I enjoy celebrating Canada Day as it is my new homeland. We are lucky to have a deck overlooking part of the parade route so can sit in comfort and watch it drive past. Canada is a young country, becoming the Dominion of Canada on July 1, 1867. This is in direct contrast to my former homeland, Britain which was founded a lot earlier.
United Kingdom = England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. The Kingdom of England was founded in 927 AD and The Kingdom of Wales was founded in 1283. They joined together in 1536 so Britain was founded in 1536. The Kingdom of Scotland was founded in 843 AD.
I do miss the history and pageantry as well as the ancient sites, historical houses and castles but have been fortunate to have traveled quite a lot of the province’s of Alberta and British Columbia by way of road trips. When I first came to Canada, I had no real sense of the vastness of the continent until someone showed me this view of the whole of Britain easily fitting into Alberta. This is just one province of ten!
I have seen wildlife and plants I would never have observed, spectacular scenery and many objects purportedly to be the largest! Here are some of them.
I also ‘discovered’ a passion for writing in Canada, which may never have been part of my life elsewhere. It was a happy accident walking into that first sharing meeting of the Writers Foundation of Strathcona County in 2009. Not only do I have something that interests and absorbs me but it has also given me some incredible friendships. I am making up for ‘lost’ time publishing (to date) seven books, with several in the pipeline but it is the process of creating that engages me and having the opportunity to share my stories.
Here’s to many more years discovering this country, writing stories and enjoying family and friends.
Yep it’s me today due to an author having to postpone her interview. I thought I should try my own interview to see how it felt!
Does writing energize or exhaust you?
It certainly energizes me, once I am into a story it embraces me in such a way I forget the world around me. My characters carry me along showing me what comes next.
What is your writing Kryptonite?
Knowing which story to write…with so many ideas bouncing around my head it is difficult to pick one and stick to it. If an idea comes to me during another project I have to jot down notes, a paragraph or two to enable me to go back to the current WIP.
Did you ever consider writing under a pseudonym?
To date I have not felt the need to be anonymous. I love to share my stories regardless of which genre I am writing.
What other authors are you friends with, and how do they help you become a better writer?
I count myself lucky to have many author friends, whether virtual or local. My writing mentor is Linda Pedley, without her encouragement and support I would not be writing or indeed published. My writing group friends are very important to me as their feedback and fellowship are worth its weight in gold.
Do you want each book to stand alone, or are you trying to build a body of work with connections between each book?
I write in multiple genres and go where the story takes me so mainly each book is a stand alone, however I was asked by readers of my fantasy novella, The Rython Kingdom to write a sequel and have written the first draft as part of NaNoWriMo this year.
What was the best money you ever spent as a writer?
Most certainly getting my books published with Dream Write Publishing. I was an integral part of the process and my vision for each book has been created.
What was an early experience where you learned that language had power?
I was lucky to have parents who encouraged reading from a young age and allowed my imagination to flourish through the portals of magic – books.
What’s your favorite under-appreciated novel?
I may sound like an old record with this one – Ferney by James Long – is the ultimate reincarnation novel for me. I re-read it on a regular basis.
As a writer, what would you choose as your mascot/avatar/spirit animal?
I have an affinity with tigers – solitary when they want but will protect their young with their life.
How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have?
Goodness, let’s see a novella sequel, a steampunk novel, a western romance, a suspense/thriller and a possible short story collection.
What does literary success look like to you?
To have readers respond to me after reading one of my novels to say they enjoyed the story. Of course I would like one made into a movie but knowing my words are out in the world forever gives me a kick.
What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book?
It depends on the genre, for example for my thriller I had to research how a body could dry up. While for my western romance I had to delve into barrel racing. Both of these took some time during the writing of each book.
How many hours a day/week do you write?
This depends on how many events, writers and board meetings I have as well as if there is a deadline but I try to write for several hours each week. My constant writing is creating three blog posts per week.
How do you select the names of your characters?
I look at the genre, geographical location and era of the narrative and the characteristics of the particular personality.
Why did you choose to write in your particular field or genre? If you write more than one, how do you balance them?
The stories pick the genre, I follow the narrative and the genre becomes clear the deeper we go into the characters personalities.
How long have you been writing?
I began writing later in life so only around eight years. I have been making up for lost time ever since!
What inspires you?
A sentence heard or read, a picture, a writing prompt, a vista or an article on a fascinating subject. Inspiration comes from many avenues and I grasp them with both hands.
How do you find or make time to write?
I am quite structured in regard to my writing blog as I need to post three times a week so will write all three most commonly on Sundays. When it comes to fiction I tend to go in bursts so will hide myself away at my writing desk and let the words flow. If an idea hits me I will write until I feel I have the narrative captured.
What projects are you working on at the present?
I participated in NaNoWriMo this year and my plan was to write two novellas, however although one concluded nicely the other has grown beyond novella length already so will be a novel. Both of these will require editing and revision during 2019, which means my other two novels will get pushed back.
What do your plans for future projects include?
As above I have two NaNoWriMo projects to conclude but also have two other novels on the backburner. I am also considering a short story collection at come point.
Both. It exhausts me when I’m working on something long or complex but also energizes me when I have an idea I want to explore.
2. What is your writing Kryptonite?
Sometimes I get bogged down and want to quit writing that story, or that part of the story, because nothing is going right. I just have to wait, because the characters will work it out by themselves in my head and then I can go back to it.
3. Did you ever consider writing under a pseudonym?
I had 1 poem published under a pseudonym to protect a person who might have been offended by it. The publisher knew my real name and why I chose to do it this way. In all other cases I’ve used my real name.
4. What other authors are you friends with, and how do they help you become a better writer?
I have many writer friends both inside the Writers Foundation of Strathcona County and outside of it. They inspire me to carry on by understanding the pitfalls and frustrations, by helping me improve my stories and by continuing to listen and share their expertise.
5. Do you want each book to stand alone, or are you trying to build a body of work with connections between each book?
Each of my 3 books, ‘Fragments of Lives’, ‘Colouring Our Lives’ and ‘Bloodlines’ stands alone. Even my contributions to magazines, periodicals, compilation books and even a workbook I co-authored are separate from all the others.
6. What was the best money you ever spent as a writer?
Money well spent has gone for art work for covers, editing and publishing assistance. These are things I cannot do myself and finding the right person or people to do it for me was worth every penny.
7. What was an early experience where you learned that language had power?
As a child I was allowed to read whenever and wherever I was. And to read anything that took my fancy. The stories fed what my mother told me was my ‘overactive imagination’. I knew at a young age that words had power as the stories affected me.
8. As a writer, what would you choose as your mascot/avatar/spirit animal?
I have 2 spirit animals, neither of them specifically for me as a writer but both could be. The 2 diverse creatures are the she-wolf and the California Grey Whale. Both have tenacity, a lifelong affinity for protecting and caring for family and a gentleness within their peer group. When attacked or threatened they both can become aggressive in defending their family’s safety and their territorial boundaries. I have neither a mascot nor an avatar – both would be out of character for me.
9. How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have?
I am not working, at the moment, on any one story or book. I have hundreds of as yet unpublished stories but most of them will remain that way as they would require a great deal of work to come to fruition. Rather than take part in NaNoWriMo I’ve challenged myself the either start or complete a story each day in November. So far this is happening.
10. What does literary success look like to you?
Literary success for me is to have my stories read and appreciated. I’d like to have more of my books in libraries and have an audience farther away from where I live.
11. What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book?
My latest book, ‘Bloodlines’ took a lot of research. I didn’t know that when I began it as I thought it was just going to be a short story. I started researching possible migration routes for the ancestors of the main female character, Hannah, and ran into a roadblock as I discovered that she could not be of gypsy origins as I had thought. That started a whole process of figuring out where her ancestors could have come from and led to several new characters needing to be introduced. By the time that story was ready to publish it was long enough to be a book on its own and I knew more about Chile, anthropology, bats, volcano cloud storms, old maps and other things than I ever intended to know. I did some of this research online and some using old maps. I enjoyed it but it took me thousands of hours during which I discarded most of what I learned as it was not applicable to this story.
12. How many hours a day/week do you write?
I have no set schedule but normally write early in the day while it is quiet and I am rested. I am easily distracted so need quiet and calmness to write.
13. How do you select the names of your characters?
The names of characters are really important. Quite often the first character’s name will just come into my head and I start with that. Names need to be evocative of the time period of the story, the age of the character, the geographical region they come from and somehow give the reader a sense of who they are as well as how they fit into the story. If a writer gets this wrong it upsets the balance of the story.
14. What was your hardest scene to write?
Endings are always hardest for me. It’s difficult to have set a tone of time, place and characters and then round it all up to complete what you’ve written about them. After reading my short stories people often ask “What happened next?” but I don’t know the answer as for me the story has ended.
15. Why did you choose to write in your particular field or genre? If you write more than one, how do you balance them?
I only write about people who could be real but aren’t. The settings are close to what most of us experience and the people who inhabit the spaces could be neighbours. Real life is fascinating and I enjoy portraying it in a new way, often with twist which is how real life usually happens.
16. How long have you been writing?
Many, many years – I think I took my first creative writing class about 25 years ago although I had attempted writing prior to that. Then I joined a small writers group, albeit one not really suited to me, before finding a group which were helpful and encouraging.
17. What inspires you?
There is inspiration in many things, a beautiful view of mountains or the ocean, an overheard piece of random conversation, a news story, someone’s outfit, a dream I’ve had, and any number of other things in normal life.
18. How do you find or make time to write?
For me there is little problem with time. I’m retired from a day job so can plan my time to allow me to do most of the things I want to do. I can write both on a computer or by hand if I’m on a plane or a passenger in a car or alone in my home. I’m never without pen and paper.
19. What projects are you working on at the present?
Just trying to get a few small stories prepared for a monthly newsletter I submit things to as well as one to read at a writers Christmas party. Having just published ‘Bloodlines’ I have no deadline looming.
20. What do your plans for future projects include?
I’m in that space where I haven’t planned the next phase of my writing. I’m hoping that one or more of the stories I’m writing in November will be worth pursuing and turns into something I can share with others in the new year.
21. Share a link to your author website.
I don’t have a personal website but am part of the website of the Writers Foundation of Strathcona County (WFSC).
1. Does writing energize or exhaust you? It depends on the project and on my readiness to tackle the subject. To be open and vulnerable in my poetry and life writing requires risk and that frightens me sometimes. On the other hand, my best work helps me let go of my fears. 2. What is your writing Kryptonite? Family crises, mood swings and poor self-discipline.
3. Did you ever consider writing under a pseudonym? No, but now that you mention it, it might be freeing. 4. What other authors are you friends with, and how do they help you become a better writer? Writers Foundation of Strathcona County are encouraging, accepting and creative. 5. Do you want each book to stand alone, or are you trying to build a body of work with connections between each book? All of my writing is focused on writing as a tool for personal growth. 6. How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have? Too many! Poetry (Pipers Dream); Family history and memoir (Home and Away); Novel (Mile Zero); Nonfiction (Writing with Inner Child; Diving the Sea of Emotion; Process of Perspective). 7. What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book? Research is one of my favourite activities because it reflects my love of learning. Non-fiction and fiction – reading on the subject. Google on specific aspects. Symbolism.
8. How many hours a day/week do you write? Not enough. I’m aiming for 2 hours every morning. I am very inconsistent and that is something I am trying to correct. 9. How do you select the names of your characters? Usually some symbolic aspect of their personality. For example, in my novel the main character Claire is becoming more enlightened. 10. Why did you choose to write in your particular field or genre? Personal writing is self-expressive and spiritual. Poetry is symbolic. All my writing is aimed at finding life’s depth, meaning and purpose.
11. How long have you been writing? Poetry since 1974 and life writing for at least 30 years. 12. What inspires you? Nature. People. Mindfulness. Life events. New ideas. New insight. 13. What projects are you working on at the present? Blogs. I’ve neglected my website for the past few months so I want to update and add new ideas. Final edits to my book of fairy tales, which is coming soon! It is called “Life is Not a Fairy Tale” and will be released by Dream Write Publishing before Christmas. 14. Share a link to your author website. http://kathiesutherland.com/
Kathie Sutherland is the author of Things We Keep, a memoir in essay form, and a self-published author of several poetry books: balancing Act; Shadow Girls in the Spotlight;Wind in the Trees; and Seeking Asylum. She is presently completing final edits on a collection of Fairy Tales, and has several large writing projects in the works including a “self-help” book and two life writing workbooks.
Kathie is a well-traveled and observant student of life with 30 years of writing experience. In the past, she has facilitated journal writing workshops. Currently, she acts as a Story Listener for elderly Lodge residents as they share life stories and she facilitates a reminiscence group there.