Hello! Welcome to Interview FoxSeat with guest author Kathryn Sommerlot
Kathryn grew up in the American midwest, among the cornfields and gravel roads. She originally attended university and graduated with an art degree to pursue a career in graphic design, but changed her mind at the age of 25. She went to graduate school to become a TESOL educator, and now teaches high school English in Japan, where she lives with her husband.
Book sample: “The Life Siphon”, fantasy (adult)
The kingdom of Runon has created the impossible: a magical energy source that siphons life from the nearby lands and feeds it back into Runon itself. On the edge of the forest lives a quiet ranger named Tatsu, who is watching the drain grow closer to his home country of Chayd.
Arrested for crimes against the crown, Tatsu is taken to the capital’s prison, where the queen offers him a deal. If he travels into Runon and steals the magical source that powers the drain, she will return his freedom. Caught in the unimaginable aftermath, Tatsu knows that the only hope is to stop the siphon before it swallows the world.
More and more, he finds himself at the mercy of the destruction the siphon leaves behind – and everything he has ever known will fall apart in the revelation of its horrifying truth.
When did you decide to become a writer? I’ve been writing stories since before I can remember, so I doubt it was ever a conscious decision. It just doesn’t feel quite right if I’m not writing something. But I never wanted to base my life off something I enjoyed, or risk losing the passion, so I never pursued writing as a full-time career.
How do you think you’ve evolved creatively? I wrote fanfiction for years – I’ll admit it! Writing fanfiction was the biggest thing that improved my writing. Not only was I writing almost constantly, words upon words upon words, but I had an entire online community of friends and like-minded people who would offer advice, constructive criticism, and encouragement. It hugely impacted my evolution as an author, and it’s probably the most beneficial part of my creative past.
Do you work to an outline or plot or do you prefer just seeing where an idea takes you? I never used to use outlines because I wanted a more natural evolution, but I use them pretty extensively now, and it’s been incredibly helpful. I still end up adding scenes as I write that feel organic, and then add them into the outline after the fact, but at least I’ve got the majority of the necessary scenes plotted out before I start.
Do you design your own book covers or have someone else? If you use someone else would you tell us who/website? I used the incredibly talented Jenny at Seedlings Design Studio for my latest book, and will be using her again for the follow-up. She was amazing to work with, and I highly recommend her! (http://www.seedlingsonline.com/index2.php#!/HOME)
Give us an insight into your main character. What does he do that is so special? Part of what I wanted to do with my latest protagonist came from my frustration that fantasy – at least the low fantasy I’ve been reading lately – doesn’t have a lot of diversity in main characters. I think everyone should be able to read about a hero or heroine that is similar to them, but most of the time, these characters and relationships play a minor role rather than taking center stage. I wanted to offer something new to that, so my male protagonist is bisexual. I don’t think LGBTQ+ works all need to fall into a single labeled genre. Instead, I want genre fiction that just happens to have LGBTQ+ protagonists. From this idea, the rest of the story grew naturally, so he’s the focal point for a lot of the work.
What is the hardest thing about writing? Editing! I hate it – it’s my least favorite part of the entire process. I’m very much a “write it and move on” person, so having to spend months laboring over word choice feels like such a chore to me.
Which writers inspire you? I used to get a lot of books on Amazon that were recommended by the site or came up as a promotional deal, and I never really looked at the author or who they published with. As a result, I read a lot of self-published works that I never even knew were self-published. Authors like Intisar Khanani have really inspired me to self-publish and stop feeling so guilty about doing it my own way. Also Susan Ee and A.R. Ivanovich are inspirations, as well as some traditionally published authors like Rae Carson.
What is the current book you are promoting? “The Life Siphon” is my most recent work, which is the first in a duology, so in addition to promoting that, I’m working on the second book in the storyline.
Do you have any formal education in creative writing? If not are you planning to go to school? I minored in English in undergraduate, which included a creative writing course, and I was rejected from the University of Iowa’s graduate writing program, so I suppose that’s something!
Who is your favorite fictional character and why? Lorelai Gilmore. Not a book character, I know, but Gilmore Girls was a huge part of the making of my adult self, and I quote it endlessly. Lorelai is definitely a life-spiration for me, even now.
Who inspires your writing? My husband, definitely. And my beta readers are huge inspirations – they encourage me so much to write more! Having people read it chapter by chapter as I write it really helps the evolution of the story from a reader’s perspective, and they always offer such wonderful insight.
Would you say there is a stigma to being self-published? I think there definitely is, and I perpetuate part of that myself. When people ask me about my work, and are impressed that I’m published, I always follow it up by saying, “Oh, but it’s just self-published, so don’t get too excited.” Then I wonder why I do that. Writing a book and putting so much work into it must be a big thing on its own, but somehow, I feel like I have to justify that it’s not the same as an agent picking it up and deciding it’s worth backing. I probably need to adjust the way I react to people to help diminish the stigma!