Kiersten Modglin, Seasoned Author, Told Me How She Manages to Keep the Suspense Coming in Her Books
Updated: Apr 29
Hi friends. I'm back, but this time I'm doing something a little differently. Don't get too upset with me, things will be back to normal soon. If you've noticed, recently I have been reviewing a lot of work done by an author named Kiersten Modglin. Here is an excerpt from her "about me" section on her website:
"Kiersten Modglin is a Top 30 Amazon bestseller of psychological thrillers. As an avid reader herself, Kiersten grew up in Kentucky with dreams of someday publishing a book or two of her own. Now, she has more than 30 books published and lives in Tennessee with her husband, her daughter, and their two Boston Terriers. She is best known for her unpredictable plotlines and surprising twists. Dubbed the Queen of Twists by her fans, Kiersten's work has been translated in multiple languages."
I stumbled across a book of hers completely by accident, from Black Girls Read Books too on Facebook, but that was all it took to get me hooked. Now if you have read any of her work, you'll know that she does not shy away from the outlandish twists. It's almost as if she takes pride in giving her readers whiplash. She loves to throw in a twist that you never would have seen coming. Makes reading her books like you're watching a lifetime movie. You can't look away, even if you wanted to. I very quickly became a fan and found myself reading more and more of her books. Just to see if she could keep surprising me with her twists. So far so good!
I have some super exciting news though. *Insert Drumroll here* I reached out to Kiersten to see if she would be willing to do a quick interview with me and HOLY BALLS, you guys. She said yes!
(visual representation of my reaction when she agreed)
A few quick housekeeping items before we get started, If you want to check out more Kiersten Modglin information, mosey on over to her website and check it out. She has the list of her titles in chronological order plus other goodies. I'm going to get myself a t-shirt at some point when the funds look correct. I've done a few reviews on some of her titles here on the booky babe already if you want to know where to start. If you want to check out her titles for yourself you can buy directly from her website OR, here is a link to her stuff on Amazon.
I am an Amazon Affiliate. If you purchase any of the books I recommend through the links provided by me, it gives me the opportunity to earn a small commission through no extra cost to you. Any little bit helps in keeping up the maintenance costs for The Booky Babe. Thank you in advance
Now that the technical stuff is out of the way, Kiersten if you're reading this, we are now besties in my head, just so you know. Anyway, I took a week or so to prepare my questions because I had so much I wanted to ask and because hi, hello. Have we met? Chronic overthinker, at your service. How do you ask someone, "Hey, what is it like being inside your brain?" without sounding like a total weirdo? I think I may have typed and deleted my questions a good 3 times. But anyway, enough rambling, here is the moment you've all been waiting for (or for at least the last 5 minutes while you read the intro). Here is my interview with the Twist Queen herself.
Interview with Kiersten Modglin
How did publishing your first book change your process of writing?
For one thing, it made me much more aware of reader expectations and much more self-conscious about my stories. For so long, I’d been writing my stories just for me, and suddenly, there was a lot more pressure to get everything right. Writing the book after my first one had been published felt like the hardest thing in the world because, for the first time, I was writing it with a lot of self-doubt and the negative reviews repeating in my head. Over time, of course, I’ve learned to shut the negativity out when I’m writing and focus on all the love I’ve been shown. Because, thank goodness, there are plenty of people who enjoy my work and are waiting for my next books. That’s been a very pleasant surprise, and probably the thing that’s kept me publishing the most. I’d still be writing no matter what, but I publish for my family and for my readers who have been so incredibly supportive. They’re absolutely my dreams come true.
What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book?
That all depends on what book I’m writing. For some books, like The Missing, for example, I’ve had to do quite a bit of research. It was set on an island, so I had to research all sorts of survival tips and tricks, etc. For The Arrangement, as someone who’s never done it, I had to do a lot of research into how online dating works. For Widow Falls, I researched life as a whitewater rafting guide. For The Roommate, I had to learn about life as a talent agent in Nashville. So, each book requires different research, some require quite a lot and others require very little. For the most part, unless it’s something huge that I need to know before I can start writing, I typically research as I go.
If I’m writing a scene and there’s a flower growing, I’ll research what sort of flowers would grow in that area at that time of year. Or if I’m writing a scene where characters go to a restaurant, I’ll look up a restaurant menu for a similar restaurant to get ideas for what they might order. If I’m describing a building or character in great detail, I’ll often look up something or someone similar to help me with the description as I’m not very visual and have trouble picturing things in my head. So, as for how long, it’s hard to say. It’s usually a few minutes to a few hours here and there. Because my books tend to be modern and domestic, I’m lucky that I don’t usually have to do a ton of research to make them believable.
How do you keep all these twists and turns together as you write? For example: The Amendment was a book of yours that was filled with so many twists that completely changed the tone of the story. How do you keep them all together without losing track of where you want the story to go?
The good thing for me is that I write my books very quickly over short periods of time. On average, I finish my first drafts in about two weeks. Which means, I don’t have to keep track of things or keep things straight for very long. I take detailed notes as I write and plot things down to the chapter before I start writing, but most of the twists live inside my head and my plots often change as I go. While I’m writing, I live and breathe my stories. When I’m not actively writing (as in, sitting at the computer with my fingers on the keys), most often I’m still thinking about the story and plotting throughout the day. So, it’s a very good thing I’m able to write as often as as quickly as I can, because that really does help me keep things straight. I’m so absorbed by the story for my writing days, it’s as much reality as everything else. Just don’t ask me what day it is or what I ate for breakfast. 😉
A lot of your stories deal with the dark side of people. What was your hardest scene to write, and why?
As strange as it may sound, the dark scenes are the most fun for me to write. I often describe it like I’m an actress. Every time I sit down to write, I’m putting on a persona and preparing to perform. I get to live and breathe inside of another person for an hour or a day. I get to play pretend, and, most often, it’s super fun to play the bad guy. While some of my books do deal with very dark subject matter, for me, the fun comes from letting the characters take over and giving them the freedom to play. I guess that might all seem a bit strange, but I simply mean I’m an actress doing a job. I’m making up stories and watching them play out in my mind and on my paper. That doesn’t mean it doesn’t get hard sometimes.
With The Arrangement and The Amendment in particular, there’s a huge reveal at the end of The Arrangement. That story was originally meant to be a standalone book, but because of its success, readers asked for more and I decided to continue the story with a sequel. But I never planned to have to continue that story with the final twist coming into play. That was hard for me to do! It was hard to be inside the heads of the monsters I’d created in that series. With several of my books–The Missing, The Dinner Guests, Playing Jenna, The Missing Piece, The Messes Series, and many others–I’ve written scenes that have made me cry for various reasons. Like I said previously, my stories are very real to me as I write them, and all of the emotions my characters and readers feel, I certainly feel them too.
How do you process and deal with negative book reviews?
I have 32 books out at the time of this interview and thousands of negative reviews, and I can say with absolute certainty it never gets easier to read a negative review. That feeling–lump in your throat, heart racing, sick to your stomach, filled with embarrassment, anger, and sadness–it just doesn’t let up whether you’re reading your first negative review or your thousandth. What I will say though is that, for every negative review, there’s a positive one. For whatever reason, the negative reviews hold more weight in our minds. They just do. BUT as you gain more readers, you’ll find yourself getting positive reviews for the same things you get negative reviews for. (“This girl’s books are all over the place. She just throws spaghetti at the wall to see what sticks.” vs “I love it! Her plots are all over the place. You never know where she’s going or what’s coming next.”)
Or you’ll find reviews that directly contradict each other. (“This author could use more description in her writing.” vs “This author is so descriptive. The way she writes, I can just picture everything happening.”) Those are all examples of literal reviews I’ve gotten. I think once you start to see those patterns, it’s easier to accept that you truly can’t please everyone, no matter how hard you try, and that you only have to write your stories to please yourself and your readers. Because if you love a book you’ve written, there will be readers out there who will love it too. And that’s really all that matters.
Well there you have it, lovelies! I hope you enjoyed this interview as much as I did and if not, just pretend like it for my own sanity. 😉 Stick around for part two!
Let me know what you think of the interview! You coming back for part two? You absolutely should. Let me know if you decide to buy any of her books. And in the meantime, happy reading babes! ❤