Monday, October 5, 2015

 Interview with Kathy Wagoner, who also writes under the name Cate Macabe

1. What genre(s) do you write in and why? Do you write flash fiction, short stories, novellas and/or novels? If you do multiple genres and/or lengths, which do you prefer? Have you ever written any poetry?

My favorite genres to write in are science fiction and fantasy. I love to escape into the other worlds I find in books, as much now as when I was young. I have written all lengths of fiction: flash, short stories, novellas, and novels, but I don’t have a preference for any one length. I let the story unfold as it will, and it ends up as long as it’s supposed to be. I did publish a memoir for a friend in 2012 titled This New Mountain. That project was an extreme departure and a stretch for me. As far as poetry goes, I have to be in a certain frame of mind to write it—usually one of deep emotion or introspection. Poetry has helped me express my feelings in an immediate, satisfying way. As opposed to taking a topic like dealing with grief and having it play out across hundreds of pages.

2. How do you pick character names?

Character names usually speak to me from the story. I don’t go through any one process to pick them. Sometimes the name has to do with a character’s profession, sometimes it has a sound to it that appeals to me or that I think embodies the character.

3. How long have you been writing?

I’ve been writing, off and on, nearly all my life. I took a long break in my 20s and 30s to raise a family, but I never stopped imagining characters and their sci fi or fantasy environments.

4. What kind of support do you get from your family and friends?

My family and friends are very supportive, especially my husband. He gives me the time and space I need to write. But they all want me to do what makes me happy and to see me succeed. And they’re anxious for me to publish my sff stories.

5. What social media do you use to spread awareness of your work?

Right now I have two websites—one for memoir (that I’m not too active on right now) and one for speculative fiction that I’m still trying to decide what direction to take with it. Do I gear it toward readers or writers? I haven’t figured it out yet. I’ll eventually get active on Facebook (and maybe Twitter), but not until I get into a better writing routine. I hope to devote more time to writing once I give up other time-sucking responsibilities at the end of the year. And then there’s Pinterest. I like the visual aspect of it, but I don’t have boards yet that focus on my writing projects.

6. If you had unlimited funds, how would you advertise your work?

It would be great to produce trailers and get them onto the web. I would also travel around the country (or the world!) to conventions. Maybe make up a bunch of t-shirts to give out, with pithy or clever sayings and awesome graphics that would make people want to go check out my books. I would probably also hire someone to help with social media and promotion.

7. What are you working on now?

I’m currently working on a short story fantasy collection set in the same world as my main work-in-progress. I’m itching to get back to that dark fantasy novel and finally finish it. I also have a sci fi novel, a space opera novella, and a thriller in draft form.

8. Have you self-published anything? What was your experience like?

I’ve never self-published, but I like the idea of having more control of the process and pricing, and having a say in the book cover design, as well a taking the lion’s share of every sale. I’m thinking of indie publishing one or two short story collections, possibly next year.

9. Do you have an agent and/or publisher? How did you find them?

The publisher of This New Mountain is Casa de Snapdragon, a small, traditional publisher located in Albuquerque, New Mexico (just a few blocks from my house—very convenient!). I actually worked in the same office with the Editor in Chief before she opened the publishing house. She knew I was writing the memoir and told me to submit it to her when I was ready.

10. Have you sold your work at book fairs or conventions? What kind of experience did you have?

I have attended book fairs and tried to sell the memoir but wasn’t very successful. I’m not outgoing and end up plugging other books, because I feel better about promoting someone else besides myself. I know this is something I’ll have to get over to succeed in the business.

11. If you had it to do over again, would you have started writing sooner?

I definitely would have started sooner, or at least returned to writing sooner. But that would mean I would have realized I could be a writer and have the confidence to step out. And to do that, I would have been a different person twenty years ago—someone who wasn’t afraid to pursue her dreams.

12. Which do you find hardest: coming up with a story idea, writing, revising, or marketing?

Number one is marketing (see my answer to #11 in reference to promoting myself). But revising is also hard for me. I have to go through many cycles of critiquing, rewriting, and revising. It is difficult for me to know if or when a piece is done and ready, and then push the “send” button.

13. Are you a plotter or a pantser or a hybrid of the two?

I’m a complete pantser when I write short stories and a pantser for the first 2-3 chapters of a novel. After writing a few chapters I know how the story will end. Then I start doing a rough, flexible outline of the next few chapters, and pants the story as I go. I do make notes on my rough outlines of things I know I’ll need to go back and fix (like plot holes or consistency issues), so when I’m ready to edit, I save some time. Pantsers still have to go through much of what plotters do before they write, they just do it after the draft is done.

14. What are the hardest kinds of scenes for you to write? Romantic? Sex? The death of a character? Fight scenes? Others?

I love to write fight scenes. I see them play out in my head, and they tumble down onto the page for me. Romance is something I haven’t included in my stories except for a hint now and then. My characters seem to be more interested in staying alive than forming a romantic bond. And sex scenes? No way. I think if I tried, they would just come out dorky.

15. What's your solution to writers' block?

For me, writers’ block happens when I don’t know how to continue, such as how to convey a character’s emotional arc. I keep a file of story ideas and jump into writing something else when I get blocked. Continuing to write is my way of breaking through. By the time I get back to the story that had me stumped, I have the answer of how to proceed.

16. How much time do you spend on research for your writing?

It’s hard to tell because so far I haven’t set aside specific blocks of time for research. I’ll add notes to my outline of things I need to find out about later. I try not to stop writing to surf for answers. Or I’ll buy a reference book about something like poisons or medieval living and dive in. But in general, I do research in spurts.

17. Your character decides to go a different way than you planned. What do you do?

My characters often take a different path from what I first intended. When they do, I let them go for it. I can always go back if the story hits a wall or figure out a way to fix things. Usually when a character does this, she’s trying to tell me something or take me to a place I had no idea existed. I’ll often learn something really nifty about the setting or the society, or gain an awesome plot twist. I love when these things happen.

18. Have you ever used weather or setting as a character?

I’ve used both weather and setting as characters, sometimes both in the same story. I don’t set out to do this on purpose. But looking back after I’m done, I can see my subconscious at work in the writing.


KL Wagoner website

This New Mountain

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