Friday, April 13, 2012
Interview with Author Kathleen Valentine
1. Please tell us about your book, "Ghost of a Beach Town in Winter."
It is actually a novella about a woman, Layla, who grew up in very humble circumstances and married a man from a wealthy family who is a college professor. She loves him but she knows she is way out of her league. Joel, her husband, aspires to be a writer and he accepts his uncle's offer to live at and run a motel and pub in a beach town through the off-season while he writes his book. Layla will run the pub, a job she is comfortable with, while Joel writes. But as the winter wears on strange things are happening. Layla is regaled with stories from the past by some old guys who hang out at the pub, Joel is struggling with writer's block, and a sexy, mysterious stranger is hanging around. As the winter deepens Layla feels like she is losing her bearings.
I also have a new full length novel which is due out by the end of this month called "Depraved Heart." It is romantic suspense set on an island off the coast of Massachusetts. A century ago a tycoon built a fabulous mansion called Hathor there but it has fallen into decline since a murder that happened there sixteen years ago. The dead man was Raven Silver, a magnificent ballet dancer who was quite the ladies man. Convicted of the depraved heart murder of his brother-in-law is Syd Jupiter, a former NFL running back and the husband of Raven's sister Rachel. After fifteen years in prison Syd is paroled and has returned to Hathor as the executor of the estate which has just been inherited by his teenage daughter. Syd hires Tempest Hobbs, an art curator who is also an empath to spend the summer there evaluating the art and help prepare the estate for sale.
2. Who or what inspired you to become an author?
I grew up in a family of storytellers. From the time I was a little kid every time people got together they would start telling stories about things that happened when they were young, about the "Old Country", hunting stories, it was just endless. Both of my parents were avid readers who encouraged all eight of us to read. For me writing was just a natural next step from telling stories and reading. I always thought writing was about the best profession there is.
3. What is your greatest strength as a writer?
I think my writing is very sensuous. People tell me all the time that they can smell, hear, taste, see the places and people I write about. I also think I'm good at creating characters you can relate to -- or dream about.
4. What books have most influenced your life?
"To Kill A Mockingbird" by Harper Lee and "A Moveable Feast" by Ernest Hemingway, without a doubt. From Lee I leaned how to make endearing characters that you can root for. From Hemingway I learned how to create a sense of place and how tiny details make prose ring true.
5. Who is your favorite author and why?
Hemingway for the reasons stated above. Daphne DuMaurier for her versatility and her fabulous sense of suspense. I also love James Lee Burke because he can create characters like nobody else. Some of his characters seem to walk right off the page.
6. What is your next book project?
I'm currently working on a book I call "The Whiskey Bottle in the Wall." I've never written anything like this before -- it is a collection of 10 short stories and novellas all set in the same town and all featuring the same cast of characters so, even though each story stands alone, they read more like a novel. They are set in the fictional Pennsylvania Dutch community of Marienstadt. Some stories are funny, some sad, some romantic. Most of them involve a long kept secret. i am very, very much enjoying this book.
7. What is your favorite Quote?
I've had this tacked over my desk for decades: "If one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours." - Henry David Thoreau
8. What advice would you give to an aspiring author?
Read. Read, read, read, and read some more. Read different authors and genres. And pay attention. Observe details, listen to how people talk. Then start writing and don't stop.
Kathleen Valentine was born and grew up in the Allegheny highlands of Pennsylvania. She graduated from Penn State with a degree in The Arts and worked for over twenty years in the art/marketing departments of high-tech corporations. Since 2003 she has run her own design business, Valentine-Design.com. She is the author of "Fry Bacon. Add Onions", a cookbook/memoir of growing up Pennsylvania Dutch, as well as 3 novels, several novelettes and short story collections, and knitting instruction books. Her blog at KathleenValentine.com has been read by thousands of readers since its beginning in July 2005.
She currently lives in Gloucester, Massachusetts, America's oldest seaport, and is writing every day.
Thank you Kathleen for this wonderful interview!