A Warm Welcome to Author Kathryn Mackel

Originally Posted at Bibliophile’s Retreat by Melissa Meeks

Please welcome Kathy here at Bibliophile’s Retreat to share about her book Vanished, writing and some tidbits of trivia.

Without further ado here’s Kathy’s interview:

1. Who do you want to meet and why?
I want to meet people of singular focus and intense passion because that’s my biggest spiritual struggle. Distraction is an issue for me, and I admire people who set their eyes on a prize and race, trudge, or even crawl to it. The apostle Paul is a wonderful example of this kind of personality. He would frighten me, I think, if I sat under his tutelage. Kevin Garnett of the Boston Celtics revs himself up before games (rather profanely, I hear) so you can see fire in his eyes. That fire stays in his eyes the whole game and I can’t understand how—though I want to.

And Jesus, of course. After the biggest eternal hug ever, I want to look him in the eyes and learn how He turned every distraction into an opportunity to bring glory to the Father.

2.What’s your favorite comfort food?
Depends on the time of day and the depth of my need for comfort. Spaghetti is always welcome, and Diet Coke is always at my side. If I had to choose absolutely one, I’d say chocolate ice cream with chocolate sauce and lots of nuts. No whipped cream or marshmallow, no cherry on top—just chocolate, more chocolate, and nuts.

I’m with you on the chocolate though I prefer actual chocolate like in Hershey bars.

3. What would be your dream vacation?
If we’re talking a ‘dream’ vacation—like the one I plan to take in heaven—then it would be climbing mountains in cool weather, then plunging into a warm, Caribbean ocean and swimming until I turned into a raisin. Which, being heaven, would never happen, would it?

Since we’re still on this side of heaven, my dream vacation is hiking in the White Mountains of New Hampshire, followed by a chocolate ice cream sundae with lots of nuts and no whipped cream.

4. Is there anyone who has influenced / encouraged you to write other than God who ultimately gives us any talents including creativity? Who and how / why?
My writing professor (Larry Maness) from the Masters’ Program. I had no aspirations whatsoever of publishing (I just wanted to survive my first course) so when Larry told me I could be published someday, my heart beat double-time for days. As I developed in my writing, I didn’t have a clue about getting published until I joined a writers’ group. I’ve been so blessed to be part of a very high-level group for the past thirteen years. And interestingly, I’m one of the more “junior” members of the group. They are wonderful writers who help me learn and improve every time we get together.

5. Can you give a brief synopsis of your journey to publication with your first book?
I wrote my first book, A Season of Comebacks, because my writing professor thought it would be easier to get a book published than a screenplay sold. It took me a year to write it and then I was at a loss how to sell it. I joined a writers’ group (the one I’m still with all these years later) and learned about query letters, etc. I queried a bunch of publishers, got no response. Not wanting to be wasteful, I queried the same publishers eight months later. (Don’t do this at home, folks…bad thing to do.) A new editor had joined Penguin, and she had played softball so she wanted to see the manuscript.

They bought the book with one provision—that I would rewrite the first chapter. Since then, I’ve had to rewrite, upon editor’s request, the first chapter in 75% of my books! I do not start well, really struggle which may be why I have such problem with focus at times.

6. What else have you written / are you currently writing (including unpublished works)?
I’ve written four Christian “chillers” (including Vanished), two Christian fantasies, six secular middle-readers, and am about to bring out my first secular YA. I’m so excited about the latter—BOOST is about female athletes and performance-enhancing drugs. I write my kids’ novels and films under Kathy Mackel.

I’ve got two screenwriting credits, one for adapting my novel, Can of Worms, and the other (with Stan Foster) for the adaptation of Hangman’s Curse.

7. What first gave you the idea for the series that Vanished is kicking off?
My agent and I had prayed about what my next book should be. Though I am terrifically proud of my Birthright books, they did not sell robustly. I wanted to avoid fantasy but both my agent and my dear friend came to the same conclusion independently—that fantasy is where my strength is. I was not pleased, not at all, with the answer to prayer so I stomped my foot at our Father (another thing not to try at home, kids) and prayed, if you want me to write something with fantastic elements, you need to give me the idea.

I sat bolt upright in the middle of the night with the idea fully formed. Vanished is designed to read like a thriller but the fantasy elements will keep slipping in. I’ve always loved the notion of isolated people and communities to see if they can hold onto their humanity and find faith when no apparent hope can be found. I’m a big fan of the television show Lost for this reason.

8. What else would you like to share with readers about yourself or Vanished?
I want to make sure everyone gets a look at Victoria James’ video of her latest song, Deceived. She wrote this song to support Darkening (book 2 of Vanished) but since I have a public forum today, I want to make sure anyone who wants to see the
Video can check it out.

Most of my warts are on display in Vanished. Logan’s insecurity, Ben’s hope—and fear—about doing the right thing. The tremor in Kaya’s faith after the closing of the clinic. Alexis’ desire to control every aspect of her life, and the lives of those in her care. My hope is that I will trust God enough to learn Logan’s courage, Kaya’s compassion, Ben’s growing maturity, and Alexis’ good will.

9. Share with us one of the craziest things you’ve done or that’s happened to you?
I’m left-handed and blonde so too many crazy things happen to me! Recently I broke my toe on a Sunday afternoon. It was a full break so the toe was literally hanging sideways off my foot. I have a HUGE co-pay for the ER ($250) so no way was I going to blow it on a dumb broken toe. So I set it myself, using the techniques I learned for Kaya to employ in Darkening. The next day I went to my orthopedist (co-pay $40) and he told me I had done a spectacular job!

Yikes! about the toe but how cool to meet another southpaw.

10. What five books would you take with you to a desert island?
The Bible, of course. The Forsyte Saga by John Galsworthy. (Can I lump all nine books of the saga as one?) To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee (which I’ve read easily a good thirty times.) A Wrinkle in Time (ditto on the thirty-plus reads). War and Peace by Tolstoy. (And yes, I’ve read it—twice—but haven’t had time to read it again.)

The nine book series could conceivably count as one especially if they’ve issued a one volume compilation. If there were a space limit though I’m not sure nine books would pass the rules, LOL – though I’d probably be just as guilty of trying to circumvent them if I had to choose only five books.

11. What concept or scripture is God revealing more deeply to you in this season of your life? And how is that revelation influencing your life?
My friend and I just finished teaching the book of Daniel for adult Sunday School. Because we chose not to use an established teaching series, we had to dig in each week to prepare our own curricula. We are not Biblical scholars, not by a long-shot. We were blessed with the marvelous online resources. For example, one week I googled Daniel 11 exegesis and was rewarded with John Wesley’s notes on the chapter!

Doing our own lesson preparation meant we couldn’t answer someone else’s questions, but we needed to be very sensitive to the Spirit’s prompting. Week after week after week (the class ran from September into June), God impressed on me how faithful Daniel and so many others were to Israel’s God, even among the riches of Babylon.

We ended the study with a look at Ezra and Nehemiah, and the return of the exiles. Given this was after 70 years, most of the people returning to Jerusalem had been born in exile. They left the riches of Babylon and returned to a city in rubble, and a land that was no longer a nation.

Like many writers, I’ve had times in my life when I considered my career to be in “rubble.” This is one of them, right now. Only in the past few weeks, since considering the list of families who returned from the exile to rebuild the temple and the wall, have I begun to embrace that rubble can be God blessing me and not God failing to bless me.

And I’ve also been humbled because of my lack of patience. The returning exiles—and those who prophesied and prayed them back—were so patient, so willing to humble themselves because of their sin and wait for God to fulfill what is promised.

12. Why did you start writing and when?
I wrote little plays when my kids were young. I didn’t write fiction until I was 41, and took my first creative fiction course in a Masters program.. I almost dropped out but was shamed into staying. The following semester, I took screenwriting and began to write for the love of it. I’ve been writing since.

13. How do you choose names and get to know your characters?
Naming is important. I can’t really say exactly how I come up with names, but here’s a funny story about Vanished. I always knew Logan had to be Logan and Kaya, Kaya. They just had to be for no reason but they were.

A few weeks after I had started writing the book, I was at a softball game and ran into a man whose kids I used to coach. He told me he was a grandfather now, with two little ones. I asked what their names were.

Yep. Logan and Kaya.

I get to know my characters by daydreaming. I need to see them walk across my mind, see how they move, what their voices sound like, what they like to eat, what they fear, how they react in simple situations like going to church or working on their car, then see them under stress.

14. What’s your favorite character / scene from Vanished or the series it is part of so far?
My favorite part in Vanished is when Kimmie walks Logan out of the mist.

And, every chapter Alexis is in because I want her to run my life for me. I think…

15. Do you have any teasers you can share for the sequel to Vanished?
The sequel is named Darkening.

Night is coming, and it’s all Logan’s fault. And Luke 13:4 plays a big part in the story.

Stay tuned to this site for details of the release.

16. Are there any closing remarks you’d like to share?
I am grateful for all the readers who give of their time to read my books. It’s hard when I’m working on the dining room table or out in the woods to remember that I’m sharing this story with others. I’m blessed by that privilege.

And I am terrifically blessed by this blog tour. It’s a lot of work, and a major commitment. Thank you so much for hosting me.

Kathy Thank you for taking the time to share with me and my readers.

Readers check out Kathy’s website by clicking her picture. Check out the other CSFF posts using my sidebar or the list in Monday’s Post and click on the bookcover to read more about the book or purchase a copy.


  1. Great interview, Melissa! Wow, this was fun. I hope lots and lots of visitors stop by and read your interaction with Kathy.


  2. This was a great interview Melissa. It’s interesting to hear that Kathryn has had to re-write so many of the first chapters of her books. The first chapter is usually my strongest. LOL

  3. I know I’m late in posting, but … this was an awesome interview! Thanks for sharing so transparently about your writing journey, Kathy!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

CommentLuv badge

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.