Interview by Sarah Levesque (Rated G)
Sarah Levesque: Hello! Can you ladies introduce yourselves?
Killarney Traynor: My name is Killarney Traynor and I write books for fun. This is my fourth published book.
Margaret Traynor: My name is Margaret Traynor and I think up stories for fun (because I don’t actually write them). This is my first published book.
SL: What is Tale Half Told about?
KT: Tale Half Told is a story about four people who get stuck at an old house in a snowstorm. The house is haunted, and each person in their own way ends up facing their own darkness and the things that frighten them the most.
SL: What made you start writing?
KT: I was fascinated by the way books pulled you in, and I wanted to try to do that for people. One time I was reading Little House on the Prairie and I suddenly woke up from the book and was like “Where was I?”
MT: [To Killarney] You were in the zone! (laughs).
SL: How about you, Margaret?
MT: Probably from hearing Killarney designing her stories, kind of like “Oh, that’s how you do it!”
SL: Who came up with the idea, and how?
KT: [To Margaret] I think the initial idea was yours. You said, “Wouldn’t it be scary to be stuck in a haunted house in a snow storm?” So I got really excited and we started to talk about how to knock out cell phones because, you know, you don’t want people calling for help…
MT: You have to isolate the characters. They have to be stuck there for the night, at least.
KT: Yeah. Then we decided to set it in the ‘70s when they didn’t have cell phones!
MT: And you can knock out the telephone lines easily.
KT: Also because we watched a lot of ‘70s TV, so it kind of fit.
SL: Who did most of the writing?
KT: I did the writing, and I would give it to her to review, chapter by chapter. [To Margaret] Then I’d call you up, panicked, and say, “OMG this won’t work!” And you’d be like, “We worked this all out…”
MT: I think we hammered out most of the details before we even started typing it.
SL: What was it like writing with your sister?
KT: It was good because it kept me focused, in a good way, because I was writing for her, rather than just because. When I was writing I would think, “Margaret would like this.” And that would help me focus on the story a little better. And when my keyboard got away from me she’d get me back in line. [laughter]
SL: [To Margaret] What was it like writing your first book?
MT: It was an interesting process. I haven’t done any writing chapter to chapter before. Usually I’m just like spitting out ideas and people just ignore them. [laughter] Killarney is very intentional with her writing. Sometimes when she’d write a chapter she’d text me halfway through saying, “I just said this but you can do what you want with it… just giving you a heads up this is what we want to do.” It was interesting; she was very very oriented. I was surprised by how detailed she was. [To Killarney] You really gave 110% which I really appreciated.
KT: Sometimes I’d call her up in a panic like “OMG it’s grey, it should be grey” or something stupid like that and she’d be like “Okay… it should be grey, make it grey,” and I’d realize it wasn’t actually a catastrophe after all.
SL: [To Killarney] How was this book different than any of your others?
KT: Well this is the first supernatural thriller book I’ve done, and it went a lot darker than we initially thought it was going to. Like page one it was way darker than we thought it was going to be. Which was surprising for both of us.
MT: Yes! I remember reading the first draft of the first chapter, and opening it up your already getting chills like “Whoa this got intense really quickly.” But it was accurate to what we had planned, it just got really, really intense much faster than I thought it was going to.
KT: Yeah, I can’t remember why. Like sometimes I know it’s because I was listening to that soundtrack, and that’s why it got scary… I used music to inspire me.
SL: What soundtrack was that?
KT: I can’t remember what I used for the first half of the book, but I used the soundtrack of The Changeling for the second half. Summer Shadows was also inspired by a soundtrack. If I’m writing an adventure scene I’ll use the soundtrack from King Kong – it just has the right kind of beat. Pirates of the Caribbean just gets me too excited!
SL: Are you planning on writing any more together?
KT: Yes. We’re working on one right now. It’s about an alien encounter. So supernatural again. And we’re working on a lighthearted modern mystery series too.
MT: Yes. That won’t be supernatural at all though.
KT: No. [laughter] Mostly just silly and fun. Kind of on the lines of Psych or something – just lighthearted.
SL: Are you planning on writing any more separately?
KT: Oh yes.
MT: Only with her! [laughter]
SL: Killarney, can you tell us about your other books?
KT: Sure! Summer Shadows is a family drama/mystery, sort of on the lines a Disney movie, in a way. It’s about a family of orphans – their aunt takes them up to this town to fix up a house so they can sell it, and they end up being right down the street from a reportedly haunted house. Necessary Evil is about a woman who owns property that people believe there is treasure on. In order to keep them away, she forges a letter saying that there’s not treasure on her property, but someone finds out about the forgery and blackmails his way into her house so he can search for the treasure himself. I don’t think I’ve ever rewritten a scene as many times as the first scene when they [the property owner and the blackmailer] meet. I kept going back and fixing it; it was essential to set up the correct impression. Michael Lawrence is about a detective who is going thought a personal crisis and finds himself solving a case that has a lot of parallels to what he is facing in his personal life.
SL: Why do you write?
KT: Why do I write? Well it’s a part of me now; I don’t know how not to write!
MT: [To Killarney]I feel like I can answer that for you, you’ve told me so many times. [To Sarah] I’ve asked her if she’s ever going to stop and she just looks at me and says, “No, I can’t; why would I stop? There’s still stories to be told! Why would I ever stop?” [laughter]
KT: That’s about it, yeah. The characters in my brain are just like “write me!” [laughter]
SL: Margaret, why do you tell stories?
MT: Honestly I just enjoy creating storylines and characters and finding a way to weave a story together with a solution that we like. It’s really for the fun of it, for me.
KT: I want to give people a break from life, a little escape where all the dragons are defeatable.
SL: What has writing taught you?
KT: It’s taught me how to observe better, and through observing I’ve learned a lot more about people and how to look at them a little more sympathetically.
MT: It’s taught me to shift my perspective more, and put myself in other people’s shoes, people who I’m really not like. When you’re writing someone else, you have to think like them for a bit and it does change your view of people.
KT: It changes your view a lot. Like all of a sudden you see –
MT: Like how people see stuff.
KT: Right. And in one shift, you can change how you see other parts of the world. Like you could end up on the opposite site of a big issue. It’s neat.
SL: Did this project bring you closer together?
MT: In a different way, yeah, because we don’t usually work together. We’re good friends and we hang out all the time; we share a lot, but we’ve never really worked on a big project together before.
KT: Yeah, that was a first, really. We didn’t kill each other, so that’s a plus! [laughs] [To Margaret] It was good working with you, actually – I was done a lot quicker; I could think “What would Margaret want?” or “I can’t go down that alley – she won’t like this!” [laughter].
SL: Who are you inspired by in your writing?
MT: [to Killarney] Probably Dickens, right?
KT: Oh yeah, definitely Dickens. I love Dickens! Sometimes I feel like I’m the only person who does. And A.A. Milne, the guy who wrote Winnie the Pooh, because I love the way he wrote his world – just so kind and loving.
MT: I think Harriet Beecher Stowe – she had a kindly way of looking at everyone; there wasn’t just one particular villain.
KT: Yes! A bit more ingenuity there, I think. She goes a little more in depth than Dickens does. And Ellery Queen – a penname for a pair of cousins who wrote mysteries together in the 1930s and ‘40s. There was one particular book that blew my brain when I was a teenager. And L.M. Montgomery. Her people… she wrote her characters well.
MT: Yeah, you knew everything in that town. We both read those books over and over again.
KT: Also Evanescence and lots of ‘70s movies.
MT: Lots of ‘70s movies.
SL: What is your advice for writers?
KT: Just start, and have fun!
MT: Always write what you want to read. [To Killarney] That’s what you always told me.
KT: Definitely! I couldn’t find the books I wanted to read, so I had to write them.
SL: How did you go about publishing Tale Half Told?
KT: We’re indie, so we do everything on our own. I found a cover that someone had designed without a title and I purchased it. That’s actually why this book got written. All my books are indie. [For Tale Half Told] I hired an editor to go through it for me, then I formatted the interior this time, which I’m very proud of, and we published it through Amazon, through their publishing house.
SL: Anything else you want to add?
KT: Well, I guess… In every book I have a favorite character. It’s like a guessing game – who is her favorite character?
MT: It’s usually a guy named Bill. There’s a hint for you.
KT: Actually I think there’s only one Bill in my published books.
MT: But there’s always a Bill character, you just have to spot him. Like Where’s Waldo!
KT: Definitely! [laughter]
SL: So when is your next book going to be coming out?
KT: We’re hoping our next book will come out next summer. We’re super excited about that.
MT: I’m super excited about it.
KT: We’re about half way through the first draft.
SL: And I can’t wait!
Since this 2017 interview, the two sisters have published their alien book – Universal Threat – and are writing another supernatural book together, and Killarney Traynor has published another solo book, Jenny Goodnight. Learn more at Killarney’s website, https://www.killarneytraynor.com/
Image copyright Killarney Traynor