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Female Disruptors: Author Trisha Ridinger McKee On The Three Things You Need To Shake Up Your Industry

An Interview With Candice Georgiadis

Learn from criticism. If you have several people telling you the same thing, it’s time to perk up and listen.

As a part of our series about women who are shaking things up in their industry, I had the pleasure of interviewing Trisha Ridinger McKee.

Trisha Ridinger McKee is a multi-genre writer and is currently the author of seven novels. Her debut novel Beyond the Surface was a finalist in All Author for Best Romance of 2020. Her short stories have been featured in over 150 publications, including Chicken Soup for the Soul, Crab Fat Literary, Myslexia, Tablet, The Terror House, and more.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would like to get to know you a bit more. Can you tell us a bit about your “backstory”? What led you to this particular career path?

As a child in a particularly hostile household, I daydreamed to escape. Before I could write, I would lie in bed and dream of any place other than where I was. It was how I survived. Once I learned to read and write, I wrote those daydreams down. By age 14, I had written four book-length manuscripts. It was my escape, and at the time, it was not something I was ready to share.

Can you tell our readers what it is about the work you’re doing that’s disruptive?

I’m not only a female publishing in genres such as horror and sci-fi, but I’m also a female publishing in such different genres. Romance, sci-fi, horror, lit… I love trying the different tones and styles that take me out of my comfort zone. Sometimes we, as authors, are encouraged to stay in one lane. But what fun is that?

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

Oh, not sure about the funniest mistake, but I learned to do my research. Not all publishers are legit, and sometimes it isn’t clear what the scam is. And not everyone wants to see you succeed. I have such a different mindset that it never occurred to me that some people would even be angry about any step forward in my journey.

I’m still stumbling through this wild ride. I think a lot of authors come into this thinking that they simply write the book, and the rest will take care of itself. Reality hits hard and fast though once the time comes to publish. There is little hand-holding in the writing world.

And I learned that I have to be my biggest cheerleader. I was so afraid of “bragging” that I held back on announcing some achievements, when in reality, it is marketing. It is letting your readers know where your short stories will be and when your latest book will be out. And I learned that it is also okay to brag a little, to celebrate those small victories.

We all need a little help along the journey. Who have been some of your mentors? Can you share a story about how they made an impact?

As I mentioned before, I did not have the easiest childhood. I lived in a small town, so there was no way to hide it. I had teachers that really nurtured my love for writing. My English teacher in my senior year was so kind, and he encouraged me to keep writing. My gym teacher once told me, “You are one of those kids that really shine once you get out of this environment. I just know it.” And that meant the world to me. It gave me hope that there was something beyond this darkness. And of course, the authors of the books I read gave me comfort and took me places away from the sadness I was living.

In today’s parlance, being disruptive is usually a positive adjective. But is disrupting always good? When do we say the converse, that a system or structure has ‘withstood the test of time’? Can you articulate to our readers when disrupting an industry is positive, and when disrupting an industry is ‘not so positive’? Can you share some examples of what you mean?

Oh, what a great question! I think there’s a fine line between good disruptions and bad disruptions. When I submit a sci-fi story to a magazine, I can only hope that my story speaks for itself. Writing sci-fi was new to me, but there was such a large market for the short stories, I studied, I practiced, I kept trying. And I broke through.

I think complaining about things can be a bad disruption. All people hear is negativity. I would much rather study the problem and think of a way to get through the cracks.

I am also a big believer in knowing the rules inside and out before you decide to break them. As a writer, I know grammar. I also know how to break the grammar rules to highlight an emotion or a point in my writing. Again, it’s a thin line.

Can you share 3 of the best words of advice you’ve gotten along your journey? Please give a story or example for each.

Learn from criticism. If you have several people telling you the same thing, it’s time to perk up and listen.

Along the same lines, always be learning. I would hate to think that I know everything about writing. I want to improve, to try new things, to learn new ways. That is so exciting to me.

While it is important to know what readers love, it is also vital that you remain true to what you love. Tell that story in a way that is unique. People don’t know they love it until they have a chance to read it.

We are sure you aren’t done. How are you going to shake things up next?

I’ve broken into the short story market for horror and sci-fi, but my novels have mainly been women’s lit. I currently have a sci-fi manuscript with an agent. And later this year, I have plans to start a thriller. So many things planned to shake things up!

In your opinion, what are the biggest challenges faced by ‘women disruptors’ that aren’t typically faced by their male counterparts?

Being a female disruptor comes with its challenges. We are typically considered to be “trying” instead of “having done”. I always get “Oh, you’re trying to write horror.” Considering I’ve been published in dozens of magazines geared toward that genre, I’d say I’ve done well.

I think we are taught to not be assertive, not try to hard to get that foot in the door. But that’s exactly what we should do. Try new things, ask for that raise, write that book! Make connections without apologizing!

Do you have a book/podcast/talk that’s had a deep impact on your thinking? Can you share a story with us?

Oh my. I wish I had some deep answer about a complicated piece of writing, but the book that had the most impact on me was The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton. I read the book when I was in second grade. And although I had little in common with the main character, Ponyboy just resonated with me. The feeling of not belonging, the desire for a better life… I read that book so many times that year and in years to come, because I was fascinated with how the author could do that — how I could relate so well to a character that on the surface was nothing like me. It was like magic. A spell that drew me in and held me captive from the first word to the last sentence.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

I think anyone with a goal should keep their eyes on their own journey. I love learning from others, but I’m careful not to compare myself or my achievements. We are all on our own path, neither is right or wrong, too slow or too fast. When you are busy comparing, you are taking time and energy away from achieving your goal. Small steps are still getting you closer, and that’s what matters, right?

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

I love the quote “All that wander are not lost”. I seemed to take a longer path than others in some life goals. I finished college after getting married and having a child. I have written all my life, but I only started to send my writing out when I was in my 40s. And looking back, I see the benefits for me in doing that. I had fun along the way, I learned as I wandered. I healed.

How can our readers follow you online?

My website is My books are available at Connect with me on

This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!

Female Disruptors: Author Trisha Ridinger McKee On The Three Things You Need To Shake Up Your… was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.