Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Interview with Author Kathleen Kaufman

1. What really inspired you to write your book, to force you from taking an idea or experience and conveying it into a book?
I grew up listening to my mother’s stories about her life, my grandmother and my great-grandmothers.  They were fascinating.  I come from a long Scottish line and within that there is lots of Scottish stubbornness, superstition and hilarity.  My mother herself has led an incredible life, she traveled extensively, experienced things that sound, well, like they belong in a book. 
I suppose the inciting idea for Hag came about when I was entrusted with a small book of family photographs, many going back to the 1800’s and even earlier.  It was a weighty realization that not only was I the only one, besides my mother, who knew all the family stories, but I was the keeper of the family photos. 
I wanted to honor my mother’s life, but also the incredible women that preceded her.  That being said, Hag is a work of fiction, and creative liberties have been taken in all the story telling.  I only hope I don’t get haunted by a bunch of angry Scottish women after pub date. 
2. What is it about and whom do you believe is your targeted reader?
Hag is the story of Alice Grace Kyles, who immigrates to the Colorado, United States from Glasgow immediately after World War II.  Alice Grace has the ability to see the future in the form of paths laid out in front of her.  All the women in her family have possessed unexplainable powers, each different, and each equally potent.  Alice’s story is intermixed with the history of women who came before her going all the way back to ancient times.  In doing so, we see the power and significance of Alice’s matriarchal line. 
Hag is the story of family, mothers and daughters, and the history that binds us together.  It is a story of magic and purpose.  It is a historical journey told through a distinctly female lens.  It is the tale of a line of powerful and magical women who live in the ordinary world.  As far as my targeted reader – I believe this story has a broad appeal.  It is, perhaps, female-centric in the story telling, but that does not exclude anyone.  This is the story of family, of the forces and influences that shape our lives. 
3. What do you hope will be the everlasting yhoughts for readers who finish your book? What should remain with them long after putting it down?
I hope they will call their mother, grandmother, aunt and anyone else who carries the stories of their family and listen.   We live as long as we are remembered, and storytelling is a sort of immortality.   Record the history of your family, write it down, archive the photos so that they last for generations to come.   It may not feel like it matters right now in the moment, but there will come a day when you are the only one left to tell the stories.  
4. What advice or words of wisdom do you have for fellow writers?
Ooh boy.  Writing is such an individual process, every, single person goes about it in a different way.  My advice would be simply to ignore all the advice and just do what works for you.   I struggled for years trying to follow advice about outlining, journaling, writers groups, etc…  The times when I really feel my authentic voice in my writing is when I ignore everything anyone has told me and I just do my thing.  I can only share the truths I have learned in regard to my own writing. 
Shut down my internal editor.   I firmly believe that a first draft should be written as though no one else will ever read it.  Don’t worry about who your audience is, who you might offend, what facts and dates you got wrong, and certainly don’t worry about your lousy grammar.  Just write.   Once done, give it a little room to breathe, take a break, then come back and start editing.
Once you enter the magical and grueling world of editing, open your heart and mind.  Choose your editors carefully.   Trust those who want your story to succeed and leave your pride at the door.   I know that everyone at my publisher wants my books to be as awesome as possible.   Therefore, I trust them when they point out issues, suggest changes, and ask me to clarify or rewrite.   
5. What trends in the book world do you see and where do you think the book publishing industry is heading?
I see a huge resurgence in speculative, literary horror and magical realism.   For so long, these genres were seen as sub categories and relocated to small presses or self-publishing models.  As far as where the publishing industry is headed?   I think the traditional, big-dog presses such as Simon and Schuster, Penguin, Random House and the like are getting some competition.  Same thing happened with film not too long ago, indie-production companies rose up and brought fresh material and perspective to the industry.  There are so many exciting indie-publishing houses out there right now.  My publisher, Turner, is just one of many new voices who are challenging the old guard.   
6. What great challenges did you have in writing your book?
Hag started off as an entirely different book.  I had written much of the Alice Grace storyline but the other half was entirely different.  At one point, I realized that A.  My book had no end, and B. It was broken.   So, I booked a cabin in the woods with no television, no wifi, no distractions.  My first night there, I scrapped half my book.  The next morning I started writing what would become the Cailleach’s storyline.   By the time I came home, I knew where I was going and several weeks later, I started the painful process of stitching it all together.    A lot of work was done smoothing out the edges, but I was continually surprised at how seamlessly the two parts came together. 
7. If people can only buy one book this month, why should it be yours?
It will enfold you in two intertwining worlds.  The most consistent compliment I have received is that the reader did not want the book to end.  I love it when a book captures me so completely that I don’t want to go back to my normal life.  I believe Hag will do just that.  But for reals though, I think you should buy many books in a month.  So make mine one of the stack you buy in October, I have some excellent company in upcoming books, especially in the horror, fantasy genre.  It’s a good year for quality fiction.  

Kathleen Kaufman is a native Coloradan and long-time resident of Los Angeles.   Her prose has been praised by Kirkus Reviews as “crisp, elegant” and “genuinely chilling” by Booklist.   She is the author of The Tree MuseumThe Lairdbalor, soon to be a feature film with Echo Lake Studios and director Nicholas Verso, and her most recent, Hag, due out in October 2018.   Kathleen is a monster enthusiast, Olympic-level insomniac and aficionado of all things unsettling.   When not writing, she can be found teaching literature and composition at Santa Monica College or hanging out with a good book.   She lives in Los Angeles with her husband, son, terrier and a pack of cats.

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Brian Feinblum’s insightful views, provocative opinions, and interesting ideas expressed in this terrific blog are his alone and not that of his employer or anyone else. You can – and should -- follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at He feels much more important when discussed in the third-person. This is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog © 2018. Born and raised in Brooklyn, he now resides in Westchester. His writings are often featured in The Writer and IBPA’s Independent.  This was named one of the best book marketing blogs by Book Baby and recognized by Feedspot in 2018 as one of the top book marketing blogs. Also named by as a "best resource.” He recently hosted a panel on book publicity for Book Expo America and participated in a PR panel at the Sarah Lawrence College Writers Institute Conference.

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