Welcome to the seventy-fifth of my blog interviews with novelists, poets, directors, bloggers, autobiographers and more. Today’s is with horror novelist Kitty Kirwin. If you like what you read, please do go and investigate the author further. A list of interviewees (blogged and scheduled) can be found here.
Morgen: Hello Kitty. Please tell us something about yourself and how you came to be a writer.
Kitty: For many years I was an art teacher. After I got RA I sadly had to stop teaching. After a day trip to Tombstone, Arizona in America, I said to my son, do you want a story? We all laughed, he said, no Mum you should write a story. I was home taking care of my boy corgi Jack, he had cancer…
Kitty: …so I started to write and read it to him. I wrote my book Dust of Tombstone. It’s not a western, it’s about a writer who goes to Tombstone to do a travel piece for a newspaper.
Morgen: I like the sound of that, and would no doubt appeal to western readers too? So you don’t write westerns, what genre do you generally write and have you considered other genres?
Kitty: I write horror. I love ghosts so most of my stories are ghost ones.
Morgen: Horror has an incredible strong and loyal following. I used to read Stephen King (although I’ve heard he doesn’t like being referred to as a horror author) in my teens but my tastes have mellowed somewhat (well, a little; to crime :)). What have you had published to-date? If applicable, can you remember where you saw your first books on the shelves?
Morgen: How much of the marketing do you do for it or indeed for yourself as a ‘brand’?
Kitty: I mostly market my book online, Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, my blog and I have friends who also sell it. I have a spa who adverts my book as well. Also word of mouth.
Morgen: Have you won or been shortlisted in any competitions?
Kitty: Not yet! But like all, I hope to someday.
Morgen: Good luck. Do you have an agent? Do you think they’re vital to an author’s success?
Kitty: No. I have seen many indie writers do very well without an agent.
Morgen: I am hearing that more often. Are your books available as eBooks? If so what was your experience of that process? And do you read eBooks?
Kitty: Yes I do read e-books. The last e-book I read was A Proper Charlie by Louise Wise. The e-book process with Amazon is very easy.
Morgen: Being someone who’s planning that route, I’m glad to hear it. Have you had any rejections? If so, how do you deal with them?
Kitty: I sent many letters out and did not receive any response back, which is rude to me. I now know most agents do not send out rejections.
Morgen: I received a fairly typical response from all but one, the one didn’t reply but then they said in their guidelines that they can’t always do so. What are you working on at the moment / next?
Kitty: Currently I working on a book of short stories titled Haunted Bedtime Stories. The cover is done and is out mid-July 2011.
Morgen: Just recently, congratulations! Do you manage to write every day? What’s the most you’ve written in a day?
Kitty: Yes I do write everyday in some way or another. I have written as much 4000 words in one day. I was just in the zone and wrote.
Morgen: What is your opinion of writer’s block? Do you ever suffer from it? If so, how do you ‘cure’ it?
Kitty: I do not believe in writers block. If nothing comes that day I walk my corgi Princess, read and not push it. Then I sit that evening and words flow.
Morgen: I do think relaxing or at least not worrying about it does help. Do you plot your stories or do you just get an idea and run with it?
Kitty: For me, I think about a story for a few days and hand-write it down. Then a few days later, I put it in the computer to fill it in. Then just run with it.
Morgen: How do you create your characters, their names and what do you think makes them believable?
Kitty: For me my characters seem just to be that name. As in Dust of Tombstone the main character just felt like a John.
Morgen: Who is your first reader – who do you first show your work to?
Kitty: The first one to read my stories or books would be my son. He is the one who in fact said you are going indie. We have our own publishing company now, Kirwin and Son Publishing.
Morgen: Oh wow. I don’t think my mum and brother could work together (my dad, brother and I did years ago and lead to some friction) so you’re fortunate to have that close a relationship. Do you do a lot of editing or do you find that as time goes on your writing is more fully-formed?
Kitty: I edit as I write and then send to my editor. I do have two editors who work with me now. I wish I had them for Dust of Tombstone.
Morgen: But they may have taken some of the good stuff out? (or maybe not) What is your creative process like? What happens before sitting down to write?
Kitty: If a story comes to me over a few days, that’s when I know it’s going to be put down on paper. Afterwards I sit and write on the computer. If it’s meant to be a book it will be.
Morgen: I tend to got the paper route that if I’m out when inspiration strikes and it’s handy as it’s like a first edit when I transfer it. What point of view do you find most to your liking: first person or third person? Have you ever tried second person?
Kitty: My first book Dust of Tombstone is written in first person. Yes, I have thought of a story in the second person. I like first person.
Morgen: It is great getting inside their heads and being them, doing what they’re doing. Do you use prologues / epilogues? What do you think of the use of them?
Kitty: No, but may in my next book Haunted Bedtime Stories. I like them when I read.
Morgen: Do you have pieces of work that you think will never see light of day?
Kitty: Oh yes. I think we all do. I have a story that is pure rubbish!
Morgen: Just one? What’s your favourite / least favourite aspect of your writing life?
Kitty: Least favourite about not enough time to write and being talked to when I am trying to write. My favourite is when I get in the zone and it just flows out and always getting great feedback.
Morgen: Snap. If anything, what has been your biggest surprise about writing?
Kitty: That someone likes my ghost stories! I am always so happy when someone says I loved that story you wrote.
Morgen: Because it takes time to take the effort. It shows your story had an impact on them. Our monthly magazine Take a Break Fiction Feast takes ‘spine chillers’. What advice would you give aspiring writers?
Kitty: Do not ever give up. Go indie, you can control your work, get an editor and know not everyone will like your work. Have thick skin, someone will be nasty and put that remark on your site or reviews of your book.
Morgen: But others will say “I loved that story you wrote”. What do you like to read?
Kitty: I love to read. I find good writers are good readers. I like horror, chick-lit, historical fiction. I just love to read.
Morgen: I don’t read enough but am getting better (always keeping an anthology or novella in my bag). Are there any writing-related websites and/or books that you find useful and would recommend?
Kitty: I liked Writing for Dummies. It’s very helpful. I would suggest that a person take a class of creative writing with a Uni or community college. Many have online classes.
Morgen: The Dummies books are great aren’t they? And yes, I’m biased to writing groups and classes but they are invaluable (and fun). In which country are you based and do you find this a help or hindrance with letting people know about your work?
Kitty: I live in America. I grew up in the UK. I have lived all over the world. So many places I have lived have stories coming out of me to be written. I think you can write best if you have been to the place you’re writing about. I have read stories the writer had no idea what the place was really like. You need to have a feeling of the place.
Morgen: You do and it’s amazing to think that authors write novels about somewhere real but have never been. Why not make it up? Are you on any forums or networking sites? If so, how invaluable do you find them?
Kitty: I have friends who are writers we support each other and chat once a week to help and encourage each other. Some of the sites I have seen where people are supposed to be writing experts are not real experts.
Morgen: Ooh, more writers. Maybe they’d like to do a blog interview with me? Where can we find out about you and your work?
Kitty: You can read about my work on my blog (http://swampfulloflies.blogspot.com). Also you can talk to me on Twitter (@Kittycorgi) which I check every morning while I have my coffee.
Morgen: I do. What do you think the future holds for a writer?
Kitty: I think e-books are the future. I also think being an indie writer will be the best way to start.
Morgen: I think you’re right. Is there anything else you’d like to mention?
Kitty: My next book Haunted Bedtime Stories will be an e-book and we are hoping to have it as a print on demand. Please follow me on my blog and Twitter.
Morgen: Yes, please do. Thanks Kitty. Always great to have a horror writer pop by.
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