Writing is one of the great loves of my life (with bacon mac and cheese, Netflix binges and PJs also in the mix). My childhood in Columbus, Ohio was spent reading every single Baby-Sitter’s Club book ever written and acting out imaginary tragedies in my room (complete with costumes and props) until a really embarrassing age. I started writing plays for my younger cousins as soon as they were all old enough to act (The Spoiled Princess may be a personal favorite) and haven’t stopped writing since. After graduating from Kenyon College with a B.A. in English Literature, I’ve been lucky enough to make writing my career; first as a television producer, then as a marketer and now as a novelist.
The Fun Stuff
Full name: Kristen Marie Orlando (my childhood friends all call me KMO or KMOtion)
Favorite food: Food is kind of my life. But if I have to pick just one, my husband’s enchiladas that he makes with this delicious spicy pulled pork. I’m hungry just thinking about it.
Favorite color: Blue
Favorite flower: There’s something about a daisy that make me super happy.
Favorite song: I love all kinds of music. From the pop music of today, 1970’s bands like Chicago and the Doobie Brothers (much like Reagan and Luke in my book!), Frank Sinatra and even classical. But I’ll go with an old standard that my grandmother (who was a big band singer in the 1940s) used to sing at the piano: Moonlight Serenade
Favorite TV show: Seinfeld. I think I’ve seen every episode 15 times.
Most Prized Possession: A tie between my doll Mimi that I’ve had since I was one (and I wrote into the book!) and letters and cards from my parents. My dad writes me a letter every single Christmas and I’ve saved every single one. And I love the cards I get from my mom.
Favorite place to read and/or write: The lovely chair and ottoman in my office.
Book I never get tired of reading: Summer Sisters by Judy Blume. I’ve probably read it 20 times. My copy is so old and worn. I just love that book.
What drives you to write?
Really great art. Be it a beautifully acted or directed movie or an amazing piece of music or an incredibly well-written novel. When I watch or read or hear something that moves me, I get really excited and remind myself that I get to do that, too! I feel so fortunate that I get to create something that could potentially stir up some type of emotion in people because that’s what I’ve dreamt about doing my entire life. It reminds me just how lucky I am and then I get down to writing.
How often do you experience writer’s block and what do you do to get out of it?
It definitely happens and can be frustrating. Usually, I watch something that might spark what I need to write. Or I listen to music that I feel like the characters would be listening to in the scene I’m trying to write.
What is the best writing advice you ever received?
My dad once told me, “Never be satisfied with success and never fear failure.” It’s the never fear failure part that has always stuck with me and I apply so much to my writing. There are so many roadblocks you could throw up to stop yourself from writing: I’m not good enough. It’s so hard to get an agent. It’s impossible to get published. It will never happen for me. My father’s advice has definitely made me (for better or worse) a close-your-eyes-and-jump kind of girl. If you give in to the fear, you never really know what you can accomplish. So my best advice is to just go for it!