Interview with Kaylin McFarren
Reviewed by Jennifer Hass for Reader Views (11/13)
Linda Yoshida, aka Kaylin McFarren, is a rare bird indeed. Not a migratory sort, she prefers to hug the West Coast and keep family within visiting range. Although she has virtually been around the world, she was born in California, relocated with her family to Washington, and nested with her husband in Oregon. In addition to playing an active role in his business endeavors, she has been involved in all aspects of their three daughters’ lives—taxi duties, cheerleading coaching, script rehearsals, and relationship counseling, to name but a few. Now she enjoys spending undisciplined time with her two young grandsons and hopes to have many more.
Although Kaylin wasn’t born with a pen in hand like so many of her talented fellow authors, she has been actively involved in both business and personal writing projects for many years. As the director of a fine art gallery, she assisted in furthering the careers of numerous visual artists who under her guidance gained recognition through promotional opportunities and in national publications. Eager to spread her own creative wings, she has since steered her energy toward writing novels. As a result, she has earned more than a dozen literary awards and was a 2008 finalist in the prestigious RWA® Golden Heart contest.
Kaylin is a member of RWA, Rose City Romance Writers, and Willamette Writers. She received her AA in Literature at Highline Community College, which originally sparked her passion for writing. In her free time, she also enjoys giving back to the community through participation and support of various charitable and educational organizations in the Pacific Northwest.
Tyler: Welcome back, Kaylin. Last time you were here, we talked about your book “Severed Threads” and now we’re ready to talk about the sequel. First, will you tell us whether it’s necessary for people to have read “Severed Threads” to understand or enjoy “Buried Threads,” and if so, can you fill us in a little on the plot and characters of “Severed Threads” to bring readers up to speed?
Kaylin: It’s really not necessary to read “Severed Threads” first in order to enjoy “Buried Threads.” However, I’ve heard from numerous readers that they decided to pick up the first installment in this series after reading this book. Basically, the Threads series is about a romantically involved treasure-hunting duo that becomes entwined in dangerous deep-sea diving adventures. With each story told, the reader has the opportunity to witness their personal growth when faced with deadly obstacles and impossible odds.
Tyler: Where does this story pick up? What’s happening for Rachel in the beginning?
Kaylin: “Buried Threads” picks up where “Severed Threads” ends, but also begins a new chapter in the lives of my main characters. Rachel Lyons and her partner Chase Cohen have been hired by a Japanese monk to recover a priceless treasure in the Sea of Japan. This is the first time they’ve willingly joined forces and both are totally unprepared for what waits in store. When Rachel enters the picture in this story, she’s boarding a flight to Tokyo only to later discover that she’s been seated next to her quirky employer—which leaves her questioning her commonsense by participating in this ill begotten assignment.
Tyler: What about the monk is so quirky?
Kaylin: Shinzo is a clairvoyant Buddhist monk who can see into a person’s heart by holding their hand and reveal aspects about their past lives after putting himself into a trance. He discloses this to Rachel on the plane along with his assignment to travel the world, helping to direct lost souls to heaven.
Tyler: I understand the monk also has a gift of prophecy that looms over the story. Can you tell us about that and how it affects the plot?
Kaylin: As the story unfolds, Shinzo experiences a frightening vision in which he sees Japan completely destroyed by an enormous earthquake. He ultimately sends Rachel and Chase on a mission to recover three stolen samurai swords belonging to a cursed prince to prevent this from happening. However, time is ticking and they have only four days before the next blue moon appears and the prophecy comes true.
Tyler: Rachel and Chase got together in your last book and now are married, but I understand there are still some obstacles in their relationship. Can you share a little of what relationship issues they continue to face in this book?
Kaylin: Well, actually they’re not married yet, but the possibility is there. J These two are still at odds and continue to struggle in their relationship with trust and communication issues. Rachel’s inadequacies continue to get in the way and her only way to grow and have faith in others is to face her weaknesses head on while overcoming her greatest challenges.
Tyler: I understand there were a few key people from real-life who influenced the creation of your characters in this story. Would you tell us a little about them?
Kaylin: Thirty-nine years ago, I had the honor to meet a wonderful mama-san for the first time. To this day, she continues to oversee the operations of her teahouse as well as day-to-day activities for Gion geikos (not geishas) and maikos within her “family” in Kyoto, Japan. With the help of this 8th generation proprietor, I was able to develop personal relationships with young women who have chosen a less popular lifestyle in order to maintain the culture and beauty of their country.
During a separate trip, I also met a Buddhist monk who arrived as a guest at a dinner party looking very much like an average Japanese businessman. Despite the fact that he wore western clothes and black rimmed glasses, and had shaggy brown hair, this man exuded remarkable warmth through his constant smile, slow, methodical gestures, and soft gentle voice. During the course of the evening, I witnessed his ability to read the future of family members and reveal a person’s past lives. He shared amazing photographs with glowing orbs and talked about his mission to travel around the world freeing trapped, tortured souls.
I also met an unusual gentleman after attending my father-in-law’s funeral twenty years ago. While sitting in a black limousine, waiting to drive to a crematorium on the top of a mountain, he slid into the seat next to me wearing a black suit, black shirt and white tie. He had a tan, weathered face, spoke broken English and was extremely polite in every sense of the word. However, during our drive, I learned from my husband that this man was not only his uncle, but also a high-ranking member of the yakuza—in other words, a prominent member of the Japanese mafia.
With all of these people in mind, I knew one day I would bring them together in one of my wild adventures, and with the creation of Buried Threads, my cast of characters was born.
Tyler: What about the treasure-hunting aspect of the book, Kaylin? What about treasure hunting do you find intriguing and what made you decide to include it in the series?
Kaylin: I became fascinated with pirates and hidden treasure when I was a youngster and read my first copy of “Treasure Island.” Afterwards, it wasn’t unusual to see me sword fighting with my brothers in the backyard or pretending to find buried treasure in the neighbor’s yard. Then as years went by, I enjoyed watching movies and reading books about undersea adventures, and pictured myself scuba diving one day—discovering a rare, valuable heirloom that no one knew existed. I came to realize this fantasy is shared by millions of readers, and I love the idea of taking them on an incredible journey…even if it’s only in their minds.
Tyler: How familiar are you with Japan and how much research did you need to do in writing this book?
Kaylin: Since I’ve been traveling to Japan for some time now, I feel a deep connection and love for the people and culture I’ve experienced. However, writing this book still involved four months worth of research online and in library stacks to insure that the details in this story were as accurate as possible for a fictional account.
Tyler: Do you have any Japanese readers, and if so, what kind of feedback have they given you about the books?
Kaylin: To be honest, I don’t know if I have Japanese readers at this point, but if I do, I’d love to hear what they think of “Buried Threads.”
Tyler: What about this story do you think makes it so appealing and able to capture your readers’ imaginations?
Kaylin: The characters I create are complicated and as real as I can possibility make them—flawed, intense, deliberate, and committed. The dangerous situations I drop them into pull the reader along while introducing them to an unfamiliar world: under the sea, in a spooky haunted cave or in front of an ancient temple witnessing a battle between beautiful female warriors.
Tyler: Kaylin, there are a lot of adventure stories being written today, but I believe you want this story to be more than entertaining and have a bit of a message for readers; what would you say that message is?
Kaylin: All of my stories have a common link and shared message, reminding the reader that they can overcome any obstacles in their lives if they just have the faith, commitment, and determination that it requires.
Tyler: What’s next for you, Kaylin? Will you continue writing this series or turn to something different?
Kaylin: Well, actually, I’m currently working on the last book in this series—“Banished Threads,” which takes my crew to London. Rachel Lyons and Chase Cohen are introduced to a secret mystical society by her jet-setting uncle, and shortly after, a collection of priceless Morris Graves’ paintings turns up missing. Drawn into the mystery, the lovers and their salvage crew take up residence at the Lyons’ stately manor. However, acquiring the cooperation of locals and trust of the maligning brotherhood seems improbable, convincing Rachel to end their involvement—until she discovers the secret her uncle has been harboring for years. Have I got your interest yet? J
Tyler: Absolutely, Kaylin. Secret mystical societies also intrigue me. Would you tell us a little about how you come up with your ideas for your books and the process you go through to turn those ideas into a book?
Kaylin: I know this sounds silly, but I honestly “dream” them up from beginning to end. This usually happens right after I return from a trip overseas and while my excitement and imagination are still stirred up. I keep a journal on my bedside table so that I can make notes while thoughts are fresh in my head. Then I sequester myself in my library and put together a detailed synopsis to use as a story guide. From there, I organize a character book with photos cut from magazines, giving each person a name and character traits. The setting comes last and any research that’s required to make my story full, accurate, and complete is the final element, which might take weeks or months to compile, before the first word is typed and the story begins.
Tyler: Thank you again, Kaylin, for the opportunity to interview you. Before we go, will you tell us about your website and what other information we can find there about “Buried Threads”?
Kaylin: You can find information, buy links, and an excerpt from “Buried Threads” on my website at www.kaylinmcfarren.com. Copies of this action-packed adventure are also available in Kindle and paperback format on Amazon.com (http://goo.gl/vSiBMz). Thank you, Tyler, and to all your readers…happy holidays!
Tyler: Thank you, Kaylin, and happy holidays to you too. I wish you much luck with your books and hope you’ll come back to talk to me next time when “Banished Threads” is published.
Kaylin: Thank you. I wouldn’t miss the opportunity.