Kathryn Meyer Griffith Interview
Today I'd like to welcome Kathryn Meyer Griffith
to Fallen Angel Reviews. Thanks for taking the time to answer a few questions for us today Kathryn
Tell us about your latest book. What's the title and when will it be released?
The Calling-Revised Author's Edition (originally it was published in 1994 from Zebra paperbacks), an ancient Egyptian themed romantic horror was rereleased on Oct. 1, 2011 from Damnation Books. In 1992 I'd already had two novels published by Zebra paperbacks, following three I'd sold myself to Leisure Books between 1984-1989, and my agent at the time wanted me to write two more novels for Zebra so she could lock in a double book contract. I've always loved ancient Egyptian stories since I'd been a kid so I had this idea to write about the time of Nefertiti and Akhenaton. I'd read somewhere that no one ever knew what had really happened, in the end, to Queen Nefertiti and her four remaining daughters after Akhenaton set them aside and eventually died - or was he murdered? Two of the greatest mysteries of ancient times. It intrigued me. So I thought: what if a modern day woman, Faye, was haunted all her life by the long dead ghost of one of those daughters until she agreed to travel to Egypt and uncover the truth? A truth that was really just my theory to what could have happened to Nefertiti and her daughters, not necessarily what did happen. A ghost craving vengeance and justice over something - foul murders - that had occurred millennia ago; who wouldn't/couldn't rest until the truth was revealed finally to the world.
Hmmm. I had to do a lot of research, in libraries, because that was before the Internet, e-mail attachments, and editing track changes, of those ancient times but then the book fell easily into place. Of course, there'd be other ghosts, curses, evil priests and Egyptian themed monsters filling the pages along the way trying to keep them from finding out the truth as well as the adventure itself of Faye and her husband reluctantly flying off to the sultry Egyptian deserts to solve the mystery and release Faye from the dangerous haunting.
I actually used the same research afterwards to write two more stories, the erotic horror short story The Nameless One and a more romantic time travel novel I called Egyptian Heart a few years later. Waste not, want not, always being my motto.
The Calling, I thought, was a good book but by the time it came out in 1994 I'd already lost my sympathetic editor at Zebra and they'd cut a wide swatch of their midlist horror writers from their stable in a massive reorganization. I've been in a few of them in my time, believe me. Ah, the life of a writer! Without notice or reason, they'd dropped my other book on a double contract, Predator, a horror novel about a dinosaur loose in Crater Lake, which still exists in all the computers in the Internet world like some weird ghost book, six weeks before it went to the shelves, so it was never actually published; saying that "no one wanted to read about a dinosaur"…and a couple months later Jurassic Park came out! The Calling they released the following year but never pushed or publicized it much. I always thought it never had a chance. Zebra dumped me after that. So I was thrilled in 2010 when my new publisher, Kim Richards at Damnation Books/Eternal Press, asked to rerelease ten of my older novels, rewritten and with new covers, in print, and all in e-books for the first time…The Calling included. Dawné Dominique did a fantastic new cover for it. Haunting, isn't it? Now the novel has a second life, a second chance, along with the other nine going back to my first romantic Leisure Books horror novel Evil Stalks the Night from 1984, which will be the last one rereleased in July 2012.
When did you first start writing? What made you want to become a writer?
What started me off as an author was simply this: As a child, eight or nine (same time I began drawing pencil pictures and years before I dreamt of being a singer with my younger brother Jim), I began reading library books, science fiction, historical romances and scary books. I had six brothers and sisters and though I had a loving mother and father, a loving family, there was very little money. I can't say we were poverty poor, but we were poor at times. Sometimes our meals were scarce and we rarely had extra money for toys or outside entertainment. I think in my whole young childhood my father only took us out to eat once. Try paying for seven kids and two adults. So we learned to entertain ourselves. Played outside. Climbed trees and hid in deep dirt gullies. Sang, howled really, outside at night on the swing set.
I loved to read. Library books were free and plentiful. I'd sit on my bed, especially during the long summer days and evenings (after chores, of course) and read one amazing book after another. If I was lucky, with a chocolate snack or cherry Kool-Aid nearby. Those books, those words on the page, took me to other places, times and worlds. It was magical. I got lost in people-on-a-spaceship-going-to-some-faraway-planet books. There was this horse book when I was a kid that knocked me out, made me cry, and laugh with joy at the end it was so real and so full of pathos because I loved horses so much. It was called Smoky. Sigh. I never forgot how those wonderful books made me feel…so free. So adventurous. So rich. Like I could be or do anything someday. And when I grew up I wanted to create that magic for others. So…that's why I began writing. And when I get depressed over my writing at times, I remember that.
I remember vividly one day at school (must have been 10 or so) when a box of Weekly Reader books were delivered and we got to pick one to read. The smell of those new books in that box as I looked at them, the excitement and awe of the other kids and the reverence for those authors, and I thought: Wouldn't it be something if someday a box of these books were mine…written by me? Oh, to be an author. People respect an author. It was the beginning
But I didn't actually begin writing myself until I was 21, in 1972, at home with my new baby, my son, James, bored out of my head and I read a particularly bad historical romance (they were big in those days) and decided: I can do better than that! So I got out the typewriter, my White-Out, copy and carbon paper and started clicking away. Sheesh! I was so naïve. 12 years later my first book, Evil Stalks the Night, my second written, finally came out. It sold first because I tweaked it into a romantic horror novel, which were gaining popularity because of Stephen King. That historical, The Heart of the Rose, I wrote first came out after that one in 1985. Been writing ever since.
What satisfies you about your writing?
Being a published author isn't like anything you'd imagine. For me there's excitement, the passion and feeling of being right with the world, as the story is being created and the words tumble out into the computer; there's the exhaustion of writing hours and hours, the doubt that your words will mean anything to anyone and why am I doing this? that creeps in but that you have to chase away; there's the pride in seeing the finished book, either e-book or print, and finally there's the feeling of unexplainable happiness when someone says they read and liked/loved it. I love to hear: I couldn't put it down. The characters were so real. I got carried away with it. Didn't want to leave the world you'd created. Wow. That makes the sometimes low pay and grueling hard work worthwhile. Because writing is hard work. The creating and promoting anyway. Hour and hour, day after day, year after year. It's your life you're using up. Precious time. You have to truly love it to give all that up…to strangers.
Writers live so much of their life in their make believe worlds they get lonely for the real world, real breathing people and adventures. I know I do. But the writing won't leave me alone until I write down the words, tell the tale. The easiest way I can put it is when I'm writing or dealing with my writing I feel like I'm doing what I was born to do.
How did you celebrate selling your first book?
Gee, it was so long ago I can hardly remember. Ha, ha. No, really, I think I was in shock for a few days because selling that first published book, Evil Stalks the Night (which will be rereleased in July 2012 from Damnation Books) took over twelve years from the moment I first began writing (another book like I mentioned above) to the day it came out in 1984. Not only that but after Evil Stalks the Night, which in itself took over a year back and forth with the editors, was first accepted, contract signed and in edits, the darn publisher (Tower Publishing) had the nerve to go bankrupt on me. I nearly gave up. The book was legally tied up indefinitely. By a twist of fate, though, the outgoing Tower's editor, who'd loved my book, told one of the new incoming editors to take a look at it because she believed in it so much. Bingo. That new editor loved it too and recommended to the new publisher that had taken over Towers to buy it. That publisher was…Leisure books. They went on to publisher two more of mine after that and my career was off and running. I do recall dancing around and singing crazily when I got that letter offering to buy a book I thought was dead and gone forever. Thought I had made it. I was so happy. Silly me. If I'd of known then what I know now I wouldn't have been so darn happy. It's been a long, hard road every since. Each book has been like pulling teeth. Gosh, why do I do this?
Almost every author at some point or another suffers from writer's block. Have you ever had that problem? How do you deal with it?
Nope…I can always write. The stories churn around in my head and all I have to do is pick one and then set my butt in a chair and start typing. Usually, in the beginning especially, it was more a matter if I had the time and energy. The early years I worked full time as a graphic artist, tried to be a good daughter, sister and wife, and raise my son. But I've had plenty of other problems - the absolutely crazy business of publishing and life getting in the way - in the 39 years I've been writing, which easily makes up for that. Losing editors, difficult editors, publishers reorganizing or going belly up, just being a few of them.
What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your books?
That sometimes what I think is great, readers don't. A book I believe is awesome, isn't. One I whipped out and didn't think much of would eventually mean so much to so many. Liking, hating or loving a books is so subjective, you see. Also, something I've just began to understand: a good book never dies. It can live forever. I never would have believed 39 years ago that 39 years in the future I'd be rereleasing all those old books (rewritten of course) and that it was the journey - all the ups and downs - that, in the end, made me the happiest and made me feel the most complete. Made me feel like a true writer. Strange life.
What were your feelings when your first novel was accepted and when you first saw the cover of the finished product?
Heaven. I held Evil Stalks the Night in my hands, smelled its intoxicating ink and paper smell; rubbed it softly against my face. Admired the shiny cover with all the spooky trees on it. Touched it. I think I even took it to bed with me for weeks. Grin.
What can your fans look forward to in the next six months from you?
More rereleases going back 28 years. I've had 10 (2 new and 8 old books) released in the last 14 months with 4 more to go (all four rereleases) in the next 8 months. I've also been writing a lot of backstory essays about the original writing of those early books which I've been offering out to blogs and review sights to help promote those rereleases. I've found I quite enjoy writing those essays, too. Now I'm actually beginning to compose 1-2,000 word essays on my childhood memories (I was one of seven children in a poor family growing up in the 1950's and 1960's) for certain blogs. Readers seem to like the essays.
What tools do you feel are must-haves for writers?
Imagination. Creativity. Patience. Attention to detail. Thesaurus and a good dictionary. The love of writing itself, not of the money you may or may not ever get from it. (Believe me I'm not rich from all my books…on the contrary, it's kept me poor, but rich in spirit.) More than anything else besides the God given talent of spinning a good yarn and hard work is persistence. If you want to make it, get published, whatever, never give up. Never.
What book has influenced your life the most?
I'd have to say the books of my favorite authors, Stephen King (The Stand was amazing); Dean Koontz, Dan Simmons, Ann Rice, Robert Heinlein and Ray Bradbury. Many, many others too numerous to list here that I read as a child and have forgotten the authors names, but not what their books did for me.
What would you consider your most interesting quirk?
I like to sing and jam with my brother Jim still. Not many other idiosyncrasies…I'm basically a normal woman who loves what other women love. A good husband. A happy life. Clean house. Bills paid. A good cup of coffee. Family laughing around me. I think I'm pretty sane for an artist. Not too many quirks - hey, except that I write horror as well as time travel, suspense and murder mysteries. Ha, ha. Some people think I'm nuts for that alone.
If you had a warning label, what would it say?
CAUTION. PASSIONATE ABOUT HER BOOKS.
Do you have a website or blog where readers can learn more about you and your works?
MySpace (to see all my book trailers with original music by my singer/songwriter brother JS Meyer), bebo.com, Facebook and AuthorsDen. The Complete Guide to writing Paranormal Fiction: Volume 1 (I did the Introduction)
Is there anything else you would like to add?
Not really…except, look for all my old rereleases between June 2010 and July 2012 from Eternal Press/Damnation Books. In print - and e-books for the first time ever. And oh, yeah, here's something I'm real proud of: I'm a 2012 EPIC EBOOK AWARDS FINALIST NOMINEE for my romantic horror novel The Last Vampire-Revised Author's Edition, an end-of-the-world vampire novel rereleased last year. In March 2012 I'll find out if it actually wins.
Thank you for spending time with us today Kathryn
And thank you for having me! Warmly, author of 14 novels and 7 short stories, Kathryn Meyer Griffith
Interviewed by: Tammy