Guest Post: THE CONVENIENCE OF LIES by Kimberly Castillo

by Kimberly Castillo

“It doesn’t matter if it’s right or wrong. All that matters is if you can. If you can do something, what difference does it make?”

Based on a true story, The Convenience of Lies is a novel that keeps readers up past midnight with its story of friendship, mystery, crime, sex, and betrayal. Set in a suburban town, this story is told through the eyes of a high school junior, Mackenzie, who describes her crush on a “bad boy,” Ramon, and her relationship with her best friend, Kira. During the course of the story, Mackenzie does her best to attract the affections of Ramon while her friendship with Kira evolves. Eventually, the different characters’ property starts getting vandalized and a mystery develops as Mackenzie and Kira try to get to the bottom of who is behind the vandalism.


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I would have to say that my process of writing The Convenience of Lies started with my love of reading. The first novel I ever read was Little House in the Big Woods by Laura Ingles Wilder. I was inspired by the fact that Wilder wrote a book about her life, and wanted to do the same. When I was in junior high I read The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton, and again was inspired when I discovered that Hinton wrote her novel when she was just a teenager herself. I suppose until that point I was waiting until I was “old enough” to write a book, and realized that perhaps I should stop waiting and start writing. This is when I started trying to come up with a story I wanted to tell.

I didn’t have to look too far for my story, for I discovered it through my journaling. I have kept a diary ever since I’ve known how to string sentences together. There was one summer when I was a teenager during which a lot of drama happened, and I was writing about it while it was happening. After the summer was over, I realized I had gone through an experience that could make a good story.

When I was a high school senior I wrote the first version of The Convenience of Lies drawing heavily from my diary and saved AIM conversations. It was 54 pages long single spaced. After writing it, I looked at it, and felt disappointed. My story was not long enough to be a full length novel and I wasn’t sure how to flush it out. And so, I shelved the project for almost ten years.

During those ten years I did a lot of growing up, and came to look at my story in a different light. I also went to college and studied filmmaking and the process of storytelling. Then one day I was sitting down and reading a biography about J.K Rowling and felt inspired to complete writing The Convenience of Lies.

When I came back to this project, I knew I wanted to add some depth to the story (sorry, don’t want to give away spoilers!) and so I needed to do some research. At this point I was now in medical school, and so I turned to my notes (as reliable sources) for information about antisocial personality disorder as well as abusive relationships. I also scoured all my really old files that I had archived over the years for more material that I could include in the novel… perhaps bits of information that I was not comfortable including when I originally wrote the story. I wanted this to be as authentic as possible.

Additionally, I needed to reconstruct the timeline of when everything happened in the story. I literally sat down with a calendar and wrote out what event happened on what date. To help me accomplish this, I turned to IMDB. There were a lot of really *epic* movies that came out during the summer of 2003, and I mention a handful of them throughout the novel. Looking at the release dates of these movies helped me get a feeling for what must have happened when.

After doing this research, I sat down to complete writing my novel. I looked at that old, 54 page document, to see what I had already written. With that, I decided what chapters needed to be added in and which chapters needed to be flushed out. Most of the dialogue in The Convenience of Lies was originally written when I was a high school senior. However, at that time I had a certain aversion to writing narration with the dialogue, so I had to go through and add the narration in. Also, given that most of my writing up until this point was journaling, I was accustomed to writing in past tense. However, I wanted the story to be told in present tense. And so, I had to go through everything to change the tense.

Once I completed this second draft of The Convenience of Lies I handed it off to my friends Jenica Wallman and Marina Nemchinova and asked them to give me their honest feedback. They were amazing, and truly helped shape this story. They gave me some excellent ideas: Marina pitched me the idea for the introduction and epilogue, and Jenica basically gave me her own outline of what chapter 8 should look like. Jenica actually gave me 40 pages of notes critiquing the entire novel… some of it encouragement and some of it brutal honesty. I saw every single one of those pages as a gift for how I could turn The Convenience of Lies into a better book. In reality, I was too close to the story to see some of the errors or inconsistencies. For example, to me it may have always been perfectly clear where and when a scene was happening, but not to my reader.

Once The Convenience of Lies had gone through this creative process, I gave it to my editor, Sharon Kelly, of the National Writer’s Project. She helped me polish this novel into a completed work.


Kimberly Castillo wrote the first version of The Convenience of Lies when she was a teenager. After studying the process of storytelling at California State University Northridge, where she earned her Bachelor’s degree in film production, she revisited this project to complete the story. The Convenience of Lies is her debut novel.

Kimberly is currently a graduate student and lives in Southern California with her husband and three cats.

Check out her blog. Connect with her on Linkedin, and follow her on Twitter @KCastilloBooks.


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