Deirdra: When did you first know you wanted to be an author?
Abel: I’ve always enjoyed writing and telling stories. I wrote my first “book” when I was eight. It was 10 pages long and was about me, my friends, and a magic crystal. I can’t think of a time when I didn’t want to write.
Deirdra: What is your writing and educational background?
Abel: I’ve got a BA in English from Weber State University. Professionally I’ve worked as a technical writer, copywriter, and editor. No matter what I’ve done during my day job, however, I’ve always come back to the more creative side of things.
Deirdra: What makes you passionate about writing?
Abel: There’s something inside of me that forces me to pick up the pen and write. If I don’t do it, my life feels incomplete.
Deirdra: What was the pathway like for you to get your first book published?
Abel: Like most authors, I dived into it not really knowing what to expect. I took the typical path of trying to find an agent. It took a year and a half to sell Room for Two. However, if authors want to speed this process up, they’ll work on building relationships with those in the publishing industry before they even submit a manuscript.
Deirdra: Were you ever discouraged along the way? If so, how did you deal with it?
Abel: Yes, I was very discouraged when I kept getting rejection letters and emails but I knew that I had produced a story that was worth telling and that eventually it would find a home.
Deirdra: What is your writing schedule like?
Abel: I work fulltime and have a family so most of my writing is done in a two hour block after my kids are in bed. I might get a few extra hours in on the weekends if I get up before the rest of the family. It’s exhausting at times but I love storytelling enough that it’s worth it.
Deirdra: Where do your ideas come from? How do you know the idea is good enough to write a book about it?
Abel: I’m a news junkie so a lot of my ideas come from current events. There are times I’ll read a compelling news article online and use that as a starting point to see if it has legs. If it does, I’ll usually outline it before I commit myself to writing an entire book. If I can outline it, there’s usually a story there.
Deirdra: Can you tell us a little about your book The Third.
Abel: The Third is a look at a future where environmentalists have taken control of society. Everyone lives in sustainable communities and is only allowed to have two children. One woman discovers she’s pregnant with a third child and it’s about her and her husband’s struggle to figure out how to keep it without the authorities knowing she’s pregnant.
Deirdra: How has your writing talent helped you grow as a person and overcome hardships in life.?
Abel: If anything, it’s taught me to work hard and never give up. Even if a project or book has turned out to be something a publisher would never touch, I just learn from that experience and move on to the next project. I never stop writing.
Deirdra: How many beta readers do you have review your manuscript before you send it to your editor?
Abel: It varies. I have a couple of good writing friends that I send the manuscript around too before I even think about sending it out. At some point I might involve an editor if I think it needs an independent review. However, I’ve been writing long enough both in the creative and corporate world I generally have an idea when it’s ready to go to the next level.
Deirdra: What do you hope readers will get from your books?
Abel: In all my books I try to leave my readers with a sense of hope. No matter how dark things get in my memoir or novels, I always want the reader to feel there’s a way out of the darkness.
Deirdra: What is your process of brainstorming a story? Do you just sit down and write, waiting to see what happens next? Or do you outline first?
Abel: I learned that I need to outline first or I’m just spinning my wheels. However, my outlines are pretty detailed and I like to think of it as writing a Cliff’s notes version of the book. For the novel I’m working on now, my outline was 10 single spaced pages. Of course once I start writing it, the novel always changes. Outlining lets me know if I have complete story or just an idea that’s not ready to tackle yet.
Deirdra: Do you ever experience a snag in a story, a form of writer's block? If so, how do you deal with it?
Abel: Writer’s block is usually an indication that something’s wrong with the story. It tells me I need take a step back and examine a story as a whole and see where the problem lies. I don’t get upset when it happens. When I hit a block, I use it as way to make the story better.
Deirdra: Do you need absolute quiet to write? Do you listen to music when you are writing?
Abel: I need it pretty quiet when I write. I’m easily distracted. If there’s music in the background or someone talking, I tend to focus on that instead of my writing.
Deirdra: What kinds of inspiration do you use during your story creation periods?
Abel: I actually have a shelf in my library where I put all my writing that’s ever been published. If I ever get discouraged or need some inspiration, I just look at the shelf and ask myself if I want to add any other books or short stories to it.
Deirdra: Who has made the greatest difference for you as a writer?
Abel: My wife, Julianna. She gives me the time and support I need to write. Without her I wouldn’t have written any of my books.
Deirdra: What’s your secret to making the character’s in your books come to life?
Abel: I read a lot of non-fiction. I’ve found that memoirs, biographies, and autobiographies are a good way to see how real people handled complex situations. I draw on that when developing characters. I think it’s a tool more writers should do.
Deirdra: What authors do you admire, and why?
Abel: The one I admire most is the economist and philosopher Thomas Sowell. He speaks his mind and backs up his thought with unfailing logic and research. From him I’ve learned how to make subtle but power philosophical arguments in my writings.
Deirdra: What is your favorite snack to have while you are writing?
Abel: Mike and Ikes or Hot Tamales. And a big glass of water.
Deirdra: Besides writing what other talents or hobbies do you have?
Abel: I like to run and work out. For me physical exercise wakes my brain up and ultimately helps in the writing process.
Deirdra: What words of advice do you have for other writers who desire to have their manuscripts become books in print?
Abel: Even if your first or second book doesn’t find a home, keep writing. Writing is an art and like all art, you only get better if you practice, practice, practice.
Deirdra: What are you working on now?
Abel: I’ve got a sequel to The Third that’s almost done, a YA novel that I’ve started. I’ve also completed a self-help/relationship book called Dating a Widower which is under consideration by other publishers. I’ve also got another half dozen novels dancing around in my head. Hopefully one day they’ll come to life as well.
Deirdra: Where can our readers go to find your books and order them?
Abel: The Third should be in most bookstores. But even if it’s not in a store near you, all of my books can be found at any of the online bookstores like Amazon.com or bn.com. Personalized copies can be ordered on my website at www.abelkeogh.com.
Deirdra: Any final words you would like to share?
Abel: If you have a story to share, don’t be afraid to do it. The world desperately needs writers who are willing to speak their mind and share their view of the world through powerful writing.