I have been writing since 1987. I started as a journalist, went to college in my 40s, and continued to write after that. My first book, “A River of Stones” was published in 2002.
You write in multiple genres – do you start with the genre and then the story or the other way around?
The genre usually. For my most recent book, I knew what the genre was going to be pretty close to getting it going. I have written mystery, YA fiction, middle reader, nonfiction, a picture book, Christian fiction, Christian Historical Fiction and science/fantasy, so you can imagine what my mind is like.
Which do you find the most challenging to write – fiction or non-fiction?
That depends on the research. When there’s a lot of research, the time it takes to finish a book is lengthened. The easiest books for me to write are those that mostly come from my head. If the book is based on where I live or a place where I’ve vacationed, the challenge is lessened.
Where did the ideas for the Brianne James Mystery & Susan Cramer Mystery Series’ come from?
I really wanted to tackle a mystery, and so I thought how it would be if I was a detective, having no training and no experience in the field. This is Susan Cramer. She loves a great mystery but she really has no idea – especially in the beginning – how to solve the crime. I am like that. The ideas after that came from my ‘strange’ mind. I am always asking what if questions. What if someone died in an old hotel and everyone thought You were the murderer? What if you were on a cruise ship and an old man died at your feet?
Do you have a favorite character and why?
I would have to say Brianne James. She is the daughter to Susan. And she has a little more of her wits about her. She is tough, too.
Were the series planned ahead or did the character’s dictate a continuation?
The series was not planned ahead. “Scrambled” was a one book wonder in the beginning. I wrote it because I was attending college and I needed money for school. I received a $500 scholarship from Mystery Writers of America after sending in my first chapter – a chapter I wrote for one of my college classes.
What is your writing process?
Get up. Sit down. And write. I treat my writing like I would a profession because it is. Writing is NOT my hobby. Yes, I love it, but I write because I have to. I go through multiple drafts and revisions before I call something finished. A have a part-time job as an aide at an elementary school, and two businesses – we publish too over here, [Idea Creations Press] and run a non-profit [Trees For Keeps], so I keep myself pretty busy.
Do you have a favorite place to write?
Our family just returned from a vacation to Bryce Canyon, Utah. It is a beautiful place. Every morning I would sit out on the porch and write. I loved it. At home I have my office. It’s not as peaceful as an early morning in the canyon, but I love having a work space just for writing.
Does your own life experience play a part in your characterizations?
This question makes me smile. Yes. There is a lot of me in my books. The goofy girl. The question asker. The mystery maker. The searcher.
Where can readers find you?
I love it when readers find me at my blog and learn something new about writing, marketing, or publishing. http://www.ariverofstones.com. I also have a fun Author’s Amazon page here.
Kathryn is a lover of words and a bearer of mood swings. When she is feeling the need to inspire, she writes a Christian fiction book. If a mystery is waiting to be uncovered, she finds it. If something otherworldly is finding its way through her fingertips, she travels to it.
Kathryn has been a reader since she was a young child. Although she took classes in writing as a teen, it wasn’t something she really thought would become her career until she was married. And even then, it took a few more years for something worthy enough to publish to manifest itself.
Kathryn’s first book was published in 2002. Since then, many other books have found their way out of her head depending on the sort of day she is having. Kathryn is a journalist, a teacher, a mentor, an editor, a publisher, and a marketer.
Her greatest joy, other than writing her next book, is meeting with readers and authors who enjoy the craft of writing as much as she does.
As writers and authors, learning new skills, keeping ahead of genre evolution, trope changes and writing methods is vital for our continued improvement as a wordsmith. With the industry changing so quickly, we need to be ahead of the game.
The best ways to do this are:
Join a writing group
Read articles on the book industry
Take courses and workshops
Attend writing conferences
Subscribe to industry newsletters
How do you keep current with the writing industry?
This past weekend, I virtually attended When Words Collide and attended as many sessions as I could, while also being a co-presenter and panelist. Although, there was information I already knew, there were also those little nuggets of wisdom, insights and knowledge that made each session a gem. My notes were prolific and my follow up to action each gem will take several weeks.
There is always something to learn, whether you are just starting out on your writing career or have years of experience. We can have tunnel vision and ease into a ‘comfort zone’ so easily, when there are so many other calls on our time.
Some things can be scheduled monthly, such as updating your website or blog with current information. We don’t want a visitor to read upcoming events from 2018! Modify your bio to include your latest book, current WIP progression and appearances etc. Don’t leave your blog stagnant – post content regularly. (This can be once weekly, bi-weekly, monthly or even quarterly – just a known routine, so followers will know when to expect you to post).
We all have several social media accounts, so make sure they reflect the latest news, images etc. so they are in line with your current activities. This makes your author platform current. Also check links to ensure they are working properly or direct to a new site, if a change occurred. Refresh content and images so your platform doesn’t look dated or tired. Renew your copyright dates for all content across platforms on 1st January each year – this is one that can be missed very easily.
Can you share tips on what you do to stay updated and improve your writing skills?
Have you always been fascinated with the dark side of reality?
Yes, I think I have been. I remember sneaking into the living room and watching part of the movie Poltergeist when I was too young to be watching it. Luckily it was edited for TV, but still I think that was the beginning of it for me. My friends and I from my neighborhood also used to do our fair share of frolicking in the local cemetery. It was the in between spot for most of our houses and it ended up being the social epicenter for our preteen and teen years.
Are any of your narratives based on a true-life experience?
There is a little bit of truth in all of my characters and some of their experiences. There is part of me inside all of them, but the circumstances they find themselves in are entirely fictional,
Why the Gothic Horror genre specifically? What draws you to it?
I love the idea that the past is never truly dead. That the past is always alive in the present. That is the true core of gothic fiction. For me I like to play with how the past can still be the driving force of a character. Often times I use memory, or grief, PTSD etc. to be the things that are “haunting” the present. Other times I use actual ghosts. Personally I find memory and grief to be even more frightening than a ghost at times.
Do you have a favorite character and why?
I think I would have to say Adam from Beautiful, Frightening, and Silent. He was my first main character, and he just found his way deep into my heart. He was hard to let go of.
Is there a place that inspired Dagger Island?
It is roughly based in some ways on a combination of Star Island (in the Isles of Shoales) and Peaks Island off the coast of Portland Maine. Neither of these real-life islands are a gruesome and haunted as Dagger Island is, but there are little bits that work perfect for me for Dagger Island.
You have many forms of artistic expression. How do you choose, when inspiration hits?
I think all od them satisfy certain aspects of my personality. To me visual art (painting and photography) are the ones with the least pressure on them, so I can still have the most fun with those without consequences. Writing speaks to my soul the most, so that one always feels like there is a lot riding on it. It also feels the most personal when someone doesn’t like it. Dance has been my primary job for so long with teaching and performing that it also seems easy to me.
Is dance an external expression for your internal art?
It can be, depending on the dance and the partner. My husband and I used to perform a lot. We would do hour long dance pieces that were entirely improvisational and would be performed to dark ambient and nontraditional music. I really felt that those were the closest to come to a physical interpretation of the books I now write. Part horror, part beauty, always mysterious.
Can you tell us a little about your Vox Vomitus Podcast? Why you created and what is its mission?
I fell in love with podcasting during the early part of the pandemic, not only being a guest but also, I was able to guest host a couple shows and I really loved being able to talk with authors. Vox Vomitus (which is fake Latin for word vomit) was born out of the idea that sometimes we can learn from our mistakes and learn from other’s mistakes. As authors we all have trials and tribulations. On Vox Vomitus myself and Allison Martine speak with the best authors working today and we can have a cocktail with them and talk about not just what went right, but also what went horribly wrong along the way. I have made some tremendous friendships through the podcast as well. So, our mission is to entertain, educate.
What prompted the idea for Pretty/Ugly?
Way before Covid I thought about writing a book about a pandemic. A virus that if it didn’t kill you would leave you horribly scarred. I wondered about our society and the people who seem to be “all surface” with nothing underneath. So, I wanted to play with that idea, of what you can be if everything you are is taken away. It became about much more than that. Though the idea came about before Covid, I think writing part of this during the pandemic really helped to shape the gravity and the enormous sense of loss that I needed in order for the stakes to be as high as they had to be.
Did the story stay true to its original form or change as you wrote?
Oh I think I answered that a little before. It changed A LOT as I wrote it. My original intention was to write a dark Rom Com that happened during the apocalypse. I ended up writing a very lyrical meditation on grief and trauma, and self reflection. I wrote about trying to forgive yourself and trying to allow yourself to love and be loved…all the while people are dying, and the world is ending.
Today I welcome a joint interview with Daivd and Cendrine, authors who collaborate to publish a variety of books and a magazine. Welcome to you both.
1.What drew you to poetry?
I grew up trying to write spoof lyrics for a lot of different songs, inspiration would come out of all sorts of places. When it turned out that my lyrical structures became too big and unwieldy for songs themselves to contain, I started turning to writing poetry because I was drawn into the musicality of playing with words and phrases. I was fascinated by how you could treat words as if they were musical instruments. I began reading lots of poetry written by my peers and in doing so, I gained the ability to write on an emotional level that connected with many different people. This is what forged my love of poetry, being able to communicate with like-minded souls and give them hope, inspiration, passion, courage and kindness in their lives.
2.You embrace a variety of topics in your poetry. Can you explain your process in choosing a theme?
Theme for me is pretty easy, in that I am most interested in writing things that are inspirational, romantic, funny or all three combined! I’ve always thought that when it comes to choosing a theme or topic, it should be something that you are passionate about. You should actively try to combine multiple elements to give you enough drive and material to visualize a project. For example, you may choose to write about snow but that on its own is not very inspiring. However, if you were to then combine other elements of an emotional nature (a first romance in the snow, playing in the snow as a child/with your own children, etc) then this will give you the means to flesh out your piece. From then on, you can continue to add whatever details you need to give enough colour to your piece of writing to interest others into reading it.
3.How does writing flash fiction differ from poetry for your writing process?
With Flash Fiction I am usually thinking of a specific scene taking place in my mind. Whilst this can also be true for poetry, stories tend to unfold themselves when I have some characters chatting to each other. Usually my flash fiction pieces consist of dialogue between quirky characters and action unfolding. I would say that a poem can embrace many different angles but a piece of story writing is focused, concise, every word needs to count when it comes to describing the scene/event. With a poem, you can be more vague when it comes to the overall meaning of the lines and still have a deep message that can be conveyed. Whereas with a piece of story writing, it is important to convey to the reader where they are and what is happening (even if the twists, turns and outcomes are a mystery), so that they can quietly imagine being there themselves enjoying the experience.
4.Who are your writer heroes?
I have tons in different genres! My favourite genre is Fantasy, so I will say that my top two literary heroes are Terry Practchett and Neil Gaiman. Stephen King for horror. For poetry, Edgar Allan Poe, Emily Dickinson & Maya Angelou are also but a very small selection. I could literally spend all day and night naming people in the literary, TV and film world who constantly inspire me on a daily basis!
5. How did you come up with the title – “TooFullToWrite – I’ve started so I’ll finish”?
The short answer is that I always thought about the notion how writers and artists start things but struggle to finish them. Maybe they lose their creativity or drive, or some other shiny thing comes along to distract them. My philosophy was born out of wanting to finish things that I start because I am not a fan of loose ends and it is satisfying to complete things (no matter how long they take!) for our own peace of mind.
I actually wrote a humorous origin story about the namesake of my website, so if your readers are interested they can read it here:-
6.You have created workbooks for authors. Can you tell us about them and why you created them?
Cendrine & I created our workbooks series at Auroras & Blossoms because we wanted to inspire artists to create more material, to become more professional and to thrive at what they do best. We focus on a variety of different topics, including writing prompts, inspirational tips/techniques, new poetry and writing forms, social media etiquette, social media marketing, marketing your artwork better and many more. We want to keep expanding and evolving what we offer to be on the cutting edge of what inspires artists to show up and produce the best material of their lives! 🙂
7.How, why and when did you formulate the partnership with Cendrine Marrouat?
Cendrine goes into deeper detail in her interview segment below. We crossed paths years ago when I was interviewing fellow authors and artists. We have an excellent creative partnership that we have built a strong platform on. We complement each other with our skills sets and are both a creative force to be reckoned with. She is an excellent business partner and extremely talented too!
8.You have a wide range of skills, including podcaster, lyricist, humorist – do you feel these are all components of your writer life? How do each of these disciplines aid your writing?
I have never wanted to tie my creativity down to just one single thing. As I learn how to do one creative discipline, I become interested in others by way of association and because of my passion in existing disciplines, this enthusiasm carries over to new things that I try out in the artistic world. I do not feel like they are actually defined by a writer’s life, although to be fair, a writer’s life has led me to all of them and so much more. It’s very true what they say about how being a writer means that you can literally be anything you want to be in life! Being involved in many different artistic outlets gives you a much broader palette to paint from. It is not for everyone, since some people prefer to focus on one thing and get really good at it. I have to focus on many things in my life, otherwise I will get bored doing the same thing over and over – variety is the spice of life!
9.Does living in England enhance your writing – if so how?
This is an interesting question. I definitely have a British sense of humour and it comes out in my jokes, quips, puns and writing style because that is an integral part of who I am. I feel like it gives me a unique perspective on the world, one that is endearing, comical and entertaining to read. I embrace these aspects of my own personal character in that I have manners, am well behaved and professional (plus a bit old fashioned) but at the same time I do have an extroverted side, like to be playful and let my hair down regularly as well!
I want to thank every single one of you for your support and interest in what I do. I hope to inspire you, make you laugh or move you deeply in some kind of profound way that connects with you on an emotional level. We live in tough times right now and I would encourage you to spread as much kindness, help and support that you can. Work hard and bear with your struggles, there will always be better things on the horizon, if you weather the storms.
1.How long have you been writing?
Like many people, I wrote sappy stuff when I was a teenager. However, I only got serious about writing in 2005. So, I’m just counting the last 16 years. 😉
2.What drew you to combining poetry and photography as artistic expression?
Because both art forms work extremely well together.
Most of us are scared of poetry. In school, we are taught to analyze every word and line of the poems we read to uncover some kind of arcane meaning. The adults we then become cannot pick up a poetry book without over-thinking about the way we should respond to it.
As a former teacher to adults, I know that a majority of people prefer visual cues to written ones. Pairing imagery and poems helps redirect the focus towards enjoyment.
The images I use to complement my poems (all mine) have triggered very positive reactions from people. They realize that poetry can also be very relaxing and fun to read!
3.You are the co-founder of Auroras & Blossoms – how did this partnership begin?
A few years ago, I was looking for interview opportunities to promote a new book. I found David Ellis and we instantly connected. I was impressed with his professionalism and personability.
After the interview, we decided to stay in touch. At the beginning of 2019, one of our chats led to sharing our frustrations about the process of submitting work to magazines and journals. We did not like how many of them factored in “who you know” and your number of publishing credits into their acceptance process.
So, on a whim, I suggested we start working on something that would run counter to that status quo. We decided that we would do things differently and give a chance to everyone. And our focus would be on something we did not see enough: positivity, inspiration and family-friendliness.
Within a few days, we had laid the foundations of Auroras & Blossoms. It took us a few months to set everything up properly, and we launched officially in October 2019.
4.What are the benefits of a collaboration with another artist?
In this day and age of fierce competition for visibility, partnerships are pretty much the only chance for artists to be successful.
Collaborations give you the opportunity to tap into other artists’ platforms, build relationships with like-minded folks, and pool resources together to achieve greater things than you ever could on your own.
The key to a great partnership is to find someone who is on the same wavelength as you and shares your values. David and I get along really well because we are both very hard-working, committed to our craft, and professional. We respect each other’s time. Finally, we understand what it takes to build solid projects.
5.Where do you prefer to write and why?
I always write in my office, with very occasional sessions in my backyard. My office is my private space, nobody bothers me there. So I can fully concentrate.
6.Can you tell us about why you created Reminigram, Sixku, Flashku and the PoArtMo Collective?
I wanted to challenge myself and increase my creativity.
The reminigram is a type of digital image that seeks to capture scenes that could have existed in the past. It’s my way to pay homage to early photography (daguerreotypes, tintypes, collodion processes, etc.).
The Flashku is my latest creation; it borrows from the Sixku, Haiku, and Kindku, another poetry form David and I created (along with the Pareiku). I came up with the idea because I love flash fiction but suck at writing descriptions. The goal of a flashku is to write a whole story in 50-100 words inspired by an image, using 7 words taken from another piece. I like to call that poetic prose!
The PoArtMo Collective was one of my long-time dreams. I wanted to bring a group of artists together to create and release inspirational, positive and uplifting art and artistic projects; the goal being to show that good art goes beyond technical aspects to tell memorable stories.
When it launched in 2019, the collective was called FPoint Collective and focused exclusively on photography. But co-founder Isabel Nolasco and I quickly realized that we needed to be more inclusive. Isabel left us last year to focus on other things and there are now three of us. We have recently released our second project, a book titled Seizing the Bygone Light: A Tribute to Early Photography.
French-born Canadian Cendrine Marrouat lives in Winnipeg. She is a photographer, poet, multi-genre author, and the co-founder of several artistic projects. She is also the creator of the Sixku, the Reminigram, and the Flashku.
Cendrine started her career in 2003. She has worked in many fields, including education (language instruction), social media coaching and training, content creation and curation, translation, photography, poetry, theatre, art criticism, blogging, and journalism.
David Ellis lives in Tunbridge Wells, Kent in the UK. He is an award-winning poet, author of poetry, humourous fiction and music lyrics.
David’s debut poetry collection (Life, Sex & Death) won an International Award in the Readers’ Favorite Book Awards 2016 for Inspirational Poetry Books.
David is extremely fond of tea, classic and contemporary poetry, cats, and dogs but not snakes. Indiana Jones is his spirit animal.