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5 Minutes, 5 Questions With… Julie Kasten, author of Dancing Amidst the Chaos

JoeyPinkney.com Exclusive Interview
5 Minutes, 5 Questions With…
Julie Kasten, author of Dancing Amidst the Chaos

julie kasten dancing amidst chaos on amazondotcom

Dancing Amidst the Chaos is the story of a life, told in snapshots of its moments. Each verse invites the reader to catch a glimpse into the author’s internal world of hopes and dreams, fears and struggles. From building a love that lasts to mourning the loss of a friend, from delighting in the joys of childhood to healing the scars of addiction, no topic is off-limits, and each is explored with poignant emotion and pervasive honesty.

All of us are dancers amidst the chaos of the world we live in… Every reader will find a wealth of passages that resonate at the deepest levels within the pages of Julie Kasten’s piercingly candid, brilliantly expressive collection of poetry.

Joey Pinkney: Where did you get the idea and inspiration to write Dancing Amidst the Chaos?

Julie Kasten: All of the poems you see in Dancing Amidst the Chaos were written over a span of about 5 years of my life. My inspirations for individual pieces came from all around me… From simple observations of the night sky to complex explorations of the deepest emotion, almost anything in life can become fodder for my poetry. The people in my life (especially my five-year-old daughter) provide a constant source of inspiration and ideas!

When I began to write these pieces, after a few years of being away from my writing, I don’t know that I even had the idea that they would one day come together into a book. At that point, I was writing them mainly for myself , for my own pleasure and/or my own therapy. Dancing Amidst the Chaos is sort of a “best of” collection from this period in my life.

JP: Why did you choose to use poetry as a medium to communicate your stories of Dancing Amidst the Chaos?

JK: I love the challenge that poetry affords me to make an impact on my reader in just a few lines of text. I love using wordplay and structure to create powerful imagery and evoke strong emotion.

I’ve often compared my poems to snapshots, capturing a slice of life or a moment in time. Reading Dancing Amidst the Chaos should feel like flipping through the pages of a photo album where each piece on its own creates a mood or tells a story. They all come together form a stirring mosaic of moments, memories and feelings.

JP: Which poets inspired your writing style? What were you able to take from them to make your poems stronger?

JK: I read Hart D. Fisher’s Poems for the Dead back in the late nineties and was inspired by the very genuine and fearless way in which he expressed difficult emotions in his work. From him, I learned to dig a little deeper in my own works and take the risk to reveal more of my truth.

I also love the works Universe Konadu, and I have been inspired especially by her poems about her faith journey and her walk with God. From her, I learned the power (for both myself and my readers) of communicating about my spiritual growth in verse.

Jessica Sanchez’s Under the Wishing Well inspired me in its skillful use of imagery and metaphor, as well as the author’s creation of and adherence to her own unique style and structure. There are so many others I could probably name here, but these are the three authors that really stand out for me, and whose influence can be seen and felt in Dancing Amidst the Chaos.

JP: What advice would you give to aspiring poets who haven’t taken the steps to publishing their works?

JK: For me, publishing wasn’t something to rush into. I wrote poetry for many years before I really had a sense that both my writing skills and my subject matter had evolved to a level that was suitable for publication. I would advise all aspiring poets to keep writing! Gather lots of feedback about your work.

If you don’t have people in your “real” life with whom you’re comfortable sharing your work, there are many great communities online for writers. And when you do feel that you’re ready to make the leap to publication, be sure to seek out a publisher that knows and respects poetry. Find a publisher that will work with you to maintain your unique style and voice during the editing process.

JP: What’s next for Julie Kasten?

JK: Right now, my publisher is putting together a little “mini book tour” for me here in Delaware and the surrounding area. I look forward to getting out there and meeting readers. Also, I’m in the early stages of work on a second book of poetry, and hope to be ready to release it early next year.

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5 Minutes, 5 Questions With… Charlie Renne, author of A Truck Fell on Me

JoeyPinkney.com Exclusive Interview
5 Minutes, 5 Questions With…
Charlie Renne, author of A Truck Fell on Me

charlie renne a truck fell on me

(click here to read reviews of this book on Amazon.com)

I began my venture to fulfillment the moment a truck smashed into a bridge which caused it to fall through my Bonneville and come to rest across my lap. The truck bed was just inches in front of my face. My car’s steering wheel was driven through my right thigh. The roof of my car was squished down on my head which caused me to fold like an accordion. The next thing I knew, there was a voice telling me I was going to be okay. It was a member of the heavy rescue squad. Little did I realize the prophecy of that man would take eighteen months to come to fruition. Not only did his prediction come true, but I was even better than before the 10,000 pounds of iron tried to crush my body.

Joey Pinkney: Where did you get the idea and inspiration to write A Truck Fell on Me?

Charlie Renne: It began the moment I woke up after the collision. I thought for sure I had been killed. The truck falling toward me was very clear in my mind. There was no way anybody could possibly survive such an event. My rescue was filled with unreal happenings. The pain was so intense, my inner spirit left my body and became a spectator as I watched my own rescue. All that time I kept thinking that the whole thing would make a terrific story. When I woke up from the life-saving surgery, I was still convinced that I was actually dead. That’s when I decided for sure that I’d have to write down everything I was experiencing. I wanted everyone to know a what dead person actually goes through. I know that doesn’t make sense now, but at the time it did.

JP: What sets A Truck Fell on Me apart from other novels in its genre?

CR: Basically, it comes down to two things. First of all, much of the story was written by a dead person. It took nearly a year and a half before I could completely wipe from my mind that I might have died. It didn’t matter that every day I’d eat, watch TV and experience pain. My brain told me I was dead. Graphic and continuous flashbacks wouldn’t allow me to accept that I was alive. The second thing that sets my story apart from others is the humor that’s injected throughout. An example of this is when I wrote about how I nearly impaled myself on to a pine tree as I attempted to do some self-prescribed physical therapy.

JP: As an author, what are the keys to your success that lead to A Truck Fell on Me getting out to the public?

CR: Nearly seven years after my accident, I married a beautiful woman by the name of Mary Ellen. I showed her my notes, and she encouraged me to turn it all into a book. I had tried several times before that to organize my thoughts into something a publisher might be interested in. Time after time though, the only results were severe nightmares and renewed depression. It was my marriage on my 50th birthday that completed my recovery. If it weren’t for Mary Ellen’s love and encouragement, my story would still be a bunch of pages filled with incoherent and morphine-induced words stuffed into a shoe box.

JP: As an author, what is your writing process? How long did it take for you to start and finish A Truck Fell on Me?

CR: First I took all of my notes and rewrote everything into a narrative form. Then I rewrote it all again. After that, Mary Ellen proof read and edited it with her infamous red pen. She must have gone through two or three pens throughout the editing phase. Once I rewrote the story yet again, my wife once more attacked the manuscript. I started the entire process one week after my marriage. That date was November 6, 2005, which happened to be the seven year anniversary of the accident. By March first of the following year, I was ready to begin submitting the book to publishers. To my surprise, one week later I was notified by the very first publisher I had contacted that they wanted to publish my book. By May of 2007, A Truck Fell on Me was ready for the public.

JP: What’s next for Charlie Renne?

CR: In the year and a half since A Truck Fell on Me was published, I have written two more books. The first is called Muscular Dystrophy: Do Not Attempt This at Home. That book is about my life with Charcot-Marie-Tooth, one of the forty-three different kinds of Muscular Dystrophy. As the title might suggest, I have included a fair amount of humor. There’s even funny passages as I describe two instances of of my heart stopping during surgeries to repair damages done by the disease. That book is in its final editing stage.

The second book is a romantic/comedy work of fiction called Moon Over Bantry Bay . That story is about a successful business woman’s journey of finding her soul mate. Along the way she encounters a hapless conman, his one eyed friend, a preacher/bounty hunter/professional pall bearer and a three year old Irish tornado of a child bent on conquering the world. Through it all though, the heroine finds what she is looking for.

Once publishers are found for those two books, I’ll continue working on another narrative non-fiction story about the demise of customer service. After that…who knows where my pen will land.

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