Kathleen: I was an Army brat, lived in Germany twice as a child, plus Louisiana, Maryland, Texas, California, Florida, Virginia, Alabama, and, of course, now Colorado. Joined the Army on a 4 yr. nursing scholarship, put in 15 years active duty and 7 in the Reserves, lived in Germany two more times thanks to the Army, plus a year in Korea. Met my husband, a dashing Army helicopter pilot, while on active duty, had two children, plus inherited two more step children, both of which have now made me a step grannie. Hobbies are quilting, playing the folk harp, flower gardening, snow shoeing in the winter, reading and my dogs (especially the walking part. I’m getting a lot of walking of dogs of late.). And I really enjoy spending time with family and friends, especially my husband of 27+ years.
Beth: Tell us about your writing journey. Did you always want to be a writer?
Kathleen: I always enjoyed writing as a child, as well as solitary imaginative play and making up stories to help put myself to sleep. Never saw it as a career field or aspiration then, though. I wanted to be a nurse!
Beth: Who has influenced you most as a writer and why?
Kathleen: I’ve learned so much from so many writers—especially from reading their books and analyzing how they did a particular thing so well—that I really can’t put my finger on just one writer. Surprisingly, I’ve also learned a lot about what not to do from books that just didn’t seem to work for me. And in my earlier writing years, I learned a lot from those in my critique group—especially if more than one person had the same problem with my manuscript. I tended to take those comments very seriously. Still, in the doing, I also learned that it ultimately was my story, not theirs, and I needed to be true to my voice and vision of it. I never let my stories become a melding of all my critique group partners’ writing styles. If their suggestions worked, and I felt I could incorporate them into my own way of writing, then I took them. And, if they didn’t, I didn’t.
Beth: What is your favorite movie? Favorite book?
Kathleen: Favorite book—Redeeming Love. Favorite movie? I like a lot of them for pretty much the same reason—LOTR for it’s wonderful detail and the hero’s journey; Braveheart for its depiction of courage and self-sacrifice; and The Matrix and the original Star Wars for its hero’s journey too. In fact, almost all the movies I’ve always loved and remembered best had a very strong hero’s journey element to them. Go figure. ☺
Beth: We share some of the same favorites! Tell us about your newest release.
Kathleen: A Fire Within is Caitlin Campbell’s story (Niall’s sister from Child of the Mist). The book begins in May 1568, and Caitlin is now 18. She has recently had her heart broken by a callous young nobleman, has a track record of not choosing men well, and then meets the hero, Darach MacNaghten, whose clan has been proscribed (outlawed, hunted men and women who cannot even use their own clan name anymore, wear their clan tartan, be taken in or aided by other clans, all with the intent to totally eradicate the clan) due to some brutal misdeeds perpetrated by Dar’s father and older brother. Not only is he everything Caitlin should be wary of, but he is a man of many secrets, none of which bode well for the Campbells. He comes to Kilchurn to free his older brother who’s imprisoned in Kilchurn’s dungeon and, when he realizes that plan has no chance of success, he seizes on another plan to facilitate his brother’s rescue. He kidnaps Caitlin to hold her as hostage until his brother’s freed. This plan, though so simple on the surface, soon leads to a clash of wills between two proud, headstrong people. And the problems only worsen the closer Dar’s plan draws to its unforeseen conclusion.
Beth: What is your creative process for writing your novels?
Kathleen: Generally, I start with an idea of at least one of my major characters—either the hero or heroine—and some aspect of their lives that will put them into conflict with the other. I’ll develop both out a bit, then start casting about for some time in history in which to place them, the more dramatic/catastrophic/or action-packed, the better. Then I’ll research that time period a bit to get a feel for potential events in which to place my characters, along the way fleshing out my H/H more and the beginnings of other strong secondary characters and how they will interact/play off/enhance my H/H and their struggles. I usually know when it’s time to start writing. I just get a gut feeling and an eagerness to get going. And I don’t have to have every “t” crossed and “i” dotted in my character profiles to do so. I just know, after all this time, when I know them well enough to get going. Not that I don’t keep learning more about them as the story goes on, though. Oh yes, I also have to know my story theme and how it’s mirrored in my H/H’s lives and conflicts, as well as maybe some of my other characters’ lives too..
Beth: What is the message you hope to get across in this story?
Kathleen: Here’s the verse I used: Your heart was filled with pride…you corrupted your wisdom…you defiled your sanctuaries with your many sins…so I brought fire from within you, and it consumed you. Ezekiel 28: 17-18 KJV
Both the hero and heroine have to come to terms with the pride that has separated them from God, and even their fellow man and moral compass in various ways. And, once pride takes hold in their hearts, it corrupts their perspective and hence their actions. Only the cleansing fire of God’s love—and some harsh experiences—can heal them.
Beth: Do you tend to see the same Christian themes in your books and what are they?
Kathleen: I have different themes in most of my books, but primarily they touch on God’s great love for us, the power of faith and hope in our lives, and forgiveness, both of others and of ourselves.
Beth: What does your typical day look like?
Kathleen: I get up around 6:30 AM, make a cup of tea, do my morning devotions, then walk the dogs, shower, make coffee and finally feed the dogs (my dogs, BTW, of late consist of two Great Danes we recently rescued and an aging English Cocker Spaniel). Then I check emails and begin working on my current WIP. I take breaks to play with dogs, do chores, and eat lunch, interspersed with more writing. I try to finish writing for the day around 4 PM so I can walk the dogs again then make supper (in case you haven’t figured it out yet, Great Danes need a lot of exercise). Most evenings, I veg out in front of the TV and/or work on a quilt. Oh yes, I visit with my husband too. ☺
Beth: Sounds like having Great Danes is a great idea for writers since we need an excuse to get away from the writing and do a little walking:) What do you believe is the most important thing an author can do to catch an editor’s eye?
Kathleen: Work on grabbing the editor’s interest from page one, not only with an excellent opening hook, great characterization, and the promise of a complex, compelling story to come, but also with meticulous formatting, spelling, grammar, punctuation, etc. Show right from the start you’re a serious professional on every level. There are plenty of other aspiring writers out there that’ll do that if you don’t.
Beth: What would you say was the toughest part of the writing craft for you to learn? Any tips for others who struggle with this same element?
Kathleen: One thing I had to really work on was building an extensive writer’s vocabulary, after years of pretty much possessing a medical vocabulary and just the rudiments of a literary one. Also, description. I get so caught up in the emotion and pacing of the story that I leave a lot of description out on my first draft. I always have to come back and put it in later. I’ve come to terms with the fact that I’ll never be one to load on the description, but I try to at least give enough information to set the reader’s imagination going. Not that I’m not always trying to come up with some new and unique way of saying something. I don’t want to become stale in my craft, so I try to keep stretching and learning.
Beth: Any marketing tips?
Kathleen: Word of mouth is always the best advertisement. A readers’ mailing list, whether email or snail mail, is worth its weight in gold. A website is also a great way for people to find you. Check out lots of websites for ideas on how to develop and improve yours. A letter to the reader in the back of your book is another good way to connect with the reader, and be sure to include your website or email address to contact you.
Beth: Closing thoughts you’d like to share?
Kathleen: Thanks for the opportunity to be interviewed. Hope I’ve been able to provide some useful insights into my writing process. In the end, though, you’ve got to figure out your own unique way of approaching a story. And that takes time, patience, and a whole lot of writing before you do. This isn’t for the faint of heart, you know. ☺ Oh yes, and my website is www.kathleenmorgan.com, where you can read first chapter excerpts of all my books, sign up for my newsletter, and contact me. Can’t be passing up a good marketing opportunity, you know. ☺
Thanks for joining me, Kathleen!
Kathleen’s website: http://www.kathleenmorgan.com