An interview with author Killarney Traynor
(This is the sixth interview in my inspirational people series. To read more interviews please click here >)
Killarney is a talented author, actress and stuntwoman from America. I was interested to find out more about her and I hope you enjoy reading this interview. I particularly like the section on her faith and how being a Christian has impacted on her career choices.
Where did you grow up?
In New Hampshire, which is just north of Boston, Massachusetts. Most of my childhood was spent in Chester, a semi-rural community with lots of small farms and horses.
Have you always been an avid reader? I used to love sitting in the corner of the playground reading at break times? Who were your favourite authors/books?
Oh, yes! I loved to read anything and everything and I became an expert at finding places to hide where I could read undisturbed. My favorite authors growing up were definitely Laura Ingalls Wilder, CS Lewis, Lucy Maude Montgomery, and Louisa May Alcott. I was also a huge Nancy Drew fan: I so wanted strawberry-blond hair!
Who were your favourite teachers at school? What were your favourite subjects?
Actually, the one I learned the most from was probably my dad: he’s a bigger reader than I am and he would always encourage me to tackle new, and more challenging books. We still swap books today.
As for subjects, I loved history the most, but I also liked literature (naturally, right?), geography, and some of the sciences. I was terrible at math, but don’t tell my boss: my day job is accounting.
Did you have any big parts in school productions?
I played about six characters in A Christmas Carol, and also directed a terrible Robin Hood production. That taught me that I had a lot to learn about directing.
What did you want to be when you were younger?
I always wanted to write, but I was absolutely convinced I was going to be a paleontologist when I grew up. I read every book about dinosaurs and fossils I could find and told my mother that I was going to build a dinosaur museum at the foot of our driveway. I couldn’t understand it when she burst out laughing.
What has been the biggest challenge that you’ve faced?
My biggest challenge has probably been getting over my own reticence – I’m actually a pretty private person and the idea of putting my name on a book and admitting to everyone I knew (and didn’t know) that, yes, I wrote this, was a simply terrifying idea. Luckily, I had lots of support and encouragement from friends and family. Slowly, I’m learning to balance my private and more public life.
What are your favourite TV shows and movies?
I’ve watched the Star Wars until I can practically recite them and I love the original Star Trek series. I have a lot of favorites, but here’s a sampling: the new Planet of the Apes series, Inspector Morse and Lewis TV shows, Lois and Clark, Fraser, Hogan’s Heroes, Elementary, Jurassic Park, The Time Tunnel, Rio Bravo, every version of Pride and Prejudice (I cannot wait for Pride and Prejudice and Zombies to come out) and any Zorro series with any actor ever – the cheesier the better!
If you could have written any book in the world, which one would you pick? I’d have pick Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird – I love that book so much.
Probably Jane Eyre – such a rich, dark, and brave book with a strong lead.
Could you quickly summarise how you went about getting your first book deal?
I’m an indie author, so at the moment, I’m publishing myself. It’s a lot of work, but very interesting and I get to pick my own covers – win!
So far, the best moment for me was when a man stopped me to tell me how the story of one of Summer Shadows characters – one of the more controversial characters, actually – helped him to heal from a past hurt that he’d been dealing with for a long time. That was an unexpected gift.
Do you have a favourite out of all of your books? I know this is a hard question that you mightn’t be able to answer?
Oh, gosh! That is a hard one: the funny this is, I think my favorite book isn’t one I have published yet. It’s a fantasy novel that I wrote as a teenager, about a young man that gets swept off into war. It was my first attempt at serious writing and the reviews I got from my friends and family gave me the courage to continue writing in this vein.
What tips would you give to children who want to become authors?
Read, read, read, read, read! Read everything and everything and learn everything you can about the world around you. The broader your interests, the more interesting your books will be!
Who has supported you the most during your author journey?
My editor, Jenna Brooks – she helped me shape the first book, Summer Shadows, into something readable, and helped me through the entire publishing process. She’s an author in her own right and a dynamite personality.
Which is your favourite character and why?
I like all my characters, but my favorite is probably Ron Budd, from Summer Shadows. He’s such an interesting, intense, lost little boy, who really transforms over the course of the book. He’s also one of my more controversial character, so I think I’m a bit protective of him.
Have you got any big plans for 2016?
Right now I’m working on a mystery script for my brother’s film company, Narrow Street Films, plus I’m outlining three different books – and hope to finish at least one by the end of this year!
Have you got any directors or actors that you’d love to work with in the future?
Oh, gosh, my list is so long! If I had a choice, I’d love to work with Kenneth Branagh – I love the depth and breadth he brings to movies, even seemingly simple ones like Thor. He’d be someone I could learn a lot from.
Have you acted in plays as well as movies?
Not yet, but I’d love to! I think acting in front of a live audience would be an interesting and edifying challenge.
What’s it like being a stunt woman? How did you get into it?
My brother has a film company, Narrow Street Films, and I’ve worked with him off and on through-out the years. Initially, I got into stunt work because I’m one of the only women on the crew and few of the guys could double for me. Stunt work is a lot of fun and a little nerve-wracking at times: I’ve had to jump off a cliff (a short cliff, but still), hang on to the back of an ATV while racing through the woods, and get thrown in numerous explosions. Plus, since my brother almost always does action/adventure movies, I’ve had to do a lot of fights scenes, too, which are probably my favorite thing to do!
What sort of music do you like?
I love a lot of different kinds – rock, pop, Christian, jazz, classical, even some country and folk – , but the performers/writers that were probably the most influential were Henry Mancini, Karen Carpenter, and Bing Crosby. I write to Henry Mancini, wish I could sing like Karen Carpenter, and relax to Crosby. I also love Blackmore’s Night, Josh Groban, and Within Temptation – they paint such vivid pictures with their music.
Do you perform as part of a group or solo? Do you write your own music?
I sing in a choir, and I’ve recorded a duet for a movie. I have written some of my own music – some hymns, a Sinatra-standard type, some rock-pop songs, some folky, even a song about my ukulele, just because that word is so much fun to say.
Definitely novel-writing – it’s immersive and intense, and as broad or narrow as my imagination can make it.
How has your faith impacted on your career choices?
My faith is constantly reminding me that there is more to life than the pursuit of wealth and material goods. When I make career choices, it helps me to keep my life/work/family balance and reminds me that any work worth doing is worth doing well.
How old were you when you became a Christian?
I was baptized as an infant, and actually taught myself to read on a book of Bible stories (the pictures were so interesting that I had to figure out what was going on!) I consciously became a Christian when I was eleven, and later became a Catholic when I was eighteen. I feel that being a Christian is an ongoing process – you’re always learning and evolving. Like any good relationship, it deepens over time.
Do you have a couple of favourite bible verses that have helped you through tough times or you particularly like?
I really love Psalm 23: I learned that when I was a child and it’s helped me through some dark times. Another is Matthew 28:20b: “And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age.” And whenever I am really anxious, Matthew 7:25-26 really helps me to refocus: “Therefore, I tell you, do not worry… Look at the birds in the sky… they gather nothing, yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not more important than they?”
Are there any particular modern worship songs or hymns you particularly like?
Toby Mac’s Lose My Soul, Kutless’ What Faith Can Do, and Sanctus Real’s The Redeemer are all powerful songs that lend themselves well to prayer. I love the oldies, too: Amazing Grace, Were You There, and Tantum Ergo are good examples.