Mandy Eve-Barnett's Blog for Readers & Writers

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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.

Bibliophile Tuesday Collective – Meeting Readers at Events

November 8, 2022
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I had a great deal of fun last Saturday at an author fair hosted by Spruce Grove library. Not only did I meet new writers and authors, but lots of readers. It is the best part of in-person events to actually talk to people interested in my stories.

It was a successful day book sales-wise and the library also purchased one book. I will donate a couple more too, as the more libraries have my books on their shelves the better. If you request one of my books, at your local library they will get it in for you.

There were young contest winners at the event as well, which is always encouraging as we need new voices to create stories and poems for future generations. Our brain is the same as any other muscle it needs to be exercised and what better way than to create something from our imagination.

I am continuing with book three of The Delphic Murders trilogy – Killers Match within the National Novel Writing Month challenge and as I write this have a total just over eleven thousand words. The characters are leading me down an exciting path.

My next event is this coming Saturday at Daisy Chain Book Co, Edmonton. Five authors, including me will be available for a meet and greet and will be happy to sign our books for you or Christmas gifts for your family and friends.

Bibliophile Collective Tuesday – YA Fiction – Clickety Click

October 11, 2022
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In honour of spooky month, I am sharing a little about my YA fiction novella, Clickety Click. The protagonist is a young orphaned girl called Alice. Her guardians live in a remote cottage and are mysterious in nature. They assure Alice everything is fine, but certain areas of their large property have been off limits. Not until she begins to have a recurring nightmare of a purple monster, does the truth come out. It is so fantastical, Alice has trouble accepting what she is and where she came from.

This is the opening paragraph.

It’s eyes widened as it grew closer and closer to her face. Alice was paralyzed with fear, clutching her bed covers with white knuckled fingers. The creature’s mauve skin glistened with slime and drops fell onto its spindly pointed claws. Alice opened and closed her mouth willing her voice to sound in the dark bedroom. The claws clicked together as the monster’s jaw opened. Click. Click. Clickety-click.

You can find Clickety Click online on the usual purchase sites – Barnes & Noble, Kindle, Amazon, Smashwords and in Shelf Life Bookstore, Calgary. You can also request it at any library!

Wordsmith’s Collective Thursday – Author Interview J.E. McKnight

September 22, 2022
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You have written many novels, and most are time travel or sci-fi – what drew you to this specific type of genre?

The easiest answer to this is to say that I was inspired by my love for Back to the Future that I saw at the drive-in theater with my parents in 1985. It is my all-time favourite movie and gave me my love of time travel, which also extended to science fiction in general.

Do your story ideas come easily, or do they develop over time?

Some of them come easy while others take quite a bit of time. Initial ideas come pretty easy. I’ll hear somebody say something or I’ll be listening to a song and that sparks an idea. My ideas come from many different places. It seems I always have ideas coming. I have a list for NaNoWriMo up until 2028.

What is your writing process?

I usually just sit down and write. I’ll come up with an idea and I may take a few notes, but I don’t do a lot of plotting. I prefer to just write and figure things out in editing.

Do you have future projects pending?

I have two projects in editing right now and another one ready for editing, but I’m honestly not sure what I’m doing with that one. I also have the previous year’s NaNoWriMo project that needs to be completed. I unfortunately did not meet my goal.

You are attending a book fair event on 24th September, can you tell us about it?

Yes. Words in the Park is held in Sherwood Park in the Strathcona Community Center’s Agora Room from 9 am – 4 pm on Saturday. I’m really looking forward to it. This is the first live event for Words in the Park that we’ve had for 2 years. There are going to be around 30 artisans, and authors in attendance. There is going to be lots to do for all ages.

Tell us a little about your most recent published books?

Virtual Age

What inspired your novel Virtual Age?

I’ve always liked the idea of virtual reality. I can’t think of any one thing that inspired the idea. As for the title, I came up with that at work. I work as a commercial pipe insulator and I remember being on a job and I had to wait for material as it hadn’t been delivered yet. As I was waiting, I took notes on the different ages from history – dark ages, iron age, computer age, etc. – and I ended up using that list in the book.

Do you think this format could become real?

I wouldn’t be surprised. I hope it doesn’t come to the point where it becomes a necessity for survival as the world dies but, as far as the technology is concerned, we are becoming more and more advanced as the years go on. Today VR is impressively advanced; maybe one day we’ll get to step into these computer worlds rather than just have images coming at you.

Would there be dangers to being immersed in such a ‘world’?

I could only imagine the dangers that would be involved with immersing your mind into a computer. I included some of the dangers, in my novel, I figured would be relevant in this scenario.

Does your narrative have a message for your readers?

 In most of my books I include the message of acceptance and trust – accepting people for who they are and trusting people until they give you a real reason not to. Don’t judge someone before you get to know them.

Last Stop

When did this story idea come to you?

I’ve had this idea for years. I don’t know exactly when I came up with it. All I know is I heard the Journey song Don’t Stop Believing. There’s a line in the song about a couple meeting on a midnight train. I loved that idea and it spawned from there.

Do you believe in ghosts?

I am intrigued by the idea of ghosts. I have not had any experiences with ghosts and am kind of skeptical. I think if something has happened or were to happen, I would try to explain it away logically. Though, I hope there is something out there.

Why did you base the novel in Edmonton’s LRT system?

I based the novel in Edmonton because I love where I live and, because I live here, it’s easier to write what you know. I chose the LRT system because it perfectly met with my initial inspiration of the couple meeting on a midnight train.

Hello Baby, Nice to Meet You!

Why did you write this story?

I have always wanted to write a children’s book. I have had other ideas in my head in the past but then, when my sister announced she was pregnant, I had an idea to write a book for her child. The title of the story was going to be for a very different story. In that one it was going to be about a father trying to get to the hospital in time to see his wife have his baby. I chose to change the idea as I thought a book about animals would appeal more to kids.

Did you base the characters and location on personal experience?

It’s not about anyone or any place in particular. I did grow up on a farm but, by the time I came around, my parents had gotten rid of most of the animals. We did have cats, a rabbit at one point, and a bunch of laying chickens. I wanted to expand a little bit on what I knew, and chose the animals for the book that would be different enough from each other to be interesting. I could have done more, but I needed to draw a line somewhere.

What advantages does this story have for parents as well as children?

For parents it’s easy to read and there really aren’t a lot of pages, so if their child has a short attention span it’s great for that. For kids I included bits of trivia for them to learn from. Also, the kids will enjoy the brightly coloured illustrations of the fun animals and their young.

Who was the illustrator?

I illustrated it. This is the second full-coloured illustrated kids book I illustrated, but this is the first one I had both written and illustrated.

Wordsmith’s Collective Thursday – In-Person Author Events September

September 8, 2022
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September is a busy month for book events and I am looking forward to them after such a long a break. The first is Words on the Street in Lethbridge on 17th September.

It will be great to see the local authors I know there and meet new ones. There is always so much to do and enjoy centered around literature and writing.

The second event is more local, Words in the Park, in Sherwood Park. The event will be celebrating 15 years, which is a fantastic milestone! With local authors, artisans and musicians showcasing their creativity, the event is part of Alberta Culture Days and there is something for all the family.

If you are a writer, author, or reader this is the event you must attend. The pdf form to apply for a table is on this page – just scroll down. Link:

Invite your friends, family and colleagues and discover local talent.

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