Katherine Hayton | BLOG
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25 Sep / … it’s begun

Today we had computer problems at work. Saying it like that makes it seem less annoying than it was. It makes it seem inconsequential, when instead it was so irritating that it felt at times as though my eyes were about to pop out of my head with the suppressed rage and frustration.

I spent most of the day writing an accounts manual. About an hour of work done altogther (which means I’ll have the joy of its company again on Monday) with the rest of the time spent attempting to get screenshots from a system that would crash, start-up, crash, start-up, crash, start-up and then grudgingly allow me to take a snip of the screen, and referring to documents that were hosted on drives that no longer existed, existed, no longer existed, opened, disappeared, opened but greyed out with the whirly circle of never-ending doom and a helpful message saying ‘Not responding’ – no kidding, really? – and then would allow me to search through the document for the paragraph I needed only to realise that I’d opened the wrong one and had to start again.

A few years ago I was having trouble with Excel – in a similar vein to today’s constant aggravation – and joked to a colleague that this was the start of Terminator: rise of the machines.

Doesn’t seem like a laughing matter anymore, does it?

Posted by Katherine Hayton in Katherine Hayton's Blog Read More

Today on my blog, I’d like to introduce you to Kelly Miller, author of Splintered and the Detective Kate Springer mystery series.
 
Kelly’s book is featured in our Kindle Press Swap Meet (September only) where you can find books on sale, read any titles for FREE through Kindle Unlimited, and enter our Giveaway to win $100.
 
kelly-miller-author-photo
Kelly grew up shivering in Illinois but now enjoys the year-round sunshine in Tampa, FL. Her debut novel, Dead Like Me, won second place in the best mystery category of the 2011 FWA Royal Palm Literary Awards competition. It was also named a semi-finalist in the mystery category of The Kindle Book Review’s 2013 Best Indie Books Awards competition. The Detective Kate Springer series continues with the second book, Deadly Fantasies.
 
In Kelly’s newest book Splintered, a 2015 Kindle Scout winner, she introduces her readers to a whole new cast of characters. Visit www.kellymillerauthor.com to get a glimpse into the inner workings of her writing life.
 

When did you first discover your passion for writing?

 
Writing has always been in my blood. Since the age of thirteen when I coauthored a cheesy romance novel in a blue, spiral bound notebook, I knew I wanted to pursue writing as a career. But somewhere along the way, I lost my voice. As is often happens, life simply got in the way. I got married, had three children, and adopted a black Labrador. As a stay-at-home mom, I was lucky to get an hour a day to myself. And when I found those few precious minutes, they were spent reading a good book. But it was time well spent because I feel like I’ve been researching the mystery and suspense genres for more than two decades. It was in my search for my own identity after staying at home with the kids for so many years that ultimately lead me back to my love of writing. I started my journey towards publication in August 2010 and haven’t looked back since.
 

Do you have a favorite author?

 
By far my favorite author is Lisa Gardner. She writes in the same genre as I do and I adore her main character Detective D.D. Warren. Lisa has had quite an influence on my writing and I’m always first in line at the bookstore to pick up her newest paperback.
 

What is the best part about being a writer?

 
Getting to create characters. The people in my novels are completely real to me, like friends you don’t get to see often but that still hold a special place in your heart. To create something out of nothing is truly magical.
 

splintered-cover-web-version
Life turns from barely tolerable to complete hell when Maddy Eastin’s impulsive plan to win back the attention of her absentee father backfires. Word of her scheme spreads through her high school, but when mockery escalates to cyberbullying, Maddy and her failed stunt become headline news. But the worst is yet to come…
 
A disturbed man is fighting the overwhelming urge to surrender to his true nature—a moral code molded by a sadistic father who taught him that a girl needs proper training to become the perfect subservient woman. As he watches Maddy on the evening news, his already fractured psyche completely splinters. She’s the girl he’s been waiting for.
 
 
When Maddy disappears, she’s labeled a runaway even though her mother believes it was foul play. Will the two detectives investigating Maddy’s disappearance find her before it’s too late? Or has she already fallen prey to the vicious stranger hunting her?
 
This mystery/psychological thriller unfolds through the viewpoints of five deeply flawed characters. Each is on their own emotionally charged journey that ultimately intersects in a collision course of devastating consequences.
 
 

What is the worst part about being a writer?

 
The constant need to market myself as an author. Like most writers, I just want to write. But that’s not reality if you want to make a living in this industry. There are so many books available in the marketplace that sometimes it seems I’m screaming into the wind trying to get readers to notice my work. It can be frustrating at times.
 

What draws you to this genre?

 
Have you heard the saying, “I didn’t pick the genre, it picked me.” For me, this is true. Before I started my writing career, I was a voracious reader. I still love to read but now my schedule is so full it’s difficult to find time to read a book unless it’s in the school car line or on the elliptical. At the bookstore, I’ll pick up a variety of genres but my favorites are mysteries, suspense, and psychological thrillers—probably because that’s what I write. The way my voice comes through in a book perfectly matches the crime fiction genre. So for now, I’m sticking with what works.
 

Which character or characters do you identify with in your book? Why?

 
In a small way I can identify with Lily Eastin, the mother in my novel. You see her daughter, fifteen-year-old protagonist Maddy Eastin, was born with a cardiac disease called Supraventricular Tachycardia (SVT). In layman’s terms, it’s an abnormal heart rhythm that causes the heart to beat too fast. I decided to use my own personal experience as a mom who went through this with her baby. You see, my daughter was diagnosed with SVT when she was only seventeen days old. The trauma of her near-death radically changed me. I found myself emotionally distancing myself, fearing that I would lose her at any minute. I was eventually able to overcome my insecurities, but I decided to model part of the character of Maddy’s mom, Lily Eastin, after the person I could’ve seen myself becoming had I not overcome my fear.
 

Excerpt
 
(1)
MADDY EASTIN

 
The grumble of a heavy diesel engine alerted Maddy that only two minutes separated her from either a ride to school or another lecture from her mom about missing the bus. She slammed the front door and stepped into the sticky heat of a dark September morning. The moisture in the Florida air enveloped her, its thickness slowing her down. Or maybe the lethargic pace simply matched her outlook toward this dreary school day.
 
The geometry book jutting out of the small hole in the bottom of her backpack cut into her ribs with every step. She yanked down the sleeves riding up her arms to hide the fresh marks. From behind her, a metallic grinding of brakes cut through the darkness. She reached the bus stop expecting to see the yellow beast that would drag her off to school. Instead, a fat guy hopped off the back of a garbage truck and lifted a recycling bin off the ground.
 
Dammit. I forgot to put the trash out. Something else for Mom to complain about.
 
The bus was late again. Maddy wondered where Sabrina was—her friend usually beat her to the bus stop, but this morning she was a no-show. Maybe Sabrina’s cough had turned into something more serious.
 
Lucky. Now she will have an extra day to study for our geometry exam.
 
Maddy had thought about playing the sick card this morning, but she knew there was no way her mom would have believed the act. And the only thing Maddy dreaded more than geometric theorems was cleaning the toilet.
Bending down on one knee, Maddy swung her backpack to the ground. She squinted through the murky haze of the nearest streetlight and fumbled with its zipper.
 
Why we moved us to this dump of a neighborhood is beyond me.
 
Half the streetlights were burned out, including the one directly over Maddy’s head.
 
The sun wouldn’t rise for another hour, but she still found herself wiping away moisture collecting near her hairline.
 
A soft squealing noise jerked her attention away from the task of rearranging the books in her bag. A van had pulled up to the corner—a real piece of junk from the sound of the roughly idling engine. The feeling of being watched caused a crop of goose bumps to pop up on her arms.
 
Really? Now a van has you spooked?
 
Maddy blamed the paranoia on those stupid stranger-danger videos her mom had forced her to watch as a kid. She could still hear the nasally narrator’s voice in her head, warning her not to get into a car with someone she didn’t know, and never to accept candy from a stranger.
 
Duh.
 
Maddy zipped her backpack closed and stood, still staring at the van. It’s not like work vehicles in this neighborhood were an unusual occurrence. Most days it was like playing Mario Kart, having to dodge all the trucks on the street. It seemed half the neighbors cut grass for a living and parked their trailers full of lawn equipment on the road every night after work.
 
The smell of burning rubber drifted toward her. The voice in Maddy’s head morphed into her dad’s and informed the idiot in the van that he should change the belts. Of course, the source of the smell could’ve been coming from an oil leak in the engine. Maddy couldn’t decide the exact cause. She’d always hated it when her dad forced her into the garage to help him tinker with the car. Even so, she’d give anything to have him back now, to complain one more time about the grease stuck under her fingernails or how impossible it was to remove oil stains from her jeans.
A muted flash appeared behind the tinted glass of the van’s passenger window. Someone still sat inside.
 
Probably getting his rocks off staring at my bare legs.
 
The window slid down a crack. A new scent skirted the air, a sweeter smell that caused a craving to wash over Maddy.
She strained her eyes, looking for writing on the side panel of the van. Nothing visible. She wondered if a workman had arrived early to a job site. The sound of a garage door opening down the street tore Maddy’s attention away. She turned, hoping to see Sabrina rushing toward the bus stop. The low light of the streetlamp illuminated a dark figure pushing a garbage can to the curb.
 
Another rumble drew near. Maddy breathed a sigh of relief when she caught a glimpse of yellow passing between the houses and trees on the other side of the neighborhood. Her stop would be next.
 
She cocked her head to the side, realizing the smell of smoke was closer. Just as she turned her head, an iron hand clamped around her wrist.
 

Anything else you’d like to add?


 
You can download my novelette, My Blue Nightmare, for free on my website (www.kellymillerauthor.com). It’s the first in the My Nightmare Series which will feature a new terrifying psychopath in each story.
 
Thanks very much for joining me on the blog today, Kelly. Splintered looks like a great read if, like me, your idea of a great read comes complete with thrilling and a whopping side-dish of mystery.
 
If you’d like to see more books from Kindle Press authors, then please visit our Swap Meet to see all Kindle Press books on sale for September and enter for your chance to win our $100 Giveaway. And you can always read any of our books for FREE through a Kindle Unlimited subscription.
 
If you haven’t joined up yet, then click on THIS LINK (some country exclusions apply) to sign-up for a free trial to read anything on our swap meet page FREE for thirty days!
 
If you’d like to know more about Kelly Miller, then please follow the links below to connect with her on Social Media, or follow her on Amazon so you never miss a new release.
 
Website, Blog, Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, Goodreads, Pinterest, Amazon Author Page
 
 
 
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Posted by kathay@orcon.net.nz in Katherine Hayton's Blog Read More

So, I’ve arrived in Mission Beach for my annual holiday complete with sun, sand, and dollops of ice-cream. After a short fourteen-hour travel day (thank you airports of the world for your super-long check-in requirements and weird bag-handling rituals) we nosed the car into the turn-off from El Arish and journeyed into the magic that is our favourite holiday destination of all time.
 
The sun has yet to make an appearance—apparently we’ve failed to appease the weather gods on some matter—but the sand is in full-force. All over our rental house, in the bed, in my hair, in too many crevices to comfortably name in a public post.
 
And the ice-cream. Oh, the ice-cream. I’ve dieted all year long for this (ha-ha, whatever) and as I popped the first stick of luscious ice-cream goodness into my mouth all I could think was . . .
 
Ouch!
 
When the hell did my teeth get so sensitive?
 
If only I’d had a few practice ice-creams at home I could have prepared myself. I could have used Sensodyne toothpaste or whatever the off-brand label equivalent is. My teeth could have been coated in (mumbly scientific-dental stuff magic) and all the nerve endings retreated into their nerve caves.
 
Instead, I’m facing a holiday choice that fills me with terror.
 
Ice-cream and tooth pain, or
 
No ice-cream.
 
And when I say no ice-cream I don’t just mean ice-cream. That word now encapsulates ice-blocks, ice-lollies, callipos, Memphis Meltdowns, and Magnums.
 
(And yes I’m aware that most of those are just sub-varieties of ice-blocks or ice-cream but I was trying to make the problem appear as large as it feels inside.)
 
To think that a few days ago I was complaining about how the free wifi turned out to be free because it didn’t exist and to make any internet connection at all I have to prop my mobile phone on top of a stack of crockery in the side of the kitchen window and hold my breath for two minutes, then chant an incantation.
 
(Please note that if you’re receiving this blog post after the 19th of September the incantation failed . . . Big time.)
 
It just shows, it takes a real trial to put the little things into perspective.
 
I’m off to check out the label for Ibuprofen to see if it still irritates stomach ulcers and to contemplate the odds of the Losec offsetting that enough to make a third choice possible, but I’m not holding out much hope. The Panadol’s already failed me.
 
 
 
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Posted by kathay@orcon.net.nz in Katherine Hayton's Blog Read More

15 Aug / First 5,000

After more than a month of researching, reading, planning, and outlining, I finally started writing the first book in my new series today. At first, time slowed to a crawl and every word seemed like an effort. After an hour with almost nothing to show for it, I started to panic.
 
I’d forgotten how to write!
 
Now, having put in my hours and produced over five thousand words, I feel a little bit more comfortable. They may not be the right words but at least they’re on the page.
 
By the end of the day it was even starting to become fun. No matter how much I outline, no matter what backstory elements I fill in for my characters, no matter how well I know their history – better than the closest friends I’ve ever had – it’s not until I start to write that they actually fill out.
 
When my little chalk lines get into a room with the other chalk lines and start to have a conversation, that’s when they grow flesh and turn into people. Stiff at first, awkward. But at the end of the day I can see how well they’re fitting into their new skins. I start to know them so well I can see what they’re thinking.
 
They’ll have a few surprises in store, and I’m sure at some point my carefully structured outline will be grossly and unexpectedly departed from, but for the time being they’re well behaved characters doing pretty much what they should. Long may it last.
 
Here’s to tomorrow and the next five thousand.
 
 
 
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Posted by kathay@orcon.net.nz in Katherine Hayton's Blog Read More

For the past month I’ve been busy getting a few things sorted.
 
Number One: leaving paid employment. Something that caused me to sit bolt upright every weeknight for a fortnight with “What have I done?” running through my brain at full volume.
 
The alternating attitude was to spend all of my remaining work days smiling with glee that everything I was doing was going to be over soon and would never have to be done again. By me, at least. I presume the jobs that I had to perform still need to be performed by someone who resents doing them as much as I did.
 
Number Two: getting my second Ngaire Blakes Mystery published.
 
Still not sure if this is happening or not. I did submit directly to Kindle Press (who were kind enough to publish the previous one) but after not hearing anything in response for a month, I succumbed to their process and put it on the Kindle Scout website for a thirty day campaign. Boy, had I forgotten how long thirty days is. The first few days were quite exciting in a familiar “I’ve been here before” kind of way. But the first few days only used up the first few days and the latter twenty-eight have stretched in front of me like a widening gulf.
 
To be honest, I haven’t actually ticked this one off the list because the campaign has another five days to run. Something that Kindle Scout insist on calling four days, because the last day of the campaign is called the last day rather than one day to go. IDK. At least this time around I won’t be caught out. If I make it to the last day. That point is still in question.
 
If you’ve missed the opportunity to nominate me (or chore, depending on your mindset) then you can do so on the following link: https://kindlescout.amazon.com/p/CB9NSW95GX1U
 
Click the link, sign-in to Amazon using your usual Amazon sign-in details, then click on a blue nominate button. This will ensure that if I’m embarrassingly passed over for publication this time around, you’ll be the first to hear about it. And if I’m not, then you’ll get a free Kindle copy. What a deal!
 
Number Three: preparing for a new series that I’ll be launching next year.
 
This has been the most time-consuming activity of the lot, in mind power if not in physical hours spent. I’m following a new apprenticeship program that is taking me through a different (for me, anyway) system of book writing. It involves a lot of preproduction and planning (oddly similar to the work that I gleefully departed from) and will hopefully allow me to write a lot more quickly and a lot more easily when it gets to that bit.
 
In the meantime, I’ve taken a leap of faith and organised all the standard trimmings that go along with book publishing in advance. I have editing booked in for manuscripts that haven’t yet been written and I’ve set up a brilliant book cover designer to design six covers for books that don’t yet have insides for the cover to cover.
 
Another reason I’m jolting wide-awake at night thinking “What have I done?”
 
Still, having taken the leap of faith that the six books I’ve commissioned covers for and arranged editing of will manifest themselves in time, the process has become very exciting. This time, in the good way. I’ve even gone so far as to create a separate page on my website to highlight that this series is coming. Definitely. I’ve committed to a date! If, February 2017 can be called a date.
 
So yes, I’ve been busy.
 
Unemployed, unpublished, unwritten.
 
Busy, busy, busy.
 
 
 
 
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Posted by kathay@orcon.net.nz in Katherine Hayton's Blog Read More

26 Jun / Bugs

Atlas Obscura has been having bug week this past week.
 
I don’t know if that’s a recognised phenomenon, like shark week, or if it’s just something they decided to do because they had a whole lot of random copy about bugs, but it’s been quite interesting.
 
They’ve covered everything from the pain scale of insect stings through to the hidden bugs sending messages when you retweet that meme. NOTE: it is always perfectly safe to retweet any pictures from MY twitter handle. I know as much about coding secret messages into images as I do about wedding planning and I’m officially an old-age spinster (if you live in a time before woman had occupations to note on their official documentation).
 
I found it especially comforting to read through these articles when I was struck with my own bug on Wednesday. It made for some nice breaks in between familiarising myself with the toilet bowl from both ends.
 
One thing I appreciated was the tiny little bugs that were crawling all over the screen while I was reading the articles. I was only fooled twice into thinking they were real and attempting to crush them mercilessly against my laptop screen.
 
I HAD TO HAVE THEM.
 
And for once the laborious effort I put into transitioning my website from the delightfully easy Squarespace to the frustratingly multi-optioned WordPress paid off.
 
Bug! There is a wordpress plugin called bug.
 
It puts a bug on your screen. Not only that, the bug wanders about a bit.
 
A miracle of engineering. Now in full view on my website (which you may already know if you’re reading my blog on there, but if you’re not you should immediately visit by clicking this link – http://katherinehayton.com).
 
They say it’s the little things in life that make you happy and whoever “they” is in this case “they” would be right.
 
 
 
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Posted by kathay@orcon.net.nz in Katherine Hayton's Blog Read More

Zara on 27-03-16 at 15.49

Please tell us a bit about yourself

 
Zara Altair combines mystery with a bit of adventure in the Argolicus mysteries. The Used Virgin is the first in a series of mysteries based in southern Italy at the time of the Ostrogoth rule of Italy under Theoderic the Great. Italians (Romans) and Goths live under one king while the Roman Empire is ruled from Constantinople. At times the cultures clash, but Argolicus uses his wit, sometimes with help from his tutor Nikolaos, to provide justice in a province far from the King’s court.
 
Zara Altair lives in Beaverton, Oregon. She is a fiction author writing in the historical fiction genre. Her approach to writing is to present the puzzle and let Argolicus and Nikolaos find the solution encountering a bit of adventure and some humor in their search. Her stories are rich in historical detail based on years of research. Zara is working on a historical novel Felix Ravenna: A Mosaic set in the same time period with Argolicus as the main character. To get on the reader list for Argolicus fans go here http://goo.gl/m5aL3E (copy and paste to your browser).
 
Zara loves reader feedback. Be sure to leave a review. Write comments here on the Author Page. Zara replies to all comments.
 

Author Q&A

 

What genre are your books?

 
Historical mystery. In Italy, giallo storico.
 

What draws you to this genre?

 
I’ve been reading in this genre since Nancy Drew for mystery and a gift subscription to monthly history books for kids.
 

Have you ever considered writing stories for other genres?

 
Yes. I’ve ghostwritten a number of steamy romance books and sometimes I write science fiction.
 

When did you first discover your passion for writing?

 
I’ve been telling stories since I was two when I sat on the back porch and told stories to Yoohoody, the owl who perched in the tree. I’ve been writing stories since I was seven.
 

What inspired your latest novel?

 
A phone conversation with my daughter. We were talking about how much we love the Italian day and she said, “Mommy, you should go to Ravenna.” Then she told me about Theoderic leading his people across the frozen Danube and eventually arriving in Ravenna. I thought, “I wonder what it was like then?”
 
I started researching and discovered a time of divided loyalties, intense theological differences, and a “barbarian” who lived like an emperor.
 

Do you have a bit of a teaser?

 
After Rome, before the Middle Ages, Italy belonged to the Ostrogoths. A young magistrate of mixed ancestry retires to find people are just as corrupt and venal in the provinces.
 
A corrupt Governor. A young girl. And old man.
 
A ruined reputation is worse than murder in Italy. Argolicus and his lifelong tutor, Nikolaos, discover evil, greed, and extreme extortion.
 
Argolicus unravels the threads.
 
Used Virgin Cover
 

What is your least favorite word?

 
Nice.
 

Do you ever read your stories out loud?

 
Always. And in my writing group we read each other’s work. You can instantly hear the clunks or the stumbles over awkward phrasing.
 

What’s the first book you remember making an indelible impression on you?

 
Anna Karenina. I couldn’t stop. I read all night and finished just after dawn.
 

Do you have a favorite author?

 
In historical fiction, Robert Harris. My favorite is Pompeii. I love how his “Roman” is an engineer. And, the reader knows from the beginning that Vesuvius is going to erupt. From that moment on, it is a cliffhanger. Plus, for world builders, his alternative history, Fatherland, is a prime example of a character caught in the surrounding culture.
 

What are you currently working on?

 
Along with the next short story, The Peach Widow, I’m always at work on the novel Felix Ravenna: A Mosaic which takes place two years after the mystery series. Oh, and there’s that other contemporary mystery series that is percolating in my head with retired detective, Jake “Cozy” Cozzens.
 

If your book were made into a movie, who would you cast?

 When I started, it was Tom Hardy as Argolicus for the smoldering undercurrent, but Argolicus is 32 at the time of the mysteries, so I needed a new actor. Argolicus Clive Standen. Nikolaos Dragos Bucur
 

What advice would you give to aspiring authors?

 
Write. Study story. Read in your genre. Start your author platform. It takes time. Have everything—author bio, book description, website, email autoresponder (emails written and sequenced), email opt-in—set up before you publish. Write. Edit. Keep writing. Connect with other writers. Plan you next book. Keep writing.
 
That’s all practical. Most importantly, believe in your story.
 

Is there anything you would like to add?

Katherine, thank you so much for the interview. Although writing is a solitary activity, sharing our individual stories is part of building a community.
 

Thank you, Zara. How can readers keep in touch?

Author Website, Author Blog, Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, Goodreads,
Amazon Author Page, THE USED VIRGIN
 
 
 
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Posted by kathay@orcon.net.nz in Katherine Hayton's Blog Read More

12 Jun / The Waiting Game

I remember my first love. I’d sit by the phone waiting for him to return a call. Desperate to hear his voice but unable to phone him because if I did that I’d call down the wrath of Murphy’s Law and my call would be placed through to his line at exactly the same time as he rang and then we’d both be thinking we were talking to other people.
 
As you do.
 
Perhaps this has something to do with my lifelong resentment of phonecalls?
 
More likely, it’s my awkward timing when I can’t scan a face for visual cues that it’s my time to talk but there’s still food for thought right there.
 
This week, I’ve been reminded of those emotions. The frustration. The longing.
 
Yes, I’ve been running the gamut while waiting for a publisher to get in touch and let me know if my book is on their go or whoa list.
 
Given the attachment I have to my current manuscript, there’s even touches of love mixed up in there.
 
Waiting is so hard. Admittedly, waiting to hear back from a publisher isn’t as bad as some waits I’ve had. Anything connected with a hospital or me sitting alone on a couch at night is usually a lot more worrying, but it’s still got it’s hat in the ring.
 
Oh. I typed ring and looked at the phone. Now, that’s just sad.
 
Anyway, got to end this blog post here. Otherwise, I might be typing and posting when they’re trying to get through to my computer via email and our electronic messages could bump and reflect off each other as non-deliverable packages in the night.
 
Or something like that.
 
 
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Posted by kathay@orcon.net.nz in Katherine Hayton's Blog Read More

Meet Jessica Knauss – Author of Awash in Talent

Jessica Knauss Author Photo
 
Please tell us about yourself
 
I’ve wandered all over the United States, England, and Spain, mostly with my husband. We’re currently settled in the beautiful American Southwest, but don’t know where the wind may take us next.
 
My highly praised novella, Tree/House, is available in ebook, softcover, and audiobook formats, and my genre-defying short stories have been collected in Unpredictable Worlds. My love of Spain has led to a medieval epic novel, Seven Noble Knights, which will debut December 15 from Bagwyn Books. Contemporary paranormal Awash in Talent is my first novel to be published. It’s available now from Kindle Press.
 
Find all the latest at my website and blog at jessicaknauss.com
 

Author Q&A

 
When did you first discover your passion for writing?
 
I didn’t so much decide to be a writer as I was born one. I was writing, illustrating, and stapling together children’s books before I knew alternative careers existed. When adults asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up, I was baffled: I was already a writer. They asked if I was going to be a children’s book author, but I knew writing was an apprenticeship and responded that I was going to write at whatever level I was reading at, ending up with novels for adults, of course.
 
Awash in Talent is being marketed as YA/New Adult, and it was just as challenging as my historical novel, in different ways. Over the years I’ve found that categories of writing aren’t hierarchical. Writing for adults and for young people have different criteria, but neither is a higher level than another.
 
Knauss Awash in Talent
 
Which character or characters do you identify with in your book? Why?
 
Beth is a younger sister and is lavished with praise because of her Talent. That happened to me as a youngster, so I can understand that dynamic and why she becomes self-important, though I studiously avoid that fate.
 
I sympathize with Kelly, and I think my readers will, too. She’s a firestarter who doesn’t understand her own Talent and feels like an outsider. Oddly, that’s one of the most common feelings in the world.
 
Though I’m not a psychic like Patricia, I did go from California to New England for college and fell madly in love with the region, the way she does.
 
Do you dislike any of them?
 
My most notorious character is Emily, the self-centered, envious sister of multi-Talented Beth and a thoroughly unreliable narrator. While I wouldn’t say I dislike her, I sympathize with her in reverse. I think about how I would react to the situation she’s in, and I either take it to extreme levels or have her do the opposite. My true love is in a wheelchair outside my door and his wife is nowhere to be seen? I might, if feeling gutsy, wave at him from the window. Emily grabs the wheelchair handles and takes off down the street! In that way, she’s my most fun character.
It’s a great challenge to try to have the reader sympathize with someone so extreme.
 
Do you ever read your stories out loud?
 
It’s essential to read your stories aloud. At some point in the process, my husband has to listen to every one of my works. He helps me find awkward sentences and inconsistencies, and the process helps me find typos. It’s the best way to fine-tune dialog. If it’s hard to read out loud, then it’s not likely anyone would say it that way.
 
Do you ever feel self-conscious when writing love scenes? Why or why not?
I feel so self-conscious, in fact, that I don’t write them unless they’re totally unavoidable to the plot. I do perversely enjoy writing scenes in which lovemaking is interrupted or frustrated. I have a theory that my love life is so satisfying, I don’t have any drive to write love scenes. I remember enjoying making up love scenes ages ago, when I was with a boyfriend who withheld affection.
 
What is the story of your first kiss?
 
This was the withholding boyfriend. We dated for six months before I was able to cajole him into a closed-mouthed lip bump. It’s likely that my teenage years of enforced chastity contribute to Kelly’s shyness and confusion when Brian is so attractive to her. (See excerpt below.)
 
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Excerpt from Waterfire: Awash in Talent, Part II

 
Kelly, the narrator, lives at a school for firestarters with her friends Jill, Raúl, and Brian. She has a major, and she thinks unrequited, crush on Brian.
 
Last night, we had another fire drill. Or so I thought. It was earlier than the alarms usually go off, about ten thirty. Jill and I had just gotten under the covers when the blaring started. We’re practiced at this now, so we had our flip-flops, sweatpants, and sweatshirts (it’s definitely fall now) ready to grab by the door. I checked Jill’s pocket for my safety sack and she checked for hers and we were out the door.
 
Since I got a buddy, fire drills have been kind of fun. I don’t have to fake-smile anymore. I just go with Jill and find our little group and stand around in good company, listening to Raúl’s latest stupid comments. This time, we went down to the designated area on the docks and quickly found Brian and his buddy in the crowd, but there was no hanging around.
 
“Hi,” I said casually, but both Brian and Raúl were panting, and Brian had this intense look on his face.
 
“There’s an actual fire,” he said. “It’s going to be a while before we can go back inside. Jill, can you cover for Kelly?”
 
She grinned like an accomplice. “I got this. And so does Raúl.” I watched her punch Raúl on the shoulder, but still had no clue what was going on until Brian grabbed my wrist and started moving away from the group. My heart was leaping out of my chest—Brian was kidnapping me. The boy I liked was taking me away in the dead of night. Didn’t he like Jill? What was he planning? What did any of this mean?
 
Pretty soon, we were holding hands and running, and finally the questions cleared out of my head because we were headed in the direction of Waterplace Park and, was that—? Yes, through the buildings, I could see masses of people gathered along the water’s edge, and flickering, shimmering air, and tendrils of smoke. We were going to WaterFire! In sweats and flip-flops over pajamas, but still. I can’t think of anywhere I’d rather be.
 
Before we even arrived at the waterfront, I could hear the snap-crackle of the burning wood. We gazed at the spot at the opening to the harbor where the first pyre juts out of the water. Each pyre rests a good foot or two above the water on a pole, both buoyed and anchored in place by three large black underwater spheres. Both the first pyre and the next one, headed inland at the mouth of the river, were burning low embers.
 
“Go ahead, Kelly. Refresh the flames,” Brian said, almost like a dare.
 
I started to protest, but then realized Jill had my safety sack and my patch was off for the night. The feeling of freedom almost knocked the wind out of me. I looked to make sure no one was watching—it was only farther down along the river that the real crowds started. I felt a whirlwind of crackling happiness around me and poof! The first pyre was healthily ablaze again.
 
“That’s so cool how you do that. You could become an arsonist and no one would ever suspect you.”
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What is the best part about being a writer?
 
There are loads of advantages to being a writer. One is that I’m never bored because there’s always something to work on. Another is that inspiration can come from anywhere. You never know when that incident at the grocery store might come in handy. The most important is probably that you can make up entire worlds and decide what matters and what doesn’t.
 
What is the worst part about being a writer?
 
Working all the time without pay. Not a lot of people seem to know this, but it’s a fact.
 
Please buy books at new-book stores and check them out at libraries. A book is an author’s love, joy, and whole life for months or years. $2.99 or $4.99 is far from a rip-off, especially since you might spend hours enjoying it.
 
What are you currently working on?
 
The sequel to my historical epic, Seven Noble Knights, is my priority, but Awash in Talent is going to have a sequel, too, and I sneak in a chapter here and there. I hope they’ll see the light soon!
 

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Where can readers go to learn more about you and your work?
 
Author Website, Author Blog, Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, Goodreads, Pinterest, Amazon Author Page, AWASH IN TALENT
 
 
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Posted by kathay@orcon.net.nz in Katherine Hayton's Blog Read More