touching or memorable piece of reader feedback you’ve received?
ELIZABETH: When a person says my book helped them get through a tough time in their life.
There are several stories (be they TV shows, movies or books) that have gotten me through hard times in my life, so knowing I’ve been able to do that for someone else is really cool.
SADYE: What advice, as relates to your writing career, would you give your younger self?
ELIZABETH: Just keep showing up every day to the keyboard to write, and the rest will take care of itself.
Don’t wait to be inspired, because most days you won’t be. Don’t worry if what’s coming out that day seems like a pile of garbage.
Because a lot of times, the days you sit down to write when you really don’t feel like it, are the days you come away feeling that fire for the story has been reignited, and those garbage words get you to a place where the prose sings and the story takes off on its own.
A lot happens when you’re at the keyboard, but you have to be at the keyboard to experience it.
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Categories: Author Interview