Friday, June 27, 2014

Interview with Kerry Peresta, author of 'The Hunting'

Kerry Peresta's publishing credits include a popular newspaper and e-zine humor column, The Lighter Side, and short stories in the published anthology, That One Left Shoe, and her debut novel, The Hunting, contemporary women's fiction, released by Pen-L Publishing. She spent twenty-five years in advertising as an account manager, creative director, and copywriter before deciding to devote more of her time to writing. She is currently working on her second novel, participating in writing conferences, and serving on the leadership team of the Maryland Writers' Association. Kerry was a single mother for many years to four great kids, all grown and successfully carving out their own unique paths. She and her husband live in the Baltimore metro area.

Her novel, The Hunting, is available in Kindle and paperback on Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble (bn.com), and her website.

Visit Kerry at www.kerryperesta.com.

Q: Welcome to The Writer's Life!  Now that your book has been published, we’d love to find out more about the process.  Can we begin by having you take us at
the beginning?  Where did you come up with the idea to write your book?

The protagonist in my debut novel, The Hunting, is shaped by my adventures when I was a single mom-in-progress. My character’s life is frantic, her thought processes like butterflies in a jar. Mom to three teens, advertising account executive for a daily newspaper, she figures the most expedient way to date is online. She becomes addicted to the rush of male attention at her fingertips, with disastrous consequences. A central theme resounds throughout the story: before a woman can attract the right kind of man, she must become the right kind of woman.

After a stint in a love and relationship addiction recovery group for women, I experienced multiple epiphanies about becoming the right kind of woman. One, I was clueless about what a good marriage looked like; and two, male attention does not necessarily equal heaven on earth, no matter what the sitcoms and Hallmark movies say. The most important thing, I learned, is contentment. A woman is much more desirable when she is content and happy within herself and her belief system instead of tripping over her high heels running after the perfect guy to somehow make her feel whole.

I figured my personal safari through this particular jungle would make a great story, but it is enhanced for staying-up-til-three a.m. appeal.

Q: How hard was it to write a book like this and do you have any tips that you could pass on which would make the journey easier for other writers?

It was fun to write! I built the characters on people I’d known and gave them bizarre characteristics and hilarious detail. I encountered multiple landmines, however, stumbling around the first novel landscape. Here are some of my hard-earned lessons:

⦁    I edited as I wrote. Not a good idea. I got off track and had to go back and re-read large portions to remember who did what. Write first, edit later.
⦁    Critique groups are very helpful. You can find them online (LinkedIn has some good ones) or in your community. I enlisted a group of beta readers to read as I wrote. I’d send ten or so chapters to someone I trusted (with experience and could be objective – not a close friend or family member) to give me impartial input. They caught things like – why did the character start out in Charleston and end up in Galveston? Why was the kid fifteen in Chapter Ten and thirteen in Chapter Twenty-One? Et cetera. I saved all these comments until after I was done with the first draft, then compiled them and used that to do my first re-write.
⦁    A clean manuscript is a happy manuscript. Must edit before querying – not only spellcheck but also for a thousand usages of suddenly or however or he/she nodded. Self-edit until you are blue in the face, then hire an editor for the final pass before querying. If you self-publish, hire an editor before taking the plunge. A publisher or agent won’t even look at a manuscript that is not impeccable. The less editing needed, the better chance for grabbing that gold ring.
⦁    Set goals for yourself. A writer friend told me to write a thousand words a day and eventually I’d have a book. Simple, but true. That became my goal. And eventually, I had a book.

Q: Who is your publisher and how did you find them or did you self-publish?

My publisher is Pen-L Publishing - I found them on Twitter. There are amazing resources to be found on Twitter. Self-publishing was not an option for me.

Q: Is there anything that surprised you about getting your first book published?

It surprised me how little promotion a publisher does. The real work starts after the book releases! Next time around I will be better prepared.

Q: What other books (if any) are you working on and when will they be published?

I’m 81,000 words into the first draft of my next novel. My goal is 100,000 words, working title is The Deadening. It’s the story of a woman who married young, abdicated her choices and opinions to her husband early on, focused on raising kids and trusted her husband to take care of everything else. Not the best idea, in her particular case. The book unfolds in a hospital, where she lies paralyzed. I am rapidly approaching the heavy breathing stage of the book.

Q: What’s your favorite place to hang out online?

Facebook and Twitter. FB, because it is an expedient way to connect with friends and family; Twitter because the tweets are hysterical. Some mentalities are just too bizarre to ignore – why can’t I be that witty, I ask myself as I favorite their tweets. It is also a good resource for editors, smaller publishers, and especially book marketing gurus. I am trying to figure out Goodreads, but it is frustrating. Why can’t they make this stuff simple? On a side note, of course I use both to promote, promote, promote. My FB friends are sick of my Amazon link by this time, I’m sure.

Q: Finally, what message (if any) are you trying to get across with your book?

Repeated relationship failures should be a clue to women that something is not working. Doing the same thing over and over again is defined as insanity. If it’s not working, time to point the finger back at ourselves and figure out why, before our choices affect our kids or career; or weird men we’ve met online stalk us.

Q: Thank you again for this interview!  Do you have any final words?

I always have final words because it is somewhat difficult to shut me up.

Triumph in difficult or impossible situations inspires me. My books applaud the bold and brave women who fell into a ditch but managed to climb out. A little creative embellishment, a dash of suspense, and I’m off to the races.

My first book is dedicated to single moms, the bravest women on the planet. My fervent hope is that both encouragement and entertainment lie within the pages of my rollicking, snarky, page-turner, The Hunting. And maybe…it just might prevent a little insanity in someone’s life.