I was raised in Central Illinois, traveled with my military spouse for 17 years, and am settled in Western Pennsylvania.
Good morning, L.K. Welcome to Vision and Verse, the place for Art and Authors. What have you written?
I have eight novels out, plus a children’s book in both paperback and hardcover, and a color/write/sketch journal out under LK Hunsaker. Under my pen name, Ella M. Kaye, I have 3 novels and a novella out with at least 2 more coming this year. My LK books are hard to categorize. They fall somewhere in the women’s fiction/literary/romance/20th century historical line. My EMK books are what is currently called upmarket romance. I call them contemporary romance with a mental twist, since they all have mental health issues included within the story lines.
What is your favorite genre to write?
I enjoy writing relationship stories, whether its a romance or a family relationship. There are so many nuances to every relationship stemming from personal experiences and family/cultural backgrounds that they are all very different even when the circumstances are similar.
Italian. And chocolate. Or most anything I don’t have to cook.
Tea or coffee?
Yes. Both. Coffee, most often, usually with coconut oil and turmeric stirred in.
Pizza or ice cream?
Pizza. I like ice cream, but only on an occasional basis, and usually with M&Ms and/or pecans added for flair. These days I’m focusing more on my health, so I’m careful with both.
Wine or beer?
Wine, preferably local. We have incredible local wineries all around us and hubby and I try to find them all during warm weather when we’re out on the Harley.
Where would you like to visit?
I’ve been to several countries and most of the states. I’d still like to see Austria and I’d love to go back to Italy and Scotland! Here in the States, I want to travel in the west since I’ve done very little of that.
Here we are at a book signing. It's L.K. and C.A. in PA. We had a great time! I'm glad you were there. Okay, back to work. Favorite musical artist. Do you listen to music when you write? What?
Oh, I’m music obsessed and I listen to a lot of genres from classical to 80s metal and country to 70s pop. Naming one favorite would be impossible, but I do have a very long book series (Rehearsal) that was inspired by the 70s band, the Bay City Rollers out of Scotland. My current obsessive play CD is That Girl by Jennifer Nettles of Sugarland. Sometimes I write to music, usually a lyrical mix of classical and soundtracks. It helps me focus when I can’t otherwise.
What makes you laugh?
My grandbabies. They’re toddlers now, 3 months apart, and they are so funny!
Favorite work of art or sculpture.
I adore Michelangelo and got to see the David and the Sistine Chapel ceiling. Incredible. I also love impressionism and Van Gogh. When I visited the Art Institute in Chicago for a college class, Seurat’s Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte absolutely captivated me. It’s HUGE and all pointillist. Amazing. I used it in one of my books as a metaphor.
How old were you when you started writing?
I don’t remember exactly, but pretty young, grade school age. I used Grandma’s Americana Music Books and used them to write musical plays. That’s the first I remember.
Describe your perfect evening.
Quiet. Alone, with no distractions. Warm enough I can open my windows and let the breeze in while I write or read. Or lazing on a beach somewhere listening to the ocean. That would be nice, too.
Here you are reading a story to some of the children at the book signing in the Shenango Valley Mall sponsored by Leana's Books and More. What a fun day that was! Where do you get your inspiration?
Life experience, some of mine but mostly from what I hear or read. I’ve always studied relationships from the time I was young, so I use that pondering in my stories. Music can trigger an idea. I have a list of titles I’ve grabbed from song lyrics that I plan to use for short stories. Also, I’m a nature lover and I always pull that in as I’m writing.
What do you do when you get a writer's block?
I had my first real bout of that this past summer. I’m sure it stemmed from too many concerns and responsibilities jamming my head, but I shrugged and did other things with my time, started up with my artwork again, read other writer’s books, and waited it out. All of a sudden it flooded back in and I finished one novel’s first draft and wrote two novellas all in one month.
Who is your favorite author?
Tough question, since I’m an avid reader and I love the older classics to include Shakespeare, Hemingway, and Dreiser. My favorite contemporary novelist is Marilynne Robinson. Her prose is so incredibly beautiful and her characters are so deep and rich, I’m awed with each book. She inspires me to want to get to that level.
Best book you ever read.
I can’t possibly name one novel as the best since too many would vie for that title, so I’ll turn to non-fiction and say The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran. It’s a beautiful connecting, open, accepting, and loving piece. “Your children are not your children. They are the sons and daughters of life’s yearning for itself.” It had a big impact on the way I look at things. It’s also poetic and nature-filled.
Last book you read.
The last book I finished is actually a children’s book titled The Empty Hook, An Ornament’s Tale by Joe Dragovich, a local author. I’ve been on a quest to read local authors and plan to continue that in between my huge to-read stack. Currently, I’m reading An Edinburgh Lad by Eric Falconer, Making Rumors by Ken Caillat, and re-reading the first romance I ever read, The Flame and The Flower by Kathleen Woodiwiss.
What would you do for a living if you weren’t a writer?
I was heading toward Art Therapy when marriage changed my path, and I have a degree in psychology, but I’m not sure I’d be working in the field. I’m a homebody. I’d probably have turned to art and design in some manner, doing websites or logos or such.
Who is the one person who has influenced your personal life the most and why?
I would have to say my husband since he pulled me out of my no-stoplight little town and took me all over the world, practically, which opened my personal point of view and beliefs like I couldn’t have imagined. We are very different-natured, also. He loves to be out and about and socializing. I always hated it since I have social anxiety issues, but that has changed a good deal, to the extent I was able, last summer, to organize a good-sized event in my community (WestPABookFestival.com).
I have to say it would be the lead guitarist/songwriter for the band that inspired my Rehearsal series, Eric Faulkner/Falconer. Most big names in history, past and current, I can read about well enough to fulfill my curiosity. There are so many things I would like to ask about the insides of working up to and being in one of the top bands in the world that I can’t find in books, although I’ve read several memoirs. I started writing the series because I wanted to know the insides, not only technically, but about the relationships, how they deal with personality conflicts, being away from family, close living quarters for long periods of time, etc. And because he’s very intelligent and very creative, with a good sense of humor, and it would have to be a highly interesting conversation!
What advice would you give someone who aspired to be a writer?
The best advice about writing I’ve ever heard is, “If you can quit, you should.” You are a writer or you aren’t, and no one else can define that for you. You have the passion and need and love for not only the written word, but also for Story, or you don’t. Be aware that the learning curve is high if you want quality books and not only in-print books, that critics will knock you down no matter what you write or how well you write, that most of writing is rewriting and editing, not just getting the story down, and that most writers will not make a living from writing. If you need to do it because you need to do it, then sit down and do it. If it sounds like a fun hobby, then write for a while and give it a try. It never hurts to try. You’ll know whether or not you need to keep going. If you just want a book printed with your name on it, do that and buy a few copies for yourself and your family, but don’t try to sell it until you’ve done the real work of becoming a professional, learned, skillful writer first.
Thanks so much, Carol!
My pleasure, L.K. We at Vision and Verse wish you continued success in all your writing endeavors. Come back and see us again. Do you have some links for us to follow you?
LK Website: http://www.lkhunsaker.com
EMK Website: http://www.ellamkaye.com