Intervju : Kerry Kletter, autorka knjige The First Time She Drowned

Hi Kerry! Welcome to KZM book blog!

Hi, thanks for having me!

First of all, can you tell our visitors something more about you?

Oh gosh, let’s see... I’m originally from New Jersey but currently live in Los Angeles. I was a film and television actress for several years, and then ran a pet-care business before becoming a writer. I had always dreamed of writing a novel but I didn’t have the discipline for it until I got older. What else? I love to surf, I have a loud—sometimes startling—laugh, and I only use two fingers when I type.

How did you come up with the idea for The First Time She Drowned?

I think I had an idea regarding what I wanted to write about, specifically about how trauma gets passed down from one generation to the next and how the legacy for a child of a dysfunctional family is often a distorted sense of self. I wanted to explore how that kind of experience affects one’s relationships and how one goes about discovering or excavating their true self from beneath those ingrained distortions—thus, altering the course of their future and hopefully breaking the cycle. So I just let the story sort of come out of that idea.

Can you tell us something more about your first book?

The First Time She Drowned is about a young woman trying to come to terms with a dark past and to reconcile her relationships with herself and her family—particularly her mother—after being committed to a mental hospital for something she says she didn’t do. Most of the story takes place in college, just after she is released from the hospital and she is trying to adapt to her new life while struggling to deal with the buried secrets she is uncovering about her past. Though it is dark, it is also, to me, a very hopeful story about resiliency, the power of love and friendship, and forging one’s own path.

Are your characters based on someone real?

I think, as with most writers, there are probably aspects of people I’ve met across the span of my life that find their way into my stories whether consciously or unconsciously. I can think of one character in this book whose personality traits I borrowed from a boy I once knew because I saw it as a way to honor who he was to me at an important juncture in my life.

Tell us about your writing process. How do you go from an idea to a finished book?
Kerry Kletter

Very slowly! I tend to do a rough outline and then I write the first 100 pages or so to see how it works. Once I’ve cleaned up those 100 pages I adjust the outline as needed and finish the story. I tend to revise after every 50 pages or so and then I go back through the entire book and revise each chapter at least twenty times to get the language tight. Everything I do, I do in perfect quiet with earplugs and noise cancelling headphones.

What writers, books, or ideas have most influenced you?

Oh so many! Mary Karr, Frank Conroy, Pat Conroy, Tobias Wolff, Elizabeth Strout, Donna Tartt, Judith Guest, Curtis Sittenfeld, Jennifer Egan, Nicole Krauss, Dave Eggers, Wally Lamb, Jonathan Franzen, Jhumpa Lahiri. I’m sure I’m forgetting a ton but those are the ones I can think of off the top of my head.

What is the biggest temptation that you have given into?

Wasting time on the internet. I succumb to that temptation every day. But social media feels like one big party to me and I do hate to miss out on a party!

What part of the writing process do you find most challenging?

Outlining the story. I hate that part! I just want to write.

Was there a single defining moment or event where you suddenly thought, 'Now I'm an Author,' as in—this is now my career?

I don’t know if there was ever a defining moment. Every time I have to say it out loud it feels weird. I’m not sure I’ll ever get used to it or that I want to get used to it since it was my dream for so long.

What genre of books do you like to read? Do you limit yourself to only the genre that you write yourself?

I mostly read literary fiction but I love any story that pulls me in, no matter the genre.

Thank you so much! We can't wait to read your book!

Thank you!!!

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