Today, we have an opportunity to talk to KB Ballentine.
KB Ballentine has written the book, Edge of the Echo.
First, let me thank you for joining me. I appreciate you giving me your links and I want to share those with our readers.
That is great. Can you tell us a little about yourself and what led you to start writing?
I have never NOT written. I learned to read before I went to school, and I always made up stories to share by voice until I could write. I went to college to receive my English degree, and my parents asked what I was planning to do for a living. Well, reality hits hard when you’re not receiving a paycheck, and I took a few more classes to get my teaching certificate.
These days I teach DE English classes and theatre to high school students and moonlight at a local college by teaching night classes. And, of course, I write. And read. And read about writing.
What was the first piece you ever wrote?
I wrote many short stories, probably more like flash fiction but that wasn’t a category when I was a kid, but the first “big” piece I wrote was a romance novel when I was in 8th grade. Ha! I laugh about that now, thinking I knew anything about romance at that age!
I received my degree but was licking my wounds from that class when I noticed I hadn’t been teaching poetry to my students. When I first began teaching, the other teachers were incredibly helpful with material and insight to the classroom, so I was bewildered when I realized I had no information about poetry.
Peppering my colleagues with questions, I was finally told by one: “I don’t teach poetry because it’s subjective; there’s no real way to grade it.” Well, I immediately went out and found books about “how to teach writing to teenagers.”
That sounds like it was a really motivating moment for you.
Now, I’m the kind of teacher who wants to make sure she can do the work she asks of her students, so I read through several of the books, did the exercises, and found, wonder of wonders, that I enjoyed writing those poems.
This was the intersection where I turned to poetry.
So many of my hobbies revolve around language: reading, theatre, listening to stories, but I also enjoy physical activities like hiking, swimming, dancing, and, once upon a time, sword fighting.
Often times young writers - meaning young in their writing career rather than age necessarily - seem overwhelmed by the idea of publishing something. What advice would you give anyone considering moving to publication?
Keep writing, keep workshopping, keep sending your work for publication. Never give up.
Please tell us about your current release.
Edge of the Echo is divided into four sections that honor the ancient rhythms of Earth, Air, Water, and Fire. Edge of the Echo explores these elements and how they weave through the human experience and, though we are encompassed by them every day, we don’t fully understand them. At the threshold of each season there is a mystic balance between the stones and the stars. The early Celts recognized what we have forgotten: the seasons of the year reflect an invisible geography between nature and the human soul. In this world full of upheaval and clatter, we need more than ever the tenacity of nature – its magic and variety that mends our weariness. This collection of poems invites the elements to speak to us once again.
Can you give us a sample?
Mountains shift as mist ghosts
the ridge, spools the river.
Heat licks the sky, velvet-shirred,
atoms cracking, dividing
right before our eyes. In the valley,
Fireflies flare the dusty road, blinking
hope in this unfolding night.
That is great. I love the line about fireflies. Growing up in the south, they pull up so many experiences and life memories.
One thing I always ask authors I interview is who influenced you?
Some of my favorite authors are David Whyte, John O’Donohue, Mary Oliver, Jane Kenyon, Eavan Boland, Robert Macfarlane, Edwin Way Teale, Ron Rash, Bill Brown, Diane Frank, and, oh, I could go on and on. There are so many good writers out there, and I want to read them all!
That would make a great "to-read" list. Do you buy a lot of books to read?
The best money I ever spent as a writer is on other authors’ work, most especially ones who are working/writing currently. I have never regretted buying books from fellow writers.
That is awesome. As a writer, how do you balance your time?
My writer’s kryptonite is too much or not enough time. I always think I want more time to write, but, when I have more time, I squander it. When I am super-busy I get even less work done because I’m usually too stressed to write. My most prolific writing is done when I am on a regular schedule and in a routine.
Writing has never really been difficult for me, but I don’t really relish the time I spend sending my work out for publication. A good rule of thumb for poets is to have about one-third (or more) of your collection already published singly in contemporary journals/e-zines/lit mags. Sitting down and turning on my business brain to submit my work in the varying formats required by each publisher is nowhere near as fun as using my creative brain. It’s probably that way for most writers.
Are you involved in any writer's groups?
I have been involved with many writers’ groups over the years that meet monthly such as the Chattanooga Writers’ Guild, Rhyme-n-Chatt, the Knoxville Writers’ Guild, Tennessee Mountain Writers, Inc, and I also have personal writing groups where I meet with a fewer number of people more often. I think it’s a good idea to run your work past other people: you don’t have to take their advice/suggestions, but it’s always good to see your work through other sets of eyes/ears.
One more time, where can someone go to purchase your book?
Thank you and good luck!