Welcome, Kathleen. Tell us how much of yourself you write into your characters.
Have you ever seen an okapi? Looking at one always makes me chuckle. They look a bit like God got bored and decided to just mix together different parts of other animals he’d already created, knowing how much it would befuddle and amuse us humans. I think of my characters a bit like okapis. There are definitely parts of me in there, but then I might also add in a bit of my sister, two parts of that friend I knew in high school, and a dash of the Bible character we’ve been studying at our women’s Bible study.
What is the quirkiest thing you have ever done?
When I think of quirks, I think of habits as opposed to singular events. So the quirkiest thing I’ve been doing recently has to be answering my children’s prompting of “Guess what?” with a rapid list of words that rhyme with what. I begin with the classic chicken butt, then make my way through a list of nuts, and finish off with random words like cut, gut, and zealot. At first it made them giggle. Now they just smile and roll their eyes. So far none of my words have been the correct answer, but someday… ;)
When did you first discover that you were a writer?
This is a tougher question to answer than you might think. On my website, I’ve actually shared a series of blog posts about the various stages I went through to claim this identity. If I had to pick one particular moment, though, it would have to be the morning I was awoken in the wee hours of the morning during my freshman year of high school. Having never before considered the notion of writing a novel, I suddenly found my mind filled with the premise for a terrible one. Oh, I thought it was delightful at the time and even went so far as to keep writing with pencil on a legal pad when my parents dragged me away from my ancient desktop for a family road trip. But I was only fourteen and rather a baby Christian at the time, not to mention still honing my writing skills. It wasn’t until college that I recognized the work for the garbage it was and threw it out. Nevertheless, the experience of attempting to write a novel had planted a seed in me that continued to grow and pester me until God pointed me in the direction of my next premise several months later.
Tell us the range of the kinds of books you enjoy reading.
I enjoy reading many genres, but my particular favorites are dystopian, space-set sci-fi, certain subgenres of fantasy, and, of course, clean and Christian romance. I read in these genres at the middle grade, YA, and adult levels. I also read copious amounts of nonfiction—primarily related to history or the writing craft, but also some autobiographies, memoirs, and how-to guides.
How do you keep your sanity in our run, run, run world?
Who says I have? ;) I have four children that I homeschool. I’m pretty sure sanity left a while back. Seriously, though, I think keeping our sanity is all about keeping our focus on God. It’s when we allow the pressures of this life to distract us from Him and who He is, that we begin to crumble. So I make a point to always begin my day with a focus on Him—whether it’s listening to a Christian podcast on the way to our cooperative classes, or doodling in my Bible journal while singing praise. I didn’t always do this, but it’s become as regular as breakfast and getting out of bed in morning over the last couple years and I’ve noticed a huge change in my heart and life. No matter what else is screaming at me from my to-do list, I know I have to put Him first if I want to be successful and find peace.
How do you choose your characters’ names?
Sometimes I pick them from a random name website online (baby naming sites are fabulous for this). Other times I find one I like on a census record from the nineteenth century. Recently, I asked the members of my Kathleen’s Readers’ Club to help me come up with some names and they did a fabulous job! The KRC-Member-chosen names are the hero and heroines of my third Chaparral Hearts novel. However, there is one special name in Waltz in the Wilderness. It’s a minor character only mentioned briefly in the second half of the book. His name is Johnathon and I chose his name in honor of my maternal grandfather who passed away when I was in high school. We were very close and I still miss him.
What is the accomplishment that you are most proud of?
Wow. That is a tough question. There are many things I’ve had to work hard for in my life, but I struggle with the idea of saying I’m proud of them because I never could have accomplished them on my own. I know it sounds trite, but I honestly believe that God deserves all the glory for every good thing I have ever done. I suppose if I had to pick something, it would be the moments where I listened to and obeyed God despite my fears. In different ways, each of my children are living examples of the results of those choices. So, I suppose you could say becoming a mother—four times over—is the accomplishment I’m most proud of.
If you were an animal, which one would you be, and why?
I am an INFJ personality type according to the Myers-Briggs test, so I searched online for animals that fit that personality. Turns out, I’d be a humpback whale because they are empathetic, protective and introverted like me. They are known to be unusually protective of other animals—even those outside their species—and will interfere when another creature is being attacked.
What is your favorite food?
Chocolate. No question.
What is the problem with writing that was your greatest roadblock, and how did you overcome it?
This is another topic I’ve written a whole blog post about. I’ll sum it up like this: Three kids = a lot of noise in a tiny 750 square foot apartment. I couldn’t write in a noisy environment, so my husband stayed home with the kids one night each week while I went out to find someplace quieter to write. Turns out fast food restaurant owners aren’t willing to shush their other patrons for the writer who’s occupied their smallest table in the back corner for the past five hours. Still, it was quieter than being at home, so I kept at it. Eventually, I developed the skill of tuning out the chaotic public and was able to write. These days I’m blessed to call one corner of a shed on our property my writing office where I enjoy relative quiet…minus the times the kids walk right past dad and ignore the “Writer at work, enter on pain of death” sign to come ask me if they can watch television.
Tell us about the featured book.
Waltz in the Wilderness is my debut novel and officially the first in the Chaparral Hearts series (although Ribbons and Beaus is a Chaparral Hearts prequel novella currently available for free to those who preorder Waltz in the Wilderness). Here’s the description for Waltz in the Wilderness:
She's desperate to find her missing father. His conscience demands he risk all to help.
Eliza Brooks is haunted by her role in her mother's death, so she'll do anything to find her missing pa—even if it means sneaking aboard a southbound ship. When those meant to protect her abandon and betray her instead, a family friend's unexpected assistance is a blessing she can't refuse.
Daniel Clarke came to
to make his fortune, and a stable job as a carpenter has earned him more
than most have scraped from the local goldfields. But it's been four years
since he left San Francisco
and his fiancée is impatient for his return. Bound for home at last, Daniel
Clarke finds his heart and plans challenged by a tenacious young woman with
haunted eyes. Though every word he utters seems to offend her, he is determined
to see her safely returned to her father. Even if that means risking his
fragile engagement. Massachusetts
When disaster befalls them in the remote wilderness of the
Southern California mountains, true feelings are
revealed, and both must face heart-rending decisions. But how to decide
when every choice before them leads to someone getting hurt?
Please give us the first page of the book.
The scream pierced Eli, ripping her from sleep. Cramming a fist in her mouth, she muffled her sobs. The voice that used to sing her nursery rhymes, pray for her, hum her to sleep. She couldn’t hear it. Now it only came to her in echoes of that ghastly scream, tearing through her mind, shredding her heart.
No more. She clamped her hands over her ears, squeezed her eyes against the blackness.
Dark images forced their way in. Shovels of dirt falling onto that dear, beautiful face, skin pale with death, smile gone forever. Loving eyes shuttered. Arms that once comforted her now crossed over a faded blue bodice as the grave was filled in. Pa, her rock, crumpled on the ground. Inconsolable.
Stop! Don’t think about it!
She sat up. Crawled from the tent. Cold night air slapped her cheeks. She hugged herself, rocking.
Her eyes sought the heavens, the weight of His gaze suffocating her. “Make it stop. Please. I’m sorry.”
The pockmarked moon stared at her through the trees. And the cow jumped over the moon. The familiar tune crushed her heart.
A frosty breeze cut through her shirt. She shivered and ducked back inside.
Pa’s snores continued. She curled onto her thin blanket, wrapping the end over herself.
Of course God wouldn’t answer. It didn’t matter.
Eli wouldn’t fail again.
She forced her eyes shut. One of them needed to be thinking clearly come dawn. And it wouldn’t be
How can readers find you on the Internet?
Thank you, Kathleen, for sharing your debut novel with my blog readers and me. I’ve put my copy at the top of my to-be-read pile.
Readers, here are links to the book.Waltz in the Wilderness (Chaparral Hearts) - Paperback
Waltz in the Wilderness (Chaparral Hearts Book 1) - Kindle
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