Mandy Eve-Barnett's Blog for Readers & Writers

My Book News & Advocate for the Writing Community ©

Author Interview – Kathie Sutherland

December 22, 2022
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As a poet and a writer, which format do you enjoy writing the most?

Poetry has always been my favourite format. Playing with words in a creative way helps me choose words to express abstract ideas. Because words have nuances and “halos” its important to make clear connections between the words and the feelings behind them. For me, the process of writing, whether poetry or prose involves feelings. For this reason, my Roget’s Thesaurus is a very useful reference book.

If others can relate to what I’m saying or are inspired by my words, I know the meaning has come through. Its comforting to know that someone else feels as I do. Poetry reveals parts of me that might otherwise remain hidden and that gives me courage to reveal my inner self and I can then be true to my values and integrity. When I feel connected to others and to nature, poetry reveals beauty. For me, its essential to be amazed.

Why is metaphor important to you?

Some people are literal minded and think in black and white whereas others colour their worlds with metaphor. This tool of the imagination affects how I see and respond to the world and how I interact with others. Metaphor can bring clarity in communication between people with opposite viewpoints because it expresses a relationship between things and ideas. For example, when my husband and I have difficulty finding common ground, we are able to access mutual understanding in a way that we cannot otherwise. Metaphor offers a big picture perspective. Colourful language creates mental imagery that boosts insight into feelings. Because perspective is so important to me, looking through the lens of metaphor provides a powerful source of soul wisdom for sharing my world.

Was the transition from poetry to fiction writing difficult?

The transition was not difficult but was freeing. A few years ago, when I attended a life writing class to find material for poetry, I wasn’t very confident in my ability to write prose. When I began telling stories about my family history and my childhood, the switch to prose opened a new world to me. I realized I had a unique story and I could share it with others.

How do you choose which format to write in, once an idea forms?

Prose lends itself to the concrete and poetry to the nebulous. I use poetic language in my prose as it creates imagery and is often a way to express difficult situations or emotions, whether my own or someone else’s experience. For me, the two formats are intertwined. I love the threads connecting all aspects of my being: physical, emotional, intellectual and spiritual. One of the big differences between writing poetry on demand using a prompt and writing prose from a prompt is that poetry come from inspiration. Prose doesn’t necessarily do that and when it comes from my imagination, is becomes fiction.

What inspired you to write a memoir fiction novel?

One of the effects of the constant moving experienced by children who do not have long lasting connection to people and community influenced my access to memory. I took the events that I did remember and built stories around them to make sense of them and find meaning in my life. I had written lot of short pieces and the best format seemed to be a novel-in-short-stories in which I created individual stories based on real experience. Each of the stories could stand alone, but the reading of them in sequence enhanced the whole story as a novel would.

Where did the ideas come from for your children’s books?

My 96-year-old mother is a great storyteller and she relishes family tales about her children. “Not My Daddy” was created from one of her stories about watching for my father as soldiers in identical uniforms got off a bus. “Naughty Alice” is also a story from my childhood. The delightful child in this story is my own Inner Child who wanted to help her Grammie tailor a new coat. The third book “Grandma’s Big, Big Backyard” was created to record the experience of my own grandchildren playing in the backyard.

How important is connection with other writers for you?

Being part of a community of writers allows me to share my writing experience and ideas with others. I enjoy encouraging other writers with positive feedback and constructive criticism. Because writing is a solitary activity, having a community of others who understand the challenges of the writing life is essential. Everyone who writes has something to share with the world and we all need connection to be our best.

Do you have a writing space – describe it.

We recently purchased a ground floor condo with two bedrooms and a study and I was excited to make the study my own. My first priority was to purchase a new desk, repurposed a credenza for storage and utilized an antique china cabinet to display my books and special keepsakes. I love the light that pours in through the frosted glass French doors. I’ve put up all my favourite pictures and made the space my own.

What message do you wish to convey to your readers?

The stories we tell ourselves shape our lives and what we believe about the world. As poet Edith Sodergran once said, “…poetry is a way to me.” All of my writing has been the way to me. I’ve spent my whole writing life searching for this person who is me and I want my readers to know that writing is a wonderful way to discover who you really are.  

Where can readers find you and your work?

Please look for books by Kathie Sutherland on Amazon.ca or visit my Facebook page Kathie Sutherland Author. All of my books are available from me directly. Contact me at kathiesutherland@shaw.ca or sutherlandkatherinem@gmail.com. My publisher Dream Write Publishing from Sherwood Park, Alberta also sells my books. https://www.dreamwritepublishing.ca/ Many of my books are part of the local author library collections at Strathcona County and Fort Saskatchewan Public Libraries.

Bio:

Kathie Sutherland is a mature, observant student of life who is retired and lives in Fort Saskatchewan, Alberta with her husband of 42 years. She has two fiercely independent adult daughters, and two adult grandchildren. A Canadian by birth, she celebrates differences in culture, outlook and lifestyle, and appreciates the benefits of living in other parts of Canada and beyond. Her love affair with language is lifelong, and her unique narrative voice infuses all her writing with authenticity.

Over the past 30 years Kathie Sutherland has written poetry, personal essay, fairy tale, a true events autobiographical novel and three children’s books. Her love of words and their “halos” fanned the flame of her desire to understand the profound and lasting effects of her childhood in a constantly moving Canadian military family through personal journaling, continued learning and reflection. She believes that loss and loneliness can be transformed into love and connection by writing short life stories rich in life wisdom. Recently, she has given voice to her playful side in her based-on-real-events children’s books.

Kathie Sutherland is involved in two local writing groups and fully enjoys encouraging others in their writing projects. She also leads a reminiscence group at a local seniors lodge, helps others write legacy letters at the end of life, as well as being active in a local church community. She enjoys aquafit, pastel painting and travel to interesting places.

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