I am happy to have Author Billie Kowalewski as my interview guest for December. Billie has some entertaining answers to my questions. I am honoured by her answer to question 3, loved her answer to question 7, and intrigued by her response to question 15. Thanks again, Billie, happy you could participate.
1. Do you remember the first book you read that had an impact on you – in what way and what was the name of that book?
Ramona Quimby By Beverly Cleary. She was always so spunky and a little bratty like me and I felt like I identified with her when I read those books.
2. When did you first realize you wanted to write?
For as long as I can remember I wanted to do it. I didn’t think I did this but, from what others have told me recently, I guess I talked about writing a book a lot growing up. I lacked the courage to be able to try for a long time which is a shame really. Thankfully I found the courage finally in 2010 and I’ve been so happy ever since. It’s hard work, but it’s definitely something I enjoy. Never let fear keep you from doing something you really want.
3. Who is/are your favourite author(s)?
I have a lot of them. Stephanie Meyer, Lauren Kate, Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl, Sandra J Jackson (Yes, I mean you. I loved Promised Soul) this is just a few really, I have many more. I discover new ones I love almost every day.
4. What is your favourite thing about writing? What is your least favourite thing writing?
Okay, lets start with my least favorite stuff. The obvious, I hate writers block like every other writer. I also hate that I can’t do it full time yet. It frustrates me that I only get a couple of hours to write most days lately, if at all. But that will all sort itself out eventually, I hope.
What I love about writing is that it’s like reading in reverse. I get just as lost in the story I am creating as I would with another authors book. I form a bond with my characters too and end up loving them as if they are real and I look forward to working with them every day.
5. Where do your ideas come from?
Everywhere. I see scenarios in every day things all the time and I write down those ideas constantly. Sometimes, the kids on the bus will say something silly and that will inspire me too. Music is a big influencer. A song will come on occasionally that will send my imagination soaring. I love that one the most.
6. I’ve often found that creative people have more than one talent, what is yours?
I wish I could say I’m a very talented singer or painter. Nope nothing like that. I’m double jointed in my left thumb (It’s a talent depending on how you look at it.) I drive big buses for my day job, and I’m a well of useless (it’s all in how you look at it) driving knowledge like licencing, and road rules. I can also remember every person I’ve picked up and where they all go. I often tease them saying: “I’ll never remember your name, but I know where you live.”
7. If you could jump inside of a book for one day (as an observer) what book would it be?
As dorky as this is gonna sound, my own book Enlightened. What I would give to hang out with my characters just once. I have a dream of one day being able to hug them all.
8. When you create characters are they completely made up or do they resemble or remind you of people you know?
I have a little of both. I will never reveal “who is who” but a couple of the characters are a smash up of two different people I knew because their traits and personalities worked so nicely together, I couldn’t resist.
9. Have you ever created a character “out of thin air” only to run into someone in real life that reminds you of that character either in personality or their features?
YES! Freaked me right, out.
10. How do you come up with titles for your books?
I came up with Enlightened on my own because of what the book is about. The other two Divided and Awakened which are the second and the third book in the Enlightened series my daughter titled them. She did great, because the titles fit what they are about perfectly.
11. What are you working on now and can you tell us about it?
I don’t have much to tell yet other than I am starting another book, and I’m still in the planning and outlining stage. I have 3 characters that I play with in my imagination daily. No title for it yet either.
12. Have you won any awards for your writing/books and if so what?
So far, Enlightened is my only award-winning title. It won Distinguished Favorites in 2017 from Independent Press Awards.
13. What is one thing you haven’t done but would like to do?
Stick my feet in the Pacific Ocean.
14. Can you tell us about an embarrassing/funny moment?
I can’t believe I’m gonna tell this one, it was what came to mind suddenly. Are you Ready?
One day back in fourth grade, I believe the year was 1985, and I was about 10 years old at the time. I was not one of those kids whose parents had a lot of money, so I wore a lot of hand-me-downs from cousins and wore other things until they were worn out or I out grew them. Where I grew up the 4th and 5th grade was separate from the elementary school and the middle school in its own building. So, in our young minds, we weren’t quite babies anymore because we were no longer in elementary school. So, things like clothes were starting to matter a bit. Not that I cared about that kind of thing normally, because generally speaking my clothes at that time weren’t so bad. My under garments however were a different story. I was in gym class. Our school was small, and the gymnasium had a stage on one end and would double as an auditorium at times. I don’t remember what we were playing in gym that day, but I do recall sitting on the stage waiting for my turn. Someone called me over, so I jumped down from the stage. Well, as I did my back pocket snagged on a nail that wasn’t flush with the edge of the stage floor and the back of my jeans ripped open wide. I held my ripped pants together and rushed over and told the gym teacher who advised me to go to the office. For the record, this part wasn’t so bad, the gym teacher didn’t even question me when I told him what happened. When I reached the school office where all those bored gossipy housewives sat answering the phones that’s when everything turned. I was holding my pants closed when I entered the office. When the woman asked me what I wanted, I explained to her that I ripped my pants in gym and that I needed to call my mom. The woman told me I had to show her otherwise I couldn’t use the phone. I did try to say no (many times, I even begged) because I did not want anyone one to see I was wearing Smurf underwear. After a couple of tries I finally, and reluctantly, turned around and showed them. All of the ladies in the office laughed and then finally let me call my mom. Thank God, none of the kids saw what I was hiding that day. The office ladies were bad enough! Thankfully, in 2018 that sort of scenario would have gone a lot different. No, I’m not traumatized, in case anyone is wondering. It was a much different time back then, and it is one small part of my story that helped make me who I am today.
15. Have you ever experienced something weird you could not explain?
Yes, tons of things. My house is/was (not sure what’s going on with this it’s been about 3 years since our last little encounter) haunted and once a year my favorite apparition would do a little something to try to impress me. Usually around the end of January or the beginning of February and it was only just the one time. He’s poked me in the eye (which I sat up and told him he was mean) He banged on my radiator the next year (when I told him to stop because I had to work in the morning, he did.) Played with the change in my glass bowl (I got up quick and turned on the light because I had pictured a mouse falling in or something. When I didn’t find anything in the bowl, I assumed it was him and I told him next time to drop in a hundred.) My favorite one is when he sat on the bed. (I sat up and yelled that was awesome!) It’s been quiet every year since. I miss him.
16. Are you superstitious? Do you have any rituals for good luck?
I knock on wood when I have to say something I don’t want to happen out loud.
17. What is the strangest thing you have ever eaten?
I swallowed an ant once. It was in my cup of milk and I didn’t know it was in the cup until it was pretty much to late and swallowed it with the milk. Of course, everything came back up shortly after.
18. Do you have a favourite vacation spot? Where?
Anywhere. I don’t get to vacation very often, if ever, so I don’t have one just yet.
19. Can you tell us about one of your favourite childhood memories?
One of my favorite things to do as a kid was roller skate, and I loved going to the roller rink. I loved the loud music, the disco light, the skating, the junk food. Those were the days!
20. What makes you happy?
My kids do. They are as weird as me, but smarter and better. I’m pretty sure both of them have a story in them as well. I’m just waiting to see which one of them bursts first. Writing makes me happy too. Good books. I meet someone new every day at my day job and I love that too. I also love the beach and the ocean.
21. If you aren’t writing (or doing anything associated with writing), what are you doing?
Working mostly. My author activities can be a bit costly and I need to keep funding my habit.
22. Have you ever met anyone famous – who?
Most recent, Mark Slaughter lead singer of the late 80’s band Slaughter!! Woo hoo! I got so lucky that day, I thought I was just in line for a tee shirt. The crowd parted just right, and I saw him. He hugged me, and I got a photo with my shirt. Totally cool. I’ve met mostly bands. Someday, I hope to meet Aerosmith. A girl can dream! L
Amazon link for Enlightened: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B06VTBR36K