Here is the interview you have been waiting for. Please welcome the author of Screwball and Changeup, Keri Mikulski.
1. My blog is for parents and kids who are dealing with a serious illness or loss, as you know, but a lot of my readers are also writers. Some are published with online business connections and some just beginning. I try to be a resource for both types of readers and I was so interested in you because you have done it all. All meaning teaching, nursing, wife, mother, and now successful published author. My question is as much for me as my readers and that is this. How does being a nurse and /or teacher influence your writing career, your story line and character development?
Terri, you write such a wonderful and necessary blog. Thanks so much for having me. Nursing is the toughest profession on the planet and I have the highest respect for nurses. I’m honored to participate in this interview.
Honestly, I never thought about if my earlier careers influence my writing, but I guess it does. SCREWBALL certainly deals with a heavy issue, parental death. And the sequel, CHANGE UP also continues to explore this issue.
The teacher in me is always interested in learning and teaching. And all my novels have little snippets of knowledge somewhere. Whether it’s facts, quotes, statistics, or something sprinkled in, I try to add some sort of teachable moment.
My newest novel, PINKED, is definitely influenced by both my personal and professional (nursing) career. I’m mum on PINKED because it’s with my agent right now and she’s about to shop it around. But, it’s high concept and I know you will love it Terri! J
2. My passion is kids and their parents dealing with real life issues, critical illnesses, divorce, relationships, and death and dying. I saw a lack of good stories for kids of all ages when I was teaching, and I see a lack when I deal with patients as well. Kids want to read about other kids in a fictional setting but with real problems. Any tips on developing characters around difficult themes like illness, death and dying,and loss? Do you work on the character first and the setting and theme later, or do you get the idea for the theme and flesh out the character later?
Great questions. I’m a pantster. I literally fly by the seat of my pants regarding plot. I think about what I want the story to be about. Then, I start to develop and flesh out the characters. From there, I begin to write the story, working on the setting as I write the first draft. After a ton of revising and hard work, the story eventually comes together.
My biggest goal when writing about difficult themes is to balance emotional writing with a light, energetic voice while maintaining respect for the sensitive subject matter. The best advice is to pull from your own experiences in regards to ‘real’ issues. During SCREWBALL, a character’s mom dies suddenly. I pulled from my own experiences in relation to death and dying to pull emotions into my writing. This is also true for the PINKED subject matter. (I wish I could spill. J)
3. Tell us about your books, especially your new book Screwball. And what readers can expect from you next?
The sequel to SCREWBALL, CHANGE UP will drop this spring. I’m so excited about the six-book YA sporty series contract with Blitz Publishing. The cover for CHANGE UP is almost complete and my publisher is finalizing the proof next week. J
Here’s the gist of SCREWBALL:
Things have been sweet for fourteen-year old freshman fastpitch fanatic Ashley Clarke. She's the starting pitcher for her stress-free fourteen and under ASA team. During her time away from the diamond, she’s sprinting down the soccer field, bouncing a basketball, or hanging at the beach with her BFF, Lizzy.
But one sizzling summer day, hottie junior jock Andrew spots her at a pizza shop and Ashley's life changes forever. Meanwhile, her friend, Kate, talks her into joining the Crush, an elite sixteen and under team loaded with tough competition. Shortly after playing in her first game, Ashley finds out new Crush teammate Christy not only hates her guts, but is also determined to ruin Ashley's future for good.
Join Ashley as she struggles juggling sports, school, and a social life. Will Christy and her cronies force Ashley to quit the Crush? Or will she give it all up to spend more time with Andrew? And who's the new guy in Ashley's life complicating things?
And here’s the gist of CHANGE UP:
As sophomore summer heats up at Sunray Beach, so does Jake Cole and Ashley Clarke’s long distance relationship. But, Ashley’s overprotective cop father forbids Ashley to see Jake, causing Ashley to sneak around while sinking deeper and deeper into a smudge of lies and deceit. She begins to wonder if her parents are right about Jake when he shows up at times bruised, beaten, and hanging out with shady people.
Back on the diamond, the Cape Town Crush Softball team is doing amazing, even earning a bid to Nationals, but fellow pitcher Christy Mayer’s up to her old tricks and snags a golden opportunity to ruin Ashley’s softball future for good. Ashley and Rachel Harris, a softball superstar who joins the Crush midseason, hit it off and hang out until Ashley discovers Rachel’s secret past. In the meantime, Ashley’s BFF Lizzy hits the Sunray party scene in a major way, leaving Ashley in the dust unless she decides to join in.
Like waves modify a beach, this summer promises to be a season of change for Ashley Clarke. Will Ashley and Jake’s relationship survive sophomore summer? Is this the end of a fifteen-year friendship between Lizzy and Ashley? And what’s the deal with Rachel?
Thanks, Keri. I really appreciate your time. I think nurses have so much care and concern in their hearts that writing is another way to express it. I only hope to be able to do it half as well as you do. Congratulations on your newest book, Screwball. I will encourage all my readers to go get a copy and enjoy.
Awe.. Thanks, Terri! J
Check out her blog at http://kerimikulski.blogspot.com/ and get your copies of her books for a great read.