Today we visit with author and composer Kathleen M. Basi. Kathleen is mother to three active boys (read that: always breaking something) and one chromosomally-gifted daughter. A proud native of flyover country and an honest-to-goodness farm girl (as in cattle, hogs, chickens, grain bins and a combine), she spent her childhood climbing trees, jumping off hay bales and chasing cattle back into their pasture when they broke through fences. (But she never once tipped a cow.)
Her debut novel, A SONG FOR THE ROAD, follows a musician on an unconventional road trip. Road trips are familiar territory for Kathleen, as she took several cross-country RV vacations with her grandparents as a child. She saw more national parks in her first 10 years than many people see in their entire childhood. These days, though, she likes to dig in and find the local flavor, when she can.
Her degrees are in flute performance, and she has been involved in music for worship since she was ten years old. She’s been writing stories even longer than that. (School bus. Second grade. Orphan Annie fanfic.) She believes the world—and life—is beautiful, and her fiction explores the beauty that can be found even in the most difficult circumstances. Meaty, earnest, occasionally humorous, and ultimately uplifting, her fiction highlights the best within ourselves and each other.
Follow on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/kathleenmbasi and Instagram https://www.instagram.com/kathleenbasi/ for updates on her next book, set in California's wine country.
Shawna Rodrigues left her award-winning career in the public sector in 2019 to consult and publish her first novel Beyond the Pear Blossoms. Her desire to connect and help others led to the launch of her podcast The Grit Show shortly thereafter. When she learned women host only 27% of podcasts, her skills and passion led to the founding of the Authentic Connections Network. She now helps mission-driven entrepreneurs better connect with their audiences by providing full-service podcast production and through a community for Entrepreneurs & Podcasters – EPAC. Podcasting is her primary focus, so she continues to support the writing community through this podcast, and her writing time is mostly focused on anthologies.
She offers a free 7 Steps to Perfect Your Podcast Title to anyone interested in launching a podcast. You can also follow her on Instagram-@ShawnaPodcasts, and learn more about the network and community at https://linktr.ee/37by27.
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Shawna Rodrigues 0:01
Welcome to Author Express, where you get to discover the voice behind the pages of your favorite book. I'm your host, Shawna Rodrigues and I'm glad you chose to be here with us. I'm looking forward to the author we have to chat with us today.
Shawna Rodrigues 0:13
Kathleen Basi is the quintessential jack of all trades writer. Award winning musical composer, feature writer, essayist, and of course, storyteller. Basi spent her childhood trying inspiration for stories from the fields and trees in her family's farm. When she wasn't climbing on tractors and jumping off hay bales. She also spent several summers on epic cross country RV trips to her grandparents, which undoubtedly helped inspired her debut women's fiction, A Song for the Road. It's the story of a musician who a year after losing her entire family, embarks on a cross country pilgrimage to a place where they died. Guided by a road trip app written by her daughter. Best Selling Author, Carrie-Ann King writes, in a novel filled with music, heartbreak and surprising laughter, Basi takes us on a journey that encompasses both unimaginable loss and the powerful resilience of the human heart. Kathleen is the mother of three rambunctious boys. Three that is always breaking one thing, and one chromosomally gifted daughter, Down syndrome, more alike than different. Welcome, Kathleen. Thank you so much for being here with us.
Kathleen Basi 1:18
Thank you for having me. It's always a pleasure.
Shawna Rodrigues 1:20
Yes. I'm so excited to learn more about your book, and a little bit more about your process. So, tell me, what is the most interesting thing about where you are from?
Kathleen Basi 1:29
Well, you know, in that lovely intro that you read, you learned that I was from a farm and I thought I would share that the night before I started high school, I put curlers in my hair like, sponge rollers, and was trying to get all prettied up for my first day of my freshman year and then the cattle got out. So, I went outside in a pink night dress and curlers in my hair and ran around the field for about two hours chasing Cattlelyn.
Shawna Rodrigues 1:58
But, did you stop curls the next morning? Did the curls workout?
Kathleen Basi 2:01
Oh, yes. Well, the curls were there.
Shawna Rodrigues 2:04
Yes. So, you had that nice visual. I like it. That's a good visual of how it really works.
Kathleen Basi 2:09
Right, how life really is. I feel like, I should use that in a book someday.
Shawna Rodrigues 2:12
Yeah, it's a very good visual I definitely like that. Yeah, I also grew up on a farm and can definitely remember that. I remember actually hiding under a table when during a big storm and the cows got out and our parents had to go take care of the cows and we had to go hide all of it. It was bundled because, they, three siblings bundled under the table because they're worried about the, the windows crashing in and waiting for them to take care of the cows out in the mud.
Kathleen Basi 2:33
Oh, my gosh.
Shawna Rodrigues 2:35
Yes. The cows in the mud, really, with a pink curlers. Did that matched the nightgown?
Kathleen Basi 2:39
They were pink curlers. Yes.
Shawna Rodrigues 2:40
That is the only fun. The only sponge rollers I knew were always pink. So,
Kathleen Basi 2:46
I, maybe that's the only color they made it. It did not even occur to me to question that until, until you asked the question just now.
Shawna Rodrigues 2:52
Yeah, I'm curious. I'm curious if there wasn't anything else. That's the only way I've ever seen them from that era. I know now, there's like, there's black with like, Neistat and wrapped around them and stuff. But, back in the day, I think it was just,
Kathleen Basi 3:02
Well, you see, oddly, I have very curly hair. And I don't actually know why I was curling my hair at that time. So, I have no idea what sorts of curling things are, are available now. Because I don't use them.
Shawna Rodrigues 3:14
You don't use them now. See, I definitely, I needed the curlers. I definitely, I need the curlers then and now. So, what is something you wish you could have understood more deeply when you were 12 years old?
Kathleen Basi 3:25
I think I would have been a better person if I had, had more confidence in myself.
Shawna Rodrigues 3:33
Kathleen Basi 3:34
I think. But you know, I think all the time, we always want to like, like, we have this dream of being the person who makes it big as an author, when we're young. And I didn't publish until I was 47, 46, 47. I have to do the math every time. But, but I realized that I'm in a so much better place. I thought when I was 20 years old that life was as good as it was ever going to get. And it can only go down from here and I have learned that life just keeps getting better and better. And the, as it gets richer, more opportunities come and it's just, it's all good.
Shawna Rodrigues 4:11
That's amazing. Yeah. So, it's kind of nice to know, there's still more out there and so more to experience.
Kathleen Basi 4:16
Shawna Rodrigues 4:17
I like that very much. So, let's talk a little bit more about your book. What do you hope readers will take away from reading your novel?
Kathleen Basi 4:23
You know, with all of my fiction, the sort of central theme of my writing is that there is beauty in the hard things. So, my books deal with some pretty weighty some pretty meaty kinds of, of issues. But also there's beauty and there's goodness and there's light in it and hope and I always want it to be ultimately uplifting. And I would say that probably, that is a lesson that has come to me because of my daughter who has down syndrome and has really turned my life upside down in the best of ways and it made me rethink my entire view of the world in a way that made me so much better human being than I was before.
Shawna Rodrigues 5:08
That's amazing. I love that. Is that really kind of adds to the perspective even in your writing, I'm guessing?
Kathleen Basi 5:15
Yeah, well, and I hope that maybe Book Three will have a person with down syndrome in it. That's what I'm hoping for.
Shawna Rodrigues 5:22
Oh, that's exciting. Is your, are your books, more of a series? Are they built on top of each other?
Kathleen Basi 5:26
No, no, they're all, they're all stand alones. I do see potential for certain books to have a world that grows around them. But they would all stand independently.
Shawna Rodrigues 5:36
And so, have you put thought into this third book? Just,
Kathleen Basi 5:40
I have actually. I actually have several revisions of it done already. But it needs another really big one. So, that's what I'm in the process of doing right now.
Shawna Rodrigues 5:49
That's so wonderful, and what do you get out of writing? Like, what does it bring to you, into your life?
Kathleen Basi 5:53
I don't, I can't even answer that question. Because I can't imagine. It's like, music. Like, if you ask me, What does music bring? I don't even know. It's just a part of who I am. I don't think that I would be me without it. So, I guess it, I guess the answer is it brings me, me.
Shawna Rodrigues 6:09
So, it's like, you know, take away the arm, and yeah, my arm is part of me. So, I don't know what I'd be without it because it's just part of who you are.
Kathleen Basi 6:16
Yeah, although I think I would be, I think that losing an arm would be difficult. But to me, the loss of either music or, or writing would be something much more profound than,
Shawna Rodrigues 6:28
Kathleen Basi 6:29
In a physical I mean, bear in mind, I live in disability world now. So, I recognize that, that we can be, that we are more than the sum of our physical parts.
Shawna Rodrigues 6:39
And the importance of those other pieces of who we are.
Kathleen Basi 6:42
Shawna Rodrigues 6:42
I love that. That is very, that is very deep. When you were younger, did you have anyone who encouraged your music or your writing or those expressive parts of yourself?
Kathleen Basi 6:52
You know, writing was something I've kept very, very close to the, close to the vest, my whole life until the last few years, and it was very difficult to put myself out there and say, I am an author. It was excruciating to have to call around to places and try to do research for a road trip novel, actually, as an unpublished author. But with music, I had lots and lots of encouragement, because I was, I was a really good flute player. And so, I had a lot of teachers who were in my corner all the way through. And I think that those things all feed off of each other. So, confidence in one area helps you discover confidence and others.
Shawna Rodrigues 7:30
So, then what finally brought the writing to the light of day? What let you bring that to, to fruition?
Kathleen Basi 7:37
You know, it was just a process of growing and maturing as a human being and recognizing, at some point, as I would write, and write and write. And then as I started to actually learn how to write instead of just writing for myself, and then to realize that, there's something in here that I want to share. And to take that seriously enough to start querying and to go through the query trenches for years and years, and 12 different rounds of querying and four different manuscripts, you know, to go through all of that, by the time you get to the end of that, by the time you get a literary agent, then at that point, it was like, I actually feel that I can say this with confidence now, that it's not just in my head anymore. I actually am an author. And I do have something to say. It's terrible that you have to, that you have to wait for someone else to give you permission to do that. But that's why I'm saying. It's like, I'm much better at publishing at the age of 46, or 47, than I would have been at the age of 20. I would have no idea what to do with it.
Shawna Rodrigues 8:40
Yes, that is incredible, because it is quite a journey. You're so incredible. You stuck with it. What helps you stick with it through all of those iterations and all of those attempts? Because it's not easy.
Kathleen Basi 8:50
Well, in the first several rounds, I was a mother of young children. And I did not have time to obsess about whether or not, you know, going all down music. Oh, yeah, we'll get there. I did some of that. I did do some of that. But there was not a lot of time to obsess about it. Particularly, I have, I have four children, and they're now getting into the age where they're just very busy, and I'm more chauffeur, but when they were little it was very, very intense. And there was just not enough time to devote to obsessing.
Shawna Rodrigues 9:25
Kathleen Basi 9:26
Shawna Rodrigues 9:27
It's a benefit to that.
Kathleen Basi 9:28
Shawna Rodrigues 9:29
To let it take its course and like, let it be. What it's going to be until you get to the place where it comes together.
Kathleen Basi 9:34
Shawna Rodrigues 9:35
And so, for you, writing as, you always written and it's always been part of who you are and just finding the way to the novel took a little while, or
Kathleen Basi 9:43
you know, what, this, the astonishing thing is I've written stories since I was, I don't even know how old. When we had, when my parents first got a computer, my first stories were actually handwritten on notebook paper and then they got typed into the computer and then blah, blah, blah, you know, went on and on and on like that. And I didn't, it didn't occur to me that I was writing novels until I was probably 20 years old. And suddenly it occurred to me to look on Google. And,Shawna Rodrigues:
Because Google was finally there.Kathleen Basi:
Because Google was finally there to look at. That's right. It's like, how long is a novel? And when I saw that a novel was somewhere between 75 and 100,000 words, and I looked at what I was writing, I was like, holy cow. I've written like, four novels already. I mean, they were terrible. I didn't know what I was doing. But I'd written like, four already.Shawna Rodrigues:
Yeah, I feel like, alright, this is what I'm doing.Shawna Rodrigues:
This is what I'm doing.Shawna Rodrigues:
Let me do something with this.Kathleen Basi:
That's right.Shawna Rodrigues:
That's a great way to start this story and do that. That's great. Well, good. So, as we kind of wrap things up, how can people actually find you and locate you and your books? What's the best way?Kathleen Basi:
I would look up Kathleen Basi author on, on Facebook, that's where I'm probably the most active.Shawna Rodrigues:
Can you spell that for people?Kathleen Basi:
KATHLEEN and Basi is BASI. I married an Italian.Shawna Rodrigues:
You married an Italian, that's what happens. To get, be a nice, efficient last name that way, BASI, nice and easy to spell. And then it will also be in the show notes so folks can just look there and find you as well. But I'm auditory. So, I love it when we spell it for people who are driving or doing other thing. And, what book or story inspires you the most?Kathleen Basi:
You know, this book that always comes to mind first is, Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel, which is like, a dystopian sci-fi kind of thing. It's not at all what I write. It's no, nowhere in the realm of women's fiction. But what I find so striking about this book is that we're talking about a world, post pandemic, where, that went a whole lot faster than the pandemic we just went through. And yet, and there's like, some really horrible people in this book and some really horrible things that happen. And yet, it's really uplifting. It's, it takes you through community and relearning, recreating society and how we are all interdependent on each other. And it's just, it's beautiful. It's the way, it's just, it's not at all what I expected. And so, that book has really stuck with me over time.Shawna Rodrigues:
Yeah, the ability to take something that has like, that grime to it and, and make it so uplifting and beautiful. And that skill that it takes to do that.Kathleen Basi:
I like it.Kathleen Basi:
And it's also, it matches up with my philosophy of writing fiction, too.Shawna Rodrigues:
Wonderful. Well, thank you so much for being here sharing this with us today.Kathleen Basi:
Thank you for having me.Shawna Rodrigues:
Yes. And, do you have an idea about when your next book is looking at coming out sometime?Kathleen Basi:
It's still in the process. Let's just put it that way.Shawna Rodrigues:
All right. Well, good. So, just, just find you on Facebook, and then you'll be aware when you see it happen.Kathleen Basi:
That's right.Shawna Rodrigues:
I like it.Kathleen Basi:
I will let, make sure everyone in the world knows.Shawna Rodrigues:
Every one in the world. Perfect. I love it. Thank you so much, Kathleen.Kathleen Basi:
Thank you.Shawna Rodrigues:
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