Blogs by L.T. Suzuki
Interview with Paranormal Author Kate Austin
1/11/2010 9:51:13 PM
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Interview with Paranormal Romance author Kate Austin. Read the interview and enter for a chance to win an autographed book by this author!
LS: As the heading of my blog page implies, I love showcasing the talents of those in the writing community. I’ve featured authors of fantasy, YA paranormal, corporate crime thrillers, literary fiction, and more, but today’s guest blogger is the author of numerous novels that blend romance with the paranormal and I’m not speaking of the Young Adult Vampire Saga, I’m talking about a sizzling hot, adult read!
I’d like to introduce you to author Kate Austin. I first met Kate when she was teaching a session on editing at the Surrey Writers School this past November. Intelligent, articulate and engaging, this author shared some sound, practical advice with authors on how to polish up their manuscript before submitting to a publisher.
I know you come by your love of reading honestly, thanks to your mother and grandmothers, but has writing stories always been a part of your life, too? Was becoming a published author a life long dream?
KA: I have to say that, unlike many of my writing friends, I came to writing late. In fact, I was almost 30 before I figured out that I wanted to write and this after reading at least a book a day ever since I’d been a teenager. And even now, though I love being published, I’d keep writing whether or not I ever got published. I’m a realist, I think, and the reality is that the only part of this process a writer can control is the writing – so that’s what I do.
LS: You’ve written novels published by Harlequin Next and Cobblestone Press. Is it fair for me to say you are an author of Paranormal Romance or is there a better way to describe your genre?
KA: This is so tough, but I think of myself as a writer of coming of age stories – women who are growing into themselves, becoming the women they were meant to be. Although I write what some people will call paranormal, I think of it as the magic of everyday life and try to follow in the footsteps of writers of magic realism like Marquez, Kingsolver and Hoffman. I admit, though, that I’m a sucker for happy endings and sex so those things often show up in my writing.
LS: With so many published books to your credit, let’s talk about your latest novel ‘The Demon’. I am amazed by your idea about a demon that discovers the Internet and uses it to infiltrate the world of human beings. Your imagination just boggles my mind! What was the inspiration behind this story and can you tell us a little bit about Morteza?
KA: Morteza is the second in a series of stories and/or novellas I’m writing for Cobblestone Press that started with a novella called ‘The Demon Next Door’: Ali. Ali, unlike Morteza, discovered his love for the human world by error, but Morteza comes to the human world knowing that he wants out. He’s the lowest of the low demons but he’s willing to try almost anything – coffee, the Internet, online sex.
LS: Without giving away too much, can you reveal what’s in store for the reader when they crack open ‘The Demon’?
KA: Morteza’s story is definitely erotic. He finds an ad for The Pleasure Club, an organization that will help you fulfill your fantasies. Morteza – having never had sex as a demon – isn’t sure exactly what he wants, but he’s willing to try almost anything.
LS: The road to publication is difficult at the best of times. Was it difficult for you to land an agent? Do you have any advice you’d like to share with the author struggling to find representation?
KA: I’ve been very lucky with my agent searches. I’ve looked twice and both times found an agent right away and that’s probably because I didn’t look for an agent until I had written and published dozens of short stories and poems and was getting very good responses from contests and editors. By then, I knew I was likely good enough to get published. My advice? Get in a critique group – whether online or in person. Take courses, get to conferences, read books about writing. Although writing is a solitary job, having a community of writers around you will get you published much faster and with a lot fewer bumps along the way. And write, write, write.
LS: Excellent advice, Kate! Can you share that magic moment when your agent told you he/she sold your debut novel ‘Dragonflies and Dinosaurs’ to Harlequin Next?
KA: ‘Dragonflies and Dinosaurs’ was the second book I’d written that I thought was publishable. (The first one is still unpublished.) It was short-listed in the Robertson Davies First Novel Contest. But honestly? I was writing what I loved – what I could control – the right thing at the right time. Harlequin started a new line of women’s fiction and my agent looked at the book and knew exactly where to send it. And I had another book to go along with it – so I sold
LS: I’m curious about your writing style. Are you one of those disciplined writers who must dedicate a certain time each day to producing so many words, or are you more relaxed and tend to write when it strikes your fancy?
KA: I work way better under deadline and I work to a page count. I don’t think in words but in pages and if I need to write 350 pages that’s what I’ll write, plus or minus 3 or 4 pages. So I work to a page count per day – if I don’t make it, and if I don’t make it it’s because I’m doing something else so I’m not writing at all, I add those pages to my next day’s count or that week’s count.
LS: Still on the subject of writing styles, are you a plotter or pantser? The readers would like to know if you tend to plot out your story line in great detail or if your writing is more organic with the characters and events unfolding as you write.
KA: I’ve never once started with an idea, a concept, a world, a plot or even a character. For me, it always begins with a feeling. I seldom, if ever, know what’s going to happen in the next sentence, let alone the next chapter. I call myself a fogwalker – I walk out into the fog and then it’s all about faith (and practice, many many years of practice). I have to have faith that I won’t walk over a cliff or into a tree – I just have to keep going, one word at a time.
LS: Some authors meditate, others need to fuel up on coffee or listen to music. Do you have any rituals, ones that can be shared with the readers, that you must do before you hunker down for a writing session?
KA: I actually don’t have any rituals – although I do use the same paper and the same pen and have for many years. I always write at least the first chapter by hand and often, if I have the time, write much of the book this way. It feels more personal, more intimate. The one thing I have that resembles a ritual is that I work in half hour blocks – and I use a kitchen timer to make sure I stick to that. I’ll write for half an hour, when the bell rings, I stop, no matter where I am. I take a break for the next half an hour – check my email, do the dishes, whatever, then go back for another half hour. I write fast and I generally write 4-5 pages in each of those half hours.
LS: At one time or another, most writers hit the wall and their work stalls because of the dreaded writer’s block. What do you do to get around or over this mental wall to resume writing?
KA: This happens to me at exactly the same place in every story or novel I’ve ever written and it took me ten years to figure out what was going on. Because I’m a fogwalker, I not only don’t know what’s going to happen, I don’t want to know. But there comes a place where I have to decide – usually somewhere around three-quarters of the way through the story when I have to decide where the story is going to end. And I get stuck there every single time. Early on, I might have been stuck there for months. Once I figured out what the problem was, I learned how to get over it. I just powered through it. I wrote that single paragraph over and over and over again. I might write the paragraph 10 or 15 or 20 different ways until I got the one that felt right. It might take a couple of days, a few glasses of wine, a walk on the beach, but I know what it is and I know how to deal with it. And then I could write the rest of the story or the book in one big blast.
LS: Who is your favourite author and how has he/she inspired you to write or influenced your writing style or choice of genre?
KA: Hmmmm, this is a tough call. For most of my life, I’ve read an average of a book a day – that’s a whole heck of a lot of books. And almost every one of them has influenced me in one way or another. As a kid, the books I remember the most are the ones I read in my grandmother’s basement – books from the early 20th century by Gene Stratton-Porter. My favourite was, still is, Keeper of the Bees. It was about love and pain and commitment and loss. And then as a teenager, I read science fiction and loved it – loved those new worlds and that sense of discovery, not only of other worlds but of heroes and heroines. I read fantasy – loving the way that people who made sense to me could be elves or witches or live in Middle Earth. Now I read almost everything – from fantasy and paranormal to literary fiction and poetry. I read romance and suspense and non-fiction. I read horror. And I learn something and am influenced by every one of the books I read. If I had to pick my three favourite writers right now, though – they would all be women’s fiction writers, writers who write women’s journeys and magic realism: Alice Hoffman, Barbara Kingsolver and Michael Ondaatje.
LS: What is the most profound discovery you’ve made in terms of your writing and how it has touched the lives of others?
KA: What a great question! I think the most profound discovery I’ve made is that the more I give to other writers the more I receive. I teach writing and each term I learn something – and that’s including the inspiration I get from my students working through their complicated lives and showing up with amazing writing. As a writer, a lot of what I do is solitary, but I became a far better writer once I got out of my house and out in the world with other writers. They give me more than I could ever express.
LS: What is the most important lesson you’ve learned on the road to publication?
KA: Don’t write to trends because you’re always going to be behind them. The books that are in the bookstores were bought two or three years ago. Write what you love. You can only control the writing part of the process – enjoy it.
LS: Take note readers, this is a very important tip Kate is sharing for writers hoping to hitch a ride on the latest literary trend! Now for another question: What are you reading now, and how did this particular book make it onto your to-read list?
KA: Right this very moment, I’m re-reading Suzanne Brockmann’s Dark of Night. It made it onto my list because I love her writing. She writes romantic suspense that’s full of layers – often layering, in the most beautiful and thoughtful of ways, two or three stories – maybe one set in World War II, one set in the present. I love her character. Each book has many of them and they all feel real. And she’s an incredibly courageous writer – she’ll take on anything and anyone if it’s right for the book.
LS: What do you foresee in your future over the next five years and do you hope to branch out into other genres? Can your fans expect more Wicked novels added to The Pleasure Club series in the near future?
KA: Right now I’m finishing up a women’s fiction book called The Sleep Master. It starts in a small Vancouver Island town in World War I and tells the stories of a woman looking for her mother – it ends in 1952. Once I’ve sent that off to my agent, I’m going to write the next Demon Next Door – Morteza’s story. After that, who knows? I’ve got half a dozen ideas and all it takes is time.
LS: Thank you so much for taking time to share in your works and writing experiences, Kate. It’s been a fun and fascinating session! Now I’m absolutely intrigued by Morteza so I’m going to have to check out your latest title!
For more information about Kate Austin and her novels, check out:
Where to buy the book: www.cobblestone-press.com
Win an autographed copy of ‘Seeing is Believing’ by Kate Austin
Just visit Kate’s website at www.kateaustin.ca and click on the ‘email me’ button. On the subject line enter: Blog Contest.
Tell Kate you read her blog on the Imago website. The contest will run for two days – January 12th and 13th, 2010 – she’ll randomly pick a winner on January 14th and send you an autographed copy of her paranormal novel ‘Seeing is Believing’. This contest is open to anyone and when you get to Kate’s website, you’re more than welcome to enter her monthly website contest!
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