Keith Maginn was born and raised in Cincinnati, Ohio, the youngest of four kids. He attended Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, as an Evans Scholar. After earning a Bachelor’s degree in Sociology, Keith relocated to Knoxville, Tennessee, to work for AmeriCorps (a service organization like the Peace Corps, but within the United States) and for Knoxville Habitat for Humanity.
Keith recently moved back to Cincinnati after living nearly ten years in Tennessee. He likes to be around family and friends and has eight nieces and nephews that he adores. He loves playing and watching many sports and also enjoys live music, writing, meditation, yoga and reading.
In December 2012, Keith self-published an inspiring self-help memoir, Turning This Thing Around. Maginn’s second book, Goodwill Tour: Paying It Forward, is about a philanthropic experiment on the road. Released in January of 2013, the author hopes it will be his second book of many more to come. He feels writing is his life’s purpose and that he has a message to share that will help others.
Q & A with Keith Maginn
How did you become a writer?
It may sound corny, but I don’t feel like I chose to become a writer. I feel like I was always supposed to be a writer. Not that I think I am a great writer by any means, but I do believe writing is my purpose. God-willing, I feel like I have many more books in me that are trying to get out.
How did you come up with your title?
I was driving in my car listening to music, not thinking about my book at all. Turning This Thing Around popped into my mind out of the blue. I immediately thought, Yeah, that has to be the title. The title signifies overcoming many obstacles and a new optimism in life.
They say you can judge a book by its cover. Can you tell us a little about your cover and who designed it?
I designed the cover using templates on Amazon CreateSpace. I knew that I wanted to use the tragedy/comedy mask theme to express the struggle between depression and happiness that I talk about in my memoir, so I was very pleased when I saw the image that I chose as one of the options. I am not a very tech-savvy person, so I am glad Amazon makes it so easy to create a cover!
What are you hoping readers take from your book?
I am hoping that readers are inspired by my book. I hope they know that they aren’t alone if they are struggling and use some of the suggestions I put forth in my memoir to help them out of dark periods.
What was your most favorite chapter to write and why?
In some ways this book was hard to right because it is very, very personal. Plus, I had no idea how readers–especially family and friends–would respond. But once I got going, it was a very therapeutic experience. That said, I’d say the final chapter was my favorite because of not just the sense of accomplishment, but the personal growth along the way.
Why did you feel you had to write this book?
I have been writing most of my life, as far back as I can remember. But it was never focused writing, just here and there. However, a few years ago I found myself sitting outside of a psych ward in Atlanta, Georgia. My fiancée was struggling terribly with bipolar depression. I had done everything I could, but was powerless to help her. I was also fighting my own battle with chronic pain and anxiety. I had no idea what I could do to turn things around. No matter how hard I fought, how much I prayed, things seemed to get worse and worse.
I soon found myself slipping into a deep depression, though I remained outwardly happy. Few of my family, friends or co-workers had any idea how desperate my predicament had become. My fiancée was adamant that no one know what she was going through, but I knew I couldn’t keep everything bottled up inside. I was perilously close to a complete nervous breakdown. Not wanting to betray her trust and talk to anyone, I started writing. It was my therapy, the only way to get some of the anger, sadness and confusion out of me. The story seemed to write itself. I realized that others might benefit from what I was writing. I felt people could relate to at least some of what I went through: heartbreak, depression, chronic pain, frustration…
When I started writing what eventually became Turning This Thing Around, I had no plans of ever publishing it. I wrote for myself, for my own sanity. But what started as a very personal diary evolved into something that I wanted to share with others. If I could overcome what I had, then others could, too. I decided to take a chance and self-published my writing as a “self-help memoir” (changing my fiancée’s name to protect her privacy).
I had no idea how people would react to my book. Would they think I was feeling sorry for myself and looking for pity? I had my doubts, but I am very glad I decided to go ahead with the project. The response was wonderful. I have gotten many replies from people that relate and share their own stories with me. I am happy that people can learn from what I went through and that we can connect on an emotional level. I now know that people are often going through more than they show, making empathy, kindness and understanding all the more important.
Are you an avid or occasional reader? If so, what is your favorite genre of books?
For the longest time I was an avid reader. I tried to read every book that I could get my hands on. I still love to read, but I just don’t have as much time to do it lately. In a perfect world, though, I would read every day.
If you could interview one of your favorite authors, who would it be? Why?
The Dalai Lama. Most people probably don’t think of him as an author, but he has written several books, all of which help mankind in many ways. He has so much to teach and exudes peace, compassion and loving kindness. It would be an honor just to be in his presence!
If you could make a movie out of one of your books, which one would it be?
I’m not going to lie: a movie about my memoir would be pretty cool…and quite humbling. I am proud of both of my books, but Turning This Thing Around is not only the first book that I wrote, it is also a very personal look at much of my actual life. But I must say, perhaps selfishly, I think a movie about my road trip (see below) would be special, too, and might inspire others to go on an adventure and/or do some good for others.
What new projects are you working on?
I released my second book, Goodwill Tour: Paying It Forward in January 2013. Two summers ago, my friend Emily and I set off from Cincinnati, Ohio, USA, on a 3,000-mile road-trip through several of the southeastern states. We stopped in Memphis (Tennessee), New Orleans (Louisiana), Savannah (Georgia), Charleston (South Carolina), Asheville (North Carolina) and smaller towns in between. Goodwill Tour: Paying It Forward is a travelogue detailing a philanthropic experiment in the incredible country the two of us call home.
Emily and I were determined to spread kindness as we worked to make a difference in the lives of others along the way. We gave our own money to hand-picked strangers, who then had to pay the money forward to someone else. Goodwill Tour is the narrative of the places Emily and I visited and the people we met on our journey.
I recently started my third nonfiction book. It is about several people that I know personally who have thrived after going through very difficult situations.
Where can readers find you?
Readers can follow my blog and learn more about me at http://keithmaginn.com or connect with me on Twitter at @Keith_Maginn. Both of my nonfiction books are available in paperback and e-book on Amazon.com. Interested readers can look at my book pages on Amazon.com to see a complete summary and author bio, as well as the “Look Inside!” the book feature and customer reviews.
Turning This Thing Around: http://amzn.to/16MDlqV
Goodwill Tour: Paying It Forward: http://amzn.to/1aUoamM
About The Book
Turning This Thing Around is an inspiring memoir of overcoming personal struggles. This brutally honest, deeply personal account of redemption takes readers on a moving spiritual journey. Confronted with caring for a manic depressive fiancée in addition to several of his own obstacles, the author was outwardly happy, but inwardly miserable. Pushed to the lowest point of his life, Maginn shares how he gradually turned things around and used his experiences to grow as a person.
Supplemented by heartfelt poetry by the author and with quotes from Gandhi to Dr. Wayne Dyer to Eckhart Tolle, Turning This Thing Around has universal themes that speak to nearly everyone, as we all must face challenges as part of being human. Turning This Thing Around is a story of a normal young man’s resiliency when battling extraordinary circumstances.