I think it was back in 2009 when I met Pamela King Cable for the first time. She was giving a speech on her novel, Televenge, at the Southern Festival of Books, and I was utterly transported by her words and by the sheer presence she carried as she read.
Pam is deeply southern, with these unusually beautiful, amber-colored eyes, and I so enjoyed getting to talk with her after her reading, and then a few of us writers and authors ran from one building in downtown Nashville up to another. I can’t remember why we were in such a rush, but in the crazy flurry of activity, we all joined together and became friends.
Since then, Pam and I have kept in touch. I thoroughly enjoyed reading her new novel, The Sanctum, which possesses a tantalizing amount of atmosphere and an array of colorful characters who call to mind To Kill a Mockingbird and The Secret Life of Bees.
Please welcome author Pamela King Cable and be sure to say hello in the comment section. Pamela is generously offering a giveaway of her new book to a lucky reader!
1. When did you decide to become a writer? In other words, what made you actually sit down and write something?
I remember it vividly. 6th grade. I wrote a story called “My Dog, Joey,” which my teacher, Miss Rizzo, told my mother I should be a writer because I made all the girls (and some of the boys) cry. My mother then proclaimed me a Drama Queen. I think it embarrassed her, that I did such a thing. I didn’t care. I always knew I wanted to write. Growing up, I either had my nose in a book, or pen to paper. Later, life dictated a different path. As a single mother, I had other obligations that stole the dream of writing from me.
But one day in 1997, sitting in my office where I worked at a major teaching hospital in Akron, Ohio, the Chairman of the Urology Department spied one of my short stories on my desk. He was also an author. He grabbed the story, took it home, returned to my office the next day and closed the door behind him. “Why are you working here?” he said. “This is what you should be doing.” A few years passed, but in 2003, I began writing full time. It has been my passion. The grease in my wheels that keeps me going forward in life.
2. Every writer is eventually asked this question, but where do your ideas come from? Why do you write what you do?
I write about religion and spirituality with paranormal twists unearthed from my family’s history. I write about my passions, what moves me, what shoots out of me like a rocket. My key inspirational force is my spirituality.
I was born in the South, a coal miner’s granddaughter, but my father escaped the mines, went to college and moved his family to Ohio to work for the rubber companies in 1959. I spent every weekend as a little girl traveling back to the Appalachian Mountains. My memories of my childhood run as strong as a steel-belted radial tire and as deep as an Appalachian swimming hole. As a little girl, I was a transplanted hick in a Yankee schoolroom. I grew up in the North. So my influence comes naturally from both regions. But the dusty roads in the coal towns of the sixties are where my career as a writer was born.
For me, it is within sanctuaries of brick and mortar, places of clapboard and canvas, that characters hang ripe for picking; from the primitive church services of the mountain clans to the baptisms and sacraments in cathedrals and synagogues all over the world; from the hardworking men and women who testify in every run-down house of God in America to the charismatic high-dollar high-tech evangelicals televised in today’s megachurches, therein lie stories of unspeakable conflict, the forbidden, and often, the unexplained.
3. Do you work to an outline or plot or do you prefer to see where an idea takes you? How do you think you’ve evolved creatively?
I work from an outline, but that outline never holds me in check. It takes many turns throughout the process, but I do know the ending before I begin. I don’t know how much I’ve evolved, but I do believe the longer we work at our craft, the more it morphs into who we are as writers. I am still moved by History and writing from the gut, if that makes any sense. I write what I want to read, not what is necessarily popular at the moment.
4. What is the hardest thing about the creative process of writing? If you’re a Christian, what are the challenges you believe Christian writers face now and in the future? If you would, please tell us what was the hardest thing about writing your last book? How long does it typically take you to finish your books?
Keeping down my word count. Televenge was published at over 600 pages. But to me, and fortunately to my publisher, every word mattered. My new novel, The Sanctum, weighs in at just over 300 pages. Still, I had to cut a lot. But I file away all those cuts to be used in another story. I don’t “kill my babies” as they say in the business. I hide them.
As a Christian, the challenge for me is to get people to read my work with an open mind. Southern Fried Women and Televenge were not necessarily written for the Christian audience, but the spirit of a faithful God runs through each book. The Sanctum, however, will appeal to both Christians and the secular. It was the hardest story for me to tell because of the horrendous acts of racism, and weaving the power of Christianity through the story to overcome the darkness. Every writer has a message. In The Sanctum, it was told through the eyes and mind of a thirteen-year-old girl.
I don’t give myself deadlines. When I am in the midst of telling the story, I have no problem working eight, ten, twelve hours a day for as long as it takes. The short stories in Southern Fried Women took only weeks to complete. Televenge, however, took ten years to write. I lost track of how many drafts I wrote. I started The Sanctum late in 2008 and finished it five years later. Still, I’m one who edits as I write. I hear that’s a bad habit. But I’m not a writer who can pump out a book every six months like clockwork. It doesn’t work that way for me.
5. What excites you the most about the creative process?
With each story told, I can move my reader to tears, or motivate them into changing their own path. I can pierce their hearts with my words. By pouring my heart onto the page, I can affect the life of one or more readers. It excites me that long after I am gone, my books will live on for many years to come. Leaving a legacy in my writing – that matters to me.
6. What are you reading at the moment, and who are a few of your favorite authors and why?
The Feathered Bone by Julie Cantrell, who has become a favorite. I highly recommend reading Julie Cantrell. Barbara Kingsolver, J. L. Miles, Jodi Picoult, Anita Shreve, Cassandra King, and Elizabeth Berg. Their books have me walking around like a zombie because I get no sleep. Each author has a unique way of getting to the end. Each path a little different. I find that fascinating.
Thank you, Pam, for your time! What an intriguing series of answers!
Pamela King Cable’s Bio:
Born a coal miner’s granddaughter and raised by a tribe of wild Pentecostals and storytellers, Pamela King Cable proudly resides in southern Alabama.
She is a multi-published author whose novel, Televenge, attracted national attention from Fox News, CBS Atlanta, as well as book bloggers and media outlets worldwide. Writing stories steeped in Bible-belt mystery and paranormal suspense, Pamela has gained a reputation for piercing the hearts of her readers. She has taught at writing conferences, and speaks to book clubs, women’s groups, national and local civic organizations, and at churches across the country. Please visit her website at www.pamelakingcable.com.
Twitter: https://Twitter.com/pamelakingcable / @pamelakingcable
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