📖Authors To Watch: Kirsten Mickelwait Author of The Ghost Marriage #authorstowatch #interview


Kirsten Mickelwait
 is a professional copywriter and editor by day and a writer of fiction and creative nonfiction by night. She’s an alumna of the Squaw Valley Community of Writers, the Napa Valley Writers’ Conference, the Paris Writers’ Conference, and the San Francisco Writers’ Conference. Her short story, “Parting with Nina,” won first prize in The Ledge’s 2004 Fiction Awards Competition. She lives in the San Francisco Bay Area, where she’s working on a new novel.

Her latest book is the paranormal memoir, The Ghost Marriage.

You can visit her website at www.kirstenmickelwait.com or connect with her on TwitterInstagramGoodreads and Facebook.

Kirsten, at age 31, meets and marries Steve Beckwith, a handsome and successful attorney. Twenty-two years later, Steve becomes unemployed and addicted to opioids, using money and their two children to emotionally blackmail Kirsten. What’s more, he’s been having an affair with their real estate agent, who is also her close friend. Soon after their divorce is finalized, Steve is diagnosed with colon cancer and dies within a year, leaving Kirsten with $1.5 million in debts she knew nothing about. As she fights toward recovery, Kirsten begins to receive communications from Steve in the afterlife―which lead her on an unexpected path to forgiveness.

“A skillfully written, thought-provoking account that positively reconsiders an antagonist as an important teacher.”
Kirkus Reviews

“What if you accidentally married your worst enemy? With unflinching honesty and hard-earned grace, Kirsten Mickelwait peels the shiny façade off her catastrophic marriage to reveal how she not only survived the lies, betrayals, and lawsuits, but also found her way to compassion. If you don’t think on your ex fondly, The Ghost Marriage will teach you why you should.”
―Meredith May, author of The Honey Bus and Loving Edie

The Ghost Marriage is an absorbing tale about what happens when you marry Prince Charming and the expected ‘Happily Ever After’ erodes into a kind of ‘Cursed Ever After.’ It’s a story of survival, of adjusted ambition, of how to be quick on your feet when your daily foundation crumbles in midlife.”
―Julia Scheeres, author of Jesusland and A Thousand Lives

“With The Ghost Marriage, Kirsten Mickelwait―in bracing, unsentimental prose― brings us in close to the disturbing history of her troubled marriage. It’s abundantly satisfying to watch her move through each crisis toward new compassion―for herself, but also for her deceased ex-husband.”
―Angela Pneuman, author of Lay It on My Heart and Home Remedies

“By turns hilarious, lyrical, suspenseful, and touching, Kirsten Mickelwait’s memoir pulls us into the whirlpool of her unique marriage―then spits us out into the dazzling light of what that marriage came to mean. Supremely well written, and with a captivating honesty.”
―Veronica Chater, author of Waiting for the Apocalypse

Book Information

Release Date: Audiobook releases April 12, 2022

Publisher: She Writes Press

Amazon: Paperback https://amzn.to/3tYLlcs

We welcome you to My Bookish Pleasures! Can you tell us how you got started writing fiction?

After earning my bachelor’s degree in English many years ago, it simply never occurred to me to write fiction. Instead, I applied my writing skills to a long career as a writer/editor for hire. I’ve worked both in-house and as a freelancer, mostly in the marketing communications, advancement, and fundraising spaces. But in 1999 I bought Julia Cameron’s workbook, The Artist’s Way. By the time I finished it, I had an idea for an ambitious historical novel, set in six different time periods. I spent several years writing that book and got representation for it, but it never sold. Years passed, I published a few short stories, but my energy was largely focused on the events described in my memoir, The Ghost Marriage. I had no interest in writing about that painful decade, but my friends and family finally convinced me to do it. I spent about four years writing it, and it was published in 2021.

Describe your writing process. Do you plot or write by the seat of your pants? When and where do you write?

I am definitely a plotter, not a “pantser.” I create outlines, do lots of research, and create timelines and vision boards as I’m getting started. Because I still have a full-time job, most of my writing is done on the weekend, any time of the day that’s free. I have a home office but, because that’s where I do my income-producing work, I’ll often move my computer to the dining room table to work on my creative stuff.

Can you tell us about your most recent release?

The Ghost Marriage is a memoir about the most painful decade of my life. My marriage fell apart and my husband Steve, a successful attorney, turned his litigation skills against me. Then he disregarded our marital settlement agreement and didn’t take my name off of four large loans when he received those properties in the divorce. He also maxed out credit cards and secretly charged large expenses to cards still in my name. Then he was diagnosed with colon cancer and died within a year. When he died, he left me with $1.5 million in his debts. As a single mom struggling to support our two children, I nearly went bankrupt. Obviously, I was pretty angry. But then I started getting messages from Steve in the afterlife. I did a lot of spiritual work around what these messages meant, including visits to a medium. That’s what enabled me to find forgiveness and eventually turn my life around. It’s a cautionary tale about what “happily ever after” really looks like.

How did you get the idea for the book?

As I said, after living this nightmare for about seven years, I had no interest in revisiting the story, let alone immersing myself in it to write a book. But many people convinced me that it was a story worth sharing. Now I’ve found that it’s helping others who are going through similar challenges. And, as strange as it may sound, I believe that Steve and I were meant to write this story together.

What was the most challenging aspect of writing your book?

First, reliving the most painful decade of my life. Second, editing for length. The original manuscript was 134,000 words, which is 34,000 words too long for most publishers. I hired a professional editor to help me pare it down to 99,999 words!

What projects are you currently working on?

I’m at work on a historical novel that focuses on the lives of an American couple that was part of the Lost Generation, living in France after WWI. I’m about 75,000 words into it. The challenge, I’m finding, is that they traveled so much, had so many friends and so many houses, it’s really hard to depart from the biographies and find the unique story I want to tell. There’s too much material here!

What advice would you offer to new or aspiring fiction authors?

Personally, I wish I’d had the confidence to start writing fiction earlier. But whatever stage you’re at in life, it’s never too late to tell your story. And you don’t necessarily need a fancy MFA degree to do it. Find writers’ conferences and online classes. Become part of a writing community. Start a local writers’ group. Workshopping your stories or chapters is essential to honing your craft and getting your book written.