Exclusive Interview with

MJ Krause-Chivers

Let’s start with your Career as a writer!

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When did you start writing?

I always wanted to be a writer. At the age of eleven, I applied to a writing school. They politely told me to reapply when I turned eighteen. I was crushed. After that, I wrote in my closet. In high school, I braved exposing my dark, emotional poetry and short articles for the school newspaper. Later, as an adult and while raising my kids, I scribed a community column for the local rag. But overall, I felt unqualified to pursue my passion.
Professionally, my job as paralegal after high school and my later career in social work both required strong writing skills and I excelled at both. After I retired I wrote for personal pleasure. Now, I entertain with published story.
Practice makes perfect as the saying goes. Over the years, I've grown more skilled with words and I enjoy it more now than ever.

MJ Krause-Chivers
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What makes writing your passion?

I love seeing my words come to life. My brain is constantly bubbling with story. I want to share my view of life, explore the depths of human emotion, and examine the past and present together with readers who truly want to see the world from a different perspective.

MJ Krause-Chivers
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How long have you been writing?

As I said earlier, I've been writing forever. But professionally, I published my first Christian non-fiction book at 60. At 65, I began to publish fiction. Now, I wish I'd started much younger.

MJ Krause-Chivers
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What was the feeling when you published your first book?

Surreal. I pinched myself. I couldn't believe it was actually happening. I think I was in a daze for months.

MJ Krause-Chivers
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What’s the story behind your choice of characters?

My current series: Russian Mennonite Chronicles is based on the true story of my grandparents flight from Russian Ukraine during the Russian civil war in the early twentieth century. Katarina and Anna were the names of my two grandmothers, but the characters don't represent them — only the women from that era. Obviously, I didn't know my grandmothers when they were young women or much about their journey to freedom. But I was curious about their early life. So, as I studied the history behind the politics, I created the story of two sisters who struggled through the ugliness and terror of war as women without men. All the while, I imagine my grandmothers living the story of my written world.

MJ Krause-Chivers
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What annoys you the most in pursuing a writing career?

Marketing. It takes so much time away from writing.

MJ Krause-Chivers
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How do you get over the “writer’s block”?

What's that? Lol. I have too many ideas and not enough time to write. On the rare occasion when I stare at a blank screen, I write something down even if it's garbage. There are days when I need to go for a walk, visit a friend or take a vacation. The best thing for a tired writer's brain is a chance of pace or a brief rest. Words are always waiting when I wake up.

MJ Krause-Chivers
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We all know the writer’s path is never easy, what makes you keep going? What advice would you give to new authors?

My motivation is to finish these stories before I'm too old or memory loss robs me of the stories still waiting to be told. My greatest fear is running out of time. I want to leave a legacy of words and ideas for the next generation.
My advice to new authors is to stop worrying that you're not good enough. That type of thinking will destroy opportunities. Face the fear and do it anyway.

MJ Krause-Chivers
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If you could go back in time and talk to your younger self, what would you say?

Write. Stop procrastinating. Submit queries. Learn from the negatives and embrace the positives. Believe in yourself. You can do this.

MJ Krause-Chivers
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Do you read your book reviews? How do you deal with the bad ones?

EVERY SINGLE ONE. I learn what I can from the bad ones and analyze their validity. I can always do better next time.
Sometimes neither my writing or my story is a match for that reader. I'm a micro-niche writer. I don't write for the masses. Not everyone will like my work. The few that do will follow me.

MJ Krause-Chivers
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What is the feeling when you get a good review?

I pinch myself. I still have difficulty accepting praise. I love bragging about it, though.

MJ Krause-Chivers
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Have you ever incorporated something that happened to you in real life into your novels?

Yes. I've suffered much trauma and overcome insurmountable circumstances. So, it only makes sense that my characters must fight to survive, too. Accidents, illness, family conflicts, and sexual assault are all themes that flow through my novels. That's why war-time makes such a perfect setting for my stories.

MJ Krause-Chivers
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Which of your characters you can compare yourself with? Did you base that character on you?

I'm a combination of Katarina and Anna. I teased apart my own personality characteristics based both on how others see me and how I see myself. In real world, the negative and critical people in my life frequently remind me of my flaws, so it's easy to paint those characteristics into both my main characters. The rest are more of a combination of who I wish I was and who I really am. The sisters are firmly entrenched personalities in the storyline, though. Katarina is feisty and determined, and willing to fight tradition on principal. She's quite willing to take on a new challenge, but her inexperience shines through as an insecure vulnerability. Katarina sees the world through a global lens and rejects the traditional and classic stereotypes. She can be both sarcastic and flighty.
Anna is confident and unwavering with strong traditional and religious views. She leads with a serious and humorless demeanour, but is also thoughtful and caring.
Both women are passionate about helping the less fortunate, but approach these tasks and responsibilities from very different perspectives.

MJ Krause-Chivers
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What do you think, the book cover is as important as the story?

For marketing purposes, a picture speaks a thousand words. It needs to convey the story. But I feel one shouldn't discount a book content because of a bad cover. Covers can be trendy and they can be changed. The story should be timeless.

MJ Krause-Chivers
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Do you connect with your readers? Do you mind having a chat with them or you prefer to express yourself through your writing?

I prefer to write, but I'm thrilled when a reader lets me know that I've touched them. I love to receive personal emails from readers. I read every one and always take the time to answer.

MJ Krause-Chivers
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How do you feel when people appreciate your work or recognize you in public?

People are only remembered for their best or worst moments. I hope I'm being recognized for my better ones. I'm proud that I've come so far and finally accomplished something worthwhile. Writing is a lonely profession, so it's incredible to be noticed. Being appreciated is a honorable reward for hard work.

MJ Krause-Chivers
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Who is your favorite author? Why?

I'm an eclectic reader. So I can't say that I really have a favorite. I've read all of Brock and Bodie Thoene's books and enjoyed them immensely. I love the writings of the Biblical prophets. There's so much depth in ancient history and the captivating nuances in the words of those men never grow old.

MJ Krause-Chivers
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What’s the dream? Whom would you like to be as big as?

Margaret Atwood. But she's practically my age and she's been writing forever. I've only just begun. If I could achieve one percent of what's she accomplished, I'll die happy. I'd like to win at least one major award that I can pin to my tombstone.

MJ Krause-Chivers
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Would you rewrite any of your books? Why?

Yes. Every one. Because they're never good enough.

MJ Krause-Chivers
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If you could switch places with any author – who would that be?

J.K. Rowling. It's incredible that she wrote all her early works free hand, often sitting in coffeeshops in Edinburgh. The imagination in her stories is astounding. How did she come up with all those ideas? I'd love to have just one personal coaching session with her. Or two.

MJ Krause-Chivers
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What would you say to the “trolls” on the internet? We all know them – people who like to write awful reviews to books they’ve never read or didn’t like that much, just to annoy the author.

I roll my eyes. Move on. Next. Never take it personal. Jealousy is rampant. Ignore it. This too shall pass.

MJ Krause-Chivers
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What would you say to your readers?

Hi there. Welcome to my world. Where do you live? Tell me about you. Why do you like my books?

MJ Krause-Chivers

Thank you for sharing! Let’s talk about your Personal Life!

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Share a bit about yourself – where do you live, are you married, do you have kids?

I lead a very quiet and boring life in Niagara, Canada together with my aging husband. We have a blended family geographically dispersed across this great country, so we don't see any often. I'm active in my church community and I admin a FB support group for unequally yoked marriages.

MJ Krause-Chivers
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What is your day job if you have one?

Twenty years ago, a health crisis triggered early retirement. I never went back. Writing is now my full time pursuit.

MJ Krause-Chivers
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What are your hobbies? What do you do in your free time?

I love being surrounded by nature. I walk, watch the ducks in the local ponds, and occasionally join the tourists in the local botanical gardens or at the Falls. I've visited a few museums and sometimes attend the many entertainment venues here. I suspect that living in the Niagara Falls area is a bit like living in Las Vegas. The menu of choices is rather long. At home, I enjoy watching historical movies or reading.

MJ Krause-Chivers
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Did you have a happy childhood?

Not really. I was the only girl with three brothers and we lived in a very conservative household in a rural area. The boys had all the freedom and I was bombarded with domestic duties. I had no friends as a young child because no girls my age lived nearby. When I turned eleven, my parents moved into town and then I began to connect with my peers. But I had trouble fitting in because I had no real experience making friends outside of school. I was extremely jealous of girls with sisters. I always wished I had one.

MJ Krause-Chivers
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Is there a particular experience that made you start writing?

I love to sit and talk, but everyone's too busy to listen. Without a sister or a close family, I was incredibly lonely as a child. Writing was a soothing way for me to talk about myself and share ideas and stories with make believe characters.

MJ Krause-Chivers
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Do you have unpublished books? What are they about?

Yes. I have many stories lying inside dormant computer files that will never be seen. Some are faith based stories of inspiration and perseverance. Others are sad stories about turmoil and dysfunctional families and the desire of the characters to create a better world.

MJ Krause-Chivers
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What do you think should be improved in the education of our children? What do we lack?

Children need to know the ugly history of the world. Hiding the truth about the past doesn't make it go away. Bad stuff happened, but society's viewpoint at the time was flawed. We must recognize that our social perspective is constantly changing. History tends to repeat itself, so we should learn from our mistakes to keep from repeating those errors. We can't learn from the past if we don't study the past. I also believe no book should ever be banned unless it is grossly in violation of human rights.

MJ Krause-Chivers
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If you were allowed 3 wishes – what would they be?

1. That my descendants will know peace on earth. 2. That my writings will inspire future generations. 3. That I live a long and healthy life and die with my children at my bedside.

MJ Krause-Chivers
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What is your favorite music?

I listen to Christian pop while I'm driving, but at home I listen to candlelight classics and sometimes the old originals like Bach and Mozart.

MJ Krause-Chivers
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Share a secret with us 🙂

I may be old, but I still enjoy looking at a good looking younger man. Shh. Don't tell my husband.

MJ Krause-Chivers

Thank you! We wish you the best of luck for you and your art!