Weekly Feature: Kat McMullen

kat - england

Today we’re starting a series on amateur writers and librarians with radio-personality and YA-writer Kat! Kat isn’t just a radio-personality; she studied and performed in local theater productions, is a world traveler, and got her master’s degree in Sheffield, England!

When did you first start writing?

I’ve been making up stories before I could write. I draw a lot. When I was a little kid, I drew all the time, and I would take the pictures to my babysitter or my mom and dad, and make them write down what I was saying. Other times when someone read a fairytale to me and I didn’t like how it ended, I’d re-write how the story should go. (Sometimes) the endings really bothered me, so I’d change it, like with the Little Red Hen. Even though the other animals don’t help her, I didn’t think it was very nice of her not to forgive them in the end.

But I’ve always enjoyed making up stories.

You work for Peace 107 at Bryan Broadcasting. What things have you learned in that field that you try to incorporate into your writing?

Interestingly enough, a lot of interpersonal conflicts with co-workers go into my writing. kat and teaAlso, the kind things that co-workers say, and some of the experiences with (radio) listeners. The most influential thing about my job is how I’ve interacted with my co-workers. In a lot of ways it’s like being an actor: you have to work together to keep the ball in the air. Like on the stage, you have to depend on each other to keep the dialogue working. Compared to retail, where you might not talk to your co-worker much, on the radio you have to talk and be entertaining. You have to know how your partner thinks, and listen to what they’re saying so you don’t repeat it, and have to support what they’re saying and anticipate correctly what they are wanting you to say or do in response.

As for writing non-fiction, part of my job is writing for our blog, and it’s made me practice writing when I don’t want to write. I have to sit down every day and write something, even when I don’t want to. I have to pray or think about how I want to encourage my co-workers with what I’m writing. I have to write no matter how I feel. Even though it’s not fiction, I think it has made my fiction writing better, like cross-training. Think of marathon training: you do a day of dancing, or of weight-lifting to strengthen those muscles, as well as running. It’s the same with writing.

kat - israelDo you prefer to talk to your characters, eavesdrop on their conversations, or get inside their heads when writing?

For fiction, a scene will just appear in my head, or a picture, like when you’re driving, and you think ‘what if such-and-such happened?’ And there are things in my life, such as something painful or frustrating, that once I get over the emotions, I think, that will work well for this or that story. I will sometimes draw my characters, or be thinking about how they feel. There’s a lot of sadness and silliness in my characters. Maybe it’s how I deal with people in real life, wondering through the questions of ‘Why do they act this way,’ or ‘Why did they react that way?’ that influences my characters.

What are your favorite kinds of stories to tell? What is the easiest to write?

The easiest to write are stories where I have a lot of ideas, but it’s harder to start when I have a lot of thoughts about thinking people aren’t going to like this, or this isn’t politically correct so it’ll get rejected…

Children’s stories are easier for me. I’d like to write a long novel, but I write better when it’s short stories for children. Fairy tales are often not a novel, they can be shorter. And you can use symbols to . and I would tell a lot of stories to kids when I worked at summer camp. Stories that appear out of a specific thing in life that happened to me.

What tips do you have for other young writers?

1. Write faithfully

Sometimes (a story) will just be too hard to write, and that’s ok, you can still be absorbing stuff. Don’t turn it into a guilt thing. If someone you love dies, or you don’t get into the college you want, you can keep writing for pleasure, but don’t dismiss other experiences in your life that don’t seem to be what you want.

2. Use bad things that happen to you for goodkat - travel

There were many times I worked a job I didn’t like, or asked to serve in a way that was really hard for me, and I’ve had some huge disappointments, but all of those things can be used for good. Every bad thing that happens to you, when you’ve worked through it in a healthy way, gives you authority to talk to other people who have similar heartbreak.

3. Love and understand other people

Those things will hide inside you to inspire you later.

4. Get out and live

If you aren’t experiencing life and various things, you won’t have anything to write about. Work through the relationships that are hard in your own life. Have grace for yourself and trust that if God’s will is for you to be published, no matter what you end up doing, it might lead to a great story about it, later in your life.

Thanks Kat!

If you’d like to read more of Kat’s non-fiction articles, you can find them here.

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