Complementing my daily blog interviews, today’s Author Spotlight, the one hundred and sixty-ninth, is of children’s and short story author Katherine L Holmes.
After stints in publishing and newspaper writing, Katherine L. Holmes obtained an M. A. in English, emphasis in Writing from the University of Minnesota. She won The Loft’s Children’s Literature contest in 1983. In 1992, she was a Minnesota Monthly Tamarack Award honorable mention. In 2003, she was the recipient of an Arrowhead Artist’s Fellowship grant. Her poetry and short stories have appeared in more than 50 journals, most recently Wilderness House Literary Review, Blood Lotus, The Adirondack Review, Existere, and The Straddler.
In 2012, after winning the Prize Americana, her short story collection, Curiosity Killed the Sphinx and Other Stories, was released by Hollywood Books International. She has self-published a children’s comic fantasy, The House in Windward Leaves. Forthcoming is another children’s novel, The Wide Awake Loons, to be published by Silver Knight Publishing, and a historical novel, The Swan Bonnet, to be published by GMTA Publishing.
Katherine grew up in southern Minnesota. Although she began reading early, she spent much time with music and took lessons from a Minnesota Orchestra flutist when she was a teenager. She began writing short stories then too and at college, worked on her college newspaper. She lives in Duluth, Minnesota, having moved there to teach freshman composition at the University of Minnesota-Duluth. After that she worked in bookstores, new and used. She now keeps a used bookstore at eBay.
And now from the author herself:
When I arrived at the title of the first short story in my collection Curiosity Killed the Sphinx and Other Stories, I meant for the sphinx to be like that at Delphi, a sphinx with riddles. The computer was a riddle in the1980s. While finishing coursework for a graduate degree, I worked in university departments and must have tried the programs of about six manufacturers in one year. Computers then were not standardized and often, employees in a department were struggling with manuals that to most, were in hieroglyphics. I can still remember these manuals being handed around and then a group standing around the computer, attempting to interpret. “Just press Escape” was often a solution, the Escape key having generic magic.
In my creative writing courses, I was the only one who wrote some of my work on a computer. When asked about it, I said that my writing seemed less finished than on a typewriter. I could backtrack, delete, paste, and get myself confused with a new program. Yet I knew writing with a computer had many advantages.
Here is the back cover text about my short story collection, released last summer:
“Winner of Prize Americana, Curiosity Killed the Sphinx and Other Stories is a collection of short fiction exploring the complexities of life. Laying the profound beside the mundane, author Katherine L. Holmes creates rich and complicated characters who search for identity, meaning, and purpose within a world often dangerous and sometimes even cruel. Her readers relate to such struggles and find comfort as they face similar challenges of the own.”
In these stories, past solutions tempt as characters consider contemporary choices.
A couple crashing with early computers, a divorced woman finding her scattered family strangers, a girl running away to the shop where her parents’ antiques were sold, Midwestern college students in weather and water emergencies – these are some of the conflicts examined.
Of course, I want to encourage people to read my short stories. But I also want to encourage people to read more short stories. In my used bookselling, vintage magazines are a favorite to list. America developed the short story for magazines, many magazines containing three or more short stories in their issues from 1885 to 1930. The great short story was terse and had a twist at the end. When I listed and read vintage magazines, I saw people sitting around a hearth, reading short stories on their own or aloud in the way we watch television. The detective, the romance, and then the literary short story were the fare of thousands.
Today, the public can watch short television dramas or sit-coms without wishing they were movies. We live in a time when people are busy, traveling from here to there or to work everyday. Granted, the novel has its movie mesmerization when it’s good. But reading short story collections, I couldn’t understand why the public didn’t like them as short fiction fare, something they could finish between planes or over a lunch hour.
The internet journal might revive the magazine short story. I watched them disappear when photographs took over magazines such as Look and Life. A few magazines such as Redbook continued to feature short stories. In the old magazines, short stories were usually accompanied by illustration. Internet publishing can accommodate that and attract readers. I had short stories published after cruising the journals at New Pages.com. If the magazine comes back that way, I hope the collected short story book can promise reading satisfaction more than it has.
I’ve lived in Minnesota all my life – in the southern agricultural region, in both St. Paul and Minneapolis, and in Duluth, the region where my grandparents lived. I meant for my short stories to be regional, portraying contemporary life in the Midwest. That was because life in the Midwest was changing and still is.
Morgen: Short stories are my favourite format to read and write. I think eBooks will be the making of them too because it’s doesn’t matter how long or short a piece is on an electronic device, it’s the bar at the bottom (or equivalent) that gives away their brevity. Thank you, Katherine.
You can find more about Katharine and her writing via… her website: https://sites.google.com/site/katherinelholmesauthorprofile.
She’s also listed on Amazon.com under the following topics: antique stores in fiction, computers in fiction, contemporary issues in fiction, domestic violence, drug abuse in fiction, midwest fiction, midwest short fiction, minnesota authors, parent issues, relationships, short stories, short story collections, women s issues.
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