Whilst looking for an author to interview for my Spring newsletter through Goodreads Kathleen was one of the many authors to contact me. Although I’d already picked T. H. Hernandez, I really enjoyed Kathleen’s website and the blurb for her book The Other Wife I decided I’d like to interview her as well. This ended up fitting in perfectly with the release of her latest novel Secrets of the Royal Wedding Chapel (due out October 13th)
KATHLEEN IRENE PATERKA is an Amazon bestselling author of women’s fiction novels. Her popular James Bay series includes Fatty Patty, Home Fires, Lotto Lucy, and For I Have Sinned. Her latest work, The Other Wife, is set in Chicago. Her newest release, Secrets of the Royal Wedding Chapel, will be published by Booktrope Publishing in October 2015. Kathleen lives in Northern Michigan with her husband Steve, where she is busy working on her next James Bay novel.
For those readers who haven’t read your books can you give us a brief overview of your latest release Secrets of the Royal Wedding Chapel?
Who doesn’t love weddings and all things royal? My day job as resident staff writer at a beautiful castle located in Northern Michigan provides me with plenty of opportunities for a ‘behind the scene’ peek at brides on their special day, since The Castle hosts numerous weddings throughout the year. When I decided to write a book about weddings, I couldn’t think of a better setting than Las Vegas. My husband and I renewed our 20th wedding vows at a wedding chapel in Vegas, plus our daughter and her family now live there. Secrets of the Royal Wedding Chapel combines my passion for royalty and romance with my love of weddings and Las Vegas. The result: The Royal Wedding Chapel in Las Vegas, where dreams come true… and are just as easily destroyed.
Here’s the blurb:
Immersed in the regal world of weddings and romance, Lily Lavender grew up believing in brides, grooms and happily-ever-afters. A direct descendent of the British royals, it seemed her destiny and royal birthright to someday assume a position as wedding coordinator in their family-owned wedding chapel business. But when her mother Mimi’s third marriage eventually fails, Lily’s dreams of her own happily-ever-after quickly fade. She’s no longer interested in a life of assisting brides walk down the aisle into a life of disillusionment and possible divorce. Lily turns her back on The Royal Wedding Chapel and leaves Las Vegas to fashion a life of her own.
Years later, Lily—now a single mom—discovers her teenage daughter has run off to Las Vegas, lured by Mimi to help run the chapel. Determined to save her daughter from the broken dreams of Sin City and the nonsensical world of which family fairy tales are made, Lily returns to Las Vegas. But nothing prepares Lily for the royal drama which awaits her… or the sins and secrets she stumbles across that threaten to close the chapel and ruin her family forever.
I’ve been reading through your very thorough and impressively entertaining bio, and I was struck down by an image of a ten year old girl staring at her teacher with arms crossed saying, “no!” to short stories and poems. Can you remember what it was about novels that spurred your passion to write one, especially since the enormousity of the task daunts most adults, let alone a child?
How well you’ve captured my creative essence! I suppose I am like a stubborn child who has always known exactly what she wanted to do (write novels) and doesn’t want anyone telling her ‘here’s-the-best-way-to-do-it’. But I’ve never felt that writing a novel was particularly daunting. To me, it seemed like a natural thing. Perhaps author Stephen King puts it best: “What happened?” And that’s where you begin. You start the novel telling the reader (mostly myself), what happened… and eventually one paragraph builds into one scene, which compounds into one chapter, then two, and so forth. Eventually you end up with a finished rough draft of a novel. Then the dreaded edits begin.
Would I be correct in saying then, that you enjoy writing the first draft the most? Why? And what is it about editing which daunts you?
The rough draft is indeed my favourite. That’s where I fall into the story magic, into that dreamy world where anything can (and sometimes does!) happen. After I finally type THE END, I’m faced with the daunting tasks of editing (often 3-5 drafts before I’m satisfied). Then the manuscript is turned over to my editor, and after she gives it a professional trouncing, it returns to me for further editing. I’m happiest of all when the book is finally completed, and ready to submit for release.
Judging from your bio, I take it you were always reading as a child. What were your favorites? And what do you think has influenced your writing?
The first book I remember that captured my attention was The Secret of the Mansion (a Trixie Belden novel – #1 of the ‘girl detective’ series) by Julie Campbell. I read it when I was 8 yrs. old and was instantly hooked. It was the first time I’d read a story that 1) had no pictures; and 2) had an actual plot. I read all the Trixie Belden books, and decided then and there that when I grew up, I was going to write more Trixie Belden books. By high school I was reading gothic novels (Dorothy Eden, Victoria Holt, Mary Stewart). After university, I fell in love with the women’s fiction genre. I love reading and writing women’s fiction specifically because it deals with emotions. My favorite women’s fiction authors today include Jennifer Weiner, and Jodi Picoult. My all-time favorite author is Stephen King. While I’m not a huge fan of his futuristic or horror novels, King’s ability to place the reader smack-dab in the heart of the story and never let them go until they reach THE END is something I envy. King’s novels are the best example I can think of in how to craft a compelling story that will stay with readers long after they finish the book. Reading his novels makes me want to be a better writer.
I began my career in 2013 as an indie author. Though I’d received plenty of encouragement from agents and editors at traditional publishing houses, there was always something (editorial disagreements, in-house arguments about how to market the book, etc.) that prevented my books from being picked up by mainstream publishers. Eventually I decided to go the indie-author route, and I’ve never looked back. Fatty Patty was my first published novel, and four others soon followed. In autumn of 2014, Booktrope Publishing offered me a contract for my latest novel, Secrets of the Royal Wedding Chapel. The book will be released on Oct. 13, 2015. I’ve appreciated the flexibility that my career as an indie author has given me. I’ve had total control over my writing projects, and have been able to set my own deadlines. As an author signed with Booktrope Publishing, I now have an entire creative team behind me to assist. It’s the best of both worlds!
Considering you wanted to write ever since you were a child, why did you wait until 2013 to publish your first book?
In 1993, I submitted my very first completed manuscript, Rosehaven, a Gothic novel, to Zebra Books (Kensington Publishing). I received a very lovely rejection letter, complimenting my writing, and telling me that they had just closed their ‘Gothic romance’ line. They encouraged me to submit more novels. I still have that framed rejection letter hanging above my writing desk (it serves as wonderful motivation!). I continued writing, but in 1994, my sister (and only sibling) was diagnosed with breast cancer. Within two months of her diagnosis, I made the conscious decision to take a sabbatical from my writing. I knew my sister was dying, and with her being a single mom with five small children, she needed my help. Halting my writing career and focusing on my family/sister is a decision I do not regret. She died nine months after her diagnosis, and our family was devastated. After her death, I realized how short and precious life can be, and I made the decision to continue my writing sabbatical until my daughter (an only child, and about to begin high school) was ready for college. I knew those last four years with my daughter would be a precious time in her life, and I wanted to be there for all the things she needed my husband and I to help her with. Only after she started college did I finally pick up my writing again. By that time, it was like ‘starting over’. I joined Romance Writers of America (RWA, a stellar writing organization!), networked with other writers, learned lots about the craft, attended writing conferences, met with agents and editors… meanwhile, I kept writing. As I mentioned earlier, for one reason or another, my books were not offered a publishing contract. By 2013, Amazon KDP was a force to be reckoned with the publishing world, and (at the prompting of an editor for a large New York house), I made the decision to join the world of indie-pub.
How did you manage to publish five novels in one year? Where they already written, but placed on the back burner until Fatty Patty was published? Or did you write one after another?
As previously mentioned, I had been actively writing since 2001. As I already had numerous books completed, once I made the decision to join the world of indie-pub, the novels were easy to make available to a reading audience.
I understand Booktrope Publishing is sort of in between self and traditional publishing. Can you give an overview of what exactly they do, and how you received the contract?
Booktrope Publishing is a Seattle-based hybrid publisher which specialises in community-based team publishing. They are highly selective in which authors they choose to work with; less then 20% of authors who submit to Booktrope are offered contracts. I made the decision to submit to Booktrope because a few of my author friends were doing quite well with them, and I was interested in seeing how the process would work. Rather than ‘going it alone’ (as in indie-publishing, where the author is responsible for all aspects of the book being published – including editing, formatting, and marketing), Booktrope offers the author a ‘team concept’. The author writes the book, and then a professional team takes over. A cover designer works his/her magic, and both an editor and proofreader are crucial members of the team. The Book Manager (who also can serve as the Project Manager) designs the marketing plan for the book, and is the one responsible for putting together blog tours, cover releases, social media blasts, etc. The Book Manager also works with Booktrope to ensure the book has a successful launch on all available sales platforms. All marketing costs (such as advertising, etc.) are covered by Booktrope, rather than the money coming out of the author’s own pocket. Best of all, Booktrope Publishing ensures that its books are available through the Ingram catalog, which is available to libraries. As an indie author, I have chosen to purchase my own ISBN numbers for each of my books; however, novels published through Amazon’s CreateSpace which contain their own unique ISBN numbers (such as mine) do not qualify for release through the Ingram catalog. Library readers are very important to me, and that is one reason I chose to submit to Booktrope Publishing.
Tell me more about your job as a staff writer at an American Historic Castle? What exactly does the job entail?
I’ve been at the Castle for eight years now, and I love every minute of it. Castle Farms of Charlevoix is a beautiful French Renaissance castle which features nearly 100 years of history. As the Castle’s resident staff writer, I’m responsible for two monthly newsletters (one for brides, and one for the general public). I also write all the Castle’s blogs, as well as create write-ups for special events, Press Releases, marketing articles for magazines, etc. I’m also co-author of the Castle’s biography For the Love of a Castle. It’s the only non-fiction book I’ve ever written, and it was definitely a challenge. While you can make up fiction, non-fiction needs to be meticulously researched.
What differences did you encounter between publishing a fiction and non-fiction books?
I’ve only been involved in writing one non-fiction work (For the Love of a Castle). It was a two-year labour of love, and I’m extremely proud of the finished product. But as I mentioned earlier, non-fiction requires an author to check their facts… then check them again, and then a third time. There is research involved when writing a fiction novel (i.e., in my novel Secrets of the Royal Wedding Chapel, I visited numerous wedding chapels in Las Vegas. I also hung out with some of the representatives from the various chapels who line the sidewalk outside the Clark County Building where couples go to purchase their marriage licenses. It was very enlightening, chatting with the various people there to ‘promote their chapel’. Some of them were great friends and willingly traded insights into the wedding chapel industry. Others were very standoffish, and regarded all of us with an evil eye.
The empowering final message in your bio is love. Is this a theme constant throughout each of your books?
I do believe in the power of love, and I consciously use that as a recurring theme in each of my books. I think that people make certain choices in life that ultimately determine the course of their future. Sometimes those choices aren’t necessarily the best ones; but when you apply the power of love, things always seem to have a way of working out. It might not be the way we planned, but isn’t that part of life? Accepting the things we cannot change, finding the courage to change the things we can, and knowing the difference. That is where true serenity lies.
Considering you’re an office supplies addict, is your desk littered with them? What is your writing space like, and where?
If you could see my desk, you’d throw up your hands and run away shrieking! I love surrounding myself with the latest office gadgets, and my drawers overflow with paperclips, binders, tape, staples, and stationary (I’m one of those ‘relics’ who still believe in the beauty of a handwritten note). I have my own home office; the walls are painted a deep vibrant red (an energetic color!). Pictures of writing friends, plus motivational plaques and frames line the wall, providing me with inspiration. I do all my writing on my PC, and I have a gorgeous 24” monitor which helps me catch typos (I make plenty of them!)
I’m up early every morning, normally around 5. By 6:30 am, I’m at my computer and working on my latest project. I have a little timer I set, giving myself two hours. When it goes off, I save my work and head out to the Castle, where I spent my day writing for a living. After dinner with my husband, I’m usually back at my desk answering emails, writing blogs, spending time on Facebook, or curled up on the couch with a good book. It’s early to bed for me, normally by 9 pm. My alarm goes off every morning at 5, and I need all the beauty sleep I can get!
If you could plan your dream daily schedule, what would you have in it?
Honestly, at this point, I wouldn’t change a thing. I make a good living as an author (with my published books), plus I have my day job writing at the Castle. Life is good. I’m happy. I’ve aware that I’ve been blessed with gifts in my personal and my professional life, and I’m very content doing exactly what I’m doing. I don’t think a person can (or should) ask for more than that.
Are you an e-reader or do you enjoy the physical book?
Both. I love my Kindle, and have numerous books waiting on my TBR pile. But I also love the feel of a ‘real book’ in my hand… of flipping the pages, of being able to use one of my bookmarks to spot where I stopped reading. And it’s difficult to autograph a digital copy. I cherish the books I have on my shelf, some of which have been personally autographed for me by some of my favorite authors.
Do you read whilst writing? Or go through stints separately?
I rarely read fiction while I’m writing a rough draft. I don’t want to be influenced by anything I’m reading. That’s when I turn to biographies and history. After I finish the rough draft and begin my edits, I allow myself to pick up fiction works again.
What are your favourite novels?
Jodi Picoult is brilliant. If you haven’t tried her works, her novel Change of Heart is an excellent place to begin. I also love anything written by Jennifer Weiner. She has a smart, sassy style. Her latest novel, All Fall Down, is a fantastic read. And as I previously mentioned, Stephen King is my all-time favourite author. His novel ‘11/22/63’ (a time travel about a man who journeys back into the 60s to try and prevent the assassination of President John F. Kennedy) is absolutely brilliant. I’m currently rereading ‘11/22/63’. It’s that good.
What novels do you recommend to people who don’t like reading? E.g. easy to get into or crowd favourites.
What a tough question! If a person hasn’t acquired the ‘taste for books’ by the time they’re an adult, I think it’s difficult to persuade them to spend the time required to actually sit down and read a book. That being said, I don’t think I would recommend ‘crowd favorites’. I myself don’t always like the books that hit the ‘New York Times Bestseller List’. I’ll begin reading, and then think to myself: “Who cares? Why do I want to spend my time on a story that doesn’t interest me?” I no longer have the time (or patience) to slog through a novel only to finally reach pg. 90 where it engages me as a reader. If an author doesn’t do his/her work and capture my interest in those first few pages, I’ll normally pass.
In parting, I’d like to thank all the readers who’ve been supportive of my career, and especially the ones who’ve taken the time to let me know how much they enjoyed my novels. Some have left reviews on Amazon and Goodreads (reviews are always so much appreciated!). Other readers contact me through my website, or through social media (hang out with me on Facebook! I love hearing from readers, and I’m quick to respond!). Thanks, Joanne, for providing me with the opportunity to connect with your readers today. It’s a wonderful thing when readers and a good story come together… I know, as a reader myself, that finding a book I really enjoy, is a blessing indeed. I’ve been blessed to be able to participate in both sides of the craft – reading AND writing. It’s the best of both worlds, and I’m grateful for this writing journey. I’ve made so many friends around the world, and I’d never change a thing. Happy reading!
Connect with Kathleen:
Kathleen’s website: http://www.kathleenirenepaterka.com
Subscribe to Kathleen’s newsletter: http://kathleenirenepaterka.com/for-readers/
Find her on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/KathleenIrenePaterka/
Find her on Twitter: https://twitter.com/KPaterka/
Find her on Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/kathleenpaterka/