Freedom to Express One’s Thoughts: An Interview with Kammeron Polverari

Kammeron Polverari (see below for the correct pronunciation of her name, something that is always important to this writer!) is the author of From the Fires Scattered There, a work of historical fiction based on true events. The book released last year, and readers appreciate Kammeron’s attention to detail and accuracy, among other things. One reader wrote that “the living details of the characters’ lives absorbed me into their activities. The book is written in such a favorable fashion that fact and fiction are latent and blended together.” Another reader called it “spellbinding,” and also added, “If you start the book, I can promise you that it won’t be put down for long before you pick it back up to continue.” Kammeron is an English teacher, so I’m hoping her students see these reviews and know they are in fully capable hands each day!

Welcome, Kammeron.

Christina: Maybe you are tired of this question, but I think readers would like to know: how do you properly pronounce your name?

Kammeron: I have definitely answered this question a few thousand times, but I’ve never been irritated by it because I had to ask my husband the same question when I first met him. At the time, there was a popular race car video game on the circuit called Pole Position, so in order to remember how to pronounce his last name, I connected “pole” with “ferrari,” then exchanged the “f” for a “v” and voila!  Polverari. There have been some interesting and entertaining mispronunciations, one of my favorites being “Polva-laundry.” Love that one!

Christina: Congratulations on the publication of From the Fires Scattered There, which is historical fiction about a little known 1943 North Carolina train wreck that killed 74 people. In an email to me you wrote, “so few people knew about it that I felt compelled to write about it.” Why did you choose historical fiction over narrative nonfiction? How close to true events is the book?

Kammeron: I chose historical fiction over narrative nonfiction for the sole purpose of the characters and their voices. While I based several of the characters on the descriptions of victims found in my research, I had very little information to go on as far as their histories, their purposes for being on the train to begin with, or most other aspects of their personal lives. I needed to take a few creative liberties in order to fill in the blanks and develop their stories. For example, in a couple of newspaper articles, journalists mentioned that amidst the debris found at the scene of the train wreck was a wedding dress buried in the mud and ash, and a bridal veil snagged in the branches of a tree. That image really stuck in my head, and I wanted to make that bride a main character in the story. Having no other information other than the image of her gown and veil, using historical fiction was the best way to develop her into a main character.

The events that took place in the book are as true as I could get them to the actual historical event. The time, place, weather, and sequence of events that unfolded are as statistically factual as research would allow. I took no creative liberties in this department as I felt that, respectfully, it was not my place to do so.

Christina: How much research did you have to do for the novel? Did you find anything completely surprising?

Kammeron: I crammed a notebook full of everything I could find: original newspaper articles, reports from the investigative institutes at the time (ICC-Interstate Commerce Commission, ACL-Atlantic Coast Line), photographs from museum sites, pages and pages of cultural notes from the time period and World War II, notes from journals of soldiers, etc. It took me a year to accumulate all the research I could find, and by the end of it, that poor notebook looked like Carrot Top after a drunken barroom brawl.

I can’t say that I found any one item completely surprising because I was still reeling in shock from the totality of the event as a whole. Everything was surprising to me because I was so unfamiliar with it. The way the train simultaneously derailed in the rear while the coupling broke toward the front, the fireman slipping on the ice and thereby unable to warn the approaching train, the timing, the weather, the secrecy of the military, the community’s response to the emergency—all of it was surprising.

Christina: When did you first begin writing in general? What does your writing process look like?

Kammeron: Well, this is embarrassing, but I can actually identify the first time that I fell in love with the act and art of writing. I was around eight years old and living in Beaufort, South Carolina. After I got home from school, my parents broke the news to me that my beloved cat, Punkin, had been run over by a car. Where? In front of the house. When? Early this morning. How? The car didn’t see him. Why didn’t you tell me this morning? We didn’t want you to be upset at school.

So I grieved. Except that an eight-year-old doesn’t really know how to grieve. I cried. I moped. I searched the yard and the neighbors’ yards and the woods behind the house just in case my parents were wrong about the whole thing. I wanted to see him or pet him or do anything to help him, not necessarily understanding the permanence of death. So my mom suggested that I write my cat a letter in Heaven. She brought me beautiful stationery and an array of writing utensils and closed my bedroom door behind her to leave me alone with my task. I chose a colored pen, orange, I think. And so I wrote a letter to my dead cat.

That’s when it clicked: freedom to express one’s thoughts without the interruption of others’ opinions. To be able to create your own highway, or rural country road, or even just a foot-wide dirt path that runs straight from the brain down the arm into the hand, through a pen and onto paper with one’s very own ideas and emotions and truth—that’s a freedom I didn’t know existed. No one is there to tell you what you should or shouldn’t say, should or shouldn’t feel, can or cannot think. No one is there to interrupt you with a heavy sigh or a snide remark or a snicker. And to have it there in ink in front of you, tangible, made it real and made it permanent. I was hooked.

My writing process is potentially psychotic. Ideas either come down in such a rushing, gushing gulley of words and phrases that I can’t get the words down fast enough before more ideas and words and phrases are pushing and shoving their way to the front of the line, or it’s crickets. The first makes my papers look like a maelstrom of illegible scribbles and scrabbles that only I can read and understand. Then when the frenzy settles, I isolate one scribble out of the mess and focus on developing that thought or character. I don’t use a computer until that idea has matured into at least a few pages.

And then there are those days when nothing comes at all. I’ll grab my notebook and pen and head to the hammock to wait for the gush of words, poised and ready: nothing. This was the case when I started From the Fires Scattered There. I had all of my research finished, I knew who my characters were and what stories they were going to tell, but I couldn’t decide how to start. I couldn’t think of the first sentence to put down. It took days of daydreaming and mental stuttering and silence, and it was very frustrating. I was impatient and eager to start, and so I prayed about it. That’s when I had a dream (yes, I know, it sounds very hokey and generic) to start with a poem. So that was it. I decided to start each chapter with a stanza that would foreshadow the character or events in that chapter. After that, it was off to the races.

Christina: We don’t just write a book. We write, we revise, we edit, we deconstruct, we throw it at the wall (maybe some of us do), etc. What part of the writing process do you like the best?

Kammeron: I love research. I am admittedly a nerd, and so I love the process of physically writing down notes on paper and highlighting and underlining. I love pens and pencils and paper—back-to-school shopping was my favorite time of the year! Research never ceases to amaze me because it takes me down rabbit holes that may or may not be useful in future projects, so I always have a separate notebook for ideas not associated with the current project. I’m also a jigsaw puzzle fanatic, so I also really love the aspect of writing that challenges me to put together the pieces of said research in order to formulate a story and characters.

Christina: Your bio states that you are a “Christian, wife, mother, teacher, hiker, hammock swinger, reader, writer, serial daydreamer, tree lover, but not necessarily in that order.” Which of those naturally comes first? Does the order differ depending on the day? Do each of those roles inform your writing?

Kammeron: I could not possibly put these descriptions into any sequentially accurate order—they each play a major role in every single day and in every decision I make. However, certain days require more of one role than another, I suppose. For example, when I wake up some mornings in a tent in the mountains and discover bear scat just a few feet away from the tent (true story), I’m a hiker first, and I take inventory of my surroundings before I make any moves. Then I pray that the bear is gone! So then I would be a Christian. Then I think of a park ranger having to explain to my daughters and my husband how I’d been mauled by a bear, so then maybe I’m a wife and mother. Next I’d think of how I can’t wait to share this story with my students and how to relate it to a piece of literature we’re reading, so I’m a teacher. But I should grab my notebook out of my backpack (I never leave home without it) and capture the raw fear of the moment for my hiking blog, so I’m a writer. Then as I search the immediate horizon for the bear, I wish like heck that I was in the comfort and peace of my hammock at home, daydreaming and swinging under my own beautiful trees with a good book in my lap, not having to worry about bears. See what I mean?

Each of these roles does inform my writing. I am always conscientious about who might be reading my work, and it truly matters to me that my work is accessible to anyone who wants to read it. If a ninety-year-old man or woman reads my work and finds it worthy enough or interesting enough to pass down to a neighbor, or a friend, or their thirteen-year-old grandchild, I want them to feel comfortable in doing so without having to make disclaimers for language or violence or sex.

Christina: Engaging in social media is really difficult for me, and I haven’t yet migrated to TikTok. How do you feel about social media in general and TikTok in particular? Any tips for the newbies in the group?

Kammeron: Whew! You and me both! I am AWFUL at social media. The publisher (Warren Publishing) strongly suggested that I open a few social media accounts: Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, and update my hiking blog ( in order to help the book gain exposure and advised that I make at least three posts each week.  I did open the accounts, but I failed miserably with the posts. In fact, I don’t believe I ever did post on TikTok. I’m such a techno-Neanderthal that the whole process was quite a challenge for me.  I also intensely dislike taking selfies and I have learned that I stink at self promotion!  I understand the need for this sort of exposure in this business, I truly do, so it is something that I intend to improve on in the very near future.

My only tip for others would be to NOT be like me.

Christina: Readers love to hear about pets, and your Instagram posts do feature some animals. Do you have pets? If so, how many, what are they? Please share!

Kammeron: I should probably add zookeeper to the bio description list. I have two very large, very furry dogs, and I have four cats. This may not sound like a lot of animals to some, but these six darlings are indoor/outdoor animals and require a lot of my time and attention.  Okay, maybe they don’t require it, but they receive it nonetheless. I have a rescue Labrador mix named Harper (after Harper Lee), who has severe separation anxiety.  To date, I have lost coffee tables, couches, innumerable pairs of shoes and clothing, lightbulbs, pillows, craft supplies, freshly baked goods from countertops, fences, and a few door knobs and door frames.  So to help ease her anxiety, I decided she needed a companion.  Enter Hemingway, the Great Pyrenees. Hemingway adores Harper, and it has truly helped her condition. But I’ve also learned that as an owner of a Great Pyrenees, a leaf blower is often more effective than a vacuum.

Once upon a peaceful time I only had one cat (Sylvia Plath), a shelter rescue, but soon after arrived a homeless kitten (Agatha Christie) that had been retrieved from inside of a truck engine, an unsolicited “gift” (Kevin—my daughter named this one) from a shelter, and finally, a kitten that my daughter brought home from the woods at her summer camp (Moby). It’s too much, really. Although I am considering chickens and bees.

Christina: What does literary success mean to you?

Kammeron: In my personal estimation, literary success is to write one thing, and then have people want to read the next thing. That probably doesn’t make much sense, so I’ll try to explain: I can think of several books that upon finishing, I close the book on my lap, consider it in its entirety, and think to myself, yes, I’m glad I read that. Then I find a place on the bookshelf and tuck it in snugly and soundly, and forget about the book and its author for years. Then there are those books that upon finishing, I close the book on my lap and consider it in its entirety for days. I don’t want to put it away on the bookshelf. I want to know about the author. I want to know what the next work by that author is and what it will be about. I talk about it. I ask if others have read it. I thumb back through the pages and reread certain passages. I search for the author’s biographical information. Then when I’ve finally worn it all out and it’s time for the book to go on a shelf, I place it on a prominent eye-level shelf where I can see it each time I pass by and can reminisce and revel in it just by glancing at its title on the familiar spine facing me. In the meantime, I am impatiently waiting for the next thing written by that author. So for someone to have read one thing that I’ve written and ask/wait/hope for another, I consider that, however large or small a scale, a success.

Kammeron can be found in multiple places!
Instagram: @kammeronp
Facebook: Kammeron Polverari, Author
TikTok: @kammeronpolverari

Thanks to Kammeron for agreeing to this interview! If you know of an author or artist who’d like to be featured in an interview (or you would like to be featured), feel free to leave a comment or email me via my contact page.


  1. Lu Lewis on April 22, 2024 at 11:13 pm

    VERY INTERESTING INTERVIEW ! The book is one that you truly cannot put down because you become one with the story. You are there on that train, you take on the identities of the characters, you feel the pain, the terror, the cold, the despair, but also the human compassion. There must be another book!

    • Christina Consolino on May 3, 2024 at 5:18 pm

      Glad you enjoyed the book!

  2. Jeff Lewis on April 22, 2024 at 11:37 pm

    Thank you Christina for a wonderful interview. It helps give us the reader more insight in to how the story came alive. I feel that every writer gives a part of their self to the story being told and that is so true with Mrs. Polverari’s book. Hopefully we see more from her soon.

    • Christina Consolino on May 3, 2024 at 5:17 pm

      Thank you for reading!

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