Darla Kennerud lives with her husband and two children at the edge of a forest in the Pacific Northwest. She holds a B.A. from Mount Holyoke College.
How long have you been writing and what got you started?
I’ve been writing as long as I can remember. I have a few stories from third or fourth grade in a box somewhere, and I’m sure there were earlier pieces that didn’t survive. Reading was a passion for me from very early on, and writing was a real and accessible way to expand that experience.
What is the best piece of advice you have for new writers
Read a lot, write even more, and make time to fill your creative well.
If you could go back and find yourself five years ago, what advice would you give yourself?
“Go beyond the noise of life and listen to the persistent whisper of your instinct. You know what to do.”
What is your favorite type of fiction and who are your favorite authors?
I grew up reading a lot of fantasy and love literary fiction, so discovering magical realism was a landmark event for me. My favorite authors in that genre include Isabel Allende, Ann Patchett, and Lucy Wood. Short stories are my first and enduring love, though. The first collection I remember buying with my own money was Edgar Allan Poe; other favorites include Katherine Anne Porter, Oscar Wilde, and Elizabeth McCracken.
What tips do you have for finding time to write?
Make it a priority, so that every minute you’re not writing is a minute you’ve consciously decided to spend not writing. Also, train yourself to be able to write in short, focused spurts so that you can make the most of whatever snippets of free time present themselves. Finally, end every writing session with a short note in your manuscript about what you’re going to write next. That helps you get back into the text more quickly. (Hint: What you should write next isn’t always the next bit of the piece!)
Are you an outliner or discovery writer? Or somewhere in between?
I do a little of both. The mix varies from piece to piece, depending on some unknowable creative calculus in my subconscious.
How do you deal with rejections?
Try to have the next market in mind already. Rejections are a part of life, but they’re easier to take if you don’t have to wonder “What now?”
Do you participate in any online or in-person critique or writing groups?
I have a few trusted beta readers, and I participate in a writing group of alumnae from my alma mater. The range of ages, experience, and genres makes for an interesting mix of perspectives!
What book(s) are you reading right now?
I recently finished Emily St. John Mandel’s Station Eleven, a literary dystopian fantasy about what happens in the generation after a flu pandemic wipes out 99% of the world’s population. The novel is not what you might expect from post-apocalyptic fiction but rather a haunting examination of how story and culture affect our humanity and vice versa. Highly recommended for readers of literary fiction!
Is there anything you’d like to plug? Feel free to share a link.
My writing group, Mount Holyoke College Puget Sound Writers, has just released a collection inspired by one of the poems of Emily Dickinson, perhaps the college’s most famous alumna. The collection is called The Angled Road and is available on Amazon.
For further reading, check out my author page on Amazon.