Get a good editor. Watch how you spend your money and who to trust. I failed into success wasting valuable time and money on ‘nothing’ great at all. I could remodeled my bathroom for the money that went down the toilet.
Aspart of my series on the “5 Things You Need To Know To Write A Bestselling Book” I had the pleasure of interviewing April Kirkwood.
April Kirkwood is an author, therapist, and public speaker. Her book, Working My Way Back to Me, is an inspirational tale that sheds light on universal struggles involving love, sexuality, addiction, and mental health. She is an advocate for women and early childhood trauma that affects adult romance.
Thank you so much for joining us! Can you share a story about what brought you to this particular career path?
I grew up in a blue collar family in the Midwest living on a small farm with my mom and her extended family. My childhood was filled with wonderfully strong and crazy women who loved me but modeled some really distorted and negative messages about men, women, and love. I didn’t realize this until I found myself looking back. I realized that no matter how I looked, what degrees I had, or social status I arrived to I never could never get it right in the area of her romantic life. I finally hit a dead wall in West Palm where it looked like I had everything any woman would want. Standing gazing into the pool at my “perfect” life I wondered how I got this miserable. Through many tears and soul searching, I finally found the courage to dig deep in the darkest places of my mind and soul and find how and what went wrong. I traveled back to my story and looked at the events from an adult’s vantage point. Each step I forced myself to look at the parts that were never openly discussed. There were abortions, affairs, church conflicts, parties, divorces, and addictions to explore. I found various and destructive multi-generational messages that I innocently imprinted. As an English instructor and counselor, I started to journal. I spent four years writing through the rubble of my life and worked my way back until I could do the healing work I needed. At the end, to my surprise, I realized it was a book I was quite proud of. That was the start of my writing career. Now I’m hooked.
What was (so far) the most exhilarating or fulfilling experience you’ve had as an author?
I jump up and down and do my ‘happy dance’ when someone says, “You and I have the same lives. I love it. Can we talk? I want your help!” I am a therapist. It’s like hitting a home run when my story inspires others to learn more about themselves. I am grateful and honored to be a small part of their life.
What was the craziest, weirdest, wildest experience you’ve had as a bestselling author?
I was at a book signing at Barnes & Noble and noticed a young man in his twenties lingering about. I might add that he was quite a dish. At the end of the night, as I was packing up this blue eyed darling sauntered over. He leaned in ever so close grinning and whispered every so in my ear,“You are my Mrs. Robinson!”‘Hells bells!’ Temptation was calling as my high heels buckled and I tripped over myself. I stood there blushing like a school girl, books toppling all over, flattered and stunned. I smiled, and uttered a quick “Thank you” without looking up. It was one of those moments when fantasy and reality meet.
What is the greatest part about being a successful, bestselling author? What is the worst (if anything) part?
The greatest part of being a successful author comes when people stop me and thank me for writing.
On the opposite end, I have so many people come up to me and look at me with puppy eyes saying, “I’m sorry your life was so awful.” I’m always shocked and speechless. I walk away wondering if I should have used a pen name!
What is the one habit you believe contributed the most to you becoming a bestselling writer?
When someone upsets me I do one of two things; I shop online or I write. I have found that writing is a healthier decision for my wallet.
After I calm down, I listen to romantic love songs and sing. Music is magical for me and opens up my chakras. I bang away wailing off key as my naked emotions float out of melodies dancing in thin air. There I can grab them and put them back on paper. It’s wonderful. I go from “I’ve got you under my skin” to “I’ve got you on the page.”
Which writer or leader has had the biggest impact on you as a writer?
My favorite book is Women who Run with the Wolves by Clarissa Pinkola Estés. Her use of myths and archetypes is magnificent. I could read it one hundred times and never tire.
I am also inspired by the works of Marianne Williamson. The book, A Women’s Worth, is both well written and inspiring. She’s also an excellent speaker and teacher. Everything I hope to be is wrapped up in Ms. Williamson.
What was the biggest challenge you faced in your journey to becoming a bestselling author?
It’s tricky this public appeal issue. When you’re popular you’re accepted and everyone wants to work with you. They know your name and doors open everywhere. When no one knows you, you don’t know how find the house of popularity let alone open the door.
What challenge or failure did you learn the most from in your writing career?
I hate failure. I am a first born type A personality and putting art out there is dangerous to the ego. I’ve learned to keep moving and forget a rejection. I delete it asap.
What are the 5 things you would tell your younger self who was just starting out on their writing journey?
The most important piece of advice I would give to my younger self is to SLOW down. I felt such pressure to release a book in conjunction with the movie, Jersey Boys, that I put out nothing more than a mishmash journal of random thoughts. Now the ‘team’ that pushed me is now long gone and I have my name on a piece of work that I’m not proud of. It still makes me cringe to know that I gave my power away so cheaply.
I would also recommend considering whether it is best to use your real name versus a pen name. I think in retrospect, I would have taken more risks in writing if used a pen name. I battled with this and still do. I also wanted to use this story as a therapeutic healing message. I felt for that to occur, I needed to be transparent. Now I feel naked wherever I go. It’s great for therapeutic purposes but awkward at times.
The third piece of advice is to get a good editor. Watch how you spend your money and who to trust. I failed into success wasting valuable time and money on ‘nothing’ great at all. I could remodeled my bathroom for the money that went down the toilet.
My fourth piece of advice is to be careful if you name drop. I had a huge publishing house sign me. When they heard it was about Frankie Valli, all of a sudden they changed their mind. It was very disappointing and once again a waste of time. Get a lawyer as well to check what you can say without risk of litigation. Be aware that others in the story might not be thrilled about sharing their dirty little secrets. Some members of my family no longer speak with me.
Lastly, keep in mind that with social media, it has become more difficult to make enough money to live on writing alone. In short, don’t quit your day job. I had to dip into my savings a few times. If I had realized the challenges, I would have done things differently. Live and learn!
What are you most excited to work on next? Most excited to read next?
I have just finished the Working My Way Back to MeManual which is a step by step guide for healing strategies for those who want to find their story, do healing work, and create a plan to create the life they desire and deserve.
I am also writing a book on love and sex after forty. It is light hearted filled with laughter as well as helpful tips to make this stage fun. FYI Fun doesn’t have to end at a certain age.
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be?
I would like to create and teach faculty a curriculum for middle and high school students called, ‘Old Rules For New Love and Dating.’ I have no idea how I would do it, but it is my dream.
Thank you so much for these great insights!