Updated: Feb 15
They say that February is the most romantic month of the year, primarily due to the arrival of Valentines Day. A date, which if history tells the story correctly, is less based on love and more based on the specific love of a criminal (soon to be Saint) with a jailers daughter. But I was thinking as I read about the background about the less factual and more romanticized version of events. In a romance book he would have swept her into his arms, declared his undying affection before they both rode off into the sunset. And it got me thinking about how we, as authors, portray the facts. Are all stories factual, or all facts story worthy? I got the chance to speak with an author who writes in both genres and another who writes across timelines to find out what they think.
This month's authors:
Katherine began her writing career as a columnist, and now has a vast range of writing from fiction to non-fiction. I was keen to know how she did it and this is what she told me:
What skills do you feel are required to write non-fiction as opposed to fiction?
I started writing nonfiction first after I became an editorial columnist and branched out into writing articles and features for several newspapers and magazines. All writing takes practice, but the learning curve for fiction was much steeper. What’s important for nonfiction is to find ways to make it creative instead of dry. Journalism often follows the standard who, what, when, where and why format, which is why I gravitated towards features and telling more personal stories. No matter what you’re writing, it’s about making it interesting while getting across your ideas easily and effectively.
Which are your favourite type of books to read and why?
I gravitate toward fast-paced novels. I don’t read by genre, meaning anything is fair game as long as it’s well written. Now that I’ve been writing so long, I find I am a more discerning reader and I won’t keep reading something I don’t enjoy or is full of mistakes. I absolutely love it when I come across something breathtakingly original with plot twists I don’t expect. I also enjoy a book that can take me through various emotions. I want to laugh, cry and be astonished. And I’ve been known to praise a well-formed sentence or two out loud!
If you could only write one more book in your entire life, what would you want it to be?
I know exactly what book lies in my mental queue that is most important, and I’ve been waiting to write it until I feel good enough to tell the story. It’s going to be epic, and I want to do it justice. I can’t reveal the plot but I will say it’s set in the U.S. back in the 60s, 70s and 80s and will be literary fiction with a strong female lead.
Who are your support people and how do they help you?
I used to belong to a writer’s group and still tap into them on occasion. I also belong to some writer’s groups on Facebook, one that provides some nice support when I’m active. I have a steady group of beta readers, and of course, my husband and mom (do they count). While it’s not a huge group, I appreciate those I have greatly.
Katherine loves to engage with readers via her website, Facebook pages, and email. She feels it’s what makes the entire writing gig worthwhile.
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/katherinecobb/ Please look her up and say hello as a show of support, and I extend my thanks for being interviewed!
J is an artist and writer who not only writes, but also offers a range of services to other authors. I was interested to learn more from her:
When you are writing historical fiction, what do you feel is the most important thing to focus on for research?
While of course names and dates are important, I want to get at the essence of the person, their legacy, what remembrances they left others. This is what I think should be at the root of the story. When I did research for my book Sally, I tried to find people who had remembered her. I asked them to relate their stories about her, even the smallest, most mundane things. This is something I wrote at the beginning of Sally.
Is the world constructed of atoms or stories? I think stories,
but if it’s constructed of atoms, then the
atoms surely weave themselves into stories. There
are so many stories, with lights still flickering that
won’t be dampened.
I embark upon a pilgrimage of sorts, not a pilgrimage
to distant places to find answers, but on a
pilgrimage exploring my own soil. As Dorothy
tapped her ruby slippers and said, “There is no
place like home,” I too awaken to the realization
that our roots provide our greatest and wisest
Sally walked through these same woods that I now
walk through. The most satisfying pilgrimage is
finding those sacred places in our own back yard.
This is a quest to awaken the spirits who once
toiled, shed tears, laughed and loved here and to
connect with them.
When you started writing fantasy fiction, what drew you to it?
I never even “fantasized” about writing fantasy. Nor, would I have thought I would write about animals, yet one day I was walking out in the woods and began hearing the voice of a peacock and a lion in my head. As soon as I got back home I began writing. A Peculiar School was born. It has been my favorite book to write. I am currently working on a sequel for it. I believe it will probably be a three-book series eventually.
You also offer cover design and editing, what do you think is the most important part of a cover when a reader picks up a book?
I do not do editing. I have an editor for my own work and highly recommend that writers find a qualified one that fits their work. What I do is formatting (designing the interior) and cover design. My degree is in art which makes those two aspects of a book very important to me. It’s hard to say what aspect of a cover is the most important. Certainly, the colors are. People are drawn to certain covers. In the covers I design I strive for a good color combination and good composition, as well as uniqueness. Last, but not least, there is the font. Not getting the font right can make or break a cover. I only take on covers I feel I’m right for the job.
What process do you take when you write, are you an avid planner?
I always hated outlining in school. At the time, little did I know I would one day be a writer, what they call a pantser. The only planning I do comes in my mind, during those quiet times out in the woods or during meditation when I’m supposed to clearing my mind. But both of those times are when my muse speaks to me.
J loves talking with readers on multiple platforms. https://www.facebook.com/J.SchlenkerAuthor/ https://www.instagram.com/jschlenkerauthor/ https://www.jschlenker.com/ I hope you can take a moment to offer support for her by checking them out, and I extend my thanks for being interviewed!
I wish to thank you for taking the time to read and engage with me! Happy reading everyone! VK Tritschler