A very special welcome to Kathleen Paterka. We met through the wonderful group, WFWA, Women’s Fiction Writers of America. Kathleen, when did you first know you wanted to be a writer and was there a particular inspiration to get started?
I fell in love with the written word in the 2nd grade reading my first Trixie Belden® book. In case you’re not familiar with the series, Trixie was a girl detective who teamed up with her brothers and best friend Honey Wheeler to solve mysteries occurring around their little town in the Hudson Valley area of New York. Trixie Belden changed my life. It was the first time I’d read a book with a plot and no pictures. I devoured the existing series (12 books), and anxiously waited for the next one to be published. It was around that time I made the decision that someday, I would be an author and write more Trixie Belden novels. While I never did tackle the world of Trixie Belden (the last book was published in 1986), I did start my own series. The James Bay novels (Fatty Patty, Home Fires, Lotto Lucy, and For I Have Sinned) are set in the fictional resort community of James Bay, Michigan. After finishing those four stories, I wrote another two books set in different locations. Royal Secrets is about a family-owned Las Vegas wedding chapel, while my upcoming release, The Other Wife, is set in Chicago. For my next book (which I’m currently researching), I’ll be taking readers back to James Bay.
I too well in love with writing over Trixie Beldon, as you can see from my own tattered copy. It is one of my treasured possessions.
Do you have a background in writing? What other work have you done, and how has it impacted your writing career?
In school, my teachers tried steering me toward Creative Writing classes, but I dug in my heels, screaming “No, no, no!” I didn’t like being forced to write poetry or short stories. I knew I wanted to be a novelist, and I couldn’t see any point in wasting my time by writing Haiku (sincere apologies to any Haiku-enthusiasts who may be reading this). While I concede that there are basics to the craft that must be mastered (sentence structure, proper grammar, plot elements, etc.), there’s simply no way another person can ‘teach you’ how to write a book. Want to know the secret? Sit down and start. It’s as simple as that. Caveat: notice I did not say it was ‘easy’. It may be simple, but it’s definitely not easy. After graduating college with a degree in Sociology, plus a few years spent working for a local newspaper, the Catholic church, and the law, I finally settled down where I belonged: in a beautiful castle located in Northern Michigan. My job as staff writer at Castle Farms (a century old French Renaissance castle listed on the National Register of Historic Places) is like a fairy-tale come true.
Kathleen, what advice would you give to new writers just getting started with their first manuscript?
The best advice I can pass along was given to me by an author friend when I was just starting out. This highly successful NY Times bestselling author told me: “Perseverance and persistence, along with discipline, determination and confidence, are EVERY bit as important as talent. Your belief in yourself… is THE ONLY THING that separates you from the hundreds who will fall by the wayside without their dreams and goals realized. Don’t give up. Don’t give up. Don’t give up. Work hard, work smart, work tirelessly. Be tough, be brave and be persistent. All clichés, yes. But when they apply to you and how much you want to realize your dream, they are very apt.” I’ve kept my friend’s message tucked close in my heart through all the ups and downs of my publishing career, and it’s served me well. Today, I’m sharing her message with you. Don’t give up!
Tell us about one of your book in 3 sentences. Fatty Patty (my first novel) is semi-autobiographical. Though I’m now at a normal weight (and have been for over 35+ years), I weighed three hundred pounds while in high school. Fatty Patty tackles the issues of dieting, dating, self-esteem, and exposes the gritty honest truth of what it’s like to be overweight in a society that worships thin.
What is the premise of your novel we are promoting today? My upcoming release, The Other Wife, will hit the shelves (and the cyber-world of Amazon, Barnes & Noble, plus Kobo) in February 2015. What happens in a woman’s life when her husband dies? What kind of secrets might be revealed? I came up with the idea when my own husband, Steve, actually died in front of me early one morning. I was sitting at the end of his bed in the semi-darkness when he made a strange sound. At the time, I thought it was the oddest snore I’d ever heard. Turns out, it was the infamous ‘death rattle’. Believe me, if you’ve never heard it, it makes the hair on the back of your neck stand straight up! Luckily, Steve was in the cardiac unit of our local hospital. They called a Code Blue, and the medical team managed to resuscitate him. He’s since had a triple by-pass and doing well, thank you! But that hospital experience in 2011 got me to thinking: What if Steve had been at home, asleep in our bed? What if he’d let out that horrible sound, and I’d assumed it was only a loud snore? I probably would have poked him, rolled over in bed, and gone back to sleep… what a horrible thing to wake up to in the morning. And what would my life have been like after that? Thus, a new storyline was born.
Can you share a few paragraphs from your book to whet our appetite?
Here’s the Prologue from The Other Wife… I hope you enjoy it!
It wasn’t much of a sound. Later, she would remember it as an odd sort of grunt. Still, it had been loud enough to wake her. Eleanor rolled over in their king-size bed, stretched out an arm, and nudged him. Richard’s snoring had worsened in the past months. She lay there in the darkness, waiting to see if another nudge was necessary. Just the other day, she’d read how snoring could be a sign of sleep apnea, leading to other, more serious, health problems. Perhaps tomorrow, depending on what kind of mood he was in, she’d mention the subject over breakfast. Maybe she should insist that he see a doctor. Not that it would do much good. Richard rarely listened to her. For most of the thirty-eight years they’d been married, he hadn’t listened to much of what she had to say. He’d probably give her his usual shrug, tell her to quit worrying.
Quit worrying. It wasn’t until five hours later that she realized she’d had good cause to be worried. She should have known that sound was different. She should have stayed awake. She should have tried to rouse him. Instead, she waited another minute, surrounded by silence. Then, turning over, she laid her head back on the pillow and curled up in her spot, still warm from sleep, snuggling into the clean, fragrant smell of freshly laundered sheets changed by Martha the day before. Closing her eyes, Eleanor drifted off into the most pleasant dream… only to wake the next morning to every woman’s nightmare.
Richard, in bed beside her, was dead.
Readers, go to Kathleen’s website. There is a place where you can enter to win a FREE copy of her new book, The Other Wife. I have read Fatty Patty and Royals Secrets. They are both fantastic. I can’t wait for The Other Wife to come out.
Thank you, Kathleen, for being on Author Interview Friday on Writing Under Fire.
Author website: http://kathleenirenepaterka.com/
Barnes & Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/c/kathleen-irene-paterka