A Conversation with Kay Moser
Q. Your novels are always so entertaining I find them almost impossible to put down. I’ve noticed, however, that when I do finish one of your novels I have learned an immense amount about myself and about dealing with life. Do you intentionally insert the gold mines of wisdom your readers find in your novels?
A. The truth is I simply start telling a story about a character who fascinates me because she or he is in the throes of a painful dilemma and doesn’t know how to extract herself or himself. As I struggle with the character’s dilemma, other characters who are far wiser than I am seem to show up and teach both my characters and me how to deal with life. I think these wise characters show up because I don’t know how to help my needy characters so I start praying for divine guidance. It’s amazing what insights I receive from prayer.
Q. Are you suggesting that you don’t plan out your books in great detail before you start?
A. The truth is I do almost no planning. I just start telling a character’s story. I really don’t know where that story will lead. The story just grows on the screen in front of me as more characters show up to play their parts. Sometimes the new characters are trouble makers; sometimes they bring solutions–or at least love–to the situation evolving in the novel.
Q. You’ve described your novels as “authentic realism.” What do you mean by that term?
A. In my years as a college professor, I’ve taught many novels. It seems to me that many famous novels that claim to be realistic, especially those written in the last 30 years, are not accurate representations of real life. They may be realistically depicting the lives of a very limited number of people, especially people who live lives that are strangely deviant from what most of us live, The truth is, however, those novels don’t seem to me to depict a reality I’m familiar with or a reality that anyone I know is familiar with. “Authentic realism” is a depiction of the lives of a large segment of the population. The issues my characters deal with are issues you are probably dealing with, and most likely several people on your block are dealing with these same dilemmas.
Q. What kind of issues or dilemmas are you referring to?
A. I think most of us are confused about where our worth comes from; we keep trying to earn it or buy it. We can’t seem to grasp the truth that we came into this world with our worth firmly attached to us because God created us. I think most of us struggle to create strong families and often discover that we have created some kind of dysfunction. We don’t know how to communicate with each other, particularly in our families. It’s hard to be honest, ethical and faithful to our beliefs. In fact, today we don’t even know what to believe. The world has been painted in tones of gray that confuse us. We have been almost smothered by the cynicism and commercialism of our society. This is the world that most of us live in. It is my belief that fiction can show us new patterns of thought and behavior that will free us from much of the discomfort of our world–and at the same time fiction can entertain us. A good story is always entertaining; a good story that gives us a handle on life is the best fiction.
Q. What made you start writing “authentic realism”?
A. My students! I wrote my first novel, “Celebration!” because of a double-dog dare from my students at Baylor University. I was teaching a course called American Masterpieces to sophomores, and they began to demand that we study a contemporary novel. When I responded that most contemporary novels of sufficient literary merit were too profane, violent and vulgar to discuss at a Christian university, they laughed at me.
“Nobody can write a contemporary novel with any literary depth without vulgar language, sex and violence, Dr. Moser,” they insisted.
“Someone could,” I argued back, “if he wanted to.”
“No way! Get real!” they insisted. “If you think someone can do it, then you do it. We dare you! We double-dog dare you!”
They should not have said that “double-dog dare” part. Suddenly I was a little girl again, and my brothers were daring me to take on the impossible. I couldn’t resist a double-dog dare as a kid, and I can’t resist one as an adult. “You just watch,” I retorted, “I’m going to write a novel that’s positive and non-violent and addresses a significant theme!”
Once again they laughed.
By late afternoon I was sitting on my patio praying, “Lord, I’ve really done it this time. Help!”
Fortunately I had gone to the right source for help. I wrote “Celebration!” and did a lot of personal maturing as I struggled with it. “Celebration!” is now in its third edition.
Q. Are you writing another book now?
A. Of course.
Q. Are you going to give us any information about it?
A. Let’s just say that it would be a good time for you to read “Celebration!” if you haven’t read it or to re-read it.
Q. I’ve got the message; you’re not talking. Okay, one more question, please. I notice you have started recommending books on your website. How do you choose these books?
A. These are books I have loved reading. I couldn’t put them down, but they are much more than merely entertaining. They are life-changing. Many authors ask me to recommend their books; for the most part I decline. The ones I have recommended you will love. Enjoy!