Posted by: Elena Grama - 9 February 2011 / 9:00
Welcome to Behind the Blogs, where we take a moment to get to know the bloggers in the Scribnia Community on a more personal level. We’ve read their words, but now it’s time to learn a little bit about the person behind the keyboard.
Today’s interview is with Kristine M Smith who writes for Almost Famous By De’s Fault. A Pacific Northwest native, author and copywriter Kristine is a former Warner Bros. executive secretary who was mentored by DeForest Kelley for over 30 years. Kris was De’s caregiver during the final months of his life and presented heart-rending sentiments about him at Paramount Studios’ memorial service for him.
Kris has written five books, including two about actor Kelley: the first is garnering 5-star reviews at Amazon.com (DeFOREST KELLEY: A HARVEST OF MEMORIES, My Life and Times with a Remarkable Gentleman Actor, available at Authorhouse.com for less); the second she published, edited and provided commentary on. It’s an e-book of fan memories about De (THE ENDURING LEGACY OF DeFOREST KELLEY: ACTOR, HEALER, FRIEND) and is available at Payloadz.com. She is hoping to receive enough contributions from Kelley fans for a second ENDURING LEGACY edition before the March 5th, 2011 deadline. For more information, check out her blog: http://almostfamousbydesfaut.blogspot.com.
1 ) How was your life growing up?
Frantic and blessed. I had an alcoholic for a father and a saint for a mother. The frantic part came from being around Dad; the blessed part came from being around Mom and from other teachers and mentors (Mary Jane Cooper, Alpha Rossetti, Walter Dobbs, DeForest Kelley, Ted Crail, and others). I grew up in a big town (Tacoma, WA) from birth to ten and in a small town (Cle Elum, WA) from ages 10-20. My upbringing gave me hundreds of talking points for stories, books and articles, though, sent me into the self-help section of libraries and bookstores early on, and gave me a sense of humor (without which I could not have survived), so I got the upbringing God scripted and am better off because of it (after I got over the angst of it all).
2 ) Did you have a role model when you where a child?
Oh, yes! Several! Primarily: Jesus, my dear mother, Roy Rogers and Dale Evans when I was a very young child (my first stories were Roy-and-Dale adventures); Robert F. Kennedy, Leonard Nimoy and DeForest Kelley during my teen years. I’m mentioning only my positive role models. There were also negative role models, people I definitely did not want to grow up to be like. Scoundrels are important to a person’s worldview, too. Bigots, mean-spirited alcoholics (as opposed to happy alcoholics), cheaters, robbers, blind-siding friends and associates, vitriolic folks… any of the folks, famous and infamous, who make life harder on others than it already is in most cases.
3 ) How do you continue to find inspiration and ideas for blog posts?
I read. I’m a lifelong reader. I watch some TV; not a lot. I ask myself, “If I died tomorrow, what have I left unsaid today that still needs to be said?” I write about whatever is floating my boat on a particular day. I surround myself with kids, loved ones, friends and critters (as I find the time; I’m a busy, home-based copywriter) as much as possible. They’re always great for inspiration.
4 ) Have you always wanted to be a writer?
Yes, yes, and yes! From the moment I learned how to string words together I’ve been writing. I also wanted to be an actor early on… but I’m really too shy for that role. Writing is great because you can still walk down the street and be a regular person unless you divulge that you’re a writer—then you’re in for more “trouble.” I’ve noticed that people often put writers on pedestals. I loathe pedestals, for myself or anyone else. You can fall off a pedestal. You can fail to measure up. That’s no fun.
5 ) Who is your favorite writer? Why?
Mark Twain. He was funny, acerbic, he told the truth even when it hurt, but usually without creating enemies. Many of my favorite quotes are his. One of my favorites is, “People call me a pessimist in my old age but I’m not. I am an optimist who did not arrive.” If I’m not very careful, I’ll be in the same place when I’m 75! Of the current batch, I adore the author of The Help, Kathryn Stockett. She is just fabulous. The Help is her first novel. I’m floored by her brilliance. I also like Tosca Lee, author of Demon: A Memoir and Havah: The Story of Eve. And I can’t wait for Iscariot, her next offering.
6 ) What are the qualities a good writer needs to have?
Curiosity. Sensitivity. Compassion. A sense of rhythm and flow when it comes to wordplay. A modicum of anger or resistance toward what is. The soul of a poet and the spirit of a “velvet” conqueror (as opposed to a Genghin Khan-type conqueror. I, too, believe that “the pen is mightier than the sword.”). Persistence. Resilience. Love.
7 ) Have you ever written anything on your blog and then regretted it afterwards?
I have written drafts that just sit there in the queue, waiting for the right time to release them, if the right time ever comes. Some may never see the light of day. But they’re there for me to ponder, to wonder “Should I or shouldn’t I?” But no, as of right now, there isn’t much I regret… unless it’s a BORING entry. I’d regret that a LOT!
I also occasionally regret calling out, in no uncertain terms, the politicians that I think don’t have our best interests at heart. Those entries usually get responses that drive me batty—the same old talking points, knowing they haven’t really investigated the matter at all, that they’re just parroting a party line. I want everyone to STOP and really look at the other side in the same way that they look at a loved one who may seem a little “out there” but has a really good heart. I think we need to talk with LOVE about politics, and religion, and all the rest of these vital things that impact our day-to-day lives…and I’m guilty of failing to “look with love” on the political realm myself at times. I hope we’ll all dial it back. It creates an environment of “us versus them” that I hate seeing in the American psyche.
8 ) What advice would you provide for people looking to start a blog?
Be sure you understand the sheer effort and discipline it will take to keep it up. It ain’t easy! If you’re a business, don’t just push your product or service—offer help, tips and tricks, kind-hearted humor. Include a personal touch that has nothing whatsoever to do with what you offer. Blogs are part of “social” media. People want to feel your heart and spirit—they don’t want yet another commercial. Business blogs all too often forget that. (Mine isn’t a business blog, but you can access my business website from it.)
9 ) Do you have any big regrets in life?
I regret listening, for as long as I did, to the few (very few–but important to me) naysayers in my life instead of the encouragers and mentors. It took me until just four years ago to hang my shingle as a professional writer and to act, every day, to making a living as a writer. There were far fewer folks who said I couldn’t succeed than said I could, but I listened to the naysayers. I let their fears (or whatever it was) impact my willingness to try. That was really, really dumb of me.
10 ) What is your biggest fear?
Professionally: letting down a client. It only happens about once every several hundred jobs, but when it does, I agonize for days. Personally: I don’t have many fears. I’m not even afraid of dying—just of dying in some horrible way (sharks, a fire, a painful disease, drowning, a gunshot … these come to mind pretty fast!)
11 ) How do you define success?
Professionally: Doing what you love for a living and making enough (and then some) to keep doing it. Personally: Loving well and being loved in the affectionate, obviously adoring ways that children and pets show their love and trust. If we could just get that right as adults, we’d be getting somewhere. Everyone on earth wants to be celebrated, not (seemingly) just tolerated or taken for granted.
12 ) What do you do in your spare time?
Catch up on a good book, walk my goats, pet my cats and dog, take a nap, write a blog entry, catch up on Facebook, WRITE! (I’m addicted to stringing words together; what can I say?)
13 ) Have you ever faced a challenge that helped define who you are today?
Yes: The loss of both of my parents and my chief mentor in life, DeForest Kelley, within a 14-month period. If you had told me in advance that I could survive a catastrophe like that, I would have laughed. The circumstance helped me realize I’m a lot stronger than I think I am.
14 ) What is the biggest lesson you’ve learned since you started blogging?
Be yourself. People can tell when you’re faking it.
Thanks so much for sharing your story with us Kristine. Keep up the great writing and good luck collecting contributions!
Again..Make sure to read Kristine’s Blog, follow her on Twitter and review her.
If you know of an interesting blogger/author that we should interview for the Behind the Blogs series, or if YOU are that blogger, send me an email at admin [at] Scribnia [dot] com.