Interview – Deanna Kahler, author of Echoes of Paradise
Self-Publisher’s Showcase: Today we are joined by Deanna Kahler, author of the paranormal romance novel Echoes of Paradise. Welcome to the Showcase Lounge, Deanna.
Deanna Kahler: Hi! Thanks so much for having me here.
SPS: For any of our readers that haven’t come across your work previously, can you take a moment to tell us all a little about yourself?
DK: I was born and raised in the Detroit area. I began writing poems and short stories as a child and pursued a career as a writer. I earned my degree in communications and worked for various companies as a writer and editor. Once my daughter was in school, I found I had more time to devote to personal projects, so I decided to write my first book, From Pain to Parenthood: A Journey Through Miscarriage to Adoption. I published it in May 2013, and then began working on my second book, Echoes of Paradise. I now have two books out and a third one in the works. I pride myself on being a versatile writer. I’ve written a non-fiction memoir and a fiction paranormal romance, and now I’m working on a children’s book. But no matter what I write, I always speak from the heart and hope to inspire others.
SPS: What are your perfect writing conditions, and how often do you write?
DK: My perfect writing conditions are during the day when my husband is at work and my daughter is at school. The house is quiet, with no interruptions, so I can focus all of my attention on my writing. I typically write something a couple of times each week. I do a lot of volunteer writing for various adoption blogs and web sites.
SPS: Can you put your finger on the moment where you decided that you wanted to publish your work?
DK: I always hoped to publish a book one day. The “official” moment came when I finally had a couple of topics I was passionate about. Echoes of Paradise was inspired by some of my own experiences. I wanted to remind people about the power of love and how strong our connections with others can be. I love to touch lives and inspire readers – and I knew I had a great story idea that could accomplish that.
SPS: Can you tell us what someone could expect if they picked up a copy of Echoes of Paradise?
DK: They would find a not only a touching love story, but also a book that explores the afterlife and our connections with others. Echoes of Paradise focuses on some of the big questions we all have, including: What happens after death? Can deceased loved ones communicate with the living? Does love transcend all boundaries? The best part is that it doesn’t really matter what you believe or don’t believe because the book is ultimately about love, which is universal.
SPS: What were the reasons behind you deciding to write a paranormal romance novel?
DK: I actually never expected or planned to write a paranormal romance novel. But after having a few of my own experiences, such as precognitive dreams, signs and synchronistic events, I began reading and researching the paranormal. I became fascinated by the topic – especially the part about guardian angels and deceased loved ones helping us from beyond. The biggest influence on my desire to write this book was when I asked a friend who passed away to send me a pink rose and then found one under my seat in a park about a week later. That incident was what inspired me most to write a paranormal love story. It was an amazing and incredible experience that I will never forget!
SPS: Can you tell us about Celeste, and how she is when we first meet her?
DK: Celeste is a kind-hearted woman who appreciates the simple things in life. When we first meet her, she is grief-stricken and distraught about the death of someone she loves. She wants to know what happened to him. Is his spirit alive somewhere? Or did he just cease to exist? She has so many unanswered questions. Then strange coincidences start occurring, and she is determined to make sense of it all.
SPS: What sort of dangers does she encounter in her journey for answers?
DK: She thinks she sees her abusive ex-boyfriend Andy following her. She is still very afraid of him. She’s uncertain whether he is actually there or if she is just imagining it. He does show up at her house one day, and all of the traumatic memories come rushing back to her.
SPS: Do you have any particular characters in the book that you enjoyed writing more than the others?
DK: I loved developing the character of Chip, Celeste’s young son. He has such a zest for life and is wise beyond his years. He adds a light-hearted element to the story. We could all learn a thing or two from him. Connor was also a great character to write. He’s a strong man who will do whatever it takes to help guide and protect those he loves. He has a playful side to him that Celeste finds charming, and he shares her love of nature and the outdoors. Connor is also a wonderful teacher and is full of insight that will get readers thinking.
SPS: What has the response been like from readers?
DK: I’ve received a lot of positive feedback from readers. Some of the words they’ve used to describe Echoes of Paradise are: touching, inspirational, sweet, powerful and captivating. One reader told me that the love story reminded her a little of Twilight and another recommended the book to fans of The Celestine Prophecy. Echoes of Paradise seems to appeal to both paranormal romance fans and also those who enjoy exploring spiritual and metaphysical topics.
SPS: Do you feel there is scope with Celeste to revisit her again in the future or has her story now been told?
DK: Celeste’s story does have a conclusion. However, it’s always possible to revisit a character. Depending on reader interest, I would love to do a story that focuses on Chip as an adult or on Celeste’s mission and what she encounters next.
SPS: We always like to take a moment to look at an author’s book covers. Can you tell us a little about how your cover to Echoes in Paradise came about?
DK: The book’s cover features a photo my husband Paul took on a vacation in Munising, Michigan, in the Upper Peninsula. The shot is looking down over a cliff into the water. I loved that the colors were so vivid and vibrant, just like I the ones I describe in Echoes of Paradise. The photo was not retouched, so the colors are how they actually looked. I also liked the ripples in the sand and water because they remind me of waves or echoes, which tied into my book as well. And, the contrast of colors – from dark to light to bright – seemed symbolic of death, transition and the paradise that awaits beyond.
SPS: You have also released a personal memoir entitled: From Pain to Parenthood. Can you tell our readers about the journey contained within?
DK: From Pain to Parenthood is about my entire experience of trying to become a mother – from my heart-breaking miscarriages to the adoption of my daughter as an infant. The book contains a lot of raw emotion, as well as my fears, hopes, dreams and struggles. It is indeed a personal memoir, but it is also much more than that because I offer many tips, resources and advice for others. Readers will find suggestions for dealing with grief, depression and anxiety; advice on navigating the adoption process; and answers to commonly asked questions about adoption. The back of the book features a list of resources that readers can contact, including organizations and support groups for depression, anxiety, miscarriage and adoption. I hope to help those who are struggling and provide them with much-needed hope and encouragement. I also hope to educate their friends and families, so they can better understand what their loved ones are going through.
SPS: You must have found the process difficult, were there ever times where you thought you would not finish?
DK: It was very difficult at times. In order to write the book, I had to unleash the pain and emotions I felt when going through my miscarriages and struggling with anxiety. There were definitely many times when I wondered if I could finish the book. It wasn’t easy making myself so vulnerable and exposing my innermost thoughts, feelings and private life to the world. But then I kept reminding myself why I was doing this: to help others. I thought about how many lives I could touch and how many people I could help by sharing my story. That gave me the strength to continue and made it all worthwhile.
SPS: Have you received comments back from anyone that has been helped by reading the story of your journey?
DK: Yes, I have. That is the most rewarding part of having written this book. When I hear that I’ve encouraged someone or given them hope on their journey, I feel like I have accomplished my mission. Some of the readers’ comments bring tears to my eyes because I have been exactly where they are right now. I know their struggles. I can feel their pain. Being able to help is an amazing feeling. I had one woman tell me that whenever she feels sad and discouraged, she rereads the end of my book and that inspires her to keep moving forward and have faith. To have that kind of impact on someone else’s life is a truly a blessing.
SPS: What we can we expect next from the pen of Deanna Kahler?
DK: Next up is the release of my children’s book, A Rare Gem, later this year. The book is a princess story about embracing the differences and uniqueness of each individual. It is geared towards kids ages 4-8. I will also continue to write guest blog posts and may even start on another fiction novel next year.
SPS: Was the Self-Published/Indie-Published route always your preferred route for your work?
DK: I never really had a preferred route. When I decided to write my first book, I knew that self-publishing would allow me to get my work to market rather quickly and would also give me a lot of creative control over my project. So, I thought I’d give it a try.
SPS: Has the experience so far been all that you thought it would be?
DK: It has been more than I thought it would be – more rewarding, more work, more challenging. I got way more than I ever bargained for! The part that surprised me the most was how difficult and challenging promoting and marketing a book can be. I knew that I would be responsible for my own marketing, but I had no idea what that entailed. As an introvert, I find the marketing part very challenging. It has forced me to move out of my comfort zone and learn to be more assertive. I am still learning and will probably never stop. I look forward to the many new experiences and challenges that lie ahead. I’ve met some incredible people along the way. And, I’m very thankful for all that publishing a book has brought into my life.
SPS: If you could give one piece of advice for someone looking to get into writing, what would it be?
DK: I always tell people to just write. Get your thoughts, ideas and emotions down on paper without censoring yourself or trying to make it perfect the first time. The best ideas come when you aren’t trying so hard to get everything right. There will be plenty of time to proofread and edit later. Don’t stifle your creativity by being too focused on grammar and punctuation. The more you write, the better you will get at it.
SPS: Before we bring this interview to a close, it’s your chance to name-drop. Anyone who you feel is deserving of more recognition at present or someone whose writing you have recently enjoyed? Now is your chance to spread the word…
DK: As I mentioned, I have met a lot of incredible people. Many of them I have yet to meet in person, but I still feel that I know them and can relate to their experiences. After I published my first book, From Pain to Parenthood, I had the pleasure of “meeting” two extraordinary women who also wrote books about their adoption journeys: Jody Cantrell Dyer, author of The Eye of Adoption and Debbie Barrow Michael, author of But The Greatest of These Is Love. I read both of their stories and felt connected to them and inspired by their words. They are both caring, compassionate mothers who want to help others and give back to the community. I encourage anyone interested in adoption to check out Jody and Debbie’s work.
SPS: Thank you for joining us today Deanna, and all the best for the future.
DK: Thank you! I’ve enjoyed the interview and look forward to connecting with more readers.
SPS: For more information on Deanna Kahler and her work, please do visit her Author page here.
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