Secrets of a Fellow Writer

kmupdikeSo today I am very happy to be interviewing my friend K. M. Updike, author of The Life and Death of Terry Dodd, written in the summer of 2013 and soon to be published!

Q. Could you tell us a little about yourself?
A. I grew up in a homeschool family. We read books more than watched TV, and history was huge. My dad got his degree in history, and my mom was a teacher.

Q. Which writers inspire you?
A. Elizabeth Wein, Ellen Montgomery, Louisa M. Alcott, Catherine Marshall (author of Christy), and K. M. Weiland K. M. Weiland is a Christian and has a background similar to mine, and she runs a website dedicated to helping writers become authors.

Q. Which actor/actress would you like to see playing the lead characters from your book?
A. Clint Eastwood (Terry Dodd), a very young Barbara Hershey (Joann), and a mix between Bruce Greenwood and Dennis Quaid and Robert Benigni’s character in Life is Beautiful (Joann’s dad)

Q. How much research did you do for this book?
A. For one thing, I watched Starsky and Hutch. It struck me that they always asked the homeowners if they could use the phone! No cell phones back then. I also found pictures from the 1970s. I researched when books were published [to know whether or not they could be in the story] and the names of clothes that are different from what we call clothing today. I did find pictures of California in which they had drained pools for kids to use for skateboarding.

Q. Why do you write?
A. I feel an irresistible pull—I feel as if I have to create art.

Q. How did this start?
A. When I was about 10 years old, my older brother wrote a story, and my mom was impressed. I was inspired to follow his example, thinking he was doing something cool, and I wanted to do it, too. A couple years later, I was thinking about what I wanted to do when I grew up. I wasn’t really interested in much, so I asked God what He wanted me to do. He said He wanted me to be a writer.
[Note from Christa: this touched me very much. Regardless of age or career, may we all have the humility to ask God what He wants. “A little child shall lead them.”]

Q. How has this continued in recent years?
A. The last few years, I have participated in the National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). I have become sure of this calling for me and sure of this timing. I have learned more each time I wrote for NaNo.

Q. Do you have a special time to write, or how is your day structured?
A. I was not structuring my days, but I am trying to structure more now that I am writing full-time. I am finding it is helpful to set out a certain time. Sometimes it is a struggle to start, but I was surprised to find that I could go 400 words before feeling the need for a break.

Q. What do you do if you get stuck?
A. I take walks on the prairie to think and get inspired. I have conversations alone on the prairie between two of my characters. Also, it depends on what I am stuck on. If I am stuck on words, I just force myself to write words that come. If I am stuck on the plot, I go outside or take a break or think and mull on the story.

Q. Do you work to an outline or do you prefer just to see where an idea takes you?
A. I outline some of the main events or plot points and then see where ideas take me within that. Q. What was the hardest thing about writing this book? A. Editing! I loved it like it was and was loathe to edit.

Q. What are your thoughts on good/bad reviews?
A. I think both are really important for both reader and writer. Sometimes bad reviews will be helpful, but writers shouldn’t read them all. 🙂 I think readers will be able to pick out ridiculous bad reviews [and ignore them].

Q. Why do you think other well-written books just don’t sell?
A. I think probably because people don’t know about them. Also, some well-written books do not appeal to “pop” culture because they don’t follow the rules or they are too moral.

Q. What are your favorite sayings?
A. “Write without fear.” “Have you made art today?”

Q. What is your favorite book and why?
A. I can never decide between Christy and Little Women! I love Christy because I love history and the Appalachian Mountains. I love that it is a true-to-life story with the story being driven more by real, everyday life than a fancy plot. I love how Christy and Doc McNeill each moved each other onto a higher level. I love Little Women because it is not only a story for young girls but also for moms, dads, families, couples, and sisters—like mine.

Thank you so much, K. M.! I thoroughly enjoyed talking with you! The Lord bless your writing!

Readers, I highly encourage you to check out The Life and Death of Terry Dodd. K. M.’s writing just took me away to another place as good stories do and inspired me to think deeper about truths of life.

To learn more about K. M. and connect with her, find her at:

About Christa Upton

I am a wife and mother of three children ages 11, 14, and 18. I used to be a stay-at-home mom (teaching piano & dance, volunteering, etc). From 2007 to 2010, I suffered accidental Toxic Injury (also called Multiple Chemical Sensitivity or MCS). MCS has had major impact on our family, but the forced time in bed has given me time to write. So far, I have published 4 children's books (2 in e-book format on Kindle, one in Print-on-Demand at CreateSpace, and one printed by a local printer). Sometimes I miss my old life, but I love writing for children!
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4 Responses to Secrets of a Fellow Writer

  1. K.M. Updike says:

    Thank you so much, Christa! I’m so honored to be here today and so grateful for your time and effort. I had so much fun with this interview

    • Christa Upton says:

      You are so welcome!!!!! I had so much fun with this interview as well. God’s continued blessings on your writing! <3

  2. Katie Updike says:

    Great interview! Thanks.

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