Writers Inspiring Change feature author: Carole McKee
IWIC: Tell us about yourself.
Carole: I grew up in the country just outside of Pittsburgh, PA, so I am a country girl at heart. My home was a large white-frame two-story house that sat on a beautiful acre, filled with pine and willow trees. Life was simple back when I was a child, but it wasn’t easy. I had two brothers who ganged up on me a lot. In fact, more than a lot. Constantly. Thankfully, the two younger brothers did not. But there was very little joy in our house. My parents fought constantly, and basically showed no love to any of us. I believe that is why in most of my books, the families are always loving and caring for each other. It’s the way I always wanted it to be, but never was while I was growing up. We didn’t have much money. In fact, by school student standards, we were poor. My school had merged with another district, and when I got to high school it was obvious that our district was a lot less affluent than the new one. That’s when I realized we were poor. It wasn’t just my family, but our neighbors, too. We all lived in houses that were wood frame, or clapboard, and our fathers drove old cars with paint dulled from wear and weather. Not like our new fellow students’ father’s cars, which were shiny and new. They lived in houses made of brick or stone, all with manicured lawns. But we all survived. As a child I loved animals and nature. That carried over into my adulthood. I can’t imagine not having at least one pet. Cats are my favorite, but I love dogs, too. Currently, I have one cat, Myttenz; and I wouldn’t be opposed to having another one. I didn’t go to college until I was around 42 years old. Once I started, I didn’t want to stop. I earned an Associate’s degree in Nuclear Medicine, but went back for a Bachelor’s in Human Health Science while I worked in a hospital in Erie, PA. But I wasn’t done. I love the classroom, so after I moved to Florida, I entered school again, and received a Bachelor’s in Business Administration, and then a Master’s in Behavioral Health Science. I wanted to go on for a Doctorate, but really had to stop. Financially, it would have been impossible to go further. I married twice. Both times I walked away, heartbroken, so I decided I shouldn’t try it again. Living alone has its benefits. I stay fairly involved in the community. I’m the treasurer of my Homeowner’s Association, a Deacon in my church, and I belong to a screenwriter’s group. I’m learning how to turn my books into films. The group is one of the nicest bunch of people you could want to meet, and I enjoy being around them. I have actually been a cast member in one of the films a member of the group has produced. That was fun. What is left of my family is scattered all over the country, and I don’t hear from them very much; but I have lots of really terrific friends. And wouldn’t trade them for the world. In my adult life, I have lived in many places. After I got married to husband #1, we moved to Germany. We lived there a little more than a year, and came home with baby daughter, Terra. From there we moved to New Jersey and then Delaware, and then back to Pittsburgh. Eric was born in Delaware. During my second marriage, we moved to North Carolina and lived there for a year. Then back to Pittsburgh. I can’t deny it–I love Pittsburgh. I moved from there to Erie, and remained there for ten years, until I moved to Florida. I believe I am done moving. I am known for my love for animals. Everyone who knows me always think of me when they see things with animals on it. Calendars, cups, stuffed animals, tee shirts, etc. are just a few of the items I get from friends. I have an unnatural fear of spiders. People know this about me because I can’t hide it very well. I guess I’m sort of an open book in many ways. One thing about me that very few people know, is that I’m dyslexic. I hide it very well, and unless I say it, nobody can tell. So there you have it. That is pretty much my life story. I hope I haven’t bored anyone. It may be boring to read, but it certainly wasn’t boring while living it.
IWIC: What prompted you to become a writer? Carole: Truth is, from the time I was able to read and write, I wrote. I spent a lot of time in my room, hiding out, and in that time I wrote many short stories. Once my dad found a couple of them and he remarked that I had quite an imagination. I wrote to pass the time and to keep myself entertained. At this point I hadn’t thought about being a writer. I wanted to be a veterinarian. The turning point came when my beloved black Labrador Retriever died. I was beside myself with grief. To keep him with me, always, I had him cremated. The woman who performed the cremation called me to let me know that the deed was done, and then she commented on how beautiful he was. She told me that when she wheeled his body out of the vet’s office, the staff was crying. We talked for awhile and I entertained her with wonderful stories of Jackson. She told me I should write his story and see if I could get it into a magazine. It took awhile for me to write it, because his death was still so painful. But I finally did, and I submitted it to a couple magazines. A veterinary magazine bought the story and sent me a check! Thrilled as I was, I didn’t write anything else for a couple of years. Then one day I just thought, “All these story ideas in my head. Why not try to write a book?” So I did. My first novel, “Perfect” came out in 2007. I submitted it in a contest and it won an honorable mention. I didn’t think that was a big deal until I realized that there were more than 250,000 books submitted, and mine was singled out. That gave me the encouragement to write another book, and then another, and a writer was born. I love writing. I regret that I hadn’t started writing years earlier, because I believe after all the years of working different jobs and trying different careers, I found the one that suits me the best.
IWIC: What do readers like about your writing? Carole: From what I’ve been told, some love the passion in my writing. Some like my characters, including the villains. I think most agree that they like the reality in my stories–things with which they can identify. They’re all very mainstream.
IWIC: Is there a message weaved into your writing? Carole: Well, I think I lean toward the importance of love. Love in general-not romance. And the importance of kindness. Being kind to each other, and everyone you meet is something I live by. I’m hoping my writing gets that message across.
IWIC: What is it that you want to inspire in others or change in the world through your writing? Carole: I want people to be happy and, in turn, make other people happy. I know some people are very hard to love, but if everyone tries just a little harder, it can be achieved. There is way too much hate in this world today. Feel love-give love. It doesn’t hurt.
IWIC: Tell us about your most recent book and why you wrote it? Carole: I just finished writing one. It’s still in it’s rough draft, and I’m beginning to go through it making changes, adding and deleting. Once I’m satisfied with that, I will send it to my editor. The title of this book is “Angelface.” The funny thing about it is the character I created reminds me of someone in my past, and for the life of me, I can’t remember who. I just created a character who was funny, bright, easy-going, and down to earth. I’m having fun writing the story, but the more I write, the more she seems familiar. I wish I could remember who she reminds me of.