This holiday season, I’ve decided to promote some of my writer friends and ask some of the questions that folks ask me. Today’s guest/victim is:
First, a little something about Kathleen.
Kathleen is a writer living in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, just a stone's throw from Nashville. Rubbing shoulders with some of the most creative and talented people on earth has nourished and helped her grow as a writer.
She is best known for the unique voice she brings to all her writing. Her style of wit and humor along with snappy dialogue and offbeat characters have reviewers comparing her work to the likes of Janet Evanovich and Carl Hiaasen.
She can also be found on-stage in venues in and around Nashville reading her always funny and sometimes touching memoirs.
At what age did you start writing?
It’s funny because, I wrote my first novel when I was in the eighth grade. I most worked on it during biology class in school which could explain my failing grades but it was my attempt at some historical fiction. The first novel I ever read was, ”How Green Was My Valley,” a pretty hefty piece of literature for a young girl. The story and characters stayed with me for years and so by the time I was a teenager, I tried to write one of my own. I wish I still had it. I wrote a few children’s short stories when my own children were young, but didn’t really begin in earnest until I was in my fifties.
Where do your ideas come from?
My ideas come to me when I’m writing, for the most part. Opening a Word Document and pressing the keys is the same as turning the keys on a car’s ignition. I will also get ideas taking long walks or drives. I don’t usually have the radio on or audio book going when I want to feel creative.
Do you base your characters on people you know?
If you know my work, then you won’t be surprised to learn that most of the characters I create solely out of my own imagination. Those are the oddball characters that inhabit my novels. I love thinking them up out of pure ethos, breathing life into them and then giving them as many idiosyncrasies as I think the reader can stand. Having said that, many of the main characters are based on characteristics of people I know.
Do your plot your stories or make them up as you go?
I plot them, but in a very nebulous way because once I start going in one direction, the characters take over the steering wheel and drive me down a road I didn’t know existed. I pull us all back but it’s a fight to the finish with those guys.
Do you listen to music when you write?
I cannot have any music or other background noise. It’s like static interference and messes up where my head needs to be to create. Like my own little zone where nothing else can live.
Which of your characters would you most like to meet and who of another author?
Of all the characters in my novels, I’d like to meet Rose, she’s a young police officer with a funny and bodacious attitude. In my short stories, it’s Sam Heart, a play off of the old Sam Spade novels by Dashiell Hammett. Of all of literature, then Jane Austen’s Mister Darcy of course.
Which of your stories do you consider your best work? What are you working on right now?
My humorous essays are by far my favorite pieces of writing, the thing I am most proud of. I came to the genre fairly recently as far as writing, but have been a big fan of the genre for years reading David Sedaris’ collections and Bossy Pants by Tina Fey. I’ve become so fond of writing them, and have accumulated so many, that I’m going to put them together in an anthology I’m titling, “The View From Under My Desk,” since my life begins with and is shaped by growing up in the “Duck and Cover,” years. It is my current work in progress although I do want to write another Maggie Finn novel. Two seems to be a weird place to leave it. I think trilogies worked well for Mario Puzo so, why not?
How much do you write each day/ week / month?
I try to never have a zero writing day. I try to write or revise or edit something every day.
What book do you read over and over the most?
To Say Nothing of the Dog by Connie Willis is a novel I’ve read probably a half dozen times, maybe more. It’s technically Science Fiction because it’s a novel of time travel, but it’s so much more than that. It is clever and witty with some of the most endearing characters that stay with me from reading to reading. I’ve gone through the Horatio Hornblower novels more than once, Sherlock Holmes’ adventures many times and I’m having a second go at Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett’s Good Omens right now.
Is writer’s block ever a problem?
Once when I felt like I had writer’s block my nine year old granddaughter advised I “bring in a mean girl.” It worked. I think adding any kind of conflict will get your brain busy trying to resolve it.
What would you advise aspiring authors?
I think every aspiring writer should know that they are going to hate what they write and think it’s no good and decide to give up. It probably will be no good at the beginning and that’s a good thing because we learn by trying, by making mistakes and by not being afraid to be awful and make mistakes. Also, writers groups, if you can find a good one, can be worth their collective weight in gold.
Do you read reviews?
I do read the reviews and take the ones that are glowing and live off of them for days and the ones that are not so great, I try to learn from and see if the points are valid. If they’re just mean, I go and read bad reviews for Harry Potter or Moby Dick and then I feel much better.
Thanks Kathleen. To find her website, click below.