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.

KillarneyWriting questions

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!

Summer ShadowsDo you have any special moments that you’ll never forget? 

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!

Acting

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!

Music

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.

Nesessary EvilWhat do you love the most, writing books, acting, stunt work or music?

Definitely novel-writing – it’s immersive and intense, and as broad or narrow as my imagination can make it.

Faith

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.

 

An interview with actor Christian Wolf

Christian Wolf Actor 2(This is fifth interview in my inspirational people series. To read more interviews please click here >)

Christian is a German actor who moved all the way to Los Angeles to become an actor. I was eager to learn more about Christian and what motivates him. He has met some pretty incredible people – I’m very jealous that he’s met The Hobbit director Peter Jackson. Ever since writing my guide to the Hobbit movies I’ve wanted to meet Peter.

Hi Christian, thanks so much for letting me interview you. I hope you had a lovely Christmas and New Year. If it’s okay, I’d like to start by chatting about your childhood…

I grew up Kassel, Germany. A town north of Frankfurt. Loved movies and soccer. School not so much lol. I lived there until I was 21 and moved to LA for drama school.

 

How old were you when you decided you wanted to become an actor?
I liked acting and performing generally since I was a kid but really decided that I wanted to make it my profession was in high school. So 17 I guess.

 

Did you have any acting heroes when you were younger?
Yes I did, and still do haha. When I was a teenager I was very drawn to the “cool” guys that I wish I could be like haha, like Brad Pitt, Johnny Depp, and of course Leo DiCaprio, who’s grandma is German and I guess that made me relate even more. haha.

 

Christian Wolf Actor 8Did you act in any school plays? Were there any teachers who helped inspire you?
Yeah my first real school play was a rendition of Spring Awakening where I played Melchior. That changed my life. My teacher then was Eckart Lück, who was very supportive and made me realize that I could really pursue this as a career.

 

What were your favourite subjects at school?
Besides, Drama of course, my favorite subjects were English and German. I find languages fascinating and wish I would make time to learn more. Right now that’s pretty difficult though and I have different priorities.

 

Christian Wolf Actor 7Do you come from a family who are very dramatic/artistic? 
No not at all, my dad works in insurance and my mom was a doctor’s assistant, but became a stay at home mom for me and my little sister, which was awesome.

 

Have they always supported you?
Yes they have. They were skeptical at first but once they realized that I was actually serious they never stopped supporting me in whatever way they could. And I’m very grateful for that.

 

Were you a member of any drama groups or did you go to drama school?
I was part of drama groups in High School, and then moved to LA to attend The American Academy of Dramatic Arts when I was 21. And I haven’t moved back to Germany since.

 

What has been the biggest challenge that you’ve faced?
The biggest challenge… I guess trying to make sure that I don’t only work too goal oriented, but also keep enjoying every day of the work I put in if that makes sense. I can get caught up in “success” goals and I don’t like to think that way.

 

Christian Wolf Actor 6Do you have any regrets?
No, no regrets. I’ve found that mistakes are amazingly useful in life.

 

What are your favourite TV shows and movies?
My favorite shows at the moment I would say are Peaky Blinders and Game of Thrones. I also love Breaking Bad but that’s over of course. Some of my favorite movies are Fight Club, What’s eating Gilbert Grape, The Departed, Inception, gosh I could go on forever lol. I really love “It’s a wonderful Life” with James Stewart. I cry every time lol.

 

If you could have been in any movie or TV show from the past or present which one would you pick?
That’s a hard question. Probably “Some Like It Hot” (1959) (another one of my favorites) That would have been an amazing experience to be around those people.

 

Have you ever acted in any plays?
I have, mostly as part of the AADA Theater Company. My favorite roles include Eugene in “Look Homeward, Angel” and Luke in “Next Fall”.

 

Christian Wolf Actor 5What tips would you give to young children who want to become actors?
Tips to young children… Well, I guess just keep at it. And not being afraid of being terrible. Just risk something and see what happens. At least that’s the advice I try to give myself all the time. :)

 

How do you prepare to play a part?
That really depends on the part. But generally I guess I try to really really understand whoever I’m playing and whatever they’re doing. I ask myself a lot of why questions and try to be as specific as I can with everything.

 

What have been your 3 favourite parts that you’ve played?
I think all parts are awesome in their own way. The variety is what really does it for me.

 

Christian Wolf Actor 3Have you got any big plans for 2016?
Yes I am very excited about this next project called “crossing fences” where I play and east German man during the 1970’s who’s trying to escape to West Germany. Should be a blast and I’m very excited to work with Nina Rausch who plays my wife and to be directed by Annika Pampel. I’m sure being on set will be a fantastic experience and I look forward to also learn lot from them.

 

Have you got any directors or actors that you’d love to work with in the future?
I’d love to sit across Leo DiCaprio one day, acting out a scene for a film. That would be epic.

 

Christian Wolf and Peter JacksonWhat was it like to meet Peter Jackson? How did it happen?
It was awesome, Peter Jackson is a really down to earth guy and it really motivated me. It was at an event for The Hobbit Part 2.

 

You’ve also met Charlize Theron and Ben Stiller? Where was that. How did it feel?
Meeting Charlize Theron and Ben Stiller was amazing as well. They both are super nice and really made you feel listened to if that makes sense. Very comfortable and just easy. Very great people to meet and very inspiring. I sure admire both of them a great deal. That was at the AFI Film Fest.

Christian Wolf and Charlize TheronChristian Wolf Actor 4

A is for… Acting

our town story

Lots of the famous people I’ve written about were passionate about acting when they were at high school. Miley Cyrus, Taylor Swift, Zayn Malik and Louis Tomlinson all had the acting bug even though they would all become world-famous pop stars eventually.

Here is Louis Tomlinson as Danny Zuko in Grease

Zayn was in Grease at his school too, but the teacher created a special role for him because he was too young to play a main part:

I loved acting too and would perform at my local theatre as well as in school plays. I haven’t acted for a few years now but I’ll always look back fondly at the time I spent on stage.

I really enjoyed playing the role of Abigail Williams in The Crucible and my favourite project involved performing at the Millennium Dome in London. It feels amazing to know that I represented my town by performing ‘Our Town Story’ in a venue that is now the O2 Arena!

our town story

(This is a photo of the Our Town Story cast. I’m on the first person on the left of the second row and my sister is next door but one to me. We don’t look anything alike!)

My cousin David is a famous actor and I’m very proud of him. He moved to London when he was eighteen and was determined to become the best actor he could be. He studied at the prestigious RADA (The Royal Academy of Dramatic Art). He has been in lots of TV shows and theatre productions. He’s currently playing King Alfred in The Last Kingdom and Fred Best in Ripper Street. I’d love to write a book on him one day… I’d really enjoy interviewing our nan and looking through her photo albums for embarrassing photos!

Here are some photos of David:

david 2 david 3 david 5 david1 david4

He’s coming home for Christmas and I can’t wait!

If you’re a fan of David, you should check out www.daviddawsononline.net