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A Psychologist Brings Insight to Fiction

This week I’m sitting with psychologist, Dr. Kixx Goldman. Her book, Speak from Your Heart and be Heard will launch at Changing Hands bookstore, Phoenix, on February 27 at 7pm.

I asked some questions about her writing practice.

Q. When did you know you wanted to write a book?

A. I knew I wanted to write when I was around ten and I sat at the kitchen table with my mom while she sewed frumpy jumpers for me. I hated sewing but I liked making up characters, like my favorite super glam, career woman, “Karen Taylor.” After that I got caught up in school, marriage, kids and developing a professional career, instead of characters. My profession required lots of technical reading and writing and creative pursuits suffered. About ten years ago, with fewer work responsibilities I got back to fiction and was in awe reading Alice Munro. I began to wonder if I could ever write like that. To me, it was the ultimate challenge. I took some classes, where I was encouraged to “just write.” After that I hired a writing coach and started crafting my stories. The key to it all was finding a good developmental editor.

Q. Your book is unique in that you use your knowledge as a psychologist to create fiction out of your experiences as a therapist. What portion of your stories are based on fact and what are created out of whole cloth, i.e. entirely fictional?

A. I like your description, Margaret. It seems apt for what I wrote, even though I didn’t start out with that intention. It’s interesting to me now to realize that there isn’t one story that isn’t based in some way on my experience. But, out of the eight stories, only four are based on my experience as a therapist. The other four are based on my life experiences. And only one, “Caught in the Crossfire,” is entirely fictional. But, the main character in that story is reminiscent of a client. Another story, “The Promise” is largely fictional but was inspired by an event in the life of a young dancer I worked with many years ago. I remember thinking, if I were to tell this simply based on what really happened, it wouldn’t be as engaging for readers. I guess that’s true for all the stories.

Q. That’s what writers, do, isn’t it? We take our experience and transmute it in some way, ideally breaking down the essence of what we want to say into a story that engages. A beginning, a middle, and an end. Of course, life is often messier than that. Your book cover, with its “blue heart” signals life’s challenges. In your stories, you talk about following your intuition to speak openly about your feelings, despite the risk. As a psychologist, do you have any tips on how to
take that leap?

A. One way of taking the leap is start more gently with a less direct approach, I learned from Communications expert, Marshall Rosenberg. In a one to one conversation, before you express your thoughts, start with indirectly empathic question or statement to the other. For example, in my story, the Replacement Child, Rachel wants to express her concerns about her friend Betty’s treatment of her daughter, Lucy. She could say to her, “I know you want the best for your
daughter.” This gives Betty a chance to express her feelings first and allows her to “hear” Rachel’s suggestions better.

Speak from Your Heart and Be Heard Book launch at Changing Hands, 300 W Camelback Rd, Phoenix, AZ 85013, Thursday, February 27, 7 pm.

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