Born a coal miner’s granddaughter and raised by a tribe of wild Pentecostals and storytellers, Pamela King Cable proudly resides in southern Alabama.
Pamela is a multi-published author whose novel, Televenge, attracted national attention from Fox News, CBS Atlanta, as well as book bloggers and media outlets worldwide. Writing stories steeped in Bible-belt mystery and paranormal suspense, Pamela has gained a reputation for piercing the hearts of her readers. She has taught at writing conferences, and speaks to book clubs, women’s groups, national and local civic organizations, and at churches across the country.
Help me welcome Pamela Cable to our guest forum today. Pam, answer a few questions for us.
1. When did you decide to become a writer? In other words, what made you actually sit down and write something?
I remember it vividly. I was in the 6th grade, and I wrote a story called "My Dog, Joey." My teacher, Miss Rizzo, told my mother I should be a writer because I made all the girls (and some of the boys) cry. My mother then proclaimed me a Drama Queen. I think it embarrassed her that I did such a thing. I didn’t care. I always knew I wanted to write. Growing up, I either had my nose in a book or pen to paper. Later, life dictated a different path. As a single mother, I had other obligations that stole the dream of writing from me.
But one day in 1997, sitting in my office where I worked at a major teaching hospital in Akron, Ohio, the Chairman of the Urology Department spied one of my short stories on my desk. He was also an author. He grabbed the story, took it home, returned to my office the next day, and closed the door behind him. “Why are you working here?” he asked. “This is what you should be doing.” A few years passed, but in 2003, I began writing full time. It has been my passion. The grease in my wheels that keeps me going forward in life.
2. Every writer is eventually asked this question, but where do your ideas come from? Why do you write what you do?
I write about religion and spirituality with paranormal twists unearthed from my family’s history. I write about my passions, what moves me, what shoots out of me like a rocket. My key inspirational force is my spirituality.
I was born in the South, a coal miner’s granddaughter, but my father escaped the mines, went to college, and moved his family to Ohio in 1959 to work for the rubber companies. I spent every weekend as a little girl traveling back to the Appalachian Mountains. My memories of my childhood run as strong as a steel-belted radial tire and as deep as an Appalachian swimming hole. As a little girl, I was a transplanted hick in a Yankee schoolroom. I grew up in the North. So my influence comes naturally from both regions. But the dusty roads in the coal towns of the ‘sixties are where my career as a writer was born.
For me, it is within sanctuaries of brick and mortar—places of clapboard and canvas, that characters hang ripe for picking. From the primitive church services of the mountain clans to the baptisms and sacraments in cathedrals and synagogues all over the world. From the hardworking men and women who testify in every run-down house of God in America to the charismatic high-dollar high-tech evangelicals televised in today’s megachurches. Therein lie stories of unspeakable conflict, the forbidden, and often, the unexplained.
3. Do you work to an outline or plot or do you prefer to see where an idea takes you? How do you think you’ve evolved creatively?
I work from an outline, but that outline never holds me in check. It takes many turns throughout the process, but I do know the ending before I begin. I don’t know how much I’ve evolved, but I do believe the longer we work at our craft, the more it morphs into who we are as writers. I am still moved by history and writing from the gut, if that makes any sense. I write what I want to read, not what is necessarily popular at the moment.
4. What is the hardest thing about the creative process of writing? If you’re a Christian, what are the challenges you believe Christian writers face now and in the future? If you would, please tell us what was the hardest thing about writing your last book? How long does it typically take you to finish your books?
Keeping down my word count. Televenge was published at over 600 pages. But to me, and fortunately to my publisher, every word mattered. My new novel, The Sanctum, weighs in at just over 300 pages. Still, I had to cut a lot. But I file away all those cuts to be used in another story. I don’t “kill my babies” as they say in the business. I hide them.
As a Christian, the challenge for me is to get people to read my work with an open mind. Southern Fried Women and Televenge were not necessarily written for the Christian audience, but the spirit of a faithful God runs through each book. The Sanctum, however, will appeal to both Christians and the secular. It was the hardest story for me to tell because of the horrendous acts of racism and of having to weave the power of Christianity through the story to overcome the darkness. Every writer has a message. In The Sanctum, it was told through the eyes and mind of a thirteen-year-old girl.
I don’t give myself deadlines. When I am in the midst of telling the story, I have no problem working eight, ten, or twelve hours a day for as long as it takes. The short stories in Southern Fried Women took only weeks to complete. Televenge, however, took ten years to write. I lost track of how many drafts I wrote. I started The Sanctum late in 2008 and finished it five years later. Still, I’m one who edits as I write. I hear that’s a bad habit. But I’m not a writer who can pump out a book every six months like clockwork. It doesn’t work that way for me.
5. Name your three biggest frustrations about the writing business.
I could get myself in trouble answering this question. Number One. The length of time it takes from finishing the novel to publication is painfully long. Way too long. Some hip, cool publisher needs to find a way to shorten that time period and pass it on to a few of the old goats in the business. Number Two. The industry has set itself up to be God to the writer. Twenty-three year old editors should not be allowed to judge a writer’s work. Number Three. My final gripe would be the old, worn-out process of retailers returning books. That’s just nonsense. The Gap can’t return its unsold blue jeans to the Levi Company. This is an antiquated process that needs to stop. Now.
6. On the flip side, what excites you the most about the creative process?
With each story told, I can move my reader to tears or motivate them into changing their own path. I can pierce their hearts with my words. By pouring my heart onto the page, I can affect the life of one or more readers. It excites me that long after I am gone my books will live on for many years to come. Leaving a legacy in my writing – that matters to me.
7. What are you reading at the moment, and who are a few of your favorite authors and why?
The Feathered Bone by Julie Cantrell, who has become a favorite. I highly recommend reading Julie Cantrell. Barbara Kingsolver, J. L. Miles, Jodi Picoult, Anita Shreve, Cassandra King, and Elizabeth Berg. Their books have me walking around like a zombie because I get no sleep. Each author has a unique way of getting to the end. Each path a little different. I find that fascinating.
You can follow Pamela at the following places:
https://Twitter.com/pamelakingcable / @pamelakingcable
If you would like to purchase a copy of The Sanctum, visit http://www.amazon.com/Sanctum-Pamela-King-Cable/dp/1938499034/