NOTE: Commentary is made as a private citizen and not as Regional Coordinator for Silent No More or Leader of Rachel's Hope, unless otherwise stated.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Have A Seat: I.O. Kirkwood!

In between bouts of banging her head and writing insightful treatises about the human condition, I.O. is the author of “Subatomic Revolt,” Volume 2 of Mike Lynch’s No Revolution Is Too Big series, and “The White Carpet,” a short story published in Scribes Valley Publishing’s 11th Annual Contest anthology. A former board member of the Baltimore Writers’ Alliance with experience in copy and content editing and publishing, I.O. has been writing seriously for the last 32 years. 

What inspired you to become a writer?

I’ve always been a great believer that we have predispositions to feel, do, and think certain things. Sometimes talents and passions are inherited but always there is this idea in my mind that we are “programmed” by something greater than our own will. We can ignore the program or we can sync with the program because always, we have a choice. I submitted to being a writer. It’s a calling. To not write, well, let’s just say I can be meaner than a bear if I can’t write. I prefer to sync and writing is part of my program.

Which one of your books do you consider your “pride and joy”. Why?

I write shorts so I don’t have a “book” in the accepted definition of “book.” My pride and joy is the very short story I wrote that was accepted by Scribes Valley Publishing called “The White Carpet.” The tale is about surviving abuse. This was the first story that when I read it, I was moved on a deep, fundamental level. It shocked me because it was another thing entirely. I was like, “I wrote this?” and it came so effortlessly. I even walked away and there were no substantial edits that I felt were necessary and it was less than 1,000 words. The editor only rearranged one sentence so I’m very proud of that particular story.

Do you have any preparation rituals before you begin to write?

I have to get certain errands out of the way. I make a list of the things that must be done or the household will crumble around my ears. Once I get those done, I’m allowed to write. When I cross something off my list, it’s almost as if a burden is lifted and the joy of being that much closer to writing increases. I need that escalation. I want to reward myself for being responsible and the ability to sit down and write with a clear conscience is such a pleasure. The sky’s the limit.

If you had to come up with a book title to describe your life, what would it be?

Living Authentically: Navigating the Journey of Blood, Sex and Death. All the world’s avatars have come to tell us the mysteries and how to navigate them.  Blood and Sex are life at different levels and Death is the transformation of life from one form to another. So it’s all about life and I’m a student of life. I can’t see any other reason why I’d be here.

If you had a chance to have dinner with any author who would it be?

Lon Milo DuQuette would be my choice. He wrote “The Chicken Qabalah of Rabbi Lamed Ben Clifford,” which teaches the significance of the Jewish Mystery tradition with a Western sensibility and a humor that never diminishes the importance of his subject. He’s written many other books on the Western Esoteric tradition. I imagine I would have a hard time keeping up with him. He’s wicked intelligent and exudes this tremendous compassion and patience. It would be a fun dinner though.

We all have family, work and other obligations...
how do you maintain balance while in the middle of a writing project?

Um, I don’t. Everything’s extremes for me, like a swinging pendulum. So I go with it. I guess that’s where my preparation ritual comes from. If I feel guilty while I’m writing, it means I forgot something. I try to avoid that at all costs. Guilty writing is the absolute worst. All I can think about is, “What did I forget?” It disrupts the creative process.

What is the one piece of advice you received about writing that helped you the most?

The first draft is you telling yourself a story. “ That has freed me up immensely because I tell myself stories out of sequence. I day dream out of sequence. I’m always creating stories in my head, wish-fulfillments really, and I will have this situation and I’ll ask myself, “How did I get there?” Now I’ve given myself permission to write stories out of sequence. I’m fabulous at beginnings so I’ll start with the premise. Then I write the end and it’s HUGE and dramatic because my characters have to walk across burning coals laced with nails and broken glass to get to the goal. I have to rewrite the beginning because so many different things need to be suggested, foreshadowed and threaded through the subtext, but now I know where I’m headed. The middles have always been my stumbling block. So I’m treating my stories like sandwiches. I need to set out the bread first. Then I decide on the stuff that goes in between.

Where can we purchase your books and how can we keep up with you?

I have two shorts. The first is “Subatomic Revolt: Volume 2 of Mike Lynch’s No Revolution Is Too Big Series.” You can find it on Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Kobo. “The White Carpet” can be purchased as part of a contest anthology from Scribes Valley Publishing. I enjoyed all of the other authors’ works very much so you’ll be getting eleven amazing stories all together. If you’re a writer, I recommend Scribe’s annual contest without reservation. They’ve been wonderful.

I write a blog at The topics I enjoy writing about are the craft of writing, the creative process (and not just for writers), marketing for creative types, and the issues that arise from being an artist in a world that devalues creativity. I just participated in a Blog Hop with Ruth Snyder and that was so much fun. We had six posts to write over a ten week period and the topics were all about writing. I’m considering creating my own Blog Hop. It’s in the subconscious development stage (one side of the pendulum) and suddenly it will break free from my mind like a fully formed entity (the other side of the pendulum). I also have a Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn, and Goodreads.

Last, but not least.....What and when is your next release?

My next release is supposed to happen this year sometime, through Helping Hands Press, but the exact date hasn’t been set. I’m working with another group of amazing authors on an origin story that will start off a series of shorts and recipes. The series is about a group of misfits who struggle with acceptance. Bullied and ridiculed at school, they show their true courage and compassion in the alternate worlds of video games. I’ve been quizzing my son, an inveterate gamer, about what motivates him to spend hundreds of dollars on a gaming system and the video games. His thoughtful answers have opened up my eyes on how relevant and empowering youth find the fantasy offered by the gaming culture. The recipes I’ve created incorporate gaming culture while sneaking in nutrition. I’ve been testing them on my sons and so far, they’ve been a hit.

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