Today we sit down with author Kathleen Lopez to learn about her work and the things that inspire and motivate her.
Please enjoy this edition of A Perfect 10.
If you want to check out past interviews, you can find them in the following links:
Also, if you are an author and you want to be part of this feature, I still have a few slots open for 2017. You can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
- Does writing energize or exhaust you?
I find writing to be very energizing. There is something thrilling about creating events and stories from pure imagination. There is some work involved, sure, and there are times that it may put a strain as a writer can struggle to get the right words. My stories are not steeped in historical events, so constructing a world for my characters is quite fun. It is a labor of love in essence.
- Do you ever write under a pseudonym? If not have you considered it? Why or why not?
When I started as a journalist back in the day, I did use a pseudonym for my by line. Initially it was purely to be published. I found that even in the early 90s, my work as a freelancer got its way to the editor’s desk and prepped for print if I used a male name, Charlie in my case. As an author, I use my real name. I prefer people to think of my work coming from me. Not that there is anything wrong with using a pseudonym for works of fiction, it is just that everything else is crafted, I kind of want people to know that I crafted it.
- Does a big ego help or hurt writers? Why or why not?
I think whether a writer admits it or not, we do have an ego. There is a desire to share what’s rattling around in our brains. The need or desire to get your story out there is not purely a selfless act. Otherwise, we would not charge for people to read it. Having people enjoy your work is very satisfying. It is trying to keep that ego in check when the person who does not like your work; that is the hard part. I think the ego helps drive you to pursue your passion to write and publish, but can hinder you a bit when you get that bad review.
- What was the best money you ever spent as a writer?
The best money ever spent as a writer is when I go to conventions or travel and get the chance to talk to young readers. Granted my topics are not for the very young, but when you get in front of teenagers and get them excited about reading, it is a thrill. Having kids ask you about the process and engage with something other than their cell phones is great. I have done several events with schools – meet and greets, teach-ins, etc. – and each time it is exciting to me to watch young readers respond to you. I am about to do an Authors in Schools event in February at an Amelia Island middle-high school. It is very rewarding to be able to get the chance to talk to younger readers and get them to see that books are not just a homework assignment, but can introduce new worlds to them.
- What does writing success look like to you? Have you achieved it?
I once did an Author Meet and Greet for my old high school. The school assembled several students from their English and Writing classes to attend a Q&A session with me. One student was just overjoyed to meet me. You would have thought I was at the level of Stephen King or something. She brought me her composition notebooks to show me her own writings. She was full on excited that I was there. I had given her a signed copy of my first book and she was just thrilled. It was the best feeling and all I did was show up. It felt, if only for the day, that ‘I arrived’.
- What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book? What sources do you use?
My stories are crafted from various collected ideas so there is some amounts of research done to ensure I am writing somewhere near the realm of reality. I employ Google to get to a lot of credible research material. I suffer from the ‘Please don’t look at my Internet history’ syndrome. My murder-mystery/thriller topics lead me to look up some rather interesting searches. Depending on what I am looking up, I could spend quite a bit of time searching and gathering background information. My locations for my books are fictional, but I set them in areas that do exist in the real world, so to fully integrate them, I make sure I know the indigenous vegetation or landmarks etc. I like to think it helps solidify my made up little world just a bit.
- How do you select the names of your characters? Have you ever regretted choosing a particular name? Why?
I try not to name my characters after people I know. That can end in tears. I hear a name or see a sign and that sometimes spurs the creation of a character’s name. There was this tag on a little doll someone once gave me and it read the company name or something, Breden. That became the last name of my character Ralph Breden in my first book. Atterman, another character’s last name in that same book, was a word I saw on the side of a truck that drove by my window as was sitting typing up my story. With regards to regretting a character’s name, in my first book, the main character’s name was originally Britney. I had just liked the name. However, Britney Spears was just coming popular at the time and you heard her on the radio every time you turned it on. I got tired of hearing her name so much I changed the character’s name to Samantha.
- What is the hardest type of scene to write?
I think the connecting pieces are hardest to write. When there is an active scene, and the plot is moving, that can write itself practically. Once you are at the height of the story, then you are typing like mad. It is the quiet moments, the scenes between the scenes that are there to push the story along, that tend to be the hardest for me. I do not like reading those stories that seem forced, so I hope not to write those types of moments. Connecting the dots, getting the story told without having any major moments or bombshells, those tend to take some doing. You want to make sure that you write in a way that it is not blatantly obvious you are just trying to get to the next moment.
- If you could have dinner with four people, living or dead, who would they be and what would you want to ask them?
My first person would be Stephen King. He has been my writing idol for so long. It would be fascinating to hear how he imagines the stories and how the innocent day-to-day life events take a turn into these incredible scenarios. When the world you are reading takes such a left turn and you are hooked to will believe anything that comes next is totally and utterly possible, that is a talent. Anything that can start like a normal situation and turn so dire or invoke such unfathomable outcomes is awe inspiring to me.
My second person would be Carrie Fisher. When I started working on this interview, it was prior to the most recent events, so this one was a bit hard to put into words without jumping onto any bandwagons. I have always been interested in her take on the world. Her writing is what I had always loved. While she may have been more associated with her film career, her frank and honest take on the world shone through her words. I often wondered how she must have had to endure in order to get her version out there. As outspoken as she was, I am sure there were some battles to be won to get her work out in the manner she wanted it.
The third person would be Amelia Earhart. Other than the fact that she pushed the boundaries in aviation and for her gender pushing those boundaries, there is the obvious question as to what happened. I think talking to her about how she perceived the world and her place in it at the time. I often think of those before us that will never know the everlasting impact and legacy they leave behind.
The fourth person would be Queen Elizabeth. I think having her take on the ever-changing world and her place in it would be almost the flip of my conversation with Amelia Earhart. The Queen has seen the older ways ebb away and the controversy increase as the royalty tries to hold on. There have been some evolution, but there is still a struggle. It would prove interesting to hear how or if the older ways will or even should modernize.
- What platform has brought you the most success in marketing your books?
I have had a hard time with the platforms to be honest. While Facebook is popular, popularity can be fleeting. The tide turns when a new format comes around and people become disinterested in what worked yesterday. Twitter is good as well, but when you have people that follow hundreds and thousands of people, you get lost in the shuffle. I have my own website, but to try to funnel people to it, the aforementioned Facebook and Twitter, the success is hit or miss. Honestly, I have found that blogs are becoming my best interest driver. People will follow blogs or vlogs and will actually invest their time in following up with the things they read or view. If someone is going to take the time to read something that is more than merely 140 characters, they are most likely going to invest time in you, if what they read peaks their interest. It is all about word of mouth, the review that gets people. Little to no reviews or bad reviews and people are not willing to waste their time. That is where the marketing lives, getting other people talking about you for you, that has been the best platform for me.
I currently have two releases published with a third on the way–
Between the Shades of Light and Dark (Murder-Mystery)
Prodigal Son (Thriller/Suspense)
Sweet Child of Mine (Paranormal; due out late spring)
Connect with Kathleen:
Author page: www.imkathleenlopez.com